Does Arminianism Preach?

C. Michael Patton’s got a point of view here (italics below), and …

I wonder what you think?

I made an observation recently that may be completely off base, or it may just betray the reality of the tight Evangelical circles in which I travel most of the time. Either way, here it is:

Calvinists have  a corner on theologically-themed conferences. Arminians have apologetically-themed conferences. Leadership conferences don’t do theology.

Is this true? It seems true from my standpoint. Think about the major conferences out therethat are theological in nature: Desiring God, Together for the Gospel, The Gospel Coalition, and Ligonier Ministries. All of them fill churches and arenas with thousands of people. Passion fills the air as speakers talk about theological issues in the church. John Piper, Don Carson, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Tim Keller, and the like are invited to speak. Diversity runs deep in these theology conferences. Dispensationalist and Covenant Theologians, paedobaptists and credo baptists, charismatics and non-charismatics, and premillenialists and amillenialists are all represented. However, it is hard to find an Arminian invited to (much less putting together) such engagements. Why? I don’t know, but I suspect that it is because Arminianism, as a theological distinctive, just does not preach. Don’t get me wrong. I did not say that Arminians can’t preach. They most certainly can. And I did not say that Arminianism is not true (This is not the question on the table). It is simply that the distinctives of Arminianism do not sell in such settings. Evangelicals love to hear about the sovereignty of God, the glory of God in suffering, the security of God’s grace, the providence of God over missions, and yes, even the utter depravity of man. This stuff preaches. This stuff sells tickets.

HT: BB

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • gingoro

    As a moderate calvinist the only one of the high calvinist speakers you list that I would bother to go and hear would be Tim Keller. I have read most of the rest and do not find them profitable to read any more as they tend to be into divine determinism. I have to wonder if some of these people really explained in depth what they mean by God’s sovereignty or particular providence, how many would continue to come out to such reformed conferences.

    Many years ago at a former church leading evangelicals were brought in to speak over the summer. To me the crowd looked as big on the night that Clark Pinnock spoke as when say D A Carson or James Boice were speaking.
    Dave W

  • John

    I would push back on the depth of theological diversity. There might be around certain topics, but certainly not all. Arminianism being one of them, women being another. You very rarely see Arminians or women invited to participate in these “evangelical” circles and conferences.

    I also wonder at the implications of the celebrity aspect of these conferences. How much of it is based on a desire for critical engagement with the theological issues being presented? As opposed to how much of it is based on wanting to emulate the latest trend/celebrity/success story?

    I would also suggest that if we are trying to “sell” something, be it a theological system or simply tickets, we’ve missed the point.

  • http://www.chuckroberts.blogspot.com/ Chuck Roberts

    This is interesting. I wonder if the appeal of those conferences is our “need” for certainty. For sure, many of the speakers listed stand up and with absolute certainty proclaim the truth . . . and it’s not put out there as “the truth as we see it” but “THE TRUTH!”

  • Adam

    Calvinism, neo-calvinism, and the general reformation theology, seems to me to be a spectator theology. The only thing that really matters are the thoughts that go through your head (doctrine). If you agree with all the right things, your faith is complete. These arena based events directly feed that, in almost the same manner as a sports event. You don’t actually have to splay the sport to enjoy it. You merely have to watch.

    Should we call it preaching when it is so spectator centric? Would it be more accurate to say these events are Lecturing?

  • L.M. Jarrell

    We’re not trying to sell theology, we’re trying to live it… :)

  • Don

    Could it be the difference is between a bounded set (Calvinism) and a centered set (Arminianism)?

  • http://benjskramer.wordpress.com benyamen

    I think Arminianism preaches fine, but generally those who are Arminian aren’t drawn to large theological conferences because they are more prone to accept a diversity of theological positions as possible and as such don’t see the point in listening to one person telling them what to think. Why spend $1000 on a weekend for conference registration, travel, accomodations and food to hear someone speak when you’ll likely leave feeling about the same about things as you did before? Arminians I think are drawn to conversation in local coffee shops than conferences full of dogma with 15,000 like minded people.

  • Rick

    Chuck Roberts-

    “I wonder if the appeal of those conferences is our “need” for certainty.”

    It is a desire for certainty about God being in control.

