Roger Olson’s Against Calvinism Proves He is a Doody Head

In his book, Against Calvinism, author Roger Olson strawmans his way through 192 pages of the worst misdirection, misquotation and misrepresentation I can recall from any author in recent history.   Take, for instance, his story about the middle-aged psychology PhD who informed Olson that he had no problem with double predestination, because he believes the non elect are like puppets. Olson knew the whole time he was telling us this story that Calvinists from every Baptist and Presbyterian denomination would disagree with this man’s understanding of God’s sovereignty, and yet he uses the story as a gotcha moment anyway.   That fact alone makes the story irrelevant to Olson’s point.  The story is nothing more than Olson’s attempt to sneak in that tired, old Arminian argument about Calvinism turning man into a puppet.  It is Olson telling us, hey I didn’t say it folks, but I know who did, and now that the idea is in your head . . .

Olson claims to know the difference between high and low Calvinism, and he claims his intent is to prove the high Calvinist position is unbiblical, yet time and again throughout his book he debates the low Calvinist/infralapsarian arguments.  Piper is no high Calvinist! Neither is Sproul and Palmer and Frame. Why then argue with them if your aim is to challenge high Calvinism?   Why not take on Gill or Toplady or Crisp or Hoeksema instead?

Yes, he does mention Hoeksema’s name, but then he presents an argument against Piper as though this is supposed to address Hoeksema.

Furthermore, he overlooks the glaring problem which he defines as part of Arminianism.   On page 67, third paragraph, speaking of Wesley and prevenient grace, he writes –

“the illuminating, convicting, calling, and enabling power of the Holy Spirit working on the sinner’s soul and making them free to choose saving grace or reject it.”

Making them free to choose the saving grace or reject it?   That’s not grace!  Arguing that God gives me the grace to choose or reject a grace that will save me if I accept it is not grace!  It is an attempt to co-opt God into helping me establish my own righteousness instead.  It is exchanging the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for God even while maintaining the same belief in the serpent’s lie.  In other words, I can establish my own righteousness by choosing to do the good that I will come to know about rather than the evil.

And then, oh my goodness, the same, tired, empty-handed Arminian assertions that have for centuries upon centuries been answered and addressed.   Such as, Romans 9 is about nations, sovereignty is the same thing as occasionalism, 1 Timothy 2:4-6 means every person without distinction, and yes, even the big why did Jesus weep over Jerusalem.

“Most of all, it cannot be reconciled with the character of God revealed in Jesus Christ, who wept over Jerusalem when its inhabitants did not accept him as their Messiah.” (Against Calvinism, Roger Olson, pg 108)

Mr. Olson, the text does not say oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem how often I would have gathered you.  Rather, it says how often I would have gathered YOUR CHILDREN.  Is there an Arminian anywhere out there who can actually quote the Bible accurately?

Olson’s chapter on the atonement is even worse.  Not only does he continue to rely on the same silly game of bait and switch – I’ll mention this high Calvinist’s name, but then I’ll argue against something a low Calvinist said instead – but he also engages in what can only be described as pouting.   Such as when he attempts to answer John Owen by asserting that Owen’s argument is so easily turned aside that he won’t even bother doing it.   Yes, that is his answer!  Your argument is so easily beatable that I won’t even bother beating it!

Later, he compounds this silliness by answering one of Sproul’s arguments with a quote from Vernon Grounds, in which Grounds argues, and I paraphrase, “it’s this way because I say it’s this way and if you disagree with me then you’re a doody head.”

He finally gets around to trying to address Owen on page 149, but his answer is still just more of the same.   He writes, speaking against Owen’s argument that objective atonement necessarily includes subjective, personal salvation —

“. . . (this) is logically absurd. It simply ignores the possibility that Christ suffered the punishment for many people who never enjoy that liberation from punishment.” 

There you go, folks.   John Owen is wrong, because he ignored the possibility that what Roger Olson says is right.

