The ‘Another’ Jesus of New Calvinism
For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. – 2 Corinthians 11:4
There are greater, more pressing issues facing the Church these days than ER2 and T.D. Jakes. I know, it may be hard to fathom, but it’s true. However, judging from the amount of blog posts on those topics causes me to scratch my head in wonder. “What is going on here? Does the Church see the greater threats? If they do, why is there not a super-bowl type eruption of opposing voices?”
And in light of my brethren who are caught up in the wave of the growing popularity of the ‘new reformation’ known as new Calvinism, it is disheartening to say the least.
See the verse quoted above? See that phrase ‘put up with it’? The Greek verb anechein (to put up with) occurs five times in this chapter alone within the letter to the Corinthians.
You need to understand that in the Corinthian church, there were opponents of the Apostle Paul who were introducing new doctrines. NEW doctrines! NEW! Not the ones he brought to them as an Apostle, not the ones Paul had delivered, not the ones delivered once and for all to the saints, these were new doctrines that were introduced gradually, over time, and at the rate of which the changes were almost unnoticeable.
These new doctrines were similar but different. Not the same. They were a departure from the truth and what Paul is doing here in this passage is being blunt. Amazingly sarcastic. He’s not messing around, not being politically correct, no. He is being forthright to his readers. He is very lovingly in their face regarding truth, all the while mocking the heretics, and rightly so.
I love what he says here in this passage:
I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. – 2 Corinthinas 11:16
Obviously, I am not an apostle, but I can certainly apply this to me.
Listen brethren, you may think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me. Love me anyway. There are many doctrinal threats to Christians these days, much deception, much false teaching, and yet, I can personally think of no greater threat to Christians than the one which so many are enthusiastic about and throwing their full support behind – this thing called New Calvinism.
I fully realize many will disagree with me, and I understand. It’s ok. I’ll still love you in Christ, but bear with me.
Just think for a moment. The most popular authors within the reformed, Calvinistic community are new Calvinists. The most popular, most influential preachers and teachers of these days within that same camp are new Calvinist. The most viewed you-tube videos regarding concerns of doctrinal teaching and preaching come from new Calvinists.
John Piper, Tullian Tchividjian, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Mike Horton, the list goes on and on and on.
And they are all proclaiming a different Jesus than the one the Apostle Paul delivered.
New Calvinists teach and proclaim that Jesus obeyed for you for your sanctification, that is, ethical sanctification, the biblical doctrine of you being made holy. Not just set apart, but actually, increasingly, in-this-life becoming righteous. We’re not talking about justification, in which God declares you righteous. And again, justification and sanctification are not the same thing – but New Calvinists teach in a way that make them practically just that.
Where did any Apostle in Scripture ever teach – and I challenge anyone to show me – where Jesus obeyed for us the imperatives of the New Testament on our behalf for our sanctification.
Yet we put up with it. Just like the Corinthians whom Paul reproved. Why?
This is not just about naming names or ad-hominem attacks, we’re talking about the faith once delivered to the saints. It is being assaulted, changed, and soiled by men who ‘preach Jesus’ as in Paul’s day, and it is accepted and praised – but it’s not the Jesus of Scripture.
Because the Jesus of Scripture spoke of obedience. He spoke of keeping His commandments, and He said these things to His disciples.
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (v. 15)
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." (v. 21)
Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (vs. 23, 24)
And why did God send the Holy Spirit to us? For what purpose?
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (v. 26)
New Calvinists teach us that we must only contemplate the Gospel and everything will ‘flow’ from that, including all our good works.
I don’t remember Jesus teaching us that. That’s antinomianism and that’s a lie.
But ‘we’ put up with it.
The Gospel Coalition is swimming in new Calvinism, but we put up with it. Drink the kool-aid, don’t rock the boat.
Tim Keller teaches us mysticism and how to get in touch with ‘our inner self’ and we put up with it.
I don’t recall Jesus teaching that either, then again, I’m Baptist, and the written Word is the final authority.
John Piper publically practices lectio divina while his doctrine of Christian hedonism denies the necessity of the new birth (regeneration) and we put up with it.
