Since I consider myself part of this camp, I was interested at what he would say. Honestly, my feelings have been mixed as I have read his blog posts. I understand what he is saying, but not sure it is sent or received well. My point here is not really to state how I feel about what he is saying (Julian Freeman stated perfectly how I feel about it). What I do want to say is that this entire discussion has given me a chance to go back and read a book that I had in my library for some time, always wanted to read, but have never taken them time to do it. In 2008, Collin Hansen published a book called Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey With The New Calvinists. As the subtitle explains, it was his journey across America, meeting with some of the older & younger pastors and theologians who are making "Calvinism" cool again. The table of contents show where he went and who he talked with:
- Chapter 1: Atlanta, Georgia (Passion Conference with Louie Giglio)
- Chapter 2: Minneapolis, Minnesota (Bethlehem Baptist Church with John Piper)
- Chapter 3: New Haven, Connecticut (Yale University with Jonathan Edwards)
- Chapter 4: Louisville, Kentucky (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with Albert Mohler)
- Chapter 5: Gaithersburg, Maryland (Covenant Life Church with CJ Mahaney)
- Chapter 6: Louisville, Kentucky (New Attitude Conference with Josh Harris)
- Chapter 7: Seattle, Washington (Mars Hill Church with Mark Driscoll)
I appreciate many things by those that Hansen interviewed for this book. I appreciate their desire to paint the appropriate large picture of God. He is in control, we are not. Most Christians I know say they are God-centered, even when their theology starts with them instead of God. Not so with this group. Their theology starts and ends with God. I also appreciate their commitment to the harder doctrines of the Scriptures, some of those that many are quick to dismiss. But what I appreciate most about this movement is their commitment to the gospel. Many people do not see the connection between Calvinism & the Gospel. But I think Albert Mohler states it perfectly.
"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." (74)That is what I appreciate about this movement. It is all about the gospel. Some people can blur that line. I remember a guy I used to work with just out of college that would sing songs in jest like this: "Jesus loves me, if I'm elect." It rubbed me the wrong way then and still does today. My feeling is that no one in this movement, myself included, is going to make jokes and sing songs like that. In fact, many of these men are some of the strongest evangelists we have in our country today.
When I believe that God does the work in salvation, it frees me up to be the faithful sower of seed. I cast the seed, He does the work. I just don't think I could live with the guilt that would come my way if I knew someone didn't repent and embrace Jesus because I did not use a more thought-out argument. But the love of Christ constrains me (2 Cor. 5:11-15) to share His message with others.
Probably the part of the book that didn't really surprise me too much, but was really interesting is the influence John Piper has had on this movement. In every chapter (except the last one about Mark Driscoll), the people interviewed talked about how the writings and sermons of Piper had influenced them. He is, in many ways, the father figure of this movement. J. I. Packer said,
"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." (29)Let me finish with this. When being interviewed about his view in these matters, Piper adequately summarizes the view of God's sovereignty according to the Scriptures (which many, including myself, have come to accept):
"My whole project theologically is to say that God is more God-centered than any other being in the universe, and then to back that up with dozens of texts that say God does everything for his glory . . . God is most glorified when we're most satisfied in him. Affections are central--not just marginal--and it's okay to be happy in God." (33)