"new" calvinism

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by presbyterianintexas, Apr 30, 2010.

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  1. presbyterianintexas

    presbyterianintexas Puritan Board Freshman

    I have been hearing alot of harsh statements from the reformed/Calvinistic community about the “new” Calvinism over the last year. Seems like its pretty much 3 issues the “traditional” reformed, is complaining about this “new”Calvinism.

    1)that they not “truly” reformed cause they don't follow the “traditional” a Presbyterian/reformed church government. Well lets see the particular baptists did not have “reformed” church government. They were just as bit as Calvinistic as the Presbyterians and congregationalists. Either do the congregationalists, but one would be hard pressed to say that Johnathon Edwards was not Calvinist.

    2)The new Calvinism is not truly “Reformed” cause they may not in some churches follow the “traditional” reformed confessions like the Westminister Standards or Three Forms of Unity or neither of London Baptist confessions. This is totally not true. I have seen some “independent/bible” type churches confessions of faith over the years and their pretty calvinistic

    3)that these new Calvinists are too “spirit-filled”,”fruits of the spirit”. Well im sure the first Great Awakening was that way and it was very Calvinistic

    I guess my point is just cause a church or a movement is not your “type” of Calvinism. That doesn't mean they are not true blue Calvinists. I mean if u follow the 5 points”Tulip” in your theology, you are considered Calvinist.
  2. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You are confusing "Calvinism" with "Reformed." One is primarily a reference to the five points nowadays; the other is a theological movement that includes other distinctives, such as the Regulative Principle and Covenant Theology.
  3. presbyterianintexas

    presbyterianintexas Puritan Board Freshman

    well i know what ya saying but as i stated in post. when most folks think of calvinism its the tulip soteriology. meaning you can be calvinist with out being reformed like baptists and congregationalists were few hundred years ago
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    New Calvinism is a different bread. It is not Calvinism. The 5 points are a good place to start in understanding soteriology. But it is not what Calvin would necessarily endorse outside of the whole of the Bible like the New Calvinism does. I has to do with Worship and a New Creation which is not necessarily tied together in the New Calvinism. Calvinism has to do with seeing the whole Bible as a book that is one book and Covenantal.
  5. presbyterianintexas

    presbyterianintexas Puritan Board Freshman

    mmm well i guess some folks believe you have to believe in the presbyterian form of governement and/ or the covenants. to be a true blue calvinist. Sorry Mr. SPurgeon and Edwards your not calvinist by the defination that some are giving. lmbo
  6. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I never had the old Calvinist bread. I wonder how the new Calvinist bread is toasted with butter.
  7. Sam Owen

    Sam Owen Puritan Board Freshman

    Anyone seen a store that sells Calvinist Crumpets?
  8. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    No, but I heard cranberry Calvinist scones are really good.
  9. Sam Owen

    Sam Owen Puritan Board Freshman

    Bwah ha haaa ... Ooooh that's just norty :p
  10. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I asked a reformed church historian once about what he thought of new Calvinism and he responded with admiration for the way that the new Calvinists are embracing and studying the Puritans, but expressed concern over their lack of unity and lack of a confession. I think they're headed in a good direction, as long as they keep going (and judging by their enthusiasm for sound doctrine, it looks like they will).
  11. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    Could someone define "new Calvinism" and/or give some real-world examples? I've seen it much bally-hooed (both in positive and negative lights) with no real definition.
  12. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    1.of recent origin, production, purchase, etc.; having but lately come or been brought into being: a new book.
    2.of a kind now existing or appearing for the first time; novel: a new concept of the universe.
    3.having but lately or but now come into knowledge: a new chemical element.
    4.unfamiliar or strange (often fol. by to): ideas new to us; to visit new lands.
    5.having but lately come to a place, position, status, etc.: a reception for our new minister.
    6.unaccustomed (usually fol. by to): people new to such work.
    7.coming or occurring afresh; further; additional: new gains.
    8.fresh or unused: to start a new sheet of paper.
    9.(of physical or moral qualities) different and better: The vacation made a new man of him.
    10.other than the former or the old: a new era; in the New World.
    11.being the later or latest of two or more things of the same kind: the new testament; a new edition of Shakespeare.
    12.(initial capital letter) (of a language) in its latest known period, esp. as a living language at the present time: New High German.

