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Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's…

Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists

by Collin Hansen

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Collin Hansen has written some of my favorite feature articles in Christianity Today, and his thoughtfulness and gentle wit met my expectations in this book. It supplies a good corrective, I think, to some of the dubious journalism I've read recently on so-called neo-Calvinism. I certainly understand far more about the movement and its role within wider evangelicalism/Protestantism than I did before.

I found his keen analysis a bit blunted toward the end of the book, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. ( )
  LudieGrace | Dec 4, 2013 |
Calvinism is finding a foothold in places that one might not expect: Minneapolis, home of the Lutherans; Louisville, home of the Baptists; and even Seattle, home of New Age spirituality. Through the influential teaching and writing of John Piper, Al Mohler, and Mark Driscoll (just to name a few) a New Calvinism is finding expression and influence across America. What's more, this New Calvinism is often mixing with unlikely theological bedfellows: Baptists and Charismatics, for example. Hansen spends time in the some of the major outposts (churches, seminaries, universities, conferences) of this New Calvinism, telling the story and having conversations with the major players. Hansens work is engaging and well-written. ( )
  bsanner | Mar 6, 2012 |
Check out Collin Hansen's new book Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists. I've read through most of this short book in the last day or so. Hansen lets us accompany him on his tour of the Reformed hotspots in the young evangelical culture, reporting on his face-to-face interviews with both the grandfathers in the movement like John Piper and younger bloggers and campus ministry pastors. His journey spans East coast (Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland) to the West (Mars Hill Church in Seattle) with some significant stops in the Midwest (Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis) and South (Southern Seminary and Together for the Gospel in Louisville, Kentucky and the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia).

Hansen interviews both proponents of the New Calvinism and critics (such as Roger Olson and Jerry Vines). While his sympathies seem to lie with the young Reformed crowd, he doesn't hesitate to discuss some of the problems with the movement. His writing is lucid and often humorous. I think the most exciting thing about this book is reading the many conversion stories. So many of the new Calvinists are former druggies, atheists, or atheological Evangelicals who wouldn't have known theology if it bit them on the nose. Then they encountered Reformed theology in some form or another and got angry. Then they read their Bibles and met a God bigger than they ever could have imagined. Now they are engaging in serious study, passionate worship, and daring evangelism.

Wherever you might fall on the theological spectrum, this is a book worth reading for those who care about the Church and its future. ( )
  brianghedges | Oct 23, 2009 |
A pretty decent overview of the resurgence of the doctrines of grace. I would like to have seen a broader treatment of the subject. ( )
  SwampIrish | Apr 28, 2009 |
Colin Hansen, an editor for Christianity Today, makes this observation (with a little hyperbole): your average Evangelical American high school student is in a youth group that emphasizes games, down plays preaching, and as a result the student does not even know the basics of the Gospel—much less the difference between justification and sanctification. But, your average American-Evangelical 22-year-old is probably a foaming-at-the-mouth Calvinist, a John Piper “fiend,” and would love to stay up all night arguing about the difference between justification and sanctification. What in the world happens to these kids between ages 18 and 22?

Young, Restless, Reformed is Hansen’s attempt to answer that question. He journeys around the country trying to figure out where all of these Calvinists are coming from, and why. He has conversations with Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Steve Lawson, C. J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Rick Holland and many others. He asks them all this question: “Where does this new generation of Calvinists come from?” and their are surprising. He talks with dozens of students who fit this new generation of Reformed Christian, and this book tells their stories.

Despite the anecdotal nature of the book (no hard statistics here), some conclusions do emerge. High school grads who are actually Christians and who do manage to escape their cheesy youth group realize very quickly that they do not have adequate answers to explain the basics of their faith, much less to stand up to their secular professors. When they reach the point of realizing they don’t have the answers, they generally find someone who does, and this person (or book, or CD) is usually unashamedly Reformed.

If this observation is true, and it seems to be, then this corollary is also true: the more silly youth groups are, the more people will be driven to reformed circles upon graduation. Hansen does not make this point explicitly, but it is there. Hansen shows his insight into how the God of Calvinism captures the hearts of these college students when he writes, “Calvinism has not spread primarily be selling young evangelicals a system but by inviting them to join a new way of life driven by theological convictions. Theology gives them this passion for transformation” (124).

The exact channel that brings about this transformation varies from person to person. For some it is a Passion CD, others a Piper book. Some find a Puritan Paperback, and others stumble upon an RUF campus Bible study. But all of these sources have this in common: they introduce the students to a God that is more glorious than anyone had ever told them about. Suddenly depravity makes sense, and the rest of Calvinism falls into place.

But not all transformations are rosy. Hansen tells the story about Lawson’s resignation for Dauphin Way, and he looks at other young pastors that have been forced out of ministry for theological reasons as well. The most intriguing chapter is his trip to Southern Seminary—“Ground Zero,” Hansen calls it—where the reader sees the problems of infusing a new generation of Calvinists into a Christian culture that is not ready for them.

I loved this book because it was like reading my own spiritual biography. I remember the moment I found God’s Passion for his Glory, and even today I remember my thoughts as I began to realize that God was more glorious than I am, and that he chose me—not the other way around. I stayed in my previous church, hoping to disciple others and show them the doctrines of Grace as well, until I eventually went to seminary.

Until Hansen’s book, I had assumed that my story was, while perhaps not unique, at least not the norm. But this book is a catalog of people who had the same experiences. In fact, the very first college student we meet is a self-described “Piper fiend” and part of a Seventh Day Adventist Church!

Young, Restless, Reformed is not a utilitarian book. It is not a polemical book, it does not argue for Calvinism. It does not seek to be objective, despite Hansen’s awkward insistence on reminding us every few chapters that he is a journalist. But what it does, it does well. It presents a series of snap-shots of the Reformed landscape in the United States, and these pictures are zoomed in on the 20-something crowd that is likely to be wearing the “Jonathan Edwards is my homeboy” shirt featured on the cover. If you have ever asked yourself, “where are all these Calvinists coming from?” then this book is for you.

A final note: this book is the initial source for the Christianity Today article where Mark Driscoll voiced his displeasure over a Pulpit article MacArthur wrote. That exchange seems much less controversial in the context of the book than it did in the much shorter CT article. ( )
2 vote jarbitro | Jul 25, 2008 |
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