Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists

Collin Hansen is the editor-at-large for Christianity Today and is the author of a number of books and articles, one of which appeared in Christianity Todayin the fall of 2006 dealing with this same topic. Young, Restless, Reformed one of those books that you start and must finish. Tim Challies expressed the sentiment very well on the book’s back cover. “Collin Hansen invites us on a voyage of discovery, learning how our restless youth are discovering anew the great doctrines of the Christian faith. Weary of churches that seek to entertain rather than teach, longing after the true meat of the Word, these young people are pursuing doctrine. Discover how God is moving among the young, the restless, and the Reformed.”

I was excited to read how leaders of influence made pilgrimages through shallow, superficial, rootless Christianity only to see that the Christian faith and its doctrines of grace provide a foundation and substantive framework to see and understand God’s grace in action. I have said for many years, and I believe this book illustrates it, that Calvinism provides the best theological and philosophical framework for us today.

Postmodernism’s attempt to advocate a non-foundational approach to truth and reality has thrown out the baby with the bath water. While it is true that much of the theology in the past 300-400 years suggests a modern or Enlightenment framework that must be understood in its historical formulation, Calvinism pre-dates the Enlightenment period. It is a joy and delight to read of the many people, examples. and situations where we are seeing a desire to be more solidly biblical and theological.

It is true that doctrine and theology are not abstract concepts but are all about life and reality. To be a Christian in this postmodern, pos-Christian world demands more than a content-less faith built on feelings, subjectivism, and relativism. In this book, Hansen offers many diverse examples of how people are being drawn more and more to Reformed, Calvinistic theology. He writes about Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill ministry in Seattle, Washington. Driscoll was early known for his involvement in the “emergent movement” but began to look for more solid biblical and theological truth in the Reformed tradition.

Hanson also writes about the influences of institutions such as the Presbyterian Church in America and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, the largest Southern Baptist seminary under the leadership of AI Mohler. John Piper has also been a key figure and influence in the emphasis on Calvinistic doctrine. Piper, with his Desiring God books and conferences, along with others like Wayne Grudem. has led from a Calvinistic perspective in his Baptist settings.

Maybe with the exception of the Baptists mentioned and the PCA, others highlighted in this book are not part of a denominational setting, generally operate independently, and are quiet different and unique in their styles of ministry.

One of the men mentioned by Hansen said, “Once you start seeing Reformed theology in Scripture, you realize it’s all over the place. It’s like a big revolution in your mind. Stuff that didn’t make sense before starts to make sense. It’s been an incredible journey, and it’s increased my passion for God.”

Mohler stated in an interview with Hansen, “When I say that my agenda is not Calvinism, I say that with unfeigned honesty, with undiluted candor. My agenda is the gospel. And I refuse to limit that to a label, but I am also very honest to say, yes, that means I am a five-point Calvinist If you’re counting points, here I am.”

Hansen says of John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, “At sixty years old, Piper is the chief spokesman for the Calvinist resurgence among young evangelicals. Ten years of Passion conferences have introduced him to a generation of young evangelicals.” J.I. Packer said of Piper, “John has the gift of catching the attention of young thinking people and getting them excited about thinking as an exercise, because he himself does it so passionately.”

From many different circumstances and diversity of ministries, the Calvinistic movement is alive, growing, and bringing people together who have nothing in common but the gospel and the desire to embrace a strong doctrinal Christianity.

Read this book and be encouraged. Read this book and realize, as stated earlier in this edition of Equip to Disciple, unity and diversity do not have to result in either chaos or uniformity. Some of this growth is happening within a denominational setting and some in more independent settings. However. the doctrines of grace are a common theme among them all.

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Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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