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For Calvinism

For Calvinism [Kindle Edition]

Michael S. Horton
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The system of theology known as Calvinism has been immensely influential for the past five hundred years, but it is often encountered negatively as a fatalistic belief system that confines human freedom and renders human action and choice irrelevant. Taking us beyond the caricatures, Michael Horton invites us to explore the teachings of Calvinism, also commonly known as Reformed theology, by showing us how it is biblical and God-centered, leading us to live our lives for the glory of God. Horton explores the historical roots of Calvinism, walking readers through the distinctive known as the “Five Points,” and encouraging us to consider its rich resources for faith and practice in the 21st Century. As a companion to Roger Olson’s Against Calvinism, readers will be able to compare contrasting perspectives and form their own opinions on the merits and weaknesses of Calvinism.

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1487 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan (25 Oct 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #323,073 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful explanation of contemporary Calvinism 4 Aug 2012
This is one volume of a pair of books exploring two poles of contemporary American evangelicalism. Its sister volume, Against Calvinism by Roger Olsen, argues the case for an Arminian approach. Here Michael Horton offers a passionate and eirenical defence of the Calvinist pole.

His opening chapter outlines the essence of Calvinism in terms of the various `sola's of the Reformation: `Scripture alone (sola scriptura) is the source and norm of Christian faith and practice, and this Word proclaims a salvation that is by God's grace alone (sola gratia), in Christ alone (solo Christo), through faith alone (sola fide). Consequently, all of the glory goes to God alone (soli Deo gloria)' (p. 27). Thus salvation is entirely and exclusively the work of God (monergism). This is contrasted with Arminianism, which proclaims the free gift of grace to all humankind coupled with an element of synergism (a degree of human cooperation in the work of salvation).

The bulk of the book is given over to an exposition of the so called five points of Calvinism (a.k.a. the doctrines of grace). In the first of these chapters, Horton makes the point that `Reformed theology never starts with the fall, but with God's good creation' (p. 35) and with the notion that humans are made in the image of God. Thus the first of the five points, total depravity, refers to a distortion of that original goodness. He also reminds us that the `total' in this phrase is extensive rather than intensive; it implies that the distortion applies to every aspect of our being rather than that we are in some particular respect totally depraved.

Moving on to the doctrine of election, Horton insists that the Calvinist insistence on its unconditionality does not imply that it is somehow arbitrary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Christian doctrine 28 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Michael Horton does a good job exploring the teachings of Calvinism, but with few surprises. As a reformed theologian he obviously knows his subject well. It is interesting to see that there is a companion volume, AGAINST CALVINISM by Roger E Olson. Each author writes the foreword for the other book. For me, Olson is more convincing in his arguments against Calvinism than Horton perhaps is for Calvinism in his book. However, both books are well written and have clearly presented discussions. Readers will possibly have already come to their own conclusions regarding their theological position before they read either book. But it is is good to be well informed about these quite different doctrinal teachings.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and Cogent Defense of the Doctrines of Grace 11 Oct 2011
By David P. Craig - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Michael Horton according to Roger E. Olson (the author of "Against Calvinism") in the forward of this book writes, "Anyone interested in reading the best case possible for Calvinism must read this book. It is informative, engaging, clear, and self-critical."

I would like to use Olson's own adjectives to give 4 reasons why Arminians, Calvinists, or the undecided should take the time to carefully read this book.

1) It is Informative - the author takes the time to clearly articulate the historical developments preceding the debates before the Reformation, and the resulting consequences leading to our very day. He concisely and cogently defines, describes, and exegetes the key figures, movements, and factors that brought about the distinct views that have come to be known (for better or worse) as Calvinism and Arminianism. The author does a fantastic of job of synthesizing the historical, philosophical, and biblical exegetical elements that make up what we call Calvinism today. Incidentally, Horton makes a great case for why we should call Calvinism the "doctrines of grace" and how this is really what the Bible, Calvin, and many reformers before and after him would prefer - because it isn't about articulating one man's "system," but more about what the Bible says from Genesis to Revelation regarding God, man, sin, salvation, and consummation. There is more to Calvinism than the acrostic Tulip.

2) It is engaging - from tackling misconceptions and misperceptions, Horton pulls the reader into the controversy, but does a fantastic job of disseminating the truth and dispelling the falsehoods of both Calvinism and Arminianism. He has great integrity in seeking to focus on the best of Calvinism and the best of Arminianism and then honing in one what the Bible has to say about the crucial doctrines and how they are interpreted in both camps. I love how Horton develops what he says early on in the book, "It has become a habit to speak of `the Reformed faith,' but properly speaking there is no such thing. There is only the Christian faith, which is founded on the teaching of the prophets, and apostles, with Jesus Christ as its cornerstone. It is better, then, to speak of the Reformed Confession of the Christian Faith." In other words, Horton is seeking to articulate what the Bible teaches - the Christian faith - what all Christians believe - because it is merely the "faith delivered once and for all to the saints." He is more concerned about Christians having a biblical theology, than merely adhering to a system of theology.

