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Thoughts in Response to John Piper

Pastor John Piper’s “Ask Pastor John” podcast this week discussed the question posed by Arminian Professor Roger Olson “Where’s the Arminian John Piper?” Upon listening to John’s response I asked my friend, Pastor Tim Brown, for his reactions. I found them very thought provoking and worth consideration.

Here is Piper’s podcast…

Here is Tim’s response…

I think it is self-serving and borders on intellectual dishonesty to recognize man’s role as opposed to God’s role as being the core of Arminian theology.

  1. I don’t know of any theologians who actually teach this or would recognize it as such.
  2. Man can do nothing unless God has done something. What rule of theology makes the responder superior to the initiator? What metric makes the final move the crucial move? One could argue that the move which makes possible the final move is the crucial move.
  3. If you were to give me $1 million, for me to walk away praising myself for having the presence of mind to extend my hand and take it from you flies in the face of psychology and history.
    1. Psychology – no one does this, i.e., walks away and focuses on their cleverness rather than the generosity of the giver. Everyone would walk away and say to others, “Wow, did you see what that guy just did? That’s amazing! Who is he!?” The focus would be on the giver and not the receiver and anything he did to position himself to receive.
    2. History – we don’t see what Piper asserts even in our most recent history. I am sure that Piper would consider Pastor Chuck an Arminian, or at least Arminianism would be a more dominant note than the principles of Calvinism. We see in our own quasi-Arminian movement a God-honoring focus on Jesus Christ. Our non-Calvinistic soteriology doesn’t produce the praise of man, but the praise of Jesus Christ. Our soteriology can bear the weight of worship and wonder.
    3. Isn’t it interesting that the man-at-the-core theology of Pastor Chuck birthed the Jesus movement and Piper’s God-at-the-center theology birthed the neo-Calvinist movement. The longer I think about it, the more Piper’s little clip strikes me as being self-serving and not well thought out.

In addition, for someone to take up Olson’s challenge to become the darling and champion of Arminian theology would be to betray the very gospel they preach. Pastor Chuck would have no interest in taking up this challenge. He wanted to promote Jesus, not a system. I’m sure that Piper sees Billy Graham as an Arminian. Billy wants to preach Christ and Him crucified – he doesn’t want to promote a system. Greg Laurie would be seen as an Arminian by Piper (no doubt), but Greg wants to preach Jesus and not argue system. It seems like the ones who are accused of being man-focused are more Christ-focused than the ones who say they are the ones who are most God-focused and God-honoring.

Piper’s contentions in his podcast don’t ring true theologically, psychologically, or historically.

[Furthermore] it’s amazing to me in the light of Piper’s contentions, that the Arminian theology of Pastor Chuck got the nation talking about Jesus and the Calvinism of Piper gets people talking about Calvin and Calvinism. You shall know them by their fruits. (struck through per Tim’s comment/retraction below)

41 replies
  1. Trip
    Trip says:

    Well said Tim!
    Thanks for having this addressed, Miles.
    I am still mystified, after a few decades of following Jesus, that such pontificating goes on and is accepted. How it helps bring the gospel to the unreached and unengaged, I just can’t see.
    Being in the Philippines for the holidays reminds me of the great need in the world for equipping leaders in the Word, rather than in dogma.
    I don’t believe Chuck saw himself as an Arminian (I know that’s your view too). I’ve never considered myself in either camp in particular. I’m still just a Jesus-follower after 4+ decades and unashamed of it.
    thanks again…

  2. Lindsay Kennedy
    Lindsay Kennedy says:

    Hi Miles, thank you for posting pastor Tim’s thoughts on this issue. I think he offered a helpful corrective to some unfortunate stereotypes of the Arminian position. However, I was disappointed by the last comment about Chuck promoting Jesus vs Piper promoting Calvin and Calvinism. While it’s true that people can be more excited about Calvinism than Christ, I know many who would say that Piper re-energized their love for and awe in Christ in a way they hadn’t known before, whether in spite of or because of his Calvinist emphases. Moreover, is there not a danger common to us all to emphasise theology that we are excited about over and against our devotion to Christ? (Even if Calvinists may be more prone to it). With all respect to pastor Tim, this last point seemed like a similar stereotyping that Piper was just accused of.

    • Tim Brown
      Tim Brown says:

      Lindsay, I agree w your final comment. I wish to retract my final statement. It is true that the Arminian leaning Chuck Smith helped to begin a national conversation about Jesus, and John Piper has pointed many to Jesus, too. Thanks for calling me on that.

      • Tim Brown
        Tim Brown says:

        That final comment was in the comments solicited by Miles. I bear full responsibility. If we are above correction, these blog conversations merely deteriorate into a string of serial monologues.

  3. Matt Kottman
    Matt Kottman says:

    Miles and Tim,

    Tim, thank you for taking the time to write a response to Piper’s podcast. As always Tim, you write insightfully and thoughtfully. I appreciate your honesty and directness. Interesting thoughts. I also really appreciated the first part of Piper’s podcast emphasizing that Calvinists and Armenians worship ONE JESUS. The first point to emphasize is our mutual faith in Christ.

    This is an interesting issue. Is theology more important than devotion or less important? This can present a false dichotomy. Theology is about knowing God. Devotion is about knowing God, yet we can know God without knowing him. All who desire to know God whilst in our pursuit of that knowledge, will place our understanding into categories. This doesn’t mean that we know the secret things that belong to the Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29), but it does mean that we should seek to the best of our ability to understand God’s working in our world, yet holding to the fact that somewhere we must claim ignorance. I also think that sometimes (myself included) we can be afraid of labels. We may hold to a system, but may not want to be labelled as being part of that system of thinking (whether because of stigma connected to it, not wanting to be associatively classified (i.e. if ‘Person A’ is a X, and ‘Person B’ is a X, then ‘Person A’ and ‘Person B’ are the same), uncertainty about how some of those things work out…). I can understand the difficulty of any group or person taking on a label whether it be Augustinian, Semi-Augustinian, Semi-Pelagian, Pelagian, Open Theist, Calvinist, or Arminian. By nature we classify things. God gave us this nature (Genesis 1, we see God ordering things and then man is called to order/name animals). One of my biggest frustrations with Rob Bell was his ability to deflect all labels. A friend of mine who worked for a book publisher interviewed Bell trying to nail down his views on certain things. He said getting Bell to explain his theology was like trying to nail Jello to the wall. In no way am I suggesting that the abhorrence of labels is equivocal to being like Rob Bell. But maybe for us there is a healthy corrective not to fear soteriological labels? I throw that out as a question, not that I have the answer to it.

    1. ) Both systems of theology recognize there are roles/responsibilities for both man and God. But I think Piper’s point (and also most Calvinist theologians) would say that Arminian theology is a juxtaposing of God’s will vs. Man’s will. I think Piper would fully agree on this point with Calvinist theologians Louis Berkof and J.H. Bavinck who Berkof references in his Systematic Theology, “Dr. Bavinck calls attention to a difficulty that arises here, since the Bible seems to teach on the one hand that the whole work of redemption is finished in Christ, so that nothing remains for man to do; and on the other hand, that the really decisive thing must still be accomplished in and through man. Its teaching respecting the way of redemption seems to be both autosoteric and heterosoteric. Therefore it is necessary to guard against all one-sidedness, and to avoid both the Scylla of Nomism, as it appears in Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism, and Neonomism, and the Charybdis of Antinomianism, as it reared its head, sometimes as a specific doctrine and sometimes as a mere doctrinal tendency…” (page 467, Systematic Thology, http://books.biblicaltraining.org/Systematic%20Theology%20by%20Louis%20Berkhof.pdf). Thus, I don’t think Piper is implying man has no role whatsoever.

