November 23, 2017

What’s New about the New Calvinism?

By Chaplain Mike

Reading the title of Collin Hansen’s book, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists, one might surmise it would be a chronicle and evaluation of the movement from a journalist’s somewhat objective point of view. Turns out that Hansen’s book is more of an homage to a phenomenon he considers a genuine religious revival taking place in our day.

So much so, in fact, that the Gospel Coalition announced on July 10 that Hansen will be joining the organization as their editorial director, writing and editing pieces “that spotlight the advance of the gospel worldwide, feature trustworthy and effective local church ministries, and bring theological discernment to cultural trends.”

In my opinion, Hansen’s book does provide a valuable overview of the “new Calvinist” movement, and is particularly helpful for discovering what’s different about this present manifestation of Calvinism. However, one should realize from the outset that Hansen is a cheerleader as well as a chronicler of the ministries and leaders about which he is writing.

This post will not be an in-depth review of the book. Rather we will use it to answer the question, “What’s ‘NEW’ about the New Calvinism?” How does this contemporary upsurge of interest in Reformed theology, much of which has emerged because of dissatisfaction with contemporary evangelicalism, differ from older manifestations of Calvinist teaching and practice in American churches and ministries?

Hansen’s journey leads him to consider seven main aspects of the New Calvinism:

  1. The New Calvinism’s resurgence among young people, especially at the Passion conferences.
  2. John Piper, the chief spokesman for the resurgence of Calvinism among young people and others.
  3. The resurgence of interest in Jonathan Edwards, American theologian who in the view of many, best balances doctrine and experience.
  4. The resurgence of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention, as exemplified by Al Mohler and Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.
  5. The growth of an unusual form of of Calvinism which combines traditional doctrine with charismatic teaching and practice, as exemplified in C.J. Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace churches.
  6. The New Attitude Conference, led by Joshua Harris and featuring Reformed rap and rock music, as well as the Reformed University Fellowship, which is reaching university students with New Calvinist teaching.
  7. Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, which exemplifies the missional emphasis of the New Calvinism

A few quotes that represent what Hansen observed and conclusions he drew:

Maybe you can only survive so long on a self-help diet. Eventually you get sick of yourself. A biblical understanding of God—big beyond description, active, perfectly holy—tastes much better than junk-food pop psychology. …For students at Passion, the biblical picture of God feels new, appealing, and exciting. (ch. 1)

John [Piper] has the gift of catching the attention of young thinking people and getting them excited about thinking as an exercise, because he does it himself so passionately,” theologian J. I. Packer told me. “He gives them the sense that passionate thinking is at the essence of real life. (ch. 2)

People can appropriate [Jonathan] Edwards for all sorts of things because he holds together what most people hold apart—doctrine and experience, preaching and revival,” Caleb said. “If Edwards has one thing, it’s an integrated worldview. And if there’s one thing evangelicals of the twenty-first century—people spun out of seeker-friendly churches—are looking for, it’s an integrated worldview.” (ch. 3)

“When I say that my agenda is not Calvinism, I say that with unfeigned honesty, with undiluted candor,” [Al] Mohler told me. “My agenda is the gospel. And I refuse to limit that to a label, but I am also very honest to say, yes, that means I am a five-point Calvinist. If you’re counting points, here I am.” (ch. 4)

The growing network of charismatic Calvinists led by [C.J.] Mahaney is one sure sign of the Reformed resurgence. Such a combination would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago. …Considering domestic and international trends, it’s likely that Reformed evangelicals will become more charismatic if Calvinism continues to spread. (ch. 5)

“But yep, I see the complementarian issue as a watershed issue.” Driscoll continued with other debated doctrines that he believes should be clearly understood from Scripture. “Inerrancy is a watershed issue. Penal substitutionary atonement is a watershed issue. Heaven and hell are watershed issues, and homosexuality is a watershed issue. Those are the issues for this generation.” (ch. 7)

“The root issue in a postmodern era is authority,” [Mark Driscoll] explained. (ch. 7)

“There is a wandering generation that is looking for a family and a history and a home,” Driscoll said. “And they’re going backwards in history hoping to find a family and a home. That’s true for Reformed theology, but there’s also a resurgence in Catholicism, in Eastern Orthodoxy, in some of the monastic practices. There is a season right now of going back.” (ch. 7)

What’s new about all this? What makes the “New” Calvinism (TNC) different than previous incarnations?

1. This is Calvinism as a reaction, not a tradition. Of course, the original reformed teachers were reactionary too; to the medieval excesses of Roman Catholicism. Other Calvinist groups, such as the Puritans, were likewise reactionary. TNC is today’s reaction within Protestantism to the dominant evangelical culture and it is one which, in many respects, bears little resemblance to historic reformation ideas and practices. TNC has also emerged in a unique political climate, and TNC’s have taken public roles in America’s culture wars, reacting to issues in broader society and identifying closely with conservative American politics. Those embracing TNC are either coming to Christ from the culture or evangelicals converting to a theological position; they have not been reared to embrace a historic, covenantal tradition. Michael Horton would say they are Calvinistic in doctrine, but not Reformed.

2. This is Calvinism that uses popular media well, to its advantage. The Internet, in particular, is the perfect medium for TNC. The ability of the WWW to make vast amounts of material available and to provide opportunities for persuasive media presentations fits the content-oriented, argumentative style of TNC to a “T”.

3. This is Calvinism that offers passionate enthusiasm along with intellectual depth. This is a theme repeated regularly throughout Hansen’s book. It’s not just the doctrine that is attracting people to TNC, but also the infectious fervor of men like Piper, Mahaney, Harris, and Driscoll. They combine doctrine with emotional energy in ways that attract followers. Their willingness to speak at venues like large youth rallies, combining their Calvinist message with emotion-stirring contemporary music and revivalist-style meetings has enhanced their appeal.

4. This is Calvinism that maintains the ethos of evangelicalism. To be sure, there is occasional controversy within the ranks about various approaches (as when John MacArthur criticized Mark Driscoll’s vulgar language), nevertheless the methodology in most of the movement is straight out of contemporary evangelical culture. In TNC practice, you’ll find suburban-style megachurches, charismatic theology, culture war dogmatism, and emerging-style methods designed to reach post-moderns. TNC’s are mostly credo-baptists, approach ministry with a revivalist, mission-oriented mindset, believe in the autonomy of the local congregation, and are led by larger than life personalities. TNC is evangelicalism with a Calvinist twist.

5. This is Calvinism that doesn’t want to look like fundamentalism, but which, in many cases, does. Like many previous incarnations of Calvinism, and despite its use of contemporary methods and inclusion of theological commitments previously considered suspect (such as charismatic gifts), TNC maintains a firm commitment to being “right,” to standing for “truth,” and to attacking those they think are “compromisers.” As Mark Driscoll said, it’s about authority. This makes TNC’s just as vulnerable to becoming Pharisaic, divisive, angry, power-hungry, and controlling as any fundamentalist group. If they succumb to the temptations of being dogmatic, doctrinaire, and dismissive of those who disagree with them, this will not serve TNC well in the long term. Many who are now fleeing to them for refuge from a failed evangelicalism will become disillusioned and seek other paths.

We’ve heard several stories already along those lines in the comments this week. Earlier this year, my engagement with TNC’s on Genesis and creationism on this site and others, and the ongoing battles between MacArthur, Mohler, and the folks at BioLogos reveal the TNC bottom-line commitment to winning at all costs and taking no prisoners when it comes to issues they consider fundamental. When MacArthur is willing to stand before a group of Calvinistic pastors and theologians and blast them for not believing in Premillennialism, that is not a good sign.

Fundamentalism cannot ultimately feed the soul, because so much of it is antithetical to the revealed character of Jesus and God’s Kingdom. It is not Jesus-shaped Christianity, and it ultimately provokes further reactionary movements.

Comments

  1. Fundamentalism cannot ultimately feed the soul, because so much of it is antithetical to the revealed character of Jesus and God’s Kingdom. It is not Jesus-shaped Christianity, and it ultimately provokes further reactionary movements.

    Re: the so-called “New Calvinism” – This, too, shall pass, IMO.

    • Well said. The point of not pushing Calvinism but at the same time seeing the gospel as 5 point makes me feel ill.

  2. I found this passage interesting:


    “The root issue in a postmodern era is authority,” [Mark Driscoll] explained. (ch. 7) This makes TNC’s just as vulnerable to becoming Pharisaic, divisive, angry, power-hungry, and controlling as any fundamentalist group. If they succumb to the temptations of being dogmatic, doctrinaire, and dismissive of those who disagree with them, this will not serve TNC well in the long term.

    I agree that it is all about authority, but what authority does Mark Driscoll have? Who “sent” him? Why should we listen to him (or for that matter, to Piper or Mohler)? Is it just because their interpretation of the Scriptures matches what we think the Scriptures are saying?

    Is there a temptation for someone who has power to become “power-hungry and controlling” and then “dogmatic” as well? Sure. But it seems to me that the question isn’t whether these are temptations for people who have power–they certainly are–but whether God has established and given rightful authority to someone or something here on Earth. The Catholic (and Orthodox) Church say “yes He has” but Protestantism seems to say “no He has not.”

  3. Kenny Johnson says:

    I appreciate a lot of what New Calvinism is reacting against and even agree with them on a lot of things, but I’m also opposed to a lot of their doctrine, especially TULIP. I’m also egalitarian, not committed to inerrancy anymore (I prefer infallibility), and don’t believe penal substitution should be a “watershed issue.”

    I think the problem I’ve run into most is that a lot of New Calvinists I’ve run into tend to have a lot of things that they consider to be fundamental or core beliefs. Words like heresy get thrown around much too easily, in my opinion.

    Certainly, I see others who have firm convictions and express them, but aren’t so quick to label all other views as heresy too. For example, Michael Patton is a great example, in my opinion, of someone who holds to: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.”

