Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Calvinism vs Old Calvinism, New Evangelicalism vs Reformed Protestantism

In D.G. Hart's blog post, Hart plays off John Piper's 12 characteristics of the New Calvinism to contrast the New with the Old Calvinism. He even added a 13th point of contrast which is rather hilarious.

That said, the main crux of the issue, the elephant in the room if you may, is the New Evangelical zeitgeist in the New Calvinist (YRR) movement. It is the New Evangelical zeitgeist that lies behind all the problems with the New Calvinism, which I had already highlighted in part in the 2009 paper I submitted to the CREDO500 blog conference. I would like to draft a new list pinpointing the New Evangelical zeitgeist especially in its latest incarnation the New Calvinism, and contrast it with traditional Reformed thought.

(1a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist focuses on the Gospel, taken narrowly as the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ for sinners, and made that the central dogma of Christianity. The New Calvinism merely adds TULIP to the narrow focus. Thus, it was, and still is, "Gospel-only."

(1b) Reformed Protestantism has no focus but only the pattern of sound words of Scripture, as set down in the ecumenical creeds and the Reformed confessions. The Gospel is the message for salvation but soteriology is not everything.

(2a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist sees the Gospel as narrowly focused on penal substitutionary atonement. The New Calvinism adds a focus on TULIP, although the "L" is not essential as in the case of Mark Driscoll.

(2b) Reformed Protestantism sees salvation as a whole inclusive of the doctrine of particular redemption, asserting God's sovereignty over Christ's death on the cross for the elect only.

(3a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist emphasizes various doctrines like inerrancy and complementarianism due to controversies over these issues in the recent past.

(3b) Reformed Protestantism appreciates the need to stand for biblical truth on recent controversial issues, but it focuses mainly on the sound pattern of words as set forth in the ecumenical creeds and Reformed confessions, not being tied to one single hobby horse.

(4a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist sees truth as having a practical telos.

(4b) Reformed Protestantism sees truth as practical, a priori, because God is truth.

(5a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist embraces Scripture ideally to the extent of downplaying the historical context of Scripture, tending towards Solo Scriptura.

(5b) Reformed Protestantism appreciates the historical context of Scripture, and interprets Scripture within a community of faith.

(6a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist attaches little importance to the church besides the necessity of the local church. The Local Church is a necessary association of believers

(6b) Reformed Protestantism does not have a doctrine of the local church without the idea that salvation is impossible apart from the church. It sees the church not as a necessary association to be in ("local church" membership), but rather as the womb of salvation, the mother of the faithful. The Church is mother, not an association.

(7a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist does not have a doctrine of the church beyond that of the local church, and thus has a plethora of associations, conferences and seminars.

(7b) Reformed Protestantism asserts a doctrine of the church as encompassing the entire visible church beyond the local church, and this is expressed not in associations, conferences, and seminars (of which the Bible has nothing to say about), but in presbyteries (or classes), synods and general assemblies.

(8a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist affirms the need to be positive, winsome and loving.

(8b) Reformed Protestantism affirms the need to be positive, winsome and loving, but also a need to be negative, stern, critical and unyielding when the situation demands it.

(9a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist does not see a need to take a public stand against doctrinal compromise within its camp

(9b) Reformed Protestantism will press charges and discipline erring ministers within its camp. Minutes of such procedures are generally public.

(10a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist focuses incessantly on the need to impact culture.

(10b) Reformed Protestantism focuses on the proclamation of God's truth, and thinks less about the approval or disapproval of culture.

(11a) The New Evangelical zeitgeist focuses on missions.

(11b) Reformed Protestantism focuses on God, then missions

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