“Don’t just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it.” – Jim Rohn
C. S. Lewis on books of devotion and doctrine: “Now the layman or amateur needs to be instructed as well as to be exhorted. In this age his need for knowledge is particularly pressing. Nor would I admit any sharp division between the two kinds of books. For my own part I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that “nothing happens” when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” – From the Introduction to On the Incarnation, St. Athanasius.
Many Calvinists are inclined to read only the materials produced by today’s popular Calvinist teachers and preachers. They are rarely encouraged to read outside their Reformed circles and generally get their information about non-Calvinist interpretation and theology from within those circles. But in the search for truth we need to read all sides of an issue.
Assuming that Calvinists are aware of and reading the Calvinist literature, this bibliography is provided for those who wish to know about and spend time in the better literature from the non-Calvinist perspective. It is here for Calvinists, or any others, interested in reading the non-Calvinist exegetical treatments and interpretations of the texts at issue in this controversy. These materials present the alternative to the Calvinist’s interpretations of these much debated texts. They also provide the philosophical and moral arguments against Calvinism. As such, I contend that these non-Calvinist scholars offer interpretations that have more explanatory power, explanatory scope and logical and moral coherence than the Calvinist interpretations. Therefore the non-Calvinist interpretations better reflect what the authors of Scripture intended to communicate. That is, the non-Calvinist operates on a more responsible hermeneutic than the Calvinist. But I do not want you to take my word for it. You can decide for yourself. Take up and read!
For those who are completely unfamiliar with non-Calvinist theology and its arguments against Calvinism, I have marked some recommended introductory texts with an asterisk (*).
Abasciano, Brian J. Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9.10-18. New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2011.
Allen, David L., & Lemke, Steve W. eds. Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism. Reflections From The John 3:16 Conference. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2010.
~ A fine treatment of the various textual, theological, and pastoral concerns raised by Calvinism.
Allen, David L. The Extent of the Atonement: An Historical and Critical Review. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2016.
~ A definitive and monumental work surveying the historical scholarly literature and positions on the atonement and defending unlimited atonement.
Baggett, David and Walls, Jerry L. Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
~ Although this book is mainly about the moral argument for the existence of God, its fourth chapter, “A Reformed Tradition Not Quite Right,” provides crucial insight into the role of philosophical thought as arbiter for the contradictions and incoherencies presented in Calvinist soteriology – especially that of God’s goodness. Baggett and Walls point out that these contradictions and inconsistencies reveal an underlying disregard for “clear thought” (“philosophy”) in the Calvinist hermeneutic.
Baillie, D. M. God Was In Christ: An Essay on Incarnation and Atonement. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1948.
~ Chapter III, Section II “Christology and the Nature of God”
~ Chapter V, Section I “The Paradoxes of Faith” and Section II “The Central Paradox”
~ Chapter VIII, Section II “The Cross and the Love of God”
Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of God, Vol. 2, Part 2. London: T&T Clark, 1942.
~ This volume contains chapter VIII, “The Election of God.” A profitable, thorough, treatment of the doctrines of election and predestination offering key insights into the nature of the biblical meaning of election as centered in Christ.
Brand, Chad Owen, ed. Perspectives on Election: 5 Views. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006.
~ A helpful resource for getting perspective from the different points of view. See especially chapter 3, Jack W. Cottrell’s chapter on “The Classical Arminian View of Election.” It is very informative, challenging, and biblically convincing.
Bruce, F. F. The Apostolic Defence of the Gospel: Christian Apologetic in the New Testament. London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1959.
Bock, Darrell L. Recovering the Real Lost Gospel: Reclaiming the Gospel as Good News. Nashville: B & H, 2010.
~ Bock’s emphasis is that the truths of the gospel as good news i.e., God’s grace, love, gift of salvation and our response of repentance, faith, and reception of his gift, also provide the truths by which we are motivated daily to live in the will of God in the power of the Spirit in contrast to a mindset of earning God’s favor.
Campbell, C. A. On Selfhood and Godhood. New York: Macmillan Co., 1957.
~ Campbell defends a libertarian view of human freedom. He bases this conclusion upon the reality and nature of moral responsibility and moral effort. Both of these require a person to be (1) the sole author of their actions and (2) retain the ability of contrary choice which is incoherent with Reformed theistic determinism. He also discusses the basis for valid reasoning in matters of religion. This is a critical concern in the Reformed hermeneutic which claims the contradictory nature of its theological propositions are only “apparent” and not real.
