|M. Dever. Photo Credit: Drew Angerer of NY Times
Calvinism is apparently cool again. At least that is the image presented by Rev. Mark Dever in the photo accompanying Mark Oppenheimer’s New York Times piece, “Evangelicals Find Themselves in the Midst of a Calvinist Revival.” I am not familiar with Dever or his ministry at the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, but his casual and relaxed style, his leather coat, and his faded jeans speak volumes about the nature of this so-called “Calvinist revival.”
I think that a historian of American evangelicalism who is in town for the AHA needs to make a research trip to Dever’s church on Sunday morning.
Here is a taste of Oppenheimer’s piece:
Evangelicalism is in the midst of a Calvinist revival. Increasing numbers of preachers and professors teach the views of the 16th-century French reformer. Mark Driscoll, John Piper and Tim Keller — megachurch preachers and important evangelical authors — are all Calvinist. Attendance at Calvin-influenced worship conferences and churches is up, particularly among worshipers in their 20s and 30s.
In the Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, the rise of Calvinism has provoked discord. In a 2012 poll of 1,066 Southern Baptist pastors conducted by LifeWay Research, a nonprofit group associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, 30 percent considered their churches Calvinist — while twice as many were concerned “about the impact of Calvinism.”
Calvinism is a theological orientation, not a denomination or organization. The Puritans were Calvinist. Presbyterians descend from Scottish Calvinists. Many early Baptists were Calvinist. But in the 19th century, Protestantism moved toward the non-Calvinist belief that humans must consent to their own salvation — an optimistic, quintessentially American belief. In the United States today, one large denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, is unapologetically Calvinist.