Monthly Archives: July 2010

Roger Olson’s New Blog

Theologian Roger Olson has started a blog. He has a couple of posts up already. You can check the blog out here: www.rogereolson.com. HT: John Guthrie

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.


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Wired Article on Free Will

Wired Magazine has an interesting article on libertarian freedom: My First Act of Free Will.

The author Jonah Lehrer addresses the problems of scientific determinism – or having a purely mechanical view of freedom.

He notes that:

There’s a certain frivolousness to all these eloquent arguments over free will. The fact is, we are deeply wired to believe in our freedom. We feel like willful creatures, blessed with elbow room and endowed with the capacity to pick our own breakfast cereal.

The question is, why do we feel free? Why are we “deeply wired” to believe in our freedom? Perhaps it is because as creatures created in the image of God we really do have genuine freedom.

The article also referenced a study that correlated libertarian freedom with ethics. People who don’t believe in libertarian freedom are more likely to engage in unethical behavior. In the study “the amount of cheating was directly correlated with the extent to which the subjects rejected free will.”

What we believe about free will actually impacts the decisions we make.

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Jerry Walls on Problems With Calvinism

Here is a great video clip by Jerry Walls where he addresses some of the inconsistencies of Calvinism. The clip runs about 10 minutes, and is well worth the viewing. HT: Brennon Hartshorn.

Walls is a professor at Asbury seminary. He is also co-author of the book Why I’m not a Calvinist. If you have read the book, you will recognize some of his arguments here.

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Comment by George Bryson

George Bryson left a comment on my other blog. I’m cross posting it here, where it is more likely to be read. Bryson is associated with Calvary Chapel, and is a non-Calvinist who does not consider himself Arminian. His comment deals with why he writes against Calvinism and not Arminianism.

Bryson is the author of several books that deal with the problems of Reformed Theology.(Calvinism: Weighed and Found Wanting, and The Dark Side of Calvinism: The Calvinist Caste System).

I just happened on your site (or as our Reformed friends would say, was foreordained to find you. One of the questions I hear a lot is “why don’t you write a book against Arminianism” or why not explain “why it is that you are not an Arminian”?

For many years I thought about writing a book explaining why I am not an Arminian but never felt a need to write a book against Arminianism. The reason is that I am not against Arminianism the way I am against Calvinism. It never offends me and I do not see it as a threat to the health and well being of the church of Jesus Christ.

I do not see Arminianism on a agressive campain trying to win everone over to their views, even if it means misleading their potential converts. For these and many other reasons, I do not see Arminianism as a threat. So it is difficult for me to justify the kind of time it takes me to write a book that I would be happy with.

My disagreements with Arminians are real but not usually serious. When an Arminian scholar represents his views, he does not usually feel a need to hide anything or to hold anything back. They tell you what they believe and why

This is not always so for many Calvinists. I am happy to see a lot of Arminians representing themselves and I do not think they will find a need to become rude, personally attack those they disagree with, deliberately attempt to insult or offend non-Arminians. I am sure there are exceptions.

On many Calvinist websites to be rude and crude is considered cool and hip. May it never be so with Evangelical Arminians. In Christ, George

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Answers to Common Calvinist Questions

Some answers to common Calvinist questions:

Q: Why does one person believe in Jesus and not another?
Q: Man is dead. How can a dead person believe or do anything?
Q: If man is dead in sin, how can he believe outside of the grace of God?
Q: If man can make choices, doesn’t that weaken God’s sovereignty?
Q: If man can make choices, how can God have exhaustive knowledge of the future?
Q: Here are [insert list of scriptures] to prove that Calvinism is true.
Q: Doesn’t Arminian Theology leads to boasting because man contributed to his salvation?

Q: Why does one person believe in Jesus and not another?
This question assumes a deterministic framework. Each person is a unique being who has the God given capability to make his own choices ex nihilio. One person believes and not another because one chose to believe, and the other did not.

Q: Man is dead. How can a dead person believe or do anything?
A: This is a non-scriptural definition of death. Death does not mean “unable to respond”, rather, it means “separated from God”. In the parable of the lost son (Luke 15), the father states “my son was dead, but now is alive. He was lost, and now is found.” The son was able make decisions, including the decision to go home. Yet, he was separated from relationship with his father, and dependent on his father for reconciliation. To be dead is to be separated from Christ. To be alive is to be in relationship with Christ. Making choices does not give one the ability to be reconciled to Christ absent his consent.

Q: If man is dead in sin, how can he believe outside of the grace of God?
This is a statement that Arminians fully agree with! Arminians believe in prevenient grace, that God is in the process of drawing non-believers to himself. It is God’s drawing that enables the sinner to believe. We differ with Calvinists in that 1)We believe scripture teaches that God gives a measure of genuine grace to everyone (Titus 2:11), and 2)We believe that grace is resistible (John 5:34,39-40).

Q: If man can make choices, doesn’t that weaken God’s sovereignty?
Sovereignty is not synonymous with determinism or meticulous control. Rather, it means that God does what he pleases (Psalms 115:3). It pleases God to endow mankind with a measure of genuine freedom. A.W. Tozer stated it like this: “God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, “What doest thou?” Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so. “(1)

Q: If man can make choices, how can God have exhaustive knowledge of the future?
Arminians believe that God can know our choices without causing them. Some Arminians believe that God exists outside of time and sees the future as present (The Eternal Now theory). Others believe that God exists in the present but can see into the future. In this case, man’s actions are the cause of God’s foreknowledge, not the other way around. All man’s actions are certain but not necessary.(2)

Q: Here are [insert list of scriptures] to prove that Calvinism is true!
A: This is a debate tactic. While it may result in a Calvinist winning an argument, it is not a reasonable or contextual approach to reading and understanding the Bible. For a detailed and funny description of this tactic, check out The Machine Gun Hermeneutic, by Martin Glynn.

Q: Doesn’t Arminian Theology leads to boasting because man contributed to his salvation?
Arminian Theology is an entirely grace centered theology. We are saved by the work of Jesus Christ. By grace through faith. In order to be saved one must believe in Jesus and accept his sacrifice on his behalf. Since Jesus died for everyone, we have no grounds for boasting. Rather, we are motivated to share the gospel with everyone, so that they can also believe. On the other hand, Calvinism can easily lead to a haughty attitude. Calvinism teaches adherents that there are two classes of people: those who will be saved and those who cannot be saved. John Wesley correctly stated: “As directly does this doctrine [Calvinism] tend to destroy several particular branches of holiness. Such are meekness and love, — love, I mean, of our enemies, — of the evil and unthankful. I say not, that none who hold it have meekness and love (for as is the power of God, so is his mercy;) but that it naturally tends to inspire, or increase, a sharpness or eagerness of temper, which is quite contrary to the meekness of Christ; as then especially appears, when they are opposed on this head. And it as naturally inspires contempt or coldness towards those whom we suppose outcast from God.”(3)

(1) A.W. Tozer, The Sovereignty of God
(2) See Thomas Ralston, Elements of Divinity
(3) John Wesley, Free Grace, Section II

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