Letters to a Young Calvinist:
Reviewed by Jasmine Wilson.
In the same year as publishing a book detailing the benefits of pentecostal theology (Thinking in Tongues, reviewed here), very few people could write a book introducing and praising the Reformed tradition, but James K.A. Smith has done just that.
Letters to a Young Calvinist is a brief primer introducing readers to the Reformed tradition, and extending an invitation to those who are already a bit familiar but perhaps still on the fence about it. It is written pastorally as a compilation of letters to a fictional young man representing those who are just becoming inculcated into the Reformed tradition.
In my Christian high school I was taught the theology of TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints). When I decided to attend Calvin College, a college associated with the Christian Reformed Church (where Smith also happens to teach), I appreciated TULIP and felt I would be well-prepared for the type of conversations that would take place on campus.
Instead, TULIP was never even mentioned. Phrases like, “practice Shalom,” “be agents of renewal,” “There is not a square inch of the world that God does not call mine!” etc. were the common language of the college culture.