Titles: Against Calvinism & Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities
Author: Roger Olson
Topic: Calvinism, Arminianism
It is clearly evident that Reformed Theology is in. And not just in Seattle, where Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill call home. Throughout the nation, seminaries, denominations, and the blogosphere is full of the “Young, Restless and Reformed,” willing to stop and correct anyone who does not proclaim the Gospel the way they perceive it.
Surely, there have been many positive things that have come out of the Reformed movement:
- It has captivated many young men, a group that is almost completely absent in mainline denominations
- A lot of emphasis is being brought back to scriptures; college campuses and Starbucks’ are full of young people reading, underlining and studying their Bibles.
Because Calvinism and Arminianism was almost completely unheard of in the Slavic circles, the current wave of Reformed Theology raised a lot of interest in many youth to find out about it, and consider its conclusions. This has led hundreds to embrace Calvinism, its 5 tenets, and its outspoken leaders, such as John Piper, RC Sproul and John MacArthur.
The reality is, most of these people became Reformed without reading anything written anything good by non-Calvinistic authors. When you go into a Christian bookstore, you mostly find 2 options:
- Books on health, wealth, prosperity, money, tithing, sowing seeds, and proclaiming words of faith
- Books written by Calvinists on the different books of the Bible, how to study the Bible, on issues of character, discipline, and “where is God when it hurts.”
Of course, that’s not true. But the reformed movement sure makes it seem like it.
It is also true that many seeking to find out more about the Calvinism/Arminianism debate are mostly directed to Reformed blogs, books and authors, which presents the Calvinist side well and the other side negatively, unfairly, and many times incorrectly.
Before you switch tribes, start growing a beard, drinking bear, smoking cigars and calling yourself the Young, Restless & Reformed, Id like for you to consider two books written by Roger Olson. See what Arminianism is from the perspective of an Arminian, not from the perspective of a Calvinist. Sure, if you’d like to know more about Calvinism, do read from their perspective, not just from the perspective of Arminianism. And, if after reading these two books on Arminianism you still decide to switch tribes and become a Calvinist, at least you’ll know what the other side really does stand for and proclaim.
Ive personally had a chance to spend time with Dr. Olson, who teaches at Baylor University in Texas. We held a forum in Seattle on this subject, which can be viewed here. Dr. Olson is respected across many denominations, and some of his books are required readings in many seminaries, Bible Colleges and universities.
PS. If you are in ministry, I highly recommend these books, as this is an issue that will come up often in conversations, home group discussions, on Social Media, and other venues. You must be prepared to speak intelligently, and KNOW what the REAL issues are when this topic is debated.
PSS. My only wish is that some Slavic pastors would read these books. But unfortunately, most wont cause they feel like they know everything there is to know about this subject or any other subject. And that is why many young people leave their church.
3 thoughts on “Book Recommendations on issue of Calvinism/Arminianism: Against Calvinism & Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities”
I wouldn’t refer someone to John MacArthur’s book “Charismatic Chaos” under the guise it is a concise review of Pentecostal theology. Why ? Because it is unashamedly biased.
As interesting as Dr. Olson’s books are, I would not send anyone his way to learn about Calvinism either. I would instead send people his way to learn about Arminian and Semi-Pelagian theology (topics he is an expert on). I recommend that your readers check out works written by Calvinist authors such as James Montgomery Boice’s book “The Doctrines of Grace” or RC Sproul’s book “Reformed Theology” for a fair overview of what Reformed people believe. I’d also recommend the sister book to “Against Calvinism” which is called “For Calvinism”.
Whatever the case, you don’t have to mingle with folks who have beards, drink beer, or smoke cigars, to get a solid unbiased presentation of historic Reformed theology. However, you won’t be getting such an unbiased presentation in Dr. Olson’s book.
I will not hide my bias that I am Reformed Christian. Stereotyping is true in both side and I am deeply ashamed of most of those who called themselves Calvinists yet fail to act in accordance to what they believe. I am Reformed Christian who love and treasure other traditions(Arminianism and New Perceptive – Sanders, Dunn, & Wright).
I am current reading through all works of Jacob Arminius and so blessed by the way God used him to teach me so much. His reaction against teachers after Calvin is very understandable. I read Olson and Horton. I enjoy reading Christians from both side because I believe God uses them for His glory.
I am sadden that most Christians who are into Calvin-Arminius battle have not read the works of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and Arminius but only what others say about their theology. We are caught disagreeing, and endorsing one view over the other without even understanding, though we think we do, what the others view is.
It was in Church Dogmatics class, taught by my favorite professor who is Molinist, in his critique of Reformed tradition that flamed a fire in me to read the works of giants who held that view. I discovered that doctrines of grace are so much more than American-oversimplification “tulip”. In my two years research that was aim to critique these doctrines, I ended up defending them.
I will encourage Christian to read the classics, and read contemporary books from the best of both side and open their Bible to see if what is said is true. If they are not a Bible students, then they ought find a class on Hermeneutics and learn the art of understanding the Bible, then come back and read books from both side with a heart that desire to Glorify and enjoy God through His words.
magnificent post, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector do not understand this.
You should continue your writing. I am confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!