Cranfield, C. E. B. The International Critical Commentary, Romans. London: T&T Clark, 1975.
~ Cranfield offers a non-Reformed explanation of the controversial passages in Romans.
Daane, James. The Freedom of God: A Study of Election and Pulpit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973.
~ An excellent treatment of the ontological problems and determinism inherent in decretal theology. Daane also argues that
election is misinterpreted and cannot be preached as consistent with the gospel when severed from the election of Israel and the Church which clarify God’s “purpose in election” in the ultimate “Elect One” – Jesus Christ.
Dunn, James D. G. Word Biblical Commentary, Romans. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988.
~ Dunn offers a non-Reformed explanation of the controversial passages in Romans.
Dunn, James D. G., & Suggate, Alan M. The Justice of God: A Fresh Look at the Old Doctrine of Justification by Faith.
Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1993.
Dworkin, Gerald, ed. Determinism, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970.
*Fischer, Austin. Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed: Black Holes, Love, and a Journey In and Out of Calvinism (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2014)
~ This book is especially engaging in that it is a personal testimony of one who embraced Calvinism and then left it. Its strength is that it is not merely a subjective story of a personal journey but exhibits biblically astute and theologically informed reasoning. In a formidable series of arguments Fischer tackles head on whether or not Calvinism is biblical truth and confronts one with the necessity to grapple with the role of reason in discerning that truth and assessing their Calvinist beliefs. In the end he concludes that the contradiction inherent in Calvinism is real and therefore Calvinism or “the Bible teaches both” positions should not be embraced.
Flowers, Leighton. God’s Provision for All: A Defense of God’s Goodness. (Columbia: Trinity Academic Press, 2019)
*Flowers, Leighton. The Potters Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology. (Columbia: Trinity Academic Press, 2017)
Fridrichsen, Anton, ed. The Root of the Vine: Essays in Biblical Theology. London: Dacre Press, 1953.
Geisler, Norman. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.
Geivett, R. Douglas & Sweetman, Brendan, eds. Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1992.
Hirsch, E. D. Jr. Validity In Interpretation, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.
Jocz, Jakob. The Spiritual History of Israel. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1961.
Jocz, Jakob. A Theology of Election: Israel and the Church. London: S.P.C.K., 1958.
~ Jocz is a Hebrew Christian, therefore this work is valuable for its perspective on the doctrine of election as understood from within the context of Jewish thought. Insight into the Jewish context is key to understanding Paul’s meaning in such passages as Romans 9 which Jocz addresses along the way. Although Jocz seems to struggle with the problems introduced by the Calvinist interpretation of election, at points he makes it clear that the doctrine cannot coherently be understood as Calvinists present it.
Kane, Robert. The Significance of Free Will. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Keathley, Kenneth. Sovereignty and Salvation: A Molinist Approach. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2010.
~ After explaining Molinism at the beginning of the book, Keathley goes on to effectively critique the determinism of Calvinism. He provides helpful illustrations of the rational incoherencies and inconsistencies of Calvinists.
Klein, William W. The New Chosen People: A Corporate View of Election. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, Reprint, 1990.
~ This book includes a helpful study of the Old Testament and Intertestamental backgrounds of the concept of election. It is an excellent, thorough treatment of the relevant individual texts in the New Testament examined categorically in their own literary and authorial contexts (i.e., the synoptic gospels, Acts, Johannine literature, Pauline literature, Hebrews, James, Peter and Jude).
Lennox, John C. Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith and Human Responsibility. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017.
Lewis, C. S. The Problem of Pain. New York: Macmillan, 1962.
~ In The Problem of Pain Lewis deals with the nature of the world as God made it, why it is the way it is, and the nature of man and his relationship to God and the world, etc. Lewis raises issues that argue against a Calvinist worldview.
Lewis, C. S. Miracles. New York: Macmillan, 1947.
~ In Miracles Lewis deals with the nature of the world as God made it, why it is the way it is, and the nature of man and his relationship to God and the world, etc. Lewis raises issues that argue against a Calvinist worldview.
Lewis, C. S. God In The Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. ed. Walter Hooper, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.
~ See especially the essay titled “The Trouble with “X”…”
Marshall, I. H. Kept By The Power of God. Carlisle, CA: Paternoster Press, 1969.
