America is experiencing a Calvinist revival. Or so said Mark Oppenheimer of The New York Times recently.
Amidst the boom of this theological framework, Austin Fischer explains why he joined and then exited the movement. His new book, Young, Restless, and No Longer Reformed: Black Holes, Love, and a Journey In and Out of Calvinism, . catalogues why he waved goodbye to a theological framework that attracts so many. The book has been causing quite a stir, so I decided to sit down with Fischer and discuss his story and why he’s chosen to speak out in this way.
RNS: You are a former Calvinist, a vibrant movement in the American church. What drew you to the movement and what pushed you away from it?
AF: Like many young evangelicals, I grew up with thin, therapeutic faith. When convenient, I would make claims on my faith but never let my faith make claims on me. As my faith came of age, I realized it wanted more from me and I wanted more from it. Calvinism provided more, placing God at the center of my world, challenging me to take the Bible seriously, purging me of all sorts of petty selfishness and narcissism. Additionally, I loved how it had a place for everything: clean lines and painstakingly developed doctrines.
I began my journey out of Calvinism when I realized that if I were to be a consistent, honest Calvinist I would have to believe some terrible things about God. I realized I, personally, could not have Calvinism and a recognizably good God whose heart was fully revealed at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I could not have Calvinism and a God who would rather die than give humans what they deserve. For me, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was something too generous for Calvinism to make sense of.