3) It is clear - Horton deals with an incredibly wide expanse of material and synthesizes it all with great theological insight, exegetical precision, and practical wisdom. One of the most outstanding features of the book is when he writes about the missional impact that true Calvinists have made and are making because of their understanding of, and desire to obey the great commission.

4) It is self-critical - Especially in the last chapter of the book Horton dissects the strengths and weaknesses of Calvinism throughout history and today. He is humble, honest, bold, and courageous in his personal and corporate diagnosis of modern Calvinism, and in rebuking and exhorting all believers to be balanced in their love of God, truth, other believers, and the lost.

I highly recommend this book in that it will do several things: it will help you understand theology better, it's historical development, and it will help you to be a more careful interpreter of the Scriptures. I believe that it will be used to help Arminians, Calvinists, and the undecided to be careful students of the Word, of church history, and to be gracious toward one another in their pursuit of the truth as revealed in the Scriptures. It will help you to wrestle with doctrine and make you better equipped to know what you believe and why you believe it. It will help you to appreciate your salvation even more because of the heights and depths of a Holy God that has sought us, and bought us, with His redeeming blood. It will encourage you to share the good news with passionate precision of a Savior who has come to seek and to save the lost.
31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Moderate Calvinism Explained 30 Oct 2011
By Adam Shields - Published on
One of the comments on my review of Against Calvinism, objected to the title. I noted in the review that Olson was not objecting to Calvinism as a whole, but particular extremes within Calvinism. Well Michael Horton, in the introduction, objects to the title as well. He does not really like the term Calvinism (because it is named after Calvin and because of that is sectarian in feel). He would prefer 'the gospel' or 'the gospel of grace'.

He quotes Charles Spurgeon as saying that, "I have no own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel and nothing else." This really gets to the heart of what I object to about Calvinism. The fact that many Calvinists seem unable to distinguish that their understanding of the gospel (a gospel focused on Salvation, Justification and Grace), is only one aspect of the gospel. Scot McKnight has a very good book (King Jesus Gospel) about the problem with focusing on salvation instead of Jesus Christ as the gospel. I want to affirm with Michael Horton, that in the vast majority of theological issues and beliefs, Christians agree. The discussion about Calvinism is not about whether each side is Christian, but rather the discussion about relatively minor issues within Christianity (important, but minor).

So much of this discussion is about definition. For instance, Horton discusses the difference between foreknowledge and foreordination of events. He argues that in reality these are basically the same thing, but saying they are the same does not make them the same. To some, the difference is great, to others like Horton, the difference between the two is so meaningless as to be indistinguishable. On both sides (Calvinism and Arminianism), there are many of the same concepts that are being discussed, but the definitions and understanding are vastly different, which makes it hard not to talk past one another. Both Horton and Olson really do try hard not to talk past one another, but I just do not think it is possible.

I really struggled through this book. I worked on it for nearly three weeks before I finished it. And I did a decent bit of skimming toward the end. I was frankly fairly tired of the conversation. But I also spent more time praying about the content of this book than any I have read in recent memory. I am increasingly aware of my frustration with this discussion. At some point it seems that both sides need to admit that neither side adequately can account for the whole of scripture. I am incapable of conceiving of a God that would intentionally construct TULIP. I do not say this lightly. I very well may be wrong about this. But my understanding of scripture says that while neither Calvinism nor Arminianism can account for all of scripture, Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace (Horton prefers Effective Grace for good reason), seem to violate my understanding of the nature of God. God is whom God is, my understanding does not change him. And God is a big God, that I am sure will convict me of my poor understanding and move me toward a better understanding in this life, and will reveal much more in the next. But I still cannot conceive that God only came to earth to die for some.

In the end, I think these books are helpful in understanding the positions. But I think that the whole framing of the question is distorting the answer. Our focus should be on Christ and his Kingdom and the role that we are permitted to play in God's grand narrative. Instead this discussion gets us bogged down in details that are just not adequately revealed in Scripture and focuses us on our own salvation instead of the person of Christ.

