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Book Review – What is Reformed Theology?


Book Review – What is Reformed Theology?

What is Reformed Theology? I get asked this question a lot and for good reason. Most of those who asked simply want a short summary; a sort of one-liner to better understand what differentiates the Reformed expression of Christianity from others. Unfortunately, such a concise definition doesn’t exist, and for good reasons– Reformed Theology is not exactly monolithic and not every Reformed Christian believes the exact same thing on every point. However, while we may not have a concise definition at our disposal there are a handful of beliefs which characterize Reformed theology. Thanks to R.C. Sproul, we now have an excellent (and concise) book which should satisfy most people who are new to reformed theology. R.C. Sproul is a wonderful theologian and a very precise thinker. Nowhere is he more precise than in his use of language and this holds true throughout What is Reformed Theology? If this sounds intimidating don’t worry… Sproul includes a handy thesaurus at the end of the book to define the foreign terms (predominately Latin but also German and Greek). That said, I have read a few reviews of this book which bemoan the fact that Sproul does not define English theological terms and this does appear to be the case in a few instances. If you find yourself struggling to understand his theological vocabulary, feel free to email me my via the contact link and I’d be happy to help explain what he is saying.  I remember being new to theology myself and am grateful for those who patiently endured all my questions.

What is Reformed Theology is a wonderful resource which captures the basic tenants of Reformed doctrine in an accessible manner. This book is (by necessity) a broad overview of Reformed theology rather than a detailed exposition of the Confession; and that is a good thing. By presenting the doctrine in broad strokes, Sproul is able to capture the essence of Reformed theology without excluding any of the various expressions found within the Reformed camp. There was a point in my life when this would have annoyed me because I thought that Reformed tradition that I held to was the only one that could truly be called Reformed. However, the more that I have come to know Reformed Christians from differing traditions the more I have come to realize that their perspective thoroughly orthodox and, while I don’t embrace it, I believe that they are simply doing the best with what God has revealed to them. I put myself in this category as well. I am simply dong the best with the evidence I see before me and while I am convinced that I am right in my beliefs (obviously… or I wouldn’t believe it!) I am also convinced that I could be wrong. For this reason I applaud the simplicity and broad approach taken by Sproul. His exposition of the Reformed tradition is narrow enough to accurately define it, while not so narrow as to exclude those who are from various Reformed backgrounds.

The book is structured in such a way as to first define the key elements which set Reformed theology apart from Roman Catholic theology. It focuses on the key ideas born out of the Protestant Reformation and then moves on to further define Reformed theology in light of the Doctrines of Grace and Covenant theology. The former differentiates Reformed theology from Roman Catholicism and the latter differentiates it from other Protestant theologies such as Wesleyianism, Arminianism, and Dispensationalism.

This is a book that would make a wonderful addition to the library of anyone who desires to understand what we Reformed people believe. The book can, with some extra vocabulary research , be understood and studied by high school aged children and would be great for college age adults and older. This is a must for church libraries.

Where to purchase What is Reformed Theology

CLick here to purchase What Is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics from or HERE to search Amazon for the best price.

About the Author

reformed theologyR. C. Sproul has served the church as a seminary professor, pastor, and author of more than one hundred books. He is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries and the chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and his teaching can be heard daily on the program Renewing Your Mind, which broadcasts around the world. Dr. Sproul is also executive editor of Tabletalk magazine and general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Books in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

10 thoughts on “Book Review – What is Reformed Theology?

  1. Karl

    Reformed Baptist here. I have always liked Dr. Sproul and the way he handles differences. He understands the other side and doesn’t try to misrepresent them. This one looks like a keeper. Thanks for the review!

    • I agree Karl. It’s always difficult to completely represent the other side fairly because there are so many presuppositions that drive a person to believe a certain things. However I think Sproul probably does this better than most.

  2. Lori Mathers

    Well you asked for it! I’m going to have my son go through this and he has vocabulary questions all the time lol! Sometimes he finds the definition from Google but needs the concept explained further. Can’t wait to get this one in the mail. I was raised reformed, became Calvary Chapel when I got married and now we are starting at a PCA church so my son has lots of questions.

    • Lori feel free to have him contact me if needed. I’d be happy to help.

  3. Okay I read his last book you reviewed and boy oh boy did it ever confuse me lol! But Joseph liked it so I’ll get it for him to read because he likes this guy! He’s smarter then me anyway lol!

  4. Ryan Smith

    Can’t go wrong with Sproul. Thanks for posting. I have an older version of this book and as I recall it was very good. I wish he would have touched a little on baptism though

    • Cristian Antonescu

      Actually you can go wrong with Sproul. He’s a Romist and papal loving apostate who baptizes babies and has a drunk for a son. He doesn’t read the Bible literally which leads him to curse the chosen of Israel by denying them their rightful land. He doesn’t believe in a rapture and doesn’t believe in a millennium.

      • Marie

        You can’t be serious right? Are you being funny? I do appreciate sarcasm but this is just preposterous.

      • Cristian, I’d be cautious when equating all paedobaptistic positions with that of Roman Catholicism. There are differences between them that are significant. I would argue that you have misunderstood reformed theology altogether and that this is a gross mischaracterization. I also don’t think this is the appropriate place to discuss Jr.’s sin. He needs prayer right now more than anything. Let’s keep the comments on topic with the posts. Thank you Cristian. I do appreciate your cooperation.

    • It may be that baptism is one of those issues that is best left alone in a book like this. He has done some good work in defense of baptism elsewhere.

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