The Ever Growing American Calvinism Today

On June 25th, 1944, The Doctor—Martyn Lloyd-Jones—gave a radio address for the BBC in Wales on the man, John Calvin. He began with the statement:

“Nothing is more significant of the great change which has happened in the field of theology during the past twenty years than the place now afforded, and the attention given, to the great man of Geneva who is the subject of this address.”1

The same can be said for America today, as the resurgence of Calvinism—both the New- Calvinist and the Old—is growing faster, larger, and deeper into the roots of Evangelical Theology since the Great Awakening in the 1700s. Lloyd-Jones went on in his address, noting that,

Up to almost twenty years ago there was very little attention paid to John Calvin, and when someone spoke of him it was in order to heap insults on him scornfully.”2

The former part of this statement essentially summarizes the standpoint of America in the past fifty to eighty years. Unfortunately, with the climax of Dispensationalism between the 1950s and 1970s, and with the growth of evangelical phenomena such as Fundamentalism, the Mega-Church movements, and Seeker-Friendly ideals, John Calvin and the Calvinist-Reformed Faith as a whole was laid aside. If it was brought up for discussion, it was laughed at as though it was a cult of some sort. However, as Lloyd-Jones affirmed further in his address:

That is not the situation today. In fact, there is more mention of him than there has been for almost a century, and Calvin and Calvinism are the subjects of many arguments and debates in theological circles… The time is ripe, therefore, for us to cast another glance at this man who has influenced the life of the world to such an extent.“3

May America today continue to seek the biblical truth in which Calvin did for his time, his city, but more for His God. May America continue to seek out their theology, and continue to learn from the writings of John Calvin—not merely to popularize him or idolize him, because Calvin would have never wanted that. But to make known and lift up John Calvin’s God—our God—The Supreme Being, The LORD who sits in authority and reigns over all things in complete sovereignty.

1 Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times: Addresses Delivered on Various Occasions 1942-1977. (Carisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), 32.
2 Ibid., 32.
3 Ibid., 32-3.

And so we see a rising tide of Calvinism in America today. By the end of this year alone there will have been more books published, and more conferences and addresses given— that is, more than ever—on the man who, in my opinion, is the greatest theologian of all time: John Calvin. And like The Doctor, I say, “The time is ripe.” We have gathered here in Geneva for the 500th birthday of John Calvin—not merely to popularize him or idolize him, because Calvin would have never wanted that. We are here, rather, to make known and lift up John Calvin’s God—our God—The Supreme Being, The LORD who sits in authority and reigns over all things in complete sovereignty. I would like to consider an important, yet often neglected aspect of John Calvin’s theology as it finds expression in his vast corpus of writings – the doctrine of adoption.

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