Friday, April 18, 2008

Young, Restless, Reformed

Trevin Wax at Kingdom People has reviewed in several parts the new book Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists, by Collin Hansen. It's a good review, describing a book about the resurgence of Calvinism among Baptists and others, but also reacting to the phenomenon. Early in the review Wax, who is broadly sympathetic to the renewed interest in Calvinism, writes:
...My theology leans Reformed, meaning that I am probably more Calvinistic than the majority of Southern Baptists. (I would be in the category often jokingly referred to as “Christmas Calvinists.” In other words, No L.) I do not see most aspects of Calvinism as being worthy of dividing over. Neither do I believe I have been commissioned to convince others of Calvinism.

In other words, I am not so much concerned that the people in the church in which I am a pastor are able to detail the historical development of the doctrine of unconditional election, as I am concerned that my people know and believe that the Bible teaches that there is nothing in them that makes them worthy of God’s grace in salvation in Christ. I have critiqued some of the aspects of the Reformed Resurgence in other posts, even as I celebrate some of its developments. ....
Later he expresses a caution about some of the more enthusiastic expressions of Calvinistic zeal:
...I am most concerned about the testimonies that give the chapter this title: “Born Again Again.” Those who discover Calvinism speak of their experience as a second conversion, like getting saved all over again. Collin himself gives a brief testimony, where he mentions his conversion, his spiritual life after conversion, and then the difference that Calvinism made in his life. The underlying impression in his story and others is this: “God saved me, praise the Lord! But I was still missing something. I needed something more.”

Ironically, the Calvinist resurgence here resembles its arch-nemesis: Wesleyanism. The Methodists have their “Second Blessing” whereupon “perfection” is granted. This event takes place after conversion. Likewise, the Pentecostals (also Arminian!) believe that the filling of the Holy Spirit takes place after conversion, once one speaks in tongues. Salvation is terrific, but the blessing that comes after salvation is even better. Is the embrace of Calvinism much different?

These questions about “converting to Calvinism” bother me more as the book goes on. (Piper later talks about being “baptized into Calvinist theology” - an unfortunate metaphor that says more than he probably intended, but is revealing nonetheless). Students speak of Calvinism as a secret they discover that they then want to take back to their churches. The person’s journey towards Calvinist convictions sounds more Gnostic to me than Christian. We finally have the secret knowledge that no one else knows about. We are the only ones who know this. ....
The book, which I haven't read, sounds good. The review, which I have read, is excellent. Find links to all of it here.
Young, Restless, Reformed Series « Kingdom People

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