Young, Restless, Reformed by Collin Hansen

Collin Hansen, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008). 160pp. $14.99.

In 2006, Christianity Today editor-at-large Collin Hansen wrote an article about the rise of Calvinism among younger evangelicals. The piece had the title “Young, Restless, Reformed,” and it was a CT cover-story that raised eyebrows across evangelicalism. That is one of the reasons that news of Hansen’s book (published under the same title) caught my attention when I heard it was in the works last year. When Justin Taylor noted that the book was finally released on March 30, I ordered it almost immediately.

Young, Restless, Reformed is the story of Hansen’s two year investigation of the growing Calvinist movement among younger evangelicals. The book is short, but chapter-by-chapter Hansen takes his readers to what every observer would have to agree are some of the leading outposts of this burgeoning movement. Hansen is not a dispassionate observer. He identifies himself as a Calvinistic evangelical, and so his sympathy for his subject matter is apparent throughout.

The book has seven chapters, each of which focuses on significant places and institutions of the new reformed movement. Chapter one revolves around Hansen’s trip to one of Louie Giglio’s “Passion” conferences in Atlanta, Georgia. Giglio’s “Passion” conference reaches tens of thousands of college students each year, and one of its main speakers since its inception in 1997 is a Calvinist, Pastor John Piper.

It is no surprise, therefore, that chapter two focuses on an interview with Piper and a visit to Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to Hansen, “Piper is the chief spokesman for the Calvinist resurgence among young evangelicals” (p. 29).

If John Piper’s theology resembles that of the Puritans, it is due in no small part to the influence of 18th century pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards, who is for all intents and purposes the focus of chapter three. Hansen writes of his trip to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut where 90 percent of Edwards’ notes and manuscript are housed (p. 55). According to Hansen, the rise of Calvinism among evangelicals has brought with it renewed interest in the Puritans in general and in Jonathan Edwards in particular.

Chapter four spotlights “ground zero” of the Baptist Calvinist movement, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Hansen has an interview with the school’s president Dr. R. Albert Mohler. He also features conversations with people from both sides of the Calvinism debate within the Southern Baptist Convention (the nations’ large Protestant denomination).

Chapter five covers what has been to many a most surprising constituency among the new Calvinists—the charismatic Calvinist movement emanating from congregations like Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The church’s founding pastor, C. J. Mahaney, is a member of the “Together for the Gospel” coalition along with Albert Mohler (Baptist), Mark Dever (Baptist), and Ligon Duncan (Presbyterian). Among other things, this chapter shows that the gospel-centered focus of the new Calvinists has allowed for rapprochement between groups that have historically steered clear of one another. “It’s a new day in Calvinism when Baptists and charismatics have become chief spokesmen,” Hansen writes (p. 109). The current pastor of Covenant Life Church is Johsua Harris, whose “New Attitude” conference for young adults is the focus of chapter six.

The final chapter of the book (chapter seven) highlights the ministry of Pastor Mark Driscoll in Seattle, Washington. If the charismatics are an unexpected partner in the Calvinist renewal, then Driscoll’s “emerging” ministry may be even more so. Nevertheless, Driscoll’s own theology and preaching is steeped in the reformed tradition, and he is not afraid to show it. He’s a member of the “Gospel Coalition,” a reformed group started by D. A. Carson and Tim Keller.

Young, Restless, Reformed is a great book if you are interested in knowing about who the movers and shakers are of the new young Calvinists. It’s written in a popular style and consists of the author’s own narrative of experiences with the growing ranks of Calvinists in America. So much of what Hansen wrote held particular interest for me as I have my own very personal connections with the subject matter of four of the seven chapters. It was a sermon on Romans 3 that I heard at the 1998 “Passion” conference that inaugurated a Copernican Revolution in my own spiritual life (chapter 1). The preacher who delivered that message was John Piper (chapter 2), and he has since shaped my thinking theologically more than any other person I know. I earned my Ph.D. from Southern Seminary (chapter 4) and continue to have dear friends who teach there. I even have a personal link to chapter three (about Jonathan Edwards and campus ministry at Yale University). Hansen interviews RUF minister Clay Daniel, who was a fellow student of mine at DTS and who attended the same church that I did during seminary. It was connections like these that gave the book a personal touch as I read it.

Hansen makes several observations about the young Calvinists that are helpful in clearing away some negative stereotypes. The concern for the preeminence of God’s glory among this generation of young Calvinists makes them warmly evangelistic and motivated for worldwide mission (a focus of the Passion movement). The move to Calvinism among younger evangelicals is not mainly about academic debates about predestination or supralapsarianism. It is about the pervasive desire for transcendence among a generation of evangelicals who were weaned on a “Christianity” that amounted to little more than “moral therapeutic deism” (p. 22). This is why Hansen quotes Piper concerning the young collegians of the Passion movement: “They’re not going to embrace your theology unless it makes their hearts sing” (p.17).

It’s difficult to critique a book like this one, since it mainly consists of the author’s real-life stories and experiences. If there’s anything negative about the book, it’s not so much what the book says but what the book doesn’t say. In other words, the book provokes many questions about the young Calvinists that go unanswered. For instance, are there any statistics on the number of evangelicals who are Calvinists? Hansen cites the Lifeway studies of the number of Calvinists in the SBC, but he doesn’t really give an accounting of how widespread the movement is among evangelicals in general. Also, are there divisions among the new Calvinists that might be worth noting and explaining? For instance, why are there two unrelated Calvinist groups that have similar aims and purposes? “Together for the Gospel” does not include D. A. Carson or Tim Keller. “The Gospel Coaliton” does not include Al Mohler. Why is this? Like I said, these aren’t so much critiques as they are lingering questions.

