Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace. John Piper. Ross-Shire, UK: Christian Focus, 2013. 96 pp. $8.09
In John Piper’s latest, Five Points, the author sets out to present a clear and concise portrait of the “knowledge of what God is like in salvation” (8). His underlying premise is that the study of Biblical doctrine and theology undergirds and supports a more vigorous worship. Thus, he writes, “I do not begin as a Calvinist and defend a system. I begin as a Bible-believing Christian who wants to put the Bible above all systems of thought” (9). Those who are familiar with Piper’s theology and ministry will not be surprised when his study of Scripture leads him to the defense of the five points of Calvinism.
Many who read Piper’s stated goal to, “begin as a Bible-believing Christian who wants to put the Bible above all systems of thought,” will find themselves quickly confused when the next chapter sets out to present the historical roots of the doctrines of grace. His overview is not written poorly, but fails to follow his stated goal. It is extremely selective and brief, and seems to exist to make one primary point: “the so-called Five Points were not chosen by the Calvinists as a summary of their teaching. They emerged as a response to the Arminians who chose these five points to disagree with” (12).
He then proceeds to defend—albeit Biblically—each of the five points of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Irresistible Grace, Limited Atonement, Unconditional Election, and Perseverance of the Saints. Each chapter succinctly provides a general overview of the doctrinal position and interacts with the Biblical text. The objection must be made that this is precisely the opposite of that which Piper set out as his goal at the onset of his book—rather than submitting his system to the Bible, the book is written as a Biblical defense of his system. It is a well-written, Biblically-faithful, and stereotype-breaking defense of the doctrines of grace, but it is a defense nonetheless.
Readers who purchase Piper’s Five Points will hold in their hands a helpful and accessible work that provides a brief overview and general introduction to Calvinistic soteriology. Piper writes as one who has stood in awe at the wonder of the God of salvation, and his desire is that his readers’ worship will be deepened as the result of gazing upon the Eternal God.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.