The New Calvinism is Changing the World (According to Time Magazine)

It’s true.  According to Time it is one of the 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now, and The New Calvinism makes the list.  That took me by surprise!

  1. Jobs Are the New Assets
  2. Recycling the Suburbs
  3. The New Calvinism
  4. Reinstating the Interstate
  5. Amortality
  6. Africa, Business Destination
  7. The Rent-a-Country
  8. Biobanks
  9. Survival Stores
  10. Ecological Intelligence

David Van Biema wrote a pretty fair summary:

Calvinism, cousin to the Reformation’s other pillar, Lutheranism, is a bit less dour than its critics claim: it offers a rock-steady deity who orchestrates absolutely everything, including illness (or home foreclosure!), by a logic we may not understand but don’t have to second-guess. Our satisfaction — and our purpose — is fulfilled simply by “glorifying” him. In the 1700s, Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards invested Calvinism with a rapturous near mysticism. Yet it was soon overtaken in the U.S. by movements like Methodism that were more impressed with human will. Calvinist-descended liberal bodies like the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) discovered other emphases, while Evangelicalism’s loss of appetite for rigid doctrine — and the triumph of that friendly, fuzzy Jesus — seemed to relegate hard-core Reformed preaching (Reformed operates as a loose synonym for Calvinist) to a few crotchety Southern churches.

No more. Neo-Calvinist ministers and authors don’t operate quite on a Rick Warren scale. But, notes Ted Olsen, a managing editor at Christianity Today, “everyone knows where the energy and the passion are in the Evangelical world” — with the pioneering new-Calvinist John Piper of Minneapolis, Seattle’s pugnacious Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Seminary of the huge Southern Baptist Convention. The Calvinist-flavored ESV Study Bible sold out its first printing, and Reformed blogs like Between Two Worlds (congratulations Justin!) are among cyber-Christendom’s hottest links.

Like the Calvinists, more moderate Evangelicals are exploring cures for the movement’s doctrinal drift, but can’t offer the same blanket assurance. “A lot of young people grew up in a culture of brokenness, divorce, drugs or sexual temptation,” says Collin Hansen, author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists. “They have plenty of friends: what they need is a God.” Mohler says, “The moment someone begins to define God’s [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist.” Of course, that presumption of inevitability has drawn accusations of arrogance and divisiveness since Calvin’s time. Indeed, some of today’s enthusiasts imply that non-Calvinists may actually not be Christians. Skirmishes among the Southern Baptists (who have a competing non-Calvinist camp) and online “flame wars” bode badly.

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  • http://www.forfreedomssake.com Doug Thorson

    I am surprised that this hit the radar screen of Time magazine as well. But, since I attend a Sovereign Grace Church (associate with Sovereign Grace Ministries) I am not surprised of the impact that a “new” Calvinism would have on the world. The gospel, when faithfully preached, will have an impact on individuals, families, communities and eventually governments. The goal is not culture change, the goal reconciling sinners to God through Christ. Culture change will result.

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    Amen, I was surprised by the venue, but not surprised by the impact it is making either.

  • http://web.me.com/ericgoranson/Goranson_Family/Welcome.html Eric Goranson

    I concur. A return to biblical “Calvinism” is inevitable after decades of modern evangelicalism producing mixed results at best when to evangelizing.

  • http://www.forfreedomssake.com Doug Thorson

    BTW, I caught your blog from Twitter. This is a great site, I put it in my “Fast Dial” in Firefox. Check out my blog when you get a chance.

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    Sure will!

  • http://www.mbinak.blogspot.com melody

    Hmm, interesting. So, do you think we, as nation, or even the world-mankind-are still in a “limbo” phase spiritually?-that reformation is as possible as destruction? it seems hard to think the evil of this world will not continue to prevail…until after the second coming that is.

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    Well, I think we'll always have opportunities of revival within the Church. Jesus Himself said, “I will build my church and not even the gates of hell will prevail against it.”

    That said, I think we'll see many people come to Christ – though we see more growth in the global south right now. I don't think God is done with the U.S., but even if persecution comes it is in those times the Church has thrived.

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    Yeah, not everybody is thrilled about this making the top 10.

    http://www.lofitribe.com/10-ideas-changing-the-

  • Pingback: ‘Calvinism’ Transforming and Transformed « Acton Institute PowerBlog

  • Coleen Sharp

    OK, now you have me reading your blog. You post some good stuff. I had to respond to this one.
    I think he has some good points, and I am glad to see this getting some attention.

    I do believe however that there is some very big differences between Reformed and Calvinism. Reformed Christians are Calvinists, but not all Calvinists are Reformed.

    The Reformed Church has gotten a bad name in some places. For instance Michigan with its high population of Dutch Reformed, and membership in dying demoninations which have become more liberal such as the Christian Reformed Church. You also see in some Reformed Churches with so much focus on heady things that they neglect Christian living. I spent 8 1/2 years in the OPC, and felt like I was not growing there. A lack of Unity and Love.

    And then there are the Calvinistic Baptists. I think that is what we see a lot of now. And that is what we are seeing a rise in. And they differ from each other. Some reformed baptist churches still struggle with legalism, and while the Sovereign Grace movement is growing like crazy, in my experience it a lot of times attracts people who are not Calvinistic to begin with, but are taught well once they get there. Most 'Reformed Christians', including this writer do not feel comfortable in their Worship Service. This is partly to do with the lack of Liturgy and in some peoples minds, questionable reverence. And then we see Churches like the E.V. Free Church, and the Southern Baptist Church with a growing number of Calvinistic Pastors.

    But I am Reformed. This describes not only my belief in Calvinism, but also my belief in Guilt, Grace, Gratitude, and most importantly Covenant Theology. You see, we actually baptize our babies! Biblical Covenant Theology, The Doctrines of Grace do not seem to be systematically, or Biblically complete when you leave out that part.

    And just so you know, I grew up in the EV Free Church. I studied each of these things from scripture intensely. And I came to these views from scripture alone, kicking and screaming.

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    I remember you telling me when we had our FB chat about growing up in the E-Free church. I'd be curious to hear your argument on paedobaptism from scripture because that would probably be my main difference with you.

    Perhaps a first post? When I invited you to contribute I never said you had to agree with me ;>)

  • smitty1e

    “everyone knows where the energy and the passion are in the Evangelical world”
    Same place as ever, the Bible.

  • http://www.gospelhall.org Bible Study Man

    I'm suprised to see this in the top 10 of Time of all people.

    I am a missionary in Mexico from a church who's doctrines are evangelical, conservative and although we don't put the label “Calvanism” on the door, we certainly believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation and the authority of interpretening the Bible as it is written.

    The trend that I see among the hispanics here in Mexico (and the 20 million who have already crossed the border northward) is that Pentecostal, Apostolic, Jehovah Witness, Mormon and 7th Day adventists are the rage. Experience trumps doctrine. The Pastor's opinion is the Truth. The idea of taking one's belief from a Bible doctrine is rare.

    Another poster said it well when the “Emergent Church” was left off the list. That type of thinking fits well with the secular trends of Post-modern “truth”. John McArthur and John Piper are not trend setters. They are traditional Biblical expositors. Their publications aren't bringing new ideas to the world, but rather are clarifying old biblical ones.