Phillips, Richard D. What’s so Great About the Doctrines of Grace?. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2008. 111pp. $15.00.

Summary

This is the shortest book review I have ever written. Not because it did not warrant a lengthy review or because this volume is easily dismissed and need not be discussed. The review is short because I want you to read this book, I do not want to spoil its content for the sake of critique. This has been one of, if not the most, encouraging and refreshing books I have read in the past year. As soon as I finished reading it I ordered several copies and began giving them away to friends and family.

If you search the blogsphere or your favorite bookstore there are countless articles and books engaged in debating the five points of Calvinism but there are very few books which capture why I love these doctrines, why these doctrines have liberated my heart of fear, why these doctrines have emboldened me to proclaim the gospel, why these doctrines drive me from my homeland and to the uttermost parts of the earth; this book does. In writing this volume he has two main goals “to explain the doctrines of grace” (xi) and “to show what is so great about them” (xii) he has accomplished both and the fruits of his labor will bless your soul.

Evaluation

Strengths

I appreciate that he does not begin with the “T” of “TULIP” but with the sovereignty of God. He begins by explaining the transforming effect of God’s sovereignty noting, “it is not that they [meaning believers] begin to trust God―all believers must trust God―but that they see the truth about the God they trust” (1). Why is this? “The doctrines of grace offer a perspective on salvation in which God truly is God, so that everything depends on His will and works to His glory” (2). I also appreciate that explains the “sound theological logic to the ordering” (19) of the acronym “TULIP.” This is more than a clever memorization tool it is designed in such a way that succeeding points build on and apply previous points. He also does a fantastic job handling Arminian problem texts in such a way that the reader is not distracted by debate. He continually focuses the reader upon the transforming natures of these doctrines with a consistent focus upon application.

Weaknesses

It is too short! In all seriousness this book was a pleasure to read and my only regret is that he did not write more.

Conclusion

Phillips writes with the precision of a meticulous theologian and with the clarity and care of a loving pastor and friend. I commend this book to you and pray that it will set you ablaze with a passion for our glorious and sovereign God and that it will embolden you for His all-encompassing mission.