Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology

Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology, by Oliver D. Crisp has arrived thanks to the good graces of the folk at Fortress Press.

9781451486131bDeviant Calvinism seeks to show that the Reformed tradition is much broader and more variegated than is often thought. Crisp’s work focuses on a cluster of theological issues concerning the scope of salvation and shows that there are important ways in which current theological discussion of these topics can be usefully resourced by attention to theologians of the past.

The scope of atonement, in particular, is once again a hot topic in current evangelical theology. This volume addresses that issue via discussion of eternal justification, whether Calvinists can be free-will libertarians (like Arminian theologians); whether the Reformed should be universalists, and if they are not, why not; whether Reformed theology is consistent with a universal atonement; and whether the hypothetical universalism of some Calvinists is actually as eccentric and strange a doctrine as is sometimes thought. This book contributes to theological retrieval within the Reformed tradition and establishes a wider path to thinking about Calvinism differently.

Here’s what’s in it:


My review of this book is in PDF here.

One thought on “Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology

  1. Oliver Crisp 14 Sep 2014 at 5:26 am

    Dear Jim West, thank you for reviewing my book. I’m afraid you seem to have a rather different impression of the purpose of this volume than its author. It is not intended to be a study of Calvin or of various Magisterial Reformers. It is a work of constructive theology, drawing on a number of historic Reformed thinkers, as the book makes clear. I point out in the Conclusion, “Calvinism” and “Reformed” aren’t co-terminus, “Reformed” is a better appellation (since it refers to a tradition, not to the work of one theologian), but “Calvinism” is probably too deeply ingrained in popular culture for it to be excised now–a view shared with Abraham Kuyper, no mean Calvinist. More substantively, the book is not all about universalism and I don’t endorse universalism in the volume. I point out that “Augustinian Universalism” is a term of art. The argument of that chapter is about the logic of Augustinianism, not about the thought of St Augustine in particular. Hypothetical universalism is not equivalent to the view that everyone is saved. I am surprised you could come to this conclusion on the basis of reading the chapter, which involves a careful exposition of one version of the doctrine found in the eminent Reformed divine, Bishop John Davenant. Finally, you say that the book has a narrow focus on the issues of salvation and universalism. But isn’t that what the Christian gospel is all about? How can a discussion of the scope of salvation be a narrow interest? The book attempts to broaden Reformed theology by getting readers to consider a number of related issues on these topics that can be found in the tradition, but that are seldom reported today, and are often thought eccentric. Hence, “Deviant”. Naturally, an author must be willing to have his work subjected to scrutiny. But I would have thought that such scrutiny should at least attempt a fair reporting of the content and aims of the book.


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