    As CMP went on to say in his post:

    “these observations are not timeless. They are what I see today. I think they represent the chicken or the egg question (I don’t know which comes first) to the resurgence of Calvinism in the pews today. My hypothesis is that Calvinism preaches better than Arminianism. In a confused world of suffering and pain, we want to know that God has it under control, not man. Calvinism instigates more of a dramatic change in theology than does Arminianism. We are more naturally inclined toward the Arminian idea of free will and God’s sovereignty. People normally don’t “become” Arminians. But nearly all Calvinists can tell of a passionate “conversion” experience as to how Calvinism dramatically changed their way of thinking about God. This creates incredible passion. Therefore, we invite Calvinists only to these theology conferences (even when the organization, itself, claims to be more broadly Evangelical).

  • MattR

    I agree with Adam, a “spectator theology.” And would add that most of the topics listed here, which the new-reformed conferences would speak on, are passive rather than active. Totally depravity, the meticulous sovereignty of God, etc. never ask us to participate, instead they just say, ‘there’s nothing you can do, so sit back and watch the show!’ I think this, unfortunately, fits very well in modern evangelicalism… we have built a culture that is drawn to anything that allows people to be passive spectators.

  • http://davidbrush.com David Brush

    As a Wesleyan I am offended sir, I think old boy John preached it well… :-) (That was a joke).

    What we preach is the need for ALL to be saved, because ALL can be saved. Besides, it saves paying for tickets to discuss who God can’t save and trying to justify why that’s a good thing.

  • John C

    Interesting question. I think one of the problems Arminians have is that they don’t have the same weight of Protestant theological tradition behind them. Contemporary Calvinists are the huge weight and density of post-Reformation Reformed theology, which they are committed to popularising and propagating. Arminians have Arminius and Wesley and lesser known figures. They also have most of the early Church Fathers on their side, but none of the early Church Fathers were Protestant of course, and their theology is less immediately accessible to post-Reformation Christians.

    But Arminianism surely preaches – it did with Wesley and generations of evangelical preachers after him. An Arminian can look someone (anyone) in the eye and say ‘God loves you, Jesus died for you and longs for you to be saved’. Calvinists can say that too, but only with fingers crossed behind their backs or by carefully defining what they mean by ‘love’.

    The truth is that most Christians globally – whether they are Catholics, Orthodox or Evangelical, lean towards something like the view of grace and free will that Arminius taught. It’s for that reason that Calvinists have to go out of their way to articulate their minority position – and why they devote entire conferences to doing so.

  • Jon Altman

    John Wesley preached just fine-as did his brother Charles. “Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast-Let EVERYONE be Jesus’ Guest. Ye need NOT ONE be left behind, for God hath bid ALL HUMANKIND.”

  • Aaron

    OR are these conferences a case of surrounding themselves with teachers who will tickle the ears?

  • Joshua

    I don’t think Arminianism doesn’t preach, but as of late no Arminian has done for John Wesley what John Piper has done for Jonathan Edwards. Wesley was Arminian – he could pack a house too. Apparently, rapturous views of God’s love and goodness are just as sensational as Edwards’ (and subsequently, of Piper’s) view of God’s glory (by which they mean his control).

    So, no. I think Arminianism can preach – it just isn’t right now because of the overwhelming influence of personality cults like Mohler’s, Sproul’s and Piper’s, and the resultant organizational complex that has sprung up around the movement. I don’t think they preach any better, but when a group of great preachers get together, and then exclude anyone who’s not Calvinist – then it’s not difficult to see how one could come to believe that Calvinism preaches, and Arminianism doesn’t.

  • SEG

    I grew up evangelical, not Calvinist, hearing about/having emphasized at church and at conferences the sovereignty of God, the glory of God in suffering, the security of God’s grace, the providence of God over missions, and the utter depravity of man. What I did not hear was that God had predestined people to damnation. Even if predestination to damnation is preached freely and effectively at the new calvinist conferences, with all of it’s implications, and the crowd embraces it, I would say that the former topics, those preached in calvinist and non calvinist settings, are the real draw.

  • Rick

    Aaron-

    “OR are these conferences a case of surrounding themselves with teachers who will tickle the ears?”

    Disagree with Calvinism if you want, but that kind of comment is below the belt. People like Keller certainly don’t do things to “tickle the ears”.

  • http://patricklmitchell.wordpress.com Patrick Mitchell

    This is an interesting observation. In a somewhat related vein, I’ve often wondered why most high-profile preachers are Calvinist and we don’t see many Arminian (or even moderate-Calvinist) preachers out there. Anyone else notice this? I know Will Willimon is out there preaching somewhat, but who else? Why the glut of Calvinists?

