A couple of years ago, the emerging church was getting all the attention. That changed when Collin Hansen wrote an article for Christianity Today called “Young, Restless, Reformed.” Hansen wrote:
While the Emergent “conversation” gets a lot of press for its appeal to the young, the new Reformed movement may be a larger and more pervasive phenomenon. It certainly has a much stronger institutional base. I traveled to some of the movement’s leading churches and institutions and talked to theologians, pastors, and parishioners, trying to understand Calvinism’s new appeal and how it is changing American churches.
The article, and this book, are the result of a two-year journey to learn about what appeared to be a resurgence of Calvinism in America. Hansen traveled to Passion Conference in Atlanta, John Piper’s home and church in Minneapolis, The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and more.
Hansen discovered thriving Calvinistic ministries that focused on theology and doctrine, as well as young people who couldn’t get enough of writers like John Piper, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards. It’s a diverse movement, somewhat disconnected, and often controversial. It’s also not flashy. “I tell people we’re a really boring ministry,” one leader said. “If God is not your attraction, you’ll be bored.”
Young, Restless, Reformed serves as an introduction to the new Calvinists in America. If you belong to this group, there won’t be a lot in this book that’s new. If you aren’t part of this group, or aren’t part of the American scene (like me), then this book will introduce you to what’s been happening.
I sometimes talk to people who think that effective ministry today means downplaying doctrine, or emphasizing entertainment. Young, Restless, Reformed shows that many are ready for more of a challenge. It also helps explain the attraction of the Reformed movement for those who just can’t figure it out.
Readers may face a couple of dangers with this book. One is overestimating the size of the Reformed resurgence. Despite its growth, it is still quite small. The other danger would be jumping on the Reformed bandwagon just to be trendy. Although these are dangers, a wise reader can learn lots from this book.
“Hunger for God’s Word. Passion for evangelism. Zeal for holiness. That’s not a revival of Calvinism. That’s a revival. And it’s breaking out in places like Emery, South Dakota.” Whether or not you’re Reformed, I hope we’ll see more of these traits all over America, and the world. Something seems to be happening.