This post comes out of hearing that yet another of my good friends from the christian school I used to work at has come to embrace Reformed theology. Basically the school I was a part of was very much like Schaeffer's L'Abri, we were not Reformed but taught basic Bible classes and were very evangelistic. At any rate I myself out of love for the word became a Calvinist. I was pretty evangelisitic with Calvinism for a while, out of love for the truths that so many Christians just dismiss out of hand in the love of "free will".
At anyrate over time I have come to find that many of the students (particularly those who feel called to ministry) are embracing Reformed theology. I just want to play off of a theme which Christianity Today (CT) had on this subject a few months ago. CT said that there basically were two streams of thought that really are fighting for the hearts of the younger evangelicals: Calvinism and Emergent theology. Now I know that is probably over simplistic, but it makes for a good contrast.
What we have in Emergent theology is basically a new mysticism, God is no longer transcendent but is almost wholly immanent. This is not the God that will judge and send sinners to hell but rather the god (little g) that is there to affirm and to bring about unity. This god didn't send his son to die for you (that would be child abuse), that just kind of happened to him but it gives us an example to live by. This god has no authoritative word, all readings of the Bible are just interpretations, all that matters is that you are inspired to live well. Man is not so depraved as to deserve hell, but is probably 6 parts good to 4 parts bad. Salvation therefore isn't so much an event but a process we join and participate in.
I know this description is not applicable to all emergents but it is made up of what many emergents have been saying.
Reformed theology on the other hand has God as Lord of His creation, He is the King of Kings and Lord of lords. All will give an account of their lives before Him, there will be a real and final judgement and there will be damnation for those who have hated their God and eternal life for those who have loved Him and willingly and joyfully accepted Him as their Lord. This is the God who sent His Son Jesus to die in the place of sinners and it is His wounds and punishment in their place that effects their salvation.
This view of Christianity in contrast to it's high view of God has a low view of man. Man is as Paul said "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph2:1). Man is not willing to come to God as Lord nor ever will be apart from God opening sinners eyes. God would be completely just in damning the whole lot of the human race for their rebellion and hatred of their rightful King. But God in His mercy reaches down and saves sinners, salvation is a gift of God, completely.
This is a brief picture of I think the two competing theologies for the younger generation of evangelicals. I think many are coming to Reformed theology tired of the pop theology of the God who is there to affirm you make you feel good about yourself and is there to help balance the check book. The younger Christians either want to take this sort of Cotton candy theology further and go emergent or they are rejecting it and becoming Reformed.
Those who have gone Reformed are tired of the soft peddled theologies that dominate evangelicalism. They want a robust theology with all of the truths that natural man hates, truths of election, God's sovereignty, man's depravity, and a grace that actually does save rebels. They want a Jesus who is more then a hippie wearing sandals with a perm, limp wristed, wearing a dress, walking around talking about his feelings and making people feel good about themselves and eventually gets beat up by people who don't like him. That's not a Jesus that invokes worship, perhaps sympathy.
We want the Jesus of the Bible who came to seek and save the lost, the Jesus who died for sinners and rose victorious GUARANTEEING the salvation of ALL who He died for. The Jesus who is the Lord of all men but humbled Himself and took punishment knowing that his executioners had no power over Him at all. We want the Jesus who sits at the right hand of God and will return to judge the living and the dead, the Jesus who will exact judgement on those who rejected His Lordship and persecuted His servants. This is the Biblical Jesus.
It is the God who is the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, that Reformed theology offers. It is the God who drops the ball and says oops that emergent theology offers. What we have is two different pulls one is from the City of Man and it's theology which is palatable to the natural man. Over against this is the theology of the City of God in all it's robustness and the natural man can not stand it. I think this is the picture.