Written as a defense of the Reformed faith, Brown leads his readers to a Biblical understanding of authentic Calvinism – the theology actually held by the great theologian of Geneva. Knowing that many in society today have grave misunderstandings of authentic Calvinism, The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism is laid out to address what Brown sees as the five great dilemmas faced by the system.
The historical bases for Calvinism and Arminianism are reviewed, as well as the biblical support for each position. Brown then shows how Calvinism is not opposed to human responsibility when it asserts that God has control over all things. The dilemma of motivation is addressed, and Calvinism is presented, not as a fatalistic and lazy approach to Christian living, but a highly motivated theology that acts in light of the grace extended to believers.
Obedience is the third dilemma faced. A classic cry against Calvinists is that they are not mindful in evangelistic efforts. Brown addresses the topics of evangelism and prayer, and again presents a biblical case for those of the Reformed belief to engage in both evangelism and prayer – not out of rote obedience or with disinterest, but with great vigor and enthusiasm that God would allow man to participate in His work.
The dilemma of evil is also addressed. Why would a God in control of everything, as Reformed theology posits, allow evil to exist? A sound scriptural case is made for God’s existence and the presence of evil in the world without those elements being incongruous. Brown does more than just present Bible verses and say, “see what Calvinism believes?” Instead, he shows how a careful understanding of Scripture is at the underpinning of Reformed theology.
The final dilemma is perhaps the most emotionally charged – if people are born totally depraved, as Calvinism holds, what happens to babies who die? Brown does an admirable job of keeping the emotional arguments in perspective while allowing Scripture to present its teachings. While I do not personally hold to the conclusion Brown reaches (that babies of believing parents automatically go to Heaven), he reaches that conclusion from his understanding of biblical principles.
This short volume carefully and concisely presents the Reformed position of salvation in an easy-to-read and understandable manner. I would recommend it for those unsure of what to believe in this regard, as well as for those who are convinced of their belief – if only to understand “what others are saying.” – Pastor Charles L. Eldred, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
After a brief survey of the historical development of the theological school now known as Calvinism and a comparison of Calvinism and Arminianism, Brown turns to a consideration of five dilemmas that Arminians typically associate with Reformed doctrines. The author then attempts to demonstrate that these “problems” are largely misunderstandings of Calvinism.
Written in a winsome and engaging style, Brown’s work is an excellent primer on Calvinism and some of the critiques that have been leveled against it. As such, the book provides both apologetic help for Calvinists and answers for Arminians with honest questions.