Lead a group of men in my church through this book. A lot of them found the initial chapters a bit more difficult to weigh through. I would agree that part 1 felt more polemical, and could feel a bit more technical or abstract for those less familiar with this sort of writing or subject matter. However, part 2 seems to take a shift in tone. In these latter chapters especially, one of the things I appreciated about this book was the doxological tone and orientation naturally woven throughout. As I read, I found myself experiencing gratitude to God and standing in awe of Christ. I believe this book originally came out of a series of lectures Murray delivered (?). And it certainly reads like that. It feels a bit different in that way from other systematic treatments of soteriology. Very insightful and well done.
In The Cross and Salvation Bruce Bruce Demarest takes the reader step by step through the doctrines of salvation in order of their logical and temporal occurrence. He groups the book into six sections: 1) the plan of salvation which includes an introduction, grace, and election/predestination, 2) the provision of salvation, being the atonement, 3) the application of salvation, including the subjective aspects such as divine calling, conversion, and regeneration, and 4) the objective aspects such as union with Christ and justification, 5) the progress of salvation which is sanctification as well as preservation and perseverance, and finally, 6) the perfecting of salvation, which is glorification.
Within each section Demarest starts off by presenting the doctrine at hand’s history and significant theological views of the doctrine such as the Pelagian/Liberal view, the Semi-Pelagian (Catholic) view, Lutheran view, Weslyian/Arminian view, Neo-Orthodox (Karl Barth) view, Liberation view, Pentecostal view, Nazarene view, Keswick view, High Calvinist view, Moderately Reformed (or Calvinistic or Reformed Evangelicals) view, as well as other views. (However, which systems he talks about differs from one doctrine to the next, because some systems apply to certain doctrines and not others). This section is remarkable for many reason. For one, it lays a historical context for the reader. And secondly, it gives the reader a broad perspective on the doctrine and the various viewpoints concerning it, making the reader aware of false interpretations that might go unnoticed otherwise and possibly introducing the reader to various beliefs besides his own, which has several obvious benefits.