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Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities Hardcover – September 5, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830828419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830828418
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Roger Olson recaptures Arminianism's original focus: pointing us to God's goodness rather than man's 'freed will.' This refreshing reappraisal should pave the way for better synergy between Reformed evangelicals and classical Arminians." (David Neff, editor, Christianity Today)

"Although many of the personal and institutional animosities that used to mark relations between Calvinists and Arminians have become muted in recent years, the differences are still with us. The issues are alive because they concern matters of central importance to Christian faith. In this book Roger Olson gently and firmly corrects misunderstandings of Arminian theology that are often held by Calvinists--and Arminians! His deft expositions of the historical texts offer a significant contribution to the health of theological reflection and relationships. At the same time he demonstrates how to be irenic without adopting an empty tolerance that makes doctrine irrelevant to the church's life and mission." (Jonathan R. Wilson, Pioneer McDonald Professor of Theology, Carey Theological College)

"In this blockbuster of a book Roger Olson demonstrates that Arminian theology is faithfully Christian, faithfully Protestant and faithfully evangelical. He introduces his readers to a large world which many will never before have entered, the world of Arminian and Wesleyan theology, and even those familiar with this world will become more informed about it. In his contents page alone he provides more clarity on the contested issues in the Calvinism/Arminianism debate than many books on the subject. He methodically subverts many of the arguments that Calvinists routinely use against Arminian theology. This is Christian polemical theology at its best: massively informed, carefully and passionately argued, and friendly and courteous to the opposition. I recommend Arminian Theology enthusiastically, and I predict that, if it is read with the attentiveness it deserves, it will ratchet up the level of the American conversation on these issues." (Fisher Humphreys, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University)

"Roger Olson has done the church a great service with this clear explanation of the key tenets of the evangelical Arminianism taught by Arminius, Wesley, Wiley and others. His effort to correct common misperceptions is highly readable but well supported by thorough scholarly research. Calvinists should welcome this book for at least two reasons. First, it will help us not to misrepresent Arminianism and will thus enable both genuine dialogue and valid critique. Second, we can earnestly hope that Olson will succeed in converting to classic evangelical Arminianism the large number of evangelicals whom he recognizes to be semi-Pelagian rather than Arminian." (Terrance Tiessen, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics, Providence Theological Seminary)

"Demonstrating that the recent offerings in the field of evangelical/Arminian scholarship constitute not a fad but a trend, Roger Olson has written a carefully researched work that aptly portrays Arminian theology at its best. Clearing away many of the stereotypes and half-truths that have remained much too long, Olson not only cogently argues that Arminian theology is nothing less than evangelical theology, but he also calls for Calvinists and Arminians to cooperate with one another in mutual recognition and respect under the broad tent of evangelicalism and for the larger good of the gospel. I heartily agree." (Kenneth J. Collins, Ph.D., Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary, and author of The Evangelical Moment: The Promise of an American Religion)

"Roger Olson's new book, Arminian Theology, provides the definitive defense of Arminian theology to date. This winsome and well-crafted work dispels chapter by chapter the ten major misconceptions or myths about Arminian theology perpetuated by foes and friends alike. While intended for a wide and general readership, this well-researched and documented text is really a profound essay in historical theology in which Olson gives voice to leading Arminian theologians past and present, allowing them to speak for themselves and define what Arminianism really stands for. Thus, not an exercise in defense, Arminian Theology is the most lucid and effective book-length restatement of true Arminianism in print today. Olson's gracious and irenic spirit shines through the text even while his scholarly documentation of point after point shreds the many misperceptions of Arminian theology so prevalent today. This is a must-read book for educated laypersons, pastors, and scholars interested in, and concerned about, the current and historic debates between Calvinists and Arminians. Arminian Theology certainly raises the theological bar against those who want to theologically discredit Arminianism and relegate it to the backwaters of history and the life of the church." (Rev. Dr. Elmer M. Colyer, Professor of Historical Theology, Stanley Professor of Wesley Studies, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary)

From the Publisher

Features & Benefits

* Written by a respected and accomplished Arminian theologian

* Benefits those wanting clarity about classical Arminian theology, whether they are detractors, promoters or trying to make up their own minds

* As readable as Olson's Story of Christian Theology and Mosaic of Christian Belief

* A major voice to be heard in the middle of the current controversy between Calvinists and Arminians


More About the Author

Roger E. Olson (Ph.D., Rice University) is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author of The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform, The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity (both InterVarsity Press) and The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology (Westminster John Knox). He is also coauthor of 20th-Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age and Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God (both with Stanley J. Grenz, InterVarsity Press), and of The Trinity (with Christopher A. Hall, Eerdmans).