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    It would also be interesting to see whether in North America and globally, which kinds of churches are growing exponentially the most between Arminians and Calvinists (this may tell a different story?).

  • RJS

    Patrick,

    Where would you put NT Wright on the list? Or isn’t he a preacher?

  • James

    What about the Calviminians?

    Those at the extremes always think they are the only two points of view, don’t they? ;-)

  • Rickopodomus

    This:

    “But Arminianism surely preaches – it did with Wesley and generations of evangelical preachers after him. An Arminian can look someone (anyone) in the eye and say ‘God loves you, Jesus died for you and longs for you to be saved’. Calvinists can say that too, but only with fingers crossed behind their backs or by carefully defining what they mean by ‘love’.”

  • http://patricklmitchell.wordpress.com Patrick Mitchell

    RJS,

    I would place him in the less Reformed (ie., Calvinist) camp. I think he does a good job of standing in between if I’ve heard him correctly. He has plenty of Calvinist critics, so that might be as good an indicator that he’s thoroughly Arminian. I still think of him more as a professor, like the Willimons and Witheringtons.

    Is it just that there’s no Driscoll/Acts 29 equivalent in the Arminian camp, so that in turn the preachers don’t garner as much publicity? I really do wonder about this because even Arminian preachers I know listen to Calvinist preachers because that’s who gets podcasted, etc.

  • Aaron

    Rick – I Agree.

  • http://www.chuckroberts.blogspot.com/ Chuck Roberts

    Rick, maybe Arminians are somewhat misunderstood and maybe the Reformed crowd tends to frame Arminian positions in a negative light which makes them easier to argue against. Maybe some Arminians do the same. Maybe neither group does; I’m just “thinking out loud.” But I say this because I’m reading Ben Witherington’s book on grief and, unless I’m reading it wrong (a possibility), he seems to think God is in control.

    I say this as one who has been pretty strongly in the Reformed camp until recently. I have not “converted” to Arminianism, and I’m not sure I will. I just think some of the things I was taught about what Arminians believe weren’t accurate. And I am bothered by how certain Reformed theologians are about things. Maybe it’s just semantics but “certainty about God being in control” may just serve the purpose of feeling better about things, more in control myself.

  • http://www.davidwesterfield.net David Westerfield

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say even the Wesley’s weren’t always consistent within their own framework of Arminianism; John didn’t always preach what he said he believed as doctrine. Based on this, and other things, Arminianism doesn’t preach because it doesn’t comport with spiritual experience, IMHO: “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” What believer doesn’t confess this as their conversion experience? http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/c/acanitbe.htm … Based on this, some have called even the Wesley’s “confused Calvinists.” And they’re supposed to be “poster children” for Arminianism! :)

  • RJS

    David,

    I think it is equally accurate to portray most Calvinists as “confused Arminians” because most actually do preach conversion and the importance of human decision.

    I have not heard many preach a consistent Calvinism – and I don’t think a consistent Calvinism preaches well outside of academic or theology conference circles.

    Personally – I think this is because none of our constructs actually get to the heart of the matter. And Calvinism, and Arminianism, and other systematic theological formalisms, are at the core nothing more than a flawed human attempts to understand God.

    We need humility before God.

  • Rick

    Chuck Roberts-

    And if people in the Reformed crowd gave statements about Arminians being false teachers, I would say the same thing.

    I say that as one who appreciates those on both sides (or various sides) of the debate.

  • Scott Gay

    “Diversity runs deep”….. that is a joke. Neo-orthodoxy(Barth), dialecticalsm(Brunner), existentialism(Bultmann), scholasticism(Ratzinger), open(Pinnock), liberal(Tillich), process(Hartshorne), religionless(Bonhoffer)- and all in the last half of the 20th century and still being filtered.
    In Genevan language Calvinism is a weltanschuung. A construction of mind which gives a unified solution to all the problems of our existence. One in which no question is left open. Juxtiposed against the scientific and philosophical milieu of today it is out of place. It’s easy to see why it is one of the ideal wishes of mankind, and why they want it and want to hear it. If Jurgen Moltmann was the reformed speaker I would go, because the theology of hope is a refreshing step into the river that is life.

