Roger Olson on a New Book (Or Revision of an Old Book) about Arminian Theology

, posted by SEA

The back cover of Grace for All: The Arminian Dynamics of Salvation (Wipf & Stock, 2015) describes it as “an updated and revised version of Grace Unlimited, a 1975 collection of scholarly articles assembled by the late Clark H. Pinnock of McMaster Divinity College.” Terry L. Miethe, former dean of the Oxford Study Centre, says “I cannot think of a more dangerous unbiblical teaching than Calvinism! I recommend this book highly.” He describes Grace for All as “an update of Grace Unlimited” and celebrates that it “is now available for a new generation.”

I have been waiting for Grace for All, edited by the late Clark Pinnock and by the still very much alive John D. Wagner, for a long time. My essay “Arminianism is God-Centered Theology” is the lead chapter of the book. That essay was not, of course, included in the original version Grace Unlimited. (In 1975 I was just beginning seminary!) That book, Grace Unlimited, and its follow up volume The Grace of God, The Will of Man: A Case for Arminianism (1989) (both edited by Pinnock) were extremely helpful to me in defending my Arminian theology against Calvinist misrepresentations and criticisms.

Grace Unlimited was primarily a defense of universal atonement, but it contained essays on other topics related to God’s sovereignty, grace and free will as well. The authors of the chapters were: Vernon C. Grounds, Donald M. Lake, Jack Cottrell, William G. MacDonald, Clark H. Pinnock, David J. A. Clines, I. Howard Marshall, Grant R. Osborne, James D. Strauss, and A. Skevington Wood. Several of those authors are no longer alive. Not all of them would have called themselves “Arminians,” either, but their theologies leaned more in that direction than toward Calvinism.

Grace for All contains some of the same chapters as Grace Unlimited but many of the chapters are new to this book. The contributors are: Roger E. Olson, Vernon C. Grounds, Glen Shellrude, Robert E. Picirilli, Jack W. Cottrell, William G. MacDonald and John D. Wagner, David A. Clines, I. Howard Marshall, J. Matthew Pinson, Vic Reasoner, Grant Osborne, James D. Strauss, and Steve Witzki.

I have not read all of Grace for All yet, but I agree with Miethe that it is a welcome addition to contemporary Arminian literature.

Is there something of a renaissance of Arminian theology happening in American evangelicalism? I think there is. The signs include my own books and articles and this blog, the founding of the Society of Evangelical Arminians, including its wonderful web site that includes many essays and resources found only there, the various recently published books about Arminius and Arminian theology (not always using that “brand”) that I have reviewed here, and a general rising “push back” against the hegemony of Calvinism among evangelical theologians generally. Hopefully, sometime soon, evangelical movers and shakers (Christianity Today are you listening?) will sit up and take notice. What we Arminians still lack, of course, is a figurehead like John Piper and, in today’s culture, a movement without a strong symbolic figurehead, spokesperson, isn’t likely to get much attention.