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Posts Tagged ‘Arminian Commentaries

Book Review: John and Jude by Vic Reasoner

Dr. Vic Reasoner is one of my favorite Arminian theologians today.  His writings are biblical and yet he has in his mind the average preacher of God’s Word as he writes.  Dr. Reasoner writes with a conviction that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and that all doctrine must flow from the Word of God (Titus 2:1).

In this work, Dr. Reasoner goes verse by verse through the epistles of John and Jude.  Dr. Reasoner leaves no stone uncovered as he writes.  He deals with his text while also including sound Arminian theology in there as well.  I appreciate how Dr. Reasoner is willing to deal with tough texts and along the way includes everything from doctrines of salvation, sin, holiness, sanctification, and even end times.

In regard to debated texts such as 1 John 2:1-2 within the Arminian/Calvinist debate, Dr. Reasoner does two things.  First he deals with the text in regard to propitiation and then he looks at how Calvinists have understood John’s words in 1 John 2:2 in regard to an unlimited atonement.  To the average reader 1 John 2:2 seems to teach that Jesus died for the entire world.  John Wesley, for example, taught that Christ’s atonement was as extensive as the curse of sin.  In other words, sin has extended to the entire world and likewise the work of Christ is powerful enough for the sins of the entire world.  Sinners who go to hell go to hell because of their own sins and the fact that they have not repented and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus who alone can appease the wrath of a holy God by His graceful work of the cross.

The good thing about Dr. Reasoner’s commentaries are that while it is clear that Dr. Reasoner is a sound theologian and knows his content, he writes with the average preacher in mind.  As a man who loves expository preaching and practices this art himself, Dr. Reasoner is offering his commentaries to help the preacher preach the text.  He wants preachers to work through the text.  Therefore his commentaries, as any good commentary will do, works through the letters.  I read this work as a devotion.  It is that easy to read and follow.  So while Dr. Reasoner does dive into the Greek text or the history behind a debate over a text, he writes with the average preacher in mind.

Overall I once again am impressed by this commentary.  I pray that Dr. Reasoner will write more biblical commentaries.  While I praise God that we have so many good commentaries out there, we need more solid Arminian commentaries and this one fits the bill.

You can find more information about obtaining a copy of this commentary here.

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Two Solid Arminian Commentaries on Romans

Arminian commentaries are hard to come by.  In the past, Arminian scholars such as Adam Clarke was held in high esteem even by Calvinists such.  Even the great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon owned and used Clarke’s commentary.  Arminian publishers such as Gospel Publishing House or Randall House both published Bible commentaries in the past but have not done so as of late.  I pray that changes in the near future.

Two important commentaries I would recommend on the book of Romans is one by Dr. Jack Cottrell and the other by Dr. Vic Reasoner.  Both are found below.  A brief note on each of these.  First, Cottrell’s is a bit more technical but very useful.  Cottrell is professor of theology at Cincinnati Christian University (a Christian Church university) and he comes at Romans from an Arminian and Restorationist movement perspective.  I enjoy Dr. Cottrell’s writings and feel he does a good job of exegeting the passages.

Dr. Reasoner’s commentary is a solid in-depth study of Romans.  He, like Cottrell, is a Greek scholar yet both gentlemen are well aware that most of their readers will not be familiar with the Greek text.  Both commentaries are not bent on attacking Calvinism nor defending Arminianism but simply to teach the Scriptures.  In both commentaries, the authors state that they believe Calvinism is wrong in its view of Romans 9-11 but they don’t go out of their way to attack Calvinist theologians.  They simply teach Romans 9-11.

Why suggest these two?  Arminian commentaries on Romans are lacking.  The vast majority of commentaries I see on Romans are from a Calvinist perspective.  Romans 9-11 especially is dealt with from a viewpoint of “unconditional election” instead of dealing with the text as it reads.  This is unfortunate as many of the commentaries I read on Romans fail to interact with the Arminian position and simply assume that unconditional election is the only view that applies to Romans 9-11.  But that is not the case.  I would say that the majority of the Church rejects such a view but I admit that Calvinists hold the market currently on theological works.  Prayerfully I hope that that changes.  We need solid Arminian commentaries again.

You can find Dr. Cottrell’s commentary here.