In any case, Young, Restless, Reformed is a quick, enjoyable read. You can probably start and finish it in a day or two. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand something of what this new movement is all about.

60 Responses to Young, Restless, Reformed by Collin Hansen

  1. Lucas Knisely April 17, 2008 at 7:10 am #

    I’ve been meaning to get this book. Thanks for the review, Denny.

  2. jb April 17, 2008 at 7:15 am #

    Almost 3 years ago my church, under painful circumstances, voted to let our pastor go. It was ultimately providential that in thinking about where we wanted to go as a church and what type of man we wanted as lead pastor we concluded that “Young, Restless and Reformed” would be the unofficial motto of our search committee. Hansen’s article in C.T. provided a very pivotal moment in our church’s history.

    We found a man like that and are well pleased.

  3. Jeff April 17, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    Denny asks, “Also, are there divisions among the new Calvinists that might be worth noting and explaining?”

    There are many different Calvinist subcultures, but one of the most basic divisions that I see regards different attitudes towards culture engagement. On this issue, there are basically three different kinds of Calvinists:

    (1) “Ignore culture” – this group of Calvinists is not particularly interested in secular politics or transformation of culture, and it is not trying to be relevant to the culture. This group puts a heavy emphasis on theological precision and traditional styles of ministry. Examples: Mark Dever, Michael Horton, John MacArthur.

    (2) Culture warriors – This group is most interested in transforming culture through involvement in secular politics. This group is constantly criticizing the culture from the perspective of a Christian worldview. Example: Al Mohler

    (3) Missional Calvinists – This group puts a heavy emphasis on contextualizing the gospel. This group is also interested in transforming culture, but usually advocates doing so from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. Examples: Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler.

  4. Faimon April 17, 2008 at 12:20 pm #

    Be sure to catch the second book in the series, entitled “Bold, Beautiful, Arminian.”

  5. Ben R April 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    That right there made me laugh out loud.

  6. Burly April 17, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    “D. A. Carson or Tim Keller. “The Gospel Coaliton” does not include Al Mohler. Why is this? Like I said, these aren’t so much critiques as they are lingering questions” I have speculations as to why Keller is not in T4G, but absoultely no proof (it may just be that not all the “superstars” need to be involved). I do know that at The Gospel Coaltion it was explicitly stated that the intent was for mostly pastors … but D.A. Carson go in because, well, he started it. And there are a couple more profs. in it, but not many.

  7. Brett April 17, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    Faimon,

    Touche!!!

  8. Denny Burk April 17, 2008 at 3:22 pm #

    Burly,

    I think Mohler is a pastor. He has thte title of “teaching pastor” at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. See here: http://www.texanonline.net/default.asp?action=article&aid=5480&issue=1/2/2008.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  9. Lucas Knisely April 17, 2008 at 3:31 pm #

    Here ya go Denny….

    Emergent Church Leaders InterSpirituality Talks Raise Flags

  10. Denny Burk April 17, 2008 at 3:43 pm #

    Lucas,

    What’s the link for? I think I missed the connection to this thread.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  11. Lucas Knisely April 17, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    I don’t have your email with me at work so I didn’t have a better way to send you the link. Feel free to delete this comment and the one with the link. I just wanted you to see the article. =)

  12. Denny Burk April 17, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    Okay. I thought that might be it. No problemo.

    FYI: There is a “Contact” link at the top of this page. Any messages left there get e-mailed straight to me.

    Thanks!

  13. Lucas Knisely April 17, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    I’ve tried that and I just get fowarded to http://www.amendets.com/ when I hit “send”.

  14. Brett April 17, 2008 at 5:22 pm #

    Wow, I’m surprised at how quiet myself, Bryan, Ferg, Paul, and Jeremy have been in regards to this post!!!

  15. Ferg April 17, 2008 at 6:55 pm #

    hey brett. you know, i don’t really have much to say about this. well, i actually have loads on my mind but i don’t know if a place like this is for it. very long story short. assistant pastor in the church i go to just confessed to having a three year affair on his wife and three kids. the church i attend is reformed. this is apparently God’s will as he brought it about for the glory of himself although somehow this guy is also morally responsible. i can’t get my head around how they can truely in their hearts believe that God orchestrated this kind of devesation for his glory. today, a kid i work with disclosed to me that his mom has been abusing him. how can i give him comfort if i think that its part of God’s plan?
    i honestly can’t get around calvinism as i find it’s answers so devestating to the ones who needs answers so badly and need to know that their heavenly father is alongside them and is devestated for them in their hurt and pain (while NOT at the same time making it happen).
    i know i’ll never be able to put God in a box and i’ll forever have questions but if someone 100% proved to me that that 12 year old boy i work with was abused as part of God’s higher purpose and that in fact he may rot in hell for the greater good of God’s kingdom just because God needs to show that he is a just God, i’d pack in my faith. That is not the God/Jesus/Holy Spirit I have a relationship with and whom i see in the scriptures. I may aswell be a muslim if the God i worship orchestrates abuse with one hand and offers comfort with the other. apologies if this is out of place denny and if people are offended, that is not my intention. honesty is.

  16. Brett April 17, 2008 at 7:20 pm #

    I’m with ya Ferg, all the way.

  17. jeremy z April 17, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    Brett you asked and you shall receive.

