Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Calvinism & Arminianism: A Few Thoughts

Classical Arminian Roger Olson has recently begun to blog at

It should be obvious to regular readers of this blog that I'm fairly hostile to some Arminian ideas. But I don't think this means I have to be hostile toward my Arminian brothers and sisters in Christ. I quite enjoy a civil discussion of the issues differentiating the two major soteriological systems, and I also enjoy finding common ground to avoid the big, bad, unnecessary, mean-spirited debates. Some debates are unnecessary because they've already taken place and ended fruitlessly. Calvinists and Arminians must agree to disagree, and also strive to understand their brothers' theological convictions. We should make an effort to hear one another, and not start fights without cause. I, for one, believe Arminians make some good points. Their logic is fairly good, and some of their key themes are commendable. However, I don't believe their points, themes, and logic are ultimately the most Biblical. That's why I'm not an Arminian.

Roger Olson is probably my favorite Arminian. He's a great writer, and he seems to have a good grasp of the issues - including the main tenets of Calvinism. Most importantly, he is charitable and gracious when interacting with Calvinists. He is emphatically a classical Arminian, following in the footsteps of Jacob Arminius. This is vastly different, as Olson points out, from the semi-Pelagian or Pelagian Arminianism that is all too prevalent today. Olson believes most Arminians aren't classical, so he aims criticisms at both Calvinists and semi-Pelagians. Putting himself in this middle ground, he is liable to be attacked from both sides. Moderate Calvinists can easily relate to such a predicament.

Olson's new blog is currently addressing issues related to Calvinism and Arminianism. In particular, you may find this recent post (with comments from Chris DeVidal and myself) of interest. We argue for a Biblical, moderate Calvinism from a Biblical paradox perspective. This sometimes takes Arminians off guard, and it gives us an opportunity for bridge-building. I'm still convinced most Arminians only see a "straw man" Calvinism, and I don't blame them for arguing against it. That straw man needs to be burnt.

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