Item description for The Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul...
Overview In this book, Dr. R.C. Sproul surveys the great work accomplished by Jesus Christ through His crucifixion - the redemption of God's people. Dr. Sproul considers the atonement from numerous angles and shows conclusively that the cross was absolutely necessary if anyone was to be saved. Opening the Scriptures, Dr. Sproul shows that God Himself provided salvation by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross, and the cross was always God's intended method by which to bring salvation. The Truth of the Cross is an uncompromising reminder that the atonement of Christ is an absolutely essential doctrine of the Christian faith, one that should be studied and understood by all believers.
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Dr. R.C. Sproul is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education ministry located near Orlando, Florida. His teaching can be heard on the program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and in 40 countries worldwide. He is the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine, general editor of The Reformation Study Bible, and the author of more than seventy books and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. Dr. Sproul also serves as president of Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies, and Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida. He currently serves as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's in Sanford, FL.
R. C. Sproul currently resides in Orlando, in the state of Florida. R. C. Sproul was born in 1939.
R. C. Sproul has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Truth of the Cross?
A classic introduction to the theology of the Cross Dec 12, 2008
I still vividly remember a sermon my pastor preached a while back. Actaully when I say vividly I mean one particular thing he said during his sermon. He said that your theology of the cross will always reveals your theology about sin and salvation. Ask someone what they think the cross accomplished and you've got a basic shorthand for what they believe about a number of other things.
Sproul quotes a heckler from one of his lectures who said "[the Cross] is primitive and obscene" (page 11) and its not difficult to see why our culture responds in such a fashion. Today our talk of rights (devoid of responsibilities mind you) has bred an attitude that says "I deserve this" or "I'm entitled to this". The PC movement has lead some to label the cross a form of divine child abuse. These two attitudes seem to go hand in hand. One denies the need for any atonement - after all people aren't that bad are they? The other denies the possibility of an atonement taking place in such a "primitive" fashion. Surely our (post)modern minds no longer need to believe this? Sproul counters these objections with a timeless message. Man is a rebel who owes God a debt he cannot pay (page 35) . Man has violated his personal relation with God, even when God did not show any emnity towards him. (page 37) Man is a criminal who has transgressed God's law and stands under the judgement of God (page 40). Given all this our salvation must come from a substitute, someone who can pay the price and take our place.
Time and time again Sproul simplified the complex theological ideas and arguments. Take the Ransom to Satan theory (page 57). Sproul gives decisive and air tight dismissal of the Ransom to Satan theory. If God owed Satan something, then Jesus is not victorius over the powers of Darkness; Satan still wins. It reminded me a bit of the Wright on Resurrection. If we are not raised from the dead then death is not defeated. I loved his illustration of the word vicarious. When our favourite sports team wins we often say things like "We won and they lost". We rejoice in their victory or agonize in their defeat. We think the players are doing something on our behalf. This is a vicariouos experience. I was glad he was not overly dogmatic about the doctrine of PSA either, acknowledging that the Bible does in fact teach Christus Victor too. But I don't think he went far enough to show the relationship between the two doctrines. Both have relevance in the life of the Christian.
One of the best chapters in the book is the one on "The Blessing and the Curse" (page 127) . These are words Christians use all the time, but we pay little attention to how they were used in the covenant stipulations. Sproul uses the example of the benediction in Numbers 6. The supreme blessing for an Israelite was for God's face to shine up on you. But a curse, being the opposite of blessing, was for God to turn his back on you. Essentially meaning that you are cut off from the presence of God. This helped clarify some of what happened on the cross. Jesus' words on the cross make a lot more sense when seen in light of the covenenant.
But as always there are a few things I could think of that would have improved the book. I would have liked a better discussion on some of the more recent books out there, like Chalkes "The Lost message of Jesus" and those who seem to dislike the idea of substitutionary atonement (To be more correct I think these people would dislike the caricatures of a God who is so angry that needs to be appeased by a random sacrifice). I would also have liked to see a greater focus on scripture, but in saying that I realise the book is not an exegetical defence of the Penal Substitionary Atonement Doctrine. I would have liked a bigger discussion on the significance of the incarnation and resurrection. In our culture today we're more likely to be asked "What makes Jesus unique?" over which doctrine doctrine of the atonement has better scriptural support. The changes in society and epistemology mean that people are asking new questions. Too many Christians (including myself) have at times categorically rejected the post modern movement. But with some careful nuancing there is much we can learn.