    Denny did a great book review on this book. No complaining here. I may have to pick up this book.

    I am curious about the future of Calvinism? It seems over the past 10 years there has been improvements and revisions to the 5-point Calvinistic paradigm.

    In my seminary world (Fuller) I ran into a lot of recovering calvinist, who were really bitter towards this theological positioning.

    From my perspective the GEN Xers are very resistant towards Calvinism.

    It will be interesting how Calvinism will be shaped in the future?

  18. jeremy z April 17, 2008 at 7:35 pm #

    ferg your questions are on to something. i know for that the youth generation have a difficult time comprehending that them being abused can be used for God’s glory.
    If God is responsible for pain, suffering, and death this seems really off.

    In a sense, God seems a lot like Hitler. He’s just going around encouraging pain and martial problems so He could receive the glory? Isn’t that what Hitler did? Hitler wanted to kill everyone in the Jewish race for a better society.

  19. Nick April 17, 2008 at 7:57 pm #

    First time commenter here…

    Ferg, Brett & Jeremy, in all honesty, I fail to see how you are trying to represent the “other side” as fairly as you possibly can…(which seems to me a must in order to have meaningful dialogue)

    Do you honestly think most “Calvanists” would give the same answers, or draw the same conclusions, as you have above? (No sarcasm or “trying to prove a point” in that question). I’m just trying to figure out if you actually view calvanist people this way, or if you’re trying to address the “system” as a whole…(with regard to the things you wrote, and/or agreed with, above)…As a young person myself, born in conservative farm country, I can’t recall actually seeing this type of attitude among “fundamental Calvanists”.

    I’m having a hard time seeing what you’re really trying to say (or prove) with some of your comments…

    With grace,
    Nick

  20. Josh Orr April 17, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

    It sounds interesting… i’ll have to pick that one up!

  21. rach April 17, 2008 at 8:32 pm #

    I find it totally consistent with the character of a holy God that we as Christians should suffer since our Lord and Saviour Himself endured the ultimate pain-Philippians 2 says that we should reguard others more highly than ourselves-having the attitude of Christ ourselves-I can think of nothing more amazing than one being used of God, even in a situation of torture or abuse, to show the love of Christ to those who do not know our Savior. Men like Jim Elliot and countless others who suffered for the sake of Christ and as a result have led thousands to the feet of Jesus! i wonder how would you counsel a child abused by his mother if in fact his “god” does not have order over his creation? I think there is no comfort in thinking that ‘god” doesn’t have all authority. We cannot know how or why, nor do we have a right to judge good or bad, when we do not know the plans of God. His ways are higher than ours. There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end is destruction. I could and probably should, have looked up the thirty or so references that would accompany this little response, but in the end, I just find it must be horrible to get up every day thinking that the “god” i serve is not in control of every detail of my life and greater-this universe. Though i cannot reconcile all the things I know must be true, i am sure that is what faith really is…taking God at his word-all of it, not just what seems right to me.

  22. Bryan L April 17, 2008 at 8:54 pm #

    Brett,

    I haven’t said anything because I kind of find the idea of the book silly. It sounds like more PR stuff. The thing that has helped the Calvinism cause more than anything is it’s PR campaign.

    Plus it’s a theological/ecclesial fad right now in parts of the church just like emergent (sorry emergents I’m not saying anything against it but I think we have to be honest and admit a lot of its popularity is its faddish nature) and it seems a lot of Calvinisms “resurgence” among the young is built upon popular Christian personalities (the church loves personalities).

    That’s at least how I see it. I’m not making any arguments against Calvinism in saying any of this. I’m just saying what I see the source of the recent popularity of it and why I could care less about the topic of a book like this written by one of its proponents.

    Bryan

  23. jeremy z April 17, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    nick no worries. say what you need to say.

    what i am curious to what a calvinist would say to ferg’s situation?

    if we are wrong, can you demonstrate what a calvinist would say?

  24. jeremy z April 17, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    nick

    piper the ring leader of the calvinist camp attributed the 35W bridge tragedy to God. God wanted those of minneapolis to repent and turn towards God.

    help me understand this.

  25. Matt Svoboda April 17, 2008 at 11:16 pm #

    Jeremy,

    Isn’t it weird that we can all understand and accept the blessing of God, but not the curse? The OT is filled with both. Keep God’s word you will blessed, reject it you will be cursed. That language is all throughout the OT. Do we think that God was all bark and no bite? Or do we take him at his word and trust that he blesses those who trusts him and curses those who despise him? Read the Psalms! Read all of the Bible! It all throughout Scripture…

    I’m not saying you don;t read the Bible. I’m just making the point we easily believe in the blessing, but reject the curse…

  26. D. Taylor Benton April 17, 2008 at 11:18 pm #

    to all the “non-Calvinist” posters writing about tragedy and suffering of people along with questioning God’s motives or lack there of for events in peoples lives…

    I honestly can’t type as much as I want to say for the mere fact that this type of conversation can’t be discussed in this format…simple as that…this can’t be a “post war” or a sound byte contest…

    I’m not saying you are trying to make it one but asking questions in a post like this honestly is not going to do this topic justice.

    and if you are not a Calvinist, please don’t try and represent what some Calvinists believe or have said about tragedy and suffering, it really is poor argumentation and it is seemingly more of an attack on a person as opposed to a theological conversation.

