Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Review of CLASSICAL ARMINIANISM by F. Leroy Forlines

I've had an interest in the divine sovereignty/human freedom debate for a long time, and though I don't subscribe to either Calvinism or Arminianism because those systems each entail some beliefs I think are unbiblical, I'm always interested to read what their proponents have to say because it helps me to understand and sharpen my stance on the theological issues involved. CLASSICAL ARMINIANISM by F. Leroy Forlines is one of the best books I've read on the subject and is a clear, thorough, and compelling case for a specific branch of Arminianism that seeks to be as close to what Jacob Arminius himself taught called Classical Arminianism.

Classical Arminianism, like Calvinism, seeks to be faithful to what the Bible teaches, and this book does a great job at looking at many of the key passages that have to do with the divine sovereignty/human freedom questions. Because Calvinists are the ones most often writing books defending their views, CLASSICAL ARMINIANISM often reads like a defense against Calvinism more than a defense of Arminianism. Since this is expected based on the nature of the debate, it didn't bother me. I thought Forlines did an exceptional job of deconstructing many Calvinistic arguments.

Forlines presents a case based on the reality of created human personality and how persons interact through influence and response rather than cause and effect. He shows Romans 9 to be about individual election instead of corporate election, but also shows that the text doesn't require the unconditional election interpretation that Calvinists place upon it. He does this for several other passages as well, while also showing that these same passages are consistent with conditional election.

The book also includes some very illuminating discussion of the provisionary nature of the atonement and justification. The chapter on sanctification was one of my favorites. Finally, where I definitively part ways with Classical Arminianianism is the stance that it is possible for a believer to lose their salvation, though Forlines makes a very interesting and thought-provoking case for his position.

CLASSICAL ARMINIANISM is an excellent outline of what Arminianism as Arminius himself is. I have more in common with Classical Arminianism than I do Calvinism, and I appreciated Forlines very thorough treatment of the issues. Wherever you stand on the divine sovereignty/human freedom debate, this is a must-read exploration of the issues.

I received this book for free for review from Randall House

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