Deviant Calvinism

Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology

Oliver D. Crisp
Copyright Date: 2014
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    Deviant Calvinism
    Book Description:

    Deviant Calvinism seeks to show that the Reformed tradition is much broader and more variegated than is often thought. Crisp’s work focuses on a cluster of theological issues concerning the scope of salvation and shows that there are important ways in which current theological discussion of these topics can be usefully resourced by attention to theologians of the past. The scope of atonement, in particular, is once again a hot topic in current evangelical theology. This volume addresses that issue via discussion of eternal justification, whether Calvinists can be free-will libertarians (like Arminian theologians); whether the Reformed should be universalists, and if they are not, why not; whether Reformed theology is consistent with a universal atonement; and whether the hypothetical universalism of some Calvinists is actually as eccentric and strange a doctrine as is sometimes thought. This book contributes to theological retrieval within the Reformed tradition and establishes a wider path to thinking about Calvinism differently.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8759-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The dictumecclesia reformata, semper reformandais often taken to be a summary statement about the Reformed churches. They are “reformed” in doctrine and practice, according to the word of God. They are also “always reforming,” that is, always in the process of further refining their doctrine and practice in light of reflection on the word of God. It is vital that Reformed theology holds on to both these things. Reformation of life and doctrine is not something that, once achieved, can be set aside as if the church this side of the grave can be confident that it has...

  5. 1 Tradition, Faith, and Doctrine
    (pp. 13-40)

    It may seem strange to begin a book like this one that is primarily concerned about broadening Reformed theological accounts of the scope of salvation with a chapter on tradition, faith, and doctrine. Isn’t this a little far afield? Yet it seems to me that the two things are related. What is said about the scope of salvation is surely connected in more than a passing way to the sources of authority and testimony to which theologians give heed. A Reformed view of these things sheds light on how formal judgments about Scripture, tradition, and doctrine play out in the...

  6. 2 Eternal Justification
    (pp. 41-70)

    When are the elect declared or pronounced righteous? It might be thought to be at the eternal “moment” in the order of divine decrees when God ordains that they will be justified through the work of Christ. However, this is not the only theologically viable possibility. Perhaps it is at the time at which Christ’s work is complete; or the moment when the believer appropriates Christ’s benefits, being united with him by the power of the Holy Spirit; or the public declaration of the righteousness of the individual on the last day when she or he stands before the divine...

  7. 3 Libertarian Calvinism
    (pp. 71-96)

    In his well-known bookThe Reformed Doctrine of Predestination,Lorainne Boettner affirms that “[e]lection is a sovereign free act of God, through which He determines who shall be made heirs of heaven.”¹ Later, in distinguishing the Reformed view from fatalism, he remarks, “There is, in reality, only one point of agreement between the two, which is, that both assume the absolute certainty of all future events.”² The certainty of a particular human action, says Boettner, is consistent with its being an act for which the person concerned is both free and responsible: “Nor does it follow from the absolute certainty...

  8. 4 Augustinian Universalism
    (pp. 97-124)

    It is often thought that Augustinianism requires a doctrine of particularism, according to which God saves some number of fallen human beings less than the total number of human beings. Indeed, it is often thought that Augustinians in general, and the Reformed as a species of Augustinian, develop their particularism in conscious opposition to universalism, which stands at the opposite end of the spectrum of views possible on the scope of salvation in Christ. However, this is a misconception. Augustinianism and universalism are compatible. Or, more specifically, the central moral and metaphysical intuitions behind Augustinianism are compatible with universalism. In...

  9. 5 Universalism and Particularism
    (pp. 125-150)

    In chapter 4, I argued that, contrary to popular belief, the central tenets of traditional Augustinianism (of which the Reformed are a species) are in fact compatible with a version of universalism. Augustinians usually claim that only a particular group of humanity less than the total number of human beings (the elect) is the object of special divine grace and will be saved. The rest of humanity (the reprobate) are the object of only common grace and will not be saved. But, if Augustinianism is compatible with universalism, then this claim is false: all human beings are the objects of...

  10. 6 Barthian Universalism?
    (pp. 151-174)

    In the previous two chapters, dealing with an Augustinian version of universalism, we have already had cause to note in passing Karl Barth’s doctrine of election and its apparently universalist implications. Barth’s doctrine casts a long shadow over modern theological discussion of the scope of salvation. In this chapter, I want to explore his treatment of the subject of election with a little more care, as a prelude to offering a constructive argument about the scope of salvation in chapter 7, which is a species of hypothetical universalism.

    Barth’s doctrine of election inChurch Dogmaticshas often been thought to...

  11. 7 Hypothetical Universalism
    (pp. 175-212)

    Calvinism is often thought to be synonymous with a particular doctrine of double predestination, according to which God eternally ordains the salvation of a small remnant of humanity, and damns the rest, by means of the salvific work of Christ. This is commonly believed to go hand in hand with a particular view of the scope of Christ’s atoning work: that it is accomplished on behalf of, and applied to, the elect, and only them—what is often, and unfortunately, called the doctrine of “limited” atonement. On both counts, this is to identify a broad tradition of Christian theology with...

  12. 8 The Double-Payment Objection
    (pp. 213-234)

    We have already had cause to discuss the definite-atonement view (hereinafter, DA) in passing in the previous chapters. It states that Christ’s work atones for a particular number of human beings less than the total number. One indirect means by which to argue for the DA depends on showing how the general- or universal-atonement view, which is the historic alternative doctrine of atonement, suffers from a significant problem that the DA does not. This problem has to do with the fact that, in the universal-atonement view (hereinafter, UA), Christ dies to purchase redemption for all humanity, yet some fallen humans...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 235-240)

    In the first of his 1898 Stone Lectures, the great Dutch Reformed statesman Abraham Kuyper argues that there are different ways in which the termCalvinismhas been used.¹ There is its deployment as a sectarian name, used to disparage a particular theological position. There is its confessional guise, as something almost synonymous with a particular defining doctrine, namely, predestination. There is the denominational use among some Baptists (“Calvinistic Baptists”) and Methodists of the Whitefieldian stripe (“Calvinistic Methodists”). This is particularly strange given that during Calvin’s lifetime, “no Reformed Church ever dreamed of naming a Church of Christ after any...

  14. Works Cited and Consulted
    (pp. 241-254)
  15. Index of Subjects and Names
    (pp. 255-260)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 261-261)