Why I'm Not a Calvinist by Ben Witherington


Editor’s note: while this is a presentation against Calvinism, we do embrace Calvinism as one rich stream in the wide tradition of historic Christian orthodoxy. We publish this because working through the reasons we don’t subscribe to a particular theology often helps us to better understand our own Wesleyan theology.

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Ben Witherington III here shares his reasons for not subscribing to Calvinist theology.

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Dr. Witherington joined the Asbury Seminary faculty in 1995. A prolific author, Dr. Witherington has written more than 40 books and six commentaries. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. In his leisure time, Dr. Witherington appreciates both music and sports. It is hard to say which sound he prefers: the sophisticated sonance of jazz sensation Pat Metheny or the incessant tomahawk chant of the Atlanta Braves faithful. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, he is a dedicated Tar Heels basketball and football fan. He and his wife, Ann, have two children.


    • And so demonstrated again the arrogance and condescension of Calvinists. The Calvinistic understanding of grace would seem to me to produce humility and grace towards their brothers on the opposite side of this issue. 🙁

  1. “we do embrace Calvinism as one rich stream in the wide tradition of historic Christian orthodoxy.”

    Let me get this straight. Calvinism, which preaches

    1) an eternal, immutable divine decree which permanently, unconditionally, and randomly (“He has not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions”) created a caste system of individual elect humans and another caste consisting of individual non-elect humans (Calvin’s “doomed from the womb”);
    2) a regeneration (“a new nature”) that precedes faith and justification, in other words, an elect individual can be a born again unbeliever who has Christ’s new nature dwelling in him before that sinner believes and is justified;
    3) that sinners are total unable to repent or believe in the power of the gospel message without having been predetermined for individual salvation (unlike those predetermined for individual damnation who are created without any ability to believe the gospel);
    4) God only loves some people and Jesus only died to atone for some people;
    5) the eternally elect individuals are secure from all eternity from threats of damnation before they are even born…..

    ….this Calvinism is in the “rich stream” of “Christian orthodoxy”?

    NEVER! It is a false gospel, scripturally untenable, and should rightly be rejected by all Christians.


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