"new" calvinism

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

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    :judge: If you want to debate modesty, please start a new thread.
  2. pesterjon

    pesterjon Puritan Board Freshman

    I am hardly extending charity toward "new Calvinism" that I am not extending to "old Calvinism." My point is meaningful to any so-called corner of Calvinism, and it is that I would rather discuss theology and beliefs than labels.
  3. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Well, ironically, the whole point of the thread is to try to define terms. There are plenty of fora on the board where Theology might be discussed if you're averse to that discussion. You have seemed to be pretty eager to nail down the "can I be called Reformed" question from your first post in this thread. I've been content to leave that question alone and simply focus on how the Church has historically used it. I've also frequently pointed out that this is not an issue of binding and loosing from the Kingdom of God or failure to extend the right hand of fellowship. I never thought to call my Christian brethren in Okinawa "Reformed" because I attended a Baptist Church but they never felt like I loved them less because a term wouldn't have fit the Confession of that Church.

    Again, I'll return to my earlier statement about broad principles. It is helpful to clarify and distinguish. It is helpful to define terms. The Reformed Churches have been marked by their Confessionalism as an outgrowth of their commitment to the Scriptures and confession of the same. The thread has focused on whether or not "New Calvinism" is a species of the same and whether "old Calvinists" are simply a bunch of meanies for even asking the question. While nobody here has claimed that these men and bodies are not Christian, there is a sense in which it is proper to ask whether or not an indeterminate and ever-evolving theology can be called "Reformed" or "Calvinist" simply because it has some points of contact in common.

    If you asked me if I would be a source of division in a crowd of young men who want to call themselves "Reformed" or "Calvinistic" then I would answer "No". I get to know people and, when I have the time, I try to explain things to them and it is not of chief importance to me that people understand what Reformed means.

    But this thread is discussing why the Reformed Churches have a problem with New Calvinism and whether they believe they can properly be called what has been a term of distinction. It hasn't been a "label" but it meant something when a Church called itself Reformed or Calvinist. That's what we're discussing.

    Calling somebody "fundamentalist" because they're trying to hold fast to what a term meant is an example of "labeling". Trying to determine the grammatico-historical meaning of a term is not.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Having wasted time watching the videos, it is clear that his philosophy is the same as he expresses in his writings. He makes Christianity all about content, and relativises form. The basic idea he presents is that culture is a glove; worldliness is a hand; and biblical Christianity is a new hand to fill that glove. As already noted in previous posts, it is simply an unmanly escape from responsibility. Christians are to abstain from the "appearance [form] of evil." It is not simply about values, but the way values come to expression in cultural activity. Further, there are the values of humanity which the Christian is able to share with the non Christian. The non Christian abuses these and perverts them according to his commitment to autonomy, but it is still a fact that cultural forms might be things which Christians and non Christians participate in as a result of shared values.

    Turning to his books, one should read what reformission is, in the book containing that word in the title. There is also a recent work on the church which outlines his ideals. It is, as I have already stated, the culture of freedom of expression which is being pressed on the church. It has not avoided the problems of fundamentalism; it has simply created a new culture to take the place of the old culture, only it flees the responsibility to give a reasoned account of itself.
  5. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I hope you can see that you are using a reformed confession of "Bible" in order to arrive at this conclusion. What you end up with is a conclusion that has been helped by a method which the conclusion finds unhelpful.

    The reality is that confessionalism "manifests" what is often kept "hidden" in theological method, 2 Cor. 4:2.
  6. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    That's a great way of putting it.

    It's always easier to hit something solid rather than something made out of jello. It's easier to attack a Church's confession because it actually spells out what we confess the Scriptures are, what they teach, and how we interpret them. All of these are explicit.

    Notice how difficult it is to define what marks the new movements. The hermeneutic isn't revealed but implied. Do I, a sheep, have a right to know what a Church confesses about the Scriptures? Is it all about my confidence in a man and that his unstated hermeneutic is correct? Is there any Body that can supervise what my Pastor is teaching that can protect me and my family if he starts teaching heterodoxy? Is heterodoxy even a term that has form or is it morphing too?
  7. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Rev Winzer, it might help if you defined what you consider to be "worldliness" with concrete examples so that we can better understand and analyze whether there is an actual practical conflict between your position and that of new Calvinism.