John MacArthur outright teaches opportunity for repentance and salvation after the Second Advent of Christ, teaches that Christ does not, right now, exercise His will over the earth, and we put up with it.
Mark Driscoll wants us to know that extra-biblical revelation is Christian, but I don’t recall that in the Bible, do you?
Why do ‘we’ put up with another Jesus, another Gospel from these men, than that which we have been delivered in the written Word of God?
Where is the opposition to these things in defense of the faith and to the glory of God?
Where is your opposition?
While I differ with you on some things and specifics within this topic, when you said: “New Calvinists teach and proclaim that Jesus obeyed for you for your sanctification, that is, ethical sanctification, the biblical doctrine of you being made holy. Not just set apart, but actually, increasingly, in-this-life becoming righteous.” you are spot-on. Anyone who teaches this is, at best, deceived and, at worst, a willing tool of Satan.
Christ obeyed and suffered the wrath of God for our JUSTIFICATION so that, being raised to life in Christ, we would walk in the newness thereof. As children of the light, bringing glory and honor to our Heavenly Father. We do these by the power of His Spirit in us, but we do them. “Let god and let God!” is not biblical!
I have to be honest my friend, I’m having trouble getting my head around all this. As you know I’m totally with you in your stance against dispensationalism, and as for Calvinism, it’s difficult for me because I’ve never really come from a Calvinist background. In truth, I’ve come from a completely unchurched childhood, saved into the charismatic movement (which I know many will call into question anyway), and have spent probably most of the last 3 or 4 years in endless Bible study, trying to get to the truth of things. Especially trying to get beyond the lies I had been taught as the truth.
It would be wrong to say I’m a Calvinist, because apart from reading some of Calvin’s work, and maybe a little of other historic teachers who would be considered Calvinist, that’s about it. What I have found is that my whole view of salvation generally, the way it is worked out, the way we are predestined and regenerated according to the will of God etc., has completely changed for me now. In fact, although I do not label myself a Calvinist, many other people label me that because my views now seem to marry up closely with those recognised as Calvinistic.
My trouble is with this whole thing of new Calvinism. Because I’m not a dyed in the wool Calvinist myself, I cannot compare new with old, but only what those claiming to be Calvinist say, with the what the Word of God itself says. This has caused me to give many people you mentioned recently a wide berth, not because you’ve mentioned them, but because I had already started drawing my own conclusions.
The main point I’m in confusion about though is your mentioning Mike Horton. To be honest, none of the people you list, including Horton, are on my regular reading list or anything, however I do find the conversations I hear on White Horse Inn really helpful. The thing is though, I can’t seem to equate what I’m hearing on those programmes, with the claims you’re making against Horton directly. And considering the strength of those accusations (as with you naming him as one of the most dangerous men in Christendom), I’m trying my hardest to check my own beliefs with that of Scripture.
Forgive me for the length of this comment, but I can’t remember hearing in those WHI programmes, anything more than being exhorted to develop a clear and solid understanding of what the Gospel message is, and the way it bring us complete justification through the blood of Christ. And then to live out our lives in the light of that justification, seeking above all to be obedient to His Word, but in the knowledge that wherever we may stumble in our walk, the Gospel is right at our side to pick us back up again.
Maybe we’re just hearing two different things from the same person, I don’t know, but if you could be specific with regards what is being said by Horton and the others at White Horse Inn, and how it conflicts with Scripture, I would really appreciate it.
One final request is this. Please understand I am not writing this comment in an attempt to attack your from the rear or anything, but out of genuine confusion. You don’t realise how much you and Horton have helped me over the last couple of years, and so to hear one pitched against the other is of genuine concern to me, especially where I cannot see what is being pointed at.
John, I will address this
Thanks Joel, that’s much appreciated. 🙂
My thoughts are exactly in line with johndunninguk in regard to Mike Horton and the folks at White Horse Inn. I have never heard anything I considered questionable come from them, but I am not the end-all New Calvinism expert. I eagerly await Joel’s address of this issue.