Another book is hitting the shelves aimed at the Reformed faith, this one by well known Arminian author Roger E. Olson, who teaches at Baylor University. Against Calvinism evidently is part of a two book series, Michael Horton having written For Calvinism. I am sure we will be hearing all about the book over the next few months. I have kept an eye on Olson’s writings for a while, and to be honest, I do not expect a great deal from this book. His arguments are primarily philosophical, and given his less-than-conservative bent, he is really not in a good position to make a major impact upon most Reformed folks, at least those who are Reformed by conviction. (I am assuming Reformed by conviction includes a very high view of Scripture and even the dreaded “i-word,” inerrancy). But I was directed to his announcement of the forthcoming book having arrived (a pre-publication copy), and I found two of his comments interesting. Here is the first:
September 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm
True. But if they are real Calvinists (and I explain what I mean by that in the book) they believe a doctrine of providence called “divine determinism” (I explain that in the book also) that absolutely rules out an conditionality of either election or reprobation. Besides (as I also explain in the book) IF election to salvation is absolutely unconditional, God COULD elect everyone to salvation. If he doesn’t (but could) he’s a moral monster. The only way around that is to believe that both individual election and reprobation are conditional.
It sounds like this is a summary of his main argument. Let me put it in plain language. IF God is completely free in the matter of salvation, and IF God exercises His freedom in the salvation of those who actually deserve nothing but His just wrath, and IF God’s freedom includes His ability to save or to justly damn, THEN God is a “moral monster.” Miss the leap over the massive chasm of reasoning there? Me too. But it is not the first time I have seen that kind of reasoning, and it will not be the last. Whether there will be any meaningful interaction with the necessary discussion of primary and secondary causes, creaturely freedom vs. autonomy, etc., we will see (I have placed the Kindle edition on the Ministry Resource List, and should someone obtain it for me, I will get through it on a long ride, unless it doesn’t come out before I leave for Australia, then all bets are off). Of course, the real question is, “Where is the exegesis?” That is where I think we will once again be left wanting.