Alan Hirsch is a great guy... He loves Jesus, is passionate about the Gospel and his books (Shaping of Things to Come and The Forgotten Ways) are essential reading. I enjoyed the time I spent with him and hope to do more in the future...
Some thoughts of his on religion and (ahem) Calvinism.
"I believe that Christianity minus Christ equals Religion–and the reality is that we so easily subvert Jesus from the faith. And this to our great demise.
I have been talking with some of my more Reformed friends recently and have increasingly come to the rather unnerving conclusion that Calvinism is particularly susceptible to religiosity. Partly because of its idea of the continuity between law and gospel, partly because of its church over society stance, and partly because of sense of being the chief historical defender of the Faith. But mostly I believe this susceptibility comes from its general circumventing of the life and teachings of Jesus. If this is so, why? Well, it is inordinately hard to make Jesus sound like a supralapsarian, five-point, Calvinist. I trained in a strongly Reformed seminary (which shall remain unnamed) and so I can speak from experience here. I can say that by and large it felt that we considered the Gospels were mere exercises in Greek exegesis to prepare us up for the real deal–Paul. Yes, we we reserved our real energies and excitement for Paul and Pauline theology, and I think this is true for Calvinist faith in general. I have come to the rather disconcerting conclusion that Reformed theology can easily become a religion of Paul rather than an expression of the life of Jesus is it is not careful. This subversion of Jesus from his own movement is rightly called Paulinism because it so readily discounts the central and defining role of Jesus in the life of the Christian faith. Christianity is a ‘religion’ based on Jesus or it is nothing! And it is not just about the birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and return that are vital to Christian faith, but his life, lifestyle, teachings, and ethos as well.
This loss of Jesus-presence and Jesus-consciousness has always led to the degradation of Christianity throughout history, and the recovery of it will always lead to our renewal."