  • Luke Allison

    What about Global Leadership Summit? As diverse a group as you’ll likely find, some leaders, some theologians, some pastors, from all different settings. Brenda Salter McNeill and Word of Faith Lite preacher Steven Furtick in one setting?

    What about Catalyst? What about Qideas? What about Exponential?

    These are the conferences I generally attend because my church sends me to them.

    A few years back I went to a Desiring God pastor’s conference just to see what it was like. Wandering around the dining areas, I heard snippet after snippet of conversation. I am not kidding when I say that nearly everything I heard involved either someone’s “heresy”, someone’s “false teaching” or someone’s “amazing theology”. In short, a grand cavalcade of high-fiving and communal assurance.

  • Mike Crews

    Being an Arminian preacher, I would definitely say that our doctrine will preach. The problem is many do not even understand these doctrines.
    I would dare to say that Arminius himself believed in the things you say excite evangelicals: “the sovereignty of God, the glory of God in suffering, the security of God’s grace, the providence of God over missions, and yes, even the utter depravity of man.” I further believe that what some call Classical or Reformed Arminianism (such as promoted by Robert Picirilli or Leroy Forlines of the Free Will Baptists) emphasizes these doctrines, though not from a Calvinistic perspective. The real fault (in my humble opinion) is the fact that Arminians are not usually given a seat at the table (can’t remember the Elephant room leaving room for us) or that few people take the time or make the effort to understand what we believe.

  • Robin

    One thing that has been overlooked is the interdenominational of the meetings under discussion. I contend they are interdenominational largely because they have to be.

    If you consider the speakers from the recent T4G, you’ve got Mohler, Platt, Piper, Duncan, DeYoung, etc.

    With the exception of Ligon Duncan the thing that stands out is that all of the men are from denominations where their particular brand of theology is in the minority.

    Put another way, if you are an arminian Methodist why would you need an Arminian inter-denominational conference, you could just go to any of the denominational conferences.

    But if you are a Calvinistic Southern Baptist you’ve got more in common with Calvinists from other denominations than you do with the Arminians that make up 75% of your denomination. Or if you’re a calvinistic general baptist are you more likely to want to go here David Platt at an interdenominational conference or Greg Boyd at a denominational conference.

    Big picture. Calvinists might make up a growing chunk of evangelical Christendom, but for the most part they only have minority voices within their denominations (PCA excluded) so they band together across denominational lines, whereas Arminians control a majority share of most denominations and can just rely on traditional denomination events.

  • PLTK

    David, unfortunately the comment that the Wesleys were “confused Calvinists” just shows most don’t have a good knowledge of classical Arminianism or of what the Wesleys believed. The song is entirely consistent with Arminian theology.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    The problem is that Calvinism, like Judaism, teaches guilt. The Jews were part of god’s people (if you are a new perspective person), and as such needed to live up to a set of rules that they never could fully attain.

    Calvinism teaches the same thing and that bifurcates the population. One one hand you have a group that is guilt ridden and slaves to the father because they can never merit their salvation, and on the other you have people that say what the heck and don’t even try.

    Guilt sells tickets!

  • http://www.hdnazarene.com Tim Stidham

    I would have to agree with most of the Wesleyan/Arminians posting here…a need for apparent certainty seems to be huge for conference-goers. Wesleyans often want to remain in their context ministering. We see our theology lived out and proven true in real-world ministry settings all the time. Smaller deep discussions an dialogue appeal more.
    I also think that Wesleyan/Arminianism appeals to sinners more than longtime saints, unless they truly surrender to sanctifying grace. It’s a great source of hope for the one group and a reminder of the call to keep growing and reaching out to the other…

  • http://RankinFile(steverankin.wordpress.com) Stephen Rankin

    Some fractured and fragmented thoughts:

    Wasn’t Arminius a Reformed theologian? I know the Synod of Dordt took serious issue with his position, but still, doesn’t he fit better as a Reformed theologian than elsewhere? I’m not entirely happy with the labels used to define the terms of this discussion.

    John Wesley’s “Arminianism” was filtered through Anglican doctrine, which has a pretty serious dose of Reformed theology in it, does it not? I’m thinking Thomas Cranmer here…

    Furthermore, John Wesley’s journal shows how diligently he tried to work out the doctrinal differences between himself and George Whitefield, that Calvinist Methodist (yes, there were some). The key bones of contention were twofold between Calvinists and Wesleyans: (1) the scope and breadth of saving grace, and (2) the degree to which full and complete sanctification was possible this side of glory.

