Roger Olson’s Arminian Theology– Part One

olsen

Roger Olson’s fine book entitled Arminian Theology. Myths and Realities (IVP, 2006, 266 pages) is a must read for those who don’t really know much about the differences and similarities between Arminian theology and Calvinist theology. It is the burden of Roger’s book to clear away a lot of the myths and misconceptions about Arminianism, so that a true comparison of the two theological systems can be made. There are ten chapters in the book, each dealing with one of the main objections to Arminian theology, and each showing that the objects are fundamentally wrong and flawed. This book then is both a ground clearing exercise and a work of apologetics, and it is undertaken not only because misrepresentations continue to abound. For example, Arminian theology is not Pelagian in character, it is not a theology that believes human beings can save themselves with a little help from God, it is not a theology that believes all will be saved, it is not a theology that denies that predestination is a Biblical idea, it is in fact a theology of grace from start to finish, just as Calvinism claims to be. What Arminian theology disagrees with Calvinists on is: 1) the notion that God has predestined certain persons before the foundation of the world for reprobation. Do what they will, they shall not be saved; 2) it disagrees that grace is always and everywhere rather like Don Corleone– it makes a person an offer they can’t refuse, or put more theologically, it’s irresistible, and thus Arminian theology affirms 3) that human beings do have the power of contrary choice, but that they absolutely cannot accept God’s overtures without God first working on and in them by means of his gracious Spirit who continues to work in them throughout their Christian lives. Apart from grace all persons are dead in sin and trespasses; 4) since Arminians believe grace is resistible they believe what the Bible says about the possibility of grieving or quenching the Spirit in one’s life, which is to say they believe what the NT warns about apostasy by Christians. I will strongly encourage you to read this short and pithy exposition by Roger and see what you think. In the subsequent posts on this book, Roger and I will be having a dialogue about the major topics he raises in the book. Stay tuned

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