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Amazing Grace, The History And Theology of Calvinism

Who could have thought that a presentation of Calvinism lasting nearly four and a half hours could keep me at rapt attention? Actually, I suppose most people who know me wouldn’t be too terribly surprised. Amazing Grace – The History And Theology of Calvinism is an examination of the doctrines of grace, produced by The Apologetics Group. It is hosted by Eric Holmberg and is a collage of interviews, historical readings, Scripture and drama. It examines “life’s greatest mystery, that man’s question for meaning and redemption is in the end the story of the Lord ‘seeking and saving that which was lost.’”

The presentation is divided into three parts. The first provides the historical context to Calvinism, beginning with the dispute between Pelagius and Augustine. It continues to a discussion of semi-pelagianism, focusing particularly on the dispute between Luther and Erasmus. The section concludes with a brief examination of what came to be known as the five points of Calvinism.

The second part examines the Biblical basis to the doctrines of grace as summarized in the acronym TULIP. Each is examined in the light of the Arminian controversy, in the light of the Scripture, and in light of the impact a proper understanding of this doctrine has on the Christian walk. It concludes with an examination of how Arminian doctrine has damaged the testimony and work of the church.

The third and final section speaks about the necessity of evangelism and provides pointers on evangelizing in a Biblical way. It answers the question of how God’s sovereignty and human responsibilty interact in the preaching of the Gospel and the conversion of souls.

The participants who were interviewed extensively are R.C. Sproul, R.C. Sproul Jr, James Kennedy, Walter Chantry, Thomas Nettles, Walter Bowie, Roger Schultz, Joe Morecraft III, Kenneth Talbot, George Grant, Thomas Ascol and Stephen Mansfield. While all of them have much wisdom to impart, I was drawn especially to R.C. Sproul, who always looks like there is nothing he is more excited about than speaking of the Lord’s gracious act of redemption. He leans into the camera, with a smile on his face, just bursting with enthusiasm as he tells of the works of the Lord and the doctrines of His grace. I also very much appreciated the inclusion of Walter Bowie, pastor of Koinonia Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. So often it seems (in these parts, at least) that Calvinism is the refuge of the bland, middle-aged, amateur theologian. Yet Bowie, who is African American, lent some wonderful diversity and plenty of godly wisdom to the presentation.

Prior to seeing the DVD I was concerned about the quality, almost expecting it to be poor. Thankfully, I was wrong. Apart from a couple of very minor audio issues (for example, at one point during an outdoor interview wind blows across the microphone) the quality is top-notch. This presentation is well-produced, thoroughly researched and, most importantly, built firmly on the foundation of Scripture. While it deals with theology, it is practical throughout and is sure to help believers, young and old, Calvinist and Arminian, understand just how amazing God’s grace really is. I highly and unreservedly recommend it.

The DVD is only available for purchase online. You can find it at outlets such as Monergism Books.

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