The publication of Whosoever Will (edted by Drs. David Allen and Steve Lemke) was the result of The John 3:16 Conference held at the Woodstock First Baptist Church November 6-7, 2008. Contra some Southern Baptist Calvinists' unwavering confidence, the scholarly contributions in Whosoever Will demonstrated that Reformed theology is not the only, viable theological kid on the block. In fact, the composite thrust of the contributors to Whosoever Will makes it fairly clear that strict Calvinism as a system must be abandoned for a more robust biblicism >>>
Since the publication of Whosoever Will, other critiques of Calvinistic theology have been released, some critiques of which are very much worth your time and money. Below are a few of the more recent works of which I've gotten a hold of a review copy (I'll only give a note below. Hopefully, as time permits, I'll post a full review).1
Roger Olson remains the most oft quoted evangelical Arminian and rightly so. He is articulate, intellectually astute, and proficient in several disciplines including systematic theology, historical theology, and church history. Following his Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities which was an apology for classic, evangelical Arminianism, Against Calvinism is a compilation of arguments against Arminianism's grand nemesis--Calvinism. You won't go wrong with this book. Olson almost always offers penetrating insight. By the way, Olson's book was authored in conjunction with For Calvinism by Michael Horton. I have both copies and are reading them parallel with one another (click book image above and below to be taken to Amazon.com)2
Written by two distinguished moral philosophers--Professors David Baggett (Wesleyan)5 and Jerry Walls 3 (Wesleyan)--Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality offers a formidable critique of Reformed theology through the backdoor. In the tradition of C.S. Lewis, the authors contend that one of the greatest--albeit neglected--"proofs" for the existence of God is the moral argument, an argument, the authors maintain, Reformed theology cannot consistently articulate. In chapter 4 entitled, A Reformed Tradition Not Quite Right, they explain:
"For in order for the moral argument to provide rational reason to believe in God, God's goodness must be recognizable. Otherwise we're using the word "good" to refer to something that isn't recognizably good, and that sort of equivocation is irrational. So the argument we offer in this chapter is a moral and epistemic argument against Calvinism...For we will argue that Calvinism and the moral argument are not a good fit at all, for several reasons, and that Arminianism provides a much better account of divine sovereignty, one aspect of which is a picture of theistic ethics at least in the vicinity of what we are attempting to construct in this book" (pp.65-66)
Understand: if you are looking for an easy read, forget Good God. It is not easy. It will stretch most of us. But if you are a patient reader, you will find an intellectual treasure here rarely found elsewhere; nor will you regret your challenging journey I assure.
Ronnie Rogers is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK. In Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist, Rogers speaks as no stranger to his subject. Indeed for years he embraced Calvinism but through systematic exposition of Scripture, he came to view the Reformed hermeneutical template a hindrance to understanding biblical revelation rather than a help. Those of you who have followed me on this site for a while know I have a similar story. Few will be able to suggest Rogers does not know Calvinism. From the first chapter, he demonstrates he's drank deeply from its theological well. Hence, his treatise promises to be helpful.
Programmed by God or Free to Choose by Dudley Ward, a native European believer who seems to have firsthand insight into the development of Reformed theology across the pond. I just started reading this short but interesting monograph. To be honest, I do not know yet whether it will contribute substantially to the Calvinism-Arminian dialog or not.
I must confess: I've had The God of Calvinism: a Rebuttal of Calvinism by Louis Riggero for sometime. I should have already mentioned it on the site but like some other books I should have mentioned, The God of Calvinism kinda fell through the cracks. I've exchanged emails with Louis as well as spoken with him via phone. He is a delightful believer and holds strong, convictional views contra Calvinism. And, while I've not read his book entirely, one thing I think Louis gets correct in his critique of Calvinism is the bottom line: it's all about the character of God, and strict Calvinism seems to rob God of His essentially good character, the identical point Baggett and Walls make in their sophisticated critique, Good God.
Like Good God, The Spiritual Condition of Infants by Adam Harwood, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at Truett-McConnell College offers a formidable critique of Calvinism via the back door. Through his exegetical focus on Original Sin, arguing contra the standard Reformed view that we inherit from Adam not only a sinful nature but also sinful guilt, Harwood conclusively shows, from the biblical text, that while Reformed exegetes are correct in asserting we inherit a sinful nature from Adam, Scripture does not teach we inherit sinful guilt, a distinction which becomes the theological trajectory for holding to the heavenly abode of infants dying in infancy. Harwood's book is simply a must-have for the pastor's library.4
1no particular order is followed (e.g. publication date, importance, etc.)
2yes, these books are connected to my Amazon Associates account. If you click the book and make a purchase, I get a kickback. For the record, I've not received a kickback for any books for well over a year
3another book by Walls which gives a blistering critique of Calvinism via the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment is Hell: The Logic Of Damnation. Of course, an older but still useful book Walls co-authored with Joseph Dongell is Why I Am Not a Calvinist
4I wrote a more thorough review of Harwood's book appearing in the Spring 2011 edition of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, a publication of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
5my deepest apologies to Professor Baggett. While I originally identified Dr. Baggett as a Baptist believer, it turns out he is and has been a Christian believer within the Wesleyan theological tradition