Does Calvinism Need Saving?

Sam Storms | January 23, 2017

Oliver Crisp’s goal in his latest book, Saving Calvinism: Expanding the Reformed Tradition, is rooted in the subtitle and his use of the word “expanding.” To speak of “saving” Calvinism suggests it’s in decline or on the verge of extinction. But of course, as Collin Hansen (and others) have shown, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, there’s a revival of soteriological Calvinism in the evangelical world. But this is at the center of Crisp’s concern.

Crisp aims in this book to broaden the parameters of what constitutes acceptable or orthodox Reformed theology. And for Crisp, the Reformed tradition is far more complex and multi-faceted than a simple affirmation of belief in the famous (or infamous) five points. 

Reformed theology, as Crisp understands it, involves “a particular account of theological authority that includes a role for creeds and confessions” (although Crisp is quick to insist that the latter are always subordinate and answerable to the final authority of Scripture). The Reformed tradition also entails “a particular way of thinking about the nature of the church and its sacraments” (18), conceiving the latter as “instruments of God’s grace to his people” (31). He objects to the way the…

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