    However, I can’t contain myself in asking a couple of questions to ferg’s post. and this is not in any sense sarcastic since you cant read my inflection.

    what would be an arminianist’s answer to your questions?
    that God did want it certain things to happen? what are some Biblical examples of bad things happening and what were God’s responses? I think of David right off and I honestly am thankful David lived the life He lived because God used David in both times of obedience and sin to teach us God’s character and desire to be in relation with his creation.

    I don’t want to rant but I grew up in honestly the worst possible circumstances one could think of, and that is not an overstatement, and I look back and know that if it wasn’t God’s plan, than I would not be here writing and attesting to His loving mercy and grace present in my life and how i survived what most people shouldn’t.

    That man that cheated on his wife, clearly that was sinful and it I am sure has hurt many and scarred many people, and I don’t pretend to even think of answer to this situation from an Arminian theological framework because I honestly and humbly can’t even begin to postulate a response…but I know that Calvinism is not this dark, gloomy, robotic, cut and dry, black and white, God the dictator theology, if you see it that way I plead that you misunderstand it. that is really all I can say in this post because there is way way way too much to say about it.

  27. Matt Svoboda April 17, 2008 at 11:26 pm #

    Ferg,

    It is great to see your heart in the matter. I’m sure your not a big Piper fan, but I am going to tell you what he said once that I think applies to you greatly. He said that if Calvinism makes you think of God as unjust and unloving, then don’t follow him(Piper) in Calvinism. But if you think Calvinism correctly displays God’s love, holiness, and justices then be a Calvinist. Piper’s heart truly isn’t ‘Go Calvinism!’ His heart is think as highly of God as you can. Love him as much as you can. Worship Him in spirit and in truth whether that leads you to Calvinism or not.

    Hope this gives a honest picture of a popular Calvinist’s heart. As you so willingly shared yours.

    Matt

  28. D. Taylor Benton April 17, 2008 at 11:45 pm #

    a little quote from Tom Ascol, he seems to be a little more precise in his language than I could attempt to be…I think this paints a pretty good picture of a Calvinistic view of tragedy, evil and sin…

    “God has not asked to be let off the hook for the presence of sin and evil in His world. He tells us plainly that He cannot be tempted by evil and does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). He also tells us that He is absolutely sovereign over even the most seemingly insignificant events in His world–such as a sparrow falling to the ground (Matthew 10:29).

    What then are we to do about evil in the world? How are we to respond to it? We are to go to the cross where God delivered up His own Son for sinners. The death of Jesus is the greatest tragedy, the greatest display of injustice, and the greatest evil that has ever occurred on the stage of human history. Yet, Scripture unmistakably teaches that God was not merely standing by or out of control when it happened. He orchestrated the death of His Son according to His preordained plan. Peter said it: “this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23) and prayed it: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27-28).

    If God was sovereignly involved in the planning and executing of that horrible event, and He did so in order to accomplish His deepest work of mercy and grace, should we not, then, trust Him in the face of and wake of other grievous but necessarily lesser horrors that occur in His world?

    “God of Calvinism scares” people because they are “not sure how to distinguish him from the devil….In light of all the evil and innocent suffering in the world, he must have limited himself.”

    Such rationalism should submit to the revelation of God in Christ. No, people, Calvinism does not offer a “seemingly simple answer to the problem of evil.” Rather, it bows in humility to what God has revealed. And it gazes with faith and hope at the zenith of that revelation in the crucified Savior. When understanding fails and questions remain, we look at the Jesus of the scars and remember that our God–the only God there is–was wounded for us, and we let His wounds speak to ours.”

  29. Brett April 17, 2008 at 11:51 pm #

    Thanks for sharing that Matt. I have heard Piper make comments like this before, but I have also heard him make extremely prideful comments about it as well, giving pointers for how to preach and teach Calvinism, blatantly calling TULIP the more “biblical” (a loaded term) view of grace, and telling others to excommunicate Arminian-leaning teachers.

    I totally agree with your above statement though, and wish more Calvinists took this approach. However, I wouldn’t necessarily say “think as highly of God as you can” but rather “make your thoughts about God come from the biblical text.” Reason being b/c thinking as highly as one can about God is subjective at best, and can lead to some serious error-prone theology as a result. Thanks for sharing Matt, it’s always great to hear from you.

  30. Ferg April 18, 2008 at 3:46 am #

    nick, see posts 21, 25 and 28.
    I’m not going to get into a theological argument. Right now I don’t want to ‘prove’ calvinism wrong, just like i don’t want to justify what i believe.
    D T Benton, first off i’m really sorry about your circumstances and i admire and love how you can see God’s hand in bringing you through them. Most of us have felt huge pain, albeit relative and i’m certain most of us can retrospectively see God’s hand bringing us through. i guess the difference between me and you is that, I don’t think God is in complete control of everything and therefore didn’t want certain things to happen, but i, like you, do believe he is the most high sovereign Lord who can work together blessing and good from the darkest tragedy. He has sovereignly decided to give us and angels free will and therefore there are huge huge reprocussions.
    Matt, thanks for your comment 27, i appreciate it. most of the reason i’ve been wrestling with this over the past year is because i want to make sure that the view i have of Jesus through scripture and through my relationship is a true reflection of who he is.
    just to say DT Benton, i do know a lot about Calvinism, just because i don’t adhere to it, doesn’t mean i’m not educated in it. One thing a calvinist cannot stray from, is that God is in COMPLETE control of everything that happens in the entire universe. Therefore most calvinists would say as Rachel says in post 21 “I just find it must be horrible to get up every day thinking that the “god” i serve is not in control of every detail of my life and greater-this universe.”
    the conclusions that can be brought from believing that God ordains EVERYTHING to happen frighten me.