    1.the doctrines and teachings of John Calvin or his followers, emphasizing predestination, the sovereignty of god, the supreme authority of the Scriptures, and the irresistibility of grace.
  13. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Brian, welcome to the PB!

    After you have been around here a bit longer, you will learn that a couple of professional historians here (and not a few members) do not believe that Baptists are Reformed, as a matter of fact. Most of the operational definitions for "Reformed" on the PB include a more full bodied feature-rich panoply of items that typically include a coupling of Calvinist soteriology with covenant theology and a traditional confession (e.g., WCF or the 3FU). This excludes as well as includes. Dr. John MacArthur, for instance, is a powerful preacher and author who upholds the sovereignty of God and TULIP. He is, however, dispensational, pre-tribulational, and . . . non Reformed.

    Some of us who are non Presbyterian rankled at the apparent exclusivity in the beginning. However, this is not to say that God only works through Reformed bodies. TULIP soteriology is a thing to be appreciated, no matter who holds it. Many non-confessional and non-Reformed "new Calvinists" are doing a wonderful job of challenging the secularism of our culture, building churches, and presenting the Gospel. They are found in independent churches, Baptist churches, and the like. They are not, by most accepted definitions, fully Reformed. Mark Driscoll, for example, preaches from the "right" Bible (ESV), holds firmly to Calvinistic theology, etc. He would probably not, however, consider himself "Reformed" and few on the PB would argue with him.
  14. Kiffin

    Kiffin Puritan Board Freshman

    This is not a "real" definition but my observation-

    New Calvinism is a movement of 18-30something year-olds who have embraced Reformed soteriology through the ministries of John MacArthur, John Piper, RC Sproul, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, etc., and who are not afraid to be dogmatic despite postmodernity's influence. The majority are dispensationalists who are reforming and a close second are confessionalists who find exceptions.

    Synonym- Togetherforthegospelism
  15. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    That's a pretty good definition. But without adopting Reformed theology, Neo-Calvinism will eventually become subservient to the egalitarianism and relativism of the day.
  16. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

  17. presbyterianintexas

    presbyterianintexas Puritan Board Freshman

    i agree Dennis. You basically said samething i was saying but in a different way. When i started the post Mark Driscoll was what i had in mind
  18. JOwen

    JOwen Puritan Board Junior

  19. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation


    I would suggest that this conversation is based upon too high a view of the "5 Points" *as* "The 5 Points." We need to remember that these weren't something that a group of theologians sat down and thought of one day as a good representation of our theology. Rather, there was already a full, coherent system of theology, and this system was challenged by the Remonstrants on 4 points; in response, in order to protect the truths of this system of theology, the fathers met at Dort and affirmed the necessity of 5 key points within the Reformed system. What does this mean? It means that these 5 things were never designed to stand alone; nor, I would submit, *can* they stand alone.

    Let me give an example. Let's pretend that I am a Rock and Roll musician. I stay with my sister for a week, and she loves to listen to Baroque-style music -- especially to Bach. Now, while my Rock sensibilities cannot stand her music, nevertheless I am very intrigued for some reason by the overall concept of a fugue. I don't like all the formal rules, the constraints, the styles, (the harpsichords), but I love the idea of the fugue. So later on, when I am writing new music, I attempt to incorporate the basic idea of the fugue into one of my songs. It's a wild song, full of screaming guitars, driven by drum loops, ever-changing in traditional rock fashion. BUT, it has some basic elements of a fugue. Now, under no circumstances would it be honest or a fair representation of Baroque music to claim that I am now a Baroque musician. The most that can be said is that I have incorporated a certain element of Baroque style into a fundamentally antagonistic form of music.

    I would suggest to you that these "5 Points" are of a similar nature: they simply cannot be separated from their Reformed context and grafted into some other theological system/view and still retain any true, meaningful significance. This is not to discourage those contemporary churches and Christians who are beginning to discover the wonders of aspects of Reformed theology -- they should be greatly encouraged! And we need to be thankful that such truths are beginning to be rediscovered and embraced! Nevertheless, speaking abstractly, without the framework provided by the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort cannot represent any basis for theology. They need to exist within a framework. Without a proper understanding of God as he is a Trinity, and of the nature of his will, knowledge and decrees, the 5 Points cannot stand; without a proper understanding of the role of each of the Three persons in salvation, the 5 Points cannot stand; without a proper understanding of Justification by Faith, the 5 Points cannot stand; without an understanding of the Covenant of Grace, and the means by which salvation is applied (the Word and Sacrament), the 5 Points cannot stand; without a proper understanding of the mediatorial and economic work of Christ in his person, natures, three offices and two states, the 5 Points cannot stand; without an understanding of Reformed piety, and the means of walking in the grace purchased and applied; without an understanding of the law-gospel distinction and the third use of the law; of the role of the gospel and the sacraments in our sanctification -- the 5 Points cannot stand. All our doctrines are inter-related, and you cannot simply remove 5 certain parts from their context and hope that they will still function properly.

