Thursday, May 21, 2015


The Perfect and The Real

Mark Tooley shares some thoughts on the theological strains that are echoing through the church these days:
So both perfectionist schools of thought are prevailing throughout Evangelicalism, which being a modern movement and not a deep tradition, is susceptible to American fads, especially an ambitious, soaring perfectionism that offers a seductive alternative to the much harder path of Christian orthodoxy, with its focus on sin and redemption.

So absent mass conversion by Protestants and Evangelicals to Catholicism, traditional Calvinists, with their own venerable traditions of social engagement in the sin-soaked kingdom of man, will have to point the way forward. Troublingly, many Calvinists are instead succumbing to their own funk, partly based on their own unconscious perfectionism, disowning social engagement, especially statecraft, because society they think has become too depraved for reformation.
That may be the most cogent theological analysis of what is happening to Christianity in America I have read to date. But he raises an important question - Where is the institutional home of Calvinism these days?

The Presbyterian Church is the traditional upholder of Calvinist thought, but not so much anymore. The largest version of it, PC(USA), has left its Calvinist moorings, some would argue its Christian moorings, altogether. The EPC is more typical Evangelical than Presbyterian. The PCA is too, to borrow Tooley's phrase, "perfectionist." The new kid in town ECo made hold the answer but it is far from well organized just yet, currently too reactionary in its formation, and may end up being to small to matter. Where is the home of Calvinism?

I cannot, off the top of my head, think of a Calvinist seminary. I can think of some noted Calvinist professors at many seminaries, but I can also think of a number of very influential seminaries that shun their Calvinist members. Where is the home of Calvinism?

Like any good idea, it has to take root in people to matter and they have to organize. Who talks about theology outside of seminaries anymore anyway? Where is the home of Calvinism?

We are cursed to live in interesting times.


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