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Thursday, September 07, 2006

CT Review: Hallelujah!!!!

I just got a chance to read the September edition of Christianity Today. Here are some quotes [and my thoughts] from the cover story:

Young, Restless, Reformed--Calvinism is making a comeback, and shaking up the church
by Collin Hansen
Reformed theology often goes by the name Calvinism, after the renowned 16th-century Reformation theologian John Calvin. Yet even Edwards rejected the label, saying he neither depended on Calvin nor always agreed with him.
This is my understanding of how the word "reformed" should be used. Reformed does not have to imply Israel and the church are the same thing. Reformed does not have to imply an amillennial perspective. And those of us who believe T.U.L.I.P. do not do so because we are Calvin disciples, but because we believe that is what the Bible teaches. (By the way, Alexander Mack was a reformer. In fact, we are all called to be reforming.)
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.
An astute observation that I would say I have seen validated personally.
Lemke [provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary] noted that Calvinism has periodicallly waxed and waned among Southern Baptists. "However, the number of Calvinist faculty dramatically increased [starting in the 1980's and] over the next 20 years." Lemke and many others explained that Calvinists like [R. Albert] Mohler earned leadership roles during the SBC's inerrancy battles due to their reliably conservative theology. Their academic and biblical rigor suited them for seminary positions.
According to the article, Lemke is not pleased by this trend. In fact, he later states:
"For many people, if they're convinced that God has already elected those who will be elect...I don't see how humanly speaking that can't temper your passion because you know you're not that crucial to the process."
I'll tackle Lemke's inadequate observation in a future post some time. (For his thought is not a unique objection.) However, for now I would simply ask if he sees the link between Mohler being a Calvinist and also being "conservative (theologically)," and showing "academic and biblical rigor" as merely coincidental? These do not appear to be unrelated issues to me, but rather that Mohler is well equipped to lead an institution because he holds to a sufficiency of Scripture that causes him not to back away from some doctrines others might disagree with.
Calinistic Baptists often told me they have less of a problem with churches that don't teach election than with churches that downplay doctrine in general.
I'm not a Calvinist Baptist and I've never played one on TV, but I can say that I agree with this statement. Do I believe a person can be serious about God and the study of doctrine and not be a Calvinist? Yes. (Though typically, I find that they probably believe Calvinism, they just don't realize what it means, or don't want the label. I know a Nazarene who is a Calvinist, he just plays some semmantic games to keep from having to call himself one.) I get more concerned for churches (and specifically pastors) who want to avoid the topic altogether. Why wouldn't a person want to study the process of their conversion?
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."
I don't like the term "Calvinist" because it sounds like my convictions are based on the thoughts of a fallible man. I don't like the term "reformed," because people panic and assume I think the Church is Israel and that we live in the millenium now (I believe neither). I would love to say "Biblical" but I realize that is terribly condescending to those with a different perspective.

The article presents the negative reputation Calvinism has carried with it. I think many of those thoughts are addressed with some very fine quotes from Josh Harris. I will post his quotes [and my thoughts] in a future post. (Don't want to make this post too long and scare away the three of you that read it through to the end!) But I will say that the article caused me to praise God for the work He has done in my life!


  • At 3:17 PM, Blogger Brad said…

    Encouraging. We'll keep working on the church/Israel millennial thing. After all, Calvin said...


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