    I would argue that the question has less to do with Calvinism and Arminianism and more to do with the Fundamentalist/Modernist trajectories in American religious history.

  • David Hull

    Is this question perhaps an exercise in missing the point? Does it matter if Calvinism or Arminianism “can preach” if Jesus Christ is being proclaimed? Didn’t Paul suggest that irrespective of motives that if Christ is being proclaimed that we should rejoice? “This stuff sells tickets.” Is that we have become about as a body of Christ, about having major conferences where lots of people attend and we sell a lot of tickets… is that the measure of our success? I think that if that is what is important to us, perhaps John Calvin and Jacob Arminius are both rolling over in their graves.

    Praise God for our Calvinist brothers and the lives that are transformed by the Holy Spirit under biblical preaching where Christ is exalted…. and Praise God for our Arminian brothers and the lives that are transformed by the Holy Spirit under biblical preaching where Christ is exalted.

  • http://trinitariantheodicy.wordpress.com Trin

    “This stuff sells tickets.”

    So does NASCAR. So does opera. So does porn.

    Relevance?
    Next!

  • http://abrilgoforth.wordpress.com Abril

    Funny that Arminianism is sure what people want to hear when the s*** hits the fan in their lives, though! :-)

  • David McBeath

    Let me preface what I am about to say with this: I would consider myself a moderate Calvinist. That being said, from you you mentioned in this postit would appear my Calvinists friends are the marketeers they tend to abhor. They just do it in a conference setting, not the local church.

  • Trav

    RJC, I agree with your comment about “flawed human attempts to understand God” and the need for theological humility. Spot on!

  • Joshua

    James:

    “What about the Calviminians?”

    I’ve heard of people identifying themselves as Calminians before, but I’ve never met one. Roger Olson has written on this repeatedly. In short, there’s really no such thing as Calminianism. There can’t really be a synthesis of Calvinism and Arminianism. Election cannot be unconditional and conditional at the same time. Nor can the atonement be limited and unlimited at the same time. Nor can grace be irresistible and resistible at the same time. These two theologies may be at two opposite extremes, but it is a mistake to believe that there can be a synthesis between them. They not only have completely different conclusions, but different points of departure as well. When someone tries to “come to the middle,” the first casualty is clarity. What it usually means is, the differences are ignored and the actual theologies of both Arminianism and Calvinism are brushed over.

  • Alan Cassady

    It has been my experience that the main reason you do not see Arminians in these huge Evangelical events is that they are not invited. Many Calvinists say and believe that Arminians are not real Christians and so they do not get invited.
    Most Calvinists have an inaccurate view of Arminianism and never deal with the real differences. They build straw men and then demolish them and make fun of them. All you have to do is peruse the blog of Roger E. Olson to get the flavor of real real Arminianism.

    As for whether it preaches or not, just ask United Methodist mega church pastors like Adam Hamilton of Church of the Resurrection.

    So why do we not see them, they are not invited.

  • http://thesometimespreacher.blogspot.com/ Andy Holt

    Maybe I’m cynical, but I think this is purely a matter of celebrity. There are, quite simply, far more Calvinist “celebrity” preachers than Arminian. And as we Americans know so well, celebrity sells.

  • http://danwhitejr@BLOGSPOT,COM dan jr

    Have you heard Greg Boyd or Bruxy Casey? Great Arminian leaning preaching.

  • John Damscene

    Arminianism is still an offshoot of Calvinism. This whole discussion is splitting hairs within one single paradigm.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    Reformed theology tends to emphasize God’s sovereignty, or rather control, over everything, including our will. Arminian theology tends to emphasize the sovereignty of the human will (granted as prevenient grace) and the latter can sound almost heretical for those frightened by their own behavior. The Bible acknowledges both the sovereignty of God and the freedom of humans, but the Arminian view may seem too threatening in light of our abject sinfulness and lack of spiritual monogamy if that is who we are. We consciously or unconsciously realize we are continuing in sin and disobedience–if not fully submitted to the Spirit of Christ–and can’t acknowledge that our behavior can alienate us from God. God is surely too good and too powerful to allow us to be one of those to whom Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, I do not know you,” or “from the one who has not, take away even what he has” (Matt 25:12 & 29), isn’t he?

