Mere Calvinism

In my opinion, Jim Orrick’s Mere Calvinism is one of the finest introductions to Calvinism you’ll find.

Maybe I need to begin by answering these questions: Do we really need another introduction to Calvinism? And should someone like you bother with it? In both cases, I will answer in affirmative. We do need more introductions to Calvinism, not least because there are lots of people who may be associated with this broadly Reformed movement who have never read one. Many people have found their way into Reformed churches but have not yet come to a sound understanding of its most basic theological tenets.

 

Somewhere along the way, it seems like the New Calvinism became about everything but Calvinism. Somewhere along the way, we stopped thinking and writing about the very doctrines that brought the movement together in the first place. Maybe we had already mastered them, so it was time to move on to more advanced topics. Or maybe we just began to assume them and then to subsume them to other matters. Either way, I’m delighted to see a new crop of books on the subject, with Jim Orrick’s Mere Calvinism leading the way. It is, in my opinion, one of the finest introductions to Calvinism you’ll find.

Maybe I need to begin by answering these questions: Do we really need another introduction to Calvinism? And should someone like you bother with it? In both cases, I will answer in affirmative. We do need more introductions to Calvinism, not least because there are lots of people who may be associated with this broadly Reformed movement who have never read one. Many people have found their way into Reformed churches but have not yet come to a sound understanding of its most basic theological tenets. Where some regard its contents as old hat, others will regard it as groundbreaking and soul-stirring. As for the second question, I can answer for myself and say that even though I’ve read many (many!) similar works, I still benefited from this one and enjoyed it tremendously.

So what does Mere Calvinism offer? It offers an introduction to Calvinistic theology. Orrick, a professor at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky, says “My aim in this book and in my entire preaching and teaching ministry is to explain what the Bible teaches—not to explain what John Calvin taught. I held to what is called Calvinist doctrine before I had read a single page of the writings of John Calvin. … I believe it because I am convinced the Holy Spirit has revealed it in the Holy Bible.” In this way he’s a Bible teacher before he’s a theology teacher. His goal in the book is “to demonstrate … that the Bible teaches that God always does as he pleases, and that he initiates, sustains, and completes the work of salvation of everyone who goes to heaven.” He, like most Calvinists, is ambivalent about what this doctrine is called, but passionate about showing how it’s consistent with Scripture.

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