May 28, 2014

Archival Series: New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel

Dr. Rob Congdon recently published a new book, New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel. From the preface,
This booklet is the first in a series on New Calvinism that is intended to assist you in understanding the movement rapidly spreading throughout Christianity and dividing many churches and even families….
In light of New Calvinism’s impact and influence, especially on Christians between the ages of twenty and forty, it is hoped that a careful clarification and examination of the teachings and beliefs of New Calvinists will reveal why they are in error. After several years of studying this movement, the author desires to explain why New Calvinism appeals to the next generation of Christian leaders and how older men, such as John Piper and Al Mohler, are providing what appears to be deep biblical teaching, but what, in reality, is traditional Reformed/Covenant theology that has been repackaged in post-modern “wrappings.” Unfortunately, these new “wrappings” are cloaking the errors of traditional Calvinism as well as introducing some new doctrinal deviations.
You can read the preface in its entirety at the ordering page, link below.  Here are select excerpts from New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel.
Instead of a gospel that leads individuals to salvation and spiritual growth, the gospel of New Calvinism is a distorted gospel that is setting a path to a mechanical, robotic, fatalistic, and corporate Christianity that offers only a false hope of salvation. Already, New Calvinism is creating a generation of twenty to forty year-olds that lacks a sense of direction, a sense of responsibility, a sense of holiness, a sense of God’s will, and a sense of God’s plan and purpose for creation. According to Time Magazine, New Calvinists are proclaiming a God who is a “micromanaging deity,” totally controlling a “sinful and puny humanity.” 
Because Calvinists do not fully comprehend or understand God’s plan to reveal characteristics of His nature through the redemption of human individuals who have the freedom to accept or reject His offer of salvation, they cling to and promote the doctrine of “Irresistible Grace” for the chosen or “elect” only. How can God be glorified for redeeming a pre-programmed “robot?” 
“Revelation History” as opposed to “Redemptive History” provides both the time and the “stage” necessary to reveal all of God’s attributes, not just His attributes relating to man’s redemption. To limit God’s purpose of history as New Calvinists do is to limit the revelation of God’s Person unnecessarily. 
The New Calvinist’s view of history is an outgrowth of a modified Reformed/Covenant theology called “Biblical Theology” or “redemptive historical hermeneutics,” first proposed in the 18th century.Men like Anglican clergyman Geoffrey Paxton, Geerhardus Vos, and former Seventh-day Adventist, Robert Brinsmead, have clarified and refined it. New Calvinists have repackaged this view of history to make it culturally relevant and have given it various labels such as: “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel” (COG); “The Gospel-Centered Theology;” (GCT) or simply, “Gospel-Driven.”* 
New Calvinism’s “gospel-driven life” may sound biblical, but upon closer examination, one finds that it is not one that is based upon the… “faith [that] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We are not talking merely about semantics, definitions, or a fad movement; we are talking about the eternal destinies of many for whom Christ died—Heaven or Hell! 
For those who are genuinely saved but have fallen under the teaching of New Calvinism, there is also concern. They, along with unsaved New Calvinists, are being led down a path that quite possibly is leading to a re-unification of Protestant churches with Roman Catholicism. Eventually, this union will spawn the worldwide religion described in Revelation. 
It is reasonable to wonder how earnest individuals can be deceived if leaders urge them to read their Bibles. This question leads to the second great danger of New Calvinism: it denies the power of the Word of God to change lives by relegating it to a minor mystic role…. What was going on is called Lecto Divina, which is a mystic Roman Catholic monastic practice of Scripture reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation that supposedly promotes communion with God. The focus is “not a theological analysis of biblical passages but to view them [the Scriptures] with Christ as the key to their meaning.” In other words, this is Christo-centric meditation, now being practiced by both Emergent Church movement and New Calvinist leaders. 
To counter the “shifting sands” of today’s world and to provide authoritative leadership that young adults are seeking, New Calvinism offers a micromanaging God who controls every event, experience, or circumstance in a person’s life, down to the minutest detail, apart from any individual accountability for choices and acts. To a generation seeking stability, direction, security, and authority, a God who controls every aspect of life is welcome. 
John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, and other New Calvinist leaders influence these young adults through their speaking, writing, and Internet blogs. They also encourage their followers to read the writings of past authority figures such as Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, and John Owens, as well as other influential Reformers or Puritans. While some of these writings provide useful spiritual insight, they also contain false biblical teaching. It is these and other writings that encourage mysticism, signs and wonders, and a continual looking back to the cross. Instead of complacent Christianity, New Calvinism seems to offer a sense of passion that is experienced through meditation on the majesty of God and the cross.
Dr. Congdon closes his book with a section of Suggestions for Countering New CalvinismI encourage each of you to purchase this powerful and compelling exposure of, and biblical response to the dangers of the New Calvinism. Click on New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel to order your copy.

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*Note:Gospel Driven” is a preferred term of Dr. Dave Doran. In 2009 Dave wrote, “My goal through these posts on gospel-driven separation has been to lay out what I believe are the biblical obligations regarding separation that are explicitly stated in or implied by clear biblical texts.” (Starting at the Right Spot, Nov. 2009) Just days later it was learned that Dr. Al Mohler compromised the gospel by signing the Manhattan Declaration (Nov. 2009) with Roman Catholic priests. Mohler had given Christian recognition to the deadly “enemies of the cross of Christ,” which he (Mohler) has never apologized for or biblically repented of. Instead of making an application of his “gospel-driven biblical obligations” Dave elected to excuse Mohler’s ecumenism. Dave Doran dismissed the incident as merely, “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.”  Kevin Bauder suggested it was nothing more than a, “single occasional inconsistency.”

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1 comment:

  1. The following was sent anonymously with a link to a web site that I was unable to open. I am posting the comment here, but without the link to safeguard this blog, your computers and our eyes, just in case,

    "I have read Dr. Congdon's book and it's outstanding. I have found New Calvinism to be just the repackaging of New Evangelicalism with a new flavor. Most New Calvinist will deny being New Evangelical but they echo similar patterns of worldliness that New Evangelicals do. One of the best write-up's on Calvinism is written by Cooper Abrams."