Calvinism is on the upswing. So much so that it made Time Magazines list of 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Calvinism has become a great point of discussion—and even concern—for those within the SBC. Calvinism is a big deal in the current climate of evangelicalism, whether you are for it or against it.
Greg Dutcher, is for it. Yet, he also warns that Calvinists could easily destroy this good theology from the inside. In his book, Killing Calvinism, Dutcher gives eight ways that Calvinists can throw on the brakes to this resurgence and kill a perfectly good theology. Here are his eight ways that Calvinists can destroy Calvinism
- By loving Calvinism as an end in itself
- By becoming theologians instead of disciples
- By loving God’s sovereignty more than God himself
- By losing an urgency in evangelism
- By refusing to learn from non-Calvinists
- By tidying up the Bible’s “loose ends”
- By being a bunch of arrogant know-it-alls
- By scoffing at the emotional hang-ups others have with Calvinism
These eight points serve as the eight chapters and fill the 120 pages of this little book. Dutcher argues each point forcefully and yet graciously. He writes as a former “caged-Calvinists” that has been re-captured by the sovereign grace that he adopted theologically.
Honestly, I did not anticipate being deeply challenged by this book. Not that I’m not a Calvinist and not that I did not expect to agree with the book. Problem is I assumed that I would just nod my head with everything Dutcher said, promote it to a few newer Calvinists I know, and move on.
You see I too was once a caged-Calvinist but the Lord has mightily worked in my heart to humble me and help me to live and proclaim the sovereign grace that I theologically affirm. So, I’ve already been through the fire and I don’t struggle with being a bad Calvinist anymore.
At least I thought I didn’t.
Reading through Dutcher’s work exposed a few vestiges of both pride and inconsistency in my walk with Christ. There were a few moments in the book where I found myself soundly rebuked. Funny thing is I think I had even taught some of these points myself, but the way that Dutcher worded them and proclaimed them brought conviction to my soul.
Here is a helpful sample for you to see how Dutcher is passionate, forceful, and yet very gracious:
A disciple is a student of Christ—someone who spends time with the Savior in order to come to know him better and resemble him more closely. As a pastor, I have found that many Christians simply assume that learning more and more about the Bible and theology—Reformed theology in particular—is the same thing as growing as a disciple. It isn’t. Robust theology can be a powerful catalyst in this process, but like anything else, we can turn it into an idol. The danger is that, while we may begin with Reformed theology as the framework by which we more coherently understand and appreciate our faith, over time it can become the substance of our faith. At that point, daily living is more about mastering Reformed doctrine than being mastered by Jesus and his total claim over every area of life.
Should You Buy It?
Every Calvinist needs to read this book, whether you’re a new member to club Calvin or you’ve been a Calvinist longer than Charlton Heston has been Moses. Even those that are non-Calvinist ought to read this book and see the heart of many within the Reformed/Calvinistic movement. We truly do want to live out the doctrines of grace as Greg Dutcher describes in this book. When we don’t it’s not a fault of the “system” but of our own hearts.