The title of Greg Forster’s book will prompt one of two responses: People will mutter inappropriate words under their breath or they will rejoice in the truthfulness on the cover.
The Joy of Calvinism is meant to be a buffer to the traditional arguments that have ransacked Calvinistic theology for decades. And Forster accomplishes his task with a great deal of skill.
The thesis: “Real Calvinism is about joy.” But the author essentially argues that Calvinism has been poorly explained and even misrepresented – especially in the twentieth century. An example is the acrostic, TULIP which he rightly notes is not a formulation of the famous Synod of Dort (1618-1619). Rather, it is more of an expression that was popularized by Lorraine Boettner in his book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. While Forster’s argument is a bit overstated, it carries a certain amount of weight. He suggests a new formulation as outlined below:
State of man before salvation: wholly defiled
Work of the Father in salvation: unconditional choice
Work of the Son in salvation: personal salvation
Work of the Spirit in salvation: supernatural transformation
State of man after salvation: in faith, perseverance
The book responds well to the classic arguments that emerge from Arminian and Roman Catholic perspectives. Forster’s writing is humble, thought-provoking, challenging, and affirms historic Calvinistic theology with warm-hearted enthusiasm. It is a welcome addition to a growing number of books that eagerly promote Calvinism – what Spurgeon called, “a nickname for biblical Christianity.”