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Reformed Resurgence

I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that,
if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him;
and I am sure He chose me before I was born,
or else He never would have chosen me afterwards.”
– Charles Spurgeon

Lately I’ve noticed the upsurge of Reformed theology in the evangelical church. It seems that, especially in the eyes of the twenty and thirty-somethings, historically Calvinistic understandings about salvation are on the rise (for example, see one of the seminal articles addressing this growing Reformed wave). But is this just the theology du jour, a trend (“Calvinism is cool!”) that hip pastors and parishioners want to be a part of simply because it’s trendy? I don’t think so.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a (super)natural response to the fruits of a self-centric Christianity of the last quarter century with its inch-deep (read: trivialized) worship choruses, therapeutic (read: new law) sermons and over-sentimentalized (read: near idolatrous) view of the Holy. In the end you have a painting that claims it is about God but unfortunately amid all the brilliant colors and broad strokes the only image that seems to rise from the canvas looks a lot like us.

I like Mark Devers’ quote: Where’d all these Calvinists come from? Quietly, all over the world young Christians, young ministers have had their spiritual tummies rumbling after they’ve been reading many of the spiritual bestsellers, books that are full of jokes and life tips, whose height of profundity have been something like “Lighten up and Live!” And someone has turned them on to [Reformed teaching]. And, by God’s grace, they have learned about the grace of God, and the God of that grace.

The reality is, today, that younger generations are seeking a better frame in which to view God, one where God is displayed as the God of the Bible. And it appears many have found it in the Doctrines of Grace.

That surely was the case for me. Early in my journey with Jesus I learned about comprehensive depravity, unconditional election and the other doctrines which revolve around the fact that salvation is entirely of God alone. For that I am very grateful and indebted to the Lord because those truths have increased my sense of awe, reverence and humility toward him like few other avenues have. Needless to say, I am encouraged to think this is going on around churches throughout our nation.

For what it’s worth…
I don’t like to define my understanding of what I believe as Reformed or Calvinistic. I feel that doesn’t do justice to them. I’d rather say I am attempting to believe what the Bible teaches as best as I can understand it…period. I use the term Reformed because I acknowledge there are many who have arrived at different positions than mine who would say the same thing about their pursuit of biblical truth.

Hopefully, one day they’ll come to their senses. 😉

PS – At any place where a system for understanding what the Bible teaches conflicts with the Bible teaches you’ve got a problem. But let it be known that I hold to a Reformed view of theology ultimately because of what I believe the Bible, not any one particular man, has said. Big boys get that. Only the immature Christian tends to accuse others of being led astray by personalities (e.g., Luther and Calvin) instead of the Bible. The truth is all of us are taught by others. Of the teachers we embrace, we do so precisely because we believe they have interpreted the Bible most faithfully. The more spiritually mature understand that and refuse to accuse others of blindly following a person. They’ve learned that many who stand on the other side of the theological street do so because they believe the Bible brought them there. Keeping that in mind should help us dialogue with both fervor and respect.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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