    The term "worldliness" has meant many things since the reformation. To a Puritan, worldliness was going to watch a Shakespeare play or hanging curtains in the window. To an 18th century evangelical, it was drinking gin and espousing liberalism. To a 19th century revivalist, it was owning slaves and drinking any alcohol at all. To a 20th century fundamentalist it was dancing (even square dancing), drinking, and listening to jazz. To more recent fundamentalists, it is growing a beard and listening to rock. I happen to think that all of these (except for the owning slaves bit) are overkill. So what exactly are you meaning here?
  8. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Spend a lot of your spare time "espousing liberalism," then, do ya? ;)
  9. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    In my limited experience, I have never come across people being against beards. They probably exist, but I haven't seen any. Owning slaves was not condemned by scriptures (as seen in Col 3 and 4), so it's odd that that's the bit you have issues with. What exactly is worldliness to you then?
  10. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I think Owen's definition, and the Puritans in general, is something like "living affections to dying things." That seems to me to be the biblical sum of it. But there is no point descending into particulars because the new Calvinist theory deliberately undermines particularisation. You have expressed sympathy for the new Calvinist theory by saying that the examples you provided are overkill. According to the Puritan view, worldliness is not only expressed in partaking of unlawful things, but also in partaking of lawful things unlawfully. This leads to cultural forms, that is, distinct attitudes towards, and degrees of separation or participation in, the actions of life. Accordingly, all of the things you have mentioned require thought-captivating attention.
  11. Kiffin

    Kiffin Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok..Is there anybody on here who wants to give examples of how New Calvinists sin by participating in culture (since Rev. Winzer won't)? Rev. Winzer says that Christians need to 'to abstain from the "appearance [form] of evil.'" I agree. But New Calvinists would agree with this as well. If you do not think so, please give me particulars on what practices they do that appear to be evil. Please.

    On a side: Maybe this is where Paul Chappell and the PCA are struggling?

    ---------- Post added at 10:25 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:19 PM ----------

    But kidnapping and transporting people to a foreign land is. Treating humans like aminals is. Abusing people is. Rape is. Denying people Sabbath is. And the list goes on and on....
  12. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    You keep standing up in defence of "New Calvinism" but use language which is foreign to the vocabulary they have chosen to use in the debate. This time you speak of "participating in culture." They are not "participating in" it because they reject the Old Calvinist ideas of separation or participation, otherwise known as Christ against culture or Christ in culture (caricatured as fundamentalist or liberal). They claim to be redeeming culture. Again, you are asking for particulars. Specifics are not the issue. It is possible that a New Calvinist might be as godly as an Old Calvinist, just as an Antinomian or Libertine might have lived as strict a life as a Puritan. The issue is not in the particulars, but in the way a system encourages or undermines particulars. Now, as noted, the New Calvinist theory undermines the particulars by insisting on the redemption of culture. As with the antinomian controversy in the reformation, particulars emerge over time. The criticism is of the transcendent principle, and it is clear from their own statement that they are rejecting an Old Calvinist principle for a New one.
  13. pesterjon

    pesterjon Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm just going to bow out of this thread. Have looked back through what I have written here, and it is very difficult for me to understand why I keep getting pigeon-holed as if I represent "new Calvinism" and resent "old Calvinism."

    I have been drawn to the Scriptural truth of Reformed theology since I was a young child poking through some of the books in my pastor-dad's library. Coming to the table without a Reformed pedigree, not belonging to a Reformed church, it quite sincerely boggles my mind that I have been taken in this thread the way I have.

    I have been suspicious of "new Calvinism" although I see some very good aspects of the ones I have known, including a desire to share covenant theology and rich Reformed faith with sinners. Obviously there are battle lines drawn that make it very difficult for someone who doesn't know the right lingo of the right branch to join the conversation. I am going to bow out of this PB experiment and return to reading theology on my own.
  14. Kiffin

    Kiffin Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok, I think I'm getting the issue now. How about this...Can you tell me what the "Old Calvinist" way of separation and participation is?
  15. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    And what exactly do you mean by "redeeming culture"? There's nothing inherently unreformed about this, given the idea's long history in the Dutch Reformed tradition (Kuyper, Dooyeweerd, etc.) unless you think there is something else meant than what these thinkers meant.

    Would you grant that maybe as Christians we have a duty both to practice separation and to redeem culture? Is it possible that when in Rome we may do as the Romans do without sinning as the Romans sin?

