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Pillars of Grace (A Long Line of Godly Men, Volume Two) Hardcover – March 11, 2011
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This book will ignite and impassion your heart for the gospel and the doctrines of grace that undergird it. Dr. Lawson has done something for which we will forever be grateful- he demonstrates conclusively that the truths of Calvinism and the Reformed faith are rooted in the history of the church, from the apostles to the emergence of Martin Luther in the sixteenth century. We have, of course always suspected this to be true, but few attempts have been made to demonstrate it, and none with such infectious zeal as is to be found in these pages. Few writers can marry church history, exposition, and sound doctrine in such a manner as this. Do not start reading this book unless you are prepared to find that you are unable to put it down. It is that good.--Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas: Professor of Systematic and Practical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary Minister of teachin, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi
Reading Steven Lawson's Pillars of Grace is like taking a helicopter tour of a mountain range-a breathtaking survey of a series of majestic peaks all pointing upward to heaven. Each chapter offers an informative, fascinating, and accessible look at a significant teacher of God's glorious grace, from Clement to Calvin. Read this book and discover that to be Christian and Reformed is to be rooted in the church through the ages.--Dr. Joel R. Beeke: President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary Grand Rapids, Michigan
In this important book, Dr. Lawson has documented the teachings of many of the most important theologians, churchmen, and Christian thinkers of these centuries, showing that these mend did indeed have much to say about God's saving grace- and much that will be of great encouragement to evangelicals today.--Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.: President, The Southern Baptist Theological Semminary, Louisville, Kentucky
About the Author
Dr. Steven J. Lawson is president and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. He is a board member and teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries, a board member and professor of preaching at The Master's Seminary, professor in residence for Truth Remains, and a visiting professor in the Doctor of Ministry program at Ligonier Academy. A popular conference speaker and author, Dr. Lawson's books include, The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, and Pillars of Grace.
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Top Customer Reviews
Volume two also alerts readers to the precious doctrines of grace. However, this volume shows how these God-centered doctrines emerge in the writings of the early apologists, church fathers, medieval theologians, and the Protestant Reformers.
The author quickly reveals his purpose for writing at the outset: "As we trace this long line of godly men from the first century to the sixteenth century, may the Lord use these pages to raise up new messengers who will sound the trumpet of His distinguishing grace. In this hour, may He prepare a new generation of renewed minds and passionate hearts to proclaim these glorious truths of Scripture." Lawson accomplishes his goal in this weighty book, which spans over 530 pages.
From the beginning, the book has a sort of predictable cadence. The author presents a brief historical overview that helps set the stage for introducing a given historical figure. Next, the author includes helpful biographical data that concerns the historical figure under investigation. Specific writings are introduced and briefly evaluated. The most helpful section includes a discussion how the historical figure under consideration interacts with the doctrines of grace. Issues include the sovereignty of God, radical depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, particular redemption, perseverance of the saints, and the doctrine of reprobation. Finally, Lawson concludes each chapter with a challenge that is directed to the reader, and is specifically directed to pastors and professors. Each challenge beckons readers to hold forth the doctrines of grace, to courageously proclaim the truth of God's Word, and contend earnestly for the faith.
Three specific things mark Dr. Lawson's work:
Pillars of Grace promotes the doctrines of grace
I applaud Dr. Lawson for courageously proclaiming and promoting the truth of God's Word. Some of the truths contained in this book are very unpopular. But truth is never dictated on the basis of consensus, relevance or popularity.
Pillars of Grace introduces readers to the great heroes of the faith
Dr. Lawson introduces readers to heroes that one might expect - heroes like Augustine, Wycliffe, Luther, Tyndale, and Calvin. But he also focuses his attention on the lesser knows - men like Isidore of Seville, Gottschalk of Orbais, and Bernard of Clairvaux. These lesser known figures are a tremendous encouragement for anyone who is investigating the development of the doctrines of grace.
Pillars of Grace is a Filled With Encouragement for Pastors
While Lawson's work is theological and historical in nature, it reads like an in-depth, theologically charged devotional. It is filled with God-centered citations and motivating examples of godly living and courageous Christian conduct.
Pillars of Grace is a theological tour de force. It is essential reading for pastors who seek to integrate historical theology into the regular preaching menu. It is essential reading for students who are investigating the roots, depth, and breadth of the doctrines of grace. Pillars of Grace is a crucial antidote, especially in a culture that has caved in to the musings of Pelagianism. Pillars of Grace upholds the truth of sovereign grace in a winsome, biblical, and God-centered way!
Soli Deo Gloria
Fast forward two years and I'm sitting in AP U.S. History. The teacher begins the course by explaining the difference between AP History and regular U.S. History. This was the first time I had ever discovered that all history was connected. I had been introduced to a revolutionary idea: that ideas have consequences.
Later, as a second year student at the Moody Bible Institute I encountered the first thoroughly Christian perspective on history. My professor, Dr. Bryan Litfin, did an excellent job educating us students on the events of world history with an eye always on God's providence. He helped me to understand that history was not an accident. Dr. Litfin gave me great confidence that our Lord has remained active in this world despite ages of great darkness.
Dr. Steve Lawson's second volume of the series A Long Line of Godly Men published by Reformation Trust follows in the tradition of godly historians. Pillars of Grace picks up where the first volume Foundations of Grace left off. He spends twenty four chapters exploring the life and thought of significant pastors and theologians from Clement of Rome to Calvin of Geneva. His commitment to the doctrines of grace and the sovereignty of God direct his discussion.
He references 1 Timothy 3:15 where Paul uses the metaphor of a building to explain the nature and purpose of the church ("the pillar and buttress of the truth"). Dr. Lawson makes clear from the outset that "the central thrust of this book - Pillars of Grace - is to show that key leaders of the early church and beyond acted as pillars, standing firm on the foundation of Scripture and upholding the truth" (10). His commitment to God's sovereignty and providence is clear when, in the same paragraph, he writes: "Each pillar was strategically placed by the sovereign Architect and Builder of the church for his appointed time". God appointed these leaders and theologians to serve his purposes in each specific age.
There are several things I loved about this book and found extremely helpful. At the conclusion of each chapter Dr. Lawson supplied a number of study questions. I found these questions to be thoughtful and enlightening. They help to solidify the content of the chapter. Secondly, He makes great effort to call readers to follow the examples of these godly men. There is always need in the church for men like Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Ambrose of Milan, John Wycliffe and John Calvin. I appreciate his call to follow their example.
My third point is both a praise and (personal) critique. Each chapter was accessible. You do not have to be a historian to understand these pages. He makes history and historical theology enjoyable and available to lay people. My only critique is that I would have liked to see a little more detailed explanation of each person's theology and their contributions. I maintain that as a personal critique because I would like to have more detail but I also understand that such detail would turn an accessible text for readers of every level into something more appropriate as an upper-level textbook.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in an introductory text on significant theologians from church history. I found this to be a very enjoyable read that engaged both my head and led my heart to thank God for his sovereignty.
NOTE: To comply with regulations of the Federal Trade Commission I would like to state that I will receive a complementary copy of the aforementioned text as compensation for my review.