Saturday, September 02, 2006


Finally there is something in print linking the Passion movement of Louie Giglio with the resurgence of Calvinism in the younger generation of evangelicals. This month's cover story of Christianity Today is titled "Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback-- and shaking up the church," and features a young gentleman wearing a t-shirt printed with the slogan "Jonathan Edwards is my homeboy." (Incidentally, they didn't show the guy's face. Aaron O'Kelley, is this you?)

John Piper has been speaking at the Passion and One Day Conferences for years. Yet if you try to peg any of the people who are passionate about Passion as Reformed, most of them will say they are only concerned with God's Glory or exultation not some theological system. They then start talking about their faith and it looks an awful lot like a system that can be explained with a floral acronym.

I understand the desire to resist having your beliefs placed in a box. This is one of the hallmarks of our generation. Once you become labeled it is easy to become more of an object to study rather than a subject to marvel at. We all contain multitudes and cannot be described by simple formulas. But many of the tenets of our personal faith resemble that of others and it is sometime helpful to describe those tenets in certain terms. When this happens, why not call a spade a spade so we can then move on to more pressing issues.

I guess the further removed I become from my once fervent political interests and ambitions, the more disdain I have for spin. I do understand that in every conversation meant to persuade there is a certain amount of choosing which nuances to stress and which to diminish in order to make something more appealing. But there is a line where the spin ceases to be a rhetorical device and begins to be bullshit. Rhetorical devices are helpful, but bullshit is a hindrance to understanding each other moving on to more pressing issues.

Case in point. At work there is an operational procedure we are required to follow that we have never really obeyed. It's something that is pointless and, frankly, quite irrelevant to selling books. Our new management has made it a point to make sure this procedure is being followed. To accomplish this, we have been given lectures on how bad the system works when this procedure isn't done and how efficient and smoothe the world runs when it is. I spent weeks butting heads over this procedure and systematically proving it to be total bullshit. I finally got the other party in the converation to admit that we just have to do this because the compay wants us to. Ok, I can handle that. If someone says we have to call something green when it really blue in order to draw a paycheck, that's fine-- I like to eat. But don't try to convince me it's green when I can see with my own eyes it's blue. The thing is, now that this understanding has been made, I feel more comfortable with my job.

I'll be honest, here's the real reason I'm happy that Passion is coming closer to embracing it's Reformed theology: There's many things about the movement I've always wanted to embrace but felt I couldn't because I'm not Reformed. I've deliberately not talked or meditated on the greatness of God for the past decade or so because I don't want to be identified with those whose speech is identified with that talk. It's childish, I know. But that's how it is. But if Louie Giglio comes out and says, yeah, we're Calvinist, (which he hasn't) I can finally say, alright, now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about how great God is.

An Afterward to the previous ramblings:

The preceding has been posted acting under that assumption that the people in the Passion movement will be forced to come out of the woodwork because of the Christianity Today article. It's possible, however, that they won't and my thought will be void (if they aren't already.) Another interesting possibility will be if it forces people to say they don't know what everyone is talking about, that they are really Arminian or Open Theists and what's the deal-- we didn't know Piper was Calvinist. That'll really cause an uproar.


Ifoundbobbyfisher said...

"But there is a line where the spin ceases to be a rhetorical device and begins to be bullshit" Great thought. I heard someone (probably lots of someones) comment that the Church will inherently come to resemble the predominant "model" of the age. In the 50's it was the family, so you had lots of little churches with poppa pastor and momma organ player. It's interesting that today's culture of media conglomeration and big business produces coaching models and Willow Creekian/Saddlebackian grandeur. The age of information has brought political understanding to an entire demographic that wouldn't have had it years ago, atleast not to the depth it does now. I think this intensifies the need for "spin" and indicates again how the church naturally leans toward the predominant cultural models. When the model is "bigger is better," spin becomes necessary so as not to alienate... the result is political correctness and, as you so eloquently put it, bullshit.

That's why this post feels so right. There's a bit of contrarian in me (and you, it would seem) that can handle discussions on either side of the theological aisle (as it were)... just don't try to convince me there's no aisle.

Thanks for the opportunity to ramble back. Your blog never fails to challenge. Keep reaching, and good luck with the puppy. (P.S. I'm a friend of Matt's. Didn't mean to barge in.)

Craig said...

"There's a bit of contrarian in me (and you, it would seem) that can handle discussions on either side of the theological aisle (as it were)... just don't try to convince me there's no aisle."

Wonderful comment. I wish I would have written that.

Aaron said...

That's not me on the cover of Christianity Today.

Honestly, I know very little about Louie Giglio or Passion. I hope they are Reformed. That was kind of my sense of things, but I don't know for sure. Piper is openly, enthusiastically Reformed (I don't think I have ever heard anything close to spin coming from him), so it makes sense that Passion would be Reformed if they are affiliated with him.

I take the name "Calvinist" for convenience. I highly respect Calvin, but I have said before that I don't think his name should have been attached to this theology. It's not that he didn't believe it; it's just that he is not the one who founded it (no, that was Jesus), so the title is a little misleading.

Ifoundbobbyfisher said...

I don't know that I'd say that Jesus was a Calvinist. I'd probably say that Calvin was an "Augustinian" which is probably closer to the way that it should be classified.

Aaron said...

No, Jesus wasn't a Calvinist....

....Calvin was a Jesusist.

Aaron said...

But you are correct that so far as church history is concerned, Augustine is the fountainhead of what is today known as "Calvinism".

The Table Guy said...

Was Jesus and Aaronist or is Aaron a Jesusist. Maybe Paul was an Aaronist and Jesus was a Jesusist and Paul and Aaron got toget and hijacked Jesusism.

Sorry...I'm an idiot.

Feel free to change the link to my blog if you want, I'm trying out a new address: