Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Roger Olson’s Reply to the NYT Article on Calvinism

Calvinism has made it to the New York Times.  The NYT published an article written by Mark Oppenheimer on evangelicals and Calvinism.  His article focused on the rise of Calvinism in the evangelical church.  He quotes from a few Calvinist theologians and then quotes from Roger Olson whom he calls “Calvinism’s main critic” though Olson denies he is such.  You can read the Oppenheimer piece here.

Here is Roger Olson’s reply.

One section of note from Olson is this:

People need to remember that I have been told by leaders and members of the “Young, Restless, Reformed” movement that I am not a Christian (because I’m not a Calvinist), that I’m not an evangelical (because I’m not a Calvinist), that my theology is humanistic (because I’m not a Calvinist), that my theology is “man-centered” (because I’m not a Calvinist), that I obviously do not take the Bible seriously (because I’m not a Calvinist), that my theology leads to liberalism (because I’m not a Calvinist), that I’m a Pelagian or at least semi-Pelagian (because I’m not a Calvinist), etc., etc., etc.

I agree for I have been told the same thing.  I remember debating on a Calvinist blog with a brother who had written some harsh things about Arminianism and made false statements about Arminianism.  He and I begin to exchange comments with one another on his blog.  When I felt that I had finally shown him his errors, he wrote me, “You hold to man-centered theology and I worry that you are not saved because of your works-righteounsess views.”  What?  Simply because I rejected Calvinism and rejected his views, I was viewed as man-centered in my theology and in danger of hell because I had rejected God’s true salvation in Calvinism.

I use to have a man e-mail me from time to time though he has not written me now in about two years who would simply put short lines like, “You are going to hell.  You teach false doctrines and you are not honoring the one true God has He has revealed Himself through John Calvin and the precious doctrines of grace.”  I would always write back, “I love you brother.  Please pray for me.”  He would never reply but then a few months later, I would get another e-mail, “Hell will be hot for sinners like you who pervert the way of God.”  I would reply, “May God’s grace and peace be upon you.”  He would not reply.

Let me end this by being clear: Calvinism is not the gospel.  Neither is Arminianism.  No theology will ever save you.  Only Jesus Christ, the living Savior, the strong Son of God – He alone is the one who saves us.  We are not saved by holding firmly to a set of beliefs but to the Person of Jesus.  Theology must be Christ honoring, Christ exalting, and Christ filled.  If not, leave it.  If you love Calvin or Edwards or Piper more than Jesus, you must repent!  If you love Arminius or Wesley or Olson more than Jesus, you must repent!  Salvation is in Jesus alone (Acts 4:12) and not in a man.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/05/2014 at 12:14 AM

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This is nothing new, really. Spurgeon said, “There is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism… Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”

    Roger Olsen is an inspiration.

    Jeremy McNabb

    01/05/2014 at 1:25 AM

  2. “Calvinism is not the gospel. Neither is Arminianism. No theology will ever save you. Only Jesus Christ, the living Savior, the strong Son of God – He alone is the one who saves us.”

    When I first became aware of this debate, this is basically what I would have agreed to; this isn’t about the gospel, it’s only about explaining why some get saved while others do not. Strictly an in-house debate. But I now question whether this is indeed the case.

    I am sure you are aware of the nasty comments this debate can generate. I have come across a few ‘gems’ that have caused me to reflect a lot. For instance, Olson, in his own book ‘Against Calvinism’ admits that if the Calvinist God is the real one, there is no way he could worship him. John Wesley had some similarly harsh things to say, like claiming the Calvinist God was worse than the devil. I even heard someone declare they would rather be in hell than believe TULIP!

    Really, does this sound like the language of an in-house debate? Are we really talking about the same God, the same Jesus? Quite troubling if you think about it.

    David Capuano

    01/05/2014 at 3:07 PM

    • No doubt both Arminians and Calvinists have made harsh statements about each other or about the others theology. One needs to only read Augustus Toplady and you’ll see just how harsh one can be. In his case, Toplady was a Calvinist and he loathed Arminianism. Another example would be John Owen who likewise loathed Arminians. Arminians have not always responded with grace.

      Either way, whether one feels that Calvinists are lost (which I do not) or Arminians are lost, I simply cannot understand why hatred or anger would arise in us when the Bible calls us to be peaceful even toward our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). In some cases, I have had cults treat me better than a Calvinist. If our theology (whether Arminianism or Calvinism) is true and draws me closer to Jesus, why do we not look like it nor act like it toward “enemies” of the gospel?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: