April 11, 2011

Archival Series: T4G/The Gospel Coalition “A Final Sad Spectacle”

With T4G’s alternating year sister conference The Gospel Coalition (TGC), convening this week in Chicago I offer for your consideration this updated and revised article from the archives.

Dr. Peter Masters wrote,

Aside from pastors, we know some ‘new’ young Calvinists who will never settle in a dedicated, working church, because their views live only in their heads and not their hearts. We know of some whose lives are not clean. We know of others who go clubbing. The greater their doctrinal prowess, the greater their hypocrisy.

The new Calvinism is not a resurgence but an entirely novel formula which strips the doctrine of its historic practice, and unites it with the world.

Why have the leading preachers servicing this movement compromised so readily? They have not been threatened by a Soviet regime. No one has held a gun to their heads. This is a shameful capitulation, and we must earnestly pray that what they have encouraged will not take over Calvinism and ruin a generation of reachable Christian young people.

A final sad spectacle reported with enthusiasm in the book [Young, Restless, Reformed] is the Together for the Gospel conference, running from 2006. A more adult affair convened by respected Calvinists, this nevertheless brings together cessationists and non-cessationists, traditional and contemporary worship exponents...it conditions all who attend to relax on these controversial matters, and learn to accept every point of view. In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked. These are tragic days for authentic spiritual faithfulness, worship and piety.1
Since Dr. Peter Masters wrote this article the “new” Calvinists in the conservative evangelical community have had at least two major controversies arise from among them.
1) Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan joining with Roman Catholics and rank liberals as original signatories of the Manhattan Declaration; an act of ecumenism that gave Christian recognition to the deadly enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18) and compromised the Gospel.2

2) John Piper invited Rick Warren to be a keynote speaker at Desiring God.3
Add those to the concerns Dr. Masters addressed, which is the CCM (Rock-n-Roll) culture and Charismatic theology, which are making serious inroads throughout much of the “new” Calvinism in the evangelical community.4

If the established pattern among the leadership of The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and T4G continues there is no telling just how much will be brushed aside for the sake of unity, but for unity at what cost? The cost is become an obvious disregard for the Scriptures that command men to separation from unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-17; Eph. 5:11), from the world’s anti-God culture (1 John 2:15-16) and from brethren who are among the disobedient (2 Thess. 3:14-15). These passages are not mere suggestions to the wise.

They are the commands of God and He expects men who call Him “Lord” to OBEY Him.

For the sake of these joining the fellowship of evangelicals certain men in fundamental circles are increasingly willing to tolerate, excuse and/or ignore what many of the high-profile stars of conservative evangelicalism have done to compromise the Gospel. Is it possible that the magnetic attraction of fellowship around the stars of evangelicalism at these events has finally trumped fidelity to the Word of God, the whole counsel of God? These mounting examples of ecumenical compromise and worldliness in methods ministry are still not enough reason for self-described separatists to withdraw from and avoid them.

Are seeds germinating among the so-called evangelicals and a segment of fundamentalists for the coming supra-religion of Rev. 17-18? Some may scoff at that, but I suggest they rethink it in light of Piper’s embrace and defense of Rick Warren, an extreme ecumenical compromiser, Al Mohler*/Ligon Duncan signing the Manhattan Declaration, plus mounting examples of cooperative ministry and hosting non-separatist, compromised evangelicals in fundamental pulpits, conferences and colleges.

Recently a pastor sent me an e-mail that included commentary that I’d like to share here.
…the sour nature of ungodly fundamentalism with its tendency to separate over non-essentials. Their motto in essence would be: ‘In the non-essentials, unity.’ The opposite end of that spectrum is the sickening sweet nature of ungodly evangelicalism with its tendency to unify at the expense of the essentials. Their motto in essence would be: ‘In the essentials, liberty.’ However, this is a case of the essentials and if we can’t have unity on the essentials then there is to be separation. This is the mistake Piper is making and the mistake that Mohler has made especially with regards to the Manhattan Declaration.
Virtually every error in doctrine or practice of the keynote and workshop speakers who converge around the “new” scene Calvinism is allowed to “race ahead unchecked.” Not one of these keynote speakers convening at TGC has come forward with the boldness of an Elijah or Paul. Why?

Is this week’s Gospel Coalition conference the trends toward disregard of the biblical mandates and ecumenical compromises for the sake of unity remain rule of the day. We are going to see a worsening of these things in evangelicalism and an increasing tolerance for them. In the last six months men, who claim to be biblical separatists and institutions that exist in fundamental circles have made the greatest compromises of biblical separatism. Compromises resulting in cooperative ministries, tolerance for, tacit endorsement and acceptance of the aberrant theology, non-separatism and worldliness of the evangelicals.

To be part of this “new” Calvinism, which converges with TGC this week in Chicago one must agree that the “ministry of warning [be] killed off,” and so it is. Evangelicals who embrace the CCM/Rap/Hip Hop personally and for ministry are tolerated and given places of prominence in churches, conferences and chapel pulpits of self-described fundamental, separatist men and institutions. Amilennialism is respected as a legitimate view of eschatology. Continuation of the Charismatic sign gifts is now acceptable and legitimized.
One of the encouraging signs in the evangelical world is how cessationists and continuationists have been able to partner and worship together in recent years, realizing that their commonalities in the gospel are far greater than the issues that separate them with regard to spiritual gifts.” (Ps. Kevin DeYoung as cited by Dr. Andy Nasselli, What Do Cessationists and Continuationists Have in Common Today, April 6, 2011.)
The article at Andy Nasselli’s blog exemplifies the new paradigm shift away from biblical separation to a new and narrow gospel-centered fellwoship. This is the “NEW” New Evangelicalism and it is making serious inroads into fundamental circles.  Among the first I noted who introduced the new separatism is Dr. Dave Doran in his 2009 series on Gospel-Driven Separation.5  This new paradigm is a shift away from the biblical separatism such as Dr. Ernest Pickering articulated in his classic Biblical Separation: The Struggle For a Pure Church. As Pastor Marc Monte noted in his article,
The idea is essentially this: Rather than base separatism on the Bible, the whole counsel of God, we should use as our test the Gospel. There is a plea that says the only doctrines for which we should contend are those doctrines that impinge directly upon the Gospel…. I do not have the right to pick and choose among clearly revealed truths which ones I will contend for and which ones I will not.” (Preserving the Separatist)
Reiterating Dr. Masters, “In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked.” And so in the hearts and minds of certain pastors and academics that circulate in Fundamental circles we see the ministry of warning being killed off. Certain pastors and academics are attempting to influence an entire generation to follow them in tolerance toward, the embrace of and silence over the excesses of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. Aberrant theology, ecumenical compromises and worldliness is being tolerated, allowed for, ignored or excused for the sake of fellowship around Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel.

Men who once claimed, wrote of and were anchored to a “militantbiblical separatism in principle and application have drifted far from those moorings. They have lost their zeal and militancy for the sake of fellowship and cooperative ministry with their Calvinistic counterparts in evangelicalism.


1) Dr. Peter Masters, The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness

Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Is This a Case for “Gospel-Driven Separation?”

3) See-
John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God

4) Through the efforts to legitimize and converge with evangelicalism, accompanied by a nearly non-existent
ministry of warning, Drs. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson and Tim Jordan are introducing and influencing the same disconcerting trends to Fundamentalist circles. See- Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations

5) The Manhattan Declaration: Is This a Clear Case for Gospel-Driven Separation?

*Add to Al Mohler’s signing the
Manhattan Declaration that he: chaired the 2001 Billy Graham crusade in Louisville, honored former SBTS president Duke McCall, a rank liberal, and sits on the board of the ecumenical Focus on the Family. See- Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Foray Into Ecumenism?

For related reading see FrontLine, March/April 2010, The Manhattan Declaration: Is This Another Step Toward the Supra-Religion?

Site Publisher’s Notes:
This evening (4/11) I requested a clarification from Andy Nasselli on whether or not the quote from his blog article I cited above is from his own pen or a quote from Kevin DeYoung. This morning (4/12) Dr. Nasselli replied to my query. I mistakenly attributed the pargraph to Dr. Nasselli. This was due to my misinterpreting indentations of the article at his blog. The quote is from Kevin DeYoung.

I personally reject all five points of Calvinism as I understand them and the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel that flows from it. I cite Dr. Peter Masters because he is a Calvinist and highly respected in Calvinistic circles. His ministry of warning and admonition to his Calvinistic brethren in America is not easily dismissed by them, but has been ignored.

1 comment:

  1. Are seeds germinating among the so-called evangelicals and a segment of fundamentalists for the coming supra-religion of Rev. 17-18? Some may scoff at that,...


    Thank you for bringing that up. This is one of the more difficult things to talk about as it is still rather removed and so can sound hyper-reactive and overblown to some people.

    Yet I think this is exactly what is happening. It think, diabolically speaking, this is the intent.

    ...I suggest they rethink it in light of Piper’s embrace and defense of Rick Warren, an extreme ecumenical compromiser, Al Mohler*/Ligon Duncan signing the Manhattan Declaration,...

    These would be the most glaring give-aways. Warren has been exposed from the beginning as being a major agent of laying the foundation for the church to embrace the tenets, mindsets, and ideologies of the one world supra religion as well as global governance. This has, in the main, fallen on deaf ears in the Christian community.

    Mohler,et al, signing the Manhattan Declaration is part and party to the same apostasy from a different angle. Supposedly, the MD is a social issues document (it isn't only that. See former Catholic priest Richard Bennett's writings on the Vatican's purposes for it.) and yet because of a willful dismissal of doctrinal precision on critical points pertaining to the gospel-for which supposedly these men are willing to separate-they have put their names down as affirming that the doctrine espoused by the Vatican/Catholic church is valid: Catholics are now brothers who are also about preaching the gospel of salvation. These men, who have made their empires on being Reformed, have willingly signed a document that strategically and intentionally leaves out the crucial word "ALONE" in the phrase "faith ALONE in Christ alone."

    Now, what does this say about their supposed separation for the sake of the gospel?

    They think what they are doing is important to major Christian concerns, inconsequential to gospel concerns, and therefore not in the least inconsistent; but they are not separating FOR the gospel. Rather,they are separating FROM it.
    further, they have taken earthly concerns and raised them above God's concerns. They are, in effect, selling their birthright for a mess of pottage.

    And yes. These are the early steps down a long road that one day will lead to the one world supra religion.