40 Questions About Arminianism: Revisited

I believe that there are times in all of our lives when we lash out without thought or care. Especially in the world of digital media, putting something in print quickly and never revisiting the issue can be an easy thing to fall into. But it can also be a dangerous and, sometimes, painful thing to do for those who have to read what we write. Especially if what we write is about them or their work.

When I wrote my original review of 40 Questions About Arminianism this is exactly what happened. I read the book as a Calvinist reading about Calvinism and the “enemy” on the other side of the Soteriological fence. I was not reading it as someone who truly wanted to learn more about my Arminian friends. And, with that mindset, I wrote a scathing review of the book.

It was not long after the original review was published that two individuals reached out to me questioning my review. They were not attacking me, though, admittedly, that was how I read their comments at first. They were genuinely wondering how I came to the conclusions about Dr. Pinson’s book that I had.

Shortly thereafter, I decided to reach out to Dr. Pinson. I wrote to him about my thoughts on the book and some of the concerns that I had. His response was kind and gracious and I prayed about what to do next. I decided that maybe there was something I had missed. The next day I informed Dr. Pinson I would re-read the book.

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Book Review: 40 Questions About Arminianism

UPDATE: After some discussion and review, I have re-read the book and have a new review with a much different outlook. Please know that below is my original review and no longer my stance on the book. My new review is available at this link.

The soteriological battles of Arminianism versus Calvinism have been raging since the 16th Century. In reality, they have been going longer than that, but the two positions seem to focus on John Calvin and Jacob Arminius. J. Matthew Pinson’s new book seeks to answer 40 Questions About Arminianism.

For a Calvinist, such as myself, I was excited to read a book that claims to answer questions about Arminianism. I was hoping to find something new that I did not know and to find solid explanations for the position of the opposing theological viewpoint. If that is what you are seeking, this book is not for you.

The back cover of the book claims that, “J. Matthew Pinson combines solid historical research with biblical and doctrinal position to address the following questions and more…” But this is hardly the case. Instead, the book is just a hit piece on caricatures of Calvinism. Many things are taken out of context and twisted in order to prop up Pinson’s points. Yes, there are some speckling of Arminian positions in the book, but just as much of the book focuses on Calvinism as it does Arminianism.

But the idea that the book speaks with historical and doctrinal precision is laughable at best. No greater example of this can be seen than on page 120 of the paperback edition. Pinson writes, “Consistent Calvinists get so far from the consensus of the church catholic on this doctrine that many Calvinists do not hold to limited atonement.” This is a quotation that is made as a statement of fact. But Pinson writes in the footnote, “While I have no hard data on this…” Anyone who makes a statement of fact and then relates in a footnote that there is no evidence for the statement of fact does not deserve to be taken seriously in the arena in which they debate.

Many other Scripture references are taken out of context in order to prove the Arminian viewpoint and downplay Calvinism’s doctrinal accuracy. One clear example of this is on his pointing to John 12:32 to say that Christ will draw all mean, meaning individuals, to himself. But a clear look at the context of this passage shows that he is referring to people groups, Jew and Gentile, and not individuals.

As stated before, if you are looking for a book that explains Arminian theology and letting that stand on its own, this is not a book for you. I do not recommend this resource to any diligent student of the Word for reasons put forth and generously give this book one out of five stars.

I was provided a free copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Grace Defined and Defended by Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung’s book, Grace Defined and Defended takes readers on a journey through the 400 year-old confession called the Canons of Dort. This simple, yet informative, book shows the history and circumstances that lead to the canons being written birthing the formula for what we now call TULIP.

The book does not get heavy into a theological treatise. DeYoung addresses this at the beginning stating:

My first goal is to explain the Canons of Dort. Think of this not as a  mini systematic theology or as an exegetical exploration of key salvation texts, but as a brief, accessible commentary on the background and theology of Dort itself.

DeYoung definitely delivers. He brings the articles of the canons to succinct and clear statements with explanation in modern English that leave no doubt on the history and meaning of the articles. 

The main text of the book does not give the full text of the canons. Rather, DeYoung takes key phrases that build the meat of each article and expounds upon it. This helps to keep the book short and focused sticking with the most important facts of the documents. Full texts of the positions of Dort and the Arminian position (Remonstrant) can be found in the appendixes at the back of the book. Scripture proofs are also provided for each of the points.

It is good to note that at the beginning of the book DeYoung takes a history of the TULIP acronym explaining that, while good, it does not give the full picture of Calvinism or even the canons of Dort. He does make sure to say that TULIP is good for a summary but it is not the complete story or position.

I have to give Grace Defined and Defended five out of five stars. It is easy to read and understand while giving a clear history on the Canons of Dort. I applaud Kevin DeYoung for another outstanding book to help educate the church on what it believes and why it believes it.

I was given a free copy of the book by the Publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.