The language of “Evangelical Calvinism” can be very confusing for those being exposed to it for the first time; usually folks presume that it is basically Evangelical + Calvinism, but really this could not be further from the truth. It actually has much more definitional depth than that, and is intended to capture its material reality and whence it finds its theological orientation (in contrast to what I like to call classical Calvinism). Here is what Myk Habets and myself co-wrote for the Introduction of our edited book Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church, pg. 12:
The specific term “Evangelical Calvinism” as [sic] been used a number of times in history and so it is not unique to the editors or contributors of this volume. To generalize, this form of Calvinism can have an unintended consequence of not promoting a full-orbed Trinitarian theology, as can be discerned in Calvin himself. Due to historical and cultural factors, various aspects of Calvin’s theology were diminished that Evangelical Calvinism seeks to redress. According to David Fergusson, the more “mainstream” forms of Calvinism tend “to subordinate grace to nature; it renders the justice of God essential but the love of God arbitrary; it yields a theory of limited atonement which is contrary to the plain sense of Scripture and which is divorced from the doctrine of the incarnation; and it fosters an introspective and legalist religion as the search for the signs of election is redirected away from Christ to the life of the individual believer.”32 It the editor’s belief that an Evangelical Calvinism can best represent the kind of Reformed theology Fergusson so rightly believes to be necessary.
And to be honest, I am pretty tired of arguing about labeling at this point. If someone doesn’t actually think what we are presenting or identifying is genuinely Calvinist in orientation, I honestly don’t care. I know that by using this kind of politically charged lingo ‘Evangelical’ and ‘Calvinist’ that we have pretty much invited some scrutiny that way, and indeed, may have erected a barrier to high for people to get past; but I would challenge anyone reading this, who might fall into that camp, to give what we are materially communicating a chance. To take away the language of Evangelical Calvinist, and get into the material reality, what you will find is that we believe that God is Triune love, who loved the world that he created (because he is love) so much that he freely choose to become us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him (in Christ). In this sense, we are the most evangelical theology you might ever encounter; that is if you are attempting to think about things theologically.
As you can see from the quote above, we are different from what normally passes as Calvinism or Arminianism for that matter. At the end of the day, though, I just want people to know that they can think theologically about things, and actually not imbibe what is usually on tap for those of you who want to. I know that even in communicating what I am here, that I am, indeed, drawing some distinctions and lines. Well, we do believe something, it is distinct, and at the end of the day, it is more evangelical, I think, than anything I have ever encountered in my short 39 years on this earth.