June 28, 2010

What is 21st Century Neo Calvinism?

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Brother Bob Topartzer opened a blog in April 2006 with and still a single article. This is the BIBLICIST CHRISTIAN TRUTH blog. For your consideration I am offering Brother Topartzer’s article, in it’s entirety, on 21st Century Neo-Calvinism. I do not share every sentiment expressed below, but there is enough here that I feel makes this a worthwhile read. His article is titled,


It is an emerging emphasis on 5 point Calvinism that is highly argumentative, has a tendency to bash Dispensationalism, and has a temperament of pseudo intellectualism. Their time and efforts have little place for evangelism much to say about those who do.

Some will deny that there is such a thing. However, it is my impression that not only does it exist, but it is perpetuated by some in Pastoral ministry who endeavor to make this the great “sine qua non” of their ministry. Like the “old light” European Calvinism of the Puritans of New England, it is critical of many evangelistic efforts as having undesirable methodology and presenting an easy believism no Lordship Gospel. There is often some truth to criticism. There is some truth to their criticism. However, there is often the presentation of those they criticize with exaggeration and mis-statement of facts.

To the Neo Calvinist all scripture can be exegeted to fit into the wonderful world of the “5 points box.” To them, 1 Tim. 2:4 does not mean “all men” but rather “all kinds of men.” Many other passages that do not quite fit into the 5 point box are given this insightful exegetical methodology. Actually, this is the same kind of methodology that is used by liberals to find monogamous homosexual relationships as approved in scripture.

Approach the passage with a truth that you perceive as being true and find a way of explaining the passage according to that truth.

Neo Calvinism is not just Calvinism. Many historians do not find limited or particular atonement as that which Calvin advocated. Some would call it Hyper Calvinism because of that. But it is not just 5 point (or hyper) Calvinism. It is a mood or spirit that aggressively advocates the view against even a moderate Calvinism. American Evangelicalism (Gospel believers) have included many who would call themselves “moderate Calvinists.” They believe that Calvin said much that was right about the Sovereignty of God. They also would agree with regard to the depravity of man. However, they declared the intent and sufficiency of Christ to die for the sins of all men. However, it was only applied to all who believed and were placed into Christ. They also saw in scripture a human accountability that made men accountable for behavior and choices. They were real choices. They realized that there were some inconsistent philosophical collisions in their position. However, they saw this as consistent with what God had revealed. Many good Bible teachers and Theologians of the past and of the present were and are comfortable with that presentation of Scriptural truth. The Neo Calvinist often seeks to present the moderate Calvinist as not understanding Calvinism and simply a Pelagian heretic or a universalist. They view them as philosophically ignorant because all that the moderate Calvinist states cannot be squeezed into the 5 point box.

Neo Calvinism is also a hazard to balanced Christian living and evangelism. They will show up anywhere with their “five shooters” ready for the quick draw debate. They have no time for the evangelism effort.

Neo Calvinism is not just 5 point Calvinism. It is 5 point Calvinism with an attitude! It harks back to the spirit of the last effort for a theocratic Christian government on this earth by New England Puritans. Most do not advocate a theocracy, but their spirit reflects the old lights Calvinism of those who did.

America needs another great awakening. Neo Calvinism presents a mood and spirit moving in the opposite direction.

The following thread comment was added by Bob Topartzer to address this concern from a reader, “5 Point Calvinism is NOT hyper-Calvinism, which is what you seem to be stating here.”

Of course I am aware of the different definitions of “Hyper Calvinism.” Some have called 5 point Calvinism as hyper because they dare to borrow the name of Calvin while the clear evidence today is that Calvin did not set forth Limited atonement. See Alistair McGrath as one of many Calvin scholars who acknowledge this. (bold added)

Site Publisher's Note:
On May 29, 2010 Bob Topartzer reproduced this article in a thread comment at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site.

For related reading see,

The Dangers of Reformed Theology by George Zeller

The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness by Dr. Peter Masters.

The “No Lordship” Counter-Claim by Pastor Tom Stegall.

The Gospel and Separation: Is the Term “Final Salvation” Necessarily Wrong?


  1. Hi Lou,

    For the longest time I considered myself a "3.5 point Calvinist" but last year when I sat down to truly examine the points against Scripture I was shocked to find that none of them - as defined by Neo Calvinism (which I often call nuCalvinism)- are true.

    I wrote a series called "Tripping TULIP." I knew I wouldn't agree with the logical end of the modern TULIP system but I was actually surprised to find that not a single point of the theology, as modernly described, matches the Scriptures.

    I've often heard 5 Point Calvinists claim that theirs is the most perfect expression of what the Bible says. So here's a thought.

    If 5 Point Calvinism is just what the Bible says then we do not need 5 Point Calvinism, for we have the Bible.

    If however, 5 Point Calvinism is not what the Bible says.. then again.. we do not need 5 Point Calvinism.

    This thing that is SO agressively defended by it's proponents is needless.


  2. Kev:

    Thanks for the input. Please feel free to link us to your series.


  3. I thought it odd that he said the New Calvinists aren't evangelistic. I have never met a Calvinist that did not make every aggressive attempt to evangelize his fellow believers to his views.

    And as for the lost, they are very bold indeed with their LS gospel. Sometimes they even take their LS gospel into the churches because (they inform us) anywhere from 50-85% of the members in the average Biblically sound church who thought they were saved are, in fact, lost. Apparently all these folks have been serving, teaching, giving, worshiping, doing missions, etc. in vain because they are not really saved, not having believed the LS gospel.


  4. Jan

    You wrote, "I thought it odd that he said the New Calvinists aren't evangelistic."

    That is one of the elements that I do not agree with as I noted there are some. I know of some pastors who are Calvinistic in their soteriology, not necessarily the so-called "new" Calvinists, but are passionate about preaching the Gospel to every creature and very evangelistic in their home areas.


  5. I have yet to personally meet a 5 point Calvinist that did not care for the destiny of the lost and preach the Gospel to all and call all to embrace Christ.

  6. Allen:

    Neither have I, but they do exist. I know of men who have met and conversed with men like that. They are commonly knows as "hyper-Calvinists."

    Here is how one pastor, a self-described 4 point Calvinist, defines hyper-Calvinism at his church web site.

    "Hyper-Calvinism seeks to misuse the biblical teaching about election to absolve humanity of any responsibility. We believe that God is completely in control of salvation, but we do not believe this means that humans do not have responsibility. We believe humanity has the responsibility...to obey the commands of Scripture (including the command to take the gospel throughout the world Matthew 28:19-21). We believe that it is devilish to twist one truth of the Scriptures in order to make an excuse to disobey clear commands of the Scripture. God has chosen not just to save individuals, but to use human means to do so."

    Thanks for the input.