LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

C. Gordon Olson on John Calvin and the Gift of Faith

C. Gordon Olson presents a fair amount of historical analysis in Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism. Coming under scrutiny is none other than John Calvin. One curious historical tidbit by Olson is the implication Calvin did not believe faith is the gift of God given to a specific chosen people. Of Calvinists believing faith is a gift from God, Olson says, "Contemporary Calvinists have gone far beyond Calvin in this area and show a serious lapse into a scholastic deductionism rather than giving preference to direct Scriptural inductive study" (p. 228).

Olson notes inductive Biblical study proves faith is not "...the immediate, direct gift of God..." (p.228). Olson says, "...God is never represented in Scripture as striking people with faith as a direct gift...". He then offers a number of proofs. A subcategory in this section is entitled, Faith is always ascribed to man, not God. Olson then quotes Calvin for support:

Read more here...
http://aomin.org/index.php?itemid=1937

23 Comments:

Blogger jazzycat said...

Since God's intervening grace is required before a fallen human can exercise faith (Eph 2:4-5), then that faith is a gift even though it comes willingly from a sinner that has been quickened. IOW, faith is impossible without the intervention of grace.

May 15, 2007 8:47 PM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

Amen to that Jazzy

May 15, 2007 10:16 PM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

Wayne, that is the truth.

D.Martin Lloyd Jones used to ackowledge that there was two schools of thought on faith as a gift. He ackowledged that other school of thought that did not conclude as you and I do, that faith is a gift, per Eph. 2:8. There are scholars on BOTH sides here. I think your appeal to Eph.2:4-5 is a good point.

May 16, 2007 7:11 AM

 
Blogger J. Wendell said...

The excellent thing about Olson's book is that it gives a very good exposition of many biblical passages. It is very scholarly and well worth the reading! I think White's criticism here is intellectually small.

May 16, 2007 10:01 AM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

But to not take Calvin's whole view of faith as a gift, as White points out Olson did here, is just plain dishonest, plain and simple.

Sorry, John. For you to take such a view of that book even after seeing that White has exposed Olson's dishonesty means that you just WANT to believe Olson, just don't want the facts to get in the way.

My thoughts

May 16, 2007 10:57 AM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

The disturbing thing about anti Calvinism is that it can't exist without misrepresenting, misquoting, and mischaracterizing Calvinists and their writing.

May 16, 2007 11:07 AM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

After reading the above review, and noting that Olson did not report Calvin's whole thinking on faith as a gift, one comes away wondering if Olson's work was sloppy at best or dishonest at worst.

May 16, 2007 11:58 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Mark, but its okay to attack J.N. Darby without studying his writings?

May 17, 2007 4:07 AM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

But Matthew, what's to study from a man who invented a system that should never have been invented in the first place. I see no positive contribution to Christianity from classic dispensationalism. Isn't it funny that its successor, Progressive Dis., more resembles Cov. and New theology in its embrace of a one people of God than its early roots. Vern Poythress even challenges such Dispy's to drop their Dispy label because that was their distinguishing mark, the Israel/Church distinction.

Take a look at how Scofield (an early dispy) handles The Sermon on the Mount and see why I hate Classic Dispyism so.

Darby, Scofield, Chafer, Calvinists all. MacArthur, Pulpit Magazine group, Dan Philips,Calvinists all. Seems like you anti-Calvinists are sandwhiched in, popes unto yourselves in your handling of Calvinism using dispensational tools. What would Darby say to you, eh? Remember, he closed his Bible in protest while at a Bible reading with Moody because Moody did not embrace Calvinism. I wonder if he'd be sickened to see how you use the tools that he introduced to Christianity in order to try to refute Calvinism.

May 17, 2007 6:34 AM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

According to Iain Murry in his The Forgotten Spurgeon, Spurgeon had no use for Darby and his Dispensationalism. The Metropolitan Tabernacle existed completely outside Dispensationalism during Spurgeon's ministry, AND Flourished. After his death A.T. Pierson and Thomas Spurgeon introduced Classic Dispyism and so began the Tabernacle's decline, which lasted until Dr. Peter Masters, a Spurgeon-esk pastor, came on the scene. Now the Tabernacle is healthy again.

May 17, 2007 6:56 AM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

Matthew, besides that, please be specific as to where you see that I have attacked Darby, that is, before this thread. :)

May 17, 2007 7:19 AM

 
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Good morning, Mark.
I recognize Olson's obvious skill, talent and scholarship - while at the same time I disagree with a few views held by Olson. I am in no way a non-Calvinist. I am reading through Olson's book currently and I need to tell you that you are wrong about him. He is not an anti-Calvinist. I wouldn't even call him a non-Calvinst. Really.

(Non-Calvinst and Anti-Calvinist are two completely different points of view, in my opinion.)

Also - It's sad to me that you have such disdain for a system of thought that has upheld biblical authority on every front. You should reconsider your animosity towards dispensationalism.

my thoughts :-)

May 17, 2007 9:06 AM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

John, I shall in the near future post on the way J.M. Boice handled the Sermon on the Mount, which is representative how my church and I would look at that message. Then I will contrast that with Scofield and his notes on said Sermon.

