Monday, June 9, 2014

Review of PROOF by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones

Calvinism has often been reduced to its five points, represented by the acronym TULIP. But many Calvinists throughout history have seen this acronym as unfortunate because it's not quite as representative of the theology of Calvinism as it was originally intended. Alternative acronyms have been suggested, and PROOF is the most recent. PROOF by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones looks at traditional Calvinist theology in a fresh new light and seeks to reveal the five core truths of Calvinism through a whole new framework. PROOF stands for...
Planned Grace
Resurrecting Grace
Outrageous Grace
Overcoming Grace
Forever Grace

As you can see, the common thread is grace. Enter any Calvinist discussion, and you will hear the word grace mentioned perhaps more than any other word. Certainly, God's grace is amazing as the song tells us, and Montgomery and Jones seek to illuminate the complexities of God's grace so that people will love and appreciate him and what he's done even more.

I'm not a Calvinist, and that's not a decision I've ever made without some serious investigation. But many of my favorite theologians and teachers are Calvinists. There's much about this book that I love. It seeks to show God as the savior of his people, and I believe that's true. However, since this is a book about God's grace, I find some of their conceptions of God's grace troubling. Calvinism, no matter how you dress it, is about God giving his grace to some while withholding it from others. And this decision of who isn't based on anything the person does or will do, and although Calvinists will often deny it, the decision is random because there's nothing to differentiate the people God creates. They're all equal and all desperately in need of God's grace. That puts them all on a level playing field. Without anything to differentiate them, God picks some at random to bestow his grace upon and some to withhold it from. While PROOF is meant to be a book about the love and grace of God, it portrays God in some instances as someone who rejoices in destroying some of the people he creates simply because it was his sovereign choice. This doesn't accurately reflect the God of the Bible.

God can do what he wants, and I think we can all agree on that. But where I disagree with Calvinism is what God wants. The way Calvinists dodge the passages of the Bible that state that God wants to save all people just doesn't do the text justice.

While I think the core theology this book is based on is flawed in some areas, I did enjoy reading PROOF. The authors include some very illuminating personal stories, and I believe they are people who love Jesus and want to see his gospel spread.

Review copy provided by the publisher

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