My Five Favourite Non-Calvinist Preachers/Writers

One of my personal gripes with being Calvinist is that f0lks assume you only listen to other Calvinists. Now to a degree, that can’t be helped – a lot of preaching outside of reformed circles is, frankly, the highest grade of wack.  If you want to challenge me on this…I have a looooooong list of names. Or you could watch TBN, GOD TV, The Word Network – nine times out of ten, it’s spiritual garbage.

A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer 

A member of the Christian & Missionary Alliance for many yearsI enjoyed reading The Knowledge of the Holy Spirit a few years ago and catching a little of Tozer’s vision of a “big God” – and if you’ve read it, you know it’s an infectious vision!

Warren Wiersbe
Warren Wiersbe

Warren Wiersbe

For years, the Bible teacher with Back to the Bible Radio, Dr Wiersbe is probably my favourite non-Calvinist expositor. Author of the popular BE series, Dr Wiersbe has a gift for weaving accurate handling of the text with soul-piercing application. I’ve probably learned more about how application of the text works from reading his commentary on passages as I prepare material for classes, Sunday school lessons, etc.

J. Vernon McGee

The first time I heard J. Vernon McGee, I was a new believer listening to Premier Radio, the big Christian radio station that we have out here in London. My dad practically swore by Premier Radio as a good hub for Christian material (I wouldn’t agree today) but there was something very different to this man with the most distinctive accent I had ever heard on someone speaking English with the unique proposition of just teaching through the Bible within five years. I will confess that I was curious and kept on listening as this guy did something that, years later, I would finally “get”. What was more – by the time I listened to his ministry on the radio, he’d been dead…for 16 years. He had gone home to glory that long and yet the teaching sounded as relevant as ever. There’s something to be said for that. (And yes…I’ve got back on “the Bible Bus” in the last year or so – currently in Hebrews 5 ;))

Howard Hendricks

“Prof”, as he was known to his many students, authored a book which has been influential in my attempts to have the Bible faithfully. That book is called Living by the Book – and it is a book that I personally would give to every new Christian so they had a grasp on how to study the Word.

Chuck Smith

The Calvary Chapel dude, Kofi!?!?!?!? Yes, that Chuck Smith. Hear me on this. There would be areas of significant disagreement that exist between Calvinistically-oriented types and Calvary Chapels. Some would even argue those differences to be deal-breakers (“They’re Arminian”, “They’re dispensational”, “They have a jacked-up ecclesiology”, etc.)

But consider this with me for a second. Smith, for all of that, was a man committed to the preaching and teaching of the Word. He used his influences over so many to further that commitment to the Word of God. I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of Pastor Chuck’s teaching and found him to be Christ-exalting, intentional about being Biblical and (honestly speaking), a little more warmhearted in his approach than some of my reformed brothers. There’s something we can all learn from such an approach in our preaching and teaching of the Word.

37 thoughts on “My Five Favourite Non-Calvinist Preachers/Writers

  1. Chuck Smith? Really? The guy who taught Jesus would return in 1981. You have got to be kidding me.
    Also, McGee is an ‘old earther’ and so is discredited by literalists.

    1. Didn’t claim they were perfect in everything they taught, sir – but I find a lot to emulate in these men. Apologies if this wasn’t to your taste but this is kinda my blog…

      1. It’s your blog. Fine, but if you allow people to comment, don’t expect every comment to agree with you and don’t be so rude and arrogant when people do disagree. Obviously you have a lot to learn about life – Christian or otherwise.

        1. Mr. Jones, you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder. It would be my encouragement to take a breath, spend some time in prayer and devotion, and reflect on your current and past conflicts to figure out why you’re so quick to criticize this young man.

      2. There is no one alive who has a complete handle on all things God. Why would anyone expect anything else? Every one of the Reformers had errors. The idea is to be knowledgeable/wise enough to discern truth in every instance, and “Be ye Holy” is our challenge/marching order!

        Once I figured this out, the rest seems like a side show or distraction. Just as in most things of God, our first intention is to work on worldly things(motivation) and by doing that we work through our progressive sanctification. I now am convinced that all those things will fall away in our minds as Holiness gets nearer,

        If you’d like a taste of my “stuff”, check out my disciple page on Facebook…it’s brand new and hope to get some discussion going eventually.


    2. I didn’t think he was an old earther, he said he didn’t know or care how old the earth was, what mattered to him was Jesus. I love Mcghee and I lean to calvins teaching.

  2. Wow. You invite comments then treat visitors with such rudeness. I could suggest a few Bible verses for you, but you act like you don’t need any. You won’t get far with your attitude. I’ll pray for you. God Bless.

    1. I wasn’t being rude – I was reminding Steve that if he agreed, he could have stopped reading and not post a smug comment.

    1. I most certainly am not either Jane or Steve but I agree wholeheartedly with them. I didn’t perceive Steve’s comment to be smug at all, just a reader who did not agree commenting. If you don’t want honest comments then don’t allow comments. I think it takes a defensive and insecure individual to read that into his comments. You were reminding Steve that “if he did not agree he could have stopped reading”, so…..you only want people to agree with what you say to read you opinions?
      If you are a Christian and are going to invite readers to comment then you really need to be much more gracious. You are after all showing Jesus to the world. Perhaps the only Jesus some will see. Less knee-jerk defensiveness and more gracious love, courtesy and kindness would probably be beneficial.

  3. Getting back to the point of the blog…

    My 5 non reformed:

    1. AW Tozer
    2. Carter Conlon
    3. Leonard Ravenhill
    4. David Wilkerson
    5. Chuck Missler (only on selective things).

  4. Innteresting list I do agree with three of your choices. I’ll accept that you have your reasons as do I. The sad state of some of these comments is heart breaking to me. Think of this: there is no doubt that there are some readers reading these comments are not impressed with people who profess to be followers of Jesus. — think about it the next time you pray, or attempt to pray!

  5. Great list. I love listening to/reading most of these guys.And I agree with your top comment. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a channel that only televised people like Piper, Keller, Carson etc. ? Would love to turn on TBN and not be bombarded with Meyer, Osteen, Hinn, and the newest and most scary addition, Joseph Prince.

