Scot McKnight is blogging on his deconversion from Calvinism.
I found two major weaknesses in Calvinism's theology (and also a disorientation in its architecture): first, the emphasis of its architecture is not the emphasis of the Bible. Its focus on God's Sovereignty, which very quickly becomes much less a doctrine of grace than a doctrine of control and theodicy etc, and its overemphasis on human depravity are not the emphases I found in the Bible. I do not dispute the presence of these themes; I dispute this is where the gravity of emphasis is found in the Bible. Yes, I know we all have metanarratives that put things together, and Calvinism is one such metanarrative. It works for some; it simply didn't work for me.
Several problems here:
i) The “architecture” of systematic theology is necessarily different from the architecture of canonical theology. But this is true regardless of whether you are reading in Reformed systematics or an Arminian systematics.
ii) What is the emphasis of Scripture? Well, in terms of raw emphasis, the accent of Scripture is on the history of Israel. A whole lot of material on law and warfare, genealogy, kingship, national apostasy and restoration. Presumably, though, this doesn’t represent his own theological emphasis or orientation.
iii) Either the Bible teaches the “five-points of Calvinism” or it doesn’t. The question is not one of emphasis, but presence or absence. If present, then these must be believed.
iv) McKnight doesn’t explain how “its focus on God's sovereignty quickly becomes much less a doctrine of grace than a doctrine of control and theodicy &c.,” or why he thinks that a doctrine of grace is in tension with a doctrine of control and theodicy.
v) I’d add that, in my own view, the architecture of Reformed theology dovetails quite nicely with the architecture of biblical theology. What we have in Scripture is a pattern of promise and fulfillment, with wide swaths of historical narrative, punctuated by type and prophecy, which suddenly converges on the NT. This assumes a God who is providentially orchestrating each and every event according to a preconceived plan.
You might say that Reformed theology is a form of reverse engineering. If Scripture moves from cause to effect (OT to NT), then Calvinism works its way back from the effect to the cause. And it does so on the basis of implicit and explicit passages of Scripture which attribute the consequence to the agency of God.
Second, the exegesis of Calvinism on crucial passages I found wanting and sometimes dead wrong. I was once standing, years later when I was teaching at Trinity, outside my door talking with two professors about my view of Hebrews, when I simply asked one of them, "Who do you think best answers the Arminian interpretation of Hebrews?" That professor said, "Philip Hughes." I had just read Hughes and I thought it was weak. In fact, what I thought was this: "If that is the best, then there is no debate." The other professor said, "I agree, Scot. Hughes doesn't answer the questions." Then he said, "I'm not sure any commentary really answers it well." (Both of these professors were Calvinists, and still are, God bless 'em.) What I'm saying is that exegetical conclusions I was drawing (in all kinds of passages) were not answered adequately by the Calvinists I was reading. I think I gave them a fair shot.
Since McKnight says that he will follow this up with his actual exegesis of Heb 6, I’ll hold my fire for now—although I’ve already read his treatment in the TrinJ.
One thing I would say, however, is that even though early Hughes was apparently a Calvinist, late Hughes was a militant anti-Calvinist (cf. The True Image), and where his commentary on Hebrews falls along the fault-line, I cannot say. I don’t know whether his defection from the Reformed faith was incremental or sudden—and, if sudden, when it occurred.