  31. D.J. Williams April 18, 2008 at 7:48 am #

    jeremy z said…
    “piper the ring leader of the calvinist camp attributed the 35W bridge tragedy to God. God wanted those of minneapolis to repent and turn towards God.”

    Luke 13:1-5

  32. D. Taylor Benton April 18, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    Ferg,

    first of all thank you for your gracious comments,

    I do want to say that I know all of the theological arguments for and against Arminianism, and for and against Calvinism, I was making the point that I don’t want to assume I know what “the other side” would say about a topic unless I can say it without characterizations and inflammatory statements. I don’t say that to say you do but some people knee-jerk to that point with out thinking about what they say.

    I guess I don’t see it biblically that we should be frightened by even tragedy, evil and sin, but with humility acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all and pursue an answer or reason for something. When something happens in my life that is not “good” the first thing I do is to ask myself, what is God wanting to show me in this circumstance and how can I grow more like Christ out of this circumstance.
    I wouldn’t say…well, God really didn’t want this to happen, so now I am stuck picking up the pieces because I or someone screwed up… I also take consolation in the fact that people in sin want to be in sin, they aren’t put there against their “will”,people aren’t in hell saying “o please let us out” they even at the point of being eternally separated from God desire it to be that way by their thoughts, beliefs, and actions. C.S. Lewis I think does a great job illustrating this with his book The great divorce.
    so there in if we were left to ourselves we would always seek evil..and I can tell you that my heart is wicked left to itself. So i think apart from God’s predestined purpose that He has set into place to redeem a people, there would be nothing but calamity and evil and sin, even more than occasional heartbreaking story of the destruction of sin.

    I know that was a little rabbit trailish, but I think that our view of God’s will and our view of man and sin is crucially linked together.

  33. Lucas Knisely April 21, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    Just more broad characterizations and accusations… nothing new here.

  34. Ferg April 21, 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    Lucas – is that aimed at me?

  35. Lucas Knisely April 21, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    I dunno, Ferg… you tell me. If you re-read your own comments and find broad and unfair characterizations of an entire group of people, or if you find broad accusations against fellow Christian brothers whom you’ve never met, then yeah, my comment was directed at you.

    Just imagine if you replaced “Calvinists” with “black people” in some of the responses here. I’m sure the broad generalizations and unfair characterizations would be labeled as “racist”. But when it has to do with theology, the gloves come off. And I’m sure those who comment in this way will do the typical response of, “Calvinists do the exact same thing!!” Oh, okay, so some Calvinists do something that is wrong, and your response is to do the same thing?

  36. Brett April 21, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    Lucas,

    I wouldn’t want to describe it as the “gloves coming off,” but I do believe generalizations and characterizations are much more fair game and appropriate in terms of theological systems or those to ascribe to said systems as opposed to an entire racial group. The reason being is because race has nothing to do with character or beliefs, but only the color of one’s skin, however, theological systems have everything to do with beliefs…which in turn shape one’s character.

    I do agree with you in terms of unfair characterizations (obviously b/c they’re unfair), but wouldn’t you agree that generalizations and characterizations are much more appropriate for theological systems as opposed to race?

  37. jeff miller April 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    Ferg,
    I am not an advocate for the label “Calvinism” ,but on a simple level I note that God is called “all-governing”. You seem to desire to work things out rationally starting with a few points, one of which is that God has given men and angels free-will. assuming we know what “free-will” is, would you say God erred in giving “it” to creatures?
    Yours,
    Jeff M.

  38. Ferg April 21, 2008 at 7:18 pm #

    Lucas, if you actually read what was behind what i wrote and the way i wrote it you would see that i didn’t mean to offend. i thought i was graciously just saying what i thought. perhaps my generalisations where unfair and for that i apologise but your response to me is pretty juvenile don’t you think. if you’re offended by me please just say so. if you want to specifically call me out on something i said in one of my posts, please do. i would assume that if you’ve read more than one of my posts i would like to think that you’d feel like you could be straight up with me. equating me generalising calvinists with being a racist is a pretty significant jump and offensive to say the least.
    just because i disagree with calvinism doesnt mean i don’t love my brothers who are calvinists. if so, i wouldn’t fellowship in a reformed baptist church and do the worship music every second week.

  39. Ferg April 21, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    jeff,
    good question. i definitely don’t think God erred. But i do think he risked. but the reason he risked was for love. a genuine reciprocal love relationship with us. i think genesis 6:6 gives us an insight into how he felt after risking giving us free will. devestated. however, what would a good God do upon seeing us heading on a road to destruction? he would pursue us, which is what he still does. that keeps me on my knees each day. what an incredibly loving and faithful God who has rescued us from our own undoing to share in the fellowship of the Trinity.

  40. Lucas Knisely April 21, 2008 at 7:34 pm #

    Ferg,

    You said: “perhaps my generalisations where unfair and for that i apologise but your response to me is pretty juvenile don’t you think. if you’re offended by me please just say so. if you want to specifically call me out on something i said in one of my posts, please do.

    My response to you wasn’t juvenile and I wasn’t offended by what you said. I saw the same old tired generalizations and characterizations being used and I said what I said. You responded and I basically said, “I don’t feel like re-reading all the comments, so you tell me.” I am not going to re-read everything you wrote so I can say, “Ferg, please disregard what I wrote.” If you feel that you fall under my initial comment then attempt to be more gracious. If you feel that you don’t fall under my initial comment then just ignore what I said.

