In November I had the privilege of (re)reading the book “After Darkness, Light”. The ten chapters of the book cover the distinctives of Reformed theology (5 Sola’s and 5 points of Calvinism). Each chapter is written by a different author and the book is edited by R.C. Sproul Jr. and dedicated to Dr. R.C. Sproul.
Many people assume Reformed theology is only adhered to by Presbyterians who baptize babies and believe that there is no future for ethnic Israel. Yet as you read through this book, while you will note some paedobaptist and amillenial (i.e. R.C. Sproul Jr.) authors you will also note some authors that hold to believers baptism and pre-millenialism (i.e. John MacArthur). The conclusion must quickly be drawn that this issues of baptism and eschatology, though important, are not the litmus test for true Reformed theology. The authors of this book lays the foundation of Reformed theology in ones view of God, Faith and salvation, and they does so by expounding on two of the best systematic views of God, Faith and Salvation: The 5 Sola’s of the Reformation
- Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone: “An appeal to the ultimate authority of God’s Word” (chapter 2 written by Keith A. Mathison)
- Sola Fide – By Faith Alone: Faith that because of the justifying work of Christ “we are as righteous before God as Jesus Christ himself is”. (chapter 4 written by Sinclair B. Ferguson)
- Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone: Salvation is not a result of our works, but of the grace of God active in our lives. This chapter also includes a look at how a popular evangelist in the 1800′s (Charles Finney) instituted a pragmatic works based religion into our culture that we are still battling over a century later. (Chapter 6 written by Michael S. Horton)
- Solus Christus – By Christ Alone: ”Apart from Christ, there is no hope for anyone.” (Chapter 8 written by John F. MacArthur)
- Soli Deo Gloria – To God alone be the Glory: ”If we were forced to pick one [of the 5 sola's] that subsumes all the others, it would no doubt be the last one, soli Deo gloria, ‘to God alone the glory.’” (Chapter 10 written by R.C. Sproul Jr.)
and the 5 doctrines of grace (or 5 points of Calvinism).
- Total Depravity – “Did [man] sin because he is a sinner or because of the sin in his environment?” (Chapter 1 written by Martin Murphy)
- Unconditional Election – Sinners “are not condemned because they have been passed over, but because they are sinners.” (Chapter 3 written by W. Robert Godfery)
- Definite Atonement – “The nature of the Atonement – the death of Jesus – underscores the actual accomplishment of redemption” (Emphasis added) (Chapter 5 written by O. Palmer Robertson)
- Irresistible Grace – “When God gives us the grace of a new heart, the first thing we do with it is to repent and believe.” (Chapter 7 written by Douglas J. Wilson)
- Perseverance of the Saints – Salvation is assured in Christ, resulting in confidence and love in place of fear. (Chapter 9 written by Jay E. Adams)
The book in it’s entirety is worth the read. For those struggling with the biblical doctrine of definite atonement I recommend chapter 5. I came away from that chapter wondering why I had ever struggled with definite atonement and wondering why people still do!