Saturday, February 28, 2009

Roger Olson Hits A Triple Out Of The Park

I have come to appreciate Dr. Olson's perspectives on Arminian apologetics over the past few years. The Society of Evangelical Arminians recently posted a well written commentary by Olson considering Scot McKnight's recent blog posts taking the "Neo-Reformed" theological sects to task. There is a growing albeit relatively small sect prospering in some internet circles and among a handful of well known Calvinist ministries that has become somewhat militant in their sectarian zeal. Castigating non-Calvinists as being on the very edge of orthodoxy if not implying having been cast over the precipice, these zealous defenders of their mostly rejected dogma appear to have staked a claim of exclusiveness with regard to scriptural and Christian truth. These souls are encountered regularly on the various discussion boards and Calvinist blogs promoting an almost vitriolic assault on a broad expanse of Christian evangelicalism. Painted with mantras of Calvinist dogma, they present themselves as defenders of Sovereignty almost as if Sovereignty is God itself rather than a defining characteristic of who the LORD is. Of course, non-Calvinists are represented as those seeking to tear down the sovereign rights of God, upend the doctrines of grace and spew the poison of willingly loving the LORD. The campaign of these zealots is in a word, disturbing. Dr. Olson's commentary should be required reading for every adult Sunday class.

Now, as for the triple home run analogy, it is a paradox of sorts of course, impossible. I applaud his comments and conclusions and at the same time I find myself questioning a key focus of what we are all doing at times. We address ourselves to the zealot. We engage the zealots discourse. We implore, discuss, convince, argue and apologize ourselves until we are left with no further words to type, write, speak or read. The zealots mind remains closed to his own truth. Olson affirms this very conclusion with regard to the leadership of these "Neo-Reformed". They are not at all interested in evangelical and ecumenical discourse. So why are we so engaged and focused on this small minority in the Body of Christ? Here is a radical suggestion. Turn most of our efforts back to the 80% of the Body of Christ that is not mired in what we oppose. If our men and women of the church are well equipped to present the evangelical course of our faith, their children will follow, the evangelical commission will continue unimpeded and the Calvinist error is stopped in its place. By this, I do not mean ignore Calvinism. Instead I suggest that Calvinism and its errors be taught and understood as such in our churches so that when the dogma rears its head, it will be identifiable and soundly rejected. I am not as kind as the good Dr. Olson in my regard for the leadership of these sects. When somebody, well educated and supposedly versed in doctrine and apologetics, states I am a free will Pelagian, that is a somebody rightly identified as grossly ignorant and should be removed from a leadership position or they are a blatant liar. To be clear, I am referring to the "well educated" leadership and not the foolish minded follower caught up in their polemics and dogma. I have come to the conclusion that our fellow saints and children need to be educated about Calvinism just as they should be made aware of the dangers of a "money gospel" or the legalism of some of our Restorationist friends knowing there are many Christian brethren in their midst. This is not to state that Calvinism ever be presented as a heretical sect but that it be regarded and taught as having a collection of unique dogma at its core that we reject on scriptural grounds. Let's ensure we are well educated on the matter and our churches understand the issues involved and then turn our attentions to the followers of the Neo-Reformed leader.