Book Review: Grace Defined and Defended

This is a guest review by Kenneth Baker.

In “Grace Defined and Defended” Dr. Kevin DeYoung sets up the historical background and context to the Calvinist-Arminian debate. For anyone inquisitive about the Doctrines of Grace or Reformed Theology in general, DeYoung’s book is an amazing introduction to gain an understanding of the subject. The book begins by describing key players in the theological controversy that has lasted to the present day including: The Remonstrants, John Calvin, his successor Theodore Beza, and of course Jacob Arminius. The author explains the events that led up to the formation of the Synod of Dort and the consequences of that meeting, namely the Canons of Dort from which the modern-day TULIP in Calvinism is derived. It was surprising to read how the debate between the Remonstrants and the Counter-Remonstrants (the Reformed side) had a political aspect attached to it, but as DeYoung said, “at heart it was an earnest theological disagreement.”

Once DeYoung explains the history and origin of the debate he transitions into the theological implications of the Canons of Dort, where he will remain throughout the rest of the book.

DeYoung goes over each of the 5 points of TULIP that were addressed in the Canons of Dort, presents the biblical support for each point, and addresses many misconceptions over doctrines such as Election, Reprobation, or Limited Atonement. DeYoung also cites common Arminian objections to the conclusions of TULIP and the Canons and eloquently debunks them.

I deeply enjoy studying theology, and as someone who is fairly new to being Reformed in my theological outlook, I found this book extremely helpful in answering any questions or doubts I may have had about TULIP and Reformed Theology, giving me biblical assurance that TULIP is indeed historically orthodox and doctrinally sound. It also pointed out to me the high importance of historic confessions and creeds such as the Canons of Dort in helping one as a believer to be edified doctrinally and to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

With a better understanding of the Canons of Dort, I can see much more clearly that the Reformed understanding of grace makes our salvation completely of God, nothing of ourselves and makes so plain God’s great personal love for us, even more so for His chosen people. The Canons of Dort demonstrate how God used His Sovereignty not only in displaying His justice against sinners but in proclaiming His mercy, grace, and love through the salvation of His church. I love how DeYoung puts it, “In the miracle of regeneration, we bring nothing and do nothing.” It all points back to the fact that salvation is all of God and none of ourselves or our own efforts.

I highly recommend this book for every believer—especially those who are new to
Calvinism or considering Reformed theology.

About the reviewer. Kenneth Baker is an amateur theologian who is currently pursuing a degree at Liberty University. He spends his free time learning and discussing theology and fellowshipping with friends.

A copy of this book was exchanged through Netgalley for a fair and honest review.

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