Arminian Books

My short reviews of various books about Arminian Theology.  The links go through the Amazon partner program. If you purchase a book through the link, I receive a commission.

Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (Roger Olson).  An excellent overview of Arminian Theology.  Olson does not set out to “disprove” Calvinism.  Rather, he explains why Arminians believe as they do, and endeavors to clear up common misconceptions.  Olson’s style is irenic.  As the Amazon reviews show, many Calvinists have found this work to be helpful.  It is written at a layperson / college level.

Against Calvinism (Roger Olson). A forceful critique of High Calvinism. or 5 point Calvinism. Olson argues primarily against the 3 middle points – the ULI of TULIP. He quotes extensively from Calvinist theologians such as Edwards, Piper, Boettner and Sproul. He argues that Calvinism unwittingly damages the character of God. He goes as far to say (as did Wesley), that in his view, Calvinism makes it hard to distinguish God from the devil. It is written at a layperson / college level.

The Transforming Power of Grace (Thomas Oden). This is the book to read if you want to understand the Arminian view on the nature of God’s grace.  Oden draws from what he calls the Paleo-Orthodox consensus on grace (What early Christians all agreed on). He quotes from church fathers throughout history. To get the most out of this book It is helpful to have a basic knowledge of church history and the early church fathers. Written at a college / seminary level.

Why I Am Not a Calvinist (Walls and  Dongell). The authors’ goal is to explain why Calvinism is not a scriptural system.  If you are looking to “disprove” Calvinism, this work is well worth the read.  It is written at a layman / college level.  As a side note, Jerry Walls (one of the authors) has a free mp3 presentation that is in large part based on the contents of the book.  It can be found in the “Arminian Audio Links” column on the right. It is written at a layperson / college level.

God’s Strategy in Human History (Forster and Marston). The authors take a look at God’s interaction with humanity. There is in depth coverage of the scripture passages that Calvinists use, such as Romans 9 and Ephesians 1. Their overview of Romans 9 is masterful. They go into some detail about the Hebrew words that we translate as “harden”. They show how these words are inconsistently and inadequately translated into English. This is relevant to God’s interaction with Pharaoh, and gives context to the “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus. The book also has an appendix that reviews the consensus of the early church fathers on the issue of free will. They argue that determinism in a Christian context was an invention of Augustine. Written at a college level.

Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology (Mildred Bangs Wynkoop). This succinct work gives an overview of Arminian Theology from a Holiness/Wesleyan perspective. In a matter of fact way, the author explains the differences in Arminian and Calvinist Theology. Written at a high school level, this is a great book for the layperson who is looking to get his feet wet.

The Five Points of Calvinism, Weighed and Found Wanting (George Bryson). Another easy to read work, written from more of a Baptist perspective. Bryson rejects Calvinism, but also holds that it is impossible forfeit one’s salvation.  A free pdf of the book can also be found online here. Written at a high school level.

Chosen But Free (Norman Geisler). A critique of Calvinism from a conservative Baptist viewpoint. Geisler presents some interesting analogies that highlight how “extreme Calvinism” (his label for 5 point TULIP theology) is damaging to the character of God.  Geisler does not consider himself Arminian.  He refers to himself as a moderate Calvinist.  He in effect tries to split the middle between Arminian and Calvinist theology. A Geisler critique of “extreme Calvinism” can be found in the audio links on the right. Written at a high school level.

Arminian and Baptist (J Matthew Pinson)  Arminian theology in the Free Will Baptist tradition.  The book gives a short history of Jacob Arminius, and a sketch of John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, the founders of the General Baptist movement. It gives a summary of Helwys “Short and Plain Proof” (a criticism of Calvinistic predestination). It discusses the theology of Thomas Grantham, and contrasts it to the theology of John Goodwin (also an Arminian). Next it looks at the theology of John Wesley, including some of the shortcomings of Wesley’s theology (shortcomings from a Classical Arminian perspective, not necessarily my own view). Lastly the book gives an overview of the Free Will Baptist distinctives. For example, FWBs believe that apostasy when it happens is permanent and comes from a rejection/loss of faith, not through sin.

The Wesley Study Bible (edited by Green and Willimon). This study bible is a collaborative effort from top notch scholars in the wider Methodist and Wesleyan community. The translation used is the NRSV.

Other relevant books that I haven’t yet read:

Grace, Faith, Free Will (Robert E. Picirilli). This book is on my short list, I’ve heard good things about it.