  6. Predestination: God’s Plan for His Own :: Warren
    God has made this universe to operate a day at a time. And you and I are supposed to live a day at a time.
    God’s promise is “As thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut. 33:25). You and I are able to live a day at a
    time because of the fact that God is in control.
    Have you ever walked into a group of people in the middle of a conversation and felt uneasy because you
    did not know what was going on? Have you ever started to read in the middle of a book? When we walk
    into the middle of something such as that, we get frustrated because we are not sure what’s going on.
    Many people today are not sure what is going on. Change is taking place so rapidly and so radically these
    days that people are afraid. Some people are even rebellious. Rebellion, after all, is fear turned inside
    out. Some people become sick or nervous from life’s pressures and then withdraw, using their illness as an
    excuse. Some people even commit suicide because they cannot take the pressures of life.
    For life to be meaningful, we have to know where we came from, why we are here and where we are
    going. Of course, many people have philosophies that try to give those facts. The Communist talks about
    economic forces and class struggle. The evolutionist has his solution to the problem in his doctrine of the
    survival of the fittest. The agnostic says, “Well, we just don’t know; we’re living by chance or by luck.
    Enjoy today because tomorrow may not come. Do your own thing.” He has a fatalistic philosophy of life.
    And then we have the people who are superstitious. They study the stars, they consult astrological charts,
    they might even dabble in the occult. But the Christian doesn’t need any of this because the Christian has
    his Bible, and the Bible teaches us that God is in control.
    What I want to share with you is all wrapped up in the word “predestination.” The minute you mention
    that word, some people get nervous because right in the middle of predestination is the word “destiny.” It
    sounds so fatalistic, it sounds so frightening. The Christian is not afraid of life. He is not afraid to live a
    day at a time because he has his confidence in God and knows that God is in control.
    Romans 8:28‐30 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to
    them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to
    be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover
    whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom
    he justified, them he also glorified.”
    We have in these three verses God’s wonderful plan for His people. We are going to study this word
    “predestinate” because when you understand it, you will be able to relax and not worry about what is
    going on around you.
    The word “predestinate” is used only six times in the New Testament. It is not always translated that way.
    It is the Greek word proorizo. You say, “Well, what does that mean?’ Pro means “beforehand,” and orizo
    means “to mark out.” Our word “horizon” comes from that word. The horizon is that area marked out
    before us that separates the sky from the land.
    Let’s answer three questions about predestination, and in answering these questions, calm our fears and
    assure our hearts.
    What Does Predestination Mean?
    Question number one: What does predestination mean? Predestination is God’s eternal plan to make His
    own children like the Lord Jesus Christ. The English prefix “pre” means beforehand, and “destinate” means
    destiny. “Predestination” means a destination planned beforehand. Predestination simply affirms that God
    has an eternal plan for His children. The destiny He has planned for them is that they shall be like the
    Lord Jesus Christ. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of
    his Son” (Rom. 8:29).
    7/13/2015 Predestination: God’s Plan for His Own :: Warren Wiersbe
    http://www.2prophetu.com/templates/!print/details.asp?id=35585&PG=resources&CID=18118 2/4
    You should note some important facts about predestination. First of all, predestination applies only to the
    saved. I do not know any place in the Bible where it says that God predestines people to go to hell. I do
    not find any place in the Word of God where we are told that God predestines people to be lost. Quite the
    contrary is true. He tells us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.
    Does the Bible teach election? It certainly does. “He hath chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation
    of the world” (Eph. 1:4). Does this mean that we cannot share the Gospel with everybody? No, it doesn’t.
    You and I do not know who God’s elect are. Predestination teaches us that God’s elect one day are going
    to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a single verse that I know of in Scripture which says that God
    has predestined people to go to hell.
    Two contrasting verses are found in Matthew 25. Verse 34 says, “Then shall the King say unto them on his
    right hand [saved people], Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the
    foundation of the world.” In verse 41 we read: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand [lost
    people], Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Verse 41
    does not say, “Prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.” He did say to the saved that the
    kingdom had been prepared for them from the foundation of the world.
    Predestination comes from the heart of a loving Father. We must never think of predestination as some
    cold program that God worked out in the distant glories of eternity. Ephesians 1:4, 5 says, “According as
    he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame
    before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.” How has He
    predestinated us? In love. Predestination is the wise plan of a loving Father, and He is going to work out
    His plan.
    Something else is true. Predestination is only part of the total plan. Five key factors are mentioned in
    Romans 8:29,30, and we should look at them in some detail.
    How Does Predestination Work?
    Question number two: How does predestination work? According to Romans 8:29 predestination begins
    with foreknowledge: “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.” Foreknowledge does not simply
    mean “to know beforehand.” There are those who teach that God knew beforehand who would believe;
    therefore, He predestinated them to be saved. That’s backward. If God only foresees future events, then
    what makes these events certain? An event must be made certain before it can be known as certain, and
    only God can make events certain.
    To foreknow means to choose beforehand, to set your love upon someone. This is all by God’s grace. God
    in His grace sets His love upon, He sets His heart upon, certain ones who are going to be saved. That is
    where it all begins‐with God’s gracious foreknowledge.
    Either salvation is by grace, totally from the loving heart of God, or there is no salvation at all.
    God sets His love upon, He sets His heart upon, certain ones. These certain ones are predestinated, then,
    to be conformed to the image of Christ. Of course, this involved the death of Christ, and even that was
    predestined. Acts 4:27,28 says, “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both
    Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do
    whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” The death of Christ was not an
    accident; it was predestined by a loving Father.
    Predestination simply means that one day you are going to be like Jesus Christ. It begins with
    foreknowledge, and it involves being called by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:30 says, “Moreover whom he did
    predestinate, them he also called.” This calling comes through human agency.
    Don’t ever get the idea that because God has elected some and these whom He has elected are
    predestined to go to heaven, that Christians should do nothing. “But we are bound to give thanks always
    to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to
    salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our
    gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 2:13,14). Those whom God elects
    and foreknows, He predestines, and those whom He predestines, He calls. That is why we have a ministry
    of sharing the Word of God. That is why we witness and pray.
    7/13/2015 Predestination: God’s Plan for His Own :: Warren Wiersbe
    http://www.2prophetu.com/templates/!print/details.asp?id=35585&PG=resources&CID=18118 3/4
    Those who are called and who respond to that call are justified‐declared righteous. Those whom He
    justifies, He also glorifies. Again notice the past tense of that verb: “And whom he justified, them he also
    glorified” (Rom. 8:30).
    This is God’s total plan. What begins with foreknowledge ends with glory. Predestination simply declares
    that God’s people are going to make it‐they will one day be conformed to the image of Christ.
    What Does Predestination Mean Today?
    Now our third question: What does predestination mean to us today as believers? Please keep in mind that
    Paul wrote Romans to ordinary people, common people, not theologians, not philosophers. The
    theologians wrestle with some of these things, but Paul did not write Romans to theologians. He wrote
    for common people, and he knew they could understand it if they would just open their heart to the
    Salvation Is Bigger Than We Think
    What does predestination mean to us today? First of all, it means that salvation is much bigger than what
    we think. Your salvation is not a minor incident; it is part of an eternal plan. God is so gracious that,
    from all eternity, He has planned that we shall be conformed to the image of His Son. Don’t ever allow
    salvation to become a minor thing.
    It is a big thing, far bigger than we realize. It is a part of a great eternal plan.
    God Is Bigger Than Our Trials
    Second, predestination means that God is much bigger than our trials and our troubles. Notice Romans
    8:31: “What shall we then say to these things?” What things? The facts that we are foreknown,
    predestined, called, justified and already glorified. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” In the rest
    of Romans 8 Paul spelled out so beautifully that God is bigger than all of our sufferings and trials.
    You may hurt today. Things may be falling apart today. But I want you to know that if you are saved, you
    are a part of something eternal and big and wonderful and glorious. God is bigger than any trouble you
    may go through.
    No Christian Will Be Lost
    Third, it means that no true Christian will ever be lost. There can be no separation from God. God started
    this great salvation, and God is going to see it to completion. God knew what was happening long before
    these things ever took place. I cannot believe that any true Christian can ever be lost because he is a part
    of a great eternal plan.
    God’s plan of salvation was secure from all eternity. The Lamb was slain from before the foundation of
    the world (see Rev. 13:8). God is not caught by surprise. God is not depending on your strength or mine.
    “Whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). God is so sure that we are going to heaven, He
    has already glorified us. All we are waiting for is the revelation of that glory.
    We Live by Faith
    This leads us to a fourth application: We have to live by faith, not by sight. God knows what He is doing.
    Jacob was walking by sight when he said, “All these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36). Really,
    everything was working for him. So walk by faith, not by sight, and let God have His way.
    We Must Obey God
    Finally, we must obey God and share in His purpose. He is working out His beautiful plan in your life, so
    don’t be afraid, and don’t be alarmed, God has everything all taken care of. Just trust Him, obey Him and
    7/13/2015 Predestination: God’s Plan for His Own :: Warren Wiersbe
    http://www.2prophetu.com/templates/!print/details.asp?id=35585&PG=resources&CID=18118 4/4
    walk with Him. Pray and believe, and one of these days, with all of God’s people, you will end up in
    ©Warren W. Wiersbe, Key Words of the Christian Life (Lincoln: Back to the

