Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Foundations of Grace

Steven Lawson's Foundations of Grace is the first volume in the A Long Line of Godly Men series. Volume 2, Pillars of Grace will be released in March and after diving into this text I am even more excited than I already was. The series traces the Doctrines of God's Sovereign Grace throughout history. Foundations of Grace deals with the doctrines as found in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation....literally, Lawson traces these doctrines as presented by Moses in Genesis, John in Revelation and just about every book in between.
John Macarthur gives a foreword, Divine Immutability and the Doctrines of Grace, for the book that follows in the pattern of JI Packer's introduction to Owen's Death of Death. By that I mean, Macarthur's foreword is of such high quality that you somewhat fear it will outshine the text itself. However, just like with Death of Death, that fear is unwarranted. As great as both forewords are, the main texts both live up to the quality that is found in these first few pages.
Foundations of Grace feels much like a Steven Lawson sermon: extensive, organized, enjoyable and understandable.
Lawson has become one of my favorite theology writers of this generation, in large part due to the fact that his writing is very pastoral rather than academic. It is always fun to dive into some Edwards, Owen, Sproul, Horton, etc... but oftentimes I need to go to more pastoral sources; Piper, Baxter, Lawson, etc... From those examples I hope it is clear that you do not lose depth with these men, but they definitely are blessed with a way of putting complex concepts into simplistic terms and repeating/rephrasing without being boring or repetitive.
The basic structure of the book is to isolate a biblical author, beginning with Moses and to see the Doctrines of Grace as presented in these books. As you go through this, Lawson will interject a more specific look at certain doctrine. These “Doctrine in Focus” sections cover all the Doctrines of Grace, beginning with God's Sovereignty, Radical Depravity,Sovereign Election, Definite Atonement, Irresistible Call and Preserving Grace. Lawson draws out all the passages from these Biblical books that lay out these God-exalting, man-diminishing truths of God's Word.
He also does a great job in presenting God's Sovereignty as the overarching, all-encompassing truth of this theological system. “The Doctrines of Grace are a cohesive system of theology in which the Sovereignty of God is clearly displayed in the salvation of elect sinners.”(page 30) As JI Packer has been known to say, there is not 5 points to Calvinism. There is one point:God is sovereign. Once you honestly embrace this truth of Scripture, all of the rest fall neatly into place.
With all of the current interest in reformed theology, and the controversy that seems to inevitably surround it, a text like Foundations of Grace is much needed. For those who hold to these doctrines, Foundations of Grace is a great refresher and encouragement that these truths date much further back than Calvin or Augustine. For those opposed to these truths, Lawson presents a wonderfully organized, clear, and Bible-based arguments for the Doctrines of Grace. This book needs to be in everyone's library because the truths it so wonderfully presents are, dare I say, foundational!
If you are interested in this book, you can order a copy here. Or, if you prefer, you can obtain a free copy of this great book from Reformation Trust Publishing, like I did, by simply reading it and posting a review. More details on that can be found here.