According to the following snippet from the NY Times, Roger Olson said:
Some non-Calvinists say that the rise of Calvinism has been accomplished in part through sneaky methods. Roger E. Olson, a Baylor University professor and the author of "Against Calvinism," is the Calvinists' most outspoken critic.
"One of the concerns is that new graduates from certain Baptist seminaries have been infiltrating churches that are not Calvinist, and not telling the churches or search committees who are not Calvinist," Professor Olson said. According to what he has heard, young preachers "wait several months and then begin to stock the church library with books" by Calvinists like John Piper and Mark Driscoll. They hold special classes on Calvinist topics, he said, and they staff the church with fellow Calvinists.
"Often the church ends up splitting, with the non-Calvinists starting their own church," Professor Olson said.
Olson has elsewhere said:
Due to the rise of what my friend Scot McKnight calls "neo-Puritanism" (what others have labeled "the new Calvinism" or just "resurgent Calvinism") TULIP Calvinism is popping up in places it does not belong. Especially young men are reading John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, even Michael Horton, and taking this new found theology "home" with them into the denominations they grew up in or have joined. Often those denominations are historically averse to Calvinism–such as Wesleyan-Holiness, Pentecostal and Anabaptist ones.
Often these denominations did not have the foresight to expect this influx of "young, restless, Reformed" people and so never wrote statements of faith that explicitly excluded TULIP. Their whole, entire ethoses were contrary to TULIP, however, and "five point Calvinism" is completely foreign to their histories and theologies.
I receive e-mail all the time (too many to respond to) from pastors, lay people, and even theologians (college, university and seminary professors) informing me about this infection of Calvinism in their denominations and related institutions. Usually they want some advice about how to handle this.
Now, let's be clear about what I'm talking about and am NOT talking about. Many denominations are historically-theologically, confessionally Calvinist. Of course I'm not talking about them. They are where Calvinists belong!
- Pretty ironic. On the one hand, Olson has often professed to be "moderate" and "progressive" minded in the past. But on the other hand, he's arguing for the status quo here.
- A Catholic living during the Reformation might have responded to Olson's line of thinking by saying something like:
The Reformation is popping up in places it does not belong. Especially young men are reading John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale, and taking this new found theology "home" with them into the parishes they grew up in or have joined.
Often those parishes are historically averse to Reformation theology. Often these parishes did not have the foresight to expect this influx of "sola fide, sola Scriptura, sola Christus, sola gratia, soli Deo gloria" Reformation people and so never wrote statements of faith that explicitly excluded Reformation theology. Their whole, entire ethoses were contrary to Reformation theology, however, and the five solas are completely foreign to their histories and theologies.
I receive letters all the time (too many to respond to) from priests, lay people, and even theologians (college, university and seminary professors) informing me about this infection of the Reformation in their parishes and related institutions. Usually they want some advice about how to handle this.
I suppose, though, that Olson is a notch better than this imaginary Catholic in that Olson would at least allow Calvinists to remain in their enclaves rather than root them out!
- Or take first century Israel. A Pharisee or Sadducee could respond in the same way Olson has responded:
This Jesus is popping up in places he does not belong. Especially young men, fishermen, tax collectors, and other sinners are following him, and taking his new found theology "home" with them into the synagogues they grew up in or have joined.
Point being, Olson has tied much of this to history, but history changes and, more importantly, history isn't indexed to biblical truth.
- What about all the open theists and moderate or progressive Christians like Olson infiltrating conservative churches? I'm not necessarily talking about Reformed or Calvinist churches. But many Arminian churches would not like to see pastors and other workers who share Olson's theology in their churches. Does Olson tell these progressive Christians to stick to where they belong too?
- Another issue is Olson's allegation that seminary graduates who bring Calvinist theology into non-Calvinistic churches are somehow behaving in a less than forthright manner.
- Sorry if I don't take Olson at his word on this.
Olson makes it sound like this is a near epidemic. Maybe it is quite widespread. (I'd personally be pleased if so since Calvinism far better reflects what the Bible teaches than what Olson espouses. But that's another debate.)
However, before we can reach this conclusion, let's note, for a start, that Olson's data about the Calvinist "infection" originate from emails with "pastors, lay people, and even theologians." How reliable are his sources? How objective are they, and how objective is Roger Olson? Wouldn't people emailing Olson who is quite a public and known and outspoken entity against Calvinism to complain about Calvinism in their churches potentially be fairly biased themselves?
Another question we could ask. How representative are these emails? Has Olson taken into account emails that suggest their churches are non-Calvinistic churches? Or maybe all the emails are from a handful of churches or institutions.
- I'm curious if Olson's open theism and other "moderate" and "progressive" views would be accepted by his Baptist denomination. If not, then why's he complaining about Calvinist seminary graduates? If so, then his denomination could do with more biblical fidelity for starters.
- It's not clear to me if these seminary graduates are church frequenters or attendees or the like (laity), or if they serve in some leadership role such as are pastoral candidates or the like.
If the former, then why is it a problem? What if an atheist attends their church? Is church attendance say on Sunday mornings only for people whose beliefs line up with the church's on every or nearly every point? (Of course, some churches require membership, but Olson hasn't drawn this distinction, I don't think.)
If the latter, then it may be the seminarian hasn't been forthright about his theology, but it may also be the church hasn't bothered to vet a candidate. For instance, Mark Dever mentioned in the NYT article that the hiring committee for Capitol Hill Baptist didn't even ask him about his theology.
- What if these seminarians entered seminary as non-Calvinists, even while attending their same "home" church, but through their studies became convinced of Calvinism? They'd still be part of their local church even though their views changed. Are these the sorts of people Olson is talking about? We don't know, for Olson doesn't specify.
Has Olson changed his mind on important theological points since he was accepted into his current denomination?
- Sorry if I don't take Olson at his word on this.