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Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport: Making Connections in Today's World

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  42 reviews
What do the Canons of Dordt mean to people in the Las Vegas airport—and does anyone there even care? In the movie Hardcore, a pious Calvinist elder tries unsuccessfully to explain the TULIP theology of his Dutch Reformed faith to a prostitute in the Las Vegas airport. This incongruous conversation demonstrates how Calvinism is often perceived today: irrelevant, harsh, even ...more
Paperback, 143 pages
Published October 10th 2004 by Zondervan (first published October 1st 2004)
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Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: culture, theology
3.5 Stars.

Re-read most of this for a preaching series on the Canons of Dordt.

Lots of wonderful reflections on the doctrines described by the acronym TULIP, as well as important connections to their implications in our modern world. Good sermon fodder : )

I was reminded of Mouw's ability to hold both a clarity of his convictions together with a gracious and charitable tone. When he is lampooned for his "soft" Calvinism, I wonder if what critics are actually reacting against is the tone with whi
Justin Tapp
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: church
What a great little book from a humble author. Mouw is the President of Fuller Seminary and is experienced being on faculty at other Presbyterian institutions. This work gave me much respect for how Presbyterians treat institutions-- like their faith and the creeds along which it developed. This book is both a defense of and an appeal to the institution of Calvinism along with a confession of, and a plea for, epistimological humility. It is also a great book about applying theology to every inch ...more
Sean Higgins
Mar 15, 2009 rated it liked it
The first three chapters made me think I was going to love the book.

I thought his explanation of the usefulness of labels was great (19-22), as was his own label wearing explanation.
God created us to glorify him in all we do, and our basic choices either honor or dishonor God's creating purposes. When I decide to call myself a Calvinist, then--and if I am serious in my declaration--I am implying that this is a very good way to be a human being who is created in the divine image. (20)

I appreciate
Mar 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Fairly easy read by Mouw, but not recommended. He does a fairly good job of explaining the points of TULIP, bit certainly not as well as Sproul (but who can, really?) If he had left the book there I would have probably given him 4 stars...

...but then he wrote Chapter 8, The Generosity Option. I'm very sorry Dr. Mouw, but no matter how difficult you find it to "draw sharp lines in your own mind about who is 'in' and who is 'out'" (85), anyone who does not accept salvation through Christ alone is
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly refreshing read. Can’t say I follow Mouw everywhere he goes, but I thought this was a good book which wrestled with the tension one experiences as a Calvinist in the 21st century. This isn’t an exegetical work, nor is it a technical theological treatise. It’s more like pastoral musings – and for the most part, very good musings. I was intrigued with how Mouw drew upon certain resources within the Calvinist tradition to address certain cotemporary hot topics, even when I didn’t agree ...more
Paul Burkhart
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is so wonderful when you find a book on such a hard topic, and you wouldn't hesitate for a moment letting anyone in your life read that book. Mouw's contribution here is remarkable. He articulates an ecumenical, winsome, and yet still entirely faithful account of his Calvinism (and mine). Thank God for this book. All readers, whether Calvinists or not, will learn many lessons in these pages.
Brent McCulley
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
A few good items to chew on. Eclectic, ecumenical Calvinism. L in TULIP as a "shelf" doctrine. Claimed "free-will" theologies produce more evangelism albeit this could be contested historically. Humility as key. Confessions very important, etc. Kuyper type Calvinism, every inch, etc. Good.
While there are plenty of books available that will explain what Calvinism is and defend the doctrines of Calvinism, few take the route Richard Mouw takes in Calvanism in the Las Vegas Airport. His book takes a more intimate approach toward explaining how he experiences the main principles of Calvinism in his day-to-day life. Throughout the book, he is honest about the system’s strengths and weaknesses, i.e., what it does and doesn’t do. There are no proof texts, arguments, or apologetics, makin ...more
May 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
I am not a Calvinist. I picked up this book because my dad had been reading it and the title was intriguing. I got the impression it was going to be less about theology than how to live based on that theology. I thought it might show me the practical implications of Calvinist distinctives. It didn’t. The first several chapters were about the Calvinist distinctives summarized in TULIP (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverence of the saints). I e ...more
Kevin Summers
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
The sections 'Being Open to Correction' and 'Getting a Second Opinion' in chapter 11 ("Confessions of a Traveling Calvinist") are good.

Sample quote: "When Jonathan Edwards complained in the eighteenth century that the term Calvinist was a 'matter of reproach,' he did not know how good he had it in comparison to what would happen in later centuries. When people criticized Calvinism in his day, they at least had some idea of what they were talking about; their problem was that they simply did not
Doug Connell
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
#60 out of goal of 100

Those who are not Calvinists, and those who don’t know, and those who are newcomers would benefit from this book. It’s only about 125 pages, and written at a lay-level, and helpfully explains “mere Calvinism” and why it’s important to rightly understand whatever your perspective or inclination.

Some of his ecumenical aspirations in explaining Calvinism made me hesitant to give 5 stars, but what would you expect from the president of Fuller Seminary (where the student body co
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Read this book as part of my Bible study at church. I would never recommend this book to someone outside the reformed Christian Community. The book really focuses on being a "Calvinist" versus being a "Lutheran," Catholic... etc... I'm more focused on being a follower of Christ versus being a follower of Calvin, Luther...... The book is a little meandering which is surprising for such a small book. I did learn a few things, but overall it was a very inside baseball Calvin College book. It's not ...more
Paul Veldhouse
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's great... if you're a Calvinist. Which I am... so I liked it. I would have named it "Musings from a Calvinist Guy" though. Doesn't nail down anything specific, but gives a good overview of why he struggles with, but is ultimately content with his Calvinism. As am I.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book should have begun with chapter ten. Not sure about the "hunch" system prevalent throughout the book. Perhaps stronger scriptural proofs, rather than theologians proof would be beneficial. I do, however, appreciate the idea of living with generosity rather than stinginess.
Mar 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by this one when I first saw it on the shelves and read it on my bus commute over the course of a month or two. Later I assigned it to my staff for a book discussion reading to help us better articulate Calvinism and also get in touch with our own theological/spiritual understandings together.

The book was an easy read by Mouw, written to put Calvinism in modern terms, and I really appreciated his approach. In the end he helped to affirm my own fundamental agreement with the tenan
Clark Goble
Mar 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Mouw does an excellent job writing a primer on Calvinism. He first aptly defines Calvinism for his readers and then makes an argument for a sort of "generous" Calvinism that recognizes its role under the umbrella of Christianity. This is a timely read. Too often, Calvinism gets twisted into Hyper-Calvinism which is neither Biblical or helpful. Mouw does a wonderful job putting Calvinism back into the proper perspective.

Unfortunately, Mouw then crosses into dangerous territory. In his zeal to ar
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mouw presents a simple, generous, and personal take on Calvinism. You are not going to find a rigorous exposition of Calvinist theology here. Mouw is writing to people "outside" the Calvinist faith. Instead of inviting people into the world of Calvinism, he takes his Calvinism out to travel the world. The result is a winsome and thought provoking explanation of why Calvinism still matters today.

If you are looking for an in-house book arguing the theological nuances of Reformed Theology, this bo
Chad Jowers
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
As rudimentary as reformed theology can be explained, Mouw does a good job with the basics. I was not, however, as impressed with his writings as I have been others that have easily explained the Calvinist view.

Seek Sproul or Keller or some others if you want a more scriptural-based teaching that moves more in-depth. Read Mouw if you want to amuse your own reformed beliefs.

