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Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists Paperback – March 30, 2008
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"Collin Hansen invites us on a voyage of discovery, learning how our restless youth are discovering anew the great doctrines of the Christian faith. Weary of churches that seek to entertain rather than teach, longing after the true meat of the Word, these young people are pursuing doctrine. Discover how God is moving among the young, the restless, and the Reformed."
—Tim Challies, blogger, Challies.com
"Young, Restless, Reformed is the product of some outstanding research. This book will help the reader gain valuable insight into the growing Reformed movement in America."
—Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness
"Collin Hansen has uncovered a fresh movement of young Christians for whom doctrine fuels evangelism, kindles passion, and transforms lives. Read it and rejoice."
—David Neff, Editor-in-chief, Christianity Today media group
"A number of strategic ministries have been quietly upholding the doctrines of grace, planting churches, seeing people converted, teaching the whole counsel of God. It is time for quiet gratitude to God and earnest intercessory prayer that what has begun well will flourish beyond all human expectation."
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Cofounder, The Gospel Coalition
"This lively account is must reading for ministry leaders working with young adults. A wake-up call to baby boomers to move beyond the superficial faith they taught their children and to grow with them in the knowledge and love of God."
—Douglas A. Sweeney, Professor of Church History, Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
About the Author
Collin Hansen (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) serves as the editorial director for the Gospel Coalition. He previously worked as an associate editor for Christianity Today magazine and coedits the Cultural Renewal series with Tim Keller. He and his wife belong to Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School. You can follow him on Twitter at @collinhansen.
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Top Customer Reviews
Collin Hansen, a young editor of Christianity Today, observed this trend and decided to investigate it. CT had recently published a cover story featuring the emerging church. But he found he just could not identify with this group of people. In the Prologue of his new book, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists, he discusses the genesis of this book:
The talk about emerging Christians put me in a difficult spot. As the youngest CT editor, I should have known more about this up-and-coming group. On the contrary, I didn't know anyone who was emerging, even though my friends and I had recently experienced the fruits of postmodern relativism in college. We had witnessed the complete breakdown of moral authority and heard apathetic responses to Christian truth claims when we shared from the Four Spiritual Laws booklet. Yet we viewed these reactions not as problems with Christianity but as problems with sinners who reject God's grace shown through Jesus Christ.
After one staff discussion about the emerging church, I talked about these experiences with my boss at CT. I expressed concern that when Christianity Today reports about the emerging church, we might give the impression that this group will become the next wave in evangelicalism. If anything, in my limited sphere I saw a return to traditional Reformed theology. My friends read John Piper's book Desiring God and learned from Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. They wanted to study at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and sent each other e-mails when they saw good sales for the five-volume set of Charles Spurgeon sermons.
Maybe that was just our little clique in Campus Crusade for Christ at Northwestern University. Or was it? I started thinking about leading seminaries in the United States and noticed a number of Calvinists in leadership positions. I considered millions of books sold by Piper and his yearly appearances at the popular Passion conference. Yale University Press had just released a major biography of Jonathan Edwards. Reformed theology had recently become a major point of contention in the nation's largest Protestant body, the Southern Baptist Convention. Maybe it wasn't just our group.
So I embarked on a nearly two-year journey to discover whether my experiences had been unique or a sign of something bigger. In locales as diverse as Birmingham, Alabama, and New Haven, Connecticut, I sought to find out what makes today's young evangelicals tick. The result should help us learn what tomorrow's church might look like when they become pastors or professors. Even today, common threads in their diverse testimonies will tell the story of God's work in this world.
In the article Collin Hansen wrote in 2006 he gave Christians a framework to understand the contemporary revival of Reformed theology. It quickly went on to become one of that year's most-read articles at the magazine's web site and it ignited no small amount of debate and discussion. Now, in Young, Restless, Reformed Hansen takes a more in-depth approach, expanding that one short article into a full-length book.
The book is structured around chapters that focus on a particular place or event. The first chapter, for example, focuses on Louis Giglio and a Passion conference in Atlanta while the next chapter changes the focus to John Piper's Bethlehem Baptist Church. Other chapters come from Yale University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Covenant Life Church, a recent New Attitude Conference and Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Along the way Hansen features interviews with many of your favorite authors, pastors, theologians, and yes, even bloggers. If you are Reformed you'll find a certain level of familiarity with the names and places in this book. In that way I found reading Young, Restless, Reformed almost like reading an autobiography--not of a person, but of a movement or organization and one that has swept me up along with it. You may well find the same as you read this book. You may not find a lot of new information, but you'll enjoy reading about the ways God has brought leaders to this movement and the way He is using this movement to allow so many people to rediscover His sovereignty.
