Sunday, April 04, 2010

The nightmare that the New Evangelical Calvinism seems to be moving into

[continued from here and here]

At the CREDO500 conference last year 2009, I have submitted a modified paper of mine (one of two for the conference) on the New Evangelical Calvinism, which can be accessed here. In that paper, I have pointed out a couple of areas of concern in the New [Evangelical] Calvinism. Being one socially but not theologically, I sympathize with them and sincerely wish the best for them, not wishing for the movement to be derailed into compromise and apostasy.

Sadly, the recent incident regarding Piper and Warren shattered my hopes. My paper was written as a warning so that the New Calvinists would not repeat the errors of the last 50-60 years. Instead, it seems as if my paper has become a prophecy of the New [Evangelical] Calvinism. Not only do they seem intent on repeating the mistakes of the past, the doctrinal compromise has happened within the same generation as the "founding generation", in fact by the founding generation themselves. What took 10-20 years in the New Evangelicalism took less than 10 years or even 3 years (if one counts Hansen's book as the beginning) in the New [Evangelical] Calvinism. The trainwreck of compromise in the visible Church looms large. Federal Vision heretic Doug Wilson for DG2009, Semi-Pelagian and fork-tongued heretic Rick Warren for DG2010. What's next, Pastor John? Why not Ratzlinger (Pope Benedict XVI) for DG2011? After all, even Rome is not as heretical in her denial of the Gospel as supposed "evangelical" Rick Warren. Rome at least denounces (classical) Semi-Pelagianism as heresy! Wouldn't it be an interesting topic to know how thinking theologically informs Ratzlinger in his daily decisions as the Pope of a religion followed by millions around the world?

We can see one other aspect of this New Evangelical compromise which I have warned against in Piper's attempted defense of his invitation to Warren for DG2010. Near the end of the video clip of his, Piper states:

The way I have chosen to live my life for the sake of reformed theology and the supremacy of God, and the inerrancy of the Bible, and the importance of solid Reformation Gospel truths, the five Solas and so on, is to give ALL my energy to putting them in a positive, aggressively, uh, spreadable form, NOT to spend my time shooting at the people who don’t like them. ...

— John Piper (11:15 -11:47). Bold added.

In my paper I have argued that the New Calvinists are liable to repeat the same mistake as the New Evangelicals with their infatuation with the idea of positivity. In this same video, Piper it seems succumbs to this same error. While nobody is asking Piper to go around hunting for heresy and denouncing as many heretics as he can find (In fact, I doubt many people even do that), we are expecting Piper to follow Scripture which is both positive and negative in its proclamation.

Now, it is a well-documented fact that Piper does denounce the Word-faith prosperity "gospel", and for that we are appreciative. This makes his attitude in this video even more puzzling. We are not asking him to "shoot" people but rather to continue as he has already done in contending for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Sadly, it seems as if Piper in representing the New Calvinists is moving along the well-trod path of New Evangelicalism. The move towards an infatuation with positivity is symptomatic of the New Evangelical compromise even up till today, and this attitude is what facilitate the silencing of the defence machinery God has instituted in the Church — that the Shepherds and Leaders of the church ought to function as watchmen and guard the flock against heresy and heretics (cf Acts 20:28-31). When such silencing is done, error creeps into the church unchallenged and unchecked, and it will overwhelm the Church like a tidal force of destruction, consuming all in its wake. The elect will be confused, the witness of the Church rendered uncertain, and many professing believers will turn away from the faith of which God has committed them to our care.

The New Calvinist experiment, if this sets a precedent, will become a nightmare for the Church or our Lord Jesus Christ. May our Lord have mercy and show the New Calvinists and Pastor John the errors of their ways.


Anonymous said...

I thought this post was very interesting concerning where "New Evangelical Calvinism" is headed, its a term I have not heard before. All I know is that I believe in the doctrines of grace, and I want to defend the glorious gospel of Christ, and I am all for discernment and exposing error in the church. I agree that what Piper did was in error and though he has blessed the church so much, he still needs to repent of his sin of compromise, and in my blog I make the case that this issue is about the gospel, and the fact that we need to defend it.
I'm interested in learning more about the New Evangelical Calvinism falling into error, because it could be those that go to my church are more interested in personalities, etc. than defending and propagating the gospel of Christ.

PuritanReformed said...

@Committed Christian:

The term "New Evangelical Calvinism" is a fusion of two terms: "New Evangelicalism" and "New Calvinism". The former refers to the movement started by Harold Ockenga, Carl Henry etc with their flagship magazine Christianity Today and their representative evangelist Billy Graham. The latter is the movement as described by Colin Hansen in his book Young, Restless, Reformed. I coin the term accordingly because I see the New Calvinist movement having the same tendencies and repeating the same errors as the New Evangelical movement did in their day 50-60 years ago.

I agree with your post about the situation with Piper and Warren.

The best way to go about this issue IMHO is to learn more about the original New Evangelicalism. After all, contrary to what some might have thought, the New Evangelicalism at its inception was orthodox and firm in not yielding to heresy. Their weaknesses was in being "nice and friendly" to heretics, and in thinking that unregenerate academia may have something to offer Christians. In pursuit of intellectual respectability, they send their students to learn in apostate seminaries (i.e. "New" Princeton, Harvard, Yale etc), hoping that through infiltrating these liberal institutes, they can somehow influence the liberals to a more evangelical viewpoint.

Of course, what happened was that their promosing young scholars come back with a more ecumenical spirit and weakness in doctrine, if not capitulation to liberal thought themselves. Thus precipitated the first controversy over Biblical Inerrancy, whereby some of these evangelicals went to the liberal institutes, came back convinced that the Bible contain errors at least at certain parts, and started to teach their new views from supposedly evangelical pulpits.

Anonymous said...

That makes sense. I know some people that hold to the doctrines of grace that are part of the Leadership Network, which I believe has done much to harm the church because of their friendliness to false teachers and erroneous methods, and I could not understand why. Your answer shed some light on that thank you

Committed Christian

PuritanReformed said...


you're welcome. Iain H. Murray's book on this topic Evangelicalism Divided is good. You can also check out the books here if you want to read more.

Kevin said...

It seems what you are writing about is different from something that is called "Evangelical Calvinism" - see

The Evangelical Calvinists would not include Piper among their number.

"Evangelical Calvinism" seems closer to Arminiamism than to Piper's Calvinism.

Daniel C said...

Hi Kevin,

From the website, the author seems to be some kind of Barthian. So no, that is different from what I am discussing.