Monday, October 9, 2017

Roger Olson’s Critique of Calvinism

I came across a series of four interesting lectures by Roger Olson in defense of Arminianism, and in critique of Calvinism, the first of which can be seen above, and the rest as follows:

I thought they were informative and well presented, and worth watching. The theology that he presents as an alternative to Calvinism is not perfect, but it is quite an achievement all the same. In the second video for example, titled “IIM Update, Calvinism II, Tenets of Calvinism,” At 14:21 minutes into the video he makes the following comment:

“So that is just sort of a brief outline or overview of Arminian theology; and as I said, there are differences of opinion among Arminians about the details. John Wesley for example believed prevenient grace is universal. He believed that God is an equal-opportunity Savior—that even those who never hear the gospel are given some opportunity by God through conscience for example, and through general revelation in nature and all of that; whereas I don’t see that in Arminius; and I don’t think Arminianism in general needs to go with that. I don’t think that the Bible says that God is an equal-opportunity Savior. That would be nice to believe, but I don’t really find it in scripture. Wesley did believe in that. If someone believes in that, I think it is speculation, and it is just based on the character of God, which is something that would be nice to believe, but I don’t see any guarantee of it in scripture. And to say that God is an equal-opportunity Savior seems to me to undermine the urgency of missions and evangelism. So I would prefer to say—and I think this is true of Arminius—that the prevenient grace of God draws us and enables us; [it] comes through the communication of the gospel. Wherever Christ is lifted up, Holy Spirit works in people’s lives to give them the ability to say ‘Yes—but only the ability. He doesn’t make it necessary. They are able to say ‘No’ too.”

That of course is not correct. Wesley was right. The Bible does indeed teach that God is an “equal-opportunity Savior.” That is what is meant by God being “no respecter of persons:”

Acts 10:

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation [and religion] he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Romans 2:

6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Ephesians 6:

9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

Colossians 3:

25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

1 Peter 1:

17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

God being an “equal-opportunity Savior” does not undermine missions or evangelism. It didn’t for Cornelius, and there is no reason why it should for anyone else. But for the most part his criticisms of, and objections to Calvinism are valid. If he errs, he errs more on the side of Calvinism than the other way. Calvinism is more abominable than he thinks it is!

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