Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Part 1 of a Critique of "Calvinism: a Biblical and Theological Critique"

"Calvinism: a Biblical and Theological Critique" (CABTC) was published by B&H Academic.  The book has a relatively low level of engagement with Calvinist scholars and other proponents of Calvinism.  

It's not absolutely zero interaction.  For example, they mention my friend, James White, twice: once in Kenneth Wilson's section in a footnote, where an episode of Dr. White's podcast is mentioned together with a ten minute segment of Dr. Wilson appearing on Leighton Flowers' podcast, in which Dr. White is allegedly "rebutted," for the idea that "Some Calvinists claim to have found Calvinistic theology in the early church fathers" and once in David Allen's section as a footnote to the sentence, "One of [Robert Some's] texts was Rom 8:33-34." The footnote in David Allen's section points to a website where David Allen's "full treatment of Rom 8:32" allegedly can be found, in a page that has Dr. White's name in the title.

On the other hand, considering that the editors of and credited contributors to the work have at least one doctorate and are professors, one might have expected that their targets would be the work of Calvinist professors.  Instead, their go-to target is retired pastor and celebrated author, John Piper.  Piper, we should acknowledge, received a doctorate and taught in a university for a few years before becoming pastor of Bethlehem Baptist and writing his now famous book, "Desiring God." 

CABTC lacks a bibliography, which seems odd for an "academic" publication, but is apparently normal for the publisher, B&H Academic (based on a perusal of several other of their recent books).  Admittedly, I'm less familiar with the standards of Baptist academia, so perhaps this is totally normal in those circles.

The fifteen contributors are mostly professors at Baptist seminaries or men who received their doctorates from Baptist seminaries (9/15).  The exceptions are Brian Abasciano (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), William Klein (Denver Seminary), Roger Olson (Baylor University), J. Matthew Pinson (Welch College), Ken Wilson (Grace School of Theology), and Ben Witherington III (Asbury Theological Seminary).  

The list includes respectable names in academia, but if what you are looking for is scholarly interaction with Calvinism and Calvinist arguments, this book is probably not for you.

Thankfully, we are able to provide a reasoned response to the arguments provided in this critique, and we plan to do so, Lord willing, in future posts.

A few people commented on the odd title "Biblical and Theological Critique" as though any Protestant Critique that was theological could fail to be Biblical or vice versa.  

Compounding that problem, "A Biblical and Theological Critique" is also the section title of Section one of the book (occupying about the first third of the pages).  Section two is "Historical Issues with Calvinism" and section three is "Crucial Theological, Biblical, and Ecclesiological Issues with Calvinism."  There's an "Epilogue" that has the title: "Calvinists and Non-Calvinists Together for the Gospel," as well as an appendix titled, "Semi-Pelagianism: the Theological Catchall."