Roger Olson of the Calvinist Inquisition

Roger Olson recounts the hostility of Calvinism to both Open Theism and Arminianism:

I left Bethel in 1999 partly because of John Piper. Bethel and the BGC were then in the midst of a very heated, very divisive controversy about open theism. My colleague Greg Boyd was actually tried for heresy on campus. He and his theology of open theism were exonerated and found by the jury, on which I sat, to be “within evangelical boundaries.” That only added fuel to the fire raging among BGC pastors and greater pressure came down on not only Greg but on me for defending him and his theology as not heretical.

It was clear to me then that John Piper was at the center of that controversy—at least within the BGC and Bethel. He told me to my face that he would not try to get me fired merely for being Arminian, as much as he did not like Arminianism, but that he would get me fired for defending open theism as an “evangelical option.”

After that meeting Piper and I exchanged many letters and e-mails. I read many of his books as they were published. I listened to many of his talks on tape and then watched many of his podcasts on the web. I believed I was noticing a harsher tone toward Arminianism. Students who heard him speak at Passion conferences and other places began to ask me about Piper and especially about his Calvinism. And, as they knew I am Arminian, many of them have asked me over the past seventeen years—since I left Bethel and the BGC partly to escape Piper’s influence—about what they perceive as Piper’s misrepresentations of Arminianism.

That was one reason I wrote Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (InterVarsity Press)—to correct misunderstandings and misrepresentations of true Arminianism. I made sure Piper received a copy. My main point in that book was that real Arminianism is not primarily about free will; it is primarily about the character of God. Using many quotations from Arminius himself and leading Arminian theologians since 1609 (when Arminius died) I demonstrated conclusively that true Arminianism is not obsessed with humanistic belief in free will; it is obsessed with God as revealed in Jesus Christ as loving and good and wanting all people to be saved. I have gone to great lengths there and here and in recorded talks later put up on the web to emphasize and prove that Arminianism is not what John Piper and other (mostly Calvinist) critics say it is. I have practically begged them to stop misrepresenting it as “human-centered love of free will and self-determination.”

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