Monday, June 25, 2012
My Review of KILLING CALVINISM by Greg Dutcher
Photo Credit: Cruciform Press
Who the book is for: Calvinists
Rating: 4 out of 5
I should probably start this review by mentioning that I’m not a Calvinist. However, I don’t land in the Arminian camp either, though that often seems to be the catch-all category for non-Calvinists in the Calvinist mind. I do believe that God is solely responsible for any man’s salvation, but I also believe that man is solely responsible for his own condemnation by rejecting Christ. If I had to describe my theological position, I agree with about 90% of what Dr. Kenneth Keathley has to say in his book SALVATION AND SOVEREIGNTY. All that is really to say that I read KILLING CALVINISM by Greg Dutcher as a non-Calvinist who cares deeply about the interaction between Calvinists and non-Calvinists and the picture of God that is portrayed to a world that desperately needs him.
KILLING CALVINISM: HOW TO DESTROY A PERFECTLY GOOD THEOLOGY FROM THE INSIDE is a call for Calvinists to examine the common temptations that Calvinists can fall into that might cause people to be shut off to Calvinism. What I love about this book is that it was written by a Calvinist who was humble enough to acknowledge the shortcomings that those in the Calvinist camp often fall into. The specific ways that Dutcher mentions that Calvinists often kill their theological system were no surprise to me because I’ve witnessed every one of them in Calvinists I’ve known. But what’s great about KILLING CALVINISM is that Dutcher, as a Calvinist, has a heart to help other Calvinists be aware of the temptations they may face as Calvinists who are also fallen human beings, and his heart for this is about making sure the gospel is communicated freely and beautifully to a lost world without a theological system acting as a stumbling block on the path toward faith in Jesus. Let’s face it, it would be really hard for a non-Calvinist to convince a Calvinist that these things are often true of them, and therefore need to be changed. We’re much more prone to listen to someone within our own camp, so Dutcher has done a great service to Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike with this book.
So how does a Calvinist “kill Calvinism”? Dutcher describes eight ways:
1. By Loving Calvinism as an End in Itself
2. By Becoming a Theologian Instead of a Disciple
3. By Loving God’s Sovereignty More Than God Himself
4. By Losing an Urgency in Evangelism
5. By Learning Only From Other Calvinists
6. By Tidying Up the Bible’s “Loose Ends”
7. By Being an Arrogant No-It-All
8. By Scoffing at the Hang-ups Others Have with Calvinism
Dutcher spends eight chapters elaborating on each one and calling Calvinists to a humble, loving, and God-glorifying way of life.
Non-Calvinists reading this book need to be able to accept that Dutcher is a Calvinist and believes that non-Calvinists are wrong, but Dutcher is graciously calling Calvinists to act in love toward non-Calvinists and to even learn from them, even if they don’t agree on issues related to soteriology.
My hope for this book is that it will get into the hands of the many Calvinists who struggle with the temptations that Dutcher to describes. My hope is that it will change lives and that believers, whether Calvinist or non-Calvinist, will be able to love one another as fellow members of the body of Christ, as well as share the goal of reaching people for Christ, even if they don’t agree on exactly how Salvation is worked out.
I received this book for free for review from Cruciform Press, and the opinions contained in this review are completely my own