    2.) This is a good question and one I’ve struggled with. The Calvinist view on this is that if man’s choice is ultimately the choice that ‘seals the deal’, then man is exercising sovereignty. I’m open to persuasion, but I think the Calvinist view on this is still stronger.

    3.) I have to disagree with this point though. I do not think Piper front’s Calvinism. He speaks openly about his Calvinism to be sure. But what I see Piper magnifying time and time again is Jesus. Piper’s commitment to Calvinism is because of his magnifying of Christ. When I’ve heard Piper speak, even when I had the opportunity to speak with the man face to face, it was Jesus and the surpassing glory of God that he emphasized. On this point, I would not want to compare and contrast Chuck Smith and John Piper. I would have to disagree (using a personal ad hominem response which isn’t the best way to argue a case, but so be it) that Chuck got people talking about Jesus whilst Piper got people talking about Calvinism. Chuck got people talking about Jesus, but so does Piper. Something that I have gleaned from our Reformed brothers that I rarely heard emphasized within our own camp is Christ-centered preaching. I’m in no way implying that our camp doesn’t preach Christ at the center. But I am saying that I have been taught by men such as Chapell, Keller, Carson, Piper, etc. how to better magnify Jesus in my preaching. When I have listened to these men, I haven’t walked away with a taste of Calvinism, but a taste of the surpassing worth of Jesus. I have tasted of the fruit of these men’s labors and have been greatly enriched by them. I am a better Christian, Husband, Father, and Pastor because of these Calvinists.

    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:


      I wholly agree, after listening to a lot of Piper’s sermons and and reading several of his books that he does preach Christ. That said, knowing that you also have considered Piper’s works, would you not agree that his most recent (i.e. the last 5 or so years) works have presented a much stronger, impassioned and emphatic presentation of and for Calvinism?

      • Matt Kottman
        Matt Kottman says:

        Certainly a few of his works (i.e. Finally Free, Future of Justification and his brand new book Five Points) emphasize his Calvinism. There is a degree that while many books don’t centre-stage Calvinism, it comes out of that framework. But one of the things that Piper does so well is maximizing the glory of God’s sovereignty, particularly in regards to suffering. I haven’t heard a satisfactory argument (not saying there isn’t one) from the Arminian camp that marries God’s sovereignty and man’s suffering. I think this is something that is particular to Calvinism, that God is actively (not passively) sovereign over evil and suffering. Because of this, I think his Calvinism is the seedbed for his analysis, and so a lot of his Calvinism comes out, I think this is because it serves the greater purpose (i.e. why we suffer). My two cents anyway.

    • Lindsay Kennedy
      Lindsay Kennedy says:

      Matt, great thoughts and questions too. I appreciated what you said and resonated with much of it too.

      I have asked the same questions as you about labels and our tendency to avoid them in Calvary. Sometimes we look down on labels as ‘constructions of men’ but of course a label is simply a way of identifying a view, and every view has a label! But I’ve found quite often that labels are only helpful if we all agree on their definition, and at times using labels works against clarity, not for it, if two people mean different things by the word. Just a few thoughts to add.

      • Matt Kottman
        Matt Kottman says:

        So true. Labels are only as good commonly held definitions. If we hold different understandings of Label ‘X’ then we will speak past each other instead of to each other. This is why we need to be clear on what we mean when we use a term/phrase.

  4. Randy Broberg
    Randy Broberg says:

    Miles, dear friend, arguments from psychology, history, credit, praise, etc….none of that matters. Only one thing matters: what does the Bible say? Study that. Preach that. Defend that.

    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:


      I do agree… but while agreeing I wish it were that easy in the current context of (predominantly American) evangelicalism.

      If it is true that Roger Olson and John Piper are studying the same Bible—which as far as I can tell they are—then is it truly as simplified as “What does the Bible say? Study that. Preach that. Defend that”? Has our recent evangelicalism become to divisive on issues such as soteriology, eschatology, etc.?

