Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The New Evangelical Calvinism and the openness to listen

Over at the New Evangelical Calvinist website, Derek Radney has written an article entitled "Listening to our Anabaptist Brethren." The irony is extremely thick since the New Calvinists have proven themselves short of hearing when it comes to criticism from the Reformed camp.

In Radney's article, he speaks of 3 points of criticisms he has benefitted from the "Neo-Anabaptist movement." The first point is that "our definition of the Gospel is not wrong, just incomplete." The funny thing is that this has always been the criticism the Reformed camp have leveled against the New Calvinists, except of course the New Calvinists decided the best way to deal with Reformed criticism is to ignore it. Our solution however has never been confusing the Gospel with social causes, as the Anabaptists do. But we proclaim the full counsel of God, and acknowledge Christian liberty regarding activism in the social sphere, never confusing the civil realm with the ecclesiastical realm as the Anabaptists (and their opposites the Neo-Kuyperians) do.

The second point is that "our [the New Evangelical Calvinist] movement promotes domineering and dangerous leaders." Perhaps those Anabaptist critics have people like Mark Driscoll in mind. But Driscoll is not Reformed; he is not even a 5-point Calvinist for that matter! Here again we see that the Reformed camp has critiqued the New Evangelical Calvinists on this very same point! And of course, the New Calvinists are deaf to the legitimate criticism raised from the Reformed camp. The New Calvinists have essentially an Anabaptist ecclesiology, not a Reformed ecclesiology. The difference between the New Calvinists and the Anabpatists in ecclesiology is the difference between Jan Matthys and Jakob Hutter, between the external bringing in of the Kingdom and the internalization of the Kingdom. Ironically, in social activism, the roles are reversed.

The third point is that "our [the New Evangelical Calvinist] understanding of what it means to be 'Reformed' is too narrow." The irony once again is that this is a point in which the Reformed camp has criticized the New Evangelical Calvinists, and likewise it is illustrative how wrong the Anabaptist critique is. Radney speaks of how the New Calvinists are criticized as being "more representative of the Puritan branch of the Reformed tradition than Calvin himself." The problem is that the New Calvinists are neither representative of the Puritan branch of the Reformed tradition nor of Calvin himself. While we acknowledge a wide divergence among Puritanism, which is more a grouping of various dissenters rather than a theologically unified movement, it is hard to see any Puritan, even the heterodox Richard Baxter, acknowledging the chaos that is New Calvinism as his theological heir. None of the Puritans (Anglican, Congregationalist, Baptist, Presbyterian) would acknowledge Driscoll's sex talks. All of them would be horrified at the (non-existent) ecclesiology of the New Calvinists. All of them would be horrified at the toleration of heresy like the Federal Vision by the New Calvinists in the person of Douglas Wilson. Need I say more?

The New Evangelical Calvinist claims openness to listen. I for one call them out on their claim.

[ADD: Well, as expected, TGC deleted my comment without cause or reason. The New Evangelical Calvinists as usual have lived up to their reputation as being people who claim to be open to listen but are actually closed-minded. My prediction: This resurgence in Reformed theology is going to sputter out and die soon, because they are clearly not interested in the Reformed faith. When that happens, remember that I predicted it first.]

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