Roger Olson recently did a Q&A Session about Arminianism and Calvinism. It took place at City on a Hill Church, Federal Way, WA. The video is available on Vimeo. Run time is about 2.5 hours.
Roger Olson’s blog can be found here.
Zondervan has a preview out of Roger Olson’s new to be released book: Against Calvinism. The preview includes the first chapter, plus an introduction by Michael Horton. Dr Olson also did a blog post about the book, which can be found here. I’m looking forward to reading it, and posting a review.
1 – Why This Book Now?
2 – Whose Calvinism? Which Reformed Theology?
3 – Mere Calvinism: The TULIP System
4 – Yes to God’s Sovereignty; No to Divine Determinism
5 – Yes to Election; No to Double Predestination
6 – Yes to Atonement; No to Limited Atonement / Particular Redemption
7 – Yes to Grace; No to Irresistible Grace / Monergism
8 – Conclusion: Calvinism’s Conundrums
Appendix 1: Calvinist Attepmts to Rescue God’s Reputation
Appendix 2: Responses to Calvinist Claims
(HT: Dr. Dale Wayman)
Here’s a podcast that Roger Olson recently did: Homebrewed Christianity podcast with Roger Olson. Running time is one hour. The interview starts at 6:45, and you won’t miss much if you fast forward to that point.
They discuss Calvinism, Arminianism, Open Theism, Rob Bell, post mortem salvation, homosexuality, fundamentalism, and a bunch of other “hot” topics. :)
Olson has authored a number of books, including, The Story of Christian Theology (an overview of the history of Christianity) and Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. I appreciate Dr Olson’s work, because he writes at a level I can understand.
And as a completely irrelevant side note, I think Olson and my father-in-law look alike. See if you agree.
The Society of Evangelical Armininians has a post today by Roger Olson, where he issues a challenge to Calvinists: Rewrite “The Shack” from the Calvinist view.
Since most Calvinists are harshly critical of the novel The Shack (which takes a similar approach to theodicy as Greg Boyd in Is God to Blame?) because of its alleged undermining of God’s glory and sovereignty, why don’t they (or one of them) write a similar novel in which God explains to Mack (or someone like him) why his daughter was kidnapped, raped and murdered–and avoid language about God permitting or allowing it (which is really Arminian language)?
Quite a tall order. I would not relish the idea of explaining why God decrees the rape and murder of a little girl. And that is one of the root problems with Calvinism. If God ordains everything and he is good, then why do evil things happen?
I personally nominate Tim Challies to write the book.
If you are unfamiliar with “The Shack”, you have been living in a cave. :) It is a popular and controversial Christian novel. My review is here.
[The following is an essay by Roger Olson, author of the book Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. Dr. Olson has made this available to the Society of Evangelical Arminians. William Birch has posted some interesting commentary on the background of the essay, which can be found here.]
Roger E. Olson
Professor of Theology
George W. Truett Theological Seminary
Above all I want to make clear that I admire and respect my Calvinist friends and colleagues. We disagree strongly about some points of theology, but I hold them in high esteem for their commitment to the authority of God’s Word and their obvious love for Jesus Christ and his church as well as for evangelism.
However, I do not admire or respect John Calvin. I have been told that he should not be held responsible for the burning of the heretic Servetus because, after all, he warned the Spanish doctor and theologian not to come to Geneva and he urged the city council to behead him rather than burn him. And, after all, Calvin was a child of his times and everyone was doing the same. Nevertheless, I still struggle with placing a man complicit in murder on a pedestal.
Furthermore, I find Calvin’s doctrine of God repulsive. It elevates God’s sovereignty over his love, leaving God’s reputation in question. What I mean is that Calvin’s all-determining, predestining deity is at best morally ambiguous and at worst morally repugnant.
Much to the chagrin of some contemporary Calvinists, Calvin clearly taught that God foreordained the fall and rendered it certain. (Institutes of the Christian Religion III:XXIII.8) He also affirmed double predestination (III:XXI.5) and displayed callous disregard for the reprobate who he admitted God compelled to obedience (disobedience). (I:XVIII.2) Calvin distinguished between two modes of God’s will—what later Calvinists have called God’s decretive and preceptive wills. (III:XXIV.17) God decrees that the sinner shall sin while at the same time commanding him not to sin and condemning him for doing what he was determined by God to do. To Calvin this all lies in the secret purposes of God into which we should not peer too deeply, but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of anyone who regards God as above all love.
John Wesley commented on the Calvinists’ claim that God loves even the reprobate in some way. As one contemporary Calvinist put it, “God loves all people in some ways but only some people in all ways.” Wesley said that this is a love such as makes the blood run cold.
Calvin’s successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, commented that those who find themselves suffering in the flames of hell for eternity can at least take comfort in the fact that they are there for the greater glory of God. To paraphrase Wesley, that is a glory such as sends chills down the spine. God foreordains some of his own creatures, created in his own image, to eternal hell for his own glory? Calvin may not have put it quite that bluntly, but many Calvinists have and it is a necessary extrapolation of the inner logic of consistent Calvinism. (Institutes III:XXII.11)
I have been heavily criticized by some of my Calvinist friends for saying that my biggest problem with Calvinism (by which I mean consistent divine determinism) is that it makes it difficult for me to tell the difference between God and the devil. (I am not saying Calvinists worship the devil!)
For me nothing about the Christian worldview is more important than regarding God and the devil as absolute competitors in this universe and its tragic history. God is good and desires the good of every creature. As church father Irenaeus said “The glory of God is man fully alive.” The devil is bad and desires harm for every creature. To view the devil as God’s instrument makes a mockery of the entire biblical narrative.
Roger Olson has done another interview about Arminianism. He discusses theology with a couple of young Charismatic Reformed guys. Run time is 1 hour. The interview was on Jan 4th 2009. The hosts are amatures, and a little bit annoying, but are friendly and have a good spirit. They are obviously stoked to get Dr Olson on their show. They chit chat with themselves for the first 12 minutes, so you can fast forward a bit if you want to cut to the chase.
Episode Information: G3 Radio – The Clash of Calvinists and Arminians
Here is the mp3 direct link: LINK
Reclaiming the Mind Ministries has a number of interviews with different Biblical scholars. One link is an interview with Roger Olson about Arminianism. The broadcast 78 minutes long. Olson gives an easy to understand overview of Arminian Theology.
Link here: Reclaiming the Mind: online live theology