    You might be interested in reading this short article by famed historian Richard Muller, entitled "How Many Points." It was originally published in Calvin Theological Journal, Vol. 28 (1993): 425-33, but may be read with permission online here: Riddleblog - "How Many Points?"

    Welcome to the Puritan Board; I do hope that your time and conversations here will be profitable for all!
  20. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Well stated and elegtantly framed, Paul. :up:

    I think that is what Bill was referencing when he suggested that much of the new Calvinism is intrinsically unstable and will eventually devolve into the Zeitgeist of today: egalitarianism and relativism. The confessional Baptists on the board might argue that they are able to hold it together without paedobaptism. But, ALL of us could probably agree that the Burger King ("have it your way") pastiche of a little Calvinist soteriology and a little emergent church ecclesiology with a large dollop of dispensationalism will never hold together over time.

    I celebrate the dissemination of truth (the 5 pts.) whether by Ligon Duncan, John MacArthur, or Mark Driscoll. However, unless it is wedded to a more appropriate ecclesiology and view of the covenant, it will not have much shelf life.
  21. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    While dogmatic, new Calvinists are giving into some of post-modernity's fluid use of language. While I'm encouraged that people are landing on Calvinistic-ish ideas, the eclectic theological choices they make are still, in many cases, rooted in a modernist way of thinking that our minds are the organ of truth by which we interpret the data from many voices and settle the issue for ourselves. Once they've collected their sources, they perform their own unique mashup of Soteriology, Ecclesiology, Pneumatology, etc, and call it Reformed or Calvinist. Remind them that Reformed or Calvinist had a historic meaning and you're a legalist because their deconstruction of the word is now normative.

    Hermeneutics is a complicated science. I don't think I recognized how many ways exegesis and systematics interplay in the building up of doctrines from verses and then informing contexts from the systems. What worries me about many new Calvinists is a kind of pragmatism that's never done any of the "dirty work" to try to get a solid hermeneutic into place but then having the arrogance to claim that Historic Confessions are "legalistic" or stifling on the basis of a theology of the first glance.

    Ironically, one of the first principles that many new Calvinists agree with is Total Depravity but I don't think many of them stop to consider the fact that indwelling Sin actually affects the interpretative process - including their own. One of the fundamental reasons that the Reformed have deliberated in Synods over the years is the collective "protection" that a group of men give to each other in their respective theological "blind spots". Again, however, I think that many new Calvinists are operating on a basic modernist assumption that they can trust their own "spider sense". It's an unstated assumption but I see it operating as a consistent undercurrent.
  22. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

  23. presbyterianintexas

    presbyterianintexas Puritan Board Freshman

    i agree more with dennis than Paul that you can be calvinist in soteriology without being calvinist in church government etc. but if in order to be a true blue calvinist you have to have a presbyterian form of government etc. then like i said before, i guess the historians etc were wrong about johnathon edwards and charles spurgeon, among others being calvinist. Since they didnt follow a reformed government. And in order to be calvinist u have to follow a reformed government according to some folks. guess to me theres no logic in having to be reformed in government and theology in order to be a true blue calvinist. i dont have any more of a high view of the 5 points than any other calvinist. that the way most folks have known calvinism by for centuries
  24. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Brian, I'm not sure you fully read my response, since it, in fact, included nothing about Presbyterian government; it might be worth noting to you that a good deal of Reformed theologians attribute presbyterial government to bene esse, or well-being, of the Reformed church, not to the esse, or essence, of the Reformed church. While I am very opposed to the independency of theologians such as Goodwin or Owen, I'm not sure I am aware of any who would even contemplate declaring that these men were not, in fact, Reformed theologians; and Edwards was certainly a Reformed theologian.