I've come to enjoy Sproul's books. He writes in a way that takes you into the situation he describes. He has an ability to take a complex subject like the atonement and simplify it so that anyone can understand it. His books tend to be more anecdotal and devotional rather than exegetical or theological. They are good introductions to complex theological ideas. For those who want a basic introduction to the theology of the Cross you can't do much better than this book. Even a seasoned reader like myself had a few moments where the light switch went on. Its a nice short read that you can probably finish in a couple of hours. What are you waiting for? Get the book and read it !!
An excellent understanding of the cross Dec 7, 2008
This is an excellent little book on the cross and what exactly Jesus did on it. Sproul does an excellent job of exploring Christ's sacrifice on the cross and why exactly that specific act is central to Christianity. He does use a decent amount of Christian vernacular, but he also does a pretty good job of explaining the more technical terms
I would recommend this to any believer who desires to read a little deeper on Christianity. It is a smaller, gift-sized book, so it's not very intimidating. But, if someone isn't very interested in reading something that dives a little below the surface of Christianity, then they might become a little bogged down in the writing. It is a very well-written book, but I think it would have a harder time holding the attention of a skeptic.
That said, the theology expressed within is solidly reformed - so be forewarned if you're not of that persuasion. Then again, in my opinion, if you've never wrestled with some of the calvinistic concepts of salvation you need to encounter and engage them at some point. Sproul doesn't actually get into Calvinism until the end, and there he more explains it than really "pushes" it - but he does give a solid (albeit quick) argument in it's favor.
I would encourage everyone to at least engage at some level the points which Sproul addresses here, and this little book, while unassuming, gives a great little crash course in what the cross means for every Christian.
The Truth Oct 21, 2008
In a day and age in which the Cross has been down played entirely or simply used as a band aid to patch every want and need imaginable, R. C. Sproul has written a timely and concise book dealing with the subject of the Atonement. This book is rich in theology while at the same time it remains easy to understand. Dr. Sproul tells us why he chose this time period to write this book when he says "I doubt there has been a period in the two thousand years of Christian history when the significance, the centrality, and even the necessity of the cross have been more controversial than now." This is no small concern considering he has been in the ministry for well over thirty years. If this is indeed true-and I believe it is-than this book is right in time and it will go a long way in helping to regain what has so tragically been lost in American Christianity, the Cross of Christ. Dr. Sproul goes on to tell us that there are basically three types of view on the atonement: those that believe it is absolutely unnecessary, those that believe it to be only hypothetically necessary, and the classical, orthodox view that it is absolutely necessary; he states that "If we are defective in understanding the character of God or understanding the nature of sin, it is inevitable that we will come to the conclusion that an atonement was not necessary." (p 15) This statement is made in the first chapter after R.C. has made a very solid case for the necessity of the Atonement.
Dr. Sproul continues by moving to the next chapter entitled The Just God. Here R.C. clarifies one the most overlooked aspects of God's character, that being that God is a just , saying "God is loving, but a major part of what He loves is His own perfect character, with a major aspect being the importance of maintain justice and righteousness. Though God pardons sinners and makes great provision for expressing His mercy, He will never negotiate His justice. If we fail to understand that, the cross of Christ will be utterly meaningless to us."(p 19) It is here that this book begins to go from good to great, because Pastor Sproul doesn't just give us his opinion, he opens up the Bible and begins to teach from it, beginning in Gen 18 and expositing all throughout Scripture Dr. Sproul leaves no stone unturned in helping us understand the truth of the Cross and all its beauty. This book is truly written in a way that will benefit Christians of every maturity level.
