Calvinism making a comeback on some college campuses

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by KenH, Mar 27, 2003.

  1. KenH

    KenH
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    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."
     
  2. TheTravelingMinstrel

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    Seems like someone doesn't know what calvinism is.
     
  3. ScottEmerson

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    Ah, man - just so many good quotes here!

    "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."

    "It has a militant nature, especially around the issue of worship," Hatchett observed. "Calvinists imply non-Calvinists can't worship as well as Calvinists."

    "Another lost a church staff job because he refused to visit church prospects, leaving their outcomes to God's will."

    ** ANd please note, everyone ***

    "Like Calvin, Arminius affirmed God's sovereignty, grace and ability to protect the saints."

    And I have followed the ministry of Louie Giglio with the Passion and the OneDay conferences. Piper has spoken at them, but he has never, to my knowledge, preached overt (or even covert) Calvinism. (I just got the OneDay Live DVD, and it's got a whole message by him on it).

    Before I get flamed or anything, please note that a Calvinist was the one who posted this. Thanks!
     
  4. npetreley

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    I"m having trouble picturing what militant calvinism would be like.

    "You had better be predestined to be saved, or else!"

    ;)
     
  5. William C

    William C
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    Militant simply means that they are very active in converting others to become Calvinistic. I was once a "militant" Calvinist.

    I heard a Calvinistic pastor friend once say that after a person first becomes a Calvinist he should be locked up for about two years until he "tones" down a bit.

    I agree with this. Calvinists, especially young immature ones, have a tendency to out "Calvin" John Calvin and teach extreme views of their system causing much more division and confusion than necessary (even for Calvinism).

    [ March 28, 2003, 12:08 PM: Message edited by: Brother Bill ]
     
  6. TheTravelingMinstrel

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    that article is way off base. real reformed doctrine is nothing like that.

    I am willing to wager that all this was writen on someone's ignorance of what real reformed doctrine is.
     
  7. KenH

    KenH
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    This article was published by the liberal Associated Baptist Press.

    Just so you will know what kind of bias they have. [​IMG]

    Now to answer those who will ask, "What do you mean by liberal?" It means support for the idea of women pastors, lack of support for the current edition of the Baptist Faith and Message, etc.
     
  8. ScottEmerson

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    AH! Heaven forbid we allow women to preach at church! What would ever happen to us then?

    (Sorry, I'm of the opinion that women speaking in church is not as taboo as people make it out to be. I've got loads of Scriptural stuff, but this isn't the place for it.

    BTW, listen to Beth Moore or Anne Graham Lotz and tell me they aren't anointed by God to preach!)
     
  9. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Don't have to listen to them to tell you that. We can look at Scripture and tell you that. But as you say, this isn't the place for it. So let's keep our posts on topic here.

    Thanks
     
  10. romanbear

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    Hi TheTravelingMinstrel;
    Aquote from you;
    ----------------------------------------------
    Seems like someone doesn't know what calvinism is.

    ------------------------------------------------
    Most of the people who sit in the pews don't know what it is.Most have never heard of Arminiansm either
    Romanbear
     
  11. Frogman

    Frogman
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    Kind of like Billism? Where the extremity 'suggests' the particular election of some, but the preservation of 'sovereignty' by forcing others to overcome the dead will of man in order to be saved.

    You are right to agree with your pastor friend.

    Bro. Dallas
     

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