Interview with Collin Hansen, Part Two

Tim Brister —  April 9, 2008 — 11 Comments

Picking up where we left off with part one of my interview with Collin Hansen, I ask the following questions in part two:

1.  I am going to name off a list of words that begin with the letter “r”, and I want you to tell me which one you believe best describes this phenomenon.  Here they are: “renaissance”, “reformation”, “revival”, “resurgence”, “revolution”, and “reaction.”  What say you Collin?

2.  Tim Challies recently reviewed the book, and Challies stated, “If there is a flaw or a weak point to this book, it may be that its focus is more on today than on yesterday and tomorrow. This is to say that Hansen takes the reader through many of the current hot spots in this movement and shows how it has propagated itself, but he invests far less time showing how this movement grew up and predicting where it may be going. There are hints in these directions, but perhaps not as much detail as I would have liked. Of course such analysis may well fall outside the scope of this title and it may best be handled by church historians.”  Do you care to respond to Tim’s critique?  Is this movement a fad or will it have long-term consequence?  How will this period of church history, and this movement, be remembered?

3.  One of the things that has intrigued me about this movement is that it is more than the young who are restless and reformed.  This seems to be a multi-generational movement where the older leaders are making intentional investments in the younger generations.  For instance, Piper has TBI, Mohler and SBTS, Dever and IX Marks, C.J. and Sovereign Grace and the Pastor’s College, Driscoll and Acts 29, Tom Ascol and Founders, and on and on.  And more specifically, these men are mentoring other men to succeed them in ministry, perhaps best seen in the relationship of C.J. Mahaney and Josh Harris.  Do you see this being the promise of perpetual blessing and hope for a sustained effort?  What about missions and church planting efforts in the future?

4.  There seems to be a pattern or movement to reform or revival that can be traced.  Over the course of these past few years, how would you best explain the genesis and progress of this phenomenon to being what it is today?  Secondly, would you say that this revival is centered in academia/conferences or with the churches?

5.  Over the past couple of years, we have seen disagreements within the Reformed tradition, such as MacArthur on “self-respecting Calvinists” being premillennial, Piper regarding baptism and church membership, and Driscoll regarding the missional mindset.  It appears that, too, it seems that followers can be found, saying, “I am of IX Marks.  I am of Acts 29.  I am of Desiring God.”  So my question to you would be, how “together” are we really?

Total listening time for part two is approximately 31 minutes.  So here it is (right click, save as):

Interview with Collin Hansen Part Two

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  • Wow, it would seem a lot of us are asking the perennial question: what do we call ourselves? I’ve been blogging about this as of late. The one phrase (not name really) that has stuck out to me is the one I found Ligon Duncan mention in his endorsement of “Why We’re Not Emergent”. He calls it the, “Young, Reformed Awakening”. I don’t know why, but this stood out to me. What are your thoughts?

  • Well, Collin will tell you that one of the major reasons why he felt led to begin this journey was all the talk about the ECM and little talk about what for appeared to be a less hyped up but altogether equally if not more significant movement. Be that as it may, I don’t know how helpful it would be to focus on labels as much as it would be to focus on what God is doing in the substance of our lives individually and corporate to bring about and perpetuate this work which cannot be attributed solely to any man.

    One of the things tha labels, titles, and slogans often do is draw attention to ourselves and develop stereotypes or overgeneralizations. I don’t know how important it is to define ourselves, except that it is the stated desire that we devote ourselves to the gospel, the church, the glory of God, and the furthering of His Kingdom in the spirit of the Reformers and in keeping with the doctrines of grace which we all uphold. In the age of the sound byte, bumper stickers, and talking points, perhaps it would be wise to not allow ourselves to be too caught up with one liners but rather be caught up with one purpose–the glory of Jesus Christ.

  • Thanks, I will say, the other reason this has come up is because of the new book by Wells on why he isn’t all to keen on “evangelical” as a name. This is something Challies brought up recently. I have to say, you’re right, it shouldn’t be something to get too hung up on. There are other fish to fry I guess. Thanks.

  • I think David Wells has a point. I don’t mean to sound like I am name dropping here, but I had the privilege of sitting next to Dr. Wells last summer for a dinner, and I specifically asked him about the nature and future prospects of evangelicalism. From someone who has perhaps provided the most profound analysis and critique of evangelicalism, I have no reason to be suspect regarding the warrant for discarding the name.

    However, there is something bedrock behind that name that does not change–namely our commitment to the inspired, inerrant Word of God, a commitment to world evangelization, and a healthy “already/not yet” tension to the kingdom where there is cultural engagement and social involvement while holding on to the primacy of gospel proclamation.

    The fact that neo-evangelicalism was going to fracture is inevitable (I say neo because I am not referring to the rise of evangelicalism via Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesley brothers). This fracturing goes all the way back to the days of Fuller Seminary and the changes which took place with Dan Fuller and the controversy that arose with the new school’s position on Scripture, later to be revived by Gundry around 1980. Later came the issues of the exclusivity of the gospel (spiking around 1992-1994) only to be succeeded by open theism (from 1996-2004). The latest controversy over the emerging church is but one item in the laundry list of issues evangelicalism has been forced to face, and my guess is that the matter (again) of evangelicals and the RCC with be around for some time to come (beginning with Beckwith’s return to Catholicism).

