- Roger Olson argues (lengthily) that Arminianism is legitimately evangelical.
Arminians affirm everything necessary for a fully evangelical soteriology; Calvinists require more. Why?
- Adam Neder has begun a series arguing that Calvin really was human.
I simply want to introduce you to a side of him that you may not know, and hopefully to persuade you that he does, after all, belong to the human race. And I want to do that by focusing on two of his close friendships.
- Brian LePort discusses Gadamer and biblical interpretation.
I have been taught the historical-grammatical approach to biblical hermeneutics both as an undergraduate student and as a graduate student. It has been useful, but it always left me wondering how this approach allows for the Scriptures to be the book of the church rather than merely an open source. It was not until this last semester when I encountered the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer that my paradigm was shaken.
- Denny Burk offers a lengthy discussion of the textual problem in Luke 23:34 and why think thinks many experts are wrong when they conclude that Jesus’ prayer “Father, forgive them…” was not original.
- Derek Ouellette describes his first visit to an Eastern Orthodox church.
- Collin Hansen discusses the 10 most-searched-for Bible verses at Bible Gateway, and what he thinks is missing from the list.
- And, apparently it is possible to paralyze someone by giving them a hickey.
- David Fitch commented a few days back on why “leadership” is unbiblical. Yesterday, Bob Hyatt offered his “rebuttal.”
I’ve noticed in the last few years a real bandwagon of anti-leadership sentiment in some circles. I think it started as a push-back to the “CEO” model/mentality in some, and as such, I’m sympathetic. But from there, it has progressed to where we now have many arguing that any concept of leadership in the church should be avoided.
- Kevin Barney asks, Can Biblical Languages Unlock the Secrets of the Universe? (Hint: the answer is no)
I’ve noticed that people who do not read the original languages of the Bible sometimes think of those languages as somehow magical, as the key that can open any mystery and answer any question about the Bible. While reading the original languages is tremendously important and helpful and useful, such a reading by itself does not always magically result in clear and simple answers to controversial religious questions. There are limitations inherent in an appeal to an original language for determining the meaning of a text.
- Andrew Walker addresses The Plight of the Education Bubble.
As the article indicates, countless PhD students spend years dedicated towards research that will perhaps never posit an actual job in their field. Supply is greater than demand as the article suggets. The future seems depressingly bleak then for doctoral students: They are treated as indentured servants by their superiors. They spend meaningful years that could have been put towards savings, retirement, and even more important—nurturing families.
- Roger Olson and Michael Horton have had an interesting exchange on the nature of Arminianism (read the comments). In the process, Olson made a very good comment about fairly representing other perspectives:
I urge you, and all non-Arminians who describe our theology, to describe it as we describe it and then go on to explain why you disagree….Fairness is the issue here.
- Brian LePort discusses The Gospel according to Paul.
- Italian police think that they accidentally found Caligula’s lost tomb while chasing tomb raiders.
- Chris Armstrong points out that you can get a free copy of the 100th issue of Christian History to celebrate its relaunch.
- And, a University of Colorado student decided to pay his $14,000 tuition bill with a suitcase full of $1 bills. (If you’re a student at Western Seminary, please don’t do this. If you’re at a different school, go for it!)
- Roger Olson argues that Arminianism and Calvinism are “incommensurable” systems that should not be viewed as occupying different places on the same spectrum:
On the crucial issues of the nature of God’s election to salvation, the extent of the atonement and whether grace is resistible or irresistible (the three main ideas that divide Calvinism and Arminianism) the divide between any and every version of Calvinism and any and every version of Arminianism is deep and wide. So much so that it is really not possible to put them on the same spectrum.
- Cynthia Nielsen reflects on Foucault’s understanding of “biopower” and its significance for understanding (post)modern society and the (post)modern self.
With the transition from the ancient and medieval monarchical model of absolute power to the modern model of biopower, power is no longer centralized around the person of the king but is distributed in a net-like fashion operating, invading, and permeating the social body far more efficiently and effectively than the previous model.
- A couple of recent posts have discussed the relationship of Calvinism and universalism. Joel Watts comments on the argument that predestination and universalism undermine human responsibility. And Roger Olson argues that Calvinism leads to universalism.
Okay, maybe Calvinism doesn’t lead to universalism inexorably–as if every Calvinist must become a universalist. However, many leading universalist theologians are/were Reformed and believed that their Calvinist concepts of God’s sovereignty eventually compelled them to embrace universalism.
- Lifehacker explains why preparation is so important for a good interview.
- Trevin Wax explains why he didn’t like the theological vision in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (Don’t read this if you don’t want to hear a few details about how the movie is different from the book.) He also shares a number of links to other reviews.
- And, here’s a list of the 50 Greatest Movie Monologues.
- Roger Olson argues that Arminianism is God-centered theology. From a rather different perspective, apparently over 20% of the readers over at Covenant of Love think Ariminiasm is a herey.
- Paul Helm discusses Thomas Aquinas on Divine Impassibility.
- Scot McKnight raises The Baptism Question.
- James McGrath had the students in his Revelation class evaluate a website and post their comments. He set up a blog for that purpose and is inviting everyone to check it out. I’ve only glanced at it so far, but it looks interesting.
- Dane Ortlund offers a thought from Richard Baukham on why the Gospel writers thought history was so important.
- The official Mormon “handbook” is now available online.
According to a new study from the Barna Group, the recent Calvinist resurgence may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. We’ve heard a lot recently about the “New Calvinism.” According to many, we are seeing a revival of Reformed theology, especially among younger Christians – i.e., the Young, Restless, and Reformed. So, the Barna Group decided to do some research on the issue to determine if there’s any actual data to support the conclusion that we are seeing a revival in Reformed theology. And their conclusion?
