Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wartburg Watch: Whither YRR (Young, Restless, Reformed)? Sun Setting?

Is the Sun Setting on YRR – aka New Calvinism?

Thu, Dec 22 2011
"Our chief concerns have to do with immaturity, instability, and inconsistency in the YRR movement."

John MacArthur

Beaufort (NC) Sunset
(Taken by Deb)

The Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement (YRR) gained much notoriety five years ago when Collin Hansen coined his catchy description of a new trend in Christendom. The emergent church movement, so prevalent decades before, waned while the YRR movement, also known as "New Calvinism" advanced at rapid speed. We believe advances in technology are largely responsible for YRR growth. Websites, conferences, blogs, podcasts, Facebook, and Twitter have been highly utilized by the New Calvinists to promote their brand. So many young, serious-minded Christians have fallen in lock step behind those leading the movement, and until recently there seemed to be no stopping the popularity of YRR leaders.

Remember the 2009 TIME ranking of Top Ten ideas changing the world? (link) "The New Calvinism" came in at number three. A mere two years later, there appear to be problems afoot within the movement. Perhaps C.J. Mahaney's stepping down as president of Sovereign Grace Ministries in early July triggered a panoply of voices. The internet, which popularized New Calvinism, appears to be a driving force for the movement's exposure.

John MacArthur did a series of blog posts last summer highlighting his concerns with the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement. The above quote came from his post entitled: 'Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming. Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed". MacArthur explained his concerns as follows: (link)

"YRRs have by and large eschewed the selfishness and shallowness (though not all the pragmatism) of seeker-sensitive religion. They are generally aware of the dangers posed by postmodernity, political correctness, and moral relativism (even if they don’t always approach such dangers with sufficient caution). And while they sometimes seem to struggle to show discernment, they do seem to understand that truth is different from falsehood; sound doctrine is opposed to heresy; and true faith distinct from mere religious pretense.
It is overall a positive development and a trend to be encouraged—but the YRR movement as it is shaping up also needs to face up to some fairly serious problems and potential pitfalls. So I have some words of encouragement and counsel for YRRs, and I want to take a few days here at the blog to write to them about their movement, its influences, some hazards that lie ahead, some tendencies to avoid, and some qualities to cultivate."
Here are the titles of John MacArthur's (and colleagues') posts, which can be accessed at the above link (scroll down to bottom of the post).

Grow Up

Advice for YRRs (part 2) (blog)
Growing Up: How to Listen Like a Man (blog)
Paul Edwards Interviews Phil Johnson about GTY's YRR Series (blog)
The Marks of Immaturity, and How to Keep Growing (blog)
Growing Up: Becoming a Real Man (blog)
Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty (blog)
The Brouhaha over the Brew (blog)
Discussing the Controversy over John MacArthur's "Beer" Posts (blog)
Wretched on the YRR (blog)
Keep Reforming (blog)
Kevin DeYoung, who will be speaking at the 2012 T4G, just wrote an intriguing post he called "Wither YRR?" that all New Calvinists need to read. You will remember that when SGM's interim leadership team established an impartial review panel to judge Mahaney's fitness for ministry, DeYoung was one of three selected. The panel's findings did not go over well with some. I quoted DeYoung at the top of yesterdays post, but it bears repeating. Kevin wrote: (link)

"Tis the end of the year, the time to reflect on what has been and what may be. For several months I’ve been pondering a post on this thing that’s been called Young, Restless, and Reformed. What’s good? What’s bad? What needs to be celebrated? What needs to addressed? For starters, it may be time to retire the name."

DeYoung lays out the "Challenges Ahead" for those who call themselves New Calvinists by writing:
"But there are also challenges facing my generation of evangelical Calvinists. And I’m not thinking here of the outside forces that threaten to undermine a biblical understanding of marriage or a high view of Scripture or the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. I’m thinking about issues that need attention (and are receiving attention) in our YRR circles. Let me mention three of these challenges: Ecclesiology, Missiology, and Sanctification."

DeYoung concludes his post as follows:

"What Now?
So what is the way forward? Is there a future for YRR? On the one hand, I don’t really care about the future of a label. But on the other hand, I do pray for the propagation of the good theology, expositional preaching, strong passion, and gospel partnerships that have characterized the best of the New Calvinism. I would hate to see these renewed emphases once again subside, whether because of boredom (“the glory of God is, like, so 2005″), a reverse bandwagon effect (“I like Calvinism until other people did”), or a general disease with anything that smacks of evangelicalism.
That’s why–and this will sound somewhat paradoxical–one of the most important steps forward for YRR is for each of us to go deeper into our own churches and traditions. No movement, let a lone a mood, can sustain lifelong mission, discipleship, and doctrinal commitment. The Baptists should learn to be good Baptists. The Presbyterians should not be ashamed to be Presbyterians. . ."
I continue to think a lot of good can come from the conferences, the resources, and the friendships that these groups foster. But we should read deeply into our tradition, not just broadly across the current spectrum of well-known authors. We need to learn to be good churchmen, investing time in the committees, assemblies, and machinery of the church. We need to publicly celebrate and defend important doctrinal distinctives (e.g., baptism, the millennium, liturgical norms) even as we love and respect those who disagree. We should delight in our own histories and confessions, while still rejoicing that our different vehicles are ultimately powered by the same engines of the Christian faith–justification, the authority of Scripture, substitutionary atonement, and the glory of our sovereign God.
Let’s dream big and labor small. The work God is doing to sharpen the theology, fire the passion, inspire the minds, and join the gospel hearts in this generation will be better and stronger as we go deeper down and bloom where we’re planted."
I wonder what prompted DeYoung to tackle this topic. Could he be concerned that after all the publicity YRR has gotten over the last five years, they are not making that big of an impact in Christendom?

Could it be that the Barna Group's recent statistical findings are troubling to DeYoung and his like-minded colleagues? In his article "Is there a 'Reformed Movement in America's Churches?", Barna writes:
"Some observers and journalists have described a movement among Reformed churches, pointing to prominent Reformed pastors and new Reformed church associations as a significant trend. A new study from Barna Group explores whether the so-called “New Calvinism” has, as yet, affected the allegiances of pastors and whether Reformed churches are growing."

Here are some of the trends the Barna Group discovered after conducting extensive research: (link)

Clergy Identity

"For the past decade the Barna Group has been tracking the percentage of Protestant pastors who identify their church as "Calvinist or Reformed." Currently, about three out of every 10 Protestant leaders say this phrase accurately describes their church (31%). This proportion is statistically unchanged from a decade ago (32%). In fact, an examination of a series of studies among active clergy during the past decade indicates that the proportion that embraces the Reformed label has remained flat over the last 10 years."
Church Size
"The Barna study also examined whether Calvinist churches have grown over the last decade. In 2000, Calvinist churches typically drew 80 adult attenders per week, which compares to a median of 90 attenders in the 2010 study, about 13% higher than 10 years ago. Wesleyan and Arminian churches have also reported growth during that period, increasing from a median of 85 adults to 100 currently, reflecting an 18% change over the last ten years."

How discouraging! After all the effort put forth by New Calvinists, Arminian churches have grown more over the last decade than Calvinist churches.

We look forward to hearing your reaction to these recent developments involving YRR.

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