A Review Article Who Is A Calvinist? -- By: Gary L. W. Johnson

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 08:4 (Fall 1999)
Article: A Review Article Who Is A Calvinist?
Author: Gary L. W. Johnson


A Review Article
Who Is A Calvinist?

Gary L. W. Johnson

Chosen But Free: A Balanced View Of Election, Norman Geisler. Minneapolis: Bethany House (1999). 256 pages, hardback, $16.99.

There is a line in the movie Braveheart which captures my motivation for writing this review. Prior to the first battle between the English and the Scots, William Wallace, unlike his fellow clan chieftains, was in no mood to negotiate with the English. When asked then why he was riding out to meet the English delegation, he said, “I’m gonna pick a fight.”

My opponent in this theological bout is well known in most evangelical circles. Norman Geisler has authored dozens of books, the majority of which are geared toward a popular audience. His special field of interest has always been apologetics, and in one regard Geisler is somewhat unique among evangelical apologists due to his wholehearted commitment to Thomism (with an evangelical twist).

Geisler has rendered valuable service to the evangelical community over the years, and my remarks in this particular review are not intended to cast aspersion on his labors as a whole. In fact the conflict between this most recent effort of his and many of Geisler’s other very helpful contributions to the evangelical cause accounts for much of my pugilistic demeanor.1 Geisler also has a reputation as a controversialist.

Depending with whom you talk regarding these conflicts, he is portrayed as either snarling and wearing a black hat, or waving his white hat as he rides off on his trusted steed into the sunset, having vanquished another threat to the Bible-believing homesteaders.2

In Geisler’s latest effort he wears a black hat. As the subtitle indicates, Geisler attempts to present a balanced view of divine election. The operative word here is balanced. One suspects at first glance that Geisler is seeking to steer a course between the turbulent waters of Calvinism and Arminianism. This endeavor has been attempted before with predictable results—usually earning only the scorn and disdain of the two parties on either side of the debate. However, on closer examination we discover that Geisler attempts no such compromise. His so-called balanced approach is between what he labels extreme Calvinism and extreme Arminianism. What does this adjective really identify? Extreme Calvinism turns out to be your common, garden variety five-point Calvinism, while extreme Arminianism is actually a form of neo-Arminianism which most evangelical Arminians would di...

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