  4. Kenny Johnson says:

    @Devin Rose,

    I imagine, Driscoll is talking about the authority of scripture and truth. He sees post modernism as an attack on truth and the authority of scripture.

    • Thanks, Kenny, that’s helpful to understand.

      I agree that modernism (relativism and skepticism specifically), attack the idea that we can know truth and that the Scriptures contain divine revelation, but I would take authority to the next level and ask how, exactly, we know that _Mark Driscoll_ is interpreting the Scriptures correctly such that we can trust the doctrines he comes up with.

  5. I’m struck with the degree to which the new Calvinism is completely uninterested in ecclesiology. Calvin was very interested. He had a high view of the church as a visible, teaching institution that would probably strike most new Calvinists as quite odd if not not down right Roman Catholic.

    As a corollary, there is a fascinating synthesis of 2nd Great Awakening revivalism with Calvinistic soteriology in this new expression. This leads to a profound undervaluing if not down right rejection of the sacraments as means of grace. Calvin would freak out on this. He believed in baptismal regeneration, infant baptism and the Real Presence in Holy Communion. But this movement is conversionist to the core – something Calvin himself would have been quite suspicious of.

    • I don’t think that they are uninterested in ecclesiology. They simply emphasize the authority of the eldership of the local church. Piper is placing emphasis on the local church with what I’m hearing called the elder led model . I’ve seen Driscoll address it and it is heavy in the Acts 2 group that they have started.

      • Well perhaps we should they are interested in ecclesiology insofar as they believe in low ecclesiology. 🙂

        Calvin wasn’t low ecclesiology, as Pete pointed out. It wasn’t “every church in Geneva is led by its own elder board.” I agree with Pete that Calvin would be appalled by these new movements that use his name. But why should they care about that? After all, they probably think that Calvin got “some things right and some things wrong” and they are simply taking the good from his ideas and correcting the bad, using their interpretation of the Scriptures as their guide for correction.

        • How big does an independent, congregational, elder-led, Calvinist, MULTI-CAMPUS mega church have to get before the Lead Pastor’s role starts to resemble more and more that of a Bishop? For all practicality, the multi-campus model is having a drastic effect on ecclesiology, but nobody is talking about it. Take Chandler and the Village church: Three campuses, one elder board. Correct me if I’m wrong, but though they promote local church autonomy, their practical concessions seem to have taken then at least one step in the direction of a Presbyterian government.

          • I remember when I left Mars Hill Church about 3 years ago there was talk about a new denomination, with MHC at the center. Unless they’ve changed their vision I’m pretty sure that’s the direction of Acts 29, their book line and music line. Kind of creeped me out to hear them talk about that to be honest.

  6. I think there’s a reason many young men in their 20s fall for this “new-calvinsim”. When I was in my 20s I started asking questions like – what does the Cross really mean? – Calvinsim not only gives you a simple answer but it also gives you a “grid” (TULIP) that you can use for all answers. Elect, predestination, total depravity,etc…. all these simple answers are what you want when you are young & haven’t experienced a lot of this complicated life. I fell into this “calvinsim” when I was young – I was sure, self-righteous, & Biblical but like many young “calvinists” My grace wasn’t big enough for the world I was beginning to live in. EVENTUALLY WE ALL GROW UP. howfully our Gospel & grace does too. peace

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Every answer already defined for you.
      Every theological decision already made for you.
      How does this differ from Shari’a in Extreme Islam?
      (Notice a LOT of Jihadis are in the “young men in their 20s” age bracket?)

      • Yeah, Calvinism/Reformed theology and Shari’a law in Islam are kinda the same thing. Geez… I knew this would eventually wind up with someone playing the “they’re just like Hitler and the Nazis” card, but expected it a little later in the conversation. Show some class.

  7. cermak_rd says:

    Thankfully, it looks like their Complementarianism stops at the church door and within married couples. Or am I wrong about that? It doesn’t look like they’re trying to keep women from having jobs or professional lives or political power.

    • I believe they are speaking to authority in the home and to eldership.

      • I think Piper’s a little on the edge of that though. I remember reading him laying out some complicated method of knowing if a woman had too much authority over a man in the workplace. Something like she could have direct authority but not complete, or complete but not direct, but not both. Ultimately it meant that a woman could never be president, I don’t remember what he said about CEO because I had checked out.

        • -1
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          Obviously he has never worked in companies with female bosses/managers. If he thinks that men are somehow better or less deceived or more trustworthy or more qualified than women simply because of their gonads and hormones and booblessness, etc., he’s way way way out of touch with reality.

          • cermak_rd says:

            ahem, I feel compelled to remind you that men are not boobless. It’s a mystery why nature preserves such a functionless device, but preserved they are. And they are more obvious in some men than others, hence the modern phraseology, moobs.

          • Okay, insert “usually relative” before “booblessness.”

            (P.S. I’ve never heard/read the term “moobs.” I now have a new vocabulary word.)

          • I’ve had some male bosses who were anything but boobless…

            Anyway, what I’ve always thought was funny was how Piper and others try to parse their complentarianism – differentiating teaching from “sitting under” and whatnot. Beth Moore can teach several thousand young men at the Passion Conference but for a woman to head up a small company, well, that’s sin… Ridiculous.

          • Just for the record, moobs is a contraction of man boobs 🙂

            Not for the faint of heart

          • To be fair, I think I only heard the argument that women were actually more easily deceived than men one time at Mars Hill, and that was in an obscure training session that I had downloaded. Though I am not nearly as informed on Piper’s beliefs, I don’t think he draws his gender role beliefs on any idea that women are less capable than men. Actually, Driscoll was (usually) pretty good about saying that that was not the case. That gender roles came from God, not ability. Now, that is also problematic of course, but in different ways, and to me it feels at least a little better to be told I can’t lead just because, rather than because I would be incapable of making a good leader.

          • I am entering into this particular conversation late and my comment will be way under the original mention of “man boobs” otherwise known as “moobs” (I never heard that before either.) But, I have heard that men have been known to suckle babies and the sucking action caused the man’s body to create milk. It likely does not happen often, but it HAS happened. I just did an internet search and found numbers of sites that explain why, how, when this has happened.

    • Piper was against the idea of having a female vice-president – called it unbiblical

      • cermak_rd says:

        I don’t recall the position of vice president in the Bible anyhow, so calling it unBiblical is a real stretch.

        I’m guessing they can’t go too much beyond church and home in their complementarianism or they’ll run aground on the shoals of American culture and actually have a social cost to their beliefs.

      • Buford Hollis says:

        How about a female queen? Is he okay with that?

    • Depends on who you’re listening to. Driscoll in particular takes a very dim view of married women working outside of the home and such. I’m not sure if he’d go so far as to say that it’s a flat-out sin, but I’m quite certain he’d say (and has said) that there aren’t many situations in which this would be an acceptable a norm.

      As far the authority issue, he and his ilk are on to something in that the location and source of authority is a major issue for the world in which we live. Unfortunately, playing the authority card is more often a way to besmirch the motives of their opponents than it is an honest interrogation of an important issue.

      If you disagree with their positions, then you are not submitted to the proper authorities. An unsubmissive, unregenerate heart is characteristic of those who are not elect. If you’re not elect, then you are indeed a heretic headed for hell. I despise the way they throw these accusations around, but it’s not hard to see how that row of dominoes falls when you know their presuppositions.

      • “Driscoll in particular takes a very dim view of married women working outside of the home”

        Driscoll was always fine with married women working outside the home (although it was always clear that the female career was less important than the male), it’s when they had children that things got more complicated. He allowed for special financial circumstances but it was definitely looked down upon. But if a family ever chose to have a stay at home dad and working mother…they were probably the second coming of Hitler.

        Driscoll always spoke about gender roles in a different way than the rest of the New Calvinists. And he’d go back and forth over the years to the point where it was difficult to know where he fell on the spectrum at any given time. He’d soften up, then take a hard stance again. There are many professional women who go to Mars Hill, but any instruction on working in sermons was always geared toward men providing for their families. There is a much more subtle way of reinforcing conservative gender roles. It’s about having a submissive heart, it’s about getting rid of the desire to have authority over men. It was usually spoken about in spiritual terms, with random practical applications thrown in every once and a while.

        • It’s about having a submissive heart, it’s about getting rid of the desire to have authority over men.

          So did he ever speak about men getting rid of their desire to have authority over women?

          • Well, yes. A lot actually. Driscoll never shied away from openly condemning emotional and physical spousal abuse, and domineering husbands. He almost always spoke clearly against it whenever he preached on gender roles. The tricky thing is, he would then lay out what I think is an impossible line for men to walk. Lead your wife and take all responsibility for her, but don’t dominate her. Consult her in all seriousness, but make the decisions. Maintain authority, but don’t crave authority. Live a constant paradox. Literally be Jesus to her in a way that she doesn’t really have to be Jesus to you.

            As damaging as I think Driscoll’s stance on gender roles is damaging to women (and it is, oh it is), I actually think it might be just as damaging to the men. I think it’s vital that marriage be an equal partnership between the man and the woman, not just because women are equal, but because men are not superhuman. I feel like that was often lost on Driscoll. He felt the weight of superhuman responsibilities and passed it on to men, often yelling from the pulpit, actually screaming, at the men. He was often condecending toward women, but he would literally break the men. I have a lot of sympathy for the men of Mars Hill. As a woman, I actually experience 1,000 times more grace there than any of the men did.

        • Christopher Lake says:

          Marie, and everyone,

          I’m coming into this conversation *very* late, and with perhaps an unusual spiritual trajectory. After years as a convinced Reformed Baptist, I recently returned to– gasp!– the Catholic Church! (Heresy!!!) However, I want to say that as a man with a physical disability who has greatly struggled in the work world, I resonate with your comment about Reformed teaching concerning gender roles within marriage.

