With the publishing of Colin Hansen's book Young Restless Reformed by Crossway Books in 2008, and the formation of The Gospel Coalition around the same time, New Calvinism has emerged as a supposed revival of interest in Reformed theology. With Time magazine even giving the New Calvinism the spotlight, it seems as the next revival in Christianity has arrived - Reformed Christianity as that. However, is everything going fine in this supposed revival?
In this paper modified and submitted for the blog conference, Daniel Chew addresses certain concerns regarding this New Calvinist movement, which he sees as a descendant of the New Evangelicalism from 50+ years back. An excerpt:
A phenomenon is growing and spreading within the churches in the USA. Spurred on by the degradation of culture, the downgrade of [New] Evangelicalism, the passion and appeal of charismatic personalities such as Pastor John Piper, C.J. Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace Movement among others, and above all to the providence of God, a renewed interest in Calvinism and the reformed worldview is spreading within the Evangelical movement. Journalist Colin Hansen has researched this phenomenon and published his results in his book Young, Restless, Reformed, truly an illuminating book which shows us the growing resurgence in Calvinism in myriad sectors of the Visible Church.
As Reformed (and reforming) Christians, the current resurgence in Calvinism surely is cause for gladness. Believing with Spurgeon that "Calvinism is the Gospel and nothing else”, the turning away from the destructive errors found in modern-day bankrupt Evangelicalism with its embrace of semi-Pelagianism and Pelagianism is indeed cause for joy. Nevertheless, in observing the movement, many areas of concerns, some serious, have came up and it in this spirit that these concerns are brought up for our consideration.
Edward Sim has reviewed the article as follows:
I read Daniel Chew's article, titled "New Evangelical Calvinism: An analysis of the Calvinist Resurgence", with mixed feelings. There is so much that one can agree with. In this article, Chew highlighted 5 major issues that he found within the recent so-called "Calvinist Resurgence". These 5 issues are summarized in 4 questions and the call to be unashamed ambassadors of Christ. The 4 questions are: Will we learn from history? Will we embrace the material principle of the Gospel without embracing the formal principle of Sola Scriptura? Will we aim for rational and lifestyle consistency? Will we reject the New Evangelical infatuation with positivity? There is a sense that there is much that we can and must embrace together. It should be said from the outset that these warnings are great reminders and should be heeded. However, am I to understand these questions as veiled (if not then apparent) attacks on the recent Calvinistic Resurgence? And if so, the validity of these charges being brought forth takes on paramount importance. The aim of this review is to examine Chew's case and leave the readers to decide whether it has been convincingly and conclusively presented.
Daniel Chew has responded to Edward Sim's review here, as follows:
I am grateful for Edward Sim’s review of my article on the New Evangelical Calvinism. Though I would most definitely not be in agreement with him on some of the issues he raised, I appreciate his frankness and his desire for the truth. In a culture which desires peace at all costs, those who are willing to disagree and do it in a Christian manner as based upon the authority of Scripture are indeed rare, and it is in this sense that I appreciate Sim’s review (cf Prov. 28:23).
It must first be reiterated that this paper was initially written in response to the attack of Tim Challies on “watchbloggers” on his blog. This paper was not therefore intended to be a full-scale analysis of the current Calvinist Resurgence, and thus of the positives and negatives found in it. Also, being a movement, it is definitely the case that the movement is not monolithic and thus not everything stated would apply to everyone. The article therefore was meant to be a clarion call towards the New Calvinists of the concerns with regards to possible deficiencies in the movement itself, which of course may or may not apply to them as individuals. It must be said that I am sympathetic to the movement, being able to identify with them on certain issues like the need for having a dynamic and passionate faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, after all having experienced the transformation that comes with embracing the Doctrines of Grace later in the Christian life.
[This paper is now open for discussion]