Posted tagged ‘Young Restless Reformed’

Restless Writer Collin Hansen Reflects on His Book

February 4, 2009

Collin Hansen, author of the popular book Young, Restless, Reformed, took some time to reflect on what he would have done different had he the opportunity to write it over again.  His first mention was the influence of the Reformed blogosphere.  Hansen writes, “The passionate commitment Calvinists show toward theology and the church positions them well for taking advantage of new media that will spread the Word.”  According to any method of measurement, it is hard to ignore the networking and leveraging of influence Calvinists have been able to do through the blogosphere and more recently social media.

Other changes he would have made included highlighting the global reach of Calvinism (especially Great Britain), the rise of Reformed Theology among African Americans, Calvinism in the fundamentalist movement, and the work of Tim Keller and the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF).  Hansen concludes his reflections in a measured and grateful tone.  He writes:

I couldn’t agree more with D.A. Carson’s endorsement of my book when he cautioned, “This is not the time for Reformed triumphalism.” This movement has flourished without it, and I would hate to see pride bring it down. I suspect Calvinism will prosper if its leaders will simply continue to go about the business of training pastor-teachers who will lead their churches in evangelism, teach faithfully each week, and care for the weak. Their example will spread within churches and inspire selfless care for one another alongside courageous, costly love for our neighbors.

It would thrill me as an author to see my book help readers learn from the diverse collection of ministries profiled. Such mutually beneficial learning will be a crucial step for the movement to continue growing. The Sovereign Grace network inspires me as I see them plant churches that grow by conversion and reach people not previously disposed to academic reasoning. The Gospel Coalition admirably seeks to learn from previous evangelical mistakes and include racial minorities in its leadership. John Piper continues to dispel notions that Calvinists do not care about foreign missions at a time when too many churches have lost this priority.

I would hate to see Calvinists fall into the same destructive patterns that weakened them in previous generations. Calvinists are renowned for eating their own, and it will take restraint and patience to refrain from becoming consumed by debates over baptism, ecclesiology, or the Holy Spirit. Nor do I believe there is much to be gained by relentless polemics against evangelicalism. Sadly, we all know by now that the problems are deep–perhaps intractable. But Keller and others show us there is much to be gained by demonstrating faithful alternatives to contemporary church practices. Indeed, there is a time for polemics, a time for practice, and a need for both. Now may be just the time to shift the balance toward practice.

Henry Center and Hansen on Young, Restless, and Reformed

May 13, 2008

Two brothers whom I have grown to love and appreciate over the past year are Owen Strachan and Collin Hansen. A couple of weeks ago, The Henry Center (of which Owen is managing director) held a discussion between Dr. Doug Sweeney, professor of Church History at TEDS, and Collin, who as you know, is the author of Young, Restless, Reformed. While the topic of Collin’s book has oft been discussion, perhaps there is no one more historically conscious than Dr. Sweeney to facilitate a healthy and informative time of delving into Collin’s journey regarding the revival within the Reformed tradition.

Allow me to point you to this good discussion between Dr. Sweeney and Collin which is approximately 40 minutes and includes Q&A from the TEDS audience. The discussion is available in both audio and video, so be sure to check it out!

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Related posts:

>> Interview with Collin Hansen, Part One
>> Interview with Collin Hansen, Part Two
>> Interview with Collin Hansen, Part Three

Wellum Says It Well

May 6, 2008

Kirk Wellum, a professor at Toronto Baptist Seminary, has written an excellent review/response to Collin Hansen’s book, Young, Restless, Reformed. Over the past month or so, I have read dozens of reviews and responses from Hansen’s book, but I have to say that I believe this is the best one yet. In this response, Wellum gives five areas where we need caution and provides us with wise words for our consideration. While I wanted to simply give you the five points in bullet form, I found his subsequent commentary quite good as well, so I decided to include it here. Wellum writes,

First, those who are young, restless and reformed must not become too self-conscious.

This is always a danger when the media picks up the story. More important than the headlines is our loyalty and commitment to Jesus Christ. If we start to read and believe our own press-clippings we are finished before we start. The world does not need another lobby group or evangelical Christian faction. What it needs are authentic followers of Jesus who keep their eyes on the master and are deaf and blind to the recognition of others. Self-consciousness leads to pride of reputation which short circuits God’s blessing.