    When I hear "redeeming culture" I think of Christians who create, do art, do philosophy, bring the Gospel to bear in city planning, architecture, legislation, music---in other words, realizing the cultural mandate as it was meant. When I think of redeeming culture, I consider my Christian friends who are artists, lawyers, teachers, soldiers, scholars, and engineers. Those who create, sustain, and redirect culture and bring the Gospel to bear on it.
  16. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    You are asking for particulars on the lack of separation while at the same time refusing to show where they have practised separation and how you as one sympathizing with the New Calvinists view what separation from worldliness ought to be like. Not entirely consistent. If we really want the particulars, the Puritans laid their cards on the table with respect to how they practise biblical separation and you have rejected it as being too extreme. Likewise for the other threads where you have stood against the standards of holiness that myself and some other brothers have espoused.

    On a separate note, getting into the particulars will likely derail this topic and turn this into an RPW and worldliness debate, especially since the issues with New Calvinists do not solely lie with how they are engaging culture.

    Of course, absolutely agree. But you did only specifically mention owning of slaves.
  17. Kiffin

    Kiffin Puritan Board Freshman

    Refer to post #133. I think people are confusing worldliness with culture. They are not synonymous. So to answer your question, New Calvinists separate from worldliness.

    Which thread? The music one? I believe there is a "standard of holiness" but your interpretation is not universal to Christianity.

    This thread is going no where. Moderators?!!!?!?!? A new thread on culture vs. worldliness needs to be started..
  18. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Kindly show the specifics on how New Calvinists (and yourself) practise separation from worldliness while doing this "redeeming the culture" thing if you wish to harp on the particulars. You believe in a "standard of holiness", so it may be helpful if you would spell out what it is. This thread is not the best place to do it, so we may wish to take it elsewhere. Just because the conservative-leaning interpretation is not universal to Christianity, and is contrary to what you believe in, does not make it wrong per se. I agree that this thread is going nowhere, but it is useful to note that one of the issues with New Calvinism is precisely their idea of separating worldliness and culture into 2 distinct entities, so let us not make it sound like they are all that distinct. The most useful way of deconstructing the theology, as Rev Winzer has noted, is not to dwell on the specifics but looking at how the New Calvinists view culture.
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    I'm honestly befuddled by your continued frustration but folks are free to come and go as they please. The thread started out this way:
    Thus, the point of the thread to begin with was to try to define whether there was a way to circumscribe the word Reformed or Calvinist.

    Your first post:
    Did you not want definitions? I haven't been drawing battle lines but trying to provide definitions.

    You continue:
    Again, you want to know if you're Reformed. I wasn't trying to give battle to this at any point but only try to describe the historical situation.

    At one point you thanked me and I thought we were communicating:
    But then you kept returning to the above idea that people are being "discarded". There's this idea of separation as if people are finding out that another doesn't hold to a Reformed confession and they are "thrown away". It was your theme and never mine. It was your "battle line". I've tried to explain that a definition of a Word historically doesn't mean that a person is not a Christian but, as a term, it may not describe that other person. Again, I love other Baptists who confess the Baptist Faith and Message. I haven't "discarded" them because they do not hold to a Reformed Confession.

    You continue...
    Can "old" Calvinists "deal" with people. Again, your battle line.

    Battle line - Reformed people say that the Protestant Reformation is the be-al, end-all.

    Ripped to shreds. Battle line.

    You wonder if this is all motivated out of jealousy for people who are "old school calvinists."

    The definition of Reformed has been defined "narrowly".

    Now, you shift to the idea that people are being labeled. I would ask if this looks familiar yet in your own interaction. Again, you are claiming that others have drawn battle lines. By the way, I grew up Roman Catholic.

    People who are now answering the original question in the thread are being accused of using "labels". It didn't seem possible, after this point, to discuss the question in the OP with you without the accusation that people were being "labeled".

    Now, we're back to the definition but you find it "unhelpful" when one is "judged" to be Reformed. Again, you have insisted throughout that people are being "judged" over what defined Reformed Churches. Your battle line, not mine. I've given extensive responses that nobody is being "judged" when a word is defined as in the OP.

    Battle line. Reformed peoples sound like the Fundamentalist peoples.

    Again, labels. I have seen much labeling in this thread, Jon, but it has been by you.
    As I said, I was attracted to a Reformed Church only 14 years ago and am hardly an "insider" to any lingo. The whole point of this give and take over a few days has been to try to provide clarity on a term. You draw and re-draw battle-lines. You push back on answers to definitions. You label the responses as "fundamentalist".

    Then you accuse the board of having drawn battle lines and labeling others? I'm confused.

