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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Reflections on Young, Restless, and Reformed Article

I guess that I would qualify as someone who is “young, restless, and reformed,” so I was particularly interested in the cover story in the current edition of Christianity Today written by Collin Hansen. As a student in the “Reformed hotbed” of Southern Seminary and one who has a shelf of straw men and caricatures of those who have misrepresented the Reformed community, I was concerned that Hansen would just follow suit. However, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised and greatly encouraged. First, let’s observe what Hansen did not say. He did not pull a “Yarnell” and call current evangelical Calvinists “hyper-Calvinists,” nor did he throw out the unhelpful label came with such unfamiliar and undefined terms of “neo-Calvinist” which usually is used in a pejorative sense. With that said, the article is refreshingly free from the usual rhetoric and bias which so often comprises magazine and newspaper articles which cover Calvinism (the exception, of course, is Yarnell and Lemke in the article). Second, consider who he interviewed. Starting with Piper (who unquestionably has made the greatest impact on the young Calvinists), he met with Joshua Harris, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever. He reported from first-hand encounters and represented their comments in a praiseworthy manner. Furthermore, Hansen was consistent and thorough in his research as he also interviewed some of the young guys from across the country. When we so often hear reporters use quotes and say, “Some people” or “A lot of people” or any other vague generalizations, you know they did not do their homework and their credibility sinks tremendously. Contrary to this, Hansen was direct, personal, and objective - something which I was appreciative of. Third, Hansen gave a balanced perspective as he included comments from Roger Olson, Malcolm Yarnell, and Steve Lemke who are far from being sympathetic to the Reformed movement in the evangelical world. For the purpose of this article, I am not going to delve into their statements, even as I believe that they (especially Yarnell and Lemke) have sufficiently addressed in the past. Fourth, Hansen gave proper attention to the historical perspective of the Reformed faith. Not only are people reading Luther and Calvin today, they are increasingly interested in the Puritans, Particular Baptists, and for those in the SBC the Founders of our convention. While some would like to argue that Calvinism is a “philosophical system of logic” where people are blinded by teachings of some scholars (as Dr. Frank Page would argue), one little history lesson will reveal that Calvinism is classical Christianity pure and simple. Finally, Hansen got to the heart of the matter with 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. Hansen commented that, “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.” Standing and worshipping with over 3,000 Reformed brothers a couple months ago at the Together for the Gospel Conference was just a snapshot of this reality. As I conclude my reflections on Hansen’s article, I notice that LifeWay is slated to begin its first of four studies of Calvinism in the SBC. Lead by Dr. Brad Waggoner, formerly from this hotbed of Southern Seminary, I hope that the research and study will be fair and make critiques where critiques need to be made. I also hope LifeWay will exhibit the same journalistic integrity and thorough reporting as this article. I have high hopes that this will be the case, so maybe that will help some of us youngin’s be a little less restless. One last admonition needs to be said, and it comes from Joshua Harris himself as he shared his personal testimony. Mine was very similar, as I suspect it is for many people who first encounter an "ugly" Calvinist. Here is what Harris said:

"I remember some of the first encounters I had with Calvinists. . . . I'm sorry to say that they represented the doctrines of grace with a total lack of grace. They were spiteful, cliquish, and arrogant. I didn't even stick around to understand what they were teaching. I took one look at them and knew I didn't want any part of it."
God forbid that such a testimony is experienced among the "young, restless, and reformed." If Calvinism produces anything, it is as Harris calls a "humble orthodoxy" - one which causes a person to be staggered by grace, fervently loving to the brethren, and relentlessly merciful to the lost.


Blogger The Hedonese said...

Just came back from a visit to Bethlehem Baptist and witnessed firsthand these young and restless Calvinists who are yearning to lay their life down for mission to the glory of God! May the Lord raise up a similar Asian Awakening

9/12/2006 09:03:00 PM

Blogger mh said...

Refreshing to read some Reformed sympathy for this movement. There are some in what they would call the "truly" Reformed churches who are actually quite antagonistic to us 'gentiles' who are winsomely and excitedly embracing Reformed theology. So sad...

9/26/2006 11:13:00 PM


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