    Since you made the claim, do you have evidence that "calvinism" has been defined "for centuries" by "believing the 5 points"? Sometimes it could be used in a specific, narrow context polemically to define the Calvinist understanding of 5 select points of soteriology against those of the Remonstrants, but that in no way indicates that people thought that "Calvinism" = "Five Points."

    I press you on this, not because I want us Reformed folk to be elitist or exlusivist, but because I am troubled by the minimalist ecumenism in which our culture is immersed. Thus, my statements are not aimed polemically against those who would be called Reformed Baptist -- my quarrel does not concern this topic. There is troubling trend, however, to elevate these "5 Points" to be a sort of theological common ground, where, as long as we agree on these things, that's enough. [We have much more in common with Confessional baptists than with the "new Calvinism" movement]. I am not sure why people want so badly to label their theology with the name of a man (Calvin) to whom their theology and church would simply not be recognizable as common with his own.

    For what it's worth, I think it probable (I can't claim this as a fact) that there are more cases from at least the first half of the 17th Century where the term Calvinist is used to distinguish the Reformed from the Lutherans, not from the Arminians. Thus, the term "Calvinist" had more to do with such teachings as the sacraments, the law, etc., than with the synod of Dort.
  25. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    1. Please provide the courtesy to your readers to take the time to use proper punctuation and capitalization. You are very difficult to read.

    2. It seems like you're "shadow boxing" here. I'm not sure what your point about Edwards and Spurgeon are with respect to Church Government. Nobody has made the claim that one has to be Presbyterian in their form of government to be "true blue Calvinist". Independents were invited to the Westminster Assembly. Edwards considered himself to adhere to the substance of the Westminster Standards as this quote from Edwards demonstrates:
    3. I don't know what you think Dennis was agreeing with but it wasn't what you just stated. The only thing he was pointing out was that, historically, Baptists were not called "Reformed". They, themselves, didn't call themselves Reformed but Particular Baptists. They were careful to distinguish where there was agreement on certain Reformed principles but also understood where they differed on key aspects of Covenant Theology and recognized that "Reformed" had become attached to a particular type of Covenant Theology.

    The overarching question has to do with what is Calvinist or what is Reformed. Are they fluid terms historically or only today? I suppose, in your mind, they must be the latter as you have to qualify something as being "true blue" Reformed to distinguish it from another type of Reformed. Perhaps you could define your terms: Calvinist and Reformed.
  26. Willem van Oranje

    Willem van Oranje Puritan Board Junior

    "I think that is what Bill was referencing when he suggested that much of the new Calvinism is intrinsically unstable and will eventually devolve into the Zeitgeist of today: egalitarianism and relativism."

    Either that, or, they will gradually be drawn by their love of the Scriptures and growing appreciation of church history towards full Reformed confessionalism. Stranger things have happened!

    By the way, I thought Ligon Duncan was a confessional WStds guy. No?
  27. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    I was trying to describe a range from a full-on Presbyterian (Duncan), to perhaps the most famous of the dispensational "Calvinists" (MacArthur), to a widely respected Baptist with strong Calvinistic leanings. My point was that I rejoice in the 5 pts. being proclaimed, whether by a confessional Presbyterian or a "leaky" dispensationalist. However, unless it goes beyond the 5 pts into a more integrated Biblical-systematic theology, it will not remain (in my opinion).
  28. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Attacks on cessationism never cease, not even on the PB.
  29. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    That is an excellent description, and does nail a lot of theology today. In our culture of instant gratification and easy access to an enormous array of information, it is easy to fall into the tendency of looking something up and assuming expertise, when in reality we don't have the background intellectual context to really even appreciate what a source is saying. You could skip a lot of books if someone would just take the time to stamp on the inside cover, "Theology of the first glance".
  30. DeborahtheJudge

    DeborahtheJudge Puritan Board Freshman

    I have some sympathy... I am a product of this movement, after all! I think for me it was a great feat simply to understand the 5 points. I mean, I had to push through all of the Campus Crusade material, read the entire bible (and new testament like 10 times) before I could see coherence. Even then it took an apologetics class with some guy talking about "the antithesis" and blowing my mind with scripture references. When I joined a reformed church, it was because I was convicted by ecclesiastical and worship doctrines.

    "Choosing a church" based on what is true to scripture (well, past "The Gospel" which is evangelicalism-speak for Christian fundamentals) was not emphasized. Becoming a member of a church was not emphasized. But what is emphasized is every new book and musical fad and conference that comes about. And reading yourself into every passage of scripture.
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