  5. Jon Langley
    Jon Langley says:

    Listening to the recording before reading any of Tim’s post or Matt’s comment I felt as if John was giving a fair, polite, well-thought-out answer to the questions asked by the program host ACCORDING TO HIS PERSPECTIVE.

    I then read Tim’s post about the recording, and Matt’s thoughts about the recording and Tim’s post.

    1. From a purely theological standpoint it seems to me that one of the key points of debate between classical Arminianism and Calvinism is, indeed, the role that man’s will plays in soteriology. So for Piper to choose that point and expound upon it as he did seems fair FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE. Of course, there’s A LOT more to Arminian theology than the simplified stereotypes that are often thrown around in conversations like these, just as there is a lot more to Calvinist soteriology that a lot of the stereotypes propagated by these conversations. I think Piper’s response was fair. But it remains to be noted that his response is based on a simplified version of Arminian soteriology. Even as he, himself, stated. When Arminians are worshiping “at there best” it is, according to Piper, because of what they hold in common with Calvinist theology. That statement itself demonstrates that there is actually a lot more in common between the two systems than the casual conversation ever allows for. My point is that I think it’s fair to summarise that Arminian theology “in general” is more focused on man’s role than God’s role. Not ALL ARMINIANS or those who may be classified as such, but Arminian Theology as an academic system.

    2. Tim, I think you’re agreeing with Piper here. I wasn’t sure if I was reading it wrong or not. But in any case, I agree with the statement that “Man can do nothing unless God has done something.” In fact, I believe that classical Arminian theology would agree with that as well. Which may have been your point.

    3. I don’t agree here. I think your statement may be based on personal perspective just as much as you believe Piper’s statement is doing. I wouldn’t credit Piper with birthing the neo-Calvinist movement for one thing. He is certainly A voice, but not THE voice. Secondly, it’s those OUTSIDE of the Calvinist or Neo-Calvinist camp that would define a focus on being Christ-centered as “neo-Calvinist” instead of something more cool and personal sounding like “the Jesus movement”. If people, preachers, pastors, and students of the Bible are truly focusing on the glory of Christ in Scripture and life as a result of what you call “neo-Calvinist” then maybe it deserves a cooler name like “the Christ-centred movement”. Of course all of this is just my own perspective based on my own studies of Scripture, history, and theology where I truly believe both sides are severely misrepresented and therefore the good doctrine that can be gleaned from each is lost in the battle of sound bites and stereotypes.

    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:


      I’m fairly certain you and I have had some good conversations on this topic before.

      Yes, you are correct, John Piper is not the after of the neo-Calvinist camp, but wouldn’t you agree that he is the preeminent voice.

      Watch out… they might preempt “The Christ-centered movement.” You should TM that. 😉

      • Jon Langley
        Jon Langley says:

        Miles –

        Yes, we had some good conversations about soteriology for sure. I specifically chose to argue one side when you were here because it worked out better for the sake of debate. But for me the bigger picture is just that… much bigger. Just as many non-Calvinist believers only hear stereotypes and soundbites about Calvinist theology, likewise many (even those who may be considered “Arminian” or even consider themselves Arminian) only know the soundbites and broad-brush oversimplifications of Arminian theology. When you study the Arminian view from it’s inception to the modern day theological discussions going on there is a lot to consider, and just as much variation and discussion within as there is within the Calvinist camp. In the end, I’ve learned that there are two key things to be gleaned from both systems:
        (1) Some of the truths and doctrinal understandings that I appreciate the most about both systems is where they agree!
        (2) Where they are said to disagree I often find myself in agreement with both of them!

        Divine antinomy… a mystery that I enjoy and choose to live with.

        Regarding Piper: Agreed. He is definitely a pre-eminent voice, along with Keller, Carson, and even that guy from Seattle whose name I just can’t seem to think of at the moment.