  41. D. Taylor Benton April 21, 2008 at 10:34 pm #

    I thought I might share something that happened to someone very close to me today.

    this person was interviewing for a teaching position at a Christian high school and he was treated in his words “criminal” because he graduated from Southern, they interrogated him about his “Calvinistic and inherently anti-evangelistic” beliefs and was asked if he would force his views on students…

    Seriously….when have you ever heard a Calvinist school interrogating Arminians like they are criminals? and when have a Calvinists been sooo misinformed about Arminian theology like most (not all) Arminians are about Calvinist theology?

    just as side note, this same school which is a baptist (SBC) school doesn’t require you be a baptist to teach there(which is fine), but it sure sounds like they don’t want any Calvinists there….ironic isn’t it?

  42. jeff miller April 22, 2008 at 1:01 am #

    D Taylor Benton,
    I do appreciate the irony in the event you are mentioning. I have a suggestion which may already fit the situation. Maybe we should be taking things one step further and not calling ourselves “calvinist” or “arminian” but christian and whole heartedly pursuing fidelity to Him and then if that gets us called “arminian” or “calvinist” and even persecuted we, like your friend, could know that we are blessed.

    “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account(Mat 5:11).”

    The Idea that I am being persecuted because I am of “Paul” or I am of “Apollos” or even I my saying “I exclusively am of Christ” inorder to myself in a religious position to exclude others who would come to Him…none of these ideas seems to square with the the authoritative teachings of Christ.

    I don’t know if that makes sense to you but I am trying to exhort myself a little bit too. anyway…yes, it is ironic.

  43. Brett April 22, 2008 at 1:10 am #

    D. Taylor Benton,

    I’ll be honest and say that many Arminians are misinformed about Calvinistic and mistake it for hyper-Calvinism, but for you to act like Calvinists never to do the same thing to Arminians is kind of ridiculous. There are books written on mischaracterizations Calvinists make about Arminians, so the “when have you ever” statement is crazy.

    Also, John Piper around 6 weeks back or so said he would excommunicate an Arminian-leading pastor or teacher. This sounds pretty criminal-minded to me.

    Has it ever occurred to you that maybe many Arminians love Jesus Christ and are good friends with Calvinists? Has it ever occurred to you that maybe many Arminians don’t look at Calvinists as evil? Has it ever possibly occurred to you that Arminians exegete the Scriptures just as objectively as any Calvinist?

    I’m surprised I addressed such a post, but I couldn’t sit back and observe someone who is so little acquainted with the evidence and mischaracterizes something so bad. I actually think it’s a joke D. Taylor is playing or something b/c it seems out of line with his other posts.

  44. jeff miller April 22, 2008 at 1:37 am #

    Dear Ferg,
    In one sense we see “risk”, maybe we could even say that in entering into the high work of creating man, God put his reputation at “risk”. But we must also see that the whole story revealed in scripture is an unfolding of God’s aptitude at overcoming the odds and proving that which seemed such a risk will be subdued and proven no risk at all. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the legitimate God and He is in the buisness of putting that legitimacy on display as the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it(Isa 55:10-11).”

    “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth(Joh 1:14).”

    I do think that the more we follow the scriptural context of the Savior of Israel the more we will find reshaped within us those misshaped bits of thinking that come to the surface in our calvinism and/or our arminianism.
    Yours,
    Jeff M.

  45. Lucas Knisely April 22, 2008 at 7:08 am #

    Post 43 proves post 35

  46. Quixote April 22, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    Can I be completely frank for a moment?

    I had never heard the term Calvinist or Arminian until I recently started reading this blog. (And if by chance I HAD heard the terms, I certainly had no idea what they meant.)

    But seriously, after reading the bickering comments on this blog, I don’t want to be either one. I’m not sure if you all are painting an accurate portrait of either side, but the fact remains, if this blog is evidence of what the two camps have to offer, I’ll take door number 3.

  47. Ferg April 22, 2008 at 11:48 am #

    Lucas, I’m done with this but i think the comment:
    “If you feel that you fall under my initial comment then attempt to be more gracious.” is unfair as i tried to apologise.
    you can’t underlyingly refer to me and then say “If you feel that you don’t fall under my initial comment then just ignore what I said.”

  48. Ferg April 22, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    Oh and quixote – I agree with you and i apologise if i missrepresent myself and Jesus. I’m neither calvinist or arminian. I had thought I had been asking frank questions with grace but perhaps i need to look at how i write a bit better!

  49. Lucas Knisely April 22, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    Ferg,

    I feel like we are ships passing in the night here. I didn’t mean to accuse you of anything. I observed something and made a comment. I wasn’t directing any of it specifically toward you. Which is why I gave you two options: ignore what I said or try to be more gracious.

  50. Brett April 22, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    Posts 33, 35, 40, 45, and 49 prove the consistent reactions you get from people.

  51. Lucas Knisely April 22, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    Brett, your comment makes no sense.

  52. D. Taylor Benton April 22, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    Brett,

    “but for you to act like Calvinists never to do the same thing to Arminians is kind of ridiculous. There are books written on mischaracterizations Calvinists make about Arminians, so the “when have you ever” statement is crazy.” in all humility, can you point me to some examples, I honestly in the Calvinistic world like SBTS, (and contrary to popular belief there are arminians at Southern), I have never seen an example of what my friend went through, I have seen debate which usually included poor debate by both sides, but I have never seen such indignation and disdain for Arminians.

