This is an interesting article from abpnews.com/abpnews/story.cfm?newsId=3506. Calvinism making a comeback on some college campuses By Marv Knox Associated Baptist Press - www.abpnews.com March 27, 2003 Volume: 03-29-3506 GRAPEVINE, Texas (ABP) -- The best antidote for "aggressive Calvinism" is a good dose of Calvin and a bigger dose of the Bible, a trio of Baptist religion professors told their colleagues. The trio examined how Calvinism is impacting college and seminary students. The National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion's Southwest chapter sponsored their discussion during its annual meeting in Grapevine March 14. John Calvin was a 16th-century Christian reformer and theologian. Although his famous "Institutes of the Christian Religion" covers a range of theological issues, his teaching often is summed up in the acrostic TULIP: Total depravity of humanity, Unconditional election by God, Limited atonement or salvation, Irresistible grace of God, and Perseverance of the saints, or what many often call "once-saved, always-saved." Although Calvinism has been represented in Baptist theology for almost four centuries, it has enjoyed a recent resurgence. The Founders' Conference actively promotes Calvinism – or "doctrines of grace," as they prefer -- with a journal and an annual meeting. And the faculty at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., has collected a cohort of Calvinists. Thousands of students have been influenced by the Calvinistic teachings of John Piper, a pastor and former professor from Minneapolis. His books hit the religion bestseller lists, and he speaks at numerous student gatherings, such as Southern Baptist seminaries, Glorieta Conference Center and the hugely popular Passion and One Day youth conferences, led by Louie Giglio. Panel moderator Randy Hatchett, professor of Christianity and philosophy at Houston Baptist University, noted Calvinism has emerged in church youth settings in his area. "It has a militant nature, especially around the issue of worship," Hatchett observed. "Calvinists imply non-Calvinists can't worship as well as Calvinists." He asked the panelists if they had seen a resurgence of Calvinism among students. "There's an aggressive movement of Calvinism at many colleges, and it's even reached into our youth groups and into parachurch youth groups," said Roger Olson, professor of theology at Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary in Waco. "They've decided to take back popular folk religion. They're reaching into youth groups, pressuring them to adopt Calvinism," he added. "I have nothing against garden-variety Calvinism, but aggressive Calvinism is another matter." Preban Vang, professor of theology at Ouachita Baptist University, said Calvinism has been "no problem" on the campus in Arkadelphia, Ark. In fact, some students have reacted against the aggressive push by some Calvinists, he added. "I have had to stand up in class and defend Calvin, or he would be trashed like some kind of televangelist." Warren McWilliams, professor of Bible at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, said Calvinism there "never has been strong, but it hasn't gone away either." When he arrived on campus in the late 1970s, he encountered some students who opposed artificial birth control. "We're Calvinists," they explained, meaning they trusted God's sovereign will regarding the birth of children. Occasionally students have emphasized Calvinism, he recalled. One preached a strongly Calvinistic message during a student weekend in the churches. Another lost a church staff job because he refused to visit church prospects, leaving their outcomes to God's will. "'Resurgence' isn't a word I would use for Calvinism, but it's definitely there," McWilliams said. Hatchett asked the panelists how to present a constructive Baptist response to Calvinism. Olson and McWilliams advised urging students to actually read what Calvin wrote. Vang noted all theological systems should be read and compared alongside the Bible. "I just ask Calvinist students, 'Have you actually read Calvin?'" McWilliams said. "They usually answer no. They've read someone's interpretation of Calvinism." Reading and hearing Calvin's proponents often leads people to "aggressive five-point Calvinism" that over-simplifies Calvin's teachings and leads to stridency, Olson said. "One of the best responses we can make" is to encourage students to read Calvin and other church-shaping theologians, he added. "The best we can do is educate our students. We can help them see there aren't just two answers -- right and wrong. Theology is a spectrum." For example, he noted, in addition to the teachings of Calvin, Baptists have been shaped by the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, a 16th-century theologian. Like Calvin, Arminius affirmed God's sovereignty, grace and ability to protect the saints, but he also taught that God honors human free will. Many strict Calvinists accuse Arminius of heresy, confusing or distorting him with the teaching of Pelagius, a fifth-century heretic who denied Christian grace. "Baptists always have had two strains, Arminian and Calvinist," Olson said. "Neither is heresy. We must be respectful." "We teach that we are bound to Scripture. Scripture is our authority," Vang added. "If you read something, read it alongside the [biblical] text." McWilliams understands "the aesthetic appeal, the lure of the system" that young, passionate Calvinists feel. He felt the same way when he first walked onto the OBU campus as a student, carrying his Scofield Reference Bible and a passion for pre-millennial dispensational eschatology. "It's like they've found a 'system' that is neat, makes sense, gives them a package, is biblical," he said. "It gives them a handle for their theology. It's firm and secure in response to their insecurities." But Calvinism isn't nearly so rigid as many Calvinists make it out to be, Olson said. That's particularly true among Calvinists who describe their beliefs as Reformed theology. "There's a lot of diversity," he noted. "I know leading Reformed theologians who do not believe in TULIP. These categories are not hardened. [Theologians] can be Reformed without being rigid." Vang insisted college and seminary students shouldn't embrace a theological system until they have studied and explored. "I want them to think. I don't want them to be a Calvinist or an Arminian. I want them to be able to systematically explore the Scriptures and theological thought," he said. "We ask questions to help them realize that, at age 18, 19 or 20, maybe they haven't put it all together yet."