….there is no discernible evidence from this research that there is a Reformed shift among U.S. congregation leaders over the last decade. Whatever momentum surrounds Reformed churches and the related leaders, events and associations has not gone much outside traditional boundaries or affected the allegiances of most today’s church leaders.
In their research into the reformed movement in American churches, the Barna Group surveyed Protestant leaders around the country to determine whether they self-identify as Calvinist or Arminian in orientation. And, according to the study, 31% of Protestant pastors identify themselves and their churches as “Calvinist or Reformed” down from 32% in 2000. And, this number has been relatively stable for the last 10 years. So, rather than supporting the idea of a significant resurgence in Reformed theology, these numbers suggest that pastors, at least, self-identify with Reformed theology at the same rate as they did 10 years ago.
And, from the other perspective, 32% self-identify as Welseyan-Arminian, down from 37% in 2000. Representing a slight decline, this number has fluctuated more over the last ten years, though the researchers offer no suggestion as to why this might be the case.
On the basis of this evidence, the researchers conclude that we currently have insufficient evidence to support the conclusion that there is a resurgence of interest in Calvinist theology. They do acknowledge, however, that there may be factors they have not included in their research which might still validate the idea of a Reformed resurgence. Thus, despite the data, Ed Stetzer concludes,
All that to say, I think there IS a resurgence of Calvinism (particularly within evangelicalism), but since it is younger, and a subset of a very large pool of pastors (for polling purposes), it is not evident via the research.
But, contrary to Stetzer’s conclusion, the Barna data shows 34% of young pastors (ages 27 to 45) self-identifying as Wesleyan/Arminian and only 29% as Calvinist/Reformed. Thus, even if there is a renewed interest in Calvinist theology, it is not yet sufficient to offset the continuing support for Wesleyan/Arminian theology among young, Christian leaders.
I also found it very interesting that older, Christian leaders were the least likely to identify with either description, with only 26% identifying as Calvinist/Reformed and 27% as Wesleyan/Arminian. And, indeed, it seems worth noting that although 32% of the total population identified as Calvinist/Reformed, and 31% identified as Wesleyan/Arminian, that still means 37% chose not to identify with either description. If nothing else, this would seem t suggest that we need to recognize more diversity than can be captured with a simple Calvinist/Arminian spectrum.
So, is there a Calvinist resurgence today? I’m still inclined to think so. But, the Barna survey places this resurgence in context, demonstrating that it’s overall influence on the Christian community as a whole is still relatively minimal. Given the relative prominence of many New Calvinist leaders, that does not mean the movement is insignificant, only that it’s overall impact has yet to be determined.
- A couple of good articles at Inside Higher Ed today. One details the problems facing for-profit schools and criticisms raised by a recent GAO report. Given that many are looking to these schools as the “wave of the future,” these developments are worth keeping an eye on. In a second article, Adam Kotsko responds to an earlier essay arguing that Christians face discrimination in higher ed. Kotsko contends that the problem really comes from the fact that evangelicals have historically resisted assimilating to secular culture. So, for Kotsko the problem is less one of discrimination than one of assimilation.
- Out of Ur discusses Brandon O’Brien’s new book The Strategically Small Church. It’s nice to see small churches getting some attention for a change.
- Michael Halcomb has compiled a very helpful set of language resources at his new site Getting Theological Languages. If you’re looking for resources on learning Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, theological German, or theological French, this is worth checking out.
- Mark Stevens is giving away a copy of N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection and the Son of God.
- Roger Olson discusses his problem with Calvinism, resonating many of the same themes that came up during our own discussion of the topic. He also has a post on church music that is well worth reading. I think the focus of his discussion is misplaced (hymns vs. choruses), but the emphasis on the importance of having solid biblical/theological content is our worship music is spot on.
That’s the question being asked on a couple of blogs today. Frank Turk starts things off with “Filthy Calvinists and the People Who Love to Hate Them“, asking why many non-Calvinists get so fired up about Calvinism, insisting loudly that they’re not Calvinists, but they don’t express similar vehemence against other systems like Catholicism. (He also mixes in quite a bit of rhetoric as blog fodder, but this is the basic question.) The post is followed by an extensive discussion in the comments on the issue.
Adam Omelianchuk follows up with “My Distaste for Calvinism Made Public.” Although not a Calvinist himself, he argues:
I think the main reason why so many protestant Christians have a problem with Calvinism more than issues related to Catholicism is that they see Calvinism as a plausible system. That means it is a reasonable one that could possibly be true (sorry, but some of those beliefs about Mary are just plain silly). I remember being introduced to the theology 11 years ago through the “limited atonement” piece of the puzzle, and I still remember the violent reaction I had to it. It made the strange view of Open Theism look attractive, but Calvinism’s plausibility created a long-time of wrestling that ultimately resulted in a (short lived) conversion to Calvinism.
He then goes on to explain why he is opposed to Calvinism, focusing largely on issues related to the problem of evil and the idea that everything God does is focused on his own glory (i.e. the “self-absorbed God” problem).
I’d actually be inclined to argue that non-Calvinists are more stridently opposed to Calvinism because it is “closer” to them – closer theologically, culturally, and often geographically. The general orbit of non-Calvinist Protestants churches overlaps that of Calvinist Protestants far more than it does that of Catholics, Orthodox, and others. And, if you’re going to throw stones at someone, you’re far more likely to throw them at the person standing next to you than some guy on the other side of town.
Feel free to engage in the discussions at the other two blogs, but I’d also be interested in hearing what you think on the subject. If you’re a non-Calvinist, do you find yourself being more critical of Calvinism than other theological systems? If so, why? And, if you’re a Calvinist, do you have any thoughts on why other Protestants pick on you all the time?