    “Also, John Piper around 6 weeks back or so said he would excommunicate an Arminian-leaning pastor or teacher. This sounds pretty criminal-minded to me.” I honestly would like to see the context and where he said this…there is alot of unfounded rumors about Piper unfortunately.

    “Has it ever occurred to you that maybe many Arminians love Jesus Christ and are good friends with Calvinists? Has it ever occurred to you that maybe many Arminians don’t look at Calvinists as evil? Has it ever possibly occurred to you that Arminians exegete the Scriptures just as objectively as any Calvinist?”

    I have never said that I don’t think Arminians don’t love Jesus or have good calvinist friends or that they are good exegetes of the Scriptures….So I would ask that you not assume what I think.
    On one hand I am sure that they love Jesus, but (most) Arminians and especially those that are leaders are very divisive and honestly ill spirited. lets take this “John 3:16” conference which has been (by their admission) a rebuttal to Together for the Gospel and Building Bridges, which has honestly nothing to do Calvinism even though all the speakers are Calvinists. Building Bridges Conference was designed to bridge that gap and have an arena to candidly communicate about these type of issues. not to mention the fact that these guys are so proud of what they are talking about that they aren’t going to transcript it, record the audio or video from this conference which to me is an indicator of the unwillingness even to dialog about the topic. last time i checked, both of the aforementioned conferences were recording both audio and video, along with transcripted in book format along with live blogged….so I don’t know what to think, why would Hunt, Patterson, and Land not want what they say released?

  53. Brett April 22, 2008 at 3:33 pm #

    Lucas,

    I’ve grown to try and have the best of intentions for you when you write something. However, you often type short little snippy comments that seem very arrogant and snotty. So my post was to say to you that the way you react to people proves the consistent reactions you get from other people (like myself in the past, Bryan L, and now Ferg). I want to think that the tone of your posts oftentimes is not what you suggest to put out and is misinterpreted, but I just don’t know sometimes. I truly do apologize to being hateful and mean-spirited to you in the past, but I hope you see that it’s not just me who gets offended at some of your comments and reacts violently and I just want to encourage you to re-evaluate the rhetoric in some of your posts. Like I said, I could be completely wrong and might be misjudging you.

    D. Taylor,

    The book I was primarily thinking about is “Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities” by Roger Olson that was published a couple of years ago which seeks to destroy certain myths that Calvinists attribute to all Arminians (e.g. Arminians don’t believe in original sin, God’s sovereignty, not orthodox, is human-centered, is not a theology of grace, denies justification, etc).

    In regards to the Piper comment, follow the link below:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/2008/2637_How

    Scroll to the bottom of the page and it is under point #1. I wish it were an unfound rumor,but unfortunately it’s not. I, being more Arminian leaning, would never make such a statement about my Calvinist brothers. Also, I have experienced some of the same things in my life. Reformed guys at my school are cautious to talk about theology around me and disassociate themselves from me sometimes. I often feel from many that I’m just not “enlightened” or something.

    Your other comments leave me puzzled. What if I said that (most) Calvinists were divisive and ill-spirited (which in my experience they have been, but I certainly don’t attribute that belief to every single Calvinist, nor to the majority, just those I’ve come in contact with).

    I don’t know much about the “John 3:16” conference. I do know the other conferences you mentioned DID have something to do with Calvinism (at least the Building Bridges Conference did, I’m not sure about the other one). In fact, the subtitle was “Calvinism and the SBC” or something like that, and not all of the speakers were Calvinists, but rather from both sides of the spectrum, so there’s no denying that it certainly had something to do with Calvinism.

    In regards to them not transcripting or recording the conference, I’m sure they have perfectly legitimate reasons. It could be used as ammunition to show the magnitude of the division in the SBC about this issue, and it could do nothing but further that division. They even claim that it’s not a “let’s bash the Calvinists” conference, but evidently a response to each of the 5 points (which I’m assuming they’ll probably agree with a few of them). It’s such a rampant issue these days, not only in the academy, but in the church, that I assume they deem it is necessary that Calvinism deserves a critique and response from some of the major SBC (non-Calvinistic) leaders.

    Why do you think they don’t want this conference transcripted or recorded? I mean, we can speculate all day, but I’m sure they have perfectly legitimate reasons for not doing this (and I’m sure some idiot will record it and put it on the internet anyways). It’s easy to assume that they’re being secretive or coercive, but Southern Baptists (IMO) have enough baggage already, why add to it with more things in the public square?

  54. Lucas Knisely April 22, 2008 at 4:12 pm #

    Brett,

    You said: “I’ve grown to try and have the best of intentions for you when you write something. However, you often type short little snippy comments that seem very arrogant and snotty.”

    In my experience, my lengthy comments get skimmed and most of the content gets ignored. I honestly don’t intend to come off arrogant or “snotty”. I think because sometimes I attempt to be less serious in an effort to lighten the mood I may come off smarmy and sarcastic. I will take your input and try to remember that from now on.

    You said: “So my post was to say to you that the way you react to people proves the consistent reactions you get from other people (like myself in the past, Bryan L, and now Ferg).”

    My point about “consistent responses” was about all the comments made prior to me even saying a single thing on this current subject. Almost every time the Calvinist/Arminian debate comes up, both sides tend to use straw men and unfair characterizations. And I can honestly say that I tend to find Calvinists being treated more unfairly and more often. So, if anyone actually intends to engage someone of the Reformed position, like myself, you aren’t going to get very far by using extreme examples, straw men, and characterizations. Someone asked some really good questions for Calvinist men/women to answer on here. But those questions were drowned out by a bunch of broad stroke accusations and in the end, nothing really happened and nobody benefits. The Reformed people say “You aren’t describing me and my close brothers” and walk away feeling insulted. The person who asked the good questions probably thinks, “Here goes another Calvinist/Arminian shouting match.”

