Grace and free will: a parable

A Calvinist seminary professor lectured on the incompatibility of salvation by grace alone through faith alone and belief that in order to be saved a person must freely accept the grace of God.  "Arminianism makes the individual person's free choice the decisive factor in his salvation.  Therefore, in his theology, salvation cannot be a free gift.  By choosing it freely the person is contributing something to his own salvation.  That's a meritorious work and therefore his salvation would not be a … [Read more...]

Changing the subject: church music

I find the weekend a good opportunity to change subjects (even if only temporarily).  Most of us will be attending worship services this weekend.  What kind of music will we hear and sing?  As a theologian I am dismayed at the turn taken in worship music (especially congregational singing) in the last two to three decades.  As a professor of theology teaching mostly Christian undergraduates and seminary students I've noticed a very definite decline in their understanding of Christian doctrine and … [Read more...]

The problem with Calvinism is…

People often ask me what is my single most serious problem with Calvinism.  Why am I not a Calvinist?  First, I like to point out that nobody is obligated to be one.  Some evangelicals are under the mistaken impression that Calvinism is the norm for all evangelicalism and that if you're not a Calvinist you're somehow defectively evangelical.  It is wrongly believed to be the default theology of authentic evangelicalism. I grew up in the thick of evangelicalism--spiritually nurtured by mentors a … [Read more...]

What is an Arminian?

Contrary to what some critics say, an Arminian is someone who believes that salvation is all of grace and through faith alone without any merit (except, of course, the merits of Christ).  An Arminian is also someone who believes, contrary to Calvinism, that the person being saved is enabled by grace to cooperate in his or her salvation without "contributing" anything meritorious to it.  In other words, God does all the saving but he won't save without our consent.  All this is spelled out so cl … [Read more...]

And now a word about…Arminianism

My blog is called "My evangelical, Arminian theological musings."  I've "mused" about evangelicalism.  Now it's time to begin a brief (I hope) series of posts about Arminianism. Not long ago I met a well-known philosopher-theologian whose first comment to me was "Well, I've never met anyone who actually called himself an Arminian before."  Many years ago John Wesley wrote a brief essay entitled "The Question 'What Is an Arminian?' Answered by a Lover of Free Grace."  (I'm sure you can find it o … [Read more...]

A matter of integrity?

I'm an avid student of denominations and have served as an unpaid consultant to two major handbooks of denominations.  I realize we are living in what some call a "post-denominational" era, but in reality denominations are alive and well and proliferating.  There are at least 300 distinct denominations in the U.S. with over 5,000 members and I'm sure there are more that haven't been discovered yet.  And new ones keep popping up all the time.  Two of the newest are ones I belong to by virtue of my … [Read more...]

Why I care about evangelicalism

Some students and readers have asked me why I expend energy and waste time trying to define evangelicalism; why not just give up the term "evangelical" and let the conservatives, fundamentalists and Religious Right people own it?  After all, so I'm told, it's too late to rescue it.  "Evangelical" and "evangelicalism" are now so identified in the popular mind with right-wing conservativism in both theology and politics that they can't be salvaged.  I'm urged to just let them go.So what's my re … [Read more...]