          The backstory– until approximately three months ago, I was a member of a Reformed-leaning, non-denominational church, which taught a view of gender roles and responsibilities, within marriage, that was/is very similar to Mars Hill in Seattle. (This church is now considering becoming an “Acts 29” church.) Prior to joining *that* assembly of believers, I was a member of a very well-known Reformed Baptist church in Washington, D.C. (I’ve moved around, geographically, in the last four years.) Both of these churches strongly encouraged the “husband at work, wife at home with the children” complementarian model. I was convinced, by their exegetical arguments, that this was *the* Biblical model for marriage.

          However, the constant struggling point for me, in “living out” this theology, on a practical level, was/is that I have Cerebral Palsy, use a wheelchair, and am unable to drive a car. These realities have caused numerous difficulties for me in finding and keeping a full-time paying job over the years. Even living just outside of D.C., with the buses and subway, didn’t solve all of the problems, as it can be quite difficult to *get* to a bus stop in the wintertime with heavy snow on the sidewalks!

          In this light, the “husband as sole, or main provider, to happy homeschooling mother” model of marriage has been a source of constant pain for me. Or, perhaps, I should say, the fact that I was implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) expected to fit into it (or to simply not initiate anything with any women) was a source of constant pain.

          To be clear, none of the above has *anything* to do with why I returned to the Catholic Church after many years as a Protestant. That’s an even longer story that involved Bible study, reading of the early Church Fathers, more Bible study, etc. etc. To be honest, even as a Catholic now, I’m still struggling with whether I should ever feel “free” to marry, given my economic state. Short of a miracle, I will always be physically disabled and unable to drive (I have tried, using hand controls… it didn’t go well). At 37, I do still have hope that one day, I will be able to find a job that will allow me to be self-sufficient, leave behind government disability benefits, and support a wife and children. Honestly, this hope is much lesser than it once was… but it’s still there.

          I struggle though. I have no natural indication that I have the gift of celibacy, I long emotionally for female companionship, but I also don’t financially meet the requirements that most Reformed Christians (and many Catholics) would say that I must meet in order to rightfully marry. I don’t know what this means for my life. Offer up my loneliness to Christ, and just deal with it? Initiate with a woman in whom I am interested, explain my situation to her, and see where it goes? I just don’t know. I do know that I have been deeply scarred by the sometimes-rigid insistence that I, as a man with Cerebral Palsy, must fit the “Reformed male” prototype for marriage or remain single for the rest of my life.

      • Dan Allison says:

        Driscoll says a lot of things that are easy to say when you are young, wealthy, hunky, and married to a hot babe. Those of us who live in the real world of the American economy see things differently. I’m amazed that those who oppose a living wage and the right of workers to organize unions can call themselves “pro-family” and pro-life. With most high-paying jobs now outsourced, the jobs available to 100 million or so of us are low-paying retail or service jobs, often all day, on our feet, dealing with rude, hostile, and impatient customers and petty, obsessed-with-their-authority managers. None of the women I work with can AFFORD to have children or not work, or for that matter, even take a day off when sick. In a convenience store yesterday, I spoke with a clerk working with a broken arm in a cast — he can’t afford not to work while his arm heals. Christian “pro-life/pro-family” forces want to put women in jail for abortion. That’s easy but it accomplishes NOTHING for God’s Kingdom. If Driscoll has a “dim view” of women working outside the home, he needs to stop supporting the politicians keep real wages — which haven’t increased in 40 years now — so insultingly low. As far as leadership in the church goes, in Paul’s day a church with women in leadership smacked of paganism and goddess worship, but in our day day, a church WITHOUT women in leadership just comes off as a bunch of bigots. How can any church face seriously face issues like abortion or domestic abuse if the leaders are nothing but a posse of middle-aged men?

        • On a related note, the fact of the matter is that NO feminist issue is about, “women wanting to have authority over men.” It is about women having equal legal rights, equal access to jobs and other resources, and equal power. Only when a person has each of these three things are they fully an adult in the eyes of a society, and only when they have these things are they protected from exploitation and empowered to provide for themselves and any children they have.

          The ultimate solution to the problems people face cannot be “women, take the lesser place” and “men, love and protect.” This only works perfectly when the man acts like an angel. Under that arrangement, only a fraction of women are even protected because … let’s face it, men are human and humans are sinners. If you give a sinner disproportionate power, he’s going to be lazy and inattentive in good cases and tyrant in bad cases. But if you give women as a class equal power, then they can provide for themselves and they can do what they need to do to support and rear their children. Or at least, they have a fair chance at doing so. If you restrict these benefits, you block they way for thousands.

          This is very important to remember, because only a small percentage of families are so wealthy that the wife is working sheerly for enjoyment while her children run loose on the streets. Most women — most of everyone, regardless of sex — works for far more practical reasons than eating bon bons. Women work because the family needs money; they work because their husband is dead or has left; they work because the entire family is more secure if she has the skills and ability to work if case he ever leaves, or gets sick, or dies, or goes insane in the future. This stuff is not the exception but the rule.

          • Strong and good word, Danielle. Those who criticize women’s issues conveniently forget thousands of years of oppression and limitation of women in private and public life, and the fact that it is still going on in many places around the world today. Let’s not forget, folks, less than 100 years ago, women were not even allowed to vote right here in the good ol’ USA.

          • Danielle,
            A few questions regarding your comment, if I may. Why is submission a “lesser place” ? You said the best a woman who submits to her husband will experience is laziness and inattention? Is this hyperbole or do you really think men incapable of doing better than that?
            For the record, I agree that women should have the option to work (including the consequences) and should brave the opportunity to compete on a level playing field if opportunity. I

          • Sorry for the multiple posts….no more trying to comment via iPhone! Hopefully I was clear enough in my ramblings to respond to…….

          • Yeah, iPhones can be dicey when trying to post at iMonk. Hence my truncated and too-soon-submitted and double posts here the last couple threads. 🙂

          • Donna, I think that submission is actually a higher place, as modeled by Jesus, but I think that when we restrict submission to the female role, it becomes automatically designated as the lower place, which is a tragedy. If it doesn’t apply to both genders, the gender with more power will naturally view it as lesser, even if only subconsiously. These attitudes get passed on and become ingrained.

            Submission (at least a certain kind of submission, controlled power) is one of the most beautiful and powerful marks of a follower of Jesus, but it is for both male and female. We lose that when we view it as feminine. No man wants to be considered feminine. When a trait is seen as feminine, it’s almost doomed to disappear.

            I think in our culture it is often the women who have a better understanding of what submission looks like because that is the role that has been expected of them throughout history. I kind of wish more men would recognize this wonderful resource they have right in front of them to learn that. Women have grown up being able to learn from men, it’s often our only option, we’re forced to learn their language, but it’s unfortunately rare for men to be as comfortable learning from females. They haven’t been forced to learn that language, and it isn’t as culturally acceptable.

            Submission from both men and women = awesome

            Submission from women only = lower status (at least submission in all contexts. I actually have no problem with marriages where both the husband and wife decide they want that kind of submissive wife-leader husband relationship. If they both agree and it works for them, it’s no skin off my back)

          • Maria,

            I have only one extremely minor quibble about what you say about women’s submission. It’s not only our culture, but according to the book “Gender and Grace” it is across the board.

            Women’s work is always of less value than man’s work. (and that stinks.)

          • Hi Maria,

            Thanks for your response, especially given my typos! I agree that submission is a good quality for both women and men to possess, but I think submission is based on authority within the hierarchy that God revealed in his Word (ie; 1Peter 2:13, 3:22, Hebrews 5:7, Romans 13:1, Ephesians 5:24). That is not submission from women only, it is submission of both men and women (and of Jesus Himself) within the authority structure.

            You said “when we restrict submission to the female role, it becomes automatically designated as the lower place, which is a tragedy.” It is unclear to me how something being considered a female role automatically makes it lesser (certainly not the case in the birth process). It is not lesser to God.

            “Women have grown up being able to learn from men, it’s often our only option, we’re forced to learn their language, but it’s unfortunately rare for men to be as comfortable learning from females. They haven’t been forced to learn that language, and it isn’t as culturally acceptable. ”

            It seems you and I have experienced life and learning in entirely different worlds. The majority of my teachers have been women, and in fact I am a college professor (and a woman). The idea that males don’t learn from females or that female language is absent from learning environments or is culturally unacceptable is completely foreign to my experience both as a learner and as a teacher.

          • The interesting thing to me in all of this is that none of the conservative evangelicals I know/know of (TNC’s, reg. Calvinists, non-denominationals etc). seem to have looked at the one part of the Christian world where headship is strongly taught, where women have a great deal of say and power and are a vital part of the community.

            When I compare most conservative Christian women I know with my conservative Mennonite and Beachy Amish friends, I am always struck by how decorative many conservative Christian women are expected to be and how useful and fulfilled my Anabaptist friends are.

            There is division of labor but the labor of all is valued. Husbands do a fair bit of child-rearing etc. and there is much teaching and example on really being partners. Different jobs, different roles, but partners in Christ….

            Kyndra

          • Donna,

            In response to your questions, when I say that the woman in a traditionalist society or in a patriarchal-submissive relationship is lesser, I do not mean this in a qualitative sense, nor am I discussing the various spiritual meanings one might contemplate about her social role or her deportment. I am referring specificly to the fact that any person or group of persons who are denied access to economic, educational, or political power that another group enjoys — esp. if this is not accidental but is specifically denied to them on the basis their identity (sex, race, etc.) — is made to be lesser in social, economic, and political fact. And it is that stark fact that makes it more possible for a husband to mistreat her & persist with that behavior, should he choose to do so. It is also that fact that makes her vulnerable, should see find herself without a man’s protection any longer.

