Is Being A Calvinist The Same As Being Reformed?

One of the ongoing discussions with regard to the resurgence of interest in Calvinism revolves around the distinction (if any) between Calvinism in particular and Reformed theology in general. Should a Calvinistic view on salvation be synonymous with Reformed Theology? Or, is Reformed theology bigger than just Calvinism? Can Calvinism alone be considered Reformed?

Michael Horton shares his thoughts in an article entitled “The Hallway and the Rooms“:

If being Reformed can be reduced to believing in the sovereignty of God and election, then Thomas Aquinas is as Reformed as R. C. Sproul.  However, the Reformed confession is a lot more than that.  Even the way it talks about these doctrines is framed within a wider context of covenant theology. It’s intriguing to me that people can call themselves Reformed today when they don’t embrace this covenant theology.

Next month, Jamie Smith’s new book Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition will be released. I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of this book and writing an endorsement. I think Jamie’s book helps the discussion along very well. Jamie is a professor of philosophy at Calvin College.

Here’s what I wrote:

James K. A. Smith winsomely steps into one of the most fascinating conversations in contemporary evangelicalism–the surprising resurgence of Calvinism among younger Christians. Letters to a Young Calvinist is thoughtful, nuanced, provocative, relational, and informed. No one will agree with everything here, but what I appreciated most was Smith’s careful insistence that there’s much more to being theologically Reformed than believing in the famous (and fabulous!) five points of Calvinism. He shows that the Reformed tradition is covenantal and cosmic in scope, big and bright in scale, doctrinal and devotional in spirit. A thoroughly engaging read!

Last week on his blog, Jamie shared his reason for writing the book and a short description of it:

Letters to a Young Calvinist is an invitation to see other streams of the Reformed tradition–to value the complex richness of the Reformed voices across the spectrum. Sometimes I describe this little book as “Kuyper for Piper.” The goal is to build on the young, restless, Reformed interest in the doctrines of grace by also celebrating other core themes of the Reformed tradition: creation, culture, covenant, and catholicity, with a special concern for appreciating the ecclesiology of the Reformers.

Buy it. Read it. Join the discussion–it’s an important one.