The Reformed Faith Weblog (TRFW) recently had the good fortune to sit down for a confab with Eric Holmberg, Founder and CEO of The Apologetics Group (TAG), where he discussed TAG’s Amazing Grace video as well as some other intriguing upcoming TAG projects.
TRFW: This is the quincentenary year of Calvin’s birth and the great man hasn’t been this much in the news for a long time – even making Time magazine’s “10 Ideas That Are Changing the World” – speaking specifically to the theological system that bears his name. To what degree do you think your video “Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism” has contributed to this growth in popularity?
ERIC: Only God knows how these things shake out. I would like to think we played a small part. Certainly the video is selling almost as well now as it did when it was first released four years ago; over 50,000 copies and counting – which is pretty amazing for an over four-hour documentary film on “non-sexy” topics like history and theology.
TRFW: Any testimonies you would like to share?
ERIC: Sure, tons. I recently ministered on the campus of Kansas State. The church that brought me in was an independent, non-denominational charismatic church and the entire staff – around twenty people I guess – had gone through the video systematically over a period of weeks. The result was that a majority of them became convinced Calvinists and even the ones who didn’t became much more self-aware of their soteriological systems as well as some of its potential inconsistencies and were appreciative of the iron-sharpening-iron dynamic. This type of thing has happened hundreds if not thousands of times. Right now I am working on a video on open-air preaching and I am finding men that do it – from England to New Jersey (where I just got back from filming) have seen and been powerfully impacted by the video. Given the strong Arminian – even full-blown Pelegian – leanings if not out-right convictions that characterize a lot of the public preachers, this trend towards the theology as well as the practice of Whitefield and Spurgeon is wonderful.
TRFW: Tell us about the new Study Guide for “Amazing Grace.”
ERIC: The first version wasn’t as thorough as the video and didn’t adequately address some of the most common objections people had after watching the DVD. Though I have been extremely busy with new projects, re-launching our web site, and family stuff (my second grandchild is to be born any day now) I carved out at least a month of total time over the last year to both re-do and expand the guide. I am very pleased with the results and many who have gone through it agree. And in keeping with our desire to do what we can to advance the neo-Calvinist revolution – particularly in the face of the extremely sobering signs of growing apostasy in the West and potential cultural collapse – not only have we reduced the price on the DVD significantly but we have made the Study Guide free of charge.
TRFW: Any lessons learned through all these escapades that are of a more corrective nature?
ERIC: I am glad you asked. There is a trend I have seen in the Reformed world – some call it the “truly reformed” (TR) world – towards spiritual pride, reductionism and a type of neo-gnosticism. By the latter I mean a tendency to think that because we have gained a special knowledge of God and His ways as pertains salvation and the true nature of man, we are somehow special; better and more useful (and even more acceptable) to God than those poor Arminians. While I have known all manner of faithful Calvinists who are loving, humble and among the most Godly people I have ever met in the broad world of the Church in which I have been blessed to travel, I have also run into a more than a few…I’ll just call them less that way. And what is equally bad, and maybe related to this unfortunate reality, is the reductionism, the all-too-common tendency for some to reduce Calvin to his soteriology, to the famous five-points that “Amazing Grace” explores. Anyone who knows Calvin – and those that carried the torch he helped light – knows that eclipsing his view as to the fine points of the true nature of God and man and how God then saves His elect – as important as those are – was his passion for the kingdom of God, the Lordship of Christ over the nations, winning souls, conquering sin, reforming cultures and the priesthood of the individual believer and the holiness of their calling and work as a primary means by which God would cause the “knowledge of the Lord to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” In this sense, and the last few years have helped me see this clearly, Wesley was a far better Calvinist that more than a few of the TR’s I have encountered.
In that “Amazing Grace” subtly fed that reductionism by focusing on Calvin’s soteriology rather than the bigger picture, I regret that I may have contributed to this all-too-common problem. We hope to “fix” this with two follow-up projects to “Amazing Grace” that explore both “the big picture” as well as how its implementation has “rocked the world” throughout history and will no doubt rock it again.
TRFW: Sounds very interesting and exciting; I can’t wait to hear more about them. Any other new projects in the works?
ERIC: We always have a half-dozen or more ideas in varying stages of development. That’s my curse, too many ideas and too little time, hands and money. Besides the doc on the public proclamation of the Gospel I have already alluded to, Jay Rogers and I are finishing up “The Abortion Matrix: Ending Child Sacrifice and the Decline of America” that I trust will help to do just that. And Larry Tomczak and I are well into a project that will tackle another boring, non-controversial issue: homosexuality.
There are other things as well, but let me end with another Calvin project. To celebrate his quincentenary we commissioned an artist, Caleb Fairies is his name and his work is really amazing, to do a bust of Calvin. The first bronze should be cast before the end of the year. These will be signed and numbered limited edition run – probably just ten will be made – and they will cost several thousands of dollars and be a real collector’s item. But there will be a resin model that will look almost as amazing – that will come in at the “I can afford to get this for my husband/pastor/dad/Christian school” price. We did that for people like me.
TRFW: And me! Where can we learn more about this?
ERIC: Keep checking our web site. Once the bronze is done we will announce it, posting pictures as well as detailed video of the bust on YouTube.
TRFW: Thanks for your time, Eric. May God grant you a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
ERIC: And may He do the same for you. Thanks.
Eric lives in Tennessee with his lovely wife, Ronda, and in addition to Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism, Eric has produced in the neighborhood of 30+ other Christian educational videos and documentaries.