Yesterday, a cousin from California sent us the link to an article in time.com dated 17 April 2009. It was called The New Calvinism by David Van Biema.
The article speaks of Calvinism becoming popular again and describes it thus:
“Calvinism . . . 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.”
As committed Christians, the Lord Jesus has been our Master and Saviour and a faithful Guide for many many years. About five years ago this same cousin from California introduced us to Calvinism. At first we did not think much of it, but it grew on us and delighted us more and more. Today we love the reformed doctrines as well as the rich background and history. I am sure that many non Calvanists would also love this teaching if given the kind of gracious opportunity that we were given.
We have since had the privilege of helping many others from our old church, Evangelical Bible Assembly (EBA) in India, including their pastor, my father, who now lives with us in New Zealand, to understand this doctrine. So we have been feeling that we are experiencing a revival of sorts as far as the EBA family is concerned.
But this article seems to describe a much bigger revival, although it does not use the word ‘revival’. It must be big if the secular press comments on it. Revivals are good for us and bad for us.
They are good because the right preachers are not fighting hard to be heard. It is always the easy to do the popular thing. For a change it suddenly becomes easy to do what God wants us to do.
But there is another side that we have to watch out for. From what I have experienced of revivals, with revivals, come conversions on a much larger scale, and with this larger scale come many conversions that are not genuine. It is easy to acquire jargons, prayers, songs, and postures when revival is in the air without any accompanying change of heart. Associations of light with darkness are not that easy to prevent anymore.
Sadly, this article makes subtle mention of the lack of unity among Calvinists. Just this morning Philip was telling me about the polarisation of people over a particular issue that is evident in the comments made in Tim Challies’ post Missing the Forest for all the Trees. When men of God disagree, we need patient and godly people who wait on the Lord for help, without making evocative remarks.
The article ends with a thought-provoking comment:
“Calvin’s 500th birthday will be this July. It will be interesting to see whether Calvin’s latest legacy will be classic Protestant backbiting or whether, during these hard times, more Christians searching for security will submit their wills to the austerely demanding God of their country’s infancy.”
This article has raised a ton of discussion here in the States. Some think it’s a horrible thing, others find it encouraging. I thought it surprisingly balanced in it’s representation, considering the secular source. And it is true that Calvinists need to fight against a divisive tendency. I passed by an article recently on how to avoid the stage of being Reformed where you should be locked away from others until you become tolerable. I think I’ll dig it up and send you the link.