What Makes Something ‘Christian’?

In a previous post I argued that it’s not always “lame” (to quote Gregory Thornbury, President of The Kings College) to use ‘Christian’ as an adjective. While I did provide an example of at least one case where it could be helpful (e.g., “Christian philosophy”), I didn’t say much about what makes something Christian. To fix that shortcoming it might be helpful to consider a comment attributed to the President of my own school, Gary Nelson. During a forum this past January, President Nelson spoke about what makes, and what doesn’t make, for a “Christian Seminary.”1 The Tyndale Seminary Student Association relayed part of his talk at the forum in the tweet below.

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Carter’s Calvinism — Once More


Craig Carter’s final salvo in our exchange on Calvinism purports to offer us “More on Davis’ Arguments Against Calvinism.” So far as I can see, however, we aren’t really given “more” so much as “more of the same”–variations on the original theme but nothing substantially new. Let me explain.

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Calvinism’s Gospel Tautology

calvinismChristians of every stripe agree that Christ’s substitutionary and atoning work on Calvary’s cross is marvelous beyond comprehension. It is an act of unspeakable mercy, condescension, and grace—on the human level, wholly unearned and uninitiated, a visible and concrete demonstration of God’s love for sinners and enemies (Romans 5:10). As Jesus tells Nicodemus, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

Surely, this is good news—indeed, the best of news—for sinful, fallen humanity. Where would we be without it? It is a pearl of great price, not to be exchanged for even the whole world. Curiously, however, one very influential theological system—Calvinism—bids us to pause at this juncture. Continue reading

Calvinism’s Misplaced Culpability

calvinismCalvinism and TULIP go hand in hand. When you think of the one, it’s rather hard not to think of the other. However, certain qualifications are in order. “The truth is,” says Michael Horton, “there isn’t a central dogma in Calvinism” [link]. We can’t reduce Calvinism to a single doctrine. Nor can it be limited to TULIP. It is more than the acronym. Thus, John S. Feinberg notes that “God’s sovereign control [is] not only over election to salvation, but over all else,” including the future [link]. Well, that goes beyond TULIP proper, which is fair enough. If there is a difficulty for Calvinism, it lies not in its cleaving to the fact of God’s sovereign control, but rather in its proposed control mechanism which, I will suggest, creates more problems than it solves. Continue reading

A Response to James K. A. Smith, by Eduardo Echeverria

DSC_0091Note: In the latest issue of Calvin Theological Journal (vol. 49: 258–282) Eduardo Echeverria published an extended review of James K. A. Smith’s recent book, Who’s Afraid of Relativism? Community, Contingency, and Creaturehood (Baker Academic, 2014). Smith’s reply to Echeverria is now available on Smith’s blog (“Responding to a Common Critique of Who’s Afraid of Relativism?“). Because Echeverria is a friend of the department we have invited him to post a follow-up reply to Smith here on the Tyndale Philosophy blog. At his request, we’ve also embedded a copy of the original review below.

Dr. Eduardo Echeverria is a prominent and well-respected Catholic philosopher who, like Smith, has recently lectured at Tyndale University College. He is Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. He has authored multiple books and over twenty articles. Continue reading

The “Faith” of Peter Rollins

rollinsAuthor and Post-Structuralist thinker, Peter Rollins, describes himself as a “provocative writer, lecturer, storyteller and public speaker who has gained an international reputation for overturning traditional notions of religion and forming ‘churches’ that preach the Good News that we can’t be satisfied, that life is difficult, and that we don’t know the secret” (link). Here one is inclined to agree with Rollins. It really would overturn (or at least sideline) the traditional understanding of the Gospel Continue reading

Enns’s Invalid Inference

CaptureWe philosophers at Tyndale University College try to regularly point out to students that taking basic courses in critical reasoning and logic can be immensely valuable—even for non-philosophers. In particular, students that plan to enter some type of vocational ministry or plan to pursue an academic career in biblical studies or theology really should become well versed in basic elements of reasoning. We stress this point because, unfortunately, we too often come across eminent scholars that have committed rudimentary errors in reasoning. Take, for example, Paul Enns.  Continue reading

A Demonstration Against Calvinism

JCWith the recent publication of Michael Horton’s For Calvinism, along with Roger Olson’s reply Against Calvinism—both with Zondervan (2011)—the Calvinism/Arminianism debate has once again been vaulted front and center in evangelical circles. Horton and Olson are theologians, of course, and their exchange is carried out on that level. Philosophers rarely get invited into this ‘conversation’. They more or less have to push their way in, as Jerry Walls did in his Why I am Not a Calvinist (IVP, 2004). Though of course many Christians are Calvinists, scarcely any Christian philosophers are. No doubt there are many reasons for this. As Christian philosophers, here’s how we look at the issue. Continue reading