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Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists

By Collin Hansen
October 2008 | Review by Lowri Iorwerth

Synopsis

From places like John Piper's den, Al Mohler's office, and Jonathan Edwards's college, Christianity Today journalist Collin Hansen investigates what makes today's young Calvinists tick.

  • Publisher: Crossway
  • ISBN: 978-1581349405
  • Pages: 160
  • Price: £10.99
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Book Review

Young, Restless, Reformed has just started making waves in the UK. I heard about it from a friend who had been told, ‘You must read this book – it’s about you!’ And true enough, it is about him, and many other twenty-somethings I know. In fact, as interviewees were introduced, I found myself wondering if some of my friends were leading double lives.

Collin Hansen, a journalist for Christianity Today, set out to study what has been labelled as a ‘resurgence of Reformed Theology amongst the youth of America’. He spent two years visiting conferences and churches across America and interviewing the movers and shakers who are putting Calvinism back on the map.

I was intrigued by this book and curious to see how the author would go about his research – would he remain impartial? Would he confine his interviews to big names only – Piper, Mahaney, Driscoll? Would it all descend into hero worship and Arminian-bashing?

All my questions were answered ‘No’. Hansen did interview some of the most influential men in Young Evangelical circles, but those interviews were balanced by conversations with regular young people who attended the churches and conferences he visited – folk in their twenties who are passionate about reformed theology.

The temptation to be dazzled by the big names is dispersed by Hansen’s down to earth descriptions of John Piper’s home life or C. J. Mahaney in his youth. All of the well-known men interviewed in this book testify to the influence of their own heroes – C. H. Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

And no one lashes out at those who hold a different viewpoint, although their views on Arminianism are clearly expressed. Hansen even interviews a few men who are known for their objection to the teachings of John Calvin. Having said that, Hansen is certainly not impartial – it’s very clear that he stands firmly in the TULIP camp.

I found this book very stimulating – the title sums up the readership perfectly. The only real downside was that some of the references would be lost on a British audience, and a few of the chapters refer to ministries that are not well known in the UK, like Campus Outreach.

This is, after all, a book about the youth of America, and won’t necessarily resonate with their British counterparts, But I do think the stories in this book will ring true with many young Evangelicals in the UK, since we are seeing a similar return to reformed theology and a hunger for Calvinistic teaching here.

If there’s more Piper than pop on your iPod, or if you’d rather read a Puritan paperback than a self-help guide; and if you loved the mix of reformed teaching and contemporary worship at New Word Alive – this book is for you.

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Calvinism

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