            This leads into your second question: Did I mean that every submissive woman will have an inattentive husband? I did not mean that every woman who is submissive will necessarily find this to be the case. I mean only that human nature generally tends in this direction. Women, as a group, are better treated overall if they are equals — regardless of the specific circumstances of any one couple, which is always unique to the personalities, needs, and characters or those individual two persons. Also, when vast inequalities exist between entire groups of people, the inequality takes on a cultural and social life of its own: it affects the way men and women (or black and white, et. al.) are imagined to be, a fact entirely independent of the agency of any single person, but which is a powerful influence on all.

            Faced with these problems, my personal inclination is discard patriarchal language as problematic and so loaded in our current climate as to be counter-productive. I personally don’t see how it applies to my marriage, in which we both contribute the running of the household, hold professional jobs, and cooperate in all areas probably 95 percent of the time. Adopting a model of male headship would impose a strange dance where he pretends to be in charge and I pretend to be coyly give him reins. It would seem forced.

            I respect that not everyone will agree with my conclusion, but I think these general points are relevant nonetheless. Anyone cares about these practical issues & wants to avoid the dark underbelly to patriarchy, then feminists ought not to be their main concern: articulating their patriarchal ideas in a way that cuts against the unfortunate result those ideas often produce should be their main concern.

          • Danielle,

            Thanks for your response. Unfortunately hyperbole reigns supreme when discussing issues between the genders from all sides. The discussion is often couched in false dichotomies (for example, abusive patriarchy versus egalitarianism, or radical feminism ala The SCUM Manifesto versus male leadership in the family) and lack of recognition of the subtleties between the extremes. I agree, it is not helpful.

        • Jonathanblake says:

          Completely agree with you, in fact I just got done with a long shift at a retail store working as a stockmen/ cleaner. In my months of looking for a job, my competition for employment were mostly middle aged men with families (I’m a married student working my way through college) all desperate to get a service/retail minimum wage job because they couldn’t find anything else out there. Sad thing is if the government does anything on behalf of workers they are labeled as Socialists and somehow news outlets will turn the average working Joe against the politician actually working for them.

          It does amaze me to hear the warehouse men talk politics. I think “you do know the people you support don’t actually do anything for you, they’re committed to working for the people with big money and the people you demonize are the only ones who ever attempt to work for you” The whole worlds gone upside down

  8. Jesus seeks to bring about a “new creation.” There is nothing “new” about authoritarianism, patriarchy, and dogmaticism.

    • Correction:

      Jesus seeks to bring about a “new creation.” There is nothing “new” about authoritarianism, patriarchalism, and dogmaticism.

      • chaidrinkingfool says:

        Thank you! Agreed.

        I was not sure where to put this comment, as it’s applicable to so much that’s already been said here, but certainly I noticed what I would call nothing less than an obsession with appropriate (earthly) authority in the new Calvinist church I used to attend. I don’t find that in scripture.

        Of course the proper earthly authority in the home and the church was male, always, period.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I noticed what I would call nothing less than an obsession with appropriate (earthly) authority in the new Calvinist church I used to attend.

          “Appropriate (earthly) authority” meaning those who were already in power and in control of that new Calvinist church?

  9. Dan Allison says:

    No doubt, a correction of evangelical ultra-Arminianism was long overdue, and I think a “soft Calvinism” is a good thing. Driscoll, however, strikes me as sensationalistic (with a smirk) and overly-authoritarian. MacArthur is primarily YEC and dispensationalist, and those are among the positions we need to leave behind. Mohler is perhaps the world’s most prominent Baptist theologian, yet his daily radio broadcast is almost exclusively about politiics and culture wars. Until we can abandon the culture wars and doctrines like YEC and the Rapture, why should anyone outside looking in think TNC is any different from mainstream evangelicalism?

    • Hear, hear!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Until we can abandon the culture wars and doctrines like YEC and the Rapture, why should anyone outside looking in think TNC is any different from mainstream evangelicalism?

      Different coat of paint. With “WE ARE NOT EVANGELICALISM” stenciled over it.

    • Wow. I’ve read this far and see that I’m not half-way through yet, but I’m already concerned for this “new” movement.

      Maybe I’m blessed, but there’s not a gender issue in my home. We just get along. O.K., I’ll admit I have a very patient wife.

      Most of these gender rules seem to be man made.

      I’ve read much criticism of evangelicalism in many posts here. Honestly, from the discussion above, I think this new movement is saddled with some pretty big issues itself already .

      I wish the best for those who join into this new thing. One way or another it will be a learning experience. We’re all on the curve.

      “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” And then there’s the verse about the heart of man.

      Woe is me.

  10. This is Calvinism that doesn’t want to look like fundamentalism, but which, in many cases, does.

    This is a brilliant point. Not drinking or swearing will not change the fact that these people really approach Scripture in the same way as their fundamentalist grandparents. That is, they see the Bible as a big rule book or playbook with all the answers. Those who disagree with the answers as they see them will quickly find themselves out of their graces.

    • will you be Calvinist if we let you swear? No? how bout if we let you drink? still not good enough?
      how about if you can hear “devil” clothes to church? Great! lets sign you up! 😀

      • that should be WEAR “devil clothes

      • But also remember that Mars Hill is not dispensationalist, not YEC, most don’t believe in the rapture, A-political, and not involved in the culture wars. They do a much better job of hiding their similarity to the fundamentalism most of us were used to.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      That is, they see the Bible as a big rule book or playbook with all the answers.

      How does that differ from the Koran?

      • Actually, the new Calvinism has embraced the meta-narrative of a story (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration centered on the Person and Work of Jesus) and have walked away from the Rule Book approach. In fact, many non Calvinists struggle with this approach of rule booking the Bible than say covenantal Calvinism.

        Keep in mind, a large portion of the Fundamentalists were probably more revivalist, soft Calvinists so to say this is a retread of that is reductionist. Much of the New Calvinists are emphasizing the doctrine of Grace than they are all of the externals. They are trying to put Christ back in Christianity not traditionalism.

  11. This is an interesting week of posts. I have to say I have been quite shocked by the response of most of the comments and their lack of charity towards TNC.

    I would probably identify myself with the broad strokes on Neo-Calvinism, although as a Brit I am unused to identifying with YEC as a fundamental doctrinal position and personally am happy to embrace evolution as a potential answer to the question of how we got here. I would personally be unhappy to be considered close to Al Mohler, as I believe he has come off very poorly in his recent spat with BioLogos.

    I wonder if it is possible for this view of TNC to be more international – it is not my experience in the UK to find that TNC is quite so emphatic or so quick call ‘heresy’. My church in the UK has had John Piper and Wayne Grudem in the pulpit, but is also very keen to stress the diversity of Christian opinion on many areas of doctrine. The outline above would describe the theological position of many small independent churches in the UK that have held these beliefs for decades.

    (I currently serve overseas with a predominantly Southern USA, development organisation with the dominant position amongst the staff being fairly straight Arminian, although happy to hear teaching from Rob Bell and Louie(?) Giglio (Passion). As a result I have some understanding of US Christianity but still a lot of holes. Having been subjected to ‘The Truth Project’ in the last 6 months I understand that this exemplifies what you are refering to as Fundamentalism – particularly Culture War – and if so I can see why so many might be looking for something else.)

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      I think you’re seeing a reaction against the Calvinist blogosphere — specifically the WatchBloggers and “discernment ministries”, which seem to be mostly Calvinistic. I’m not a long time reader of iMonk, but I believe Michael Spencer had some run-ins with some of them here and elsewhere.

      I think people are also reacting against the more “fundamentalist” attitudes they see expressed by SOME who identify themselves in the neo-Calvinism movement. Not only the pew-sitters, but also the leaders. For example the recent comments by Mohler regarding YEC and evolution.

    • Well, Americans generally aren’t shy about giving their opinions when asked! That may be a part of it.

      I think personally, I just get tired of being told I’m wrong by certain movements, so I have to admit that Calvinists evoke a stronger reaction from me than other people. Also, in my experience as a campus minister, I haven’t seen Calvinism and college students a particularly useful mix. It seems to me that college-aged guys think they know everything already, so having a theological system to back it up just makes things worse.

      • I wasn’t shocked by the number or content of the opinions expressed, though. I have spent 18 months in close confines with literally hundreds of Americans and appreciate their honesty. It was the tone that surprised me, given the emphasis of iMonk. It seemed to reflect an attitude of “well they did this or that to annoy me so I am validated in being mean about them” which I think firstly over-generalises the group, and secondly undermines significantly one of the strongest messages coming out of iMonk.

      • “It seems to me that college-aged guys think they know everything already, so having a theological system to back it up just makes things worse.”

        Excellent!

  12. My church in the UK has had John Piper and Wayne Grudem in the pulpit, but is also very keen to stress the diversity of Christian opinion on many areas of doctrine.

    Just curious: Has your church had any women ministers or preachers in the pulpit?

    • Nope, they haven’t had women in the pulpit as they don’t think that is appropriate, but the difference might be in the quality of their interaction with other Christian groups who do have women in leadership and teaching roles. Also, there is great diversity within similar churches to mine on the subject of women’s roles – I would not say it is a doctrine that could be used to define the boundaries of Calvinism in the UK.

  13. “But yep, I see the complementarian issue as a watershed issue.” Driscoll continued with other debated doctrines that he believes should be clearly understood from Scripture. “Inerrancy is a watershed issue. Penal substitutionary atonement is a watershed issue. Heaven and hell are watershed issues, and homosexuality is a watershed issue. Those are the issues for this generation.” (ch. 7)”

    How does he define which issues are watershed and which aren’t? For example, the homosexuality question is important (because, among other reasons, it determines how churches interact with that community), but I’m not sure someone’s salvation would be at stake if their interpretation of the Leviticus passages differed from mine.

    • This is what my comments about authority were directed toward. Who gets to decide which issues are “watershed” ones, and by what authority do they do that?

      I would answer that it is there own interpretation of the Scriptures and thus by their own authority that they decide what issues are critical and which are less important.

      So why should we listen to Mark Driscoll (or Piper)? Where does their authority come from?

      • And where does your non-human authority come from?

