acI am a Calvinist.  Since I paid a visit to the Las Vegas airport a few weeks ago, I felt compelled to read Richard Mouw’s book, Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport.

The author is interested, as the subtitle suggests, in “making connections in today’s world.”  Mouw rightly notes that some Calvinists are stuck in the Netherlands and have a difficult time reaching out and relating to postmodern people.

The Basics of Calvinism

The author admits upfront that he believes that Calvinism is essential to the gospel.  Such an admission caught my attention – so I read on.

Ultimately, Dr. Mouw seeks to answer one basic question: “How can I best be a Calvinist in the twenty-first century?”  The question is well-placed and deserves an answer.

Part of the answer involves a basic explanation of the historical origins of the theological system that has been labeled, “Calvinism.”  The author rightly adds, “But unlike other traditions, Calvinism rigorously guards this emphasis on divine sovereignty by refusing to allow any other theological point to detract from it.”  Mouw continues by providing a biblical rationale for the five points of Calvinism.

The Blunder in Las Vegas

The tone of the book is warm, the discussion is thought-provoking.  And the discussion that concerns Calvinism is helpful.  Yet a problem begin to surface as the author appears to be sympathetic to inclusivism.  He speaks about unbelievers who will “bow in worship, acknowledging that Jesus is the One whom he should have named all along … and that the Savior will welcome him into the eternal kingdom.”

The author refers to another unconverted friend and wonders out loud: “Is it possible that in this process of surrendering her will to her ‘Higher Power,’ she has, at some level of her being, reached out to accept God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ – even though she is present psychologically incapable of articulating her experience in those terms?”

So the book takes a turn that I never expected.  Yet the author laments, ” … I can be sure that I have not wandered too far from the Calvinist path.”

At the end of the day, we find the reality of unconditional election being pitted against God’s generosity, what the author refers to as “divine stinginess.”

Mouw argues for a kinder and gentler Calvinism.  This is commendable and should be encouraged.  But compromising truth for the sake of kindness is not only wrongheaded; it fails to glorify God and in the final analysis.  Compromising truth fails to love others and serve them well.

Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport is a worthy idea that takes off well but ends up making a crash landing on the wrong runway.

2 stars

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