Calvinism is back, and not just musically. John Calvin’s 16th century reply to medieval Catholicism’s buy-your-way-out-of-purgatory excesses is Evangelicalism’s latest success story, complete with an utterly sovereign and micromanaging deity, sinful and puny humanity, and the combination’s logical consequence, predestination: the belief that before time’s dawn, God decided whom he would save (or not), unaffected by any subsequent human action or decision.
Like the Calvinists, more moderate Evangelicals are exploring cures for the movement’s doctrinal drift, but can’t offer the same blanket assurance. “A lot of young people grew up in a culture of brokenness, divorce, drugs or sexual temptation,” says Collin Hansen, author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists. “They have plenty of friends: what they need is a God.” Mohler says, “The moment someone begins to define God’s [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist.” Of course, that presumption of inevitability has drawn accusations of arrogance and divisiveness since Calvin’s time. Indeed, some of today’s enthusiasts imply that non-Calvinists may actually not be Christians. Skirmishes among the Southern Baptists (who have a competing non-Calvinist camp) and online “flame wars” bode badly.
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 is a great sign to see. Hopefully, when we finally get off this idea that we somehow have something to do with our salvation, i.e. my false god of a free will when it comes to my salvation, and realize that our salvation, and every aspect of our lives, are for His glory and not ours, then the gospel will really take a hold of the church once again.
By the way, do you get the idea that I really hate this idea of man’s free will??? To me, that is the biggest plague on the gospel of Christ and stunts the effectiveness because by holding on to my free will, I rob God’s glory in saving me. Yes, I did make a choice to believe in Jesus Christ. But that was only AFTER His Spirit move in my heart, renewed me, regenerated me, caused me to be born again, gave me spiritual life, that I finally desired Christ. In other words, without the movement of the Holy Spirit, then I’m still dead in my trespasses and sins. Yes, I had a choice, but not until He moved. So who gets the glory? God does.
I truly believe that when true Calvinism is preached, which is the true biblical gospel of Christ, then the Spirit will truly move. In fact, according Iain H. Murray, in his book Revival & Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750 – 1858, the only time that true revival has ever come is when Calvinism was the dominant theology of the day. Charles Finney brought on nothing more than emotional manipulation, and did more harm to the church that many try to say today. By the time he arrived on the scene during the Second Great Awakening, the Awakening was already over.
Now from this, don’t think that I don’t believe in evangelism, or calling people to trust in Christ. I do. I just know that if they truly trust in Christ, that is because of the Holy Spirit’s actions, not mine or the person who believes. He gets all the glory.