Tag Archives: Calvinism

God save Calvinism from her friends, as well as her enemies! McKnight blogs Stewart’s new book


Engraved from the original oil painting in the...

Engraved from the original oil painting in the University Library of Geneva, this is considered Calvin’s best likeness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friend Ken Stewart has a new book out, and Scot McKnight is blogging through it in his inimitable style. Well worth reading. A few samples from today’s “episode”:

We are in Ken Stewart’s debt for his enough-is-enough book, Ten Myths About Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition. Non-Calvinists are not always informed about Calvinism, and are sometimes fond of pointed jabs that do not describe Calvinists accurately, and so a book like this that shows both deep commitment to Calvinism and friendly fire is one we all need. He is also concerned as well with those Calvinists who think they’ve got it figured out but don’t. What Stewart’s book will do is humble Calvinists into thinking their family is more diverse than is often supposed.

And a summary of the ten myths exposed by Ken: Continue reading

Pietism, Calvinism, and vocation – reflections from Bethel’s Chris Gehrz


Chris GehrzPlease, talk among yourselves as we at Bethel University engage in a little love-fest.

My colleague in the College of Arts and Sciences, historian Chris Gehrz, always provides lively insights on his Pietist Schoolman blog. Today, triggered by my post here on the divine value of secular vocation, Chris said some nice things about me on that blog. Then he mused a bit on Pietist (lack of?) contribution to thought about vocation, and some of his favorite sources on the same topic, which happen to be Reformed.

I’m skipping the encomiums (but thanks, Chris!) and moving to the latter part of his post:

Where I talk with students about vocation, I have to admit that I’m drawing chiefly on the Reformed tradition: from the section of John Calvin’s Institutes (on being faithful to one’s divine calling) that is my favorite thing to teach to the first-year students in our Christianity and Western Culture course to theFrederick Buechner sermon on calling that I discuss with our department’s seniors at the end of their capstone seminar. It’s no surprise that, when I started talking about vocation in my initial tenure interview, our then-provost (now-president) chuckled, “For a Pietist, you sure sound like a Calvinist.” Continue reading

Historians at play


See below for some great church-historical posts from this week in cyberspace. There’s more where these came from: my Bethel University colleague Chris Gehrz’s (yes, that’s his smiling mug at right) new blog, The Pietist Schoolman.

Rob Bell’s book Love Wins – an excellent review by a friend


Folks, I know this is considerably “late to the party,” but I just discovered my friend Edwin Woodruff Tait’s recent review of Rob Bell‘s controversial Love Wins, and I believe it’s worth pointing you all to. This is in part because the kerfuffle over Bell’s book has not yet entirely died down, as thoughtful evangelicals (and many polemicists) are still discussing (hurling vitriol at) the book and its author. [For an excellent historical “backgrounder” on the issues raised by Bell in his book, see the article by Christianity Today managing editor Mark Galli here.]

First, the review link, so you can look at it yourself, and then a few clips.

The review may be read here. (And may I add: Edwin, I’m proud to know you!)

Now a few clips (of course, several links of several logical chains are missing in what follows–if you are interested in the whole argument, you should go to the link above):

As I understand this broader argument, it works something like this:

1. Salvation is God’s redeeming and transforming work in the world, overcoming our sinfulness and restoring us to a right relationship with God, one another, and creation.

This seems like it shouldn’t be controversial to me, but certainly many evangelicals speak as if salvation was simply about having our sins forgiven and going to heaven. Continue reading

Zinzendorf’s lecture #6–That It Is Blessedness and Happiness to Be a Human Soul


Here is a brief summary and commentary on the sixth lecture of Nicolaus Ludwig Count von Zinzendorf, Bishop of the Church of the Moravian Brethren, from Nine Public Lectures on Important Subjects in Religion, preached in Fetter Lane Chapel in London in the Year 1746.  Translated and Edited by George W. Forell, Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, 1973.

Again, this was from early in my graduate experience, 1994-1995, in Dr. Richard Lovelace’s class on the Pietist Renewal at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Lecture VI–That It Is Blessedness and Happiness to Be a Human Soul

‘In the sixth it is clearly proved that being a human soul is in and of itself a blessing for which one can never thank his Creator enough.’ (xxxii)

Text:  John 1:11-12 ‘He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.’

[NOTE:  are we here to find that stress on adoption that Packer finds so woefully missing from much of historical theology?  In a non-theologian?  Perhaps this is not so surprising, if it is true.  Certainly, Zinzendorf appears to dwell on the fringes of, if not within, a lively sense of the overmastering wonder of adoption!] Continue reading

“Wrightians” vs. “Neo-Reformed”–an interesting article about two parties in today’s evangelicalism


This is an important article, though I think there are far more “parties” within evangelicalism today than the two mentioned. I’d be very interested to hear readers’ thoughts on this one, however brief. Y’all come back and post once you’ve read it!

Evangelicalism’s hidden liturgical and confessional past


Can revivalistic emotion and liturgical reverence co-exist? What about spontaneous worship and doctrinal carefulness? Yes, these can be part of the same religious experience–indeed, these seemingly contradictory elements coexisted at the very taproot of evangelical history. I explored this in a post on Christianity Today’s history blog:

Evangelicalism’s Hidden Liturgical and Confessional Past

by Chris Armstrong

The emotional energy of Cane Ridge and other early frontier revivals arose from a strong emphasis on the Eucharist.

Camp_Meeting_(Burbank_1839)_cropped.jpg

Many evangelicals – especially younger ones – are today re-engaging tradition. Other evangelicals worry about this re-engagement. They feel that to move toward a more liturgical form of worship or a more fixed, detailed style of theological “confession” is to give up the freer, more emotional worship style or more grass-roots, straightforward doctrinal and theological style won for us by such evangelical forefathers as the 18th century’s John Wesley or the 19th century’s Charles Finney.

I want to suggest that one way forward to healthier engagement with tradition for modern-day evangelicals is through a look at our own recent past. For American revivalism itself grew on unexpected foundations of liturgy and doctrinal confession. Continue reading