Is “New Calvinism” One of the World Changing Ideas Today?

Yes, according to Time Magazine.

Coming in third on a list that includes such ideas as “recycling the suburbs,” “amortality,” and “jobs are the new assets” (imagine that!), the increasingly more popular, abundantly noticed semi-denomination that focuses on the big-ness of God and depravity of man has, it seems, taken the younger church by storm. That is, according to Time, Calvinism (or more specifically, “New Calvinism”) is finally hip.


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 are among cyber-Christendom’s hottest links.

The magazine suggests that this influx of popularity among younger Christians is a response to our “culture of brokenness”; that, in face of a rotting world young Christians want a big God who has everything under control. Thankfully, that’s exactly what they can have. And, if Calvin is right, with a whole lot of certainty too.

I can’t help but wonder what such a simplistic nominalization as “New Calvinism” can possibly mean for the movement.

Brett McCracken has posted some his own thoughts on why this new form of Calvinism is suddenly so popular. One of his reasons:

Calvinism has a beautiful picture of grace. It is irresistible and unconditional. When God sets his eyes on us, we can’t escape his pursuit (and who would want a God who couldn’t capture those he sought to save?). As Sufjan Stevens beautifully sings in “Seven Swans”: He will take you / If you run / He will chase you / Because he is the Lord.


2 thoughts on “Is “New Calvinism” One of the World Changing Ideas Today?

  1. I feel like the bastard son of the new calvinism. I am reformed. I am a calvinist. But why do we feel like we must embrace these names as if they encompass all it is to be redeemed, to be true, to be Christian, to be right? In my experience with reformed faith and theology, we tend to be far too sure about far too many things, and far too condescending toward those who who are not quite as sure about some of those many things.

    It’s hard for me to be excited about movements that have these names attached to them, that have their huge lists to measure whether one is in or out. I’ll take the apostle’s and nicene creeds, thank you very much.

  2. A.T. says:

    He allows things to happen certainly but God is not the author of sickness, it entered this world due to original sin.

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