Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Younger, Restlesser, Reformeder

Younger, Restlesser, Reformeder: A Good-Natured RoastMuch has been made in recent years of Reformed Theology's increasing place in the evangelical community.  I suppose this was most prominently highlighted by Times 2009 list of “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now” with their inclusion (at #3!) of “The New Calvinism.”   This followed on the heals of Collin Hansen’s book on the Reformed resurgence, Young, Restless, Reformed and his 2006 article in Christianity Today by the same title.

Who better to comment on this boom than the people who brought you Kinda Christianity: A Generous, Fair, Organic, Free-Range Guide to Authentic Realness?  You’ll recall that Kinda Christianity was a sardonic look by Ted Kluck and Zach Bartels at the emergent church, styled after Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity.  Well, now they've aimed their satirical wit in a new direction with the latest offering from Gut Check PressYounger, Restlesser, Reformeder, a self-described "Good-Natured Roast" of the New Calvinist movement.

Ted and Zach are friends of mine.  Ted and I met at a conference a couple years ago and though Zach and I have never actually met, we’re friends on facebook.  That counts, right?  Anyway, I’m going to give you basically the same type of advice I gave when I reviewed Kinda Christianity.  There are plenty of people who won’t like this book.  You might be one of them if you:

  • Don’t like satire
  • Don’t have a sense of humor
  • Can’t stand to have someone point out many of your own idiosyncrasies and foibles
If these words decribe you, you can stop reading right here.  Certainly don’t waste their time by reading the book.  You’ll note I said don’t waste their time.  The reason I say their time is, I know what will happen if you are the aforementioned type of person and you read it.  You will get upset.  You will write Ted and Zach a nasty letter or write a terrible review on your blog.  Nice guys that they are, they will feel compelled to respond, and you will have wasted their time.

On the other hand, there are some of you who are Reformed in your theology and willing to have a hearty laugh (no, those are not mutually exclusive categories).  If you are among this number, and are still willing to laugh even if you’re the butt of the joke, then you might want to check out Younger, Restlesser, Reformeder.

In this book they make fun of us young Calvinsts (okay, so maybe I’m not quite so young anymore) in ways that could often be labeled “over-the-top generalizations” (read: good satire).  As I read the book and considered their jabs, I vascilated between two reactions.  At times, I would somewhat condemningly chuckle to myself, “That’s so true.”  At other times, I would find myself painfully admitting, “That’s so true about me!”

They lampoon the teachers we learn from, the books we read and the conferences we attend.  The media we take in and our use of the internet are also fair game, as are our attitudes toward politics, pyramid schemes and anyone who thinks differently than we do (i.e., the right way).

Take this example from their section on being obnoxious, which far too often is a descriptor that fits us Calvinists to a “T.” (Though Kluck and Bartels insightfully point out that “New Calvinists” are not nearly as obnoxious as new Calvinists.)
"Here’s the thing: Once you’ve come right out and said that God himself has chosen who will be saved, nothing else you could say could be more offensive, from the world’s perspective, so go ahead and celebrate the Crusades, justify the Salem witch trials, and hand out anathemas like they’re Bit O’ Honey bars left over from when you used to celebrate Halloween.  What have you got to lose?  Really, how innocent are doves?"
In the end, if you are young, reformed and especially if you live in Michigan, this isn’t just the book for you…it’s the book about you.  Don’t take yourself so seriously.  Sit down, take an hour and read it, and have a laugh at your own expense.

1 comment:

jbboren said...

I found it in the Kindle edition for $3.50. So if you are worried it will offend you, and don't want to pay nine bucks to be offended, get the Kindle version and be slapped around on the cheap!

Here's the Kindle version-