The Dark Side Of Calvinism


There are a lot of books that have been written to promote the Reformed doctrine of redemption and reprobation. There are relatively few books that have been written to challenge what is more commonly referred to as the Calvinist doctrine of salvation and damnation. One reason is that most non-Calvinists have never taken the time to seriously look into what Calvin and Calvinism teaches. There was a day in which that may have been OK. Today, however, Calvinism is coming at the rest of us (aggressively) from all sides. The Calvinist doctrine of salvation and damnation is no longer confined (if indeed it ever was) to Presbyterianism, The Dutch Reformed, Particular or Reformed Baptists or a relatively few others that have gone down the Reformed road.

Now there are “modified” dispensationalists like John MacArthur passionately promoting the Calvinist doctrine of salvation and damnation through “Lordship Salvation, doctrine” a variation and expansion of the fifth point of Calvinism (i.e., perseverance of the saints). A few years ago a Charismatic Calvinist was practically unheard of. Today, John Piper is not only one of the most popular Evangelicals in America he is one of the most outspoken and ardent defenders of Calvinism in the country as well. Men like MacArthur and Piper will not likely replace the R.C. Sproul’s or the Lorraine Boettner’s in the Reformed community, but they are helping swell the numbers of those who embrace Reform doctrine (not to be confused with the Reformation). We now have hyper-Calvinism as well as the more common variety of Calvinism called hypo-Calvinism (i.e., “mainstream Calvinism) that sounds a lot ( or exactly) like what used to be called “extreme” Calvinism.

What we need today are a few more Biblicists that can and will graciously, carefully, prayerfully and scripturally answer Calvinism. I have known George Bryson since before he was a student of mine at Western Theological Seminary. This was back a few decades when we were both much younger. If you presently share the convictions of Calvinism and are committed to the cause of Calvinism, George’s book The Dark Side of Calvinism may leave you feeling more than a little uncomfortable. For that he does not apologize. I can recommend The Dark Side of Calvinism and his earlier primer titled The Five Points of Calvinism-Weighed and Found Wanting, not only because in them he fairly represents the Reformed doctrine of salvation and damnation but because in them he also clearly and scripturally refutes the Reformed doctrine of salvation and damnation.

If you believe that what the Bible says about why some are saved and others damned is important, The Dark Side of Calvinism is must reading for you. If you are a Calvinist, it may not only make you think, but it should also help you rethink Calvinism. If you read reviews about a book before or after you read the book, you may have noticed that George’s books typically average two and ½ stars out of five. Look closer. It is not because many people rate his books with 2 and ½ stars. Rather, it is because committed Calvinists almost always give him a one star (the worst rating a book can receive) and almost everyone else that takes the time to read and rate his books gives him five stars (the best rating they can give a book). You may love The Dark Side of Calvinism because it exposes the dark side of Calvinism (in the light of Scripture) or you may hate it for the same reason (i.e., because it exposes the dark side). Either way, it is much more likely that this book will keep you awake than put you to sleep.

Dr. Earl D. Radmacher

Former President of Western Baptist Theological Seminary