Pinnock leaves Calvin in dust (6 of 6)


In this last post on the shortcomings of Calvinism, I’m drawing on the late Dr. Clark Pinnock’s essay “From Augustine to Arminius:  A Pilgrimage in Theology.”  The entire essay may be accessed here:

I could have posted this early on, as a sort-of attention-getter, but I thought it better to reserve it until here, toward the end of what I plan to share.

Few have the stomach to tolerate Calvinian theology in its logical purity.

Calvlinism, is after all is said and done, a theological system.  Inasmuch as we take Pinnock at his word, and insofar as I have come to understand it, Calvinismt is a strikingly consistent, logical system.  But it is a human system.  And – here’s the rub – some of its conclusions are downright repulsive and anti-scriptural.  (It’s quite possible to be repulsive and scriptural, I might point out.)

. . .

The Pinnock comment below is noteworthy and is not to be passed over:  that Augustine, not scripture, promulgated predestinarianism.

Every generation reads the Bible in dialogue with its own vision and cultural presuppositions and has to come to terms with the world view of its day.  Augustine did this when he sought to interpret the biblical symbols in terms of the Hellenistic culture and became the first predestinarian in Christian theology.

. . .

If an Augustine had the courage to deal with the culture of his day and come up with some dazzling new insights, then we can do the same in our own setting.  Just repeating what he said isn’t good enough anymore.  We have better news to tell than his rendition of the Christian message.

. . .

I have been sharing all these things — in what amounts to the philosophically heaviest blogging that’s ever appeared here — for no other reason than that I think these matters are very important.  As wisdom has often said, truth always stands up to honest examination.  It can be difficult to be faced with changing long-held suppositions, whether denominationally tied or not.  Pinnock’s near-final exhortation follows here, concluding the moving-on-from-Calvinism posts.

I do not think we should feel we have lost something of absolute value when we find ourselves at variance with some of the old so-called orthodox interpretations. . . .  Of course there will be some nostalgia when we leave behind the logically and beautifully tight system of determinist theology.  But that will be more than matched and made up for by a sense of liberation from its darker side, which (to be honest) makes hell as much the divine purpose as heaven and the fall into sin as much God’s work as salvation is.  It is in fact an opportunity to be faithful to the Bible in new ways and to state the truth of the Christian message creatively for the modern generation.

One thing I am asking people to give up is the myth that evangelicals often hold—that there is such a thing as an orthodox systematic theology, equated with what Calvin, for example, taught and which is said to be in full agreement with the Bible. . . .  Augustine got some things right, but not everything. How many evangelicals follow him on the matter of the infallible church or the miraculous sacraments? . . .

I have no remedy for those who wish to walk by sight because they find the way of faith too unnerving, or for those who wish to freeze theological development at some arbitrary point in past history.  . . .  I have no answer for those who are frightened to think God may have more light to break forth from his holy Word.


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