Guest / Limited Access /

I had never met a living, breathing Calvinist until the fall of 1968, when (newly married) I entered Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, as a junior. The first day of classes, I saw four or five deeply tanned guys with surfboards heading for the parking lot. Alas, I lacked the prerequisites to join the surfer crowd, but I did become acquainted with a circle of earnest Calvinists.

The most articulate of the group, the most learned—yes, learned, even as an undergraduate—and the most dismissive of those outside the fold was Greg Bahnsen, later to become the leading Orthodox Presbyterian theologian of his generation before his untimely death. When I met Greg, I had never read a word of Calvin, and only that fall did I learn of the TULIP mnemonic and what it stood for, useful information imparted by way of a Survey of English Literature course taught by a young Calvinist professor, Ed Ericson.

In my first conversations with Greg and his circle, I assumed I must be misunderstanding what they really believed. I knew how easy it was to get bogged down in differences over terminology. But then I began reading Calvin myself. What monstrous teachings!

But wait a minute. Ed Ericson was one of Them (maybe a semi-Calvinist, a counterpart to the semi-Pelagians), a gifted teacher who migrated to Calvin College, where—while making a lifelong impression on a couple of generations of students—he clarified and celebrated the achievements of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. And Alvin Plantinga, a brilliant young philosopher from Calvin College who visited Westmont to give a lecture in 1968 or '69 and who went on to lead a renaissance in Christian philosophy.

And many others I have come to know in the 40 years since: the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedNew Movies to Highlight Friendship Between Creators of Narnia and Middle Earth
New Movies to Highlight Friendship Between Creators of Narnia and Middle Earth
As Hollywood works its way through dramatizing the fantasy novels, several hope to tell a more historical tale of real-world friendship.
TrendingThree Views: Would Jesus Hang Out in a Strip Club?
Three Views: Would Jesus Hang Out in a Strip Club?
Testing the boundaries of outreach evangelism.
Editor's PickBehold Now 'The Behemoth'
Behold Now 'The Behemoth'
Introducing our new biweekly mix about a big God and his big world.
Comments
Christianity Today
A Common Hope
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.