By the way, until I looked at the cover of For Calvinism, I did not realize that both books had an image of Tulips. For Calvinism, has three healthy full tulips (and a bright green background), Against Calvinism has three tulips with dried up petals that are about to fall (and a bright red background). Clever and subtle, a nice design element.
An ebook was provided by the publisher through Netgalley for purposes of review. This review was originally posted on my blog
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable Introduction to Calvinism - whether you are or not 15 Nov 2011
By Upstate New York Reader - Published on
One of the things that I have learned as I age is that theology can be as dry as a Calculus text or as attention getting as a well written fictional adventure. Michael Horton's "For Calvinism" easily fits into this latter category.

It was with some trepidation that I first picked up this, the first of two books commissioned by Zondervan, evaluating Calvinism. As an established Arminian trained in a Calvinist seminary, I have been disappointed over the years at both Wesleyan and Calvinist who tend to set straw men to define those who have followed alternative opinion. Michael Horton attempts in this book to clearly state a traditional Calvinist position - he is not defending TUPIP, but a clearly stated version of the Reformed position as articulated by Calvin and his heirs. When he does choose to compare Calvinism to Arminianism, he chooses from both classical theologians (e.g. Richard Watson) and more modern spokesman (e.g. Clark Pinnock).

I found the book readable and enjoyable - even as I disagreed with some of the conclusions to which the author arrives. Regardless of whether the reader comes as a Calvinist, an Arminian, or if the reader is searching, the book is a good introduction to the Reformed faith.

I will look forward to reading the other Zondervan title being published in parallel with Horton' text, Against Calvinism by Roger Olson.

This review is based on an electronic copy of the book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating an unbiased review.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After reading both, I continue to lean in favor of Calvinism 1 Jan 2013
By Jason Kanz - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have also posted a review of Against Calvinism, which is a part of a two book set. I have now finished the second book, For Calvinism (2011) by Michael Horton. Before I proceed, I should confess a few biases. First, as I have studied, the Calvinistic understanding of God's sovereignty in salvation makes more sense to me than the Arminian position defended by Roger Olson in Against Calvinism. Second, Michael Horton is one of my favorite authors and speakers. Certainly, these things affect my perspective on these books.

So, having stated that, from what I could see, Horton seems to depend upon scripture to a greater degree than Olson did to establish his arguments for Calvinism. While Olson found Calvinism logically inconceivable and morally reprehensible, Horton seeks to describe what Scripture says. I find this to be true of most Calvinists (e.g., John Piper, Charles Spurgeon)--they try to account for all of Scripture. Further, although Olson dealt almost exclusively with TULIP (a term Horton doesn't care for), Horton moves beyond to consider more broadly Reformed beliefs and doctrine. As a general defense of TULIP, I prefer Sproul's Chosen by God, yet this is a fine volume in that regard as well.

A drawback of the book, and of reformed theology in general, seems to be an overreliance upon the creeds and confessions. Although I generally agree with early creeds and much of reformed confessions (Heidelberg, Westminster), they are not to be the grounding for our belief. God's word is.

On the whole, I would commend these two volumes. Although I still think Calvinism is the best explanation for all of Scripture, Olson argues his point well. Horton, as always, is a humble, wise, and articulate defender of confessional Calvinism.

(I also wrote the following after listening to a debate/discussion between Olson and Horton)

Michael Horton and Roger Olson have recently put out a pair of books, For Calvinism (Horton) and Against Calvinism (Olson). I have appreciated Horton's ministry through the White Horse Inn for a few years and he has, in some ways, shaped my thinking. I know less of Olson, a theology professor at Baylor University, except to say that I am familiar that he is one of the most vocal advocates for Arminianism today.

I recently listened to a 2 part "conversation" between Horton and Olson regarding the topic, "For or Against Calvinism." It was encouraging to listen to these two brothers in the faith discussing their dissenting views on this issue. I wish more theological conversations would happen in this way. Here were a few brief takeaways.

There is much overlap between them. They appear to agree on the majors.

Olson was a gracious, intelligent advocate of Arminianism. I have read his blog in the past, but I found him more endearing and less adversarial in this setting.

Horton seemed to rely upon the biblical evidence more than Olson, who seemed rather to make his arguments based more upon his belief in what, or Who, God should be. For example, he cited John Wesley, who claimed that Romans 9 cannot be saying what it appears to say and so there must be another explanation.

Both men seem to agree that there is a lack of Arminian theologians throughout history. At one point, Horton mentioned Jacob Arminius and John Wesley and Olson quipped, are there any others, showing his hand that "his team" may lack a strong, or at least visible, tradition.

