Calvin vs. Wesley?

It’s a debate that will never go away. That’s good for retail because someone is always looking for good books on the subject. I want to offer two that some might find helpful.

On the Calvinist side there is Five Points by John Piper. Piper is one of the major contemporary voices for the neo-Calvinist movement. This book offers the five points from a pastoral perspective. Here are a couple of the endorsements:

“I love this new book by John Piper. I don’t know of any other brief book on this subject that so manifestly takes us down into the Scriptures and then so wonderfully lifts us up to see the glory of God. Many people will be encouraged, and not a few will have their faith jolted in the best way possible.”

Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church. East Lansing, Michigan

Nothing has changed my perspective and made more sense of God, life, and the world than the doctrines of grace. John Piper makes a complex theology understandable. Five Points will assist you to see how big and good our gracious God actually is.

Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri


On the flip side Don Thorsen offers a great book simply called Calvin vs. Wesley. Here are a couple of endorsements:

In spite of the “versus” in the title, this book is an irenic recommendation of right understandings of both Calvin and Wesley. The author prefers Wesley, but his treatment of Calvin is fair to a fault. I know of no other book that does what this one does: explain in popular language with theological precision the common ground and areas of divergence between Calvin and Wesley. Every Christian interested in the history of Protestant theology and in contemporary controversies over “predestination” and “free will’ must read this book.”

Roger E. Olson, Foy Valentine Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics, George W. Truett Theological Seminary Baylor University

This is not a technical book, but it reflects deeply rooted theological expertise. It is also timely, especially amid the rise of Neo-Calvinism in evangelical Christianity. Thorsen has a clear preference for Wesleyan soteriology, but he handles Calvin with an even hand, even when he disagrees with the implications of Calvin’s theology. Convinced Calvinians will not likely have their minds changed, but Wesleyan Christians– who unfortunately seem to understand their tradition with less theological depth than their Calvinist counterparts– will come away with a much deeper appreciation of the distinctive dimensions of Wesleyan theology. This is not a ‘how to’ book, but it is characterized by great theological wisdom that can have far-reaching practical implications for the careful reader.
W. Stephen Gunter, Associate Dean for Methodist Studies, Duke Divinity School


On whichever side of the debate you find yourself both of these would be valuable resources.


About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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