Saturday 1 March 2014

"The New Calvinism Considered" by Jeremy Walker

For those who keep up to date with the latest trends in the reformed and evangelical world you will be aware of a growing Calvinistic movement. It is labelled The "New Calvinism" by Jeremy Walker, but Collin Hansen wrote a book in 2008 which coined the phrase "Young, Restless and Reformed" and it was the title of his book. Though this book captures something of this growing movement, the word "restless" indicates some potential problems with the movement as well.

Jeremy Walker assesses this broad and rather fluid movement in his book published by Evangelical Press in 2013. Jeremy himself is young (in his 30's) and a conservative reformed baptist. His congregation where he ministers in Crawley, England, upholds the 1689 Baptist Confession with a conservative view of worship. The book did not take me long to read and I was thankful for it, in that it gave me a broad sweep of this developing group of people and churches, mainly, but not exclusively in the USA.

Jeremy identifies that many well known figures such as John Piper, John MacArthur, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll and many others have come to an understanding of the sovereignty of God and the five points of Calvinism which is their main unifying platform. However, after that it can be worked out in a plethora of ways in terms of worship, varieties of eschatology's, belief in the continuation of charismatic gifts (or not) and so forth. The book is brief, it paints with "broad brush strokes", but it is helpful to make us all think through critically the direction of this movement. However, other authors need to follow up with books with "more beef" to give more detailed theological critiques of some of the inherent problems of a Calvinism that is not well-grounded in a biblical and historic doctrine of the church.

For myself, my pilgrimage to the reformed faith began with an understanding of the book of Romans, by reading the series on Romans by Lloyd-Jones. However, it has been painful to allow the word of God act as a plough to turn over my thoughts in every arena of my thinking, so that every aspect of my understanding of the church has had to be reshaped and re-formed as well. It is a contradiction to hold to Calvinistic ideas of salvation and then to vigorously pursue Arminian methods in worship and evangelism. This does not mean that being reformed cannot also mean to be vigorously committed to missions, far from it.

If you read this book by Jeremy Walker, then I hope that it will lead readers to further study. For the serious minded, I recommend Book Four of the "Institutes" by John Calvin or "The Glorious Body of Christ" by R. B. Kuiper.

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