In the end, I have a deeper appreciation for Arminianism, but a continued confidence in Calvinism.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, clear, concise. Good book. 28 Aug 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For Calvinism, by Michael Horton, was released as a part of a simultaneous release with Against Calvinisim by Roger Olson. I read and reviewed Olson's book at the end of last year/beginning of this year....literally, I believe that is what I did on New Year's Eve. :-D I was not in as great a hurry to read For Calvinism as I was Against Calvinism by Olson. I had already read much by Horton and was already pretty firmly "for Calvinism", so I figured Olson's book was a good place to start.

After reading Olson's critique of reformed theology, specifically the doctrines of grace, I was unimpressed with his argument against "Calvinism". However, as we are beginning a study of Ephesians at church, and "Calvinism" is flooding convention thought in the SBC, yet again, I thought this would be a good time to read Horton's take on the validity of "Calvinism".

There is much to take away from this book. "Calvinism", or Reformed Theology(preferable), is not a TULIP. This is significant for a couple of reasons. First off, the TULIP acronym, was invented after 1900 as a way of summarizing the Synod of Dordt, the five points themself a reaction to the Remonstrants' five points. Greater still, is the fact that the terminology attached to TULIP leads to great confusion. The TULIP does not define the points to which they are assigned sufficiently or clearly. This is why, in his book, Horton addresses some of the points with different terminology(ie, Total Depravity=Radical Depravity; Irresitible Grace=Effectual Grace; Limited Atonement=Definite Atonement). While RUDEP may not be as easy to remember as TULIP, the exchange of a memorable acronym for an accurate one is probably worth the effort.

The greater reason not to equate TULIP with Reformed Theology as a whole is because the Reformed understanding of the Christian faith cannot be reduced to five points of soteriology. Horton devotes an entire chapter, and sections within chapters, expounding on the riches of Reformed Theology and practice. He makes an argument for the Regulative principle, Covenant theology, how Reformed theology views the atonement and the extent of the redeeming work of Christ beyond just sinners but unto all of creation, how Reformed Theology interacts with society and creation, etc... Reformed faith and practice cannot be reduced to the TULIP(or even RUDEP) and, beyond that, the TULIP is not even the central dogma of Reformed theology.

Horton devotes a chapter to Calvinism and missions/evangelism. It is a great chapter, and an important one, because so often(as in Geisler's Chosen But Free) the accusation is made that Calvinist theology impedes evangelism and missions. That believing in the sovereign grace of God erases any desire to share the Gospel with a neighbor or labor for the Gospel to reach the ends of the world. Horton begins the chapter with page after page of historical examples to the contrary. From the time of Calvin (who trained hundreds of missionaries) on, Horton lays out historical example after example of Christians who held dearly to the doctrines of grace and also labored faithfully, sacrificially, and often unto death to see that the Gospel was proclaimed to those who had never heard the name of Jesus. Horton shows that statistically, those who hold to Reformed theology, send as much or more money to support foreign missions, and as many or more missionaries onto the mission field. In fact, citing a PCA News report, the Presbyterian Church in America(Reformed, doctrines of grace, allegedly no desire or need to do missions) supports three times as many foreign missionaries per capita as the Southern Baptist Convention supports foreign and domestic missionaries per capita. After showing that history and statistics do not match the caricature of the mission/evangelism-hating Calvinist, Horton spends time discussing the theological underpinnings of Reformed missions.

In the final chapter, Horton unpacks some of the strengths of Reformed theology, and some of the dangers we can stumble upon if we embrace the doctrines of grace. This chapter is a gentle rebuke for some who are in the "cage stage" and may be using this book as ammunition to attack brothers and sisters who may not agree with their flower of choice. It is also a good reminder for those of us who have grown out of the "cage stage", lest we necessitate a re-caging.

I am a Horton fan, from the White Horse Inn to Modern Reformation, to his systematic theology and his preaching, and I am a fan of this book. I will admit, as with everything I have read by Horton, at times I get left behind in the text, a little lost. Olson's writing style is much more suited to introductions to issues. Against Calvinism, while not watered down, was a much easier read for me than For Calvinism was at a few parts. Being said, I would commend this book to all and encourage any who may get bogged down at parts to keep working through it. The payoff from this book is worth the effort. I would agree with Roger Olson, mostly, on his recommendation of the book from the foreword.
Anyone interested in reading the best case possible for Calvinism must read this book. It is informative, engaging, clear, and self-critical. It helpfully contributes to the ongoing discussions and debates about God's sovereignty among evangelicals...After reading this book I can recommend it wholeheartedly with the reservation that I strongly disagree with its central claims...It is possible to be committed and fair, critical and generous. For Calvinism proves it and my hearty endorsement reveals it.--Roger Olson
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