Also, you say "Also - It's sad to me that you have such disdain for a system of thought that has upheld biblical authority on every front."... Uhm, so Covenant Theology hasn't, and New Covenant Theology isn't currently trying? Hmmm.

My thoughts - pt. 2 :)

May 17, 2007 10:38 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Face it folks, Olson got caught in a dishonest presentation of Calvin's views, and I'm alarmed that nobody acknowledges that here.

May 17, 2007 1:16 PM

 
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Hi Mark,

Thank you for allowing a discussion on this topic. Since I have not mentioned CT or the NCT here I don't know why you are trying to force words into my mouth or an attitude in my spirit that is not there.

I think I will leave your livingroom for now and wish you Gods best in your blog ministry.

Stay salty brother,
John

May 17, 2007 1:46 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Mark, Olson was not dishonest.

James White is actually missing the point.

The issue is not whether Calvin believed that faith was the gift of God. If you read Olson's book you would see that he does not actually say that Calvin did not call faith a gift of God.

Olson simply quotes Calvin to show that his handling of Ephesians 2:8-9 is not radically distinct from his own position on the meaning of that text.

White neglects to mention Olson's quotation of Calvin on p.221:

"And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God."

Naturally, this position is not inconsistent with holding that faith is the gift of God and Olson does not deny this. However, it does show that Calvin in that commentary (and yes, he may have taken a different position in earlier writings) handled the text in a similar way to most Non-Calvinists.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

May 18, 2007 3:23 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

John, you know what got my dander up towards you is that almost never visit here but suddenly, out of nowhere you come in with this unnecessary swipe "I think White's criticism here is intellectually small.

May 16, 2007 10:01 AM"

I merely left White's review stand on its own. You are the one who took things up a degree.

Sorry, I don't remember ever doing that on your blog. I was very surprised that you did it on mine.

May 18, 2007 6:30 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"(and yes, he may have taken a different position in earlier writings)"

So Matthew, are you saying Calvin changed his position over time? Are you sure?

It seems people just want to hit Calvinism over the head, and just any old stick will do.

I've read your last comment over 3 times, once with my wife, and it was too confusing. Your train of thought was hard to follow.

White's point was that Calvin DID hold that faith is the gift of God. Did Olson make sure to point that out, or did he conveniently leave that point out in order to give a wrong impression of Calvin's position. If Calvin's position on Eph. 2:8-9 was similar to the so called non-Cal position, then Olson would have come across as more honest had he mentioned that Calvin's position that faith is a gift is expressed elsewhere in his writings.

May 18, 2007 6:57 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Why should Olson mention the fact that Calvin affirmed that faith is a gift of God when he that was not the point he was making?

If Olson is dishonest for the reason you suggest, then surely James White is just as dishonest in only quoting one of the passages from Calvin that Olson quotes.

"It seems people just want to hit Calvinism over the head, and just any old stick will do."

Mark, you appear to be doing that to Olson's book, accusing him of dishonesty on a very minor point without actually engaging with anything else he has written in the book. I do not think you have actually read it, have you? You are basing your accusation of dishonesty on a slightly misleading article by James White.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

May 18, 2007 9:38 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

White says..."But even more troubling with Olson's interpretation of Calvin is his lack of research into Calvin's view of the gift of faith throughout his writings. If Olson is correct, I shouldn't be able to find clear affirmations Calvin believed faith is the gift of God, statements from Calvin like these:"

Matthew says:"(and yes, he may have taken a different position in earlier writings)"

So Matthew, are you saying Calvin changed his position over time? Are you sure?

May 18, 2007 10:01 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"So Matthew, are you saying Calvin changed his position over time? Are you sure?"

No, I am not. I am merely suggesting the possiblity.

..."But even more troubling with Olson's interpretation of Calvin is his lack of research into Calvin's view of the gift of faith throughout his writings. If Olson is correct, I shouldn't be able to find clear affirmations Calvin believed faith is the gift of God, statements from Calvin like these:"

This is irrelevant. Olson does not actually deny that Calvin believed that faith is a gift of God.

Olson quoted a passage from Calvin in which he took the position that the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8-9 was salvation. That is perfectly compatible with believing that faith is a gift of God. It is also arguably compatible with the view that faith is partly or wholly of human origin, a view that Calvin rejected and which Olson in no way attributes to Calvin.

James White has missed Olson's point.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

May 18, 2007 10:06 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Matthew, this paragraph of yours confuses me...

"Olson quoted a passage from Calvin in which he took the position that the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8-9 was salvation. That is perfectly compatible with believing that faith is a gift of God. It is also arguably compatible with the view that faith is partly or wholly of human origin, a view that Calvin rejected and which Olson in no way attributes to Calvin."

How is it compatible with faith as a gift of God AND as partly or wholly human in origin?

Also:

Please email me through my profile page. I would appreciate if you did that, please.

May 18, 2007 10:22 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

If you hold that the gift of God in that verse is salvation, you could argue that therefore faith is not a gift (the Non-Calvinist view) or you could argue that faith is part of the salvation package and therefore a gift of God, as Calvin would seem to do.

May 18, 2007 2:46 PM

 

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