Roger Olson, “Why I am an ‘Evangelical Arminian Christian’ Part 10: Wrapping Up ‘Why I Am an Evangelical, Arminian Christian’ (Final Installment)”

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*First read my first nine posts in this series; they precede this blog post.

*Now concludes a second part of this series; this series is about my reasons for being a Christian and for embracing a particular “brand” of Christianity called (as in the name of this blog) “evangelical Arminianism.” In order to understand this post you need to read the preceding ones about my reasons for being an “evangelical” Christian.

10) Wrapping Up “Why I Am an Evangelical Arminian Christian”:

In this two-part series I have attempted, to the best of my ability, briefly to sum up my epistemological and theological orientations. The end result is this: Insofar as I have been able correctly to discern the truth of the matter, based on revelation tested by coherence and experience, “evangelical Arminian Christianity” is the best option for answering life’s ultimate questions. There is a sense in which, at this point in my life, I can say about that with Luther at Worms: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone [or evangelical human authorities], as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen” I am not entirely sure exactly what Luther meant by “conscience,” but for me it means truth as I believe it tested by logic and experience –as I explained in the first part of this series.

I am anxiously aware, however, and of course, that I am fallible. I could be wrong. So could every other human I know of except Jesus Christ himself. I do not believe in persecuting anyone for their religious or other beliefs. I am a strong believer in “soul liberty”—one of the reasons I identify as a baptist.

I have identified myself as an “evangelical Arminian Christian” and explained why. Here I wish to explain that there are many Christians who would not so identify themselves who, in my opinion, nevertheless, share my overall, general “type” of Christianity. They do not call themselves “evangelical” for their own reasons even though, insofar as I can detect rightly, they are evangelical in my sense of the word. They exist in every Christian denomination (except those I and most Christians would consider “cults”). Some who I consider Arminian, because of their beliefs, do not wear that label and do not wish to be called that—for whatever reasons. Some of them call themselves “moderately Reformed.” Fine. The labels are not that important; the question is what is believed.

An outstanding example is one of my favorite 20th century theologians—Emil Brunner (d. 1966)—author of what I consider one of the best systems of theology—Dogmatics—ever written. He would no doubt turn over in his grace if he knew I consider him “Arminian” and that because in his church—the Swiss Reformed Church—that label was considered heretical. However, his basic impulses about grace and free will are more consistent with classical Arminianism than with Calvinism. He was, in fact, harshly critical toward what came to be called “Calvinism” after Calvin—especially “double predestination.”

Obviously what I have written here, in this ten part series (in two parts), is far from a complete account or defense of my beliefs. I offer it here only as a partial explanation. Some people have urged me to write a “summa”—a complete account of what I believe to be biblical, evangelical, Arminian Christianity. Perhaps someday I will do that. But, I am suspicious of such attempts as they are too easily embraced by people as substitutes for Holy Scripture itself. I do not believe there is any once-for-all, complete and closed, true-for-everyone system of Christian beliefs. However, I do believe in giving an answer to those who ask for one—about what one believes and why. Many people have asked me why I am a Christian, why I am an evangelical Christian, and how I can be an evangelical Arminian Christian—as if that is something impossible. This series constitutes my answer in brief for now.

[Link to original post and comments at Roger Olson’s blog]