  7. Great list. I respect and have had the pleasure of learning from all five. Chuck Smith was instrumental in bringing me to the faith 35 years ago and my Savor more recently used Chuck to bring me back to the fold having ran from the “Hound of Heaven.”

    I just purchased Wiersbe 6-volume commentary and my pastor suggested H.H.s work on inductive study.

    But my favorite go to preachers are Piper and Keller.

    Having recently moved from ebible, logos, to paper, I am challenging my study with the likes of Sproul, Carson, and MacArthur in an attempt to make sense of Calvinism and dispensationalism.

    My pastor is not and that is OK with both of us.

  8. Love your initial list Kofi and what I love about the guys on that list is they consistently all focused their teachings on the major things Jesus focused on in his ministry and teachings…majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors…there is plenty to unite us if we focus on those things that are the majors IMHO. And the more united we are, maybe our collective light is a little brighter in this dark world we all share. 3:16 are still the #’s of hope. Whoesoever! dd

    1. More than once, he also puts forward a position that is more in line with an unlimited atonement than the classical Calvinist position.

      1. To me, it comes down to who Jesus is talking to when he says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”, He happens to be talking to the ELECT. This pretty well defines the difference for me. My old Methodist church thought it was a universal standing, when it was purposefully selective.

  9. Another one goes astray. Warren Wiersbe has endorsed the psuedologon bible: “The Message is the boldest and most provocative rendering of the New Testament I’ve ever read. If you’ve become so comfortable with your Bible reading that the Scriptures no longer excite you, then this book is what you need.” —WARREN W. WIERSBE

  10. I was preparing to go to Nyack College. Before I left there was one burning question I had in mind, and I went to Dr. Tozer and said, “Could you give me some advice concerning the problem of Calvinism versus Arminianism?”

    And I’ll never forget the advice he gave me. At the time I thought it was rather inconclusive and not too helpful. But I listened carefully. He said, “My son, when you get to college you’re going to find that all of the boys will be gathered in a room discussing and arguing over Arminianism and Calvinism night after night after night. I’ll tell you what to do, Cliff. Go to your room and meet God. At the end of four years you’ll be way down the line and they’ll still be where they started, because [b]greater minds than yours have wrestled with this problem and have not come up with satisfactory conclusions.[/b] Instead, learn to know God.” (emphasis mine)

    Cliff Westergren

  11. Hey Brother, thanks for the article! I am neither Arminian or Calvinist (I believe in free will and eternal security) and I totally agree with those five guys you listed. Chuck Smith was a little on the edge with some prophetic items but a super solid Bible teacher. Hey, I gotta be honest though. Having many Reformed friends I can confirm they rarely read, quote or listen to anyone not Reformed. That is sad. Although I don’t agree with Reformed theology I listen to Reformed preachers and, being in an E-Free Church, we often use books for Bible studies by Reformed authors. Thanks again for one of those rare, balanced posts that are all too infrequent online.

  12. I stand by my comments. He didn’t actually engage with the material – just posted a drive-by comment and left. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but I do expect the courtesy of more than a flippant engagement with my writing. Graciousness does not mean accepting every criticism as though it were true, especially when it is clearly not well thought out. Even Jesus had some pointed words for bad critics – see Matt 23.

    1. I enjoy all your picks as well, but find it troubling when I read mean spirited comments that are directed toward you, and coming from professing Christians. I guess if one believes they are elect and can not possibly be wrong, it gives them the “freedom” to be mean.

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