For the record, I’m not a Calvinist. For the record, I’m not threatened by Calvinism and some of my greatest heroes are/were Calvinists (W. A. Criswell, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield). And for the record, I’m definitely not an Arminianist either.
If you haven’t heard, Time Magazine has declared “New Calvinism” to be third on it’s list of 10 world-changing movements. (Mark Driscoll explains the differences between old and new Calvinism. I like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and Al Mohler, all of whom the article names as leading voices among modern Calvinists who definitely have a heavy influence in modern evangelical thinking.
I don’t want to use this post (or the comments) to debate the theological issue of Calvinism itself. Rather I wanted to offer some of my own personal reflections on this movement in the form of what I appreciate about it and what annoys me. Feel free to disagree. I’ve already said I will love you anyway.
Ten Things I Appreciate About Leading Calvinistic Thinkers Today
- A strong defense of the five solas: Scripture, grace, faith, Christ, and the glory of God alone.
- A strong stance on Scripture as the only source of absolute truth and authority.
- A commitment to thorough expositional preaching, even if thematically presented.
- A commitment to purity and holiness in life and in the church.
- A willingness to converse with the world about deeply theological issues.
- A willingness to deviate from the eight or ten topics you would find on Reader’s Digest.
- An emphasis on God’s sovereignty and glory.
- The centrality of Christ in life, history, and church activity.
- The resurrection of ideas from wise old dead guys.
- A renewed emphasis on scholarship, writing, and strong teaching.
Ten Things That Annoy Me About the New Calvinism Movement
- The idea that if John Piper wrote it, it’s only slightly less inspired than Scripture (and I like Piper’s books, by the way).
- The idea that I’m just “not deep enough” or “not smart enough” to “get it.”
- The idea that Calvinists are the only ones standing for biblical theology, or are the only ones calling for a revival of true discipleship.
- The idea that if you’re not a Calvinist, you’re not in the club of the cool.
- The idea that if you’re a non-Calvinist, you don’t revere God or consider Him sovereign (I do both).
- The replacement of KJV-onlyism (which I loathe) with a growing, implied ESV-onlyism (oh, and I like the ESV).
- Continuationism and the idea that cessationists (me) aren’t open to the Holy Spirit’s work.
- Limited atonement.
- The tendency for Baptists in this category to soften on the issue of beleiver’s baptism by immersion and their rejection of pedo-baptism.
- Oh, to be fair, I’ll make it nine things that annoy me and ten things I appreciate.
Now, before anybody gets upset, understand that I’m also deeply annoyed by the whole “we have to get rid of the Calvinists” mentality too. I just wanted to vent in a slightly humorous way. if any of these things strike home with you, just realize that rather than trying to divide us, I’m simply urging you to find a biblical balance and to be yourself just as God made you.
If you’re a non-Calvinist, don’t compromise just to fit in. If you’re a Calvinist, be a good evangelistic and missional Calvinist and go a little easier on those of us who also revere God’s sovereignty but disagree on the finer points.
Now, feel free to weigh in in the comments. I’m ready for it – but be friendly – I moderate here.