Alien Development

From the February 2014 Print Edition

Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace
by keith d. stanglin and thomas h. mccall
oxford, 258 pages, $27.99Ultimately, as the authors of this new biography of the late-sixteenth-­century Dutch theo­logian Jacob ­Arminius recognize, there is no “middle ground” between the essential tenets of traditional Arminianism and traditional Calvinism. Arminianism was in fact an “alien theological development” in the Reformed world, and those today who seek a “Calminian” middle ground would find, if they explored Arminius’ thought, that they are in fact Arminians.In my own Southern Baptist world, this debate is still a live one. Even though at its founding in 1845, the leading lights of the Southern Baptist Convention were almost uniformly Calvinist in their theology, the way the “young, restless, and reformed” element has now captured the imagination and allegiance of many young (and not-so-young) leaders has alarmed many committed to some form of Arminianism. This past summer the Convention essentially agreed to disagree, and there will be no effort to purge Calvinists from the Southern Baptist Convention (for now).Keith D. Stanglin and Thomas H. McCall—the first teaches theology at Austin Graduate School of Theology, the second at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School—have written a volume that will likely be the standard introductory work on Arminius for the foreseeable future. They are fair to all sides but their sympathies clearly lie with Arminius’ theological vision. While his detractors are legion, it is clear that he worked within the mainstream of Christian orthodoxy and the tradition from the Church Fathers to the medieval era to the Protestant world of his own day. Continue Reading »