    You said: “I want to think that the tone of your posts oftentimes is not what you suggest to put out and is misinterpreted, but I just don’t know sometimes.”

    I would say that is generally true. I’m partially to blame for this and I will attempt to be more clear, because I often find myself typing “That isn’t what I meant/said”. I do think, however, that the same attempt to use unfair characterizations is used to insert things into some of my responses in an effort to avoid having to deal with anything I say. It is a common tactic, and even if it isn’t intentional, it can become quite frustrating. That may be why I tend to write shorter responses, because entire comments that I’ve made were ignored or discredited because of so called “arrogance” in my comments. I feel like I’ve been told numerous times “You are being arrogant so I’m not going to engage you.” So I think… Okay? Did I use direct insults? Was I blatantly unkind? You claim you “sensed” arrogance? So everything I said gets ignored? Does that make sense?

    You said: “I truly do apologize to being hateful and mean-spirited to you in the past, but I hope you see that it’s not just me who gets offended at some of your comments and reacts violently and I just want to encourage you to re-evaluate the rhetoric in some of your posts. Like I said, I could be completely wrong and might be misjudging you.”

    I appreciate you apologizing for our past encounters, and I sincerely mean this… I feel better knowing you have apologized. There was obvious tension between us anytime we attempted to talk after the past instances and hopefully now that can be different. And I also sincerely mean this… I’ve never attempted to insult you or anyone else here. I may have a brash approach, but that doesn’t negate my arguments nor does it mean I deserve to be insulted or cast to the side. However, in light of what you’ve said, I will try to be more aware of my tone and wording in an effort to help discussions be more fruitful.

    And I hope everyone reads this… I appreciate differing views and opinions because it gives me an opportunity to sharpen my knowledge of God and His Word. Even if we never agree on a single doctrinal issue, I see much benefit from our differing views. I tend to learn more when I have a good debate with someone who disagrees with me, compared to the time I may spend talking about things with those who agree with me. And I think part of the reason I’ve criticized the way some of you guys make your point is that I see the value in having debates and a lot of the methods implemented on here choke any possibility of having a good discussion. So let’s all make an effort to be more fair, more kind, and use less under handed argument tactics.

  55. Ferg April 22, 2008 at 6:41 pm #

    Lucas, i think we hit it off on a bad footing which is a shame but i want to be the first to agree with your last paragraph.
    thanks for what you wrote

  56. Ferg April 22, 2008 at 6:50 pm #

    brett, that piper sermon is fascinating. i love how he is so straight up. although i disagree with a lot of his fundamentals. i quite like that he’s so honest about the arminian belief, as he should be. i’m not offended whatsover by what he says, i’m trying to see can i take on board some of his points. and i’m also wrestling with how a man who truly wants to honour God can have views that are so radically different to mine.
    “Sin and death and hell and Satan are not frustrations of God’s eternal design but fit into it”

    it’s quotes like this that i genuinely do not understand and they are the reason why i meet with the pastor of the church i attend to see what he thinks. he is an incredibly learned man who is a reformed theologian and a man whom i think very highly of.
    as you can imagine, we have some very interesting discussions!

  57. Lucas Knisely April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am #

    Thanks, Ferg =)

  58. Brett April 23, 2008 at 5:55 pm #

    Lucas,

    Thanks for responding. I think we’ve both learned from this encounter. I will try and be more irenic in my tone (Denny makes it so dang touch sometimes!). Thanks again

    Ferg,

    I must say I’m surprised you liked the Piper sermon so much! I have a lot of respect for John Piper b/c he is extremely zealous and consistent and I believe he lives like he preaches. However, the zeal he has for Calvinism disturbs me very badly. Like I’ve said before, I don’t mind somebody believing this way at all, but to have an arrogant, dogmatic attitude and think it’s fundamental, orthodox, and undeniable is what disturbs me. I visit his website on a weekly basis and it never fails to have something highlighted about either Calvinism or something related to it…every single week. If an Arminian did this, I would say the same thing. Piper is extremely western and individualistic in his theology as well. I think we can attribute the rise in young Calvinistic pastors much more to John Piper (due to his books and involvement with the Passion movement) than Al Mohler or Southern Seminary. Disagreeing with Piper at my institution is like disagreeing with the Bible and God himself. I see no critical interaction going on with his works, and personally wish somebody would write a refutation of his “Desiring God” like he did with N.T. Wright since I think “Desiring God” has so many flaws exegetically, philosophically, hermeneutically, logically, and practically. Maybe I’ll do that when I graduate, better yet, maybe I can write my thesis on it!!! Anyways, just my opinion, of course.

  59. Brett April 23, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Mistake, “touch” in my first paragraph should read “tough”. I must have had a brain fart.

  60. Ferg April 24, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    Brett, if you write your thesis in it – i’d love to read it!!
    I don’t know if i said i liked his sermon. i found it fascinating; mainly because it’s more of the same from him and i’m astounded at how bullheaded he is in his beliefs and how he has such a massive following.
    I was nearly trying to become a calvinist for a while because so many people around me adhere to it, but i just can’t do it. reading piper and generally disagreeing with his main points remind me why i’m so glad about what i believe about Jesus.

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