Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Buzz of the Young, Restless Reformed

The buzz in the bushes is ratcheting up the volume a bit regarding the Barna study on the so-called "new Calvinist" resurgence or lack thereof. A good number of the internet Calvinists are expressing reservations on several sites calling into question the validity of the study conclusions. One anonymous fellow has suggested that Calvinistic Baptists i.e. the Sovereign Grace churches are somehow excluded from consideration because they fail to self identify as Calvinist or Reformed. I don't know if that is true or not. I do know what I don't know, that I don't know many "Sovereign Grace" Calvinists for what that is worth. As I noted in the earlier post there seems to be a lot of activity on the internet among the Neo-Reformed as Scot McKnight refers to them. However, in the several years I have been interacting with Calvinists and their rather unique dogma, there has not been a great deal of evidence that they exist in substantially growing numbers in the towns and churches where the "real church" is understood by "real people".  I don't believe a growing resurgence can be defined by fishing in your own backyard for fish you have stocked yourself regardless of how big you make your backyard pond to be. At some point the resurgent pastor has to step out the front door and into the bustle of the real world else his resurgence becomes likened to a bubble. Flat numbers, as represented by the Barna study, are the pin prick that burst bubbles. That is not to state that nothing good is coming out of the various Reformed churches that are in existence. I am sure their memberships are edified and hopefully Christ continues to be exalted.  On the other hand, the Young, Restless Reformed phenomenon   might just be another buzz in the bushes.


Onesimus said...

Should they be concerned whether their numbers are growing or not?

Surely, whatever the situation is, according to their doctrines, their numbers and popularity are exactly as God ordained that they should be.

A.M. Mallett said...

Indeed, if they just stagnate and sit still under a cloud of their own making, they are where God wants them to be if they believe what they teach others.
On a more serious note, I think we put too much stock in trade regarding internet apologetics and "ministry". Preaching the "doctrines of grace" behind 20,000 pixels of backlit screen just doesn't translate into boots on the ground or sandals or whatever. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

I agree one hundred percent with you, A.M. Mallet. As a calvinist Christian who belongs to a church whose majority is calvinistic it can be frsutrating for us to be rolled up into a buzz word(s).

In your comment about sitting stagnate under a cloud of thier own making, it seems that I have heard this before. Oh, I have! That's more or less what Job's friends told him. (Just poking some fun back at you).

If you are indeed worried about numbers and how much is in the plate I'd suggest you're worried about the wrong things.

Grace and Peace,

A.M. Mallett said...

Thank you for your comments. Now keep in mind that not everything Jobs friends told him was wrong even though their motives were not always pure.
As for numbers, I am not so much concerned with who racks the larger tally. I am more concerned when any group presents themselves as the face of any movement when in fact they are just one aspect of it. The internet can be a most constructive tool or it can be very deceptive. Given the "New Calvinism's" extensive use of media and the internet, I believe the Barna study brought some of the hype back to earth.

Blessings in Christ