        After thinking about the “Christ-centred movement” phrase (and beginning the paperwork on the trademark) I want to say this…

        MANY godly Christian pastors, leaders, teachers, and evangelists ARE Christ-centred in their study, theology, and teaching. I would hate for my characterisation of the “neo-Calvinist” as “Christ-centred” to imply the inverse: that non-neo-Calvinists are not Christ-centred. That is by no means what I believe.

        I just agree with Matt’s comments that there is a purposeful focus on getting that specific message across… that Christ is the centre of every Scripture and should be the centre of our studying and teaching. It’s not that this message and idea is new or unheard of: I’ve heard Chuck Smith and others in CC say the same thing many times. It’s just that while CC’s focus may be summarised as “Scriptures, Servanthood, and being lead by the Spirit”, the “neo-Clavinist” focus may be summarised by “Christ-centredness”.

    • Lindsay Kennedy
      Lindsay Kennedy says:

      Hey Jon, I didn’t realize there was a Calvary Bible College in Ireland! Awesome. I’m glad I found this site since I didn’t know of anything like this. I’d love to meet if you’re ever in York.

  6. Miles DeBenedictis
    Miles DeBenedictis says:

    I much appreciate the well thought out comments. I’d love to interject two further questions for comment/discussion…

    Is the current climate in Evangelicalism, which holds as a major conversation the division between Calvinistic and Arminianistic Soteriology, helpful or hurtful to the Church?

    Furthermore… Is it (in the much esteemed opinions of the commenters) truly possible to be completely “in the middle,” being “non-Reformed, non-Calvinist” and “non-Arminian?”

    • Lindsay Kennedy
      Lindsay Kennedy says:

      Hey Miles, here are my thoughts for what it’s worth.

      1. I don’t really know much of US Evangelicalism, being an Aussie living in the UK, but judging from what I’ve seen online and over here I think the division is both a pity but somewhat necessary in practice. By a pity, I mean that people often seem to barricade themselves into two camps that oppose each other and don’t really talk to each other. Or sometimes one will have to be ‘careful’ who they read, listen to, appreciate, etc. because they’re in the other camp. This is a pity. Though in practice, I can see why some of these walls are in place. A church with elders on both sides of the issue could produce a big mess of conflicting theology from the pulpit and in counseling. That goes for any doctrine that affects many areas. I pray for more charity amongst believers on this issue (like what I’ve seen in this post and the comments). This is an in-house issue, and we have better enemies to fight, though these things are important and free discussion is good.

      2. I personally think there is no ‘fence’ to sit on, so there is no absolute middle, but one can be nearer to the fence. If asked an admittedly simplistic question, “do we choose God because He chose us, or does He choose us because He foresaw that we would choose Him?” I see no middle answer. But of course one can hold to some of the 5 points of A or C without holding all of them, thereby being nearer to the fence. Or one could be a heretic of course, I guess that’s the third option! :). But taking a side doesn’t necessarily mean one needs to (nor should) use that label to identify themselves as it might be unhelpful.

      I’d love any feedback on my thoughts!

      • Miles DeBenedictis
        Miles DeBenedictis says:


        Is it actually possible to hold a partial, 2, 3 or 4 point position with A or C. As it relates to Calvinism I would see each of the 5 points logically progressing from one another. If T is true then it follows that U would come on it’s heels, then L, I and P would follow.

        • Lindsay Kennedy
          Lindsay Kennedy says:

          Hi Miles, I’m no authority on the issue but here are some thoughts bouncing around my head.

          I agree the 5 points of Calvinism logically relate, thought some call themselves 4 pointers because they deny Limited Atonement. But even still, some Calvinist seem farther away from Arminians depending on their take on related issues like double predestination, God’s desire to save, God’s love for the world, etc. Even Piper’s articulation of Limited Atonement is less abrasive to Arminians as someone like John Owen. As it seems to me one 5 pointer might have less in common with an Arminian as another, depending on their emphases. I’d love feedback on this!

