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|Format: DRM Free ePub|
Vendor: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 2010
Availability: In Stock
The authors are aware of the pitfalls of writing a book with a polemical approach. They have seen, with concern, poorly written polemics on both sides of the Calvinist / Arminian debate. In their attempt to not repeat past errors, they do a passable job.
The book begins with a historical study of the early church controversy between Augustine and Pelagius. Calvinism, they argue, is grounded firmly in Augustine. Many have argued that Arminianism is Pelagianism reborn. Peterson and Williams argue that though there are similarities, reducing Arminianism to Pelagianism is an extreme oversimplification. In the end, they argue, Arminianism is similar to the semi-Augustinian view that prevailed at the Synod of Orange.
The book then moves to a discussion of the topics of predestination and perseverance. The approach of these chapters and those topical chapters that follow is the same. The Arminian view is stated, with supporting biblical texts. The authors then give a Calvinist exegesis of each of these texts and argue for their view. Occasionally representative Arminian or Calvinist theologians are used to illustrate a point.
In the next chapter, the authors give us an extended description of decretal theology as developed by Calvin, Beza, and others. They then move us into the Arminian debate that culminated at the Synod of Dort. This chapter is arguably the most revealing and marks a shift in the tone of the book.
The last three chapters (Inability, Grace, and Atonement) take an unapologetic and polemical view. The tone is decidedly less winsome than the chapters that precede it. And, in a way, they seem to reveal the true undercurrent of the book.
I would heartily recommend this book to an Arminian or a Calvinist, albeit for different reasons. Though unabashedly Calvinist, the authors do present Arminian views and arguments honestly and fairly, even to the extent that they give Arminian arguments against Calvinism. When presenting the counterview, the arguments often seem strangely assertive. They assert something to be true because a biblical text says it. However, when you finish the paragraph, youre not sure the text really said what they think it did.
In essence, the book becomes a cogent criticism of both Arminianism and Calvinism, and for this reason, I do appreciate it in a limited way. The image of Arminianism in the book is of a theological approach that is extremely uncomfortable with the effects of sin while the image of Calvinism is one that seems uncomfortable with a loving God. Though many examples could be given, one for each will suffice. It is hard to believe that 2 Peter 3:9 teaches that God wants the false teachers, whom he condemns in 2 Peter 2, to repent. (p. 181) What? God doesnt want sinners to repent? This reader is forced to wonder if he could love this Calvinist god. Arminianism doesnt fair much better. Ken Grider explains, We can either accept Christ or reject Himand our eternal destiny depends upon our free response to Gods offer of salvation. (p. 175) My salvation depends on my choice? How can my choice be certain? How, if not based in Gods action, is my salvation certain?
As I closed this book my thought was clear. Im glad Im neither Arminian nor Calvinist. Though it is not surprising, it is somewhat disappointing that the book seems to present all theology as a choice between Arminius and Calvin. This is just the sort of false dichotomy that the authors condemn elsewhere. You see, there are other options. Nevertheless, this is a book that either a Calvinist or an Arminian may find helpful. Charles Lehmann, Christian Book Previews.com
SteveDallas, TXAge: 35-44Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Great book with 1 caveatJune 15, 2012SteveDallas, TXAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 3I enjoyed the book a great deal and found it instructive. As others have mentioned, it is written in a way that maintains respect for Arminians as fellow Christians while still disagreeing with them. Quite refreshing!
My one complaint is that I find it a bit misleading that the book is presented as DRM free. While this turns out to be the case, I was required to Adobe Digital Editions. A bit of a hassle, but no big deal. The file, however, was downloaded as a string of numbers and letters having nothing whatsoever to do with the name of the book itself. Thankfully, I was able to track down which file it was and convert it to use on my Kindle. The technical hurdles make the DRM-free nature of this e-book practically non-existent for many people, I think.
Stephen Hancock5 Stars Out Of 5July 12, 2010Stephen HancockI think this is one of the better starter works on Calvinism and Reformed Theology, but I think people should know that the book was already written with another title, before the publisher saw fit to change the title to cross with "Why I Am Not A Calvinist", which has a more engaged tone. So just remember that when reading this fine book.
J. Ben5 Stars Out Of 5April 13, 2009J. BenIn this book, Williams and Peterson do an incredible job of presenting their perspective on Calvinism. They are very gracious in their treatment of Arminianism and refer to them as brothers, rather than heretics - which sadly is too often the case. Even if you are not a Calvinist, this book is worth reading to get an accurate portrayal of where Calvinists are coming from.
Roy1 Stars Out Of 5August 15, 2008RoyThe type is so faint, that it is very hard on the eyes to read.I was very disapointed.
Michael4 Stars Out Of 5April 30, 2004MichaelI was an Arminian at first, and was very biased against Calvinism. But that was because I was very stupid and ignorant of Scripture. By God's grace, after painstakingly examining both sides of the issue, I saw that Calvinism is really the accurate expression of what Scripture teaches, and that Arminianism is an anti-Christian heresy. I recommend this book as an introduction, but I encourage people to read more on the subject. For several superb works on Calvinism, I recommend the following. Search for them on the web (many free materials are available from these authors).Gordon Clark (Trinity Foundation):- Biblical Predestination- God and EvilVincent Cheung (Reformation Ministries International):- Systematic Theology- Ultimate Questions- Presuppositional Confrontations
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