Tuesday, November 15, 2011
A Review of For Calvinism by Michael Horton
Michael Horton is a well-respected theologian and gifted communicator. I write this review as a non-Calvinist who has read a lot of books on Calvinism, and one of the common characteristics I've encountered from Calvinist authors is a sense of theological arrogance, almost as if anyone who doesn't hold to their belief system is unintelligent. In FOR CALVINISM, I didn't find that sense of theological arrogance from Michael Horton. In fact, Horton takes a humble and self-critical stance when exploring Calvinism's soteriology, commonly known as the five points of Calvinism or TULIP. Horton reveals his reservations about the name Calvinism, as well as his discomfort with the labels of Irresistible Grace and Limited Atonement, preferring Effectual Calling and Particular Redemption, respectively.
While Horton communicates with humility and a genuine desire to convince people that Calvinism reveals a loving God, I can't say that I'm any less convinced that Calvinism, when followed to its logical conclusion, doesn't reveal God as internally divided and the cause of evil because of God's determinism of all things. It also often seems like Calvinists are seeking to obliterate human will and personality to practical non-existence with the talk of needing God's grace to do anything good.
What I did like about the book was Horton's focus on church involvement as a means of sanctifying grace. Christians need the church to grow as believers, and Horton communicates that well. Horton also treats Arminians with fairness, something not often seen from a Calvinist perspective. Another element I appreciated was his pointing out that humans aren't free as it relates to sin; in other words sin enslaves us, not God.
Obviously, as a non-Calvinist, I found much to disagree with in FOR CALVINISM, particularly Unconditional Election, Particular Redemption, and Effectual Calling. However, I also find Michael Horton to be a great thinker, and I enjoyed reading his thoughts on a very challenging subject. This is a great book for anyone who wants to know exactly what Calvinists believe and reach their own conclusions.
Zondervan has also released a companion to this book by Roger Olson called AGAINST CALVINISM, which I've also read and will be reviewing soon.
I received this book for free for review from Zondervan.
What are your thoughts on Calvinism?