Social Network Links
Powered by Squarespace
Search the Riddleblog
"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources


Living in Light of Two Ages



Dissed by Roger Olson

Roger Olson.jpg

A number of you have asked me about my thoughts on Roger Olson's new book, Arminian Theology:  Myths and Realities (IVP).  I am one of those mean-spirited Calvinists singled out by Olson for supposedly misrepresenting Arminianism and Arminians.  I have not read Olson's book yet, but will certainly get around to it, since it is an important occasion when a noted Arminian theologian, like Olson, enters into direct debate with Reformed theology and its advocates.

According to Dr. Olson, in an article I wrote on Arminianism for Modern Reformation back in 1992 (Vol. 1), I am way over the top when I take Arminianism to task for departing from the evangel, when I state that in Arminianism, God's grace makes people savable, but does not actually save them.  Am I wrong, or is that not what Arminians themselves actually teach? (See, for example, the writings of John Miley, who states that Arminians teach a "genuine conditionality of salvation in accord with the synergism of the truest Arminianism," Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, p. 169).

Throughout my essay, I quote from B. B. Warfield's "Review" of the just quoted Methodist theologian John Miley's Systematic Theology.  As Warfield was supposedly unfair to Miley (complains Olson), I am also being unfair to Arminians when I make comments to the effect that human freedom is fundamental to Arminianism (Olson, Arminian Theology, p. 98).  Olson then disses me in a footnote on page 40 of his book by writing, "I wonder whether the author [Riddlebarger] ever read Miley or only B. B. Warfield his critic." 

I can assure Dr. Olson that I've read Miley's Systematic Theology several times (with great appreciation for Miley's unabashed commitment to the Arminian system and all its consequences).  In fact, my comment about human freedom being the Arminian fundamentum, is a quote from the very same John Miley, who, supposedly, I did not actually read.

When Olson takes B. B. Warfield to task for misrepresenting Miley and Arminians, I am tempted to take up the pen in Warfield's defense, since I am well-familiar with Warfield's critique of Miley (as I am with Miley himself).  I can tell you that Warfield is anything but mean-spirited to John Miley.  In fact, Warfield is most gracious and deferential to Miley, as one scholar reviews the work of another.  Dr. Olson could learn much from Warfield's graciousness, as could we all. 

However, Gary Johnson, pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Mesa, AZ, beat me to the punch.  Phil Johnson has posted the first of Gary Johnson's three part review of Olson's book over at Pyromanics (Click here: Pyromaniacs: Calvinists in the Hands of an Angry Arminian).  I highly recommend that you check this out.  Gary Johnson does a stellar of job of defending Warfield, while hoisting Olson on his own petard.  It is patently clear to anyone who has read Warfield's "Review" that Warfield is far more charitable to Miley, than Olson is to Warfield.

Don't you just love it when those who complain about "mean-spirited" Calvinists, behave in such a manner?  Olson does not like Calvinism.  That's fine.  But to be so mean-spirited when complaining about people being "mean-spirited," empties Olson's argument of most of its punch.  Calvinists have no excuse for being mean.  But Calvinists often get back far worse than they dish out.  Olson's treatment of Warfield is a prime example.


The Triumph of Thomas Paine?

Thomas Paine.jpg

A recent Harris poll confirms what many of us suspect. America is not only secularizing, but Evangelical Christians are more and more apt to think and act like deists--echoing the view of Thomas Paine that morality is far more important than theology.

Some of the Harris poll numbers are not surprising (see read the raw numbers for yourself, Click here: While Most U.S. Adults Believe in God, Only 58 Percent are 'Absolutely Certain': Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

For example, only 58% of those polled are absolutely certain of God's existence.  That's down from 66% in 2003.  This doesn't really surprise me, especially during a time of war and after the events of 911.  In a world of continual violence and uncertainty, people become increasingly sceptical about God. 

More revealing of the state of Christianity in America are the following numbers:  "Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God?"  "About half (51%) of all adults, including a majority of Catholics (63%), believe that Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God.  One-third (32%) believes they do not and 16 percent are not sure.  On this question, as on the others, the views of Born Again Christians are different - a 54 percent majority believes they do not worship the same God and only 34 percent believe they do."

While a slim majority of evangelicals understand that the Triune God of Christianity is not Allah of Islam, more than one third of Christians polled do not understand this fundamental point of Christian theology.   

And then when asked "How much control does God have over events on earth?"  The result was that "less than one-third of all adults (29%) believe that God `controls what happens on Earth' (this includes 57% of Born Again Christians).  A plurality (44%) believes that God `observes but does not control what happens on Earth.'"  While a slight majority of Christians believe that God controls what happens, a deistic world-view is commonplace among Christians.

So, what can we say?

1).  America is a nation of doubting deists who practice a moralistic religion which often times bears little, if any, resemblance to biblical Christianity.

2).  Many Christians echo the views of a secularizing culture.  The numbers show that many Christians are functional deists in terms of their views of God's relationship to the world.  I guess people aren't really buying Rick Warren's "God has a purpose for your life" argument--but then, maybe they are.  After all, according to Warren, God's purpose for your life is that you control your own destiny through the choices you make--and how is that different from a practical deism? 

