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Why I Am Not a Calvinist Paperback – March 26, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (March 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830832491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830832491
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Without the usual rancor, hysteria and triumphalism, Walls and Dongell offer a clear and forceful biblical and philosophical case for Arminianism. This book is a welcome and important contribution to the recent upsurge in discussions of Calvinism and Arminianism." (Kelly James Clark, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College)

"The biblical, theological and rational case against Calvinism has never been stated more clearly, concisely, irenically or convincingly." (Roger E. Olson, Professor of Theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University)

"Walls and Dongell present an exceptional blend of careful scholarship, readable presentation, uncompromising conviction, and graceful opposition in their forcefully argued book Why I Am Not a Calvinist. Points that make this a book well worth buying and reading include the following: The book demonstrates well the often overlooked fact that the issues between Calvinism and Arminianism are not primarily exegetical but theological and even philosophical. This task is ably accomplished by the combination of an exegetical scholar and a theological philosopher in the authorial team--an ideal amalgamation for such a book. The book clearly identifies and explains the most powerful problems for Calvinism--conceptual problems with the notion of freedom, logical consistency problems and problems of ingenuous application of Calvinist theology to Christian life. While clearly and unapologetically non-Calvinist, the authors are most assuredly not anti-Calvinist. Their treatment of Calvinism and Calvinists is always in the spirit of Christian love, acceptance, understanding and unity. The book is very timely, given the central debates in contemporary conservative and evangelical theology and the resurgence of pro-Calvinist sentiment over the last two decades." (Dr. James F. Sennett, Professor of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies, Lincoln Christian College and Seminary)

About the Author

Jerry L. Walls is professor of philosophy of religion at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. His annual C. S. Lewis seminar is one of the school's most popular offerings. He is also author of Hell: The Logic of Damnation.

Dongell is professor of biblical studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

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Customer Reviews

Walls' philosophical approach is helpful, and Dongell is always strong in making biblical arguments.
Keith Drury
And ironically, the Calvinist refusal to believe God has the prerogative to grant human beings real libertarian freedom LIMITS God's sovereignty!
David Baggett
This book might be one of the best (if not THE best) book dealing with Calvinism from Biblical, theological, and philosophical perspectives.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 159 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
Along with Peterson and Williams (_Why I am Not an Arminian_), Walls and Dongell write with an irenic style as they engage perhaps the most controversial theological issue to face the Christian Church: Arminianism versus Calvinism. And they are to be commended for their equanimity. Of course, the controversy extends beyond the walls of the Church. Free will and determinism are volatile subjects within many different disciplines across academia, even in Geography! In this set of books published by InterVarsity Press, however, the discussion is delimited to Christian Theology.

Walls and Dongell do a good job of representing the beliefs of their opposition: That of Calvinism. They quote Calvinist sources frequently and not only that, the references are of the mainstream variety (e.g. Drs. R.C. Sproul Sr., D.A. Carson, Paul Helm, John Feinberg, etc.), which tends toward the minimization of straw-man argumentation and caricature. Their use of _The Westminster Confession of Faith_ and John Calvin's _Institutes of the Christian Religion_ is even-handed as well.

By their own admission, Walls' and Dongell's thesis is as follows: "In a nutshell, our case against Calvinism is that it doesn't do justice to the character of God revealed in Scripture." (2004, p. 220) On the final page of their book, they say, "Our reasons [for not being Calvinists] are not merely biographical or personal, but rather they are theological, philosophical and most of all biblical." (2004, p. 221)

This second statement creates a problem for me, particularly where Walls and Dongell mention biblical reasons as the greatest impediment to their acceptance of Calvinism. The reason being that their book is minimally exegetical.
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97 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Will Riddle on May 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Many reviewers here make excellent points.

As an Arminian, I read this book hoping to find a solid evangelical stance of Arminianism that made a strong defense of Biblical Arminianism. As pointed out below.. This book has two major problems--
1. The chapters on philosophy truly did help clarify the various highly confusing Calvinist positions, and possible alternatives, however, the case must be won in the Bible not by philosophy, and this book is more philosophy than Bible.
2. Though it is unclear if they hold this view, they show sympathy for the Openness position. This unbiblical view of God is dangerous to the Arminian worldview, dangerous to the church, etc. This could present a problem if you wanted to give this book to an astute Calvinist because it would tend to confirm their suspicions. These leanings show when they present three possible views of God's knowledge, they have critique for Both Calvinism and Molinism (which is probably most Arminian viewpoint as held by people like William Lane Craig), but only defend Openness. It's sad that two scholars from the flagship Arminian seminary (Asbury) show this sympathy.

On the other hand, this book does an excellent job at clarifying the philisophical issues, and the one long chapter focusing on the Bible text is actually quite good, and has the best treatment of Romans 8:29-30 that I've read. If the rest of the book had followed these lines, and had made at least one strong statement against Openness, it would have been a 5 star book.

In retrospect, while I was disappointed when I bought this book for the two reasons listed above, I'm very glad that this was published.
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54 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
I agree with the last guy. I was highly impressed with this book! It examines the logic and philosophy of Calvinism. I think Calvinism needs to be engaged on a philosophical level as well as a Biblical one. The reason for saying this is my experiences with Calvinists are that they are highly philosophical (the ones that really understand their position), and appeal to philosophical arguments in addition to their Biblical arguments. Many have asserted that Augustine was heavily influenced by philosophy. This is why (I think anyway) Calvinists take the universal atonement texts and turn them into limited atonement texts to maintain philosophical consistency even though there exegesis of these verses is obvious to no one but themselves. If you find yourself debating philosophical issues instead of Biblical exegesis then this book is for you. I disagree with a previous reviewer suggesting that this would not be a good book to give Calvinists. The authors bring into the discussion some of the material from leading Calvinist scholars like Screiner/Ware (The Grace of God...), Paul Helm, D.A. Carson, Packer, R.C. Sproul etc. This was really insightful taking a close look at the logical consistency of their positions. This book was not a bashing Calvinism book. Very level headed.
It is certainly true that the books main focus was not biblical exegesis, devoting one chapter to this. But their exegesis of Romans 9 was hard to beat, and although I wished there was more detail on their discussion of John 6 they did make some good points.
As far as open theism goes the authors did not say what their views were on this topic. They simple looked at the different foreknowledge perspectives and looked at what are some of the problems raised by each view.
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