Classic Catechism (Russell, J. Veldman) A Wesleyan-Arminian catechism.  It is an update and revision of the original Catechism of the Free Methodist Church, first published in 1902.

What the Bible Says about God the Ruler (Jack Cottrell)

Perspectives on Election (Jack Cottrell)

The Quest for Truth: Answering Life’s Inescapable Questions  (F. Leroy Forlines)

Arminius: A study in the Dutch Reformation (Carl Bangs) A biography about James Arminius.

Life in the Son (Robert Shank)

Elect in the Son (Robert Shank)

The Believer’s Conditional Security : Eternal Security Refuted (Daniel Corner) Corner is polemic and places emphasis on the doctrine that salvation can be forfeited.

Redemption Redeemed: A Puritan Defense of Unlimited Atonement, Expanded Edition (John Goodwin) Not all Puritans were Calvinists.  Goodwin was the Arminian “John Owen” of his day.

What Love is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God (Dave Hunt)

The Other Side of Calvinism (Laurence Vance)

The Book of Romans (Robert Picirilli). A commentary on Romans, written from a solidly Arminian perspective.

Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (Beilby, Eddy, Boyd, Hunt) A compilation book of different views on God’s foreknowledge.

The New Chosen People (William Klein)

John Wesley’s scriptural Christianity (Thomas Oden) A compilation of Wesley’s notes and teachings, written in the format of a systematic theology.

Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9:1-9: An Intertextual and Theological Exegesis (Library Of New Testament Studies) (Brian Abasciano) An in depth study of Romans 9. Part 1.

Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9:10-18: An Intertextual and Theological Exegesis (Library Of New Testament Studies)
(Brian Abasciano) An in depth study of Romans 9. Part 2.

The Dark Side of Calvinism:  The Calvinist Caste System (George Bryson).  An alert reader also pointed out that this book can be found online for free here and here.

Calvinism: Bitter for Sweet (J W de Silva).  Book can also be found online for free here.

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19 responses to “Arminian Books

  1. George Elmore

    I really like your Website, Its very infomative and helpful, Is ‘The Evangelical Exegetical Commentary NT’ – Arminian or Calvins

    • Hi George, thanks for the compliment! I haven’t used the “Evangelical Exegetical Commentary”, so I can’t say for sure if it leans towards Arminianism or Calvinism. Going over the list of the scholars and the universities they are associated with, it looks like there are both Arminians and Calvinists represented.

  2. Haven’t been here in a little. But I always love what you do!

  3. Troy Mueller

    Kevin,
    Kevin,
    Somewhere, either on this site or elsewhere, I saw a list of recommended Arminian books that included commentaries and systematic theologies ect. It broke the recommended reading down into categories of books. Books on the atonement etc. Do you know where I could find such a list.

    Thanks,

    Troy Mueller

  4. Other Arminian goodies on wesleyanbooks.com – John Wesley’s “Calvinism Calmly Considered” (vols 1 and 2); and Randolph Foster’s “Objections to Calvinism.”

  5. Pingback: Quelques mots d’Arminius, théologien oublié, sur le Calvinisme | Un homme et une croix

  6. Joe coffey

    I have been looking for some of the books by Robert Shank. I have the “Life In The Son”. Can you advise where to get others. I have “Elect In The Son on order but I can’t even recall the names of his other books.

    • Hi Joe, I’m sure Shank has written other books, but “Life in the Son” and “Elect in the Son” are the only two I’m familiar with. Interesting story about Shank was that he was originally Southern Baptist, but took a lot of heat had to leave the denomination after writing “Life in the Son”, because he argued that apostasy is possible.

      • Joe coffey

        I saw that story somewhere the other day and it went on to say that when he left the SB he joined the Church of the Nazarene (I think I am remembering that correctly) and then was forced to leave them because of his position on the rapture.

      • I think he’s Church of Christ, but I could be wrong. Nazarenes don’t have a position on the rapture.

  7. Joe coffey

    At my church we are doing an in-depth study of Calvinism v/s Arminianism. The guy that is conducting the study has found quite a lot of dvd’s on Calvinism and he is presenting the Calvinism side first. He told me that he has not been able to find any good material on dvd for the Arminian side. Do you have any suggestions for that.

  8. Joe coffey

    I am sure you are more accurate than me. I could not recall with certainty what group he went to after the SBC. I could only recall that it said they discharged him also. Thank you for correcting my mistake.

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