As with most reviews at cbd, you can tell what someone believes by how the rate a book. I am neither Calvinistic nor Arminian. I honestly struggle still, after 40 years of quite intense bible study in general, to decide where, if I must, I will fall in this argument. The book is LONG, and I have a problem with books that are both long and mean-spirited. It just gets old after a while. Yes, he quotes extensively. But to assume this means accurately is another matter. I find, after reading quite a few books about both camps that most, not all, but most of the time the majority of arguments presented by Arminian writers tend toward the emotional. How could God send someone to hell? etc. Most Calvinistic writers tend to focus on scripture. It's hard not to side with them by default, even if you don't like their conclusions. I mean, do YOU want to disagree with God's word??!!. There are better works available to cover this topic. "Debating Calvin" is one of them. Very thorough, covering virtually all debatable areas. But even in this book I find the proponent of Arminian beliefs to be quite personal and mean-spirited in his arguments. Dave Hunt (who wrote "what love is this") quite often offers caricatures of Calvinistic beliefs rather than actual. And the ad hominem attacks are repeated endlessly. Still, I find it much easier, quicker, and a friendly read than the book reviewed here. Do you really need to read 800 pages to get the gist and refutation of a belief system? So, buy this book if you want, but you will have to either be ravenous to read a polemic work or hate Calvin very much. lol. I give it three stars just to acknowledge the effort Vance puts forth, but I wouldn't even recommend it to an Arminian. Good luck.
The binding of this book is awful. I do appreciate the historical background Vance provides through the first couple hundred pages. However, he falls vitamin to his own criticisms. He claims to not belong to any theological camp, and introduced this as he would be an objective critical "Biblicist." He continues to slams Calvinism, mis-quotes from many of the authors, and I was able to cross check from the Calvinist books I own. He went on a six page rant over an issue Calvinists have in conflict: A true definition of Total Depravity. Vance spends nearly six pages criticizing different Calvinists over their choice in terminology in trying to explain Total Depravity: "Total depravity, total inability, moral inability, radical corruption, utter depravity, absolute depravity, etc. Though some Reformed scholars may attempt to try to soften the message (i.e., humans have the ability to do good to his neighbor, and that man is not as evil as he can be, etc.). In addition, they are attempting to teach with more clarity on the matter. The Bible is clear in describing humanities spiritual condition, and the preferred phrase of choice does not lighten the severity of the matter, nor does it advance Vances argument. The more you read Vance, the more you understand Vance's hatred towards Calvinism (again, falling victim to his own criticism). Calvinism receive a lot of harsh criticism for its views: mean, blunt, extreme, heartless, etc. Dr. Vance appeared in this fashion as well. I will add, I was impressed to finally read an Libertarian who actually spoke with confidence (though I disagree with much of his interpretations), many Libertarian writers are more on the timid side, allow emotions to take over the exegetical process. Calvinist theologians are the more confident theologians representing God on earth. Calvinist are not: mean, heartless, too blunt, insensitive, they are extremely confident in understanding who God is, and what man truly is.
A solid explanation of the history of early Calvinism and Arminianism. Though a 5 point Calvinist only sees the world as either one or the other this is not the case and Vance is not Arminian, he is a Biblicist. The book presents clear refutation of the false teachings of prominent past and present Calvinist theologians by quoting what they have said and comparing it against scripture. The book is large in part due to the inclusion of the quoted scripture rather than mere references. This is in contrast to many Calvinist authors I have read who simply provide references hoping the reader will not look them up to find that the reference does not support their theology. A great resource for those who believe in historical and grammatical interpretation of scripture.
Calvinistic theories are weak when compared to what the Bible clearly states. Calvinism must twist the Scriptures to make them say what they clearly do not say. This book plus Dave Hunt's "What Love is This?" should be read with an open mind and heart by anyone who has been troubled by Calvinism.
I am finding this book is an excellent review of the historical facts of the development of Calvinism. I appreciate the thorough research the writer has done.The author is respectful when surveying a subject with which he holds an opposing view. Great read !