Who is the Blame for the Rise in Calvinism?
I have been reading Dr. Roger Olson’s book Against Calvinism and in the book he opens up by talking about the rise in Calvinism as of late. Olson points to Calvinist leaders such as John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Paul Washer, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, and Michael Horton as leading the rise in a more militant form of Calvinism. The so-called “young, restless, and reformed” (YRR) crowd is certainly on the rise. Olson believes that several factors play into this. First, Olson points to the expansion of teaching ministries such as MacArthur or Sproul that are now being broadcasted all over the world. This has in turn led to people not just becoming Christians (which we praise God for) but also becoming Calvinists. Secondly, the number of books that are being published by Calvinists is mind-boggling. MacArthur, Piper, James White, and Sproul alone could fill a room with their books. They are publishing Calvinist book at a rate that Arminians are not. Third, the deadness of the evangelical church and for that matter, Arminian churches as well has led people who are hungry for truth to embrace Calvinism as Calvinistic churches are boldly preaching Calvinism and doctrine in general.
That last point is the one I want to address here. I believe the greatest reason that Calvinism has seen a rise in the past few years is the deadness of the Arminian church. How many Arminian churches have given way to pragmatism? How many historic Arminian churches such as the Assemblies of God, the Church of the Nazarene, or even the conservative Methodist churches have turned to “seeker church” and postmodern forms of “doing” church and have cast aside sound doctrine? How many people sitting in Arminian churches can articulate their faith? So few can despite 1 Peter 3:15. So few Bible teachers in Arminian churches are teaching sound doctrine. So few quote Arminius. So few quote great Arminian theologians such as Richard Watson, John Wesley, John Fletcher, or Adam Clarke. So few know the proud history of the Arminian church that led the Arminian church to dominate the Western Church for nearly 200 years. So few know the stories of great Arminian missionaries such as Francis Asbury who rode up and down the United States seeking to preach the gospel to those in the wilderness and spiritual darkness.
Where are the great Arminians who will lead the Arminian church? Where are the great Arminian theologians who embrace the Word of God as inerrant and infallible and will lead the Arminian church to study the Bible and proclaim its truths to the nation? Where are the great Arminian preachers such as E.M. Bounds, A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, Samuel Chadwick, or even D.L. Moody? Where are the fired up Arminians who love God, love His Son, love His Word, and will sacrifice all to see souls set free from sin through the gospel? Where are the Asburys? Where are the Clarkes? Where are the Wesleys?
The reality is that the blame for the rise in the YRR movement is at the feet of us Arminians. We have failed to disciple our people. While Calvinists gather in their churches to pray, worship, and study the great doctrines of the faith including Calvinism, we Arminians are too busy preaching goofy sermon series’ on “is there an app for that.” Calvinists are passionate about Calvinism while Arminians seem to be passionate about building programs and pointless endeavors. Where is theology being preached and taught? Sadly, while Calvinists get the credit for a David Platt; Arminians get the credit for a Joel Osteen (despite the obvious that he is not an Arminian but a semi-Pelagian as is most of the evangelical church).
I ask you to pray with me for the Lord to change the Arminian church. For the sake of the gospel, we need a revival of sound doctrine! How can we claim to follow Jesus if we fail to proclaim Him theologically (John 8:31-32)? How can we point people to the salvation of our God if we don’t even know our God (John 17:3)? We must pray for the Holy Spirit to put it in the hearts of Arminian Bible teachers to boldly preach doctrine and avoid goofy sermons that are meant to entertain and not edify or instruct. We need a touch from God.