You can find Dr. Reasoner’s commentary here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/22/2012 at 10:00 AM

Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews by Gareth Lee Cockerill

While I have not yet the chance to examine this commentary, I wanted to point my Arminian friends to a new commentary in the New International Commentary on the New Testament that is edited by Dr. Gordon Fee.  The NICNT is a well-respected commentary that I have enjoyed over the years.  I remember teaching through the book of Acts and using F.F. Bruce’s edition from this series of commentaries and Bruce did an excellent job.  The NICNT is not easy reading.  It is meant to take you deep into the text studying the context, the original languages, and helps put the passages together with other relevant passages of Scripture.  A very helpful series indeed.

The late Dr. Bruce was the original writer for the Hebrews commentary but he is now with the Lord so the editors wanted to update Hebrews and so they turned to Dr. Gareth Lee Cockerill from Wesley Seminary.  Dr. Cockerill is an Arminian.  He and I have exchanged a few e-mails over his new commentary.  Dr. Cockerill said the following about his commentary:

I believe there are several features that distinguish this commentary. First, I have tried to lay out clearly the rhetorical structure of Hebrews and show the role played by each passage in the whole. Second, this commentary strongly emphasizes the importance of the pre-existence of the eternal Son of God for the soteriology of Hebrews. Third, I try to make it clear that the primary, though not the only, way that Hebrews describes salvation is in terms of cleansing from sin so that the believer can enter God’s presence and receive grace for obedient living. Finally, I provide a fresh analysis of the way in which Hebrews uses the Old Testament, arguing for a continuity/fulfillment model rather than the prevalent continuity/discontinuity model. I try to show how Hebrews’ interpretation of the Old Testament can and should inform our hermeneutics today.

Very good.  Several Arminians have endorsed the Hebrews commentary including I. Howard Marshall and Grant Osborne as well as several Calvinists.  Whether we are Arminians or Calvinists, I believe that we should applaud those who seek to deal with the texts using a literal hermeneutic approach, who seek to exegete the passages, and who desire the truth of God to go forth.

I recommend all disciples of Jesus to study this commentary and grow in our understanding of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:15).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/20/2012 at 9:52 PM

Arminian Commentaries on Romans

Romans is by far one of the most popular books in the New Testament for commentaries along with the book of Revelation.  Romans is called the magnum opus of Paul the Apostle.  It is the closest thing we have to a systematic theology text from Paul.  Romans, in just 11 chapters, builds a case for Christianity as a fulfillment of God’s promises to His people Israel and establishes what this new life brings in Christ.  No wonder it would be a popular book then to write a commentary.

There are many good Calvinist commentaries on the book of Romans so I don’t want to take away from my brethren of the work that they have done in seeking to write biblical commentaries on Romans.  That said, I want to post some Arminian commentaries on the book of Romans.  When it comes to Arminian commentaries, Arminians historically have written much on Romans and Hebrews.  One writer at Amazon.com has put together a list of Arminian commentaries on Romans.  You can find the link here.

A couple of comments about the list.  First, my personal favorite Arminian commentary on the book of Romans is by Vic Reasoner.  You can find his introduction about his book here.  The book is a complete analysis of Romans.  Dr. Reasoner deals with the texts and while he does interact with Calvinism here and there as he needs to, his point is not to build a case for Arminians but to simply teach the Scriptures.  I rejoice in that!  How important it is that biblical truth go forth and not just Arminianism or Calvinism.  May Jesus always be exalted above all others!

One title I do not have but plan to get is by Dr. Jack Cottrell.  His commentary on Romans use to be two-volumes but now is one volume from College Press.  Cottrell is an excellent writer who writes from an Arminian but Restoration perspective.  This would be played out especially in passages such as Romans 5:12-18 or 6:1-4.  I appreciate Dr. Cottrell’s emphasis, like Reasoner’s, on the Bible being our main text and focus instead of Arminianism or other groups.

One final point is that it is interesting to read Arminian commentaries on Romans 7:14-25.  Some Arminians argue along with Arminius that Romans 7 pictures a lost man.  Others argue that Romans 7 is a struggling man.  Robert Picirilli would represent this view whereas his friend F. Leroy Forlines would represent the view of Arminius.  Interesting to say the least.  I hold to the view of Arminius regarding Romans 7, that the person is lost and does not describe the normal behavior of a believer.  I have heard so many abuses from Romans 7:14-25 to justify living in sin and living below the victory that God has called us to in Christ Jesus that He gives us in Romans 8.

Sorry for the ramble.  Enjoy the commentaries!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/16/2012 at 10:04 PM

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