Book Review: “Calvinism In The Las Vegas Airport”

November 2009
by Lindsey Wiersma

For anyone new to the Calvinist tradition or anyone looking for a reminder of how that tradition shapes us, Richard J. Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, in his book Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport provides a thoughtful, easy to read overview, not of the details of Calvinist theology, but of why that theology matters.

Although I grew up in a deeply Calvinist community, coming to Redeemer marked my return after nearly a decade in various other Protestant denominations. I reached for this book to help me put a finger on why I had returned to the Calvinist tradition and why Redeemer, which on the surface is vastly different from the church I grew up in, felt so much like “home.”

After a brief reminder of the basic tenants of Calvinism, Mouw examines how that theology shades our understanding of issues such as justice, suffering, the sovereignty and generosity of God, and living life “before the face of God.” In doing so, Mouw explains why he finds being Calvinist to be the best way for him to be a Christian, with a humility that embraces what Christians of other traditions have to teach Calvinists and acknowledges where they have fallen short in the past.

Boiling down what could otherwise become heavy theological debate into short, easyto- read snippets, Mouw spends most of the book sharing anecdotes and personal reflections from his years as a pastor and professor that highlight how Calvinism intersects with the big and small moments of daily life.

I opened this book to find answers to a number of questions. Does it matter that we are a Calvinist congregation? Do we understand God and the world around us differently than Christians of other traditions? Does it make a difference in our day-to-day lives? Like a conversation with a favorite professor, Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport both answered these questions and left me pondering what those answers mean.


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