        A magisterium by any other name is still… people giving orders.

        • Well, I’m Catholic, so we call a spade a spade and declare that we do indeed have a magisterium and it is called “the Magisterium” (we even capitalize it).

          The question is: which magisterium, if any, is being guided by God?

          Is it Driscoll? Piper? Calvin? The Catholic Church? The Orthodox?

          Or is it “none of the above,” in which case it is all just human opinions, power plays, and “people giving orders”.

          • None of the above and all of the above. The New Covenant includes Hebrews 8:10-12 from Jeremiah 31:31-34.

          • EricW

            Thanks, your response clarifies the point greatly. Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that inherently dissolves into Solo Scriptura – rank individualism. As much as the NC would like to would like to demand submission to doctrine in their churches they also reserve the right to revoke that submission if the Elders go off the rails, or if their own understanding leads them to believe the church across the street is more Biblical.

            As you express your interpretation your interpretation it is up of to each Christian to understand God’s law as written on his heart through individual discernment.

            Another way of wording your statement is that a) There is no authority and b) the individual is the authority.

            So your answer is that God left no reliable shepherd for his flock, that the fractures and schisms over doctrines large or small can never be resolved short of the second coming and that there is no way for the Christian community to correct or even clearly identify and declare heresy.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Thanks, your response clarifies the point greatly. Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that inherently dissolves into Solo Scriptura – rank individualism.

            It can also easily dissolve into “Christ as Party Line — It Is Written! It Is Written! It Is Written! Quote! Quote! Quote!”

  14. Thanks for the summary, which helps to explain some of the collaboration among groups and individuals that used to look askance at each other.

    As for the significance . . . well, I’ll defer to someone known for his music but not his theology, Pete Townshend: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss . . .”

  15. Wow, as someone who would probably be classified as a new Calvinist (though I prefer to think of myself as a younger, old Calvinist – as this was the foundation of my denomination, the SBC), I would say there is a lot to disagree with here (especially with those making comments).

    But let me address one point that you make Mike. You say, “How does this contemporary upsurge of interest in Reformed theology, much of which has emerged because of dissatisfaction with contemporary evangelicalism…”

    And then you say, “This is Calvinism as a reaction, not a tradition.”

    I think both of these comments are overstatements. I don’t think it is so much a reaction against contemporary Evangelicalism as it is a sincere desire to understand both the Bible and the reality of the world around us. Most young Calvinists (myself included) that I know began by rejecting Calvinism, then being intrigued by it, then studying the Scriptures, then slowly embracing it as it made sense exegetically, theologically, and philosophically.

    Now, that said, I am sure there are many within the movement who have embrace Calvinism as a reaction. My experience, however, is that these are few and far between.

  16. EricW,
    Amen Brother.
    In no particular order:
    1. TULIP: I find this intellectually shallow and beyond that it is so grossly reductionist. I worship a God to big to be reduced to this
    2. MacArthur–He lost any credibility he had with his repeated Arminian bashing–and he doesn’t even have a clue what an Arminian believes
    3. Al Mohler—he borders on Fundamentalism and his cultural pronouncements shame him
    4. Piper–I just couldn’t take his theology seriously after reading him “engage” with N.T. Wright on Justifciation
    5. Horton–I do like him because he preached the Gospel
    6. I think this New Calvinism is seeking a certainty that isn’t there—they want your to worship and believe the way the do–or mandate–and if you don’t you are a heretic.

  17. david carlson says:

    The funniest thing about Pastor MacArthur’s if your not pre-mill your not a good calvinist diatribe, is that Calvin was an Amillennialist – So I guess Calvin really wasn’t a Calvinist. I can live with that.

  18. To track back to Chaplain Mike’s original question, there are several things that are new about “New Calvinism”:

    1. It is primarily Baptistic in both baptismal theology and ecclesiology, in comparison to traditional Presbyterian/Anglican proponents of Reformed theology.

    2. It has a very strong showing amongst students and young people- witness “Resolved”, “Passion”, Boundless webzine, and New Word Alive/UCCF here in the UK.

    3. It is increasingly open to charismatic pneumatology- although granted, Edwards and Lloyd-Jones had paved the way for this.

    4. It is very media-savvy- as has been mentioned, the Web has proved a massive boom to propagating Calvinism, and gives community and nourishment to Calvinists in non-Calvinist churches.

    For what it’s worth, whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to describe the Calvinist resurgence as a “revival, I do believe that it is a significant sovereign move of God to draw the Church back to Christ and sound doctrine. Too many evangelical churches are casual about gospel truth, confused about methodology, and shallow in their discipleship, and a humble but passionately missional Calvinism is a challenge to that.

    When I look at my Calvinist friends, and see how we all moved towards Reformed theology independently of each other, but with similar stories and thoughts, I can’t help but ascribe it to God’s sovereign hand. Seeing this replicated on a seemingly global scale seems to confirm that.

  19. Kind of funny reading some posts by some people here on the recent series on Calvinism put up by Chaplain Mike. Though I consider myself a Calvinist I don’t believe that Calvinism equals the gospel. I believe that true born-again Christians can be found across denominations and theological traditions. I believe there are regenerate people in Lutheran, Episcopalian/Anglican, Methodist, Pentecostal, RCC, and other types of churches.

    The issue for me is not whether you’re a Calvinist but whether you’re a Christian who embraces the gospel of Jesus Christ and has a high view of biblical inspiration. Which means that will exclude quite a number of posters here. This excludes people who practice homosexuality as an viable Christian lifestyle and who embrace various aberrant theologies that depart from Scripture. This includes liberals and others who consider themselves moderate but are actually apostates or heretics. Also, this excludes those who embrace any type of universalism or religious pluralism. Finally,

    The Apostle John told his readers: “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God…” (2 John 9, NIV). This includes anyone who doesn’t believe that the Bible is fully inspired and authoritative for faith, life, and doctrines. Some of you who have expressed a dislike for Calvinism as is popularly known just dislike conservative Christianity in general. My good guess is basically you just a “god” in your own making that makes no demands on you and just makes you believe what you want. In other words, spiritual cowards.

    • David Cornwell says:

      In the end God will do the “including” and the “excluding.” There may be some surprises. I’m content to leave the judging to him.

      • That is true and I don’t contest that statement. However, what we observe now is an indicator of who is going to be “included” or “excluded.” Funny how people who embrace theological heterodoxy and ethical relativity quote this statement a lot, not knowing that Scripture is quite clear on who is in or who is out.

        • Buford Hollis says:

          Liberal forms of Christianity are not well represented on this site, perhaps because its owners see them as foreign compared to all these strange people from the evangelical subculture. Briefly, you regard “scripture” as something one ought to believe and obey implicitly, while liberals see it as culture-bound and perhaps even flawed–in any case, subject to revision by one’s conscience. Just as you see us as not really Christian, so do we tend to recoil from conservatism as crude and unethical. (Incidentally, some of those “cowards” ended slavery.)

          • As conservatives tend to view liberal Christians as being more loyal to current cultural trends, and in particular the ideology of the Enlightenment and liberal politics, than to both the plain text of the Bible AND the unbroken teaching of virtually all Christian churches until about 15 minutes ago.

        • Two words, Mark:

          1. Wheat
          2. Tares

          Unless someone is living in blatant sin I would be most cautious about making the kind of decisions about people that you seem to be comfortable with.

          • This doesn’t only include people who live in blatant sin. You can include here people who calls themselves Christians and are indifferent to biblical orthodoxy, living the discipled life, biblical social justice (not the perverted social “justice” that are pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-universalism types), and what it means to separate oneself from the world (even if we still live in it and do business in it). You will be surprised that there will be more hypocrites who lived a quiet hypocritical life than the blatant ones like those scandalized televangelists.

          • Ah, but who defines pro-homosexual? You?

            I’ve been accused of being pro-homosexual simply because I don’t buy into a culture wars mentality, that demands that non-believing gays should act like believers – I view that that as being inconsistant with the approach of our Lord. Only after someone acknowledges Jesus as Lord do we hear the words; “Go and sin no more.”

            So are you going to consign me to hell because I’m not pointing an accusing finger at my son’s homosexual friend and demanding he clean up his act, and haven’t thrown him out of my house and refused to allow him to join my son in playing video games? Because remember, Jesus ate with Publicans and sinners, and I have eaten with my son’s gay friend. From where I sit, that puts me in pretty good company.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            This doesn’t only include people who live in blatant sin. You can include here people who calls themselves Christians and are indifferent to biblical orthodoxy, living the discipled life, biblical social justice (not the perverted social “justice” that are pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-universalism types), and what it means to separate oneself from the world (even if we still live in it and do business in it).

            Sure that isn’t just a longwinded way of saying “Everybody Who Is Not Exactly Like Mark”?

          • His use of the phrase “separate oneself from the world” would certainly seem to hint at that. Which is why it is important to me to note that our Lord Himself ate with Publicans and sinners.

    • “Some of you who have expressed a dislike for Calvinism as is popularly known just dislike conservative Christianity in general. My good guess is basically you just a “god” in your own making that makes no demands on you and just makes you believe what you want. In other words, spiritual cowards.”

      So people dislike Calvinism because they’re spiritual cowards? How wonderful for you that you have the ability to read the minds and hearts of everyone here.

      • I didn’t say that people who dislike Calvinism are spiritual cowards. I said people who embrace theologies that aren’t considered conservative Christianity (regardless of denomination) are spiritual cowards. For example, a conservative evangelical Lutheran or Methodist may dislike Calvinism but they are not spiritual cowards because they view Scripture as fully inspired and the ultimate authority on matters of faith, ethics, and doctrine. On the other hand, people who embrace “homo-eroticismm is not sin” theology or say that one can follow another religion still be saved are spiritual cowards.

        • it is much easier to call someone a spiritual coward than to try to fully understand what they believe.