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.
To conclude, I'll share the endorsement I wrote that you will find inside the book: "In an article written in 2006 for Christianity Today, Collin Hansen gave us a framework to understand the contemporary revival of Reformed theology--something so many felt was happening but so few could describe. Now he invites us to journey with him on a voyage of discovery as he travels the nation, learning how our restless youth are discovering anew the great doctrines of the Christian faith. Weary of churches that seek to entertain rather than teach, longing after the true meat of the Word, these young people are pursuing doctrine and are fast becoming new Calvinists. With a keen eye for detail, descriptive analysis, and a strong grasp of theology, Hansen shows where this movement originated, tells who has become involved, and suggests where it may be leading. Any Christian will benefit from reading this book and discovering how God is moving among the young, the restless, and the Reformed."
Young, Restless, Reformed is Hansen's attempt to answer that question. He journeys around the country trying to figure out where all of these Calvinists are coming from, and why. He has conversations with Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Steve Lawson, C. J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Rick Holland and many others. He asks them all this question: "Where does this new generation of Calvinists come from?" and their are surprising. He talks with dozens of students who fit this new generation of Reformed Christian, and this book tells their stories.
Despite the anecdotal nature of the book (no hard statistics here), some conclusions do emerge. High school grads who are actually Christians and who do manage to escape their cheesy youth group realize very quickly that they do not have adequate answers to explain the basics of their faith, much less to stand up to their secular professors. When they reach the point of realizing they don't have the answers, they generally find someone who does, and this person (or book, or CD) is usually unashamedly Reformed.
If this observation is true, and it seems to be, then this corollary is also true: the more silly youth groups are, the more people will be driven to reformed circles upon graduation. Hansen does not make this point explicitly, but it is there. Hansen shows his insight into how the God of Calvinism captures the hearts of these college students when he writes, "Calvinism has not spread primarily be selling young evangelicals a system but by inviting them to join a new way of life driven by theological convictions. Theology gives them this passion for transformation" (124).
The exact channel that brings about this transformation varies from person to person. For some it is a Passion CD, others a Piper book. Some find a Puritan Paperback, and others stumble upon an RUF campus Bible study. But all of these sources have this in common: they introduce the students to a God that is more glorious than anyone had ever told them about. Suddenly depravity makes sense, and the rest of Calvinism falls into place.
But not all transformations are rosy. Hansen tells the story about Lawson's resignation for Dauphin Way, and he looks at other young pastors that have been forced out of ministry for theological reasons as well. The most intriguing chapter is his trip to Southern Seminary--"Ground Zero," Hansen calls it--where the reader sees the problems of infusing a new generation of Calvinists into a Christian culture that is not ready for them.
I loved this book because it was like reading my own spiritual biography. I remember the moment I found God's Passion for his Glory, and even today I remember my thoughts as I began to realize that God was more glorious than I am, and that he chose me--not the other way around. I stayed in my previous church, hoping to disciple others and show them the doctrines of Grace as well, until I eventually went to seminary.
Until Hansen's book, I had assumed that my story was, while perhaps not unique, at least not the norm. But this book is a catalog of people who had the same experiences. In fact, the very first college student we meet is a self-described "Piper fiend" and part of a Seventh Day Adventist Church!
Young, Restless, Reformed is not a utilitarian book. It is not a polemical book, it does not argue for Calvinism. It does not seek to be objective, despite Hansen's awkward insistence on reminding us every few chapters that he is a journalist. But what it does, it does well. It presents a series of snap-shots of the Reformed landscape in the United States, and these pictures are zoomed in on the 20-something crowd that is likely to be wearing the "Jonathan Edwards is my homeboy" shirt featured on the cover. If you have ever asked yourself, "where are all these Calvinists coming from?" then this book is for you.
A final note: this book is the initial source for the Christianity Today article where Mark Driscoll voiced his displeasure over a Pulpit article MacArthur wrote. That exchange seems much less controversial in the context of the book than it did in the much shorter CT article.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don't be misled by the "Journalist's Journey", like that will be balanced journalism (and we know journalism isn't usually balanced anyway).Read more