5 Features of New Calvinism


New Calvinist has a two-part series of articles on “Who Are the New Calvinists?”  The Lectures by Ted Williams were delivered at the School of Theology, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, on July 4, 2012. The lectures were read by Darren Cadapen, a member of the Tabernacle fellowship.

From Part 1:  New Calvinism, The Gospel Coalition and Dr. Tim Keller

“New Calvinism is a movement that is sweeping across the Church in the USA and moving to the UK, and into other countries around the world. Many Christians may not be familiar with the term, and so my task in two talks, is to explain the phenomenon of New Calvinism, a movement that claims to be behind a resurgence of the reformed teachings of John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards. Led by some of the biggest names in the evangelical world, New Calvinism gives the appearance of doctrinal soundness. But on closer examination, we see a different picture. We see a movement that is bringing the world into the church—a movement that puts no difference between the holy and the profane. I hope to demonstrate that the problem of New Calvinism lies in both doctrine and conduct.”

The following is excerpted from Part 2: Pastor John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Dr. Albert Mohler 

Here are the five features of New Calvinism.

1) Doctrinal shallowness.

New Calvinism, despite its claims of being a resurgence of the Reformed doctrines of Calvin, is doctrinally shallow. Its message of salvation, while may at times be technically correct, is delivered in a way that lacks conviction; that seldom mentions the awful offence of sin and the need for genuine repentance unto salvation that leads to new life in Christ. New Calvinism’s teaching on sanctification is deficient. It downplays the need for holy living, while emphasising the freedom, pleasures and benefits of the Christian life.

2) Loves the things of the world

New Calvinism has brought the ways and thinking of the world into the church. It does not usually separate from the attitude, desires and things of the world. New Calvinism is given over to the desires and thinking of the flesh. It is deeply committed to contemporary worship and the holy hip-hop scene. In matters of dress, language and entertainment, New Calvinism accepts and follows the way of the world.

3) Profoundly ecumenical

New Calvinism is a broad tent that embraces all shades of doctrine. Assent to the apostle’s creed is all that is required for one to be accepted as a Christian. This means New Calvinism is sympathetic to Roman Catholicism. Its inclusive attitude readily accepts charismatic and emerging church errors. The pursuit of false ecclesiastical unity is the cardinal error of New Calvinism that leads to all manner of compromise. New Calvinists refuse to separate from unsound doctrine, and even the most extremely forms of false teaching. Many form spiritual alliances that are about pragmatic advantage, rather than about the proclaiming the true gospel. Like the New Evangelical, so the New Calvinist, do not practice separation from those manifestly in error, and thus violate Scriptural principles as stated in 2 Cor. 6:14-18.

4) Social activism

New Calvinism adds the social gospel to the gospel of salvation. It believes that a central aspect of the gospel is an attitude of social activism that aims to redeem culture and save the world. It promotes social programs to care for the poor, and the human rights agenda to improve social justice.

5) Low view of Scripture

New Calvinism has moved beyond the inerrancy of Scripture debate, for its approach to Scripture is characterised by irreverence and flippancy. Some in the New Calvinist camp even use the Bible as a source of good comedy. The lyrics of rap artists are regarded as being profoundly doctrinal, able to teach the church how the Word of God should be preached. Scripture is contextualised to make the gospel world view sensitive and acceptable to the latest cultural trends in society. Jesus must be presented as the answer to the questions the culture is asking.

New Calvinism is a movement that is characterised by flippancy to holy things. It has no fear of God; it puts no difference between the holy and the profane. Puritan Thomas Watson gave this advice: “Take heed whom you listen to! It is our dear Saviour’s counsel, ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves’ (Matthew 7:15). Let me tell you, the Devil has his ministers – as well as Christ. There are some, who by the subtlety of their wit have learned the art of mixing error with truth, and to give poison in a golden cup.”

The entire transcript can be found here.