I have a confession to make. My generation is the generation that made the Young, Restless, and Reformed (YRR) possible. We connected with movies like Fight Club and The Boondock Saints. We listened to "edgy" music as an act of defiance. Basically, young and restless long before reformed. Recently, a popular name said that the serious problem with the YRR was their minimization of the "Reformed" part of the slogan. He alluded to many being only 3 to 4 point Calvinists (gasp!). I'm going to respectfully disagree. The issue is not with the doctrine. I am convinced the real issue is, hopefully now was, an uncontrollable restlessness.
I won't hide behind my decisions growing up. I've been restless for a long time. That restlessness was inappropriately centered and focused on many worldly things. Bands likes Taking Back Sunday and Brand New made my restless soul happy but not in any Christian way. (I will confess I still enjoy the "real rebels" of the music world: Cash, Nelson & Dylan but I do so now from a different starting paradigm.) In the cinema world, movies like Fight Club told me there is an evil called privilege in the world. Resentment became a foundational element in restlessness. It taught me there are things worth rebelling against. It taught me this permeating evil of privilege can only be beaten by reckless abandon and backwards views of society. I loved it. In a nostalgic way I still do.
Another pertinent movie, The Boondock Saints told me that evil needs to be committed to remove evil from the world. I bought it. It was romantic. Exaggerated justice was served on a F-Word laden platter for my cinematic enjoyment. These guys were cool, deadly, and saints. I ended up with Tell All Your Friends (Taking Back Sunday's first release) as my anthem in music. Brad Pitt bleeding and laughing was my anthem in movies. All together sheer chaos and restlessness. Rebellion in all of its forms. Far from being a complete mistake it was just awfully misguided.
I know I don't speak for everyone in my generation. I also can't speak for the YRR because it never clicked with me, but, if I am a fraction of an example, it is only against this backdrop of restlessness that the YRR world makes sense. They've successfully made the John McArthur's of the world uncomfortable with their drinking and smoking. Many helped elevate Mark Driscoll to heights he could not endure. I've seen a generation plagued by religious restlessness derived from time in impotent churches and shallow theology. I can’t't blame them.
These pertinent elements of my past were relics of a secular restlessness. Calvin and Calvinism became the anthems of restless theology. Rebellious. Argument provoking. "We'll see your awful Dispensationalism and raise you double on our amillennialism" (yes I know there are pre- and post- in the YRR world). "Covenant Theology is cool" (say it like you're The Doctor). There were battle hills aplenty. "Points" to defend.
A genuine religion for theological rebels. A bunch of young people seeking a rebellious Jesus. Nothing wrong with that, He's always been the rebellious type. Any theology that declares Him to be "Lord" has within it the anti-establishment that I sought in music and movies. The real and genuine Lordship of Jesus Christ provokes a gospel that is rebellious. But not restless—which leads to my conclusion.
There is a climactic moment in Fight Club where Brad Pitt comments on the ridiculousness of the consumerist lifestyle. Tyler Durden says,
“We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”
For some of us, these lines spoke to both the secular and sacred. It defined our experience in the world and the church. There was a spiritual war being fought in the depressing restlessness of our lives. Some thought "Calvin" and cool theology were the answers. They aren't and some have come to realize that. Calvin was a rebel because He followed Christ and resisted the restlessness of the world. Calvin stood a mild, humble man on the basis of the Scriptures, the gospel and Christ "as Lord." Not some theology named after Him. Not some ideology of restlessness. He died a worn down and physically broken man. He witnessed the death of his wife and an infant child. He served the church to the point of exhaustion and death.
With that Calvinism, there never should have been a YRR. There is no restlessness in Christ. Not in His gospel. Though at times painful, it does seem that this truth is re-exerting itself. Though painful it is better to be like Calvin: old, worn and faithful.
Used with permission. Originally posted at Torrey Gazette.
Joshua Torrey is a New Mexico boy in an Austin, TX world. He is husband to Alaina and father to Kenzie & Judah and spends his free time studying for the edification of his household. These studies include the intricacies of hockey, football, curling, beer, and theology. You can follow him @AustinPreterism and read his theological musings and running commentary of the Scriptures at The Torrey Gazette.