Why I Am Not a Calvinist/Why I Am Not an Arminian

By Shelton, W. Brian | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2005 | Go to article overview

Why I Am Not a Calvinist/Why I Am Not an Arminian


Shelton, W. Brian, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Why I Am Not a Calvinist. By Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004, 230 pp., $14.00 paper. Why I Am Not an Arminian. By Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004, 224 pp., $14.00 paper.

Theologians do not want to miss this classic match-up, and interested pastors and laypeople will also enjoy it. Released as a pair of texts with opposing views, the Why I'm Not duo presents an up-to-date and stimulating treatment of a timeless impasse. Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell are professors of philosophy and biblical studies respectively at Asbury Theological Seminary; Robert Peterson and Michael Williams are professors of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary. These two works are not exactly parallel in structure, but each team of authors freely challenges the opposing theological stripe while validating its own. They highlight what they perceive to be flaws, inconsistencies, and biblical misinterpretations in the opposing theological view, especially in the arena of salvation, in order to construct a case for their preferred model. Both teams rightfully call readers to decide which theological paradigm best represents Scripture, and all strive for collegiality in the context of shared faith. The approaches and issues are somewhat predictable but still insightful; the authors strive to be irenic yet judicious. Despite improved diplomatic measures, each book can still draw the ire of readers from the opposing perspective.

Peterson and Williams portray the Calvinist view by first introducing the formative debate between Augustine and Pelagius and then presenting the Reformed perspective on predestination and perseverance in separate chapters. The seminal Synod of Dort is next examined, followed by a Reformed treatise on freedom, inability, grace, and atonement in four separate chapters. Throughout the process, these Calvinists herald the preeminence of Scripture, the absolute sovereignty of God, and the need for a compatibilist position. They recognize the role of grace in the opposing view of salvation but show how Calvinists part company with Arminians by affirming that God's grace is efficacious, particular, and irresistible. As compatibilists, they present God's sovereignty as the ultimate cause of things, while "human freedom, although not ultimate, is significant and considerable" (p. 64). They distinguish between Calvinist compatibilists who believe an ultimate/immediate cause theory (e.g. Feinberg) versus those who advocate an antinomy theory that allows for plain contradiction (e.g. Packer). Perseverance is a biblical necessity and inevitability; the authors view Hebrews apostasy passages as describing non-believers in the church while warning passages function to foster faithfulness. Prevenient grace gets special attention as universal opportunity and conditional election require biblical justification. The authors present the doctrine accurately but find its exegetical evidence thin. Predestination is buttressed by data from every major section of Scripture; the authors prefer an asymmetrical election to salvation. The bottom line for Peterson and Williams in this debate: "Divine sovereignty and human responsibility cannot be pitted against one another" so that libertarian free will is unnecessary (p. 151).

This treatment of Arminianism has an ongoing flaw. Peterson and Williams forget that Arminians believe that Scripture governs their view and not merely an "anthropocentric and abstract view of human freedom" (p. 145). They thus misrepresent the Arminian position when they claim it "enshrines an almost idolatrous doctrine of the autonomous human being" (p. 117) and that "the human will is free and the divine is not" (p. 140). They sometimes exaggerate the Arminian view of saving faith as if it were meritorious: "Rather than affirm a boot-strap doctrine of merit, the Calvinist insists upon the effectiveness of divine grace" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Why I Am Not a Calvinist/Why I Am Not an Arminian
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.