03 October, 2008

Book Review: Young, Restless, and Reformed

Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists, Collin Hansen (Crossway, 2008)
Reviewed by Pastor Charles A. Brown

Book review reprinted with permission from C.A. Brown. Originally appeared in the September 2008 RP Witness.

"'Once you start seeing Reformed theology in Scripture, you realize it's all over the place,' he said. 'It's like there's 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.'"

This anecdote from the book's epilogue could easily describe my own personal experience with Calvinism. From the conversations I've had with many newer members of the RPCNA, these sentiments would be shared by most of them as well. In recent decades, the evangelical world has witnessed a mini-Reformation, dramatically impacting the hearts of countless men and women. Collin Hansen, an editor for Christianity Today, has recorded dozens of such stories in this little volume about the lives which have been recently and radically changed by Reformed theology.

Surprisingly, though, for a book about "the New Calvinists", very few Presbyterians are mentioned in its pages. Nearly all of the stories come from Baptist and nondenominational folk who have embraced predestination and God's sovereignty in salvation. This fact may help to explain why these young Calvinists are "restless". They are only partial Calvinists, who need to keep reforming. Perhaps they have not yet read what the Genevan Reformer taught concerning the church and the sacraments.

We should keep a watchful eye on this semi-Calvinism, to see where it leads. Youth and restlessness will not last forever. Where will these people settle when they are old? Will they be Reformed or not? Here is an opportunity for the RP Church. An energetic audience waits to hear the doctrines of grace. But will we be ready to help these hungry souls feast on a complete diet of Calvinism?


Anonymous said...

"Nearly all of the stories come from Baptist and nondenominational folk who have embraced predestination and God's sovereignty in salvation. This fact may help to explain why these young Calvinists are "restless"."

-Yup. They haven't arrived yet.

Steven Carr said...

I should be pleased by a movement of restless young men who have discovered the Reformed Faith, but I have been more troubled by it than pleased. Pastor Brown's review nails my concerns right on the head.

The young, restless and Reformed movement is not Calvinistic in the broader sense. It is just another breed of American Christianity. Fadish and doomed to disappear within ten years.

I just picked up Scott Clark's book Recovering the Refomed Confession. I hope these young restless and reformed folk read his book. It may be if they have discovered the five points they may through reading Clark's book and others like it, they may discover the Reformed Faith in all its fullness. I pray that they do.

Mark said...

I read the book, and found a lot to be encouraged about. As anony helpfully points out, they haven't arrived yet. But shoot, I ain't anywhere near full sanctification, and taking a cue from Paul's admonition to bear with the weaker brother(s), I'm not about to look down on this movement. It's a definite step in the right direction, and I'm glad to see it happening.

Jason said...

Will pleased also if and when Clark, etc. also "recover the Reformed Confession" and "all its fullness".

Anonymous said...

So Baptist Calvinists are restless and haven't arrived yet? Well from my experience of a "Reformed in name" church the sermon was on the mystery of why some just don't believe -the minister just couldn't figure it out. Compare that to the local Baptist church (which according to you is only half reformed)where doctrine is clearly taught believed and proclaimed - no one is in any doubt what they believe there.This is in N Ireland by the way and the lesson is,don't pigeon hole those who label themselves as reformed into the reformed camp when their mindset is anything but, as evidenced by their preaching.