          With Arminianism, someone like Wesley sounded at times more like a Calvinist than others I’ve heard! And the issue of loss of salvation may differ.. but on the whole, I agree they are both units, but I was trying to say there may be room for an Arminian to be closer to the fence than another, but neither is ON the fence. One cannot hold unconditional and conditional election at the same time, for example.

          I remember hearing a debate/discussion between Mike Horton and Roger Olson on this and they were asked if there is a middle position and both emphatically said ‘no’.

          I’d love to see others’ thoughts on this.

          • Jon Langley
            Jon Langley says:

            Lindsay – you said “I remember hearing a debate/discussion between Mike Horton and Roger Olson on this and they were asked if there is a middle position and both emphatically said ‘no’.”

            I’m sure that in Horton’s understanding of Calvinist theology and Olson’s understanding of Arminian theology they truly meant what they said and it makes perfect sense. I can’t argue with either one of them as they are arguably two of the most prominent experts in those systems alive today.

            My issue with the statement is that it leads one to believe what you have communicated already: that you must make a choice between the two. I don’t agree.

            I will likely be branded and labeled and mentally shelved on the “blacklist” for saying this, but I feel Biblically comfortable with the five points of Calvinism (AS I UNDERSTAND THEM). That being said, the more I study classical Arminian theology (that of Arminius and later Wesley), I find myself being Biblically comfortable with what I know of it so far.

            How is that possible? Because I constantly remind myself of what God said to Job in 38:1-40:2. He ALONE understands how I am free to choose and culpable for both my sin and choice and yet elect and chosen. I’ve heard great explanations FROM BOTH SIDES on how these seemingly mutually exclusive Scriptures can be harmonised. In the end, though… “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me”. I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t study and question and learn and do our best to understand. But in the end I was not there when He laid the foundations of the Earth…

            If He says that I’m elect from the foundations of the world and that I belong to Him because He chose me and yet holds me accountable to make a free choice to follow him while still in a depraved state… then that’s how it works. We can try to explain it until every last man, woman, and child has freely chosen to become the elect that they always were and it won’t change the fact that it’s a divine mystery.

            So… while it may be technically correct that the two SYSTEMS have no middle ground, what the two systems are trying to understand and explain have EVERYTHING in common.

      • Randy Broberg
        Randy Broberg says:

        Lindsay, you wrote ” If asked an admittedly simplistic question, “do we choose God because He chose us, or does He choose us because He foresaw that we would choose Him?” I see no middle answer.”

        My response to that is there never was a time when God didn’t know we’d choose Him; nor was there ever a time when he hadn’t chosen us. Both are as far back as eternity past, so the question seems to put the issue into a sequence of events placed on a timeline when it really is not a sequence of events but two eternal and parallel truths.

        • Lindsay Kennedy
          Lindsay Kennedy says:

          Hi Randy. It’s fine to say that both events are chronologically eternal, but logically one had to precede the other. One choice was based upon the other. Or am I misunderstanding you here?

          In any case, my question was an attempt to simplify the C vs A debate into one question, but a proper discussion of it would bring out these differences all the more.

          • Matt Kottman
            Matt Kottman says:

            Seriously though, I do wonder if there is any true middle ground, however, I know that there are degrees of emphasis. A person may believe in reprobation (better known by the label given by Arminians ‘double predestination’), but how one holds that doctrine determines their practice. Equally how one holds man’s responsibility (i.e. the onus is all on man for faith, or faith as a gift). How one holds his doctrinal position I think is a more critical point. I think of a Calvinist like Alistair Begg whose teaching both Calvinists and Arminians can listen to and be radically built up in their faith.

          • Jon Langley
            Jon Langley says:

            Lindsay — I would argue that the answer to your question is “NO”. One DID NOT have to precede the other because God is the Eternal uncreated One who is not hemmed in by the restrictions of physical properties like time. God IS. This includes His will and His knowledge. If it weren’t so then He would change.

