"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Neo-Reformed and Paleo-Reformed

Mark Driscoll (a guy I must admit is either a guy you like or hate...and I tend to like him) has posted on the New Calvinism versus the Old as noted by Time. I have to say, though, I think the distinction is extremely unhelpful. Driscoll makes the distinction between New Calvinism and Old and the four points are not things I am on board with. Here they are:

Four Ways 'New Calvinism' is So Powerful
1. Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
2. Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into
3. Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
4. Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

I have to say #1 is totally wrong. Anyone that has studied Machen knows this. What does #2 mean? How "old" are we talking? Ever heard of Geneva, Strasburg, Zurich, Edinburgh, Amsterdam? #3 is a good thing. and #4 is a generalization without substance. From reading history, it seems to me that Calvinism tried to play nicer with Lutheranism and eventually the Baptists (though not the Anabaptists) than the Lutherans did in return.

Oh, well. I still like Driscoll, but he's not good at analysis, nor of characterizing his intellectual ancestors.


Matthew Bradley said...

I think what all these folks really mean by neo-calvinism is calvinism without being reformed and covenantal. Calvinism, but without giving up all the revivalism they love.

There. I've posted my uncharitable blog comment for the day.

M. Jay Bennett said...

I agree Matt. Neo-Calvinism is a way to label those who confess the doctrines of grace but not covenant theology. In other words, it is a way to label Calvinistic Baptists.

Jared Nelson said...

I like a lot of Neo-Reformed guys. Crossway puts out lots of great stuff from Neo-Reformed guys, I like Driscoll and such. I just wish there was a little more knowledge that in some things (like numbers 1, 2 and 4) they have reinvented the wheel. Also, #2 just reads like paleo-reformed as quenching the Spirit rather than distinguishing between Spirit and emotion. Maybe its because I associate with Paleo-Reformed, but I almost feel like I'm in the middle of a rant of "kids nowdays..." But some self-identified "Neo-Reformed" guys do have a "young whipper-snapper" feel.

Matthew Lush said...

As a Calvinistic Baptist, specificially a confessional reformed baptist, I agree completely with Jay; it is just another excuse for (pseudo)calvinistic baptists to reject much of CT and reformed theology in general and gives way for anything under the name of "doctrines of grace". Then again I am quite partial to Reformed Theology/CT and Presbyterians. :)

That being said, Jared I kinda like Mark; I can definitely see what you mean about the dichotomy or love or hate. And I definitely see why many people dislike him.

Good post...

Nathan P. Gilmour said...

I'll admit that Driscoll's fourth distinctive drew an audible chuckle from me. Does anyone in the megachurch universe burn bridges with the relish that Driscoll does?

Andrew said...

#1 and 2 - Hasn't Driscoll heard of Geneva? Calvin's totalitarian Reformed world was pretty 'transformed' by his faith, burning heretics is pretty clear that there was no separation of Church and State.

#3 - I always respected "old calvinism's" doctrines of the Holy Ghost. Traditional Christianity was more impressed by lives transformed by the Spirit into holiness, rather than gimicks like tongues or being 'slain in the spirit'. It's a shame the charismatics have taken one of the beautiful parts of Calvinism out of it.

#4 - Driscoll is accusing someone else of burning bridges?! He did a 2 hour sermon on how Catholics aren't Christians and how people who like the Shack are heretics. He's one of the most polarizing figures in American Christendom, he is much closer to Calvin and "old calvinism" than he realizes.

good post Jared.