By: Jason Kline | November 4, 2017
Disclaimer: The views expressed by guest writers are their own and may not represent those of Bellator Christi Ministries or its affiliates.
It has been said, “life is no bed of roses.” Whether at school, or work, even in the supermarket, there is often that one person who seems so bent on making life for others hard for others. A prime example is the story of David and Goliath recorded in 1 Samuel 17; Goliath being that menacing tyrant who won’t go away until his foe bends their knee. Unfortunately, this is no different when it comes to entering the arena of theological ideas. Hyper-Calvinists (From now on referred to as simply Calvinists) have been that “bully” on the play-ground giving non-Calvinists a hard time. The thing that really grinds my gears, however, is how Calvinists go about this debate; charging all who oppose them with a verdict of being unbiblical and therefore heretical. We, therefore, must tip toe through the tulips in fear and trembling so as not to ruffle any petals. What we needed is a hero, like David, in our camp bold enough to take a stand against such an absurdity. “Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism,” is that hero for a time such as this.
“Whosoever Will,” is a refreshing reminder that Calvinism is not the only viable option available, or most Biblical for that matter. In fact, Calvinism is quite the opposite. In this two part, eleven chapter book, the authors systematically dismantle Calvinism’s core soteriology, better known as, TULIP. The authors treat each letter of the acronym to its own chapter, tracing their historical background, and exposing it’s exegetical, theological and philosophical implications. Just like most hero stories, Allen, Lemke, et al have become that David willing to stare down this menace of a soteriological system taking its roof off, yet doing so with gentleness and respect.
At the end of the day, Allen, et al dispel the myth that there are only two choices – Calvinist or Arminian – and that only one is Biblical; the other, heretical. Indeed, there are other options, and one such option is alluded to specifically, a Congruist/Molinist approach to the dilemma that seeks to find a middle ground. We just might be able to stop, smell the roses and make our bed in them too – and no need to tip toe around the ordeal!
Part Two of the book evaluates the primary source of Calvinism – Theologian (Giant), John Calvin, himself to see if even he would subscribe to modern Calvinism. They also do well to address some of the more practical issues that naturally arise if one were to carry this system out in practical terms (praxy). Kennedy, neatly addresses the “elephant in the room” answering whether or not John Calvin should even be considered a “Calvinist,” comparing his theology with that of the conclusions drawn from those involved in the Synod of Dort. The verdict rendered is a resounding…NO! We can stand boldly in our conviction that we do belong, we are Biblical, and Calvinism is not a viable option for Bible believing Christians and not even Calvin, himself, would agree to it.
Strength: The book itself is a compilation of reflections from the John 3:16 conference. That this book is not from just one author alone but several and affords a multi-layered heavyweight approach to addressing the major theological and philosophical issues that make up hyper-Calvinism.
Whoseover Will is more than just a rebuttal against Calvinism, but also explores the richness of topics like that of Congruent Election, the Problem of Evil, and how Calvinism fails to adequately relieve the issues so important to us in our day and time and defense of Christianity.
Weakness: I believe that a for every good defense, a good offense is necessary. Though this book offers a suggested model to replace unconditional election using congruent election, I would have liked to see a stronger case made for all it entails. Congruent Election is really an impressive alternative and deserves one’s consideration. Nevertheless, a primer is sufficient since a fuller treatment would be beyond the scope of the books purpose.
Rating: Overall, hyper-Calvinism sets up a false dichotomy between the Arminian vs Calvinism debate. Whosoever Will, exposes this false dilemma and tears down the paper tiger all while offering a primer on an attractive alternative. I believe that the authors meet their goal in critiquing five point Calvinism and exposing it for what it really is; really leaving TULIP without a stem to stand on. For that reason, I give Whosoever Will, a 4.5 out of 5 gold stars.
Editor’s note: Jason gives this book 4.5 stars, whereas, I give the book 5 stars. The Bellator Christi review team gives the book an overall score of 4.7 stars! Get your copy today.
About the Author
Jason Kline is a resident chaplain for Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care of Southwest Virginia. Jason graduated with a Master of Divinity from Liberty University. Jason also received his Bachelor of Science in Business and Religion from Liberty University as well as his certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Jason is a full member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics and the Christian Apologetics Alliance. Jason proudly served his country in the United States Air Force. Jason, a regular contributor of BellatorChristi.com, is currently researching the soul and is interested in how the soul influences the counseling process.
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