Second, we (and I include myself in all of these things) must avoid a triumphalistic attitude.

It is good to gather in the name of the Lord Jesus and to give him praise, but as fallen creatures who are imperfectly sanctified it is so easy for our praise of Jesus to morph into praise for our group and then for us to feel superior to others who do not see what we see. The gospel of God’s grace is deeply humbling. It reminds us that we are debtors to mercy alone. But even here we can be proud of our humility, and we can glory in the repetition of our unworthiness in such a way that it comes across as arrogant and self-righteous. One mark of true humility is an appropriate silence in the presence of God and a reticence to speak about ourselves to others. Ironically too much talk of humility smacks of deeply seated “Aren’t I something! Look at me!”

Third, we must put our hope in God and not in our theological systems.

It is easy to criticize others for trusting in their programs and techniques to build their churches and evangelize the lost and then turn around and do the same thing in a different way. I have seen people adopt reformed theology, just like people adopt the tenents of the church growth movement or the emergent church, because they believe that if they get their theology right that will guarantee revival and blessing. However, it is not that simple as a survey of church history will reveal. God is sovereign and he reserves the right to use whom he will to accomplish his purposes. Theological precision is important but there are many times when God has used those whose with imprecise theology in powerful ways. Our relationship with God is first and foremost. Dotting all our theological ‘i’s’ and crossing all our theological ‘t’s’ will not guarantee revival, nor will setting up our churches according to the regulative principle, etc. as important as these might be in the grand scheme of things.

Fourth, with regard to the way we structure our churches we need to give people some breathing room.

The Bible has much to say about the worship of God and it clearly outlines various things (like, prayer, the reading of scripture, the preaching of the word) which should be part of Christian worship. But at the same time it does not give us an ‘order of service’ nor is it so explicit that there is only one right way of worshiping the Lord. In the 70’s and 80’s there were too many fruitless discussions and more and more extreme positions taken with regard to ‘reformed’ worship. Generally, I think people had the best of intentions, but they got carried away by their own logic and needlessly restricted the freedom we have in Christ to creatively use our gifts and abilities within the overall boundaries of God’s word.

Fifth, we need to work and pray when it comes to evangelism.

Although there are many who have been reached for the Lord Jesus by those committed to reformed theology, there is more to be done. Too many in our “church plants” come from other churches rather than from the world. Even though there is definitely a place for ministering to and instructing those who are not being fed elsewhere, our primary concern should be to take the gospel to those who have never heard it before. One reason, from a human standpoint, that we have not been as effective as we should be is that we forget how to talk to those outside our circles and we are not meaningfully involved in their lives. If we are ‘restless’ is should be to see more people won to the Lord and not just to our theological position, or our particular style of worship, or pastoral ministry.

In conclusion, Wellum offers a sobering reminder:

If we combine our zeal for the word with a passionate love for God and a lost world then great opportunities lie ahead. But if our zeal turns inward and we start judging and dividing along party lines as if we alone have the truth, God will raise up help from somewhere else, as he has done many times before.

Well said, Dr. Wellum, well said!

Interview with Collin Hansen, Part Three

April 10, 2008

Previous posts:

* Interview with Collin Hansen, Part One
* Interview with Collin Hansen, Part Two

In this third and final part of my interview with Collin Hansen, we discuss the largest chapter in his book, entitled “Ground Zero: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”  Hansen is not an SBCer, so I was particularly interested in his reflections as a journalist looking in from the outside.  Some of you may remember me querying everyone for the top five reasons why you are Reformed, which was spawned off my discussion with Collin when we first talked.

There have been a couple critiques regarding why would Collin call SBTS “Ground Zero,” and I have asked him to elaborate specifically on this issue, and why in particular he chose to include the SBC in general and not stick exclusively with SBTS.  For those of you who want my take on this, besides what I shared in the interview, you can find them in my responses to Tony Kummer’s critique (see comments 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 15, and 18).

I also think it is appropriate to direct you to another conversation related to this podcast, which is a post by Nathan Finn over at SBC Witness, entitled “What Are the Most Pressing Issues Facing the Southern Baptist Convention?” (I commented five times over there too).

But back to the interview, here are the questions I asked in the final segment:

1.  As an outsider, what do you think about the current spike of controversy regarding Calvinism with the Southern Baptist Convention?

