The Calvinism Debate

Calvinism has been defined as a system of truth based on the teachings of the Old and New Testaments.  Many conservative Christians are drawn to Calvinism because its adherents affirm that the basic doctrines that are taught by Calvinists are based on the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.

Since the debate about the biblical nature of the doctrines of Calvinism is ongoing in evangelical circles, Zondervan has published two books that will be of interest to those who want to understand the pros and cons of Calvinism.

The first book, For Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), was written by Michael Horton, Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics as Westminster Seminary in California. The back cover introduces the content of the book:


The system of theology known as Calvinism has been immensely influential since the sixteenth century, but it is often encountered negatively as a fatalistic belief system that confines human freedom and renders human action and choice irrelevant.

Taking us beyond the caricature and misunderstandings, Michael Horton invites us to explore the teachings of Calvinism, also commonly known as Reformed theology, by showing us how it is biblical and God-centered, leading us to live our lives for the glory of God.

Horton explores the historical roots of Calvinism, walking readers through the distinctive teachings known as the “Five Points,” and encouraging us to consider its rich resources for faith and practice in the twenty-first century.



The second book, Against Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), was written by Roger Olson, Professor of Theology at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco Texas. The back cover introduces the content of the book:

Roger Olson suggests that Calvinism, also commonly known as Reformed theology, holds an unwarranted place in our list of accepted theologies.

Addressing what many evangelical Christians are concerned about today–so-called “new Calvinism,” a movement embraced by a generation labeled as “young, restless, Reformed”–Against Calvinism offers objections from a non-Calvinist perspective to this current wave of Calvinism.

In Against Calvinism, readers will find cogent arguments explaining why Calvinist theology is incorrect and how it affects God’s reputation. Olson also draws on a variety of sources, including Scriptures, reason, tradition, and experience, to support his critique of Calvinism in favor of more historically rich, biblically faithful alternative theologies.

Zondervan has made both books available for review.  In a few days I will post my reviews of both books and then give my own perspective on this debate.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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2 Responses to The Calvinism Debate

  1. Kerberos says:

    It seems a pity (up to a point) that Olson, like Horton, writes from within the Reformed tradition (Arminianism is in origin Reformed, after all). What would be really interesting would be critiques by, and of, theologies from other POVs as well. An Orthodox critique of Calvinism, an Episcopalian critique of Arminianism, an Arminian critique of Catholicism, with each author taking the criticised creed as a totality, in an irenic and well-informed spirit, might be a great good for Christians 🙂 (And might help to lay a lot of misunderstandings & misrepresentations to rest). Christians are grievously at odds with one another without such misunderstandings & their fruits.

    If these books can serve to help bring peace and understanding among Christians of different confessions, so much the better.


    • Claude Mariottini says:


      Your proposal sounds interesting, since you seldom read about Orthodox having dialogue with Reformed and Arminian believers. These two books may bring understanding but not peace between the two groups. I hope to read these books soon because I want to see how the writers present their views.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini


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