Should we think about God’s relation to humanity through a decree, or through a person, through the dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ? That is the question that evangelical Calvinism reposes upon, again and again. It is a point that I don’t think many of evangelical Calvinism’s critics appreciate about evangelical Calvinism, and in particular about one of EC’s most prominent theologians, Thomas Torrance. If God is a personal God by nature (in se), if he is a plenitude of Triune relation, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then it follows that his relationship to his creation will likewise be personal and not governed by impersonal and abstract decrees.
When the above reality is applied, for example to the doctrine of election, Thomas Torrance (speaking as one of evangelical Calvinism’s premiere theologians) writes:
… Calvin calls Christ the Speculum praedestinationis. All this is of the utmost importance because it means that the relation between God and man in the act of predestination is to be thought of in terms of the person of Christ. How does God elect men? Through Christ. Why does He elect them? Because of Christ. Just because Christ is, therefore, the author and the instrument of election, we may not think of it in any deterministic sense, but in terms of the way our Lord treated men when He Himself was on earth. Unless this aspect of the Reformed doctrine of predestination is understood along with the other side, it is not really understood at all. That applies not only to the critics but to many champions of Calvinism as well!
To steal a phrase from Peter Leithart, Thomas Torrance’s project was about ‘evangelizing metaphysics,’ in another words, Thomas Torrance, and evangelical Calvinists as corollary, was all about personalizing Christian Reformed theology. Not because he or we are committed to a modern existentialist understanding of what it means to be a person, but because the revealed Christian God is Triune and personal. Since we take our cues from the categories of God’s Self revealed life, it is necessary then to think personally versus impersonally about the way he has related to us in Christ.
This is just another window into what distinguishes evangelical Calvinism from its classical cousin. I want to highlight some of these distinctions so that what Evangelical Calvinism is offering will be significant for those who might fail to see its significance. Using classical Calvinism as a foil of sorts, in its alternative status, will help to draw the lines more brightly.
 Thomas F. Torrance, “Predestination In Christ,” Evangelical Quarterly 13 (1941), 109.