Friday, June 15, 2007

The Reformed Resurgence

Several years ago, the conservative resurgence was a wonderful thing to happen within the Southern Baptist Convention. Students like myself profit greatly from the commitment of men who helped in that process. However, it is not enough. I honestly believe that there is another resurgence in our midst, and indeed, it is a wonderful one. I would call this resurgence on our horizon the reformed resurgence. As a student who has just graduated college and is now at one of the SBC's finest seminaries, reformed theology is growing heavily among seminary and college students. While many people would evaluate the reformed resurgence differently, I would like to examine why the doctrines of grace are so appealing to young minds like myself.

The Peril of Pragmatism
Much of what is present in evangelicalism is called pragmatism. We have the great Charles Finney to thank for pragmatism. Pragmatism is simply an extreme emphasis on methodology. In pragmatism, people use all types of methods to manipulate people to walk an isle, raise a hand, or say a prayer. Thus, pragmatism results in many false converts who were just manipulated by methods to make a decision, but it wasn't a decision of true biblical repentance and faith in the work of Christ. Young minds are seeing the results of pragmatism. Young people are seeing professing Christians who act no different than lost pagans. When asked of a conversion experience these individuals who are victims of pragmatism will say, "Yeah I walked the isle when I was in fifth grade. I have been saved ever since." Young minds are reading in the word of God nothing about walking an isle, but a great deal about repentance and faith. Pragmatism is simply a result of what is next, free will theology, or Arminianism. Young minds are seeing the ridiculous conclusions of such a philosophy and that this mentality is purely unbiblical. Pragmatism is one thing that is causing young minds to be immersed in reformed theology.
The Folly of Free Will theology
For many years the doctrine of free will has been believed and unchallenged among many Southern Baptist churches. I grew up affirming free will and I thought anyone who held to otherwise believed humanity was reduced to mere robots or puppets. However, there are numerous problems with free will theology. The God of free will theology may know what is going to happen, but he has no control over how events occur. He is not assured that things will work according to his plan, because man's free will may thwart his purposes. Open Theists have seen this, and have concluded incorrectly that God does not have foreknowledge. Other young minds are seeing the errors of free will theology and examining the scriptures and are finding this doctrine foreign to scripture.
The Error of Ecuminicalism
Another mindset of evangelicalism that is contributing to the reformed resurgence is the error of ecuminicalism. This movement wants to do away with an emphasis on doctrine for the sake of unity. Young students are seeing that this lack of emphasis on doctrine does not promote true, biblical unity, but rather a unity that is false. This is causing young minds to search the scriptures to discover sound biblical doctrine. Thus, more and more students are embracing the tenants of reformed theology.
The Error of Experientialism
Among Christianity today is the mentality that experience is more important than sound doctrine. Orthopraxy is given a higher place than orthodoxy. However, the failure of this mentality is that right living flows from right doctrine. Sound, biblical doctrine promotes a passionate experience of God. We learn about who God is from the Bible. Our experience of God is not some mystical experience, but we experience God as we learn of him in the his written revelation to us. Students are seeing the errors of the experiential Christianity and are seeking to understand biblical theology.
The Problem of Postmodernism
One of the movements that is plaguing the church today probably more than any other is postmodernism. People who embrace this philosophical concept do not believe in absolute truth, rather they adopt the idea of relativism, that truth is relative to each person, each culture, etc. While the Scriptures make absolute statements, postmodernists want to reject any form of absolute statements. However, to reject truth is to reject Christ, because Christ himself said His is the truth in John 14:6. While many are embracing this mentality, some are seeing its error, realizing that two opposing views cannot both be equally true or authoritative. I believe many are seeing these problems are searching the scriptures and are reforming in their doctrine.

Many things are contributing to the reformed resurgence. There are many problems within the church that young minds are seeing and are seeing the need for reformation. However, the main reason for the reformed resurgence is simply the Scriptures. The Scriptures are clear and speak for themselves. Students are engaging the scriptures and are confronting doctrines they have never been taught. Men are being raised up by God to teach the truths to others. Some people do not like the reformed doctrines, while others are seeing how these precious truths affect every area of their lives in a God-honoring way. I pray that we continue to see reformation in our Southern Baptist Churches and throughout the world!


Gordan said...

Great post, man!

I agree with all your points.

I would add this further one as a suggestion:

The young have a natural attraction to counter-culture stuff. A lot of the time, that works for evil, but in this case it's a boon. See, evangelicalism is reaping the fruit of trying too hard to be just like the culture. That pragmatism you mentioned is especially a pragmatism aimed at appeasing culture, and removing the Gospel's offense.

Well, you get some young bucks who recognize all of that, and introduce them to Reformed theology, which sets its thinking 180 degress out from the cultural mindset, and suddenly there's a great deal of attraction in that.

Rhett said...

The Reformed Resurgence is the best thing to hit the SBC since Kentucky Fried Chicken!!

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

HAHA!! Rhett....Fried Chicken and Reformed Theology might be tied for first place!

Kat said...

Excellent post!
I would add that postmodernism is plaguing the church as they do not comform themselves to the Scripture. We see churches which, instead of making an effort to be different from the world, are slowly but steadily running after it.

Rhett said...

One could argue that the Reformed Resurgence is perhaps the inevitable result of the Conservative Resurgence...

Exist~Dissolve said...

I'm not sure that the shift from modernistic assumptions concerning the epistemological tenability of "absolute truth" to the assumptions of postmodernism is entirely a bad thing. True enough, it is bad for those who use the hegemony of absolute truth to coerce and oppress others.

Inevitably, the rise of postmodernism was necessitated by the fundamental philosophical contradictions inherent to modernism and its naive assumptions about the possibility of epistemological objectivity. When such assumptions were shown, by history, to be entirely untenable, the only natural and necessary response was a rejection of the same. So then, to complain about postmodernism is perhaps warranted as long as one is aware that it was unavoidable given the philosophical milieu from which it arose.

If you are interested, I have outlined some introductory ideas about this subject, especially in its relationship to faith, in this post.

Gordan said...

"I'm not sure that the shift from modernistic assumptions concerning the epistemological tenability of..."

But then, candidly, there's not a heckuva lot of which you ARE sure, right?

Exist~Dissolve said...

But then, candidly, there's not a heckuva lot of which you ARE sure, right?

Yes, unfortunately I have yet to attain objective certitude of all things.

Rhett said...

"Yes, unfortunately I have yet to attain objective certitude of all things."

Yeah, that normally happens to a guy after he gets married...


DT said...

Great post! I know that for me, it was "The Peril of Pragmatism" that played a big part in my eventual conversion to Reformed theology.