~ This book deals with the issue of “eternal security” via careful exegesis of the biblical texts. A thorough treatment of the nature and assurance of salvation from a non-Reformed perspective. As Marshall argues for the assurance of salvation rooted in the keeping power of God he also effectively points out the problematic nature of Calvinist theology.
Marshall, I. H. ed. New Testament Interpretation. Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1977.
~ An excellent collection of a wide range of topics on interpretive and hermeneutical issues by preeminent biblical scholars.
McRay, John. Paul: His Life and Teaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.
~ See the section in Chapter 13 entitled the “The Heart of Paul: The Theology of Ephesians.” McRay offers an historical contextual exegesis of Ephesians that argues against a Calvinist interpretation of the epistle. He sees the language of Ephesians 1 as particularly addressing Jewish Christians (“saints”). Thus the language echoes the privileged position of the Jew in the Old Testament as the elect, predestined people of God yet in the context of the fulfillment of their purpose “in Christ.”
Mickelsen, Berkeley A. Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963.
Miley, John. Systematic Theology, 2 vols. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishing, 1989.
(Original text published in 1893 by Hunt & Eaton, New York.)
~ Throughout this systematic theology, Miley engages with and refutes the Calvinist doctrines both exegetically and philosophically.
Minear, Paul S. Images of the Church in the New Testament. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2004.
(Original text published in 1960 by The Westminster Press.)
Moreland, J. P. Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997.
Olson, Roger E. Arminian Theology:Myths & Realities. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.
~ Olson’s thorough examination of Calvinist misconceptions and misrepresentations of Arminian theology not only lends clarity to understanding Arminian theology but also reveals the flaws in Reformed Calvinism.
*Olson, Roger E. Against Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.
~ Olson provides an exhaustive critique of Calvinism’s contradictions and incoherencies by examining the theological positions and statements of Calvinists such as Loraine Boettner, Edwin Palmer, John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, R.C. Sproul and Paul Helm.
Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove:
InterVarsity Press, 1991.
~ What constitutes a sound, biblical hermeneutic is at the center of the Calvinist / non-Calvinist debate. Osborne discusses the importance of coherence and consistency as necessary criteria for the verification of the validity of one’s interpretations and theological model. See especially chapter 13 “Biblical Theology,” chapter 14 “Systematic Theology” and the important Appendix 2 “The Problem of Meaning: Toward a Solution.” See also the section titled, “A Method for Rhetorical Criticism” in chapter 4 “Syntax” for a statement on interpreting Romans 9.
*Picirilli, Robert E. Grace, Faith, Free Will: Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism. Nashville:
Randall House, 2002.
~ A first class treatment of the issues dividing Calvinism from what Picirilli calls “historic Arminianism.” His presentation is clear and equitable. It has the strength of comparing and contrasting the differences at the exegetical level. It also introduces the reader to the thought and writings of Arminius himself and the works of many prominent Arminian theologians.
Pinnock, Clark, ed. Grace Unlimited. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1975.
See especially the essays entitled:
~ “He Died for All: The Universal Dimensions of the Atonement” by Donald M. Lake
~ “The Spirit of Grace” by William G. MacDonald
~ “Predestination in the New Testament” by I. Howard Marshall
Pinnock, Clark, ed. The Grace of God, The Will of Man: A Case for Arminianism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989.
See especially the essays entitled:
~ “Divine Commands, Predestination and Moral Intuition” by Jerry Walls
~ “Freedom, Justice and Moral Responsibility” by Bruce R. Reichenbach
~ “Exhaustive Divine Sovereignty: A Practical Critique” by Randal G. Basinger
Pinnock, Clark, and Wagner, John, eds. Grace for All: The Arminian Dynamics of Salvation. Eugene, OR.: Wipf and Stock, 2015.
~ This book could be considered the third work in a “series” begun in Grace Unlimited and The Grace of God: The Will of Man. This collection of essays updates others in Grace Unlimited and adds new material from other non-Calvinist scholars. These essays provide the exegetical information and hermeneutic thinking that under gird the non-Calvinist soteriology while refuting Calvinist soteriology.
Reppert, Victor. C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
~ This book explores the implications of naturalistic determinism for the trustworthiness and truth value of our reasoning faculty. Perhaps the same negative implications for human reasoning result from theistic determinism (Calvinism) by virtue of it being a determinism, albeit theistic.