That is not an argument, Mr. Olson!  It is a pout!   Arguments are not refuted by insisting the argument be invalidated because it disagrees with your opinion.

As for his governmental view of the atonement, this is just plain old Fullerism (see my essay on Fullerism over on Mark Mcculley’s blog here: ).   It is a denial of original sin and the imputation of the sinner’s guilt to Christ.

In short, Olson is just another Arminian ignorantly ranting against what he doesn’t understand.  But the most tragic part of this book is the preface, written by none other than Michael Horton.   Yes, that Michael Horton of White Horse Inn, who goes on to encourage the readers of Olson’s book to give the book some weight.  No wonder it took only two days for the administrators on the White Horse Inn website to ban me from leaving any more comments.

About David Bishop

Gospel of Grace Church
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Roger Olson’s Against Calvinism Proves He is a Doody Head

  1. markmcculley says: I do think Owen’s argument about “all the sins of all the elect” needs to be careful in pointing out that one result of Christ’s just atonement is that those for whom Christ died will not die in unbelief. Christ never died for the sin of final unbelief, and none of the elect commit that sin.

  2. markmcculley says:

    from my letter to Olson—In Against Calvinism, you do a good job of exposing the problems with modern Calvinism’s traditions like “the free offer’ and “sufficient but not efficient” Now I wait for the day when some current big name Calvinist writes “Against Any Idea that Jesus Bore and Propitiated the Sins of Every Sinner”.

    We live in a day when NOT MANY Calvinists think of Arminianism as a heresy. Most Calvinists are far more concerned to warn against eternal security and antinomianism. They worry less about neo-nomianism and the denial of the imputation of Adam’s guilt than they do about “open theism” or the role of men and women in society.

    You define “Calvinism” on p 159, “Satan wants all damned to hell and God only wants certain number damned to hell.” You have cut through the sophistry of “Calvinists” (with a “shelf doctrine of definite atonement) who make analogies to human judges who reluctantly condemn criminals. If God has already forgiven some who have committed some sins but does not “try to” forgive the next person who committed those sins, you are determined not to worship that God.

    You reject any “necessary connection” between the accomplishment of redemption and the application of redemption. (p 150). You think that if justice demands that all for whom Jesus died be saved from God’s wrath, then this will eliminate any incentive for Christians to obey God.

    I am not sure if you fail to understand John Owen, or have not read John Owen, or are deliberately misrepresenting the logic of atonement for the elect alone. But you insist that if the redemption by Christ makes the redemption of the elect certain, then this must mean that the elect are born already redeemed and there is no need for faith or the legal application (imputation) of the redemption.

    Where John Piper double talks about Christ dying in some sense (not propitiation, therefore governmental?) for all sinners, you simply deny that Christ by His atonement purchased faith in the gospel for the elect.

    You write about the idea “that the same sin cannot be punished twice. That’s false. Imagine a person who is fined by a court $1000 and someone else steps into pay the fine. What if the fined person declines to accept that payment and insists on paying the fine herself? Will the court automatically refund the first $1000? Probably not. It’s the risk the first person takes in paying his friend’s fine.” (P 149).

  3. blakodeel says:

    Olson’s comments are utterly weak even by Arminian standards. Olson has admitted that scripture is not his standard of belief, but he conforms the message of the Bible to his own ideas. He has openly admitted this. He has literally said concerning Romans 9 along the lines of “it doesn’t matter what the text says, it CAN’T be that!” There ya go.

    “Mingled vanity and pride appear in this, that when miserable men do seek after God, instead of ascending higher than themselves as they ought to do, they measure him by their own carnal stupidity, and, neglecting solid inquiry, fly off to indulge their curiosity in vain speculation. Hence, they do not conceive of him in the character in which he is manifested, but imagine him to be whatever their own rashness has devised.” (Calvin’s Institutes Book 1, Chapter 4, Section 1)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s