In Time’s article highlighting the “New Calvinism”, it is interesting to note that all such folks mentioned in the modern “Calvinistic” scene are all “credo-baptists” (those who believe in baptizing only those who actually profess Christ as Lord). Those mentioned were:
- John Piper
- Al Mohler
- Mark Driscoll
- Justin Taylor’s “Between Two Worlds” Blog
I’m not trying to drive a stake between paedo-baptists and credo-baptists, and was shocked to see that R.C. Sproul and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals weren’t included. I know that some of my Calvinistic friends would actually protest affirming this new breed of pastors and theologians as “Reformed” or “Calvinistic” because they don’t subscribe to one of the older confessions and differ on the mode and administration of baptism.
What else is also intersting to note is that Piper, Driscoll, and I believe Taylor, not sure about Mohler, are all theological continuationists regarding Spiritual Gifts. The departure from paedo-baptism and a hard line cessationist theology of these leaders attest to the evolution of Calvinism.
I am personally very similar to a John Piper and Mark Driscoll in theology, but have avoided the “Calvinist” label because I want to respect the Confessional heritage and distinctives of historic Calvinism that differ from where I am at. I love the Belgic Confession, Canons of Dordt, Heidelberg Catechism, Westminster Standards, etc, and only disagree with about 1% of the statements in the collective whole. I also don’t think that such confessions explicitly prohibit a Charismatic theology…I would argue that some of the Westminster divines were actually Charismatic. Anyhow, I am a “Neo-Calvinist”. Perhaps the title of Time’s article, “The NEW Calvinism”, was intentional to include this new wave of folks who subscribe to probably 90% of what Calvin wrote and should still be classified as “Calvinists” with such differences. Perhaps David Van Biema has no idea that Piper, Driscoll, etc vary from historic Calvinism. I don’t know.
Anyhow, I am grateful for the growth of “Biblical Theology”. I think that the system of theology found in Calvin’s Institutes best accords with the witness of Scripture than that in the Wesleyan/Arminian camp, with all due respect. I align myself with the Calvinistic stream of historic Reformational-Evangelical Christianity and really don’t care what people want to call me. For some people, I am too Calvinistic…to others, I fall short of the Calvinist label…and to others yet, they say that what I preach makes sense and they haven’t even heard of Calvinism. It is this third group that I most enjoy ministering to and fellowshipping with. I could care less what they think of my “Calvinistic” cred. I think the same can be said of Al Mohler, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll. It is for this reason that I think “Calvinism” is growing…that our theology is enumerated from Scripture rather than weekly citations of a historic confession. When folks later find out that what they have been taught and have been believing is “Calvinism”, the response is “Okay, whatever”. They would rather quote Scripture than a confession of creed and this is perfectly acceptable with me. While I am encouraging a greater appreciation for the creeds and confessions of the church, it is vain unless they see it in Scripture.
This “New Calvinism” changed me when I was 19, not from reading Calvin or the confessions, but from submitting myself to Scripture. At the same time, I feel indebted to Calvin and his commitment to the Scriptures. I am currently reading through his Institutes to commemorate his 500th birthday.
In closing, some of my confessional friends can call me a “weird Ana-Baptist”…I don’t care.
My Calvary Chapel friends can say that my Calvinism is evil…I don’t care.
My Charismatic friends are frankly unimpressed about theological labels and simply want to know if I am following the Lord…I like it.
The saints of Sovereign Grace Fellowship come up to me after a sermon from time to time and simply say, “Thank you for preaching the Bible”. When I preach texts that emphasize God’s providence and grace, I sometimes hear, “Your sermon sustained me through the trials I faced in the week”, “I am praying for God to awaken my child’s heart”, etc. Those are the greatest compliments…that I am teaching the Word of God. Whether they call it Calvinism or even understand Calvinism is the furthest thing from my mind in such moments. They have seen God as their Sovereign, they realize that our every breath is governed by His wise counsel, they know that He works ALL things for the good of those whom He loves, they know that Jesus went to the cross to die for them by name, they know that they are sinners saved by amazing grace, they know that God is the author and perfecter of their faith, they know that they are in the hands of an Omnipotent and Loving God…and such truths are precious to them. They won’t recognize Calvin in glory and I doubt that Calvin will really care. That is the Calvin I know, the Calvin I emulate, and apparently the “New Calvinism” that is “changing the world” according to TIME Magazine…to which Calvin and I would say
“Soli Deo Gloria”
© 2009, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.