There are only two other issues that I have with this book the part I liked most and the part I feel could have been left out. Beginning with the part that could have been left out and that is the chapter on limited atonement. While I fully believe and am growing in my understanding of the Doctrines of Grace, the L is the one petal on the TUILP flower that I truly have more to learn about. The only reason I feel this chapter could have been left out is the fact that it does tend to divide the body bitterly, however the more I thought about it the more I realized that if he had removed this chapter then he would not have given us the complete truth of Cross but only a shorten version of it. Even in this chapter we are shown how great of a Bible teacher he is and how he can take such a complex issues as this and explain them in laymen's terms. For example he states "The real heart of the controversy over limited atonement is this question: what was God's intent or His design in sending Christ to the cross? Was it the purpose of the Father and the Son to make an atonement that would be made available to all who would put their trust in it, with the possibility that none might avail themselves of its benefits? In other words, was God's purpose in sending Christ to the cross simply to make salvation possible? Or did God from all eternity plan to send Christ to die a substitutionary death in order to effect an actual atonement that would be applied to certain elect individuals?" and then explains it like this " People have trouble with that, particularly if I use those words to describe the doctrine. What if I say Jesus went to the cross to make an atonement for believers, and only for believers? In that statement, I declare that it was God's design that Jesus should die not for everybody indiscriminately, but only for those who would believe. If you accept that, you see that only the elect are believers and that only believers are the elect. I'm not saying anything different when I say that Christ died only for the elect. Can you conceive of people who are believers who are not elect, or of people who are elect who are not believers?" He continues to explain this out of the text of Scripture and at the very least gives the reader a basic understanding of their Calvinist brothers.
My favorite chapter in this book is easily the last one here Dr. Sproul answers nine questions about the atonement that went a long way in answering some of nuances of the Cross for me. For instance the first question is what is the significance of the shedding of blood on the Cross? Well you'll have to buy the book to get the answer to this and the other questions in this chapter. I strongly recommend this book to anyone that would like to understand the Cross better.
The Truth of the Cross Oct 12, 2008
Inspirational discussion of the Cross, based on reformed theology that Dr. Sproll so masterfully explores.
A Well-Written Timely Read Exposing the Truth, Significance, Necessity, and Accomplishments of the Cross Sep 22, 2008
In The Truth of the Cross, R.C. Sproul effectively communicates the truth of the cross, its necessity, and its accomplishments. The Truth of the Cross is a short little book packed with doctrine related to the cross (with a focus on substitutionary atonement), a topic that no Christian can spend too much time thinking about rightly. R.C. Sproul's aim throughout the 10 chapters of the book is to ensure that the reader correctly understands what transpired at the cross, why it was necessary, and what God accomplished there. He makes extensive use of church history, historic Christian philosophers and theologians, (Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Luther, & Calvin), philosophy, and logic. Sproul, as usual, is excellent at taking complex statements and whittling them down so that they seem simple. I do wish, however, that the book was more Scripture-packed and that Sproul's appeals were based more explicitly on Scripture than on logic. It seems that Sproul's modus operandi is to demonstrate where his reformed theology logically directs his thinking on an issue. Then he may point to Scripture to show how his position is not at odds with Scripture. This seems backwards to me and is my concern with Sproul and underlies all of the areas of disagreement/caution that I have with this book (On pp 159-161, Sproul's need to teach that Jesus the man and not Jesus God was crucified at the cross seems to be more theologically driven than textually driven and is a good example of this observation as not one verse is cited or interacted with to defend his position, Acts 20:28 & 1 Cor 2:8 would have been nice). Nevertheless, this book is an excellent devotional treatise on cross of Christ that does make frequent use of Scripture. It served me well as I slowly read it, wondering anew at the amazing love of this Holy God who would crush His Son in my place and give me His righteousness to free me from Hell and to reconcile me to Him.
The first few chapters were written to demonstrate to the reader that the atonement was absolutely necessary if man were to have any hope to come to God. Sproul writes, "If we are defective in understanding the character of God or understanding the nature of sin, it is inevitable that we will come to the conclusion that an atonement was not necessary" (p. 15). It is not merely enough to know the facts of the cross, we must know the meaning of the facts, he says, otherwise we will miss the significance of the cross (p. 102). Sproul does a masterful job at simply and understandably laying out this significance. In summarizing what he has taught, at the end of the book, Sproul writes, "[The cross] is not an afterthought or an attempt to correct a mistake. Rather, from all eternity, God determined that He would redeem for himself a people, and that which He determined to do was, in fact, accomplished in the work of Jesus Christ, His atonement on the cross."
In the face of many modern heresies, such as New Perspective on Paul, postmodernism, and Open Theism, that attack the very significance of the cross and are being embraced by many in evangelical circles, Sproul's book is well-timed and well written. We would do well to read it, recognize the truth of the cross, and guard ourselves from believing these gospel-attacking wolf-doctrines dressed in academic sheep's clothing. We would do well to sit at the foot of the cross everyday and recognize the importance of the doctrines that first brought us life and are meant to sustain us through our Christian life. For these ends, you will be served well by Sproul's The Truth of the Cross.