            Please understand this is a completely LOGICAL argument, but one I feel can also be backed up Scripturally.

        • Jon Langley
          Jon Langley says:

          Randy – well put. I normally use a play on words in the English language to make the same exact point that you’ve made. If you imagine the Triune God in Heaven having a conversation with Himself and making the following statement:

          Randy will be my child.

          The Arminian finds this to be a statement of God’s foreknowledge.
          The Calvinist finds this to be a statement of God’s will.

          Both are true “in accordance” with one another. Not “because of” one another.

          • Lindsay Kennedy
            Lindsay Kennedy says:

            Hi Jon and Randy, forgive me for being belligerent! I’d like to understand the two of you better, because I’m having trouble grasping what you are both saying. So please allow me one more comment!

            What I’m trying to say is that much of this issue hangs on which ‘choosing’ causes the other. It’s fine to say that they’re both eternal, and there was never a time where one preceded the other. But it seems to me that either position ultimately says that one choosing ’caused’ the other.

            For the Arminian, both can be eternal, but the believer’s foreknown choice is the cause, basis, reason, etc. for God’s choice. So while they may both be eternal, they’re related in a certain way.

            For the Calvinist it’s the same, but that the believer’s choice of God is caused by God’s choice.

            When the questions of Total Depravity, Irresistible/Prevenient Grace come into the picture, I just don’t see how there can be a middle ground when both positions are saying the complete opposite as regards election. We can say ‘they’re both true’ but that’s illogical by its very definition, and I don’t see how one can teach the election Scriptures that way either.

            Last question, are you both drawing on Norm Geisler here? I’m pretty sure he holds a similar position?

    • Tim Brown
      Tim Brown says:

      It is of utmost importance to not demonize the other camp. It is easy to do so (blush, blush). It is not difficult to isolate a component of a system you disagree with and inflate it w a weight that it does not carry in its system. This is what got me going about the Piper video – the assertion that the core of Arminian theology is the man who decides. But, please note, if God did not love man, if God did not send His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin condemned sin in the flesh, there would be nothing to respond to. So, what component is the key, the linchpin? The God who loves, sends, bears, dies, rises, ascends, forgives – or the man who responds?

      I don’t know what I am, but I am not a Calvinist. Yet my non-Calvinistic soteriology is as much doxological as is Piper’s. I remember the “I Found It” campaign sponsored by Campus Crusade in 1976. I went to a Christian Church/Churches of Christ Bible College. This (these) denominations were founded by former Presbyterians leaving their Reformed roots. They taught free will and the ability of man to respond to the promise of the gospel and its call to repent. Also, at this time, I was attending Assemblies of God – very Arminian leaning in their soteriology. From many Arminian leaning pulpits I heard criticisms of Crusade’s “I Found It” slogan. The common response was something like – “I didn’t find Him, He found me. He’s not lost – I was the one who was lost. God came to me, a sinner, and showed Himself in all His love and glory. He found Me and saved me and I praise Him for it.”

      The way that Calvnists so often demonize those of us not holding to their system is to contend that any kind of human cooperation robs God of all His glory. This is not a Biblical notion nor does it bear the scrutiny of observing Arminian leaning churches. There is a robust and fierce worship of the God who saved us and sustains us. My non-Calvinistic soteriology does not lead me to the existentialism of human autonomy – mere decisionism. It leads me to bow down before the God who found me and saved me. Thank you, Jesus!

      Christ, not man, is glorified and magnified in my non-Calvinistic theology, doxology, and testimony.

      • Tony Huy
        Tony Huy says:

        Tim –

        If I heard right, Piper’s point was not that an Arminiast could not have a Christ glorified / magnified doxology. I think Piper’s point was that when an Arminiast engages in a type of worship that says “God found me and saved me”, he in some ways betrays the core of his Arminian theology. His point is that that type of worship is at the core consistent with a Calvinist viewpoint of salvation. So to Piper, you have an Arminiast worshipping as a Calvinist (sorry for the silly use of labels here).

