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Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities Hardcover – October 5, 2006
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"Arminian Theology is a much-needed book, addressing many of the myths and caricatures about Arminianism that plague and muddle many contemporary theological discussions. Whether we advocate a particular theological perspective or not, it is imperative that we as Christians describe other theological perspectives with integrity, fairly and accurately. Dr. Olson is to be complimented for this excellent contribution." (Steve Lemke, Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, Fall 2013)
"Arminian Theology should prove to be a seminal text in understanding the historical contours of Arminianism. It is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to gain a cogent and perspicacious introduction to historical, evangelical Arminian theology." (Martin Povey, Stockport, Themelios 32/3, May 2007)
"Olson's purpose is to clear the good Arminian name of false accusations and charges of heresy. . . . InterVarsity Press has given a new voice to an evangelical position which has been, for the most part, suppressed and misrepresented." (Vic Reasoner, The Arminian 25:1, Spring 2007)
"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)
". . . a fine example of contemporary polemical theology at its best." (Daniel Castelo for Pneuma, 29, 2007)
"I heartily recommend this book to all who wish to gain a true grasp of authentic Arminianism." (Mark DeVine, Midwestern Journal of Theology, 2008)
"Olson's book is highly reommended for those who want to understand the Arminian-Calvinist controversy better." (Andrew V. Snider, The Master's Seminary Journal, Spring 2009)
"This is an extremely crucial work. It should be required reading for all students of theology. It is not a substitute for reading primary sources, but it is a helpful summary and introduction to the major issues." (Glenn R. Kreider, Dallas Theological Seminary, Criswell Theological Review 4/2, Spring 2007)
"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
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Top Customer Reviews
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. Olson arguing for over and over in the book is that Arminianism is not Semi-Pelagian because it is not that good was left in man after the fall, but that God, in His grace gave all men prevenient grace. Here is my issue with this argument. Did not God allow the good to be humans before the fall? So, whether you believe that a little good was left over (Semi-Pelagian) or that God, after the fall, gave all men prevenient grace (Arminianism), which is also good, how is this different? It's just a matter of timing, in my opinion. Dr. Olson also goes into a little dissertation on Open Theism where he does not really try and disprove, but says simply that some Arminians are going "that way" and some are undecided. This is where Arminianism gets real dangerous, in my opinion.
I did enjoy the book and Dr. Olson's thoroughness in it. Do not expect the book to be one that tries to "convince" you of the Arminian position, for this was not the intent (this is also the reason why there was very little biblical references). The intent was to clear up some misconceptions of Arminian theology. Which for me, it did the job that Dr. Olson was trying to do, but that does not mean that I agree with him. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone looking for an honest assessment of Arminianism.
I also appreciate Dr. Olson's heart in wanting the two sides to be able to serve with one another and to proclaim the gospel together. I found this a place where a lot of my Calvinist friends could learn from.
I recommend this book to those who are conflicted about Arminianism or Calvinism and want a balanced understanding of both sides of the long-standing controversy, or are looking for a deciding factor that will convince you to finally take a stand for one theological view over the other. Perhaps this book can even lead you to choose whether you are or are not an Arminian, or want to unashamedly claim an Arminian view even at the cost of the Calvinist's disdain. Minimally, After reading Roger E. Olson’s book, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, you will have increased your knowledge of Arminianism, furthered your understanding of Christians who hold an Arminian theology, and know what Arminians really believe about God’s sovereignty, libertarian free will, atonement, election, predestination, reprobation, grace, justification, and sanctification, among other things. You will also get this information without any Calvinist hyperbole and tired caricatures of Arminius, Arminianism and Christians who hold to an Arminian view.
Olson provides a nice history lesson about Arminius, the origin of the controversy, generational Remonstrants, subsequent Arminian adherents, i.e., John Wesley, and varying views from Arminians. Olson even discusses deviation from Classical Arminianism of the heart to Arminianism of the head, which led some into Universalism and liberal theology. Olson does not cover up Arminian blemishes and close the door on proverbial skeletons in the closet. In my opinion; he gives an even-handed assessment of Calvinism and Arminianism.
That said Olson also cites some theologians that I find dubious, e.g., Clark H. Pinnock and Stanley J. Grenz. Not to speak ill of the dearly departed as both men have passed away in recent years and seemingly are friends of Olson or at least Grenz is. My concern with Pinnock is he was an open theist and my concern with Grenz is he was unduly influenced by the emerging church movement and postmodernism.
If you want a book that spells out the pros and cons of Arminianism; this book fits the bill; However, not without a cost. If your are trying to persuade another, e.g., a Calvinist, that Arminianism is the more scriptural, most intelligent and logically sound choice, sources such as Pinnock and Grenz, among others, do not help your cause and can prove to be a hindrance. At best, generally speaking, most Calvinists, if they believe Arminians are Christian, they are “barely Christian” to quote R.C. Sproul. As it is, many Calvinists easily label Arminians heterodox, aberrant or even heretical. To bring open theists and emergent theologians into the mix, in my estimation, does not bring credence to Olson’s writing or Arminian theology and the cause of Arminians. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave...Read more
Now I'm not so sure. Thank you Roger Olson.Read more