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Against Calvinism

, 2011
ISBN: 9780310496984

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Calvinist theology has been debated and promoted for centuries. But is it a theology that should last? Roger Olson suggests that Calvinism, also commonly known as Reformed theology, holds an unwarranted place in our list of accepted theologies. In Against Calvinism, readers will find scholarly arguments explaining why Calvinist theology is incorrect and how it affects God’s reputation.

Olson draws on a variety of sources, including Scripture, reason, tradition, and experience, to support his critique of Calvinism and the more historically rich, biblically faithful alternative theologies he proposes. Addressing what many evangelical Christians are concerned about today—so-called “new Calvinism,” a movement embraced by a generation labeled as “young, restless, and Reformed”—Against Calvinism is the only book of its kind to offer objections from a non-Calvinist perspective to the current wave of Calvinism among Christian youth. As a companion to Michael Horton’s For Calvinism, readers will be able to compare contrasting perspectives and form their own opinions on the merits and weaknesses of Calvinism.

Resource Experts
  • Foreword by Michael S. Horton
  • Preface by the author
  • “New Calvinism” is discussed
  • Responses to Calvinist claims

Top Highlights

“The fact is that I, like most non-Calvinist evangelical Christians, embrace free will for two reasons (beyond that we believe it is everywhere assumed in the Bible): it is necessary to preserve human responsibility for sin and evil, and it is necessary to preserve God from being responsible for sin and evil. I can honestly say (as most non-Calvinist evangelicals do) that I don’t give a flip about free will except for those reasons.” (Page 23)

“Everything that happens, including sin, is ordained by God for his own glory.” (Page 83)

“I am against any Calvinism (and any theology) that impugns the goodness of God in favor of absolute sovereignty, leading to the conclusion that evil, sin, and every horror of human history are planned and rendered certain by God.” (Page 63)

“‘Calvinism’ designates a set of beliefs about God’s sovereignty especially in relation to the doctrines of providence and predestination.” (Page 38)

“This account of the human condition is important to keep in mind because it is why Calvinists argue that no one can be saved without unconditional election and irresistible grace.” (Page 43)

Roger Olson

Roger E. Olson is the Foy Valentine Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Previously he served as professor of theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of 18 books, including The Journey of Modern Theology: From Reconstruction to Deconstruction (IVP).

Dr. Olson was born and raised in the Upper Midwest of the United States and considers himself a “Bapticostal.” He grew up Pentecostal but became Baptist while attending North American Baptist Seminary. His PhD in religious studies is from Rice University in Houston, and he studied at the University of Munich with theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg. He served as editor of Christian Scholar’s Review in the 1990s and has served as consulting and contributing editor for Christianity Today. He is married and has two daughters and two beautiful grandchildren. He enjoys southern gospel music, Victorian gothic mystery books, and traveling.


6 ratings

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  1. Robert Polahar

    Robert Polahar


  2. Aaron Hayworth
  3. Tyson Heyn

    Tyson Heyn


    The Kindle edition is $6.99.
  4. Richard Summitt
  5. Sakarias Ingolfsson
    This book raises valid concerns about the Calvinist theology that which affirms the five points of the TULIP system. Especially the presentation of contemporary R.C Sproul and John Piper, as well as historical theologians like Johnathan Edwards are examined. Olson, who holds to Arminian theology, examines the five points of TULIP in great detail, and objects fervently to the middle three. I find that parts of Olson´s account is simply too long, too unorganized and too repetitive. For this the readability suffers somewhat. I believe its length could have been reduced quite a bit by reorganizing and removing repetitions, without actually loosing any of its arguments. This is especially true for chapters four through six. Other parts are much better, particularly chapters three, which IMO gives a very good overview of the TULIP system, and chapter seven which is much more to the point than the previous three. Appendix 2, which is set up in a discussion format, sums and clears up many of the points given in the book. Like everyone else I am unable to read this or any other book from a purely objective viewpoint. I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian, but rather Lutheran. Since Lutheran theology attempts to find the middle ground between the two (in regards to TULIP) I found this book interesting and challenging.
  6. James Whited

    James Whited


  7. Floyd  Johnson

    Floyd Johnson


    It has been a fun journey over the last month as I have read Michael Horton's For Calvinism, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, and Roger E. Olson's Against Calvinism. Though I reside firmly in the Wesleyan/Arminian camp, I did attended a Calvinist leaning seminary and taught at a Reformed Church of America college during my career. I have heard and studied the arguments from both sides and have come to some conclusions on my own. Taking the time to read Horten and Olson has allowed me to revisit decisions that I made some 35 or more years ago. Those decisions have not changed, but these two books did allow me to rewalk a path that I traveled years ago. Olson's book is not so much a defense of a Wesleyan/Arminian faith, but a reflection of the problems presented by those who follow the teachings of John Piper or R C Sproul. Though I, as indicated above, did find myself immersed in their teaching, I have never read their writings. I found Horton's and Olson's books helpful in understanding the Calvinist position as it is being expounded in the first decade of the 21st century. Both draw on the writing of current propounders of Calvinism, but also draw heavily from those in both its early history and the more recent past of the 17th - 20th centuries. Olson's book is not merely a restatement of non-biblical writers, he also reflects on both the obvious and the more difficult passages of scripture - which one would expect from a well-written theology text. Roger Olson's Against Calvinism is recommended reading for those both in and out and on the fence as they relate to Calvinism. Reading Michael Horton and Roger Olson together is the best solution in studying and understanding the current issues involved in this five century old debate. _____________ This review is based on a free, electronic copy of the book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.