Calvinism, Coming to a Young Christian Near You!

Click image to purchase at WTS Books

There’s a book out chronicling the resurgence of Calvinism among the, pardon the expression (keep in mind, I’m using it correctly), emerging generation of teens, twenty-, and thirty-somethings (including myself) who are disillusioned with the shallow theology and over-emphasis on you name it, revivalism, pietism, experientialism, commercialism of the twentieth century. As you know, the list of misguided varieties could go on.

So many of us who’ve grown up as a either a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian have come to the conclusion that what is needed is for the church to get back to the basics of what it means to be a Christian. The basics of Christianity as understood in a broader way than just re-examining my Bible and reconstructing my own version of what I think is the clear teaching of Scripture regarding faith and practice (which is what most of the previous generation think it means to get back to the basics).

Such a tactic is part of the problem–it’s too self-centered and individualistic and often far too reductionistic. It’s not a matter of just throwing out current traditions and starting over with a clean slate. It’s not about reinventing the wheel–those are the kinds that never turn out round. What I’m talking about is getting on the right track–yes, the most biblical track, the most Christian track, the most Protestant track, the most truly evangelical track–a track I didn’t lay myself, but was laid by the faithful followers of Christ who genuinely changed the world in their generation as did the first century apostolic generation.

What generation am I talking about? I’m talking about the generation that laid the tracks of conservative evangelical, confessionally Reformed, Christ-centered Protestant theology. The generation identified in the history books as the Reformers.

I read once that Socrates is known for saying, “Sometimes regress is progress.” The bill of goods that we were sold in the 20th century told us that what’s happening now is better than what happened back then. The present is always preferable to the past. The new is more relevant than the old. Well, some of us have learned that sticking “new and improved” on something doesn’t mean a thing. Some of us have learned that if conservative evangelical, or fundamentalist Christianity is going to make any progress, we’re going to have to regress back to a time when things were genuinely being done right and learn from both their successes and mistakes, receiving the faith in tact as handed down by them and not as re-imagined by modern philosophical influences, be they pragmatism, modernism or post-modernism. Progress will only come through this kind of regress.

Second Timothy 2:2 puts it best: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” But lots of people are entrusting lots of things to lots of “faithful men.” Which version of Christianity is best? There’s a number of us in this new generation who are firmly convinced that what the apostolic churches passed on to faithful men who led the post-apostolic generation, got deformed in the medieval era and was reformed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is the “basics” to which the 21st Century generation of Christians needs to get back to. So much that has transpired since the Reformation era leaves so much to be desired that we don’t trust much of it at all. That’s why we’re turning to Calvinism, also known as Reformed theology.

Journalist Collin Hansen has written Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists. It tells our story. Martin Downes has reviewed the book over at Reformation21.org. Read all about it, then find your place in the 21st Century Reformation.

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11 responses

  1. I just want to observe that this is a good emergence and I ask this question:

    What should we expect among the living who are coming forth in a world ruled by the devils, who, it seems at times have the upper hand in the Christian world we are a part of too?

    “God is dead”, was the slogan in the sixties, if I am not mistaken, as a rebellion emerged against systematic authority around the world. I hadn’t a clue what that meant seeing I can not remember in 55 years when I ever thought that that was true.

    God is not dead and Christ is still building A Church for the Most High to dwell:

    Psa 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
    Psa 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
    Psa 46:6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
    Psa 46:7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

  2. I liked the book, although it does seem to over emphasize the “new” calvinism of Mars Hill, vs. the traditional (experimental) calvinism at Tenth Pres. Not a bad look at the “New” calvinism though. I do like the fact that it does focus on “calvinism” be passionately lived out. That comes through in spades.

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  3. Gage,

    I haven’t read the book myself, just got excited and wanted people to know it was out there. The review to which I linked, though, mentions that there is at least some representation of the ministry of J. Ligon Duncan’s ministry at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of what it says about traditional Calvinism like Duncan’s?

  4. It mentions it, but the thrust is that “calvinism’s” resurgence is through ministries like Mahaney, Josh harris, and Mark Driscoll etc… almost as if, “calvinism” is expected in Presby churches, but not independants and baptists..

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  5. So it treats real Calvinism as old news. But I believe your testimony would be that many of the Baptists, specifically, do find themselves moving toward the Presbyterian Church, right? It was the case in your dad’s experience, and many with whom you go to church, and I count myself among them in spirit and doctrine, if not yet in fact.

  6. No…I wouldn’t say that. I would say that it seems that his point is the growth in popularity is due to guys like Piper, Driscoll, Mohler, Mahaney and Josh Harris rather than Boice, Horton, Riddlebarger, Ryken and Duncan. I would also echo that sentiment.

    Certainly the rise in popularity of “Calvinism” in Baptist and Indy…ranks would be attributable to those men…who are Baptist and Indy…because it is hard to have a rise of popularity in Calvinism among Reformed and Presbyterians, because…well…we are Calvinists…but that’s not necessarily true with indy’s and baptists..

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  7. Gage and John

    I can not speak of you or why any whose rise in Calvinism comes. I can speak for myself though seeing my response even though I consider myself the least learned of him or any other Theologian dead or alive who opens up and explains True doctrines and makes clear the doctrines of demons.

    When you touch on Calvin and quote him hereon or at another blog or when someone pastes one of his quotations and or attributions with a clear explanation of what was just presented, a clear thinking mind would, I suspect, easily rise up to him and listen and learn something from them. I do.

    I do not go out of my way to learn about any of these guys. I do spend my time dividing up the Words of God and thrill everytime someone is used by God, dead or alive, to make the Words of God plain in meaning and “come alive” within me.

    I am more of an idealist and not so pragmatic so I thrill every time, John, when you challenge me to get my thoughts out of the air and down to earth! I know I know what I mean and why? So, shouldn’t you? 🙂

    Now that I am thinking about you Gage, it’s really been awhile since I was thinking of rock and roll like I have been these last several days! 🙂 or should it be :grrrrrrr?

  8. Michael,
    Very well said…and your sentiment is mine. Now about Rock and Roll…gotta be careful here…I’m a “fundy” blog…just trying to strike a little balance with the theology…a little fun now and then is ok, even for those who are frozen chosen.

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  9. Gage,

    Alright. I know Piper is credited with much of the resurgence of Calvinism in the SBC, at least, according to one SBC newspaper, but as for me, it was Horton. Pure and simple.

    PS–My home computer is down, so I’m not sure how much posting will be going on for the time being. But I’ll be commenting here and there.

  10. For me it was Horton as well…he doesn’t get near enough credit…

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  11. […] and Love Wins with Kevin DeYoung, a leader of the so-called “New Calvinism,” or “The Young, Restless and Reformed” movement, the orthodox alternative to the postmodern liberalism of Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, […]

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