December 26, 2010

Many evangelicals (and others) like to claim that their whole theology comes from the Bible, but there is at least one belief about God that every thinking person holds that is not at all directly addressed in Scripture.  And what one believes about this matters very much to much else in one’s thinking about God.  I sometimes wonder if this is really the underlying issue that gives rise to seemingly intractable debates about divine sovereignty.  It comes out clearly in… Read more

December 20, 2010

Recently I’ve been re-reading some books by my favorite American theologian Donald G. Bloesch (who died in August of this year).  Bloesch was a member and minister of the United Church of Christ and one of its few evangelicals.  He grew up in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (mostly Swiss Reformed immigrants) that merged with the American Congregational Churches to form the UCC.  He was never comfortable with the liberalism of the UCC but chose to stay within it rather… Read more

December 17, 2010

Arminian scholar William Klein provides this analogy to help understand the difference between classical, high Calvinist soteriology and Arminian soteriology (posted here with his permission): Possible Analogy for ‘the biblical doctrine of Election’                                                         W. Klein Background 1.   There exists a devastating famine among the poverty-stricken Srennis. They bear responsibility for the famine for they refused to engage in proper planning or farming techniques that could have sustained them though the time of drought. They depleted the land, and it has… Read more

December 16, 2010

The current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education (Dec. 12, 2010) contains an article by Timothy Beal (Case Western Reserve University) entitled “Among the Evangelicals: Inside a fractured movement.” (It is available on line at: http://chronicle.com/article/Among-the-Evangelicals/125647/ The thesis seems to be twofold: 1) scholars of religion have largely ignored the movement until recently, and 2) the movement is so diverse that it can hardly be said to exist at all.  The article deals almost exclusively with history and sociology… Read more

December 13, 2010

Many people have asked my opinion about an attempt to identify an “Arminocalvinist spectrum” by blogger Adrian Warnock (http://adrianwarnock.com).  Warnock proposes that we regard Arminianisms (the plural is intentional) and Calvinisms as sharing a spectrum from extreme versions to moderate versions with the latter being closer to each other on a shared spectrum of beliefs about God’s sovereignty. I have argued that classical Calvinists and classical Arminians share much common ground in “mere Christianity” and even basic evangelical faith.  Both… Read more

December 10, 2010

Okay, maybe Calvinism doesn’t lead to universalism inexorably–as if every Calvinist must become a universalist.  However, many leading universalist theologians are/were Reformed and believed that their Calvinist concepts of God’s sovereignty eventually compelled them to embrace universalism. Two notable examples come to mind: Friedrich Schleiermacher and Karl Barth.  Yes, I know some Reformed people will reject one or both of them–as not truly Reformed.  However, one cannot read Schleiermacher’s The Christian Faith and miss his strong Calvinist principles.  For Schleiermacher… Read more

December 8, 2010

For God so loved the world…that He couldn’t stay away.  Yes, to academics and scholars it sounds simplistic and even smacks of folk religion.  But if you strip from it any connotation of God being “lonely” or absent it’s an apt statement of the gospel itself.  And it nicely expresses the essence of Arminian theology: that God’s love for the whole world demonstrated in the incarnation and cross stands at the center of theology as its critical principle. We are… Read more

December 7, 2010

If you are interested, here is the link to my interview at AG HQ in Springfield, MO this past Friday (12-3-10): http://agtv.ag.org/qa-olson Read more

December 5, 2010

Last evening I spent about an hour in conversation with a 22 year old ministry student at a Christian liberal arts university.  We came together at a mutual friend’s home for dinner and dialogue.  This young man is a “four point Calvinist” by his own confession; he struggles with limited atonement but not with the other four points of TULIP.  His own denominational background is not Reformed; he came to his Calvinist convictions through friends, his own Bible study and… Read more

December 3, 2010

Lately I’ve been with Pentecostals–listening to and interacting with a well-known Pentecostal theologian among Pentecostal students and professors at a major Pentecostal institution of higher learning.  These are all very well educated, thoughtful people who do not fit most people’s stereotypes of Pentecostalism. I grew up in the “thick” of the classical (trinitarian) Pentecostal movement; my father was a Pentecostal minister for over 50 years and my uncle was president of a Pentecostal denomination for 25 years.  Many of my… Read more




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