    I've been trying to be patient and helpful throughout. If you can point out a single case of someone being labeled or "judged" or "separated from" then please provide the substance because I can't see it. Perhaps, however, I'm blind to my own interaction which has given this impression. As for claims that I have represented you as "new Calvinism", I have not. I have been answering your questions and responding patiently and extensively to your concern that we are "narrow" or "ripping others to shreds" or "separating" or are "fundamentalists". Perhaps you can provide the quote where you are called a New Calvinist.
  20. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    You are welcome to start a new thread anytime, EJ.
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The Lord is the Creator of all things, continues to act bountifully towards His creation, and restrains the wickedness of man (see Ps. 136). Through the Word of God (instruction) and prayer (consecration) all creation can be received as God's good gift and used to the glory of God. The result is a commitment to participatation in culture. On the other hand, sinful man idolises the world which God has created and abuses it to his own destruction so that "nature" becomes distorted and "culture" becomes a means of self-gratification (see Rom. 1). By means of the perspicuity of God's Word (instruction) and the sanctifying influence of prayer (consecration) the evil actions of men are to be proved, exposed, separated from, and condemned. The result is an abstention from culture.

    I highly recommend the reading of the Larger Catechism's exposition of the ten commandments with solemn meditation on the proofs from Scripture. The Catechism clearly sets forth the duties required and the sins forbidden in each commandment. One of the primary lessons one learns from the Catechism is the distinctive nature of Christian culture which is developed through loving the law of God and making it one's study all the day.
  22. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    First, the Dutch Reformed tradition has a longer history ante-Kuyper than post-Kuyper. Secondly, the Kuyperian movement is called neo-Calvinism for a reason. Thirdly, traditional reformed writers have criticised the concept of redeeming culture, so appealing to the reformed tradition to substantiate the concept is futile.
  23. Kiffin

    Kiffin Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for your response. Can you interact with how I and others have defined culture in the other thread? With the definition I provided, "abstention" is impossible.
  24. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey everyone, now that we have shifted over the talk about culture to another thread, are we still going to discuss other aspects of New Calvinism? Or is this thread as good as dead?
  25. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    This thread will survive as long as people post to it, unless I or one of my compeers decides enough is enough.
  26. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    If you want to hear some more about Kupyerianism, they speak about it at the WSC Conference they just had recently. Also, I'd read critiques on Kuyper as well.

    Rev. Winzer is correct on Kuyper. Kuyper is not the norm in the Dutch tradition, nor reformed tradition.
  27. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    And Neo-Calvinism predates Kuyper as well (I'm trying to remember if Bavinck is considered a Neo-Calvinist or not).

    So what exactly do you think is meant by "redeeming culture" in New Calvinism and the Kuyperian tradition? Again, I think you can find both ideas in the reformed tradition, just as one can find both Presuppositional and Scottish Common Sense (more traditional, actually) thinking in the reformed tradition. My point is not that you can't find critique in the reformed tradition, just that the reformed tradition is divided on this point, as it is on epistemology.
  28. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

    I grew up in the Church of God denomintation. It was Arminian, Pentecostal, I was invited every week to say the sinners prayer, and I did. I just never came to any knowledge of God. I created many gods that were in my likeness. I am Reformed, but I am "New-Calvinist." My generation seems to reject the idea of God being dependant upon the sinner's so-called freewill. Through modern teachers like Paul Washer, Charles Leiter, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, I have seen that God is absolutely Sovereign in ALL THAT HE DOES. The Bible teaches this. I am also seeing that the new-calvinist are not so much like Calvin. Calvin did not teach Limited Atonement. I think that sometimes Calvin sounds Arminian in his commentaries. Hey but what do I know, I am nothing but a pathetic mountain of dung, or as Calvin would say," God has the great job at governing this 5 foot worm" [Institutes 1.5.3 p]
  29. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps not explicitly, but it was and is implicit in the systematic theology he developed- and it is logically and necessarily related to each of the other points posthumously called, "the five points of Calvinism."

    Don't be fooled- there is nothing new in that.
  30. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    People like R. T. Kendall have perpetuated that idea [in Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649. Waynesboro: Paternoster Press, 1997], but as Scott said, while not explicit perhaps, Calvin did say this of 1 John 2:2

    "Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? [Some] have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world."

    And, more explicitly, in a discussion of the Communion table, Calvin wrote: “I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them, and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins.”

    [Calvin, Theological Treatises (trans. J. K. S. Reid, editor), 285.]

    See also, Roger Nicole, “John Calvin’s View of the Extent of the Atonement.” Westminster Theological Journal 47:2 (1985) 197-225.

    The point is, Calvin was a "Calvinist," in the traditional sense of the term. "New" Calvinism, then, is a step in a "new" direction.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
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