If you’re alive and in the Christian West, you’ve probably run into a brand of Calvinism–or I should say Calvinist–that can’t easily be described as “humble.” This book aims to confront that issue head-on by pointing out, rightly, if you’re a Calvinist then having a heart-understanding of the Doctrines of Grace should make you humble, not arrogant.
I feel like I could have written this book myself. With that I don’t mean to say the writing is poor — or that my writing is so great — I just mean that the experiences and tendencies Jeff describes have all made their way out in my life at some point or another.
Jeff’s writing style is a wonderful aspect of this book. It feels like he’s talking to you more than anything, and he uses so many illustrations that the points he’s making become very vivid and accessible for any reader.
In summary: If you’re a Calvinist, read this book and grow in humility. If you’re not a Calvinist — and maybe even hostile toward Calvinists — read this book and see what we, by God’s grace, are striving to be. If you have no idea what a Calvinist is, read this book and join us in a position of awe and wonder at the God who loves his redeemed, and purchased every last one at the cost of his own Son.
You can read a review of the book by Jeff Mooney on the 9Marks website here, Jeff Medders talks about the book with Jared Wilson on the For the Church Podcast here, and you can purchase the book here.
Here are 15 of my favorite quotes. Enjoy!
1. Page 15
Many of us who love to love the “doctrines of grace” have not grown in showing grace, We have not become more gracious, kind, tender, and compassionate. And that can only mean one thing: we actually don’t know the doctrines of grace. Sure, we know the points and can rehearse the arguments and even recall verses to support the five petals of the TULIP. But an arrogant and argumentative Calvinist is just a Pharisee with a fresh coat of paint.
2. Page 18
Beloved, since when did grace arm us against each other, rather than disarm us?
3. Page 29
So that’s where this book is headed. Were going to crack open the five points, not so we can learn how to take down the opposition, but so we can see what happens when the points get into our hearts.
4. Page 40
The Christian life is a feast of faith on Jesus. The faith once for all delivered to the saints is centered, nourished, satisfied, and joyfully fixated on Jesus — who he is, what he’s done, what he is doing, and what he will do.
5. Page 46
And another time, [Jesus] told the wind and the waves enough was enough: “Be still!” I can’t even get my dog to sit.
6. Page 52
The greater God’s grace in Jesus becomes to us, the more humble we become.
7. Page 71
We often think Christian maturity is needing help less and less. Wrong. Maturity is realizing how dependent we are on Jesus, more and more.
8. Page 80
Election doesn’t erase our choosing of Christ. You really did choose him. Election shows the chronology of choice. God chose you before you chose him. You freely chose to put your faith in God because God had freely chosen to bring you to faith. We chose second because God chose first.
9. Page 93
Predestination is the backstory of your faith in Christ. Ephesians 1 reminds us of God’s end goal of election: the praise of his grace.
10. Page 114
There is no righteousness in being a five-pointer. Righteousness is found in Christ alone. Only. Always. Christ’s people all agree that Jesus is the only Lord and Savior. God saves sinners — on that point we can humbly agree to agree.
11. Page 117
Irresistible Grace means that God took our deaf, blind, and stubborn hearts and made them hear, see, and respond to the gospel call. We didn’t become Christians on our own. Christians are Christians because of God.
12. Page 125
Any version of Calvinism that lacks zeal for the lost is a counterfeit. It’s hypocritical. Real Calvinism runs on a Great Commission passion for the glory of God and the joy of all peoples in Christ the Lord.
13. Page 137
Forgiveness of sins will never be taken back. If you’ve been born again, you can’t be unborn. If you’ve been raised to new life with Christ, he won’t wave you off like a mosquito and throw you back in the tomb. The promise of eternal life won’t be renegotiated.
14. Page 139
You will live in a constant state of fear if you think salvation can be lost. You will worry whether you are reading your Bible enough, whether you are praying enough, or whether you might just sin too many times and salvation is going to slip through your fingers. God wants to lift that burden off of you. It’s not yours to carry.
15. Page 150
Humble Calvinism means being heavily invested in each others’ eternal security. If you see something, say something. If you spot evidences of grace and growth in a brother or sister, encourage them. If you spot sins of unbelief, unrepentant actions, or ungodly attitudes, step up, not back. People need you to remind them of a blood stained cross and an empty, echoing tomb, of the power of the Spirit today and the certainty of the return of the Son. You need people who will do the same for you.
Humble Calvinism — real Calvinism — is about both orthodoxy and orthopraxy: about right doctrine and the right practice, posture, and passion.