Arminian Theology
Myths and Realities
By: Roger E. Olson
Category: Theology

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In this book, Roger Olson sets forth classical Arminian theology and addresses the myriad misunderstandings and misrepresentations of it through the ages. Irenic yet incisive, Olson argues that classical Arminian theology has a rightful place in the evangelical church because it maintains deep roots within Reformational theology, even though it maintains important differences from Calvinism.

Myths addressed include: Myth 1: Arminian Theology Is the Opposite of Calvinist/Reformed Theology Myth 2: A Hybrid of Calvinism and Arminianism Is Possible Myth 3: Arminianism Is Not an Orthodox Evangelical Option Myth 4: The Heart of Arminianism Is Belief in Free Will Myth 5: Arminian Theology Denies the Sovereignty of God Myth 6: Arminianism Is a Human-Centered Theology Myth 7: Arminianism Is Not a Theology of Grace Myth 8: Arminians Do Not Believe in Predestination Myth 9: Arminian Theology Denies Justification by Grace Alone Through Faith Alone Myth 10: All Arminians Believe in the Governmental Theory of the Atonement.

About the Author

Roger E. Olson (Ph.D., Rice University) is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author of The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform, The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity (both InterVarsity Press) and The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology (Westminster John Knox).

He is also coauthor of 20th-Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age and Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God (both with Stanley J. Grenz, InterVarsity Press), and of The Trinity (with Christopher A. Hall, Eerdmans).


Roger Olson's new book, Arminian Theology, provides the definitive defense of Arminian theology to date. This winsome and well-crafted work dispels chapter by chapter the ten major misconceptions or myths about Arminian theology perpetuated by foes and friends alike. While intended for a wide and general readership, this well-researched and documented text is really a profound essay in historical theology in which Olson gives voice to leading Arminian theologians past and present, allowing them to speak for themselves and define what Arminianism really stands for. Thus, not an exercise in defense, Arminian Theology is the most lucid and effective book-length restatement of true Arminianism in print today. Olson's gracious and irenic spirit shines through the text even while his scholarly documentation of point after point shreds the many misperceptions of Arminian theology so prevalent today. This is a must-read book for educated laypersons, pastors, and scholars interested in, and concerned about, the current and historic debates between Calvinists and Arminians. Arminian Theology certainly raises the theological bar against those who want to theologically discredit Arminianism and relegate it to the backwaters of history and the life of the church.
Rev. Dr. Elmer M. Colyer, Professor of Historical Theology, Stanley Professor of Wesley Studies, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
Demonstrating that the recent offerings in the field of evangelical/Arminian scholarship constitute not a fad but a trend, Roger Olson has written a carefully researched work that aptly portrays Arminian theology at its best. Clearing away many of the stereotypes and half-truths that have remained much too long, Olson not only cogently argues that Arminian theology is nothing less than evangelical theology, but he also calls for Calvinists and Arminians to cooperate with one another in mutual recognition and respect under the broad tent of evangelicalism and for the larger good of the gospel. I heartily agree.
Kenneth J. Collins, Ph.D., Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary, and author of The Evangelical Moment: The Promise of an American Religion
Roger Olson has done the church a great service with this clear explanation of the key tenets of the evangelical Arminianism taught by Arminius, Wesley, Wiley and others. His effort to correct common misperceptions is highly readable but well supported by thorough scholarly research. Calvinists should welcome this book for at least two reasons. First, it will help us not to misrepresent Arminianism and will thus enable both genuine dialogue and valid critique. Second, we can earnestly hope that Olson will succeed in converting to classic evangelical Arminianism the large number of evangelicals whom he recognizes to be semi-Pelagian rather than Arminian.
Terrance Tiessen, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics, Providence Theological Seminary
In this blockbuster of a book Roger Olson demonstrates that Arminian theology is faithfully Christian, faithfully Protestant and faithfully evangelical. He introduces his readers to a large world which many will never before have entered, the world of Arminian and Wesleyan theology, and even those familiar with this world will become more informed about it. In his contents page alone he provides more clarity on the contested issues in the Calvinism/Arminianism debate than many books on the subject. He methodically subverts many of the arguments that Calvinists routinely use against Arminian theology. This is Christian polemical theology at its best: massively informed, carefully and passionately argued, and friendly and courteous to the opposition. I recommend Arminian Theology enthusiastically, and I predict that, if it is read with the attentiveness it deserves, it will ratchet up the level of the American conversation on these issues.
Fisher Humphreys, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Although many of the personal and institutional animosities that used to mark relations between Calvinists and Arminians have become muted in recent years, the differences are still with us. The issues are alive because they concern matters of central importance to Christian faith. In this book Roger Olson gently and firmly corrects misunderstandings of Arminian theology that are often held by Calvinists--and Arminians! His deft expositions of the historical texts offer a significant contribution to the health of theological reflection and relationships. At the same time he demonstrates how to be irenic without adopting an empty tolerance that makes doctrine irrelevant to the church's life and mission.
Jonathan R. Wilson, Pioneer McDonald Professor of Theology, Carey Theological College