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The Problem with Evangelical Theology: Testing the Exegetical Foundations of Calvinism, Dispensationalism, and Wesleyanism [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   294
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2006
Publisher   Baylor University Press
ISBN  1932792422  
EAN  9781932792423  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
There is no doubting the legacy of the Protestant Reformers and their successors. Luther, Calvin, and Wesley not only spawned specific denominational traditions, but their writings have been instrumental in forging a broadly embraced evangelical theology as well. In this volume, Ben Witherington wrestles with some of the big ideas of these major traditional theological systems (sin, God's sovereignty, prophecy, grace, and the Holy Spirit), asking tough questions about their biblical foundations. Witherington argues that evangelicalism sometimes wrongly assumes a biblical warrant for some of its more popular beliefs, and, further, he pushes the reader to engage the larger story and plot of the Bible to understand these central elements of belief.

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More About III Ben Witherington

Ben Witherington, III Bible scholar Ben Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

Witherington has also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell. A popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has also led tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications.

Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, Witherington has been seen on the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.

Ben Witherington currently resides in the state of Kentucky. Ben Witherington was born in 1951 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Asbury Theological Seminary.

Ben Witherington has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Companions to the New Testament
  2. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General   [1495  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Calvinist   [197  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Fundamentalism   [196  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Good, but incomplete  Oct 4, 2007
Although imbalanced in many ways because of a lack of direct contact with many of the most important dispensationalist arguments and because he defends Wesleyianism more than critiques it, at least fifty-percent of his work is phenomenal.

Especially important is his detailed exegesis of Romans, which exposes the biases that come into biblical interpretation that leans toward the Calvinistic view of predestination. As a Greek scholar, I was impressed when looking at his analysis of how difficult and ambiguous much of the Greek text is at this point. He truly has a fine grasp of the Greek language (although I did find a wrong statement by him in his analysis of "eph' ho"; see below). For those unconvinced that Calvinism is true - especially in light of the rest of the counsel of scripture - and yet feeling that Romans gives indisputable proof for the Calvinist viewpoint, Ben Witherington III's analysis is bound to be a breath of fresh air. (After all, the reason the passage seems unambiguously to support Calvinism may have something to do with the fact that the the most popular early English translation of the Bible for protestants was the Geneva Bible - i.e. translated by and for Calvinists.)

Certainly Dispensationalists and Calvinists will be unhappy with his commentary, but it seems to me that their reaction is normal for anyone who has their convictions being attacked whether even-handedly or belligerently. For the most part, though, Witherington III doesn't show animosity.

** "eph' ho" in 5:12 he says cannot refer to "hamartia", but any good Greek grammar will tell you that it can if it is referring to the natural gender of "hamartia" rather than the grammatical gender; cf. Ephesians 6:17 where "ho" refers back to "makhaira"/"makhaira pneumatos" as a neuter concept not "pneumatos" as a grammatically neuter antecedent - however, it seems unlikely that "ho" refers so far back and more likely that it refers to the nearest word with the same grammatical gender "thanatos", death **
The sub-title is misleading!  Oct 12, 2006
I thought this book was going to interact exegetically with the texts that each system uses to establish itself. At least as far as the central three chapters go, on that score, this is a disappointing book. The author starts his overview of dispensational theology with the same tired arguments (posed and answered many times before) over the origins of dispensationalism along with the (apparently) obligatory derogatory language ridiculing dispensationalism. (In the culture at large, it seems the only people one can deride without fear of being called intollerant are evangelical Christians; simply deriding them/us is somehow a means to establish oneself as superior. Among evangelical scholars this role [mock-able and dismiss-able] is assigned to dispensationalists). (He apparently got some of his material from B. Rossing's really mean, poorly researched and really bad attack piece "Rapture Exposed." Please! can we just leave C. I. Scofield's undocumented past out of the discussion? How is this "testing" the exegetical foundations?) The author demonstrates a serious ignorance of dispensational theology when he claims that Matthew 24: 36-41 (p. 112) is "of course" a "favorite text to prove the rapture." Simply false; that text is about the Second Coming and no reputable dispensationalist I know claims otherwise. He conflates texts that speak of the rapture (1 Thess 4) with texts that speak of the Second Coming without a single reference to the dispensational arguments that keep such texts separate. It boils down to Witherington's assertions as to the meaning of 1 Thess 4, 5 and Matthew 24 set next to inaccurate and inadequate summaries (by Witherington) of what dispensationalists teach (see the summary list on p. 109). His discussion of the nature of prophecy is largely irrelevant to a critique of dispensationalism since many of the points he makes could be and are made by dispensational exegetes.
His overview of Romans 9-11 is not really a critique of dispensationalism, so much as his contribution to the very crowded boat-load of Romans commentators; some more some less amenable to dispensationalism. Yes, there are implications for dispensationalists given the author's take on Romans 9-11 but Witherington's view casts a shadow over many alternate interpretations and is by no means the most sound (see Moo, Romans: NICNT, among others).
If you are a non-dispensationalist looking for a fair overview of the system this book is clearly not it.
Tough but Fair  Aug 18, 2006
Witherington presents a tough but fair examination of the biblical foundations of some major schools of thought in theology today.

Regardless of your current shifting wind ideals regarding the church, how you read Scripture and therefore what conclusions you arrive at are most likely influenced by either Calvinism, Dispensationalism, or Wesleyanism...whether you know it or not.

If you can handle a tough but fair analysis of the biblical footing of these 3 theological camps, enjoy. If sound exegesis and fair Historical-Critical/Grammatical analysis of certain key conclusions upsets your pastoral theology, run away. Fast. However, if you are willing to engage the text along with Witherington, and argue from the same material with him, you will find this book a very engaging conversation, one which will help you lose some of the Chaff that tends to gather in all of us over time.

I personally would commend the book to American pastors who are much more influenced by Dispensationalism than they often realize, and urge them to take a long, hard look at the wafer-thin foundation for much of Dispensationalism. It may hurt, but like exercise, it will benefit you if you can tough it out. If nothing else, please read chapters 5,6,7, and weigh what the NT is TRULY saying regarding Israel.

5-star reading! Enjoy!

An informative study of the traditions, practices, and writings of the evangelist church  Apr 8, 2006
The Problem With Evangelical Theology: Testing The Exegetical Foundations Of Calvinism, Dispensationalism, And Wesleyanism by Ben Witherington (Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary) is an informative study of the traditions, practices, and writings of the evangelist church. With great depth and scholarly insight, Witherington covers many spectra of the faith with analysis on sin, God's sovereignty, prophesy, grace and the Holy Spirit. The Problem With Evangelical Theology is highly recommended to all students of the Evangelical Christian faith for its inevitably informational content, as well as to readers of general religious information or reference books.
Weighing the foundations.  Feb 25, 2006
I greatly enjoyed this book and the intellectual challenge it gave me. As others have noted, Witherington challenges the foundational beliefs of Calvinism, Dispensationalism and Weslyan-Arminianism. That's a key point. Witherington does not go over every proof text each system uses to prove their point. He goes after the initial interpretations of scripture that led each group down their respective theological paths. A warning though, this is not standard Christian pulp writing that puts forth ideas that any new Christian can grasp. It's a bit on the technical side with lots of references to greek words and phrases. In most cases he translates their meaning. This is not a bad thing if you enjoy a little work along with your reading. I would recommend this book to anyone with a somewhat open mind and a desire to get at the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

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