by Glen H. Jones
In the mid 1990s James Montgomery Boice, pastor of Tenth Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, began writing this book. In 1995 he was diagnosed with cancer and within six weeks he died. His associate pastor (now senior pastor) Philip Graham Ryken completed the book and published it under the title The Doctrines of Grace.
This book defends five-point Calvinism. The acronym TULIP usually identifies five-point Calvinism. These five points are Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and the Perseverance of the saints.
“Total depravity” does not mean that every person is as bad as he could be. It does mean, however, that the person at his best is not good enough to make it to heaven.
“Election” means that God elected the believer before the world began by His own choice. “Unconditional” means that God chose that person apart from anything He might see in the individual. This implies that God decreed salvation of the individual apart from any faith the individual might exhibit.
The most controversial of the five points is “limited atonement.” According to the authors, Christ died for the elect only. The death of Christ was not meant to render all men savable, but His death was for the elect only.
The Holy Spirit applies the atonement to the elect. This is termed “irresistible grace.” Those who have been predestined to eternal life will, in God’s appointed time, respond to the gospel and will be saved.
Those who have been elected and called by the Holy Spirit to eternal life will persevere until the end. This “perseverance of the saints” is often referred to as eternal security.
Some of us, I am sure, will disagree with some of the authors’ conclusions. On the other hand, those who carefully read this book will understand the main thrust of five-point Calvinism.