    Of course God is faithful and able to save, but he doesn’t do that against the will of the ones he saves. Those not obeying him know that their only chance is if God just “chooses” and “elects” them despite their disobedience; their only chance is if the claims of Reformed “theological certainty” trumps their spiritual unfaithfulness; of course this “sells” big time. Conversion to the theological certainty of this neo-Reformed perspective is most likely conversion to “another gospel,” but it isn’t currently seen as such because of the same kind of cultural and theological “kinetic energy” that kept those in the Roman Catholic Church from seeing its excesses (however partially) until after the Reformation. Wasn’t the main spiritual problem of the scribes and Pharisees that they believed they were irrevocably “the elect,” the “sons of Abraham” and therefore saved? Pray for another reformation before Christ comes back. In either case there will be a lot of surprises, many of the first being last, or perhaps after eternal punishment, not at all. Repent and obey, believing into the obedience of faith in Christ (Rom. 1:5)

  • Chip

    I’ve mentioned this before, but religion reporter Julia Duin’s assessment of the popularity of the resurgence in Reformed theology among young evangelicals (from her book Quitting Church, if I remember correctly) really gave me a new perspective. She sees it for many of them as largely a reaction against a charismatic upbringing. And even though we can’t equate Arminianism with charismatic theology, there’s no question that the latter tends in the same direction of the former.

    This dovetails well with an observation from Christianity Today’s 2006 or 2007 cover story: In Reformed theology, they find a more robust theology *and spirituality* (witness the popularity of the Puritans among the young Reformed) that is meaningful to them. As John Piper said in the CT article, they find that Reformed theology “makes their heart sing” (close paraphrase from memory). And from knowing several young adult extended family members who have become Reformed from a variety of traditions, another major factor seems to be the popularity of the PCA’s Reformed University Fellowship on campuses.

    Arminianism does, of course, preach, but it is not igniting the spiritual imagination now. I suspect that Reformed theology’s recent resurgence owes a lot to Michael Horton starting the White Horse Inn radio broadcast over 20 years ago now. It took a while for it to have impact in large numbers, but eventually it did. Arminianism needs creative spokespeople who can present the beauty and value of Arminian theology and spirituality to young adults. (I’m not saying there aren’t any, but there’s no one who’s currently having a national impact, to my knowledge.)

  • Richard

    Is this so surprising considering the emphasis on piety and practice in Arminianism and the emphasis on right doctrine in Reformed Theology? It goes back to the roots of the movements – Wesleyanism was a reaction to an armchair theology for the upper class that didn’t take to the streets. I think both emphases are necessary for the Body of Christ to prosper but it would be great to invite some Arminians to these conferences to ask the questions of, “so what are we going to do now?” or “why are so many people with correct theology still jerks?” after they’ve been learning about doctrinal constructions.

  • James

    Joshua, I wondered if anyone would ever bite. You’d be surprised how many self-described Calviminians there are, despite what Olson may say. I know plenty. But that wasn’t really my point. My point is that these two extreme (from each other) points of view are often viewed as the only two possibilities. But are they? Or are they just the only two most people have chosen to take sides with because they are so easily put at opposite sides of the field? I’m reminded of a comment in the Piper vs. Wright thread about mimetic response…

  • JoeyS

    Maybe a better question is, “Does Calvinism Act?” – Of course it does, but that Arminian conferences are more on praxis and mission lends itself to this question.

  • Robin

    Maybe this thread is dead, but I thoght I’d add a little nugget.

    Most of the calvinists I know (or at least a good chunk of them) are late in life converts. I came to Christ when I was 20 and was hungry for any deep theological teaching I could get. In my college town my basic choices were the local Arminian Southern Baptists that would basically give me a tract on the four spiritual laws…and the Calvinists who were reading John Piper and J.I. Packer.

    Given those two options…surfacy arminianism and theological calvinism, it is no surprise I turned out how I did. I think that Calvinists are currently simply doing a better job of reaching highschool and college age Christians who are longing for deep theology.

    In truth, I don’t even know of any arminians who are really trying to get heavy theology to this crowd. Some might object along the lines of “arminians care more about living as Christians than studying theology…” but when I was a new Christian I just wanted to devour everything, heck I was reading Augustine within a couple of months after my conversion.

    So…who, right now, is writing deep, devotional arminian theology aimed at the masses? I am trying to picture the aisles of my local Christian bookstore and the only arminian authors I can think of turn out fluff…seriously, what current arminian authors have produced something that could be on par with something like “Knowing God” by Packer? Genuinely curious.