Richardson, Alan. An Introduction to the Theology of the New Testament. London: SCM Press, 1958.
~ See Chapter 12 “The Israel of God.”
Ridderbos, Herman. Paul: An Outline of His Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966.
~ Chapter VIII “The Church as the People of God”
~ Chapter VI “The New Life” Section 41 – “The Nature of Faith”
~ An incisive, convincing, and very thorough treatment of the doctrine of election and the nature of faith. Ridderbos presents sound, biblical exegesis that challenges the traditional Calvinist / Reformed soteriological understanding of the relevant texts.
Ridderbos, Herman. The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987.
~ To be read through from the beginning so as not to miss the flow of historical events and John’s theological thought and purposes in his gospel which are essential to understanding the pertinent controversial passages. Ridderbos does an excellent job in suggesting alternatives to the standard Reformed Calvinist interpretations.
Rowley, H. H. The Biblical Doctrine of Election. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2009. (First published in 1950 by Lutterworth Press.)
~ Excellent comprehensive study of God’s election of Israel and individuals for the purpose of service in God’s salvation plans and to bring God’s revelation to the world. Rowley’s discussion of the Old Testament contexts and nuances of election provide the much needed biblical scope and historical perspective of this ignored doctrine to correctly understand Paul’s use of the term as applied to the Church and individuals in the New Testament.
Sayers, Dorothy L. Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004.
~ See especially the essay entitled “The Triumph of Easter.”
Sayers, Dorothy L. The Mind of the Maker. New York: HarperCollins, 1941.
~ Chapter II “The Image of God”
~ Chapter III “Idea, Energy, Power”
~ Chapter V “Free Will and Miracle”
~ Chapter VII “Maker of All Things – Maker of Ill Things”
~ Chapter IX “The Love of the Creature”
Shank, Robert. Elect in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Election. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1989.
~ Shank’s research into Calvin’s writings is thorough and his numerous citations give first-hand insight into Calvin’s position. Shank also engages Scripture to provide one of the most biblical, complete, and forthright critiques of Calvinism. He addresses all of the weighty difficulties in Reformed soteriology.
St. Athanasius. On the Incarnation. ed. Sister Penelope Lawson, C.S.M.V. New York: Macmillian Publishing Co., Inc., 1946.
~ A classic treatise on the incarnation and related theological topics that have bearing upon the Calvinist / non-Calvinist controversy. The instructive and insightful “Introduction” in this edition is written by C. S. Lewis.
Stendahl, Krister. Paul Among Jews and Gentiles. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976.
~ See especially the classic essay: “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West”
Terry, Milton S. Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Zondervan / Academie Books, 1883.
~ Classic text on hermeneutics and interpretation.
Thiessen, Henry C. Introductory Lessons in Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949.
Thornhill, A. Chadwick. The Chosen People: Election, Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015.
~ This book is critical for laying out the doctrine of election as Paul understood it. It is must reading because of its adherence to the fundamental hermeneutical principle of interpreting Paul from within his own historical context of second temple Judaism. Thornhill’s survey of the pre-Christian Jewish literature regarding their understanding of election, the sovereignty of God and determinism provide valuable insights into what Paul was thinking when he wrote about election and predestination within the Christian context. Given this information from which to view Paul’s mind on these matters, Thornhill provides solid expositions of the controversial biblical texts showing that in relation to the second temple Jewish literature and within their immediate literary biblical contexts the non-Calvinist position provides the better interpretation.
*Walls, Jerry and Dongell, Joseph. Why I Am Not A Calvinist. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004.
~ A very understandable, straightforward, multifaceted, and cogent critique of Calvinism. It deals with the philosophical problems inherent in Calvinism and provides exegesis of important texts. This is the companion volume to Why I Am Not An Arminian by Peterson and Williams which is also recommended for a logical and theological exercise of compare and contrast.
Watson, Richard. Theological Institutes, 2 vols., New York: Lane & Scott, 1850. (Vol. 1, Michigan Historical Reprint
Series. Vol 2, The Kessinger Publishing Legacy Reprint Series).
~ Watson provides convincing refutations of the Calvinist doctrines throughout this systematic theology.
Witherington III, Ben, with Hyatt, Darlene, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.
Wright, N. T. The New Testament and the People of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.