Review of Roger E. Olson. Against Calvinism. Foreword by Michael Horton, author of For Calvinism. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. 207 pp., no index. $16.99 (paperback).
The arguments in Roger Olson’s Against Calvinism rest on his deep sympathies with the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609), whose followers were known as Remonstrants. Arminians traditionally qualify, question, or reject what is commonly known as Five-Point Calvinism which is often but not necessarily summed up by the acronym TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance. Olson traces the versions of Calvinist dogmatic theology to which he objects back to the decisions made at the famous Synod of Dort, a gathering of Calvinist divines that took place in the city of Dort (Dordrecht in Dutch) in 1618–19. Continue reading
Abstract: The “first steps” of Mormon history are vital to the faith claims of the Latter-day Saints. The new volume Exploring the First Vision, edited by Samuel Alonzo Dodge and Steven C. Harper, compiles research into the historical veracity of Joseph Smith’s First Vision narrative which shows the Prophet to have been a reliable and trustworthy witness. Ultimately, historical investigation can neither prove nor disprove that Joseph had a theophany in the woods in 1820. Individuals must therefore reach their conclusions by some other means. Continue reading
Review of John G. Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012), viii, 500, map, photos, notes, index.
Brigham Young has repeatedly been described as larger than life and most people, critics and supporters, would agree. Brigham Young (1801–1877), second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led the Saints like a modern-day Moses from the turmoil of Nauvoo to the Great Basin. He then oversaw the settlement of over three hundred communities in the intermountain west. He directed the growth and development of the LDS Church and left an indelible mark on both Mormonism and the western United States. Brigham Young was, indeed, larger than life. Continue reading
Review of Bart D. Ehrman. Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). x + 628 pp, including bibliography and index. $39.95. Hardback.
Bart Ehrman’s works have long been known to Latter-day Saint scholars, including his studies that reveal presumably theologically driven corruptions to various biblical passages; his analysis of writings that some early Christian communities privileged as authoritative, though they never became part of the biblical canon; as well as the diverse nature of early Christianity itself. Forgery and Counterforgery may well be another volume by Dr. Ehrman that will be referenced by both LDS and non-LDS interested in the question of alleged pseudepigraphic texts in the New Testament and early Christian literature. Continue reading
Review of Kevin T. Bauder, R. Albert Mohler Jr., John G. Stackhouse Jr., Roger E. Olson. Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism. Edited by Stanley N. Gundry, Andrew David Naselli, and Collin Hansen. Introduction by Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. 222 pp., with scripture index and general index. $16.99 (paperback).
Abstract: Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism should be helpful to Latter-day Saints (and others) seeking to understand some of the theological controversies lurking behind contemporary fundamentalist/evangelical religiosity. Four theologians spread along a spectrum speak for different competing factions of conservative Protestants: Kevin Bauder for what turns out to be his own somewhat moderate version of Protestant fundamentalism; Al Mohler for conservative/confessional evangelicalism; John Stackhouse for generic evangelicalism; and Roger Olson for postconservative evangelicalism. Each author introduces his own position and then is critiqued [Page 64]in turn by the others, after which there is a rejoinder. In addition, as I point out in detail, each of these authors has something negative to say about the faith of Latter-day Saints. Continue reading