    I say all that to say, the resurgence (or revival) of Reformed theology is a significant matter, but we do need to consider it in two larger contexts: evangelicalism proper and the greater global context. I mean, is there a Reformed resurgence taking place in India or China or other areas where the gospel is springing up new churches. My guess is perhaps that it is, especially given the number of Calvinists overseas engaging the unreached people groups (spurred on by men like Piper, Giglio, and others).

    Personally, I would still call myself evangelical because I know what it means, despite the failures, controversies, and attempts to change/dilute it. Nevertheless, if we do not contend for the essentials of our faith, the things which evangelicals have long stood solid on, then yeah, certainly giving up the name would be in order because it would have no meaning or reference point.

    Perhaps would should pray that we would be semper reformanda (always reforming), knowing that with each generation there will arise another heresy, another controversy, another attack on Christianity, and sometimes the most lethal ones come from within the camp, not outside the camp. The latter are conspicuous; the former are covert and mutinous.

    Anyway, that’s my $.02 on it. I am not saying we don’t need a title or way of describing us, but I would rather have such titles arise from the movement and not seen as presumtuous rhetoric.

  • D.L. Kane

    Timmy Said, “I don’t know how important it is to define ourselves, except that it is the stated desire that we devote ourselves to the gospel, the church, the glory of God, and the furthering of His Kingdom in the spirit of the Reformers and in keeping with the doctrines of grace which we all uphold. In the age of the sound byte, bumper stickers, and talking points, perhaps it would be wise to not allow ourselves to be too caught up with one liners but rather be caught up with one purpose–the glory of Jesus Christ.”

    Very well said! The obvious scripture that comes to mind is “For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? (other translations- “are you not carnel”?)

    I have actually seen God use all of this confusion to open up wonderful opportunities to share the Gospel message. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have been in a conversation with someone who will say, “I’m a Christian”– “So am I”–which then leads to a wonderful discussion around what that “label” means to them. In most cases, it ends up being just that–a “label” and I am able to define what it means to me.

    Most are fascinated to hear about how that term was “coined” originally, what it meant at one time, etc. This conversation always leads into what it means “biblically” (as opposed to culturally) to be a “Christian”! – Which includes the Gospel message and the important and awesome reasonability of wearing “Christ’s Name” as well as the danger of wearing His Name if you are not truly “In Christ”.

    I say all that to say this: There was a time when certain assumptions would be made regarding the persons position in Christ based on what they called themselves; and perhaps the gospel would not be discussed because of those assumptions. We are now faced with sharing Christ and the Gospel with everyone regardless of what they “calls themselves” because the “label” is now worn by hundreds of thousands who have little to no clue of who Christ is and/or the “Good News”.

    I realize among the more “learned” this is a bigger issue, because most of us have to use numerous different identifiers to describe our doctrine precisely; but, amoung those who are Roman Catholic, or attending a “seeker friendly” church, or think they are saved because they walked an aisle and/or said a prayer that they are “Chrsitians”–the ambiguity of the term has truly been an evangelical opportunity!

    Hope that all makes sense.

  • D.L. Kane

    Me again – Sorry, to get off topic – I just get rather passionate about this topic. I really feel that we can get so wrapped up in our doctrine that we can confuse the heck out of those who have never even heard or understand a clear “Gospel Message” and yet who call themselves “Christians”. Many who call themselves “Christian” have never heard of Calvin or the “Reformation” and have no clue as to what the “Doctrines of Grace” are or what the heck “the New Perspective on Paul” is. Let us get out of our “circles” and understand the majority of people that we come into contact with on a regular basis. Most unregenerate people I know tend to say, :”If you all can’t agree on so many things—I frankly want nothing to do with your “Religion:” That should break our hearts. They are watching us and listening to us (and some are reading our “blogs”).

    I remember being one of those people and I remember judging “Christ” by those who wore His name and therefore wanting nothing to do with Him or them. Therefore (now), wearing His name is a huge responsibility to me which I do not take lightly.

    In 1995, I realized that calling myself a “Christian” was not descriptive enough—so, I began to say (when asked, “what Religion are you”) “I am a follower of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”. Now, unfortunately, even that description has lost much of its meaning. But, I can still use that description in a very wonderful way. I can say, to someone who calls themselves a “Christian”—“So, does that mean the Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?” If they say, “Yes”, I can say, “What does it mean to you that Christ is your Lord?—What does it mean to you that He is your Savior” and away we go…..

    All I am saying, is: Let us not forget that it is the “Gospel” that we must proclaim and allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in the lives of those who have heard it regardless of how we choice to “label” ourselves in this very tumultuous time!

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  • I realize my comment here is coming in late, but I just wanted to commend you for continuing to use the term “evangelical.” I am deeply greived by what I perceive to be an all too common theological snobbery that pervades us reformed types that keeps us from wanting to be identified with the broader CHRISTIANITY. We would all too often rather dispair of the shortcomings we see in other Christians with what we perceive to be as less than impressive theological commitment.

    I fear that correct theology tendeth to puffith uppeth and therefore to divideth.

    I fear that the gospel is suffering from a lack of unity in the church (although I’m thankful for what unity I can see) among those who beleive the basic message of the gospel and also have a passion for spreading it. The history of protestantism is plagued with skismaticism (sp?). Although I’m not naive enough to think we can all acheive some sort of formal ecclesial unity (i.e. the uniting of all denominations into one), I believe that the spirit of ETS (evangelical theologial society) is an impressive example of how much unity can be acheived if we try harder. What are your thoughts?

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