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Why I Am Not a Calvinist [Paperback]

By Jerry L. Walls (Author) & Joseph R. Dongell (Author)
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Item description for Why I Am Not a Calvinist by Jerry L. Walls & Joseph R. Dongell...

What's wrong with Calvinism? Since colonial days, Calvinism has dominated evangelical thought in America. It has been so well established that many Christians simply assumed it to be the truest expression of Christian doctrine. But Calvinism ahs some serious biblical and theological weakness that unsettle laypeople, pastors and scholars alike. God is sovereign. All evangelical Christians--whether Arminians or Calvinists--have no doubt about this fundamental truth. But how does God express his sovereignty? Is God a master puppeteer, pulling our strings? Or has he graciously given his children freedom to respond to his love? In this eminently readable book, Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell explore the flaws of Calvinist theology. This book is a must-read for all who struggle.

Publishers Description
What's wrong with Calvinism? Since the Reformation, Calvinism has dominated much of evangelical thought. It has been so well established that many Christians simply assume it to be the truest expression of Christian doctrine. But Calvinism has some serious biblical and theological weaknesses that unsettle laypeople, pastors and scholars alike. God is sovereign. All evangelical Christians--whether Arminians or Calvinists--have no doubt about this fundamental truth. But how does God express his sovereignty? Is God a master puppeteer, pulling our strings? Or has he graciously given his children freedom to respond to his love? In this eminently readable book, Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell explore the flaws of Calvinist theology.Why I Am Not a Calvinist is a must-read for all who struggle with the limitations of this dominant perspective within evangelical theology.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Books
Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.94" Width: 5.78" Height: 0.66"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2004
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830832491  
ISBN13  9780830832491  

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More About Jerry L. Walls & Joseph R. Dongell

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Jerry L. Walls has served as a Research Fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame. He is the author of a trilogy on the afterlife, the first two volumes of which are Hell: The Logic of Damnation and Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy. He is also the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology.

Jerry L. Walls currently resides in the state of Indiana. Jerry L. Walls has an academic affiliation as follows - Notre Dame University Notre Dame Asbury Theological Seminary Notre Dam.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Calvinist
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible Study > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Why I Am Not a Calvinist?

Nice treatment of the debate  Mar 15, 2007
Buy Why I Am Not an Arminian to balance the debate. We used both books as textbooks in a Bible study class.
The Philosophy of Calvinism  Jan 20, 2007
'Why I Am Not A Calvinist' is not so much a statement of Arminian theology as it is a flat-out rebuttal to Calvinism (hence, the title).

A number of reviewers have complained against an "over-philosophising" current which they seem to sense is present in this book. Some may be shocked, however, to discover that the Calvinian system is built on, and supported by, numerous philosophical dogmas. The authors of this title seek to expose this, recognising the essentiality for the student of the Arminian/Calvinian debate to truly grasp the "blik" (ie, a basic presupposition or stance) that reinforces both theologies.

The first chapter, "Approaching the Bible", (p. 21-43) is a most fitting introduction to the book. The main problem is, as another reviewer has previously mentioned, it is simply too long (especially for a two hundred twenty page book).

Chapter ii, "Engaging the Bible", contains an excellent overview of an Arminian interpretation, (but by no means the only Arminian interpretation), of Romans ix through xi. The authors also treat their readers with a splendid analogy of prevenient grace earlier in the chapter.

In chapter iii, "Calvinism and the Nature of Human Freedom", co-author Jerry L. Walls examines the philosophical undergirdings of Arminianism, and specifically Calvinism, regarding the nature of free will (particularly the competing models of compatibilism and libertarian freedom of will). While some may object to this approach, Walls believes that understanding this is pivotal to grasping the key differences that lie between Calvinism and Arminianism. I think he is correct.

In the fourth chapter, the authors spell out a Calvinian conception of divine sovereignty, along with some of the implications that it entails.

Chapter v exposes a great deal of Calvinian double-talk and their inconsistencies, especially how many Calvinists tend to conveniently interchange between compatibilist and libertarian free will to suit their purpose at the moment on a given subject (eg, Adam's sin and subsequent fall).

In the sixth and final chapter, Walls and Dongell write of the practical implications of Calvinian theology. They argue that one's theology ought to work out also very practically in one's life, for what one believes out to affect what one does, and so on (take the profession of being a pastor, for example). The authors then proceed in demonstrating how many Calvinists oftentimes do not quite "live up" to their theology in practise, or everyday life.

