Reformed theology is affecting American Christianity in a way it hasn't since the First Great Awakening of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. Young people are at the forefront of the move away from doctrinally shallow Christianity toward a more historical and biblically rich faith.
Collin Hansen, a junior editor for Christianity Today magazine, investigated these trends among his generation, and the result was Young, Restless, Reformed, which is more a documentary than a defense or explanation of Reformed doctrine. He looks at prominent Christian leaders who've moved closer to the Reformed faith, and how they've influenced 20- and 30-somethings.
Leaders interviewed and profiled include John Piper, Josh Harris, Albert Mohler, and Mark Driscoll, all of whom are found at various points on the Reformed spectrum. Hansen actually sat down with these leaders to learn how they became interested in Reformed theology, the impact it had on their ministries, and how they articulate its principles.
One of Hansen's most persistent questions is, Why? What happened to bring so many people, especially so many young people, toward a faith that most people find austere, cold, and even frightening? The answeris straightforward: the Reformed emphasis on biblical truth and God's sovereignty offer a solid faith in response to postmodern nihilism.
There's a problem with Hansen's analysis, however. Too often Calvinism is reduced to the TULIP acronym as the totality of Reformed theology, and Hansen perpetuates that misconception. While he does reference J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, and the English Puritans, he fails to note the full richness of Reformed theology with its distinctive church polity, its emphasis on covenant theology as opposed to Dispensationalism, and the centrality of the Five Solas.
Hansen's analysis is also somewhat dated, especially regarding the chapter on Mark Driscoll. While Driscoll did explicitly identify with the "New Calvinist" movement, his persistence in changing theological shirts every couple of years makes him today a somewhat unlikely candidate for a book like this.
Nevertheless, Hansen raises many questions contemporary Protestants need to wrestle with head-on. Why are churches emptying? Why do young people prefer old-style Calvinism to namby-pamby liberal social gospel-ism? What is the way forward? Hansen offers some answers in a book that's accessible, informative, and still mostly relevant.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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