        • Mark,

          “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone…”

          In my 50+ years I have found that those who shout the loudest about others’ sins have the hardest time facing their own. And those who demand that others believe exactly as they, are insecure and masking their own doubts. Mark, you seem to be a sad, angry man and I truly feel sorry for you.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Gee, sometimes I feel a lot more at home with sinners. More fun to be around, decent to talk with, and more likely to show respect for the other person. Don’t worry, I will be leaving you alone to your exclusive club from now on.

    • Sorry, but I really can’t accept that your “good guess” (or anyone else’s) is sufficient grounds for making that serious a spiritual judgement.

    • “This includes liberals and others who consider themselves moderate but are actually apostates or heretics.”

      When I became born again, I also found myself becoming liberal and full of sorrow for the sins of my conservative past.

      So I’m not sure where I fit in your include/exclude rule set. Just as I’m not sure where you fit in my Matthew 25:31 include/exclude rule set. Perhaps we ought to leave the judging to God and his amazing grace.

    • Amen!

    • I must admit that I’m more and more coming to the conviction that “who will be saved” is the wrong question.

  20. Hi Chaplain Mike,

    I know Calvinisits over here in Perth, Western Australia who are egalitarian rather than complementarian, who are Christocentric infallibilists rather than inerrantists, who do not have an authoritarian position on church leadership, who are gracious about differences in theological positions, hold to theistic evolution or old earth creationism and are left of centre on politics. As a neo-Anabaptist, I have had useful dialogue with them.

    I am a Baptist and am a bit concerned that some of the intolerance shown by some internet New Calvinists may spread to some of our churches here in WA. Over the last 30 years, I have seen a hardening of YEC and a resurgence of fundamentalism within our churches (our churches now only comprise about 15% of the population). The last thing we need over here is New Calvinism. If some one is going to be Calvinist, then let it be a moderate, compassionate, tolerant and Jesus centred Calvinism.

    Shalom,
    John Arthur.

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      According to Mark above, they’re likely just liberal heretics who aren’t really regenerate then. 🙂

  21. Hi Chaplain Mike,

    By “our churches” I mean all the Christian denominations.

    Shalom,
    John Arthur

  22. Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

    Wow, I think some of you guys are way too harsh on our Calvinist brothers.

    Here’s what’s great about Calvinism: it’s about God. After hearing far too many sermons about how much we need to do, or I need to do, some Calvinist are very good at hitting the “God has done” notes.

    Also, in a culture that has idolized choice to keep people in a consumerist prison, only Calvinism reminds folks that they aren’t as free as the advertisements on TV say they are. Sadly, I haven’t seen many Calvinist take up a thoughtful critique of some of the idolatry of choice in a free market. In fact, it’s often the other way around. I am amused that many of my Calvinist friends are libertarians.

    As for Driscoll and the complementarianism, I’m egalitarian, but i think Driscoll has captured a sense that Jesus loves my frat boy side, while most churches try to domesticate those kinds of guys. Now he goes too far, but surely the church is big enough for manly men too.

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      All good points. The one thing I don’t like about Driscoll’s “pro-macho” theology though is that I’m not like that. I’m not into sports or cars. I’m not very handy. I’m very much a book worm and geek — though I can probably pass for cool. 🙂

      I just wanted to say… some of my best friends are Calvinists! :-p

    • Frat boys are manly men? Since when? There like little boys with access to cheap beer…

      Seriously, one of the thing that bugs me most about Driscoll is his macho shtick… I can relate to what Kenny said – I’m not really that into sports (I will watch football, but that’s about it), I hate UFC, and I actually like talking to my wife.

      As far as Calvinism being “all about God”, I do get that aspect of it. When I was in a large, evangelical church, playing on the worship team, I got very tired of playing songs where I could easily substitute the word “babe” for Jesus and turn worship songs into sappy love songs.

      I actually find myself nowadays in a independent Pentecostal church that is mostly African American. The theology is actually about as far from Calvinism as you could get, but I find their worship is much more God-centered than most evangelical churches I’ve been in. There is somewhat of a liberation streak in their theology, but it’s not in the political vein. We’re very much about celebrating God’s activity in the world – so in that sense maybe we do have something in common with Calvin.

    • Gal. 3.28: 3:28 οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ

      “Complementarianism” may be acceptable to some or even many, but some of us have come to believe that it is no more “the Gospel” to restrict certain offices and functionings and Holy-Spirit giftings in the church to men then it would be to restrict them to Jews or to free men. Yes, complementarianism is a watershed issue to some of us – but we’re on the other side of the watershed because we believe that is where the fulness of the New Creation is manifesting and most able to manifest.

  23. Ok, so if someone is not a Calvinist does that mean that they are liberal? Martin Luther wasn’t a Calvinist. I am confused by that. I didn’t think there were very many liberals on this sight. Mostly, I see people who want to know the biblical Jesus but I don’t think only those who are Calvinist are the only regenerate. C.S. Lewis wasn’t a Calvinist either. Dealing with the discussion of Calvinism, it seems that there are many types. I don’t know much about the ones that you have mentioned in this article, but I have seen a bit about Mark Driscoll and maybe it is just me but his commentary about sex within marriage kind of weirds me out; it is just a little too graphic and makes me blush:) However, I know that R.C. Sproul is definitely a Calvinist and he does not seem like these fellows in the least. Michael Horton hasn’t expressed these views that I have heard of. Sproul has many different people speaking at his conferences and within Table Talk magazine has not Calvinist writing articles. It seems that maybe the “New Calvinist” is less orthodox in its methodology? I don’t really know but, I know too many Reformed guys that are Calvinist that don’t seem to fall in line with these others. Basically, there is a wide range of people who call themselves Calvinist. The church that always protests soldiers funerals was on a show called “contending for the faith” with Chris Rosebrough and this really angry lady told him they were Calvinist and believed that none of these people were saved and they needed to repent. She went on and on about who was the elect and who was not. Clearly John Calvin was not that person nor is Mark Driscol or John Piper or whoever else. However, I think this name Calvinist has a WHOLE RANGE of followers.

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      Some people really have no idea what liberal theology is.

      • That would make a great post: what is liberal theology, other than an adhominem thrown at someone who disagrees? There are some very “conservative” churches out there teaching classic liberal theology from the pulpit.

        • Buford Hollis says:

          A lot of it has to do with the role of reason and conscience, versus scripture and tradition. Of course there are different denominational traditions (Episcopalianism, UCC, UU, the Quakers…would you believe Christian Science was once regarded as liberal?) and a spectrum of belief within each one. Granting that conservatives also invoke the language of reason and conscience, and we can argue about the extent to which one side or the other is really doing so in the service of pre-existing views. Some key issues include

          * evolution, etc.
          * the “social gospel,” immigration issues, inequality
          * feminist issues (suffrage, female clergy, “thealogy,” etc.)
          * war and capital punishment
          * progressively critical approaches to the Bible and Jesus
          * creative re-interpretations of the Bible and Jesus, and embrace of alternative scriptures (think New Age)
          * willingness to embrace doubt with respect to traditional Christian doctrine (Unitarianism rejects the Trinity, John Spong doubts the efficacy of prayer)
          * universalism (no hell), acceptance / celebration of other religions, interest in Eastern meditation or alternative afterlife theories (reincarnation, spiritualism)
          * “lifestyle” issues
          * a view of the world, human nature, etc. as basically good, not depraved (inner light, original blessing, etc.)
          * in terms of church governance, a greater concern for equality and democracy, suspicion of authoritarian structures

          Again, these vary a lot from group to group. Nonprogrammatic Quakers are likely to speak out against war and capital punishment, UU’s are more interested in feminism, gay rights, and multicultural dialogue. Ex-evangelical seminarians Marcus Borg or Bart Ehrman focus on biblical criticism, while Spong can be situated in the context of intra-Episcopal clashes. (Speaking of which, I notice that this website has an ad for the conservative faction, but not for the liberals. Your colors are showing!)

          • No one ever claimed we didn’t represent a more conservative form of Christianity, Buford. Michael Spencer was a lifelong Southern Baptist, who had great appreciation for the Reformation. If you read the FAQ/Rules page, you will find out more specifically where we’re coming from. We have never said we didn’t have theological convictions or positions.

          • Buford Hollis says:

            I’m aware of that. I’m thinking of your explorations of other forms of Christianity, which show certain blind spots. Strangely, many of the characteristic strengths of liberal Christianity seem to match the shortcomings of these strange people you evangelicals gravitate to.

          • As a liberal Christian, (long time reader, mostly a lurker) I’d say a big diffrence is that there is less emphasis on having firm theological commitments, and more emphais on having firm moral commitments.
            You can have whatever views about you’d like about the reality of hell, or original sin, but if your going to start talking about how gays shouldn’t be school teachers, we’re going to have an arguement.

          • I love the idea of IM doing a series or post on liberal Christianity. Or at least moderately liberal Christianity. It doesn’t have to be unbiased, I get that this is not a liberal site, but as someone mentioned above, most of my exposure to liberal Christianity has been from warnings against it. I now find myself moving closer to liberalism, but am finding it’s difficult to know where to start when you’re entire religious background is steeped in conservative Christianity. I don’t know the names, I don’t know the arguments or nuances. Even a critical engagement would be helpful 🙂

            Funny, I always thought I was politically moderate until I heard the progressive political stance clearly laid out, then I realized I’d been liberal for about as long as I could remember, I just didn’t know enough to realize it. Sometimes I wonder if I might have a similar reaction to liberal Christianity. But I move more in baby steps than impulsive leaps, so starting here would be nice. Just a vote from one person 🙂

  24. I find it very interesting that there are sooooo many who are in hostile disagreement with the doctrines of grace.

    I mean, surely you can see how this theological view point gives God His rightly full place as being worthy of such a high view…….

    It is by His doing that we are in Christ [1 Corinthians 1:31]

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      My problem is that I don’t see grace in TULIP — NOT that I’m against the doctrine of grace. I see TULIP as the antithesis of grace. That’s the problem for me.