        I think the point in question would be: What does an Arminiast mean by “God found me and saved me” and how does that emanate from his views on soteriology.

        I would love to hear people’s thoughts on that. Maybe it doesn’t mean the same thing as what a Calvinist would mean. Maybe it does and it easily flows out of an Arminian theology.

        Thanks in advance.

  7. Randy Broberg
    Randy Broberg says:

    I think we should be emphasizing the five solas (faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone and to God alone be the glory). Those are five points we can rally around.

    Will we all agree on our interpretations of every detail? Of course not, but brethren studying the Word even when differing is far to be preferred over speculative arguments about people’s motives, or their lack of incentives, or their passivity and the rest. People often hold views that contradict their other views and behave and act and speak in a manner that seems contradictory to their stated theologies. I have on many occasion seen professed Arminians praying like Calvinists and Calvinists tied up in knots for lack of assurance of their salvation. And a lack of prayer or lack of witnessing is not the sole domain of either camp.

    A significant reason for modern Evangelicals to divide on this topic is they quite often fail to really listen to and understand what the other side is saying and believing, but they prefer to argue against viewpoints not actually held by the other side. No, Mr. Calvinist, Arminians don’t seek to glorify man. An No, Mr. Arminian, Calvinists do believe in prayer and in sharing the gospel with the lost. And both Mr. Arminian and Mr. Calvinist need to admit that not one soul migrates between eternity in Heaven or Hell based on how one understands TULIP. Mr. Calvinist, our exercise of faith is required for us to be saved, but, Mr. Arminian, we must acknowledge that faith is a gift of God. And both of them need to be reminded that all God’s decrees are just.

  8. Kumar
    Kumar says:

    I think the writer of this article misunderstood what Piper said. He didn’t say that at the core of Arminian theology is mans role. What he said was that at its core, what distinguishes Arminian theology from Calvinism is mans role. As far as I know this is a fair statement. Also, this writer, seems to know next to nothing about John Piper and his ministry! Making comparisons with ‘Chuck’ and comparing how one is drawing attention to Jesus whilst the other is promoting a system is SO way off the mark.

  9. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Thanks for weighing in, Kumar. If all Piper had asserted was that Calvinism and Arminianism assigned different roles to man this video would not have been posted here. There is nothing new or controversial in this. It was Piper’s ‘therefore’ that has generated the responses. Piper’s assertion is that the role Arminianism assigns to man robs God of glory, that it diminishes his doxology. This is what I take issue with.

    Additionally, at the very beginning of this thread I apologized for the comparison between Smith and Piper.

  10. Tony Huy
    Tony Huy says:

    I appreciate the great thoughts and questions running in this post. To the original post, my honest questions and thoughts:

    (1) 3.1 Psychology – While I see where this argument is going, I wonder if two people needed to be rescued off a sinking ship and one accepted and the other did not accept, if the focus would not in fact be on the receiver and not the giver? If asked “Why are you here alive and not dead with the sunken ship like that one guy”, would not the answer be focused on the receiver and not the giver? I guess if this analogy works for salvation (and perhaps it does not), then wouldn’t the truly differentiating factor between a person in hell and a person in heaven in fact be that one chose and the other did not? “I made it to heaven because while we all had an equal opportunity to receive Christ, I in fact said yes and they said no”. So if the generosity of the giver is equal to all, is it not the peaks and valleys of people’s choice that stands out and is focused on?

    (2) 3.3 In speaking of terms like “Jesus movement” and “neo-Calvinist movement” and pitting them against or for each other, is this a worst mistake than pitting Arminianism vs Calvinism? The latter seems to me to try to resolve / work through theological systems and understandings of scripture. The former seems highly legacy and man / church movement driven.

    (3) I’m not sure the basis of this strong statement:

    “It seems like the ones who are accused of being man-focused are more Christ-focused than the ones who say they are the ones who are most God-focused and God-honoring.”

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