Calvinism + Joy = Possible?
|July 13, 2012||Posted by Rick Hogaboam under Book Recommendations, Book Reviews|
Dr. Foster is a very congenial dude for a Yale PhD. I had the privilege of attending Acton University 2012 and chatting with Dr. Forster a couple of evenings. He is smart, witty, affable, and…wait for it…joyful. Oh yeah, he’s a Calvinist as well. He was definitely a good fit for this book. I’ve included a video interview with Dr. Forster below that you may find helpful.
I recommend this book as a great supplement for anyone examining Calvinism. I heartily recommend this book if all you’ve encountered are a bunch of Calvinist zealots who seem to derive some sadistic pleasure in the fact that people are going to hell and can’t do anything about it. Stereotypes exist for a reason, folks, and I have met some idiotic Calvinists who bring shame to the reformed tradition. Forster is mindful of these polemical zealots and offers appropriate criticism throughout the book to help clarify true Calvinism from the TULIP zealots who can easily misrepresent the confessional heritage of the Reformed church.
…many Calvinist writers seem to agree that the five points are a lousy way to describe Calvinism! The five points use highly technical and idiosyncratic terms that invite misunderstanding. And they’re almost entirely negative; they tell you a lot about what Calvinists don’t believe but very little about what Calvinists do believe. It sometimes feels like Calvinists first invoke the five points, then apologize for invoking the five points, and then explain how the five points don’t really mean what they seem to mean and aren’t really saying what they seem to be saying. This can’t possibly be the best way to introduce people to what we believe (p. 16).
The rest of the book proceeds to reintroduce Calvinism in a irenic tone that offers helpful qualifications to issues like free choice and other Calvinist stumbling-blocks. Forster does well to highlight the highly devotional nature of Calvinism, and its power to fan the flames of joy in the life of the dearly beloved. At times, Forster sounds similar to John Piper (Desiring God: Confessions of a Christian Hedonist) in his elaboration of the majesty of God that compels the happy creature to ever-increasing joy.
Forster includes an extremely helpful appendix of common questions and answers relating to Calvinism and does a masterful job of representing the history, writings, and piety of Calvin. All in all, this was a helpful book. Forster’s goal is not to argue more persuasively for Calvinism so much as it is a call to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
© 2012, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.