Overall, this is a very engaging book, but again, I recommend it more as a polemical (yet irenic) work against Calvinism than an apologetic for, or statement of, Arminianism. For an acute and concise presentation of Arminianism, 'Arminian Theology' by Roger E. Olson has already ably accomplished the task, by providing an excellent source for those in the dark regarding Arminianism.
GREAT Book!!!  Oct 25, 2006
This book is excellent! Not only are a number of compelling biblical reasons provided against Calvinism, a number of relevant philosophical arguments are raised against it as well. I've noticed that a number of the reviews impugn the value of such philosophical reflections, insisting that everything be settled on biblical exegetical grounds. Despite the high view of the Bible such an insistence demonstrates, I think that's a little simple-minded, in all honesty. Suppose the Bible told us to lie. Should our attitude in such a case be that lying is okay? Should we ignore our moral intuitions to the contrary just because the Bible said so? How would we ground our conviction in the truth of the Bible when it shows such disregard for the truth? On what principled grounds would we choose to believe in the Bible before some other piece of alleged revelation? God presumably gives us adequate evidence and philosophical resources to be justified to believe in scriptural authority. But if so, why not believe he can also help us interpret the Bible correctly by giving us the right philosophical assumptions to bring to our study? If exegesis reveals contradictions in scripture or teachings that stand at odds with inviolable moral intuitions, then either the exegesis is wrong or we have grounds for rejecting the veracity of the Bible.

Calvinism is based on a bad reading of the Bible. Little wonder C.S. Lewis characterized it as sneaking a bad god in through the back door. And no mystery why Calvinism can be shown predicated on such bad philosophy as the following: continuing to call God "good" when he unconditionally elects some to hell; and such a "good God" COULD have saved everyone without violating anyone's free will on their view!; Calvinists call "biblical tensions" or paradoxes what are just the contradictory elements in their own faulty interpretations of scripture; Calvinists engage in the most egregious forms of equivocation, stretching language beyond its breaking point, by calling their conceptions of God good when there's nothing recognizably good about it; Calvinists say we deserve hell while at the same time casting God as the sufficient cause of all of our other words.....they embrace a compatibilist view of freedom, notoriously inadequate to undergird ascriptions of deep moral responsibility, yet they think it adequate for someone to be relegated to an eternal hell! Example after example of confusion, evasion, and dishonesty characterize Reformed theology.

It's a shame that segments of the church refuse to see this and insist on embracing such a warped view of God. It's clear that Augustine overstated the implications of divine sovereignty in his debates with the Pelagians, yet his mistake has become virtually sacrosanct theology in the minds of Calvinists today. (And ironically, the Calvinist refusal to believe God has the prerogative to grant human beings real libertarian freedom LIMITS God's sovereignty!) What's at issue isn't the Christian standing of Calvinists. Nonetheless, hard-edged Calvinism is horrible theology that's done untold damage to the witness of the church in this world, casting God as nothing less than monstrous, rendering Gospel preaching irrelevant, making God the author of sin, however much Calvinists bristle at such charges.

Defenders of Calvinism need to answer this book, not act like they can neatly avoid bringing to bear our deepest moral intuitions and philosophical reflections in exegesis. Their own biblical analysis is rife with philosophical assumptions of their own, few of which can be defended with much cogency. This book serves as both a powerful, gracious biblical and philosophical corrective to such theology.
Heavy on Philosophy  Jul 23, 2006
Great book. Refreshingly honest. I read both this one and the other book called "Why I Am Not An Arminian." I read this one first. As other reviewers have already mentioned, the authors of this book go heavy on philosophy and on critiquing sayings of actual Calvinists. I would rather have seen more exegesis. After reading both books, it seemed to me that Walls and Dongell have appealed to Scripture in a somewhat cursory fashion. I am glad that they are holding Calvinists accountable for saying things that do not make sense. However, by basing their arguments on philosophy and pointing out flaws in the sayings of theologians, they make their own point of view look weak. You can prove D.A. Carson wrong all day if you wish, but that does not serve as an adequate substitute for proper exegesis.
Good Book, but one major flaw  Apr 1, 2006
I found this book to be an excellent rebuttal of Calvinism. Their exegesis on Romans 9-11 is the best offered. However, while I found the book able in its ability to point out why Calvinism is more 'fiction' than 'biblical fact,' I found myself wanting the authors to declare what Arminianism is as a theological system rather than just describe why one should not be Calvinistic.

Two more relevant points:

1. Their chapter on interpretation could have been better. I found that the authors could have summed the ideas of that chapter up in a page.

2. The authors do a fantastic job at demonstrating why piety alone is not enough to explain the significant contradictions found in Calvinistic theology epecially when it comes to such ethical issues such as the "Problem of Evil" and the consequences of believing in a "Limited Atonement." One cannot at every turn describe this issues as 'mysteries,' and expect to be taken seriously. Good did not provide a Scripture full of mysteries that we cannot understand, but a guide for how to figure out some of the mysteries in our lives as well as in the world around us.

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