      • Kenny – I know you are hungry and are seeking outtheology [nor am I pretending to be some ‘spiritual giant’] but the dctrines of grace are FULL of grace. Take another look – do some reading.

        • Agreed, for me, the core message of Reformed theology is grace. If it’s not obvious that that’s what it’s about, then I’d suggest a deeper look is warranted.

    • It’s a lot different than, say, the Methodist view of grace.

      If some people are born to burn in hell, I can see how the people who weren’t born to burn in hell would call what they get grace.

      But would you call someone who turns away people from the party a “gracious” host?

      It’s kind of like in the corporate world when we stopped calling a 5,000 person layoff “down-sizing” and started calling it “right-sizing.” The definitions of both “right” and “grace” depend on whether you are one of the lucky ones or not. For want of a better term, they are situational definitions.

      • Fish –

        Again, people dont go to hell beacuse they were born to – they go cause they rejected Christ.

        Read Romans 9 and hear Paul cry out.

        The Bible does not talk like that.

        God’s soveriegnty NEVER negates mans responsibilty

        • I’ve seen you (and a number of other Calvinist-type bloggers) point to Romans 9 in support of election. I’ve read that chapter, and actually the whole book, a lot, and I have to tell you, I think it says almost the opposite of how Calvinists typically interpret it. Paul isn’t simply defending God’s sovereignty for it’s own sake. He’s telling possibly self-righteous Israelites who consider themselves elect that they really have no place to boast or to accuse God of being unfair for offering mercy to the Gentile pagans – after all, God has the right to show mercy to whomever He wants. Their status as part of God’s elect does not put them in a higher place than the Gentiles.

          As far as people going to hell because they rejected Christ – you can’t have it both ways. In Calvinism, people go to hell because they aren’t elect. To then say they aren’t elect because they reject God (which is what they have to do because they’re not elect) is simply circular logic. You’re in essence saying both things are the cause of each other – it just doesn’t work.

        • Matthew,

          Based on this theology, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say “they go to hell because they weren’t chosen by God to be effectively moved by grace to accept Christ”?

        • Kenny Johnson says:

          But they reject Christ because they’re aren’t elect.

          • is that what the Bible says is it?

            The Word of God has tensions that are mysteries……

            “I liken them to two ropes going through two holes in the ceiling and over a pulley above. If I wish to support myself by them, I must cling to them both. If I cling only to one and not the other, I go down. I read the many teachings of the Bible regarding God’s election, predestination, his chosen, and so on. I read also the many teachings regarding ‘whosoever will may come’ and urging people to exercise their responsibility as human beings. These seeming contradictions cannot be reconciled by the puny human mind. With childlike faith, I cling to both ropes, fully confident that in eternity I will see that both strands of truth are, after all, of one piece.”

            – R.B. Kuiper

          • The Word of God has tensions that are mysteries……

            There is a difference between a mystery or paradox and a logical inconsistency. The Trinity is a mystery. Why some people are healed and others aren’t is a mystery. Saying people have a choice in one breath but they don’t in the next is simply a logical inconsistency. It’s like saying God can create a square circle.

            Personally, I think Election is a concept that becomes less of a mystery when seen in the collective sense instead of the individual sense.

    • A bit off, I think.

      All Christians believe in grace. The Calvinists have one specific idea about grace, but it isn’t like other non-Calvinist Protestants don’t believe in the efficacy and necessity of grace, never mind Catholics/Orthodox.

    • Let’s not forget that Calvinists can really become grace-nazis as well. Many have observed that often those who hold most tightly to the doctrines of grace won’t give you any.

      • fair point.

        nothing quite as rank as hyper-calvinism.

        And thats what it is hyper ‘calvinism’

        point in case: Fred Phelps

        • Does Phelps even have a theology other than a deep, dark hatred of gay folk or anything to do even in a tangential way with gaydom? I’m afraid I view him and his merry crew more as a group of disturbed vandals than a religious community.

          • Does Phelps really consider himself a Calvinist? I’ve always viewed him as a cult leader…he’s light years beyond even hyper-calvinists.

          • Buford Hollis says:

            The Wikipedia article on him says (quote follows)

            Phelps describes himself as an Old School Baptist, and states that he holds to all five points of Calvinism. Phelps particularly highlights John Calvin’s doctrine of unconditional election, the belief that God has elected certain people for salvation before birth, and limited atonement, the belief that Christ only died for the elect, and condemns those who believe otherwise.Phelps views Arminianism (particularly the views of the Methodist theologian William Munsey) as a “worse blasphemy and heresy than that heard in all filthy Saturday night fag bars in the aggregate in the world.” In addition to John Calvin, Phelps admires Martin Luther, Bob Jones, Sr., John Gill, and has stated that “what this country needs is 50 Jonathan Edwardses turned loose in it.” Fred Phelps particularly holds to equal ultimacy, believing that “God Almighty makes some willing and he leads others into sin,” although Phelps denies being a hyper-Calvinist.

            (end quote) I was intrigued to learn that back in his lawyer days, Phelps was apparently active in the Civil Rights movement (against Jim Crow laws). Somebody once said to focus on one good quality over a hundred bad ones…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Does Phelps even have a theology other than a deep, dark hatred of gay folk or anything to do even in a tangential way with gaydom?

            Back on one blog lost in the mists of time, I have heard Phelps described as having the distinct vibe of “someone who deep down inside fears he might be gay and has to Prove He’s Not.” For an extreme historical example of this dynamic, check out the career of a certain (part-Jewish ancestry) Oberstgruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, who once drew and emptied at his “Jewish” reflection in the mirror.

            Phelps particularly highlights John Calvin’s doctrine of unconditional election, the belief that God has elected certain people for salvation before birth, and limited atonement, the belief that Christ only died for the elect…

            Which in this case “Elect” probably means “ONLY My Family Compound/Westboro Baptist — Us four, No more (and I have doubts about the other three), Amen.” Eventually he’ll be singing the last verse of “Talking John Birch Society Blues”, where there is Only One Truly Elect (guess who?) and then…

  25. I never said that I disagree with this view. I just said there are lots of people with vast differences that call themselves Calvinist. This is why I am so hesitant to write. It is so hard to decipher what people mean just through a little comment. I agree with you Matthew, I was just making a comment. I am sorry to have angered you.

  26. Great discussion.

    Thanks for the info on what a New Calvinist looks like.

    The movement is a “‘reaction’ that uses popular media to its advantage, offers passionate enthusiasm along with intellectual depth, maintains the ethos of evangelicalism, and doesn’t want to look like fundamentalism, but which, in many cases, does.”

    If this assessment is correct, along with the seven main aspects of New Calvinism according to Hansen; Barna polling numbers about the bleak situation of Christianity in America will be unaffected by the thing.

    • After reading all of the comments that were made later than this one and are above it, I think my words were unkind in the last sentence above. That comment was made a few days ago, before I knew of all of the divisions within TNC.

      I think The New Calvinists are in the same boat as the rest of us.

      That makes me feel sorry for them.

      I wish them well.

  27. It seems to me that whenever you get a combination of Calvinism + Baptist theology it always seems to equal fundamentalism. Consider the trends: John MacArthur with his YEC, Mark Driscoll with his anti-Avatar and the Shack rants, Piper with his exegesis of the weather, Mohler with his culture war tactics…

    Are there any examples of where Calvinistic Baptists avoid drifting into fundamentalism?
    Let us not forget the huge movement of Calvinism OUTSIDE of the Baptist realm. I talking about Calvinists who sprinkle their babies. the PCA is a rapidly growing example of this. Douglas Wilson and the CREC.

    Passion and Desiring God are NOT the only proponents of Calvinism in mainstream evangelicalism right now. Let us not forget people like Sproul and Ligonier ministries, Horton and the White Horse Inn, and many other voices that represent a more historic, orthodox, and moderate approach to reformed theology. They are having an effect as well. Not the same maybe as Piper and Driscoll, and probably because they worship more traditionally. But as evangelicals reach back to touch their roots, these Presbyterian and Reformed voices may become more sought out and recognized.

    • alvin_tsf says:

      i agree with you miguel. the sensational calvinists overshadow a lot of good “reformed” people like Horton and Keller. and i’d like to highlight the contributions of Packer and Stott, though not reformed /calvinist in the more formal sense but held reformed theology in their thinking. these guys that you mentioned are doing good work that are more edifying. and more into grace. just my opinion. and of course i am biased because i come from the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition, the CRCNA.

    • Good word, Miguel.

      • alvin_tsf says:

        chaplain mike, i wonder what jared wilson would say to the discussions above. i know he’s a good friend of Michael who happens to identify himself with this resurgence or at the very least with reformed theology. or did i miss his comments in the thread?

    • Miquel,

      You hit on something that I’ve been thinking for some time. That is, that the NC movement has been appropriated by Baptists, and that this stream of Calvinism has a very different flavor than the more traditional version.

      I grew up in fundamentalist Baptist circles, and went to a Baptist college. I discovered Calvinism along the way, and fell in love with the joyful pursuit of a very big, very gracious God. Once I accepted that God is indeed sovereign, and my salvation is in His hands, I’ve been moving away from angry Fundamentalism ever since. I now serve in a church that is historically German Reformed; traditionally Reformed in its leanings, but minus the vitriol.

      Chap Mike,
      It is exactly your point #5 that causes me to not want to call myself a Calvinist. If being so means I have to treat my fellow Christians as if they are blind, stupid, or worse, well, I would just rather be called a Christian. If accepting the Doctrines of Grace means I have to stop showing grace, then I guess I’m done with that too. I ran out of Fundamentalist anger some time ago, and really have no desire to go back. That said, I don’t think the anger comes from the Calvinism, I think it comes from the Fundamentalist mindset that has now added another theological box to the checklist of non-negotiables.

