What’s IN and what’s OUT in The Church today?
Thanks to Irish Calvinist — a spirited, intellectual blog that is a delight to read, I caught wind that the current issue of Christianity Today is highlighting Calvinism with a cover story entitled, “Young, Restless, and Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback — and shaking up the church.”
The past few years, Ron and I have been on a journey toward Calvinism (Read, Dad: Not Determinism, and not Fatalism). We thought God was leading us individually toward interesting revelations of His Nature and Being…we felt so special…
Well, it appears we were not alone. And the Church is beginning to take notice.
Recently in Reformed Theology: Boxers or Brief, I quoted Marc Driscoll,
“The two hot theologies today are Reformed and emerging. Reformed theology offers certainty, with a masculine God who names our sin, crushes Jesus on the Cross for it, and sends us to hell if we fail to repent. Emerging theology offers obscurity, with a neutered God who would not say an unkind word to us, did not crush Jesus for our sins, and would not send anyone to hell.”
My sister recently said that we need to watch not for the Emerging Church but for the Resurging Church! According to Christianity Today, “While the Emergent ‘conversation’ gets a lot of press for its appeal to the young, the new Reformed movement may be a larger and more pervasive phenomenon. It certainly has a much stronger institutional base.”
Dave Chang, a Christian Believer from Malaysia and author of the blog Confessions of a Hedonese, gives his thoughts on this article and the resurgence of Reformed theology in in Young, Restless and Reformed Asians and Winds of Change. He thinks the 3 greatest draws of Calvinism are 1) the robust and coherent theology (that many of us have missed in our anti-intellectual Christian culture with its emphasis on personal experience), 2) the tendency of Reformed Believers to engage their Christianity in all spheres of life (avoiding a compartmentalized life of religious v. secular) and 3) the fact that much of Reform theology is grouded solidly in scripture (causing many who desire to avoid theological “labels” or “putting God in a box” to surprisingly find themselves squarely in the Calvinist camp).
In the Christianity Today article, Joshua Harris is quoted as saying it was that the theological depth attracted him to Calvinism. “Once you’re exposed to [doctrine],” he said, “you see the richness in it for your own soul, and you’re ruined for anything else…I just think there’s such a hunger for the transcendent and for a God who is not just sitting around waiting for us to show up so that the party can get started.”
I think the best thing about this theological movement is that it isn’t heavy-handed, but rather humble. This resurgence of Calvinism includes a heart and legs.
According to Christianity Today,
“Those fearing a new pitched battle [on Free Will v. Election] can rest easy. That’s not because the debate will go away–for the foreseeable future, the spread of Calvinism will force many evangelicals to pick sides. And it’s not because mission will trump doctrine–young people seem to reject this dichotomy.
“It’s because the young Calvinists value theological systems far less than God and his Word. Whatever the cultural factors, many Calvinist converts respond to hallmark passages like Romans 9 and Ephesians 1. “I really don’t like to raise any banner of Calvinism or Reformed theology,” said Eric Lonergan, a 23-year-old University of Minnesota graduate. ‘Those are just terms. I just like to look at the Word and let it speak for itself.’ “
Provocations and Pantings says that the Christianity Today article got to the heart of the resurgence of Calvinism today:
“It has to do with a proper view of God, God’s gospel, God’s grace, and God’s glory. Notice the common feature is God. I was encouraged greatly to hear the testimonies of some of the young folk who said that the issue is not five points, Geneva, or some theological abstractions. Rather, it is truths that make your hearts sing as Piper put it, truths that, as Harris rightly noted, cause us to shake our heads going, “It’s unbelievable. Why would God choose any of us?” Indeed, God’s grace is amazing grace. From beginning to end, Calvinism leads one to have a God-saturated life where everything is seen and measured by God’s glory.”
Irish Calvinist points out that historically, with return to “Reformed,” or solid, biblical theololgy, comes REVIVAL. Oh, yes! My heart leaps within me at this thought — the idea that The Church, youth ministry, and my children’s generation of Christians may indeed be moving towards thinking more biblically, towards revival? What an uplifting and exciting thought!
For more blogger voices on this issue of Christianity Today: