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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « The Christ-Centered Nature of the Doctrines of Grace | Main | John Owen & John Bunyan »

    Why Reformed?

    Lately, there seems to be growing interest in the resurgence of Calvinism and Reformed Theology among the younger generation of Evangelicals. Persons from within Evangelicalism/Fundamentalism, as well as outsiders, are taking note, and wondering what could be fueling the phenomenon. I was recently approached by someone asking for possible reasons or motivations underlying this resurgence among younger evangelicals, and after a little deliberation I came up with five motivations that I see at work, as listed below. I am sure there are others, but these seem highly instrumental to me. What do the rest of you think?

    1. Dissatisfaction with the theology and religious
    environment of our parents. The milieu in which we
    grew up was characterized on the one hand by a
    high-stress, high-guilt, man-powered striving after
    sanctification, evangelism, etc., that left a great
    deal of burned-out and disillusioned Christians all
    around us. On the other hand, the services and worship
    were often characterized by a frivolity and
    superficiality that left us unsatisfied and longing
    for more substance. The combination was virtually
    unsustainable for the long term. We were constantly
    striving to obey a long list of rules and standards,
    by our own efforts, feeling the crushing weight of
    guilt for our many failures, for all the unevangelized
    people around us whom we passed on the streets without
    sharing the gospel, and whose blood was therefore on
    our hands, and so on. And then, on Sunday, to be
    recharged and equipped for another week of
    will-motivated strivings, we sang a handful of trite and trivial choruses. It
    just didn't cut it. When Reformed doctrine came into
    the picture, it was the most liberating and
    captivating thing that could be imagined. All of a
    sudden, my salvation, sanctification, acceptance with
    God, and so on, wasn't dependent on me. God was
    responsible for my salvation, from beginning to end. I
    didn't produce faith from my own dead and hardened
    nature in the first place, even that was a gift of
    God; and what God had begun, God would finish. And
    then, in proportion as my view of myself diminished,
    my view of my Savior increased, to such an extent that
    gazing on his manifold perfections truly was an
    unending source of delight and nourishment for the
    Christian race. My rest became my strength, my despair
    in myself became my confidence in Another, my
    confidence apart from my works became the motivation
    by which my works abounded as a labor of love and not
    a torture of guilt.

    2. Desire for a rootedness and connectedness with the
    historic faith. We also became quite dismayed over the
    fragmentation of the Evangelical Church, the
    consumer-minded, individualistic shopping for the
    denomination, worship style, and points of doctrine
    which are “right for you,” which is so characteristic of
    the American protestant culture. The Reformed
    tradition has a rich legacy of unbroken doctrinal
    tradition from the days of the Reformers, who
    themselves labored to show their connectedness and
    continuity with the Church fathers and apostles.

    3. The resurgence of Puritan literature. There is no
    greater motivation to become Reformed than reading the
    light-and-heat writings of Edwards and others, who
    evinced a doctrinal depth, exegetical precision, and
    ardor of heart like no one else. Banner of Truth
    Trust, J. I. Packer's intros and popularizing, etc.,
    are having a tremendous impact.

    4. John Piper. He is probably the major reason that
    there is such a high percentage of Reformed Baptists
    in the modern resurgence. But many paedo-baptists also
    love him and have learned much from his passionate and
    articulate recasting of Reformed Theology for the
    Church of today.

    5. The internet (and Monergism in particular).
    Monergism was the website which introduced me and many
    of my friends to the Reformed worldview, and it
    continues to have an impact on our thinking, studying,
    etc. Just the growing availability of reliable
    resources on the internet has been phenomenally
    helpful, and sites like Monergism, where all the best
    contemporary and classic resources of historic
    Christianity are available at the click of a button,
    has greatly facilitated the desire to be "always
    reforming" (semper reformanda).

    Posted by Nathan on April 7, 2008 12:22 PM

    Comments

    How the first point resonates within me. It articulates just how much has changed in the life I now live.

    This sounds about right. For me it has been John Piper's biographical sketches which led me to Church History and the Puritans, which led me to monergism.com and I think all the other things mentioned were tied into the three things mentioned above. Thanks for the post!

    Nathan,

    I would probably include John MacArthur in item #4 along with John Piper. The Lord has used him mightily in the lives of many, many folks to open their eyes to the truth of the Biblical doctrines of grace.

    But beyond the list you've provided I personally believe that the Spirit Himself is the root cause behind the obvious resurgence of men and women from all sorts of various backgrounds coming to the knowledge of the glorious doctrines of grace.

    I personally know many newly Reformed believers who have come out of non-Reformed backgrounds over the last several years, many of them having been deeply entrenched in their vain traditions of men professing Christian systems of belief - myself included.

    I believe there's a quiet Reformation taking place within the broader professing church wherein the Lord of Hosts is calling His remnant "out of her"; the harlot last days Laodician church that abounds and dominates the barren, desolate landscape of modern Christianity.

    There is a new Great Awakening occurring and it's solely attributable to the finger of God. This is the work of the Lord and it's marvelous in our eyes.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    In Christ,
    CD

    The critical factor for me, I believe, was when God opened my heart to the gospel at age 19, He showed me that He is God and I am not. (Rom 9:15-16)

    The first few points completely describe me. I would also add that reading the New Testament, R.C. Sproul and the ministry of Faithdefenders.com were what finally did it for me-and the providence of God of course. The question that I've been kicking around at my blog is: what do we call ourselves? It caught my eye that "Resurgence" or even "Resurgent" has been tossed around. If anyone has any ideas, do let me know. I've thought of "New Reformed" as something of a possibility.

    I'd have to agree with CD above; I've talked to quite a few people lately in this New Reformed era who have asked if Arminians are saved. I have to say, Yes, but they are unsanctified in their thinking, as was I nearly a year ago. The Spirit is sovereign in our regeneration, illumination, and sanctification, and that's what He did with me. My salvation and the journey to Reformed faith was all of His grace. I do believe that the Spirit is using many of these great things you have listed above to ignite a fire that will bring the Church out of Her slumber into the life changing, Christ honoring, Spirit-filled, Truth defending, heresy crushing Body we were created to be.

    All of the above was quite good, but I would add the most important one: God has graciously granted the church a revival of the Truth in a time of great error!

    John Piper, that's really funny. True, but funny. Years ago he was the first stepping stone to my mind being made up for the tradition of reformed theology. Good list!

    Okay, first of all, if anybody is Reformed for those reasons, that's ridiculous. Yes,
    I am dissatisfied by my parents' "faith". Yes, I desire a connectedness to the historic faith. Yes, I read Puritan literature, and love it. Yes, I love John Piper and his ministry. And yes, I'm on Monergism.com quite a bit. BUT!!! I love the Reformed faith not because of ANY of those reasons. I love it because it is found ALL THROUGHOUT Scripture.

    The Lord enlightened my mind and heart with these truths in the middle of explaining to someone that they are stupid. I read through passage after passage of Scripture, showing the person with me how Calvinists interpret Scripture horribly. And in the blink of an eye, as I was reading through Romans 9, God spoke light into my soul. And I've never known grace like it before.

    So please, quit calling people Reformed who only jump on the bandwagon. If God hasn't opened the Scriptures up to them personally, then they don't know what they believe. And that makes them the same as their parents.

    Romans 9, especially v18 was exactly I used to point to my friend to explain'GOD Chooses' BUT rejected bitterly. God uses different ways to penetrate our dead soul, people, scriptures, circumstances, so we can see His light. Before I encountered reformed teaching by a missionary, I thought I knew God. I thought it was all about His love for ME, dying for ME,He cares for ME,I AM special...(which indeed are all true yet more.), it was more like even Jesus serves me, I must be God, it's 100% ME centered. I had no idea what was reformed, who was calvin. My missionary friend presented the way the Bible speaks. My first reaction to predestination and election. That's NOT FAIR! and when he said God chooses whom He wants to save, it was a spiritual earthquake. By His Grace, He opens my eyes, my ears, my mind, not overnight, but gradually to see my sin and His glory. Now I read the Scriptures in a completely different perspective. I know I don't deserve Him.I believe one must not be REFORMED to be saved but understanding reformed theology makes one appreciates God's Grace and His love much profoundly. Being reformed, we see all Scripture link together very logically but it does not mean any logic to others.(so it goes back to effectual calling.) Taking myself as example, when I was not 'reformed',(maybe I should replace it with regenerated), I took it for granted and I thought I entitled to something from Him. 'Hey,How could He save John and not me? what's so good about him?'. I am grateful with monergism.com, the first time I found it online, my eyes lighted up.I am also grateful to all the reformed authors and preachers or anyone who do Christ-centered teachings this generation and before, because they held the light reflected from Christ up to make the path brighter so who comes after can see better. Jesus said 'We are light to the world.' Soli Deo Gloria, Solus Christus. Sola Gratia

    It has to be by the Word that we come to believe these truths. While in seminary we had neighbors that heavily promoted Calvinism and I wondered what these strange doctrines were . . . they were so foreign to the man-centered, emotional, shallow stuff I was saved under. I listened and wanted to know more but found it different from the view of God I had and the view of salvation I had formed. But then while studying a totally unrelated subject in the Bible God gave me light and I saw it . . . plainly, clearly, simply.

    I enjoyed reading each of your 5 reasons (and would have to add Founders.org to the list for it's influence in Baptist life) but would have to say that it was the Word that made the difference.

    I agree that the resurgence of reformed thinking is due solely to the work of the Holy Spirit. Working through the Scriptures, the Lord has graciously reformed my thinking over the last 3 years.

    But I also agree with the points Nathan raised above. I was raised in the SBC and was taught to reject the main tenants of reformed faith. But in my late 20's I grew restless with my faith. It didn't have the depth and the answers for life I thought it should have. So I began searching the Scripture for truth, and I found myself disagreeing with much of what I was taught as a child and young man. Over the course of a year or so, I discovered Spurgeon, Sproul, Piper, Grudem, Driscoll, and others, and found that what they were teaching more closely aligned with Scripture as I was reading it. It was then that I realized I wasn't alone in my understanding, and that there was a name for this understanding of Scripture, Reformed. It was then that I began to get the systematic understanding of the doctrines of grace.

    So yes, the Lord used the Scripture primarily, but I would say the Lord also used my own dissatisfaction with the theology of my upbringing, and the writings of these humble servants of His, to bring me to a reformed view of Scripture.

    JI Packer's Knowing God is a book that has led many to these great truths, I think. Macarthur's preaching was instrumental, Whitefield's biography, and John Piper. When I was in college I went to RUF and heard all this, but it fell on deaf ears at that time. I still think it was instrumental in some mysterious way.

    James

    Amen brother. For me, all but one is true. My parents, being older, were of a purer line. But John Piper, Edwards and other Puritans have been instruments in God's hands to deliver me to a purer theology. Blessings to you.

    Ron Foster
    www.graceappearance.blogspot.com

    I would have to have to pin #4 [with the addition of Mark Driscoll and John MacArthur] and #5 [Monergism rules!!!] to my adoption and acceptance of the Reformed worldview.

    The same would be true for a lot of young 'uns like myself.

    Douglas [age 17]
    London, England

    The compartmentalization of everyday modern evangelical life and denial of the spirit behind verses like Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8 by Dispensationalism caused me to jump to Reformed Theology.

    Not to mention, R.C. Sproul's "Willing To Believe" was unspeakably profound, eyeopening and relieving.

    I heartily agree with point #4. Pastor John has been revolutionary in my understanding of the Christian Faith. Others have included R.C. Sproul, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, and J.I. Packer.

    I pray that God continues to use these men, while bringing many more to forefront of evangelicalism to preach truth and understanding to an age of pluralism, relativism, pessimism, and a whole slew of other isms.

    Thanks for this list man!

    benjamin

    When BSF International first studied Romans in 1999-2000 I was undone as God clearly showed me the truth of what I know now is Reformed Theology. From there He used Boice, Sproul, Packer and the guys at the White Horse Inn to teach me and strengthen my understanding. My heart sang as I discovered the scriptural teaching in the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism and years of doubt were replaced with assurance of salvation.

    It is great to see young men take such an interest in Biblical Theology! It is part of living a Spirit led life! The Holy Spirit has moved in the hearts of the younger generations. He is the immovable mover behind this reformation of young hearts. To God be the glory for what he has done! By Him and Through Him all things consist!

    I'm not sure I'm still considered young at 35, but I identify with all those points.

    And it was not without difficulty. Accepting the doctrines of sovereign grace, amillennialism, Baptist covenantalism- these doctrines I hold close and dear today produced anger on my part when I first heard of them. But as happens with so many, my search to disprove these doctrines brought me by God's grace to acceptance and then a hunger for more.

    Monergism.com's outstanding ministry played a huge part in my developing theology. I pray that we will one day celebrate Monergism's 50th anniversary!

    Until a few months ago I did not know there even was a resurgance of Calvinism and Reformed Theology. I am new to the Calvinist Reformed Faith, I was raised Pentecostal but the last several years I have had a growing discontentment with their loose theology. A few years ago I read the devotional (The Passion of Jesus Christ) by John Piper. This book resonated deep within me and I needed to know more about this guy John Piper. Well long story short I stumbled around the internet and found Monergism.com and through the writings and sermons of John Piper, R.C. Spoul and Monergism.com I have guided by the Holy Spirit into the historic faith delivered once and for all to the saints.

    I love what you wrote, I felt like I was reading my spiritual biogrophy. I was holding back tears because I can totally relate. I will be 30 this year and I look towards the future knowing I have a rock solid foundation in the Full Gospel. My two children will not be raised Penecostal they will be raised in the faith of St. Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgan, Sproul and Piper.

    I would like to add one more reason for the resurgance. We live at a moment in history when everything seems uncertian, 911 woke this generation up to this. The geo-political landscape is evolving and shifting faster than we can keep up with. Culture and technology merge and develope in ways that defy comprehension. War, genocide and antibiotic resistant viruses. As a Christian I need to know that some things have never changed. The Church has often shifted and changed, and tried to reinvent itself every few years, but one thing has not. The Gospel.

    I praise the Lord for the renewed interest in Calvinism and Reformed Theology. Over a long period of time I have come to embrace the Doctrines of Grace and Covenant Theology because I believe that they are consistent with Scripture. My theological education was dispensational and the move towards Calvinism and Reformed Theology was slow, but I'm thankful that the Lord has graciously helped me see the beauty and the consistency of this position in His Word. My fear is that those who passionately hold to the Doctrines of Grace and Reformed Theolgy will exhibit attitudes that are inconsistent with Christlikeness towards those who may be on a theological journey as I have been. I have appreciated John Piper because he is not only passionate in his beliefs but reflects the love of Christ even when he tells it like it is. By the way, I'm almost 63 years old and have served for years as a pastor and now as a missionary in Asia.

    These points resonate very strongly with me as well. I share a common background with Pitchford's, and let me just speak a word of defense on these points. Of course the H.S. through Script-re is ultimately responsible for the position to which many of us have come.

    What we are examining, however, is the observable factors for dissatisfaction within our former context. Each of these points, even the positive ones, may be read largely as a criticism of the weaknesses in our respective movements. Now, if there were no flaws in our former way of thinking, we would have no reason to leave would we?

    So then, for many of us the circumstances created a hunger and dissatisfaction which was instrumental and making us hungry for what we would later discover in the Word; and behind it all was the Sp'r't.

    So yes, it was G0d in His gr@ce who opened our eyes to the fact that, work though we might, we could never attain our own sanctification by our works. It was He who showed us the beauty of the unity of the body of Chr'st. It was He who granted us the feeling of kinship with the Puritans and Piper.

    However, the fact that He was ultimately back of the dissatisfaction we felt and our feeling with the insufficiencies of what we came from in no way nullifies Pitchford's naming these insufficiencies (as well as the more positive points) as factors in our change.

    The mass conversion of many former evangelicals to Roman Catholicism was the one used by God for me to know the truths of Reformed Theology. Dr. James White's website, AOMIN.org, was especially useful in my journey.

    WHI in 2006. The first program I heard was during their Romans Revolution, entitled, "Saved from What?" From the wrath of God. Totally new concept for this former Church of Christ woman! My whole outlook and reverence for God has been forevery changed. Soli Deo Gloria!

    I believe Piper was instrumental in opening my eyes to Reformed Theology.
    I believe it is the working of the Holy Spirit. I have been a member of a SBC for over 25 years. Its not just young men but also 45+ not so
    young women also. It does seem like
    a revival of truth.
    Blessing to Piper, Sproul and my Pastor

    I loved reading all the above and praise our Lord for the wonderful testimony of His grace!
    It was 2000 and I was both hungry and thirsty and in reading scripture I was stunned by Acts 13:48 What? it clearly said, 'those ordained to eternal life believed'!! Wow! Then I read The Sovereignty of God by AW Pink and prayed and prayed to be guided to a 'real' church. I knew He knew what I meant by that, one that didnt celebrate life with motivational speeches each week. I wanted to hear scripture! Thankfully I was invited to a reformed church the next week, though I had no idea what'reformed' meant. I had grown up in a pentecostal home and always knew a piece was missing to the Great Puzzle! I found it in a reformed church hearing the Word preached solidly and clearly!

    I rejected this veiw of scripture in every area. Then about six months ago I was reading the scriptures and it was like there was light bulb after light bulb turning on inside me. Like someone said above. I never knew God's grace like this. It was a gift of God. This is the truth and we must share it.

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