Should I be a Calvinist?

Disclaimer: I received this book from InterVarsity Press (IVPress, IVP) in exchange for an honest review.

Why I Am Not A Calvinist written by Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell wrestles with the resurgent theological system known as Calvinism. Calvinism has made this resurgence within the “young” crowd of Christianity, into the seminaries (namely, two or three in the Southern Baptist Convention and other “stand-alone” seminaries), and churches. I want to state clearly that Calvinists are not evil people. I think that is what Walls and Dongell would say in their critique of Calvinism. However, they are saying that Calvinism is not consistent in its logical expression.

This issue of Calvinism and Arminianism (tackled in Why I Am Not An Arminian) is not disappearing anytime soon. In fact, I think the issue will only continue to grow in prominence. Thus, you see why Walls and Dongell have written this book.

I found this book to be very interesting. I have not yet read the companion to this (mentioned above), but I intend to. In this work, Walls and Dongell write in a way that is not necessarily convincing you to be an Arminian, but not to be a Calvinist (I suppose that is the reason for the title). There is cause for skepticism, according to Walls and Dongell, in labeling oneself a Calvinist, though there is not necessarily a strong advocation or defense for calling oneself an Arminian. That would be my disappointment with this work. While I appreciate the irenic work, I do hold my disappointments; chiefly the one mentioned above.

Despite my disappointments, however, due to the nature of this debate amongst Christians, it is imperative that the Christian familiarize themselves with the content of Calvinism and Arminianism, Reformed Theology as a whole, and the nature of discipleship and grace in these discussions. What I gathered from Walls and Dongell is, while they disagree with the Calvinist’s system of theological belief and expression, they do not hate the Calvinist. The Calvinist is as much of a Christian as the Arminian (and vice-versa). This attitude is not always displayed; especially amongst the younger crowd. What I would recommend is this: pick up Why I Am Not An Arminian, Why I Am Not A Calvinist, and every other book on free will, predestination, election, and Reformed Theology (both as a broad tradition and the specifically dealing with Calvinism) and learn. However, do not forget to pick up your Bible.

In all, education amongst Christians is imperative if we wish to grow and disciple one another. Let us grow in grace and truth. Let us read wide and deep. Let us discuss. I hope you pick up this book and its companion. I believe it will be worth your time to read.

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