J.I. Packer’s introduction to John Owen’s the Death of Death in the Death of Christ has long been recommended to me even apart from Owen’s actual text. Owen’s treaties is often considered the magnus opum on the subject of the atonement its redeeming work. Its often though of as just a defense of the ‘L’ in TULIP, but what Packer and Owen both seek to do is explain that the doctrine of limited atonement isn’t about limiting the redemptive work of Christ to a particular group of people. But rather its primary teaching is upon the efficacy of the atonement to actually save. The work of Christ actually redeems his people, it doesn’t just make redemption possible.
Not only does Packer seek to further enlighten those than think the doctrine of particular redemption is just about a number of people, but he seeks to teach that Calvinism is more than just 5 points of dissension betwixt the Remonstrants and their modern day followers and the Synod of Dort and those modern adherents to its teaching.
Packer lists five points of his own to declare Calvinism is more than just five points. I shan’t spend time listing them all, but I would implore you to pick up Death of Death and read Packer’s introduction.
The first and most important Packer makes is that Calvinism is more than 5 points of a soteriological system, it is a worldview.
It would not be correct simply to equate Calvinism with the “five points.”…In the first place, Calvinism is something much broader than the “five points” indicate. Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of god as the whole world’s Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavor to acknowledge the Creator as Lord, working all things after the counsel of His will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible–the God-centered outlook which sees the creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace. Calvinism is thus theism (belief in God as the ground of all things), religion (dependence on god as the giver of all things), and evangelicalism (trust in god through Christ for all things), all in their purest and most highly developed form. And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in god’s world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of His preordained plan for His creatures and His church. The five points assert no more than that God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such, is concerned with the much broader assertion that He is sovereign everywhere.
What grand news of grand providence that guides our lives.