Arminianism has enjoyed something of a renewal of interest in theological discussions in the last decade. This interest has been embodied in the publication of a host of diverse books. Roger Olson’s Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (2006) was an influential title that got many asking questions about Arminianism. His work has been followed by other historical and theological titles, including Arminius Speaks (2010), God’s Twofold Love: The Theology of Jacobus Arminius (2010), Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace (2012), and a recently revised edition of Grace for All (first published in 1975).
Some of this is no doubt a response from those in evangelicalism who haven’t espoused the resurgence of Calvinist theology. Some stems from an interest in European religious history, which inevitably requires attention to early Arminian figures such as Thomas Helwys. Whatever the seminal cause, we at the Forum are thankful for these developments.
Free Will Baptists have also played a significant role in the recovery of Arminius and Arminian theology. The 2011 publication of Leroy Forlines’ Classical Arminianism (Randall House) represents an abiding voice in Arminian scholarship. Though we at the Forum have spent the last five years contributing to these developments also, we stand on the shoulders of men like Forlines, Robert Picirilli, and a younger generation of scholars influenced by the same. Among these is Matthew Pinson. Pinson has been the president of Welch College since 2002, and has edited or written many books, including a recent contribution to the importance connections between Arminianism and Baptist faith. He sat down with me in at the National Association Meeting in Grand Rapids to discuss his book, Arminian and Baptist: Explorations in a Theological Tradition (Randall House, 2015).
Jackson Watts (JW): Dr. Pinson, it’s my pleasure to be with you and have a chance to discuss your book with you. I’m really curious about the path that led you to write this book. Could you briefly share a little bit about that?
Matt Pinson (MP): (0:12-4:37)
JW: You mentioned your time in graduate school. But before coming to Welch College, you were in the pastorate for many years. And I suspect that your reading of Arminius and Arminian scholarship probably had some sort of influence on your actual ministry. I wonder if you could give an instance or two of how your academic work actually fed into your ministry in the local church.
JW: I’d like to shift gears with you for a second. Let me preface this for my listeners by saying that I don’t want to open a can of worms here. But you comment in the chapter on Wesley’s theology that his views differed from Free Will Baptists on the notion of needing “re-justification” following the commission of sin (due to Wesleyans’ denial of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness). But as I was at least thinking of popular ideas out there, is it true that some smaller pockets of Free Will Baptists have veered in this direction in their espousal of repeated regeneration? Is that in the same lane of what you were describing with Wesleyanism?
JW: In a sense while there are obviously some problems in those ways of explaining it, it almost seems as if the silver lining with that is that you sort of err on the side of caution and assume that the person who appears to backsliding needs to really have the Gospel preached to them as you would an unbeliever. You could say the benefit of this other approach is that it may lead to a more aggressive outreach. Do you know what I mean?
The following section of the interview can be listened to by clicking on the second audio file.
JW: In chapter seven, you mention E.L. St. Claire’s important contribution to orthodox confessionalism among Free Will Baptists in the early twentieth century. Following this period (and the formation of the National Association in 1935), you imply that confessional subscription somewhat weakened, alongside the “intrusion in some areas of alien forms of church government.” Do you think our vulnerability to such problems, in some ways, was sort of “hardwired” into the type of denominational polity we initially adopted, or merely unfortunate developments that weren’t adequately confronted in their own time?
JW: I hesitate to ask this sort of question, but if you could play prophet for a moment, where do you think the Calvinist-Arminian dialogue is going to go in the next 10-15 years?
JW: Thank you so much for your time! We hope your book will find a broad audience.