2.  For some, your book will be a cause for thankfulness and rejoicing, and for others it will be a cause for lamenting and grieving.  What would you say to each group in response?

3.  What do you hope to accomplish, in the end, with the publishing of this book?

So here it is: Interview with Collin Hansen Part Three
Total listening time is 23:50 :: (To download, right click, save as)

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Related Posts:
* Together for the Church
* Building Bridges Conference (audio)
* Evangelism, Calvinism, and the SBC
* Mark Dever on the Resurgence of Calvinism
* Interview with David Dockery, Part Four (questioned re: Calvinism)
* Why Go Back to the Founders? Responding to President Frank Page

Interview with Collin Hansen, Part Two

April 9, 2008

Picking up where we left off with part one of my interview with Collin Hansen, I ask the following questions in part two:

1.  I am going to name off a list of words that begin with the letter “r”, and I want you to tell me which one you believe best describes this phenomenon.  Here they are: “renaissance”, “reformation”, “revival”, “resurgence”, “revolution”, and “reaction.”  What say you Collin?

2.  Tim Challies recently reviewed the book, and Challies stated, “If there is a flaw or a weak point to this book, it may be that its focus is more on today than on yesterday and tomorrow. This is to say that Hansen takes the reader through many of the current hot spots in this movement and shows how it has propagated itself, but he invests far less time showing how this movement grew up and predicting where it may be going. There are hints in these directions, but perhaps not as much detail as I would have liked. Of course such analysis may well fall outside the scope of this title and it may best be handled by church historians.”  Do you care to respond to Tim’s critique?  Is this movement a fad or will it have long-term consequence?  How will this period of church history, and this movement, be remembered?

3.  One of the things that has intrigued me about this movement is that it is more than the young who are restless and reformed.  This seems to be a multi-generational movement where the older leaders are making intentional investments in the younger generations.  For instance, Piper has TBI, Mohler and SBTS, Dever and IX Marks, C.J. and Sovereign Grace and the Pastor’s College, Driscoll and Acts 29, Tom Ascol and Founders, and on and on.  And more specifically, these men are mentoring other men to succeed them in ministry, perhaps best seen in the relationship of C.J. Mahaney and Josh Harris.  Do you see this being the promise of perpetual blessing and hope for a sustained effort?  What about missions and church planting efforts in the future?

4.  There seems to be a pattern or movement to reform or revival that can be traced.  Over the course of these past few years, how would you best explain the genesis and progress of this phenomenon to being what it is today?  Secondly, would you say that this revival is centered in academia/conferences or with the churches?

5.  Over the past couple of years, we have seen disagreements within the Reformed tradition, such as MacArthur on “self-respecting Calvinists” being premillennial, Piper regarding baptism and church membership, and Driscoll regarding the missional mindset.  It appears that, too, it seems that followers can be found, saying, “I am of IX Marks.  I am of Acts 29.  I am of Desiring God.”  So my question to you would be, how “together” are we really?

Total listening time for part two is approximately 31 minutes.  So here it is (right click, save as):

Interview with Collin Hansen Part Two

Interview with Collin Hansen, Part One

April 7, 2008

Collin Hansen and I took some time last week to discuss his new book, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists (Crossway Books), which was just released last week. I have broken the interview down into three sections (podcasts), approximately 25 minutes for each section. I hope that this discussion will be interesting, helpful, and engaging.

In this part of the interview, I asked the following questions:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are from, how you became a Christian, and what you are doing these days?

2. Now would you consider yourself young, restless, and reformed?

3. So you have written on perhaps the most controversial topic today (Calvinism) from a journalistic perspective, so what brought this book about? Why did you choose to do this book in particular?

4. The subtitle of your book is “A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists,” so I was wondering if you could share what is “new” about the “new Calvinists.” Are they any different from the Calvinists of yesteryear?

5. In your two years of traveling, researching, and writing, was there anything that really surprised you? Anything that caused you great concern?

So here it is: Interview with Collin Hansen, Part One
(right click, save as) :: (Total listening time: 26 minutes)

If you listened and would like to interact or discuss what we talked about, feel free to chime in on the comments section of this post. Again, big thanks to Collin for take time out to discuss his book. Part two and three are coming soon.

Related Posts:

>> Are We Creating a Reformed Celebrity Culture?
>> Reflections on Young, Restless, and Reformed Article