Friday, February 12, 2016

"Young, Restless, and Reformed" by Collin Hansen: A Review

One of the books that has been on my "to-read" list for quit some time has been Christianity Today writer Colin Hansen's book Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists. Anyone that has kept up with young Evangelicals will quickly find that there are basically two leading movements. Since the writing of this book (2008) one group has essentially deceased (apart from books that cause quit a stir only to fade like Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith and Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived), while the other seems to only continue to grow taking over entire seminaries (like the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), conferences (like Together for the Gospel), publishers (like Crossway Books), and leading pulpits (like John MacArthur's Grace Community Church among many others).

The two groups are the Emergent Church and what has been called the New Calvinists. Hansen notes that while a lot of attention was given to the Emergent Church little had been said in comparison to the New Calvinists.  In his book, Hansen seeks to explore some of the leading churches, voices, leaders, and institutions fueling this new movement.

The author highlights what ought to be highlighted.  Though pastor and best-selling author John Piper at times dominates the book, he is right to begin with him, his books, and his church.  In addition to Piper, however, Hansen highlights Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and the institution he leads, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (my alma mater), Mark Driscoll, the Passion conference/worship movement, Covenant-Life Church lead by CJ Mahaney and Josh Harris, and others.

Hansen's goal is to offer a journalistic look at this movement, not to necessarily critique or broadly discuss its theology. If one wants to understand more fully what the New Calvinists believe (um, Calvinism?) then there are plenty of books written by them to explore. Hansen writes as a journalists reporting what he sees. Thus he visits campus, churches, and conferences. He interviews leaders and average New Calvinists to really understand what this movement is all about and why it is growing.

This is a helpful book especially to those wanting to know more about the movement. Though I do not particularly enjoy books by journalists like this, I still consider this an important read. It is a short book that highlights much of what needs to be highlight. Hansen says little to nothing about persons like Kevin DeYoung, Tim Keller, DA Carson, the Gospel Coalition, Crossway Books (who published the book), other institutions and schools, the rise of Calvinism in denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention, etc. There is no way he could have discusses these in any detail. Hansen does, however, pick the most important highlights and discusses them.

Just as the book Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger and maybe even The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier by Emergent leader Tony Jones are imperative to read in order to get a basic understanding of the Emerging Church, so too this book is imperative to read for anyone wanting to get a basic understanding of the New Calvinists movement and its appeal.

Lets face it, twenty years ago few saw this coming and now it is a force to be reckoned with. Hansen helps to show us why.
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