Friday, May 20, 2011

Clarifying Calvinism- Part 3

Welcome back. Here is the next part of the series that Phil Johnson had done a couple years ago. In this part Johnson gives a couple resources that he considers to be fairly outlining the Arminian position. As well as a few good ones dealing with the Calvinist theology.

Clarifying Calvinism (Part 3)
January 15th, 2009

(By Phil Johnson)

Part III: Some book recommendations

Before we go further in this series, let me recommend a handful of books. The first book I want to recommend is a new book by Roger Olson, who is himself an Arminian, and he has written a defense of Arminianism titled Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. You might be surprised to hear me recommend this book because I published a review of it on my weblog a few months ago, and the review wasn’t altogether positive. The review was written by my friend Gary Johnson, who is pastor of The Church Of The Redeemer in Mesa, Arizona. Gary’s mentor, by the way, was S. Lewis Johnson. And even though we are all three named Johnson, none of us are related. (Though I would be very happy to be related to either S. Lewis Johnson or Gary Johnson.) Anyway, Gary’s review was in several parts, and he titled it “Calvinists in the Hands of an Angry Arminian.” So it wasn’t a completely positive review, and I agree with practically all of Gary’s complaints about the book.
But I have to say that Olson’s book is the best book in defense of Arminianism I’ve ever read. Some readers might be aware that I didn’t have a very high opinion of Dave Hunt’s anti-Calvinistic screed. When I reviewed Hunt’s book in a Shepherds’ Conference seminar a few years ago, someone told me the only reason I hated the book was because I’m a Calvinist and Hunt stepped on my toes.

And I said, “No, it’s just a really bad book, written by a guy who has no clue what he is talking about.”

My friend challenged that: “Name one well-written book, written after 1950, either defending Arminianism or attacking Calvinism, written by someone who does know what he is talking about.”

I admit it; I was stumped. But now Roger Olson has bailed me out. If anyone ever asks me that question again, I can point to Olson’s book. It’s a good defense of Arminianism, and although I disagree with virtually all his conclusions, he pretty much knows what he is talking about, and he explains the differences between Arminianism, Pelagianism, and semi-pelagianism pretty well.

If you read that book, you’ll need to read at least three or four good Calvinist books to get the taste out of your mouth. So I’ll recommend three. Two are standard works that I routinely recommend every year. The first is a massive syllabus, written by Curt Daniel, called The History and Theology of Calvinism. These are notes Dr. Daniel wrote when he taught this material, and the tapes of his teaching are downloadable for free from the internet. Dr. Daniel is currently working on developing that material in book form, to be published by P&R. My guess is you’ll have to wait 2-3 years for that, so buy the syllabus; download the sound files for free download.

The other standard work you must have is the book by David Steele, Curtis Thomas, Lance Quinn, titled The Five Points of Calvinism (also by P&R). It is an encyclopedic collection of key Scripture references and some wonderful essays explaining and defending Calvinism from the Bible.

And then one of my favorite books — hard to find for a long time but recently published in a quality edition by Audobon Press, The Great Invitation, by Erroll Hulse, subtitled “Examining the use of the altar call in evangelism.” The book deals with the question of altar calls, as the subtitle suggests, but it’s greatest value, I think, is that this is a classic example of the kind of warm-hearted, evangelistic, classic Calvinism that I appreciate, and it’s a great antidote to the ugly Calvinism I spoke about that you find in Internet forums. Erroll Hulse is a greatly respected British Reformed Baptist leader, and this is one of my all-time favorite books.

1 comment:

Kwame E. said...

All well and good. Yet, as I think I was saying before, it would be read why you believe this or that in your own words. It would also be great to see exactly what it is you believe, or just how far your leanings toward Calvinism go.

Like for instance, would you say you believe each of the following:

1. Mankind is bent toward evil
2. No one can repent by means that are common to all mankind
3. No one can believe in and follow Christ by means that are common to all mankind
4. No one can do anything that is good, beyond what we might label “civil good”
5. People are born again before they come to believe in Christ
6. Believers were predestined to salvation long before they believed and not on the basis of divine prescience, foreseen faith, or foreseen good deeds
7. The condemnation and destruction of reprobates was intentionally predetermined at the beginning of the wolrd
8. The condemnation and destruction of reprobates is predetermined merely by God’s leaving non-elect to themselves, the latter being sinners
9. Christ did not die for every mortal human being that will have existed
10. Christ died for every mortal human being that will have existed, but not in a way that is efficacious in relation to all mortals
11. “Eternal security” is real
12. God’s actively preserving or protecting his people is a basis for eternal security
13. All events are predetermined by God
14. All events were predetermined by God at the beginning of the world


You tend to get the quasi-Calvinists and 4-pointers with the Calvinists. Plus you can find difference of opinion among Calvinists. That’s because there is more to Reformed Theology than just TULIP.