Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Calvinism and Youth Ministry

Christianity today have jsut put out an issue with a lead article on the comeback of Calvanism among young people. In the US I guess it is easy to see that in the influence of Joshua Harris and Mars Hill Seatlle, here in New Zealand there are pockets of it too, particuarly amongst the Anglican and Baptist Churches, and probably if some inspection was done there are several pentecostal churches which would fit into this... It's an intriguing phenomenon and comes i think as an afterquake of postmodernism. The loss of truth pushes soem into seeking out solid doctrine and a world view that explains why the loss of truth occured. While i would not want to be associated with Calavnism there are soem aspects of it that apeal and i think have merit in youth ministry.
Firstly there is the reality, majesty and soverignty of God. The call for a demanding and disciplined life. The simplicity of it where there are no shades of grey. Without belittiling it too much I suspect it has soem of the apeal that national service had in the 1950's offering structure and stability to young people who would probably drift otherwise.

These words from one of the people interviewd in the article point I think to one of the major flaws in Calvanism; "The only exposure I had was high-school textbooks that teach about John Calvin as this crazy guy who burned people,"

But Doctrine and character I think are linked, doctrine and life I think are linked, Doctrine does not just point to our relationship with God but to our relationship with the world too.

The issue I have with Calavnism is the same as I have with Augustine, when doctrine leads to persecution it has become rules for governing who is in and who is out and not a way of drawing us closer to God - which is the intention. Rob Bell uses the helpful illustration of viewing doctrine as spring on a trampoline rather than bricks in a wall. I think it's helpful becuse it draws us to the 'tension' that is required and that post modernism helps us identify. Where we would say God is like this but also not like this. Where as brick wall doctrine points to the fact that if one brick or doctrine is out of place then the whole structure is flawed...

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