Archives For Reformed Theology


Review of

Letters to a Young Calvinist:
An Invitation to
the Reformed Tradition
James K. A. Smith.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Jasmine Wilson.

In the same year as publishing a book detailing the benefits of pentecostal theology (Thinking in Tongues, reviewed here), very few people could write a book introducing and praising the Reformed tradition, but James K.A. Smith has done just that.

Letters to a Young Calvinist is a brief primer introducing readers to the Reformed tradition, and extending an invitation to those who are already a bit familiar but perhaps still on the fence about it. It is written pastorally as a compilation of letters to a fictional young man representing those who are just becoming inculcated into the Reformed tradition.

In my Christian high school I was taught the theology of TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints). When I decided to attend Calvin College, a college associated with the Christian Reformed Church (where Smith also happens to teach), I appreciated TULIP and felt I would be well-prepared for the type of conversations that would take place on campus.

Instead, TULIP was never even mentioned.  Phrases like, “practice Shalom,” “be agents of renewal,” “There is not a square inch of the world that God does not call mine!” etc. were the common language of the college culture.

Continue Reading…


“Communing in a
Vibrant Corporate Life”

A Review of
People and Place:
A Covenant Ecclesiology.

by Michael Horton.

 Reviewed by Kent Ellett.


People and Place:
A Covenant Ecclesiology.

Michael Horton.
Paperback: WJK Books, 2008.
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People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology is the fourth and final volume in Michael Horton’s contemporary restatement of Reformed systematic theology.   His work is erudite and ecumenical in scope, but Horton is bold, unwilling to give an inch of what he considers Reformed ground.  Over and against the “chaos of Evangelical individualism” Horton describes the Church as the locus of God’s special gracious activity amidst covenantal relationships.   Here is a champion of grace, who finds the church’s identity in preaching, baptizing and communing in a vibrant corporate life.   The reader will find in Horton not just a Reformed thinker, but a conversation partner of the first order.

        Engaging (or more often contending with) contemporary movements within evangelicalism, post-liberal narrative theologians, and traditional Anabaptist, Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, Horton is particularly concerned to make sure that ecclesiology does not usurp Christology.  He fears that some doctrines of salvation take “participation language” too far and conflate Christ and the church.

        He traces what in his view is this deleterious theological tendency in Augustine’s conception of the “totus Christus” and the Eastern doctrine of deification.  Whether theologians spiritualize Jesus in order to make him just as present in the church as he ever was in the flesh (Origen and Schleiermacher) or by offering an over-realized eschatology that turns the Church into a “second incarnation” where the church becomes a self-justifying institution appealing to no higher authority than itself (the Roman tradition), Horton sees such thinking as disastrous.  For Horton, participationist soteriology and an over-realized eschatology that confuses Christ and church loom as ecclesial enemy number one and two in these pages. Continue Reading…