Why is Calvinism making a comeback? According to data presented at the opening session of a conference on Reformed theology in the Southern Baptist Convention, a survey found that nearly 30 percent of recent Southern Baptist seminary graduates identify themselves as five-point Calvinists. This trend is rising. Most recently, this figure was 34 percent! Full article. As a Lutheran with Calvinistic tendencies, I find this trend exciting.
That’s an incredible change from Southern Baptists, which are historically known for being dispensationalist and Arminian. I wonder how this is going to affect the future of the Southern Baptist Convention? And is this comeback in Calvinism a long-term thing or is it just a passing fad like the Emerging church that is fading away in less than ten years? I think this is still hard to tell because this trend is still on the upswing and in its early stages.
Regardless of where this new Calvinism is going, for me personally, I would say that Calvin and Luther have been my two biggest influences in my Christian life in the last five years. Previous to my seminary education, I felt like I was floating somewhere in evangelical space but after I got a taste of Luther and Calvin, there was no turning back. So what is it that attracts people like others and me to Calvin specifically? I’m not sure and can’t put a finger on it. Maybe it’s all this hype that has been building as we crept up to Calvin’s 500 anniversary? Maybe. But it’s unlikely. It’s probably due to our increased understanding of the depth of Calvinist theology.
Amongst the Calvinists most of us know of are preachers and teachers, R.C. Sproul and John Piper, and academics, J.I. Packer and Alvin Platinga. These people are probably today’s movers and shakers in the world of Calvinism. They are well-respected and are making an impact on many evangelical Christians today.