  • CGC

    Hi Robin,
    How about Scot Mcknight or Greg Boyd?

  • Luke

    Roger Olson, Ben Witherington, David DeSilva, Joel Green, John Goldingay, Greg Boyd, Scot McKnight (though I don’t know the latter 4 adopt the title “Arminian,” they are all non or post-Calvinists). These are hardly lightweight scholars putting out fluff. From a comment like that it’s quite obvious you don’t venture out to read others outside of the reformed camp. I could actually go on and on about legitimate heavyweight theological scholars that put out deep material that blows “Knowing God” or “Desiring God” out of the water in terms of depth who aren’t Calvinists, but I know you’re speaking about material for the masses. In terms of material for the masses, the above list stands.

    And claiming a devastating tornado ripping through a town killing dozens was God’s judgment, or a horrendous illness taking the life of a 2 year old boy is for God’s glory, hardly classifies as “heavy theology.” I only say that because when I hear neo-reformed individuals speak of “deep” and “heavy” theology I often probe a bit and find out that these are terms used to describe claims that are shocking, politically incorrect, and pastorally insensitive. Just because it’s “heavy” and “deep” to you doesn’t make it more correct

  • JamesG

    “Heavy” and “deep” are such subjective terms. In my experience, they usually just mean “things that I agree with and care deeply about” which, of course, is not actually an arbiter of truth.

    Besides, “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” Proverbs 18:4, ESV ;-)

  • Joshua

    James,

    No, I wouldn’t be surprised to know that man describe themselves as such, but I just hadn’t met any myself. If there is a way between Calvinism and Arminianism, then I haven’t read it, and I can’t think of one myself. As I stated above, so I’ll state here again: these two theologies may be at two opposite extremes, but it is a mistake to believe that there can be a synthesis between them. If there is a third option, then I doubt it would be anything like “Calminianism.” In any case, those who self-identify as such need to demonstrate how and why these two theologies can be reconciled if they’re going to cram two names together in the name of. . . well, I don’t exactly know what.

  • Quartermaster

    @John Damscene

    Calvinism is a part of the scholastic stream. Arminianism is not an offshoot of Calvinism. Trying to use the Remonstrance to determine historical theology is a rather shallow way of pursuing epistemology. Arminianism is actually a return to Pre-Augustinian theology. Calvin would have been thrown out of the AnteNicene Church as a Gnostic.

  • http://atdcross.blogspot.com/ Nelson Banuchi

    “This stuff sells tickets.”

    Things that provide absolute certainty protecting from the unpredictable vicissitude of life, things that “tickle the ears”, usually do…

  • http://atdcross.blogspot.com/ Nelson Banuchi

    Re: comment #56, from Quartermaster. Unless I am mistaken, while the notions of Pelagius were rejected by an authoritative and representative church council, simultaneously, the notions of predestination were rejected by that same souncil, also. If true, your assertion that “Calvin would have been thrown out of the AnteNicene Church as a Gnostic” is more than likely if Church history betrays an accurate measurement of theologically accepted orthodoxy.

  • CJ7

    In reading through many of the above comments, most readers seem to think that the other side (of whichever side you happen to be on) tends to caricature your position. As someone who spent most of his Christian life thoroughly Arminian and Charismatic, but have moved to the uber-minority Reformed Charismatic position, I would have to whole-heartedly agree. Many Arminians paint all Calvinists as Hyper-Calvinist fatalists, or claim those that aren’t are being inconsistent with their theology. Many Calvinists paint all Arminians as being Pelagian or Semi-Pelagians whose theology will eventually lean toward Open-theism or universalism. BOTH camps put up straw men and have flame throwers who question the very salvation of those in the opposite camp. And BOTH camps have a tendency to exclude members of the other side from conferences and gatherings, even when the topic is not related to the particularities of soteriology. It would benefit us ALL if we could recognize these short comings without qualifiers.
    However, if you look you can find some encouraging events. Dr. Michael Brown (Arminian) and James White (Calvinist) often work together in debates with liberal theologians and those who deny the divinity of Christ. Mike Bickle (Arminian) and Sam Storms (Calvinist) ministered side by side for years. Mark Driscoll had at least 2 prominent Arminians as keynote speakers at the last Resurgence event.


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