Here's a really good article on an alleged revival of Calvinism in the United States. In short, it's said to be a reaction against the "Jesus is your friend," mega-church style of Protestantism that's been the dominant model of late. Well, even if it takes a dose of depressing predestination to get those churches to stop being purely entertainment based worship, maybe that's not so bad?
The question of how one should react to the theological/philosophical issue of predestination is pretty similar to the question of whether we are really just meat robots who don't really have free will at all. Those materialists who say free will is an illusion argue that for society to really work, we still have to act as if we do. (So we don't, for example, let criminals run free because they don't really control their will.) I suppose Calvinists can argue the same - even though you may be pre-destined for Hell, you need to act as if you might get to Heaven. Maybe they argue that lack of knowledge of your predestination means you don't need to feel fatalistic about it. If everyone acted on the fatalistic reality that your eternal home is already determined, the whole damn system just doesn't work.
There, I've found a connection between Calvin and the likes of William James, Hume etc. Well, sort of, and even if I have, no doubt someone else has said this before.
At the end of the CSM article, we read this:
Bestselling religion writer Phyllis Tickle sees the interest in
Calvinism as the first phase of a backlash against the dominant
religious trend of today: the rise of "Emergence Christianity."
Emergence Christianity, which she identifies as a once-every-500-years
religious shift, is less a doctrine or a movement than a postmodern attitude toward religion itself. Loosely organized, it values experimentation over traditional rules and Christian practice. "When things go through this upheaval," Ms. Tickle says, "there's always those who absolutely need the assurance of rules and a foundation."
Or, as Ms. Hagopian puts it with uncompromising Calvinistic clarity: "The
dominant philosophy of American Christianity is so far removed from
biblical truth. Life is not hunky-dory."
Are the liberal Christian denominations which are happy with marrying same sex partners and who think (like priest Peter Kennedy of "St Mary's in Exile") that it doesn't really matter whether or not Jesus Christ even existed an example of "Emergence Christianity"? Possibly, I suppose, but I remain deeply convinced that any essentially non-realist way of thinking about a religion like Christianity is only a way to ultimately decrease its significance, influence and longevity. For that reason, I can't help but feel some empathy with a revival of a thoroughly realist strain of Christianity as in Calvinism.