Neither Calvinists Nor Arminians But Baptists -- By: Anonymous
JBTM 7:1 (Spring 2010) p. 57
Neither Calvinists Nor Arminians But Baptists
Are You Calvinists Or Arminians?
There is a question that many professional theologians, pastors and students, as well as theologically-minded Christians in the local churches, are being asked these days: Are you Calvinists or Arminians? More specifically, in our case, are the authors who have contributed to Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism to be identified with Calvinists or Arminians? Because that book is specifically intended to address the type of Calvinism that measures theology according to the five heads of doctrine promulgated in the canons of the Synod of Dort, the idea may arise that the authors themselves are, therefore, Arminian. This idea has been clearly promoted by Roger E. Olson, an articulate advocate of Arminianism, author of a significant text on Arminian theology, a self-proclaimed “classical Arminian,” and a recent reviewer of Whosoever Will. In an academic book review at www.BaptistTheology.org and on his personal blog, Dr. Olson identified the authors as both “anti-Calvinist” and “Arminians.”
Although we might variously appreciate Professor Olson’s claims that the book “contains 11 mostly excellent chapters by Southern Baptist leaders and scholars absolutely demolishing key Calvinist doctrines,” and that it “stands as the scholarly argument against Calvinism by evangelical authors,” we would unanimously, though respectfully, disagree with his characterization of us as “Arminian.” As he notes, the editors do not claim to be Arminians. Here, the relevant words from the book’s introduction seem appropriate to repeat: “none of the authors in this project is Arminian or a defender of Arminianism. None of the authors is a five-point Arminian, a Pelagian, a semi-Pelagian, or a strong Calvinist. . . . Instead, our contributors try to keep the two more extreme positions in balance, learning from both, counting themselves as being in the mainstream of the Baptist theological tradition” (Whosoever Will, 5).
If you were to read more broadly in their works or hear each of them speak in both private and public settings, the contributors themselves occupy a spectrum of views on the controverted points of Calvinism. Some of the authors in Whosoever Will would occupy a position closer to five-point Calvinism while others would occupy a position closer to Arminianism, but none would identify himself with either extreme. Yet other contributors would adamantly maintain that the common practice of measuring theology according to a flawed instrument created by a gaggle of baby baptizing, state church theologians in the seventeenth century is by degrees anachronistic and unhelpful. The purpose of each author in contributing to the book...
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