Time Magazine has published a fascinating article discussing 10 ideas that are changing the world right now. The list is a broad set of concepts, from the economy to biology to theology. David Van Biema, the author of the article, correctly identifies a growing stream of evangelical thought and, to his credit, is fair in his assessment of this “world changing” development. What is this world changing idea in the realm of conservative Christianity? Calvinism.
If you are engaged at all in the evangelical community then the increased presence of Calvinism, especially among our young students of theology, is an obvious reality. Southern Seminary is leading the charge, through the leadership of Al Mohler (who is quoted in the article) in a revitalization of Calvin’s thought. Although Calvinism dominated Colonial America up to the 1800’s, after the influence of the 2nd Great Awakening and other factors, Arminianism gradually became ascendent. Most SBC’ers today hold to a strange blending of the two; holding firm to free will and choice, but maintaining Calvin’s perserverance of the saints.
Although I appreciate the sincerity of the article, I am a bit confused. I’m just not sure how Calvinism is changing the world. I’m not sure how any theological system changes the world. Theology and right thinking about God is crucial and necessary and the God to which Calvinism points has all power and authority to change the world. I don’t have quite the same confidence in John Calvin. I hold to more of a Calvin perspective than I do Arminian, so I am glad to see Time Magazine recognize the importance of this development. But only through the power of Jesus Christ working in the hearts of “Calvinists” or “Arminians” who have a heart to love and share the good news of the gospel will change the world. Calvinism, on its face, is just that. Calvinism. The gospel, however, is the power for salvation for all who will believe. That will change the world.
So, read the article. It is well written. I hope that Calvinism does change the world, but not by becoming a more dominant theological system, but by the men and women who have a heart for the spiritual well being of other people.