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The Death Of New Calvinism [Calvinist Caucus]
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/borntoreform/2013/04/the-death-of-new-calvinism/ ^ | April 15, 2013 | Stephen McCaskell

Posted on 04/19/2013 5:43:35 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

I would be considered to be apart of this “New Calvinism”(The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, etc.). I wasn’t raised in a Reformed church, in fact the church is probably the furthest (well not quite) away from the Reformers. The Reformers put to death the type of people that formed the kind of church that I attended. Anyways, I first came in contact with the theological framework called Calvinism from a YouTube video that I watched over 3 years ago. I’m clearly not a veteran in the Reformed movement, but I have been around long enough to know when there is a problem, and we have a problem.

John Calvin reflecting on Ephesians 1:4 writes:

God’s eternal election (Eph. 1:4) is the basis both of our calling and of all the benefits that we receive from him… The timing of our election shows that it had to be free and could not have depended on any works of ours…

Holiness and blamelessness are the fruits of election…. Those who are not elect retain their natural disposition, which cannot change except by divine intervention…. This verse is also a reminder that there is no room of licentiousness among the elect, because holiness of life is tied to the grace of election… Nor does this mean that we attain perfection in this life. We have the goal set before us, but we do not reach it until our race is done. Why do some people think of predestination as a useless and even poisonous doctrine? No doctrine is more useful, as long as it is handled properly, as Paul does here. It reveals the infinite goodness of God and gives us our knowledge of his mercy…. Election is the ultimate proof that we cannot claim any righteousness for ourselves.

In those few paragraphs, John Calvin succinctly sums up election and holiness for the Christian. While there are several themes that come out of this quote and this passage, the one theme that I think springs from this text is holiness. Holiness is the consequence and evidence of our election. We are not holy to be accepted by God, but because Jesus is holy we are holy. God says, “you shall be holy, for I am holy”.

The idea of holiness is almost a peculiar doctrine for the new Reformed movement. I know many young and old in this tradition who feel no obligation to actively and passionately with their entire being, to pursue a life of holiness. They wouldn’t explicitly say this, but their lives wouldn’t reflect otherwise. There are several reasons for why this is, but here I think is one of the most popular:

“Martin Luther talked about something that he called “The Great Exchange”. You know what that means? It means that Christ emptied himself of His perfect righteousness and He clothed me with it, and in exchange He took upon ALL of my sin; past, present and future sin. Now in Christ I am seen as righteous and holy.”
First off, can I get a big AMEN to that? I’m totally down with that and I think Luther exegetes 2 Corinthians 5:21 most excellently. The problem young reformers seem to have is in regards to the fruit of that “Great Exchange” – the fruit of our lives, the good works we are to do, the life of holiness. It’s clear throughout God’s word that we are to love our neighbor, serve the poor, give generously, cloth the naked, etc. We aren’t doing these things to obtain Jesus, but because Jesus has obtained us we do these things. In other words, we are to do these things FROM our position in Christ, not FOR our position in Christ.

I’m still learning and I have a long ways to go myself, but I know I need to actively pursue holiness, and the only way I can do that is if I am sustained by His grace. We aren’t doing these things to earn brownie points with the Big-Guy upstairs, but because we have been changed from the inside out, we now want to live a life of selflessness. Pride and arrogance should never be characteristics of the Christian life, instead it should be one of humility because it is all of grace to underserving sinners. And that *should* lead to a gratefulness to give back all for our precious Savior.

Pursue God in prayer, pursue Him in His Word, pursue Him in the grocery store, pursue Him down the street, pursue Him in EVERYTHING you do. The thing that most keeps us from progressing and persisting in holiness is the thing we are too slow to turn to Him in prayer and to seek in His Word. Be encouraged, slow progress is better than no progress! Don’t give up, because Jesus WILL NOT give up on those He has purchased with His blood. Nothing will change their position in Him, they are secure forever.

If we will not wake up to the reality of Biblical Christian Holiness, then we have a very big problem on our hands and in our churches. A problem that could lead to the death of New Calvinism.

“Doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless; it does positive harm. Something of ‘the image of Christ’ must be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings.” – J.C. Ryle


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Theology
KEYWORDS: sourcetitlenoturl
"Holiness and blamelessness are the fruits of election…. Those who are not elect retain their natural disposition, which cannot change except by divine intervention…. This verse is also a reminder that there is no room of licentiousness among the elect, because holiness of life is tied to the grace of election… Nor does this mean that we attain perfection in this life. We have the goal set before us, but we do not reach it until our race is done. Why do some people think of predestination as a useless and even poisonous doctrine? No doctrine is more useful, as long as it is handled properly, as Paul does here. It reveals the infinite goodness of God and gives us our knowledge of his mercy…. Election is the ultimate proof that we cannot claim any righteousness for ourselves." - John Calvin

The problem young reformers seem to have is in regards to the fruit of that “Great Exchange” – the fruit of our lives, the good works we are to do, the life of holiness. It’s clear throughout God’s word that we are to love our neighbor, serve the poor, give generously, cloth the naked, etc. We aren’t doing these things to obtain Jesus, but because Jesus has obtained us we do these things. In other words, we are to do these things FROM our position in Christ, not FOR our position in Christ.

“Doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless; it does positive harm. Something of ‘the image of Christ’ must be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings.” – J.C. Ryle

1 posted on 04/19/2013 5:43:35 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

How I love Jesus!


2 posted on 04/19/2013 5:56:08 AM PDT by rawcatslyentist ("Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one," Jeremiah 50:31)
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To: Alex Murphy
In the book Young Restless and Reformed (Not to be confused with the article posted in 2006 by Alex Murphy, R.C. Sproul expressed concern that many of the young Calvinists would make a pilgrimage to St. Andrews Chapel to hear him preach. They would not enter the sanctuary until the preaching started, purposefully missing the rest of the service. Seems like parts of the movement is/was a bit shallow to me.
3 posted on 04/19/2013 6:21:22 AM PDT by Gamecock ("Ultimately, Jesus died to save us from the wrath of God." ¬óR.C. Sproul)
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To: Alex Murphy

From http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/Reformation_faith_works.html

In his Introduction to Romans, Luther stated that saving faith is,

a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever...Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! [http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/luther-faith.txt]

“We must therefore most certainly maintain that where there is no faith there also can be no good works; and conversely, that there is no faith where there are no good works. Therefore faith and good works should be so closely joined together that the essence of the entire Christian life consists in both.” [Martin Luther, as cited by Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963], 246, footnote 99]

“This is why St. Luke and St. James have so much to say about works, so that one says: Yes, I will now believe, and then he goes and fabricates for himself a fictitious delusion, which hovers only on the lips as the foam on the water. No, no; faith is a living and an essential thing, which makes a new creature of man, changes his spirit and wholly and completely converts him. It goes to the foundation and there accomplishes a renewal of the entire man; so, if I have previously seen a sinner, I now see in his changed conduct, manner and life, that he believes. So high and great a thing is faith.”[Sermons of Martin Luther 2.2:341]

.Such a faith will work in you love for Christ and joy in him, and good works will naturally follow. If they do not, faith is surely not present: for where faith is, there the Holy Ghost is and must work love and good works.” [Sermons of Martin Luther 1:21-22]

“For it is impossible for him who believes in Christ, as a just Savior, not to love and to do good. If, however, he does not do good nor love, it is sure that faith is not present. [Sermons of Martin Luther 1:40]

In addition, upon hearing that he was being charged with rejection of the Old Testament moral law, Luther responded,

And truly, I wonder exceedingly, how it came to be imputed to me, that I should reject the Law or ten Commandments, there being extant so many of my own expositions (and those of several sorts) upon the Commandments, which also are daily expounded, and used in our Churches, to say nothing of the Confession and Apology, and other books of ours. Martin Luther, [”A Treatise against Antinomians, written in an Epistolary way”, http://www.truecovenanter.com/truelutheran/luther_against_the_antinomians.html]

Present day evangelical Calvinist Oxford theologian Alister McGrath points out, “It can be shown that a distinction came to be drawn between the concepts of merit and congruity; while man cannot be said to merit justification by any of his actions, his preparation for justification could be said to make his subsequent justification’ congruous’ or ‘appropriate.’” “Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification,” vol. L; p. 110 http://www.equip.org/articles/justification

Also, rather than the easy believism Rome associates with sola fide, in Puritan Protestantism there was often a tendency to make the way to the cross too narrow, perhaps in reaction against the Antinomian controversy as described in an account (http://www.the-highway.com/Early_American_Bauckham.html) of Puritans during the early American period that notes,

“They had, like most preachers of the Gospel, a certain difficulty in determining what we might call the ‘conversion level’, the level of difficulty above which the preacher may be said to be erecting barriers to the Gospel and below which he may be said to be encouraging men to enter too easily into a mere delusion of salvation. Contemporary critics, however, agree that the New England pastors set the level high. Nathaniel Ward, who was step-son to Richard Rogers and a distinguished Puritan preacher himself, is recorded as responding to Thomas Hooker’s sermons on preparation for receiving Christ in conversion with, ‘Mr. Hooker, you make as good Christians before men are in Christ as ever they are after’, and wishing, ‘Would I were but as good a Christian now as you make men while they are preparing for Christ.’”


4 posted on 04/19/2013 8:14:56 AM PDT by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: Alex Murphy

Christians have the concept of holiness backwards IMO. They often talk about how we are striving to be holy. Sin is part of our nature and God will forgive us as the understanding and loving Father that He is.

However, just suppose that instead we are made holy. God thus expects that we would be imitators of Christ and expect us to live up to His standards. And to do this He has given us His Spirit. When we sin then it shows that we are not relying upon His power for guidance.

It certainly changes one’s perspective.


5 posted on 04/19/2013 5:38:05 PM PDT by HarleyD
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