Mouw's gentle spirit shines in his works on and off the pages; however, for educational purposes and to help others better
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Calvinism is not a topic I would associate with the Las Vegas airport. I have been there and other religious perspectives or philosophies would strike me as a bit more appropriate. But Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminar, provides a great introduction to where Calvinism fits and why it matters. The fact that there are 57 references and 7 pages in the index for this 147 page book, points to the scholarly foundation of a book that is quite easy to read. It was very helpful for me ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it

Mouw offers a vision of compassionate Calvinism that accepts he core salvation understanding presented in the Canons of Dort while remaining open and charitable to other Christian traditions. In the midst of harsh pro- and anti-Calvinist rhetoric, Mouw's book is a helpful reminder of the size, scope, and attitude that should be part and parcel of Calvinism. He major flaw of the book is its continued adherence to TULIP as the summation of Dort. Other than that, I recommend the book for those cu
Mark A Powell
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
Mouw presents an honest, often helpful interaction with the ‘five points’ of Calvinism. Instead of rehashing historical doctrines, he focuses on the way Calvinism is often harshly communicated and perceived. Mouw considers compassionate, respectful alternatives in the ways Calvinists express their beliefs. While the first half is passable, Mouw then sadly reveals inclusivist positions on salvation and veers toward sweeping ecumenicalism. Also very troubling is how Scripture is seldom used, seemi ...more
Jan 20, 2010 rated it liked it
If you want a gracious, kind, brief introduction to what it means to be reformed, Mouw gives a read door into this world. He answers questions on 'TULIP' as ministry, how reformed people can learn from other traditions, what the reformed faith has to say to the culture, ultimately what it means that 'Salvation is of the Lord.' This is my first book by this author, and I want to read more from Mouw.
Walt Murray
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book that challenges Calvinists to get out of their comfortable ivory tower, and to engage those who are suffering. The author does a great job of showing that as the holders of strong Biblical positions we have the obligation of going beyond the walls of the church, and into the world to help people find comfort in the great truths of the Christian faith.

I particularly found the chapter on grieving to be a comfort.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
I thought Mouw did a very good job of explaining the bedrock Calvinist beliefs summarized in TULIP, including a discussion of why they are often misunderstood and perceived as harsh. He allowed room for disagreement with his conclusions and acknowledged that God's ways may involve mysteries not yet understood by man.
I especially appreciated his references to the 1st question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism as a complement to Calvin's doctrines.
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2015
Don't remember who recommended this book but am glad they did. Although I was familiar with TULIP, the pneumonic help to remember what Calvinism is about, this book unpacks some of the finer nuances. Although I attend a church that is part of a Reformed, or Calvin, tradition, I can't say that I agree with all 5 points. Just call me Calvin 2.5 or so. I actually may read this book again as I gain a better understanding from where the Calvin 5.0 people come from.
Melisa Blankenship
Mouw looks at the five points of Calvinism (TULIP) and talks about how to look at these in light of the many other denominations and belief systems among us. He upholds his beliefs, while at the same time encouraging humility and a desire to listen to others and meet others where they are. It was a well written book, but I marked it as three stars simply because this isn't as compelling to me as other aspects of theology.
Tim Poole
Liked how the author talked about how the TULIP doctrines are a better "look back" explanation of our salvation vs an evangelistic tool. The latter chapters of the book are where I had trouble. While God is Sovereign and can do anything he desires, it was difficult reading how the author thought that a non-believing rabbi or a jaded (rightly so) woman may still be in heaven.
Dianne Oliver
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
I felt at home with this author. I enjoyed this read, and although he went a bit far with some of his ideas on who might be saved, I truly appreciated the conversation and the attitudes- his musings feel like my own. Calvinism, in his hands, does not feel like a dirty word. Refreshing in our postmodern world.
Keith Bell
OK, Calvinism is not my thing. I won't go into that here though. I guess this is the authors attempt to explain how he maintains his Calvinistic beliefs in todays world. Not that they are contradictory for him. Interesting book but not my favourite by far.
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Finally, a book on Calvinism that's friendly and accessible. I appreciate the way that Mouw leaves room for doubt and uncertainty while also writing with confidence about grace. I'll be looking for other Mouw books....perhaps his new biography on Kuyper?
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Richard John Mouw is a theologian and philosopher. He held the position of President at Fuller Theological Seminary for 20 years (1993-2013), and continues to hold the post of Professor of Faith and Public Life.

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