Posted by: William | January 17, 2008

What is Reformed Theology

R.C. Sproul’s What Is Reformed Theology is a very clear articulate overview of what Reformed Theology really is. Sproul stays pretty clear of hairy and confusing details and sticks to the major origins, doctrines and objections. What you get in the end is an explanation that’s hard to misunderstand. Now, reformed theology sits well with my understanding of scripture and personal experience and so for my own personal reading and encouragement, Sproul’s work here was adequate and enjoyable. However, I have some grievances.

I like to think that in my belief, I’m subscribed to scripture (I’d also like to think that if I wrote a book, it’d shine through; but who am I, maybe not). However, so far as my understanding extends, that lines up nicely with what people call Reformed Theology. So, I suppose by proxy, you could say that I subscribe to Reformed Theology. However, I also feel that my first commitment being to the Word of God, if I could conclusively say that my ‘theological camp,’ were off base somewhere, I would abandon the camp to remain with scripture.

I believe strongly that people ought to be believers of the Word of God, first and finally. The words they believe from men should be checked and tested against the Word of God and conscience. In Sproul’s work, although I agree with what he says, he very rarely gives specific reference to scripture. Now, I’m certain some would say that it’s because he wasn’t trying to bog the writing down with non-essential information; he is interested in giving only a basic overview. The back of the book, in part, reads: “What is Reformed Theology is not a textbook but rather an accessible introduction to the beliefs that have been immensely influential in the evangelical church.” I understand that this book is not a “textbook,” however, unless people can substantiate their beliefs with the Word of God, there is little good reason to provide an overview, no matter how accessible it is.

Sproul could have easily spared full biblical quotation and simply could have left biblical references following unqualified statements. Or even thinner than that, could very easily given us basic references which we could flip to the back of the book to find their biblical qualification.

For this reason, I doubt I will recommend this book highly to very many people. While Sproul’s information is good, it feels like he builds a platform for us to trust in the word of Reformed Theology, rather than the Word of God and that to me is both unacceptable and dangerous. Blind devotion to any theological camp is no devotion at all, it must be substantiated by the Word of God.

I pray for humility on my own part to see when I have given myself blindly to anything I cannot substantiate with the Word of God. I pray for humility and diligence on the part of the whole church to abandon their camps and subscribe wholly to scripture in whatever it would teach and in whatever discomforts it would inflict on the flesh, to the glory of God in Christ Jesus.



  1. Usually not my style to leave a quick comment but rushing to my next gig… I just wanted to applaud both your approach and your discernment here. More at 11.

  2. Thanks Eric 🙂

  3. Thanks for your review of this book. I’d like to read it at some point this year hopefully and I enjoy Dr. Sproul’s teaching. You’re right that scripture should always take precedence over a particular “theological camp”. Would you recommend something else though to get a basic overview of Reformed theology ?

  4. […] another book from Sproul, What Is Reformed Theology (recently reviewed), I had major issues with Sproul’s omission of specific scriptural references for the sake of […]

  5. […] another book from Sproul, What Is Reformed Theology (recently reviewed), I had major issues with Sproul’s omission of specific scriptural references for the sake of […]

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