Posted by: Tim | March 17, 2010

Book Review: Faith Alone by R.C.Sproul

I have a lot of books on my shelves that look interesting but which I don’t have time to read. Faith Alone fit that category, and I pulled it off the shelf a month or so back and started reading, and finding it to be very good I decided I wanted to finish it.

The first thing that hits me when reading R.C. Sproul is how smart he is, and yet  how easily he seems to write very deep thoughts. He is a gifted teacher and writer and is a joy to read!

Faith Alone is an investigation of the difference between what evangelicals and catholics believe about justification. It was published in 1995 in response to the ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) document jointly released by some leading evangelicals and catholics. Sproul noted that there was no reference to the central point of contention of the Reformation in this document, and thought it surprising. He wrote Faith Alone to contend that the evangelical doctrine of justification still matters, and is not secondary, but a central doctrine.

Sproul gives some history of the debate at the time of the Reformation, quoting from Luther and Calvin, as well as catholic sources. He shows that evangelicals hold to faith alone for justification, while catholics hold to faith plus works for justification, and that the catholic position has not changed.

I found this book interesting because it was written fifteen years ago, and we now have the benefit of looking back to see if what he wrote was important. Today the doctrine of justification is being hotly debated, as evidenced by the John Piper/N.T. Wright debates (see my review of Piper’s book on the subject here). I believe Sproul was right in writing this book and making an issue of justification by faith alone, as it continues to be a point of debate on a central doctrine of the faith.

Faith Alone is a doctrinal book,  but it is quite accessible to an informed Christian, due to Sproul’s gift for explaining and clarifying biblical teaching. My only complaint is that Sproul uses some Latin terms without translation. Some are easy to figure out while others are not, and I was left wondering what they mean!

I am happy to recommend Faith Alone. You can buy it from Ligonier Ministries by clicking here.


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