3).  The default setting of many Christians and non-Christians alike is that everybody worships the same God.  The differences among the religions stem from prejudice, or personal experience, or preference.  This is no longer seen as a matter of competing truth claims.  Many people see no possibility of one religion being true and the others false.  It is all a matter of subjective and personal factors.

4).  Given the depth of moralistic deism in the culture, it is no wonder that Reformed theology is hated in so many quarters (even in the churches). 

5).  Reformed Christians should see this as a moment of great opportunity.  Our Christ-centered covenant theology (the mediator of the covenant is the Word made flesh) is a powerful antidote to moralistic deism.  Therefore, let us be fully prepared to give to everyone who asks, a reason for the hope that is within (1 Peter 3:15).

Any thoughts?



Who Said That?

question mark.jpg

Who said that?

Thus it is probable that the womb in which our Savior received the auspices of life (whence he entered into this world, as from a temple) was so consecrated and sanctified by so great a guest that she [Mary] always remained untouched by man; nor did Joseph ever cohabit with her."

OK . . . who said that?  Please, no google searches or cheating.  You have to guess!  Leave your comments below.


Does Anybody Know???

Question Mark 2.jpgBlogs are a great way of disseminating information.  Blogs can also serve as an important means of gathering information from diverse places.

One of the elders at Christ Reformed asked me a great question which I thought I would pass along to you.

"Are there any Reformed churches with outreach ministries, or parachurch organizations specifically devoted to witnessing to Muslims in America?  Are there any Reformed groups devoted to apologetic issues raised by Muslims here in America (such as groups like CAIR)?"

If you know of any, please leave your answer in the comments section below.  It would be great to learn of people out there laboring in this very important mission field.


Who Said That?

question mark.jpg

Who Said That?

"Christianity was propagated by light, instruction and knowledge, reasoning and enquiry. These things were encouraged by the gospel. And by these means the gospel prevailed.  But Islam was not propagated by light and instruction, but by darkness, not by encouraging reasoning and search but by discouraging knowledge and learning, shutting out these things and forbidding inquiry and so, in short, by hoodwinking mankind and blinding their eyes."

You know the rules--no google searches or cheating.  I pick these quotes to make a point.  This one is no exception.  Place your answer in the comments section below. 



Who Said That?

question mark.jpgWho Said That?

"Are you ready to meet Jesus?  Are you where you want to be?  Will he know you when he sees you, or will he say `depart from me'?"

Have some fun with this one.  Place your answer in the comments section below.  Please, no google searches or cheating.  The fun is in making the guess, not looking up the answer!


"Signs of the Times"

KR teaching.gifMy recent Academy lecture (Friday, October 13) entitled "signs of the times" has been posted on the Christ Reformed info blog.  Click here: Christ Reformed Info - The Latest News - "Signs of the Times"

In this lecture, I set out the preliminary outline for my forthcoming book ("The Future") in which I deal with the relationship between things already fulfilled in biblical prophecy and things yet to be fulfilled.  I'll post more of this material as I complete it.


Jihad Against the Apple Store?

apple_store.jpgAccording to an article in TheRegister (UK) (Click here: Apple's NY Fifth Avenue store is an 'insult to Islam' | The Register), the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York, is an offence to Muslims because it looks too much like the sacred ka'ba in Mecca.  You gotta be kidding????

Oh, and while we are speaking of Islamic outrage, the advertisements on TheRegister website (UK), listed this little gem: Islamic ringtones for your cell (Click here: RingRingMobile - Get Your Ringtone and Bonus Tones Now!).  Now you can hear "death to America" whenever you want! 

I wonder if the sponsor of these ringtones knew that a fatwa had been issued against them by a Saudi cleric?  I guess not.  (Click here: Riddleblog - The Latest Post - A Fatwa I Can Understand!


Who Said That?

question mark.jpgWho Said That?


"Don't pray no stupid prayers"


I'm giving you an easy one this time!  Hint--repeat the quote with a drawl.  Leave your answer in the comments section.  But try and guess who this is before looking at the comments.  No cheating or google searches.


A Fatwa I Can Understand!

fatwa.jpgAccording an article on Cellular News (Click here: A Fatwa Against Ringtones), an iman in a Saudi mosque issued a fatwa after a cellphone played someone's ringtone during a prayer service.  Now that's a fatwa I can understand! 


An imam at a Mosque in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa against mobile phones after one rang during prayers on Saturday. A report in the local newspaper, Al-Watan said that the imam had begun the Taraweeh prayer (Taraweeh is an Arabic phrase referring to extra prayers given by Sunnis at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan) when the sound of Arabic pop music began playing from the audience.

The imam turned to the crowd in the Mosque and issued his own fatwa. The fatwa states that the next time somebody allows their phone to go off in the congregation, the imam could throw the guilty person out of the mosque.

After a degree of shouting at the congregation, the imam regained his composure, turned around, and continued with the Taraweeh.

A fatwa, is a legal pronouncement in Islam made by a mufti, a scholar capable of issuing judgments on Sharia (Islamic law).


Next time a cell rings during a sermon or the Lord's Supper, I know what I am going to do!