Customer Reviews

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Olson is a must read for all reform theologians, Arminians, and Calvinists.
Readalots
The Calvinist answer is that God is most basically to be seen as sovereign, whereas Arminians say that God is most basically to be seen as loving.
Denes F. House
The authors writing style is very readable, to the point, well documented, and immensely fair.
Michael D. Mullen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Seth McBee on April 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book. I actually tried to stay away from reading any reviews beforehand so that I could give it a good, honest, unbiased opinion as I read through it. I will tell you this, I think Roger Olson is very fair and very honest about the Arminian theological system. I was expecting to get attacked as a Calvinist, but I truly found just the opposite. I have seen reviews since I started the book that call out Dr. Olson as being angry and hateful, but I found just the opposite. I expected to be "railed against" but really just found an honest dissertation of some of the myths of the Arminian theology.

What I did find was that the crux of the difference between the two theologies really lies in the manner in which God chooses men to be saved. The Calvinist states that we as dirty, sinful, godless humans should be grateful to see that God is gracious to choose any to go to heaven, instead of allowing us all to go to hell. Arminians, on the other hand, believe that God is so loving that He would choose everyone to heaven if He could, but He leaves the choice in salvation to the libertarian free will of man through prevenient grace.

The Calvinist cannot see God ever giving up any of His sovereignty, even in the choice of who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. The Arminian cannot see God, being loving, to ever control humans in their choices, or this results in God being the author and creator of sin. This chasm, as Dr. Olson plainly states, will never be brought together between the two sides. Which I completely agree.

The one place that I saw Dr.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Cameron B. Clark VINE VOICE on March 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am deeply grateful for Olson's book. It helped me clarify my own position in relation to Arminianism and Calvinism and provided resources for further study. Although I'm not an Arminian, I definitely share the heart of Arminian theology which embraces and defends God's loving and just character. In company with them, I reject Calvinism because I think it logically leads to the unconditional divine damnation of some which impugns God's character. Olson considers himself a "classical Arminian," a follower of the teachings of Protestant theologian Jacob (or James) Arminius (1560 - 1609). The term "Arminianism" derives from his name and theology. However, as Olson points out, there are many who use that term that do not have a clear understanding of Arminius' theology. This is true not only of many who claim to oppose it but also of many who claim to support it. There are also, according to Olson, theologians such as Henry Thiessen and Thomas Oden who embrace and teach Arminian theology although they don't consider themselves Arminians.

One reason Arminianism is misunderstood is the failure to distinguish between what Olson calls "Arminianism of the heart" and "Arminianism of the head". Both use the term, but the former is considered true, classical Arminianism in terms of Reformed, conservative theology. The latter, on the other hand, incorporates some naturalistic, liberal theology that's influenced by Enlightenment rationalism and has more in common with the older, rejected theologies of Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. The term "Pelagianism" is derived from the theology of Pelagius (c. 354 - c. 420/440), an ascetic monk who affirmed human freedom but denied original sin, an inherited sinful nature from Adam.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I needed this book. Roger Olson does a great job at dismantling 10 myths about Arminianism. He shows that Jacob Arminius has always held to the doctrines of total depravity and the conditional predestination of the believer. He also shows that Arminius himself and many others (including John Wesley) rejected the Moral Government view of the atonement of Christ. He also explains that even though Calvinism and Arminianism are both comfortably within the evangelical camp, there cannot be a hybrid of the two (Calminianism).

Olson contends that the heart of Arminianism is not the free will of man, but the goodness and grace of God. Contrary to some, he shows that Arminians have historically held (and still do hold) that believers are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone. He goes on to say that faith is instrumental to accessing the free gift of salvation, but that it is not the grounds of salvation (the ground of salvation is the blood of Christ).

Occasionally, Olson gets irritated with his contentious Calvinist critics. But he does a good job at working toward a rapprochement between the two camps. He concludes with a stirring appeal to fairness and love on both sides of the evangelical aisle. Way to go, Roger Olson!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Seeking Disciple VINE VOICE on December 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I remember reading about an event in the life of Dr. A.W. Tozer. Tozer was asked by a young man studying at a Bible school, "Dr. Tozer when the boys begin to debate Arminian and Calvinistic theology, what position should I take." Dr. Tozer replied, "Son, when they begin that debate you go and get in your prayer closet and you cry out to God and in four years you will be closer to the Lord but those boys will still be debating Arminianism and Calvinism."

The age old debate over Calvinism and Arminism continues to this day. Nearly 500 years after John Calvin and Jacob Arminius, we still have no pat answers. I have heard people say that they are neither Arminian or a Calvinist but I believe you will fall into some position whether you realize it or not. In fact, Dr. Olson makes a profound statement when he wrote, "I believe that even most people who call themselves Arminians are really semi-Pelagian" (p.10). And he goes on to add that some who call themselves Calvinist are not truly Calvinist.

This book seeks to do two things. First, Dr. Olson wishes to show the true history of Arminian theology. Too often Jacob Arminius is misunderstood by modern evangelicals. Calvinist often believe that Arminius believed in "works salvation" but he did not or that he did not believe in depravity but he did. In fact, Arminius believed in predestination and election but he differed with John Calvin and his followers over predestination being conditional or unconditional. Arminius believed in salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9) and he believed that all of salvation was by God's grace!

The second half of this book exposes the reader to the errors often accused of Arminians.
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