Five Points Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace. By John Piper. Glasgow: Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 2017. 96 pp. Paper, $9.99.
John Piper is a popular writer and retired pastor. He is a devoted proponent of Reformed Theology and Calvinism. In this short book, Piper tries to answer the question, “How did God save me?” However, the real purpose of the book is to convince the reader that Calvinism is the only way people are saved.
Piper’s answer to the question is the five points of Calvinism which are described by the acrostic TULIP. Each letter stands for one of the five points. He takes the standard Calvinistic view of each of the five points. Total depravity means complete inability to respond to God. Unconditional election means God picks the winners. Limited atonement is God’s providing atonement through Christ’s death for those who were lucky enough to be picked. Irresistible grace means the one who is picked cannot resist believing in Christ. He will believe. Perseverance of the saints means that all who believe will persevere to the end of their lives in faith. There is nothing new here in Piper’s discussion
In presenting TULIP, Piper does one interesting thing. He rearranges the TULIP. He presents irresistible grace immediately after total depravity. He does this to establish the idea that God must regenerate a person before he ever believes in Jesus. In Piper’s view, belief is a gift, and thus a person must be regenerated before actually believing in Jesus. The Bible does not teach this; rather we become a child of God when we believe (e.g., John 3:16; 6:35; Gal 3:26). Belief comes first!
Included throughout the book are references to the sovereignty of God. In Calvinism, the sovereignty of God is a prominent theme. In fact, Calvinists overemphasize it to the detriment of God’s other attributes. Piper is no exception.
Piper attempts to refute criticisms of Calvinism throughout his discussion and does so in subtle and potentially convincing ways. However, one who is well grounded in what the Bible says will see through these attempts.
Piper writes very well. His work can be quite convincing to those not familiar with Calvinism. I do not recommend this book, except for well-grounded pastors who want to gain a better understanding of this false theology and how Calvinists like Piper twist the Scriptures to fit their theology.
Chairman of the Board
Grace Evangelical Society