    • Miguel, I agree with your point. I think the fundamental problem is organizational. In a presbytery church model, there is some accountability. In a traditional baptist/congregational model, when a pastor/elder board are in complete charge of a church (based on the concept of God’s sovereignty being delegated to a pastor/elder board) , there is no accountability when a fundamentalist starts or takes over a church and appoints his own elders.

      • I’m not too familiar with presbyterian polity (kinda with the Lutherans on that whole debate), but can a Presbytery actually successfully prevent fundamentalism from creeping in? It would be awesome if so, but their lack of resilience against liberalism does not give me much hope.

        • If the presbytery has the power to place and ordain pastors, they can unplace people who are going out of bounds on doctrine. However, they rarely have the stomach for heresy trials, which is why there is an anything-goes mentality in places like PC-USA.

  28. How many here would be upset if God decides to purify everyone both in this life and the next and let them/us all into His kingdom at the end? Sure, some will have front row seats and others will no doubt be in the nosebleed section, but what if…..?

  29. You can’t be a true Calvinist unless you’re a dispensational pre-mil! Riiiiiight. Oh, and you’ve got to believe in a young earth. Oops, there go Machen and Warfield.

    Yea, that sort of stuff is silly.

    However, T4G is a big encouragement to me, since it brings together these differing camps into one venue to celebrate the rock solid unity we all have in the gospel. What does not encourage me is the absolute rancor we so often fall into over matters of 2ndary importance, as Mike Horton has pointed out. I mean for Pete’s sake, Piper invites Warren to his conference and you’d think he was in league with the antichrist. Sure, I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I heard some folks saying they would no longer countenance anything from Desiring God, that brood of vipers, which is sad. I mean, neither of those dudes are my pastor. I don’t belong to a movement, I belong to a body, which includes plenty of folks outside the movement.

    So some problems:

    Corinthian sectarianism (Piperolatry, Mohlerites, MacArthurism, I am of …). Personality cults, etc. This is a big danger.

    Holding every doctrine as equally important. This is getting on my nerves, since it’s not even in line with what Westminster says on perspicuity.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You can’t be a true Calvinist unless you’re a dispensational pre-mil! Riiiiiight. Oh, and you’ve got to believe in a young earth. Oops, there go Machen and Warfield.

      I didn’t know Calvin was actually a pseudonym for Hal Lindsay & Ken Ham!

  30. I have to agree with many above that what attracts me to the more Reform/Calvinist side is the big view of God and the focus on undeserved grace in salvation. Enough so that our family has been visiting a PCA church on and off for the past couple of months.

    On the other hand….. I cannot in good conscience affirm Calvinist soteriology as being absolutely correct so I could never become a “full” member. The other hesitancies I have are 1) the Gospel is always couched in Calvinistic terms – its not presented without election being grafted in – which I think is an addition to the Gospel and 2) These is an undercurrent on “thinking” rightly about doctrine as an indication of being a “good” Christian. There is an assumption that the elect will naturally come to the PCA conclusion on matters which I think is erroneous and even dangerous.

    The choice of churches for this southern boy are running low…

    • David Morris says:

      EPC ftw? I’m sure you could find a good PCUSA church too, or an SBC or CBF church that is graceful.

  31. Been alot of talk about the guys at the forefront of “new calvinism”.

    get to know em a little…..:

    http://vimeo.com/1915295

    • Matthew, I’ll let it go, but please respect the fact that I have provided an abundant number of links already to these folks. I would rather hear your comments than be directed to some link where someone else speaks.

  32. Is the Holy Spirit the same One that guides the Orthodox Church to be fairly the same the One that guides Protestants to constantly be dividing like a Hydra Head?

    • If you take what you percieve to by unity amongst those in the Orthodox Church [which one?] as a means by thinking that it alone is the true church – you are mistaken.

      – One Church – One Spirit.

      But you have a point – disunity abounds. But often it is for biblical reasons.

      • Mathew and Eric – is it that hard to actually look at the Protestant situation and actually answer the question?

        Curious never said the Orthodox were united – he said they were “mostly the same.” While the Orthodox Churches haven’t been united for at least twice as long as the Protestants they remain very very similar in liturgy and theology (yes there are are differences – but nothing like the variety and craziness in the Protestant realm). Not to mention that all of the Orthodox Churches have existed for centuries – they don’t continue to divide. You may be interested in the recent issues regarding the Orthodox Church in America that wanted to become a Church in its own right – the answer – NO! You can’t just become an Orthodox Church. So while they are not united there are only a couple of dozen of them – nothing like Protestantism.

        So the question remains “Is the Holy Spirit the same One that guides the Orthodox Church to be fairly the same the One that guides Protestants to constantly be dividing like a Hydra Head?”

        I would follow that with a further question: Why is it that if Protestantism and the Solo’s is the ‘true faith’ it is the Protestants Churches that are so diverse in theology and in praxis and so prone to disunity?

        • GNW_Paul:

          FWIW, I was Orthodox – OCA, in fact, that “illegitimate child” wanting autocephaly. 🙂

          You’re right that the video doesn’t directly respond to Curious’ statement/question.

          His question seems to be: If there is just one Holy Spirit, then can He guide the Orthodox Churches into unity and at the same time guide Protestants into disunity? If not, then are Orthodox and Protestants in fact guided by the same Spirit?

          His question seems to assume that it is the Holy Spirit that has guided the Orthodox Church into its uniform forms and practices, and that Protestants claim their splits are guided by the Holy Spirit. I would argue that there are a lot of non-HS reasons for the way the Orthodox Church does what it does and is what it is, as well as a lot of non-HS reasons for Protestant church splits. Claiming the HS for one’s self or one’s church does not make it so.

          • I don’t see curious as claiming anything – I see the responses reading assumptions into his question and avoiding the issue. Curious does not claim that the HS guides the Orthodox or that they are ‘United’.

            Your last paragraph does start to address the initial question. Am I correct in understanding 2 things. 1- you don’t concede that the Holy Spirit plays a significant role in guiding the Orthodox Churches? and 2 – You do concede that the frequent disputes and schisms in Protestantism are not the will of the Holy Spirit?

            Do I have that right?

      • That seems like a cheap shot to me EricW, though I am sure others would disagree, and doesn’t really answer the questions Curious and GNW_Paul put forth. I am also curious how you would answer their questions.

        • Yes, it might be a cheap shot. Sorry. Mods can remove it. Without his clarification, we can only guess what C. meant. I took it to be a claim that the OC’s unity was evidence of it being guided by the HS, and Prots’ disunity to be a claim or implication that they were not; else why the question. As for answering the questions, a simple yes or no won’t suffice. C.’s question: I don’t know; does he know? GNW’s questions: 1 It depends upon what the meaning of the word “significant” is. 2 Probably, but you never know.

          • I would agree there are implications to how one answers the question and I agree that both Curious and I probably each have some direction we think this line of questioning might take us – but on the other hand that doesn’t mean we presuppose the conclusions or the answers Protestants and/or neo-Calvinists might develop.

            I do think it is an interesting and useful question or rather area of questioning that Protestants in general should consider. EricW and Mathew Johnson so far have mainly attempted to evade the question by a) casting aspersion and b) non sequitur arguments / attacks on what they ASSUME Curious or Myself may believe.

            The question is aimed at how do Protestants find a way to make sense of the question. The short answer is probably that they don’t because they refuse to look at it as an issue – as evidenced in this conversation.

          • C.’s question: Is the Holy Spirit the same One that guides the Orthodox Church to be fairly the same the One that guides Protestants to constantly be dividing like a Hydra Head? I don’t know; does he know?

            You don’t know if there One Holy Spirit or Many? Come on – if you aren’t going to do better than that just don’t bother to reply. It’s juvenile to make a pretense of prolonging a discussion while not actually attempting to engage at least some seriousness.

            GNW’s questions: 1 you don’t concede that the Holy Spirit plays a significant role in guiding the Orthodox Churches? It depends upon what the meaning of the word “significant” is. 2 You do concede that the frequent disputes and schisms in Protestantism are not the will of the Holy Spirit? Probably, but you never know.

            Re 1 – So what do you think? What would you consider significant? Do you have an actual opinion or though on how the Orthodox may or may not enjoy the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

            Re 2 – So you think it is possible that God actually wills the disunity in his Church and the the Holy Spirit may actually be sowing confusion among the Protestant?

    • To all: As for what I “think,” well….

      As for what I “know”… I “know” this conversation has a short lifespan. [Again, if that video took the conversation far afield or was uncalled for (probably), my apologies.]

      Meet me in Dallas over a beer and we’ll pursue the conversation.

  33. I knew that I should have phrased the question better. I apologise for that.

    C.’s question: Is the Holy Spirit the same One that guides the Orthodox Church to be fairly the same the One that guides Protestants to constantly be dividing like a Hydra Head? I don’t know; does he know?

    You don’t know if there One Holy Spirit or Many? Come on – if you aren’t going to do better than that just don’t bother to reply. It’s juvenile to make a pretense of prolonging a discussion while not actually attempting to engage at least some seriousness.

    How is this juvenile? I think that this may be one of the most, if not the MOST important question facing the Church today. I did not assume in my question that OC was or was not being guided by the Holy Spirit just as I did not assume that the RCC or the Protestant Hydra was or wasn’t as well.

    What did I assume? That there seems to be more cohesion amongst OC than in Protestantdom.

    Now there was factions and churches gone awry right from the get go. Look at Corinth, it was out doing its own thing and Paul had to correct it. The Holy Spirit through Paul was able to bring the Christians gone wild back in line. How is that even possible now? Could a missionary from say, Zimbabwe go to Canterbury, Rome, or Nashville and say this is not what was intended and unless you change. xy and z, you are no longer among the flock? Or vice versa? Paul, however, is an easy example since he was an apostle. What does this mean for the body of Christ in the 21st century what will it mean in 31st? It is my hope that the 31st will more cohesive than the 21st. The only way this is going to happen though is if the question is being asked brutally honest.