Thursday, March 12, 2009

"The New Calvinism"

TIME Magazine has compiled a list of 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Check out number three:

1. Jobs Are the New Assets

2. Recycling the Suburbs

4. Reinstating the Interstate

5. Amortality

6. Africa, Business Destination

7. The Rent-a-Country

8. Biobanks

9. Survival Stores

10. Ecological Intelligence


Mainline Mom said...

Wow. Who new that what has become SO important to me is actually a big movement. I have noticed these themes a LOT in the new music I listen to, noteably David Crowder Band and similar company. And I have loved every lyric of it. I find this facinating.

Mike said...

the quote from the article "...some of today's enthusiasts imply that non-Calvinists may actually not be Christians." is the reason I find this love affair with calvinism so distasteful. I have seen this attitude played out over and over again...people love calvinism (which they can understand) more than they love God (who they can't understand)

Todd Pruitt said...


Probably not a good idea to paint an entire group of people or an entire system of doctrine in a bad light because you've encountered some goof balls. The meanest people I have ever encountered in churches have been Arminians but that has not led me to conclude that arminians are bad. I do not know one Calvinist who believes that non-Calvinists are non-Christians. However, I have been called a heretic, a false teacher, a wolf in sheeps clothing, etc by arminians. We could probably go back and forth like this all evening.

Mainline Mom said...

Yeah, I certainly don't know anyone that would say a non-Calvinist is not a Christian...that would mean probably more than half the people I love that claim Christ would not be with me in heaven. Part of the beauty of Calvinism, I believe, is that our love for God, and our view of God, grows exponentially the more we grasp His grace and sovereignty.

Todd Pruitt said...


At the heart of Calvinism is a belief that salvation comes wholly through God's unmerrited grace. It is not grace given in response to anything we do (that would make it something less than grace).

Grace humbles us. It breaks our heart. It changes the way we think, pray, and worship. And if knowlege of grace received does not make us a gracious people then our knowlege of grace is quite incomplete.

Mainline Mom said...

Very well said!! So here's the my view of God's grace has grown, I have become more gracious...which tends to come across to some people as more moderate, more condoning, more accepting of sin. I find it hard to find the happy medium between trying to demonstrate grace and being too tolerant of sin.

Todd Pruitt said...


I know what you mean.

One thing I am trying to challenge myself with is the idea of taking my own sin much more seriously than I take someone else's sin.

That does not mean that I ignore my brother's sin but that my dealings with him should be loving. We must be more faithful to practice Jesus' instructions in Matthew 18 and Paul's in 1 Corinthians 5. Jesus, who loved and came to save sinners calls his people to correct, rebuke, and when necessary remove from fellowship those who sin and refuse to repent. That will not seem loving to some. But Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that it is done for the good of the person's soul.

Grace does not in any way diminish holiness or truth. Holiness and truth are for my good and for the deepening of my joy. Therefore I do good to my brothers and sisters when I spur them on toward greater holiness and love for God's truth.

rmc said...

My walk with God has been greatly blessed by Calvinist teachers. Especially thru Jack Miller of Jenkintown, PA, now with the Lord, has my understanding of grace and deeper repentance to experience that grace been enriched, that the gospel is the power for living the Christian life. However, Calvinism is not going to change the world. The whole body of Christ is needed to reach a region for Christ and every part has something of value to contribute. The transformation movements that are truly bringing the kingdom of God to their cities and regions are diverse groups of Christians who seriously take Jn 17:23 to heart. I am praying for and waiting for this kind of unity and transformation in the COS geographical area.

Noel said...

So Todd, according to this article you are "hard core." Thats awesome!! I'm glad Time Magazine finally realized it! :)

PS: Hope things are well up North.

Todd Pruitt said...

Yeah that word "hardcore" is interesting. It sounds so negative - "hardcore addict" "hardcore violence" etc.

It's an example of the fact that post-modern America has no idea what to do with people who have actually wrestled with and now know what they believe.

Things are good up here. Hope the pastor search is going well at MEBC.

Ryan H. said...

Time Magazine tends to pay due attention to the Christian movements in the nation, and not with the condescending attitude one might find elsewhere (Newsweek seems particularly nasty towards traditional Christian belief).

Calvinism, like any "ism," covers a broad spectrum. I'm very much an admirer of the theology advocated by Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, but I'm not necessarily keen on the ways that Calvin's theology has been extrapolated by his followers. The Calvinist legacy, like the broader Christian legacy, has certainly had its darker spots.

As far as the so-called New Calvinism goes, I'm not sure what I make of it, largely because I'm not particularly well-versed in it. Of the names mentioned in that article, I've only read John Piper, and I'm not a huge fan.

Todd Pruitt said...


As I wrote to Mike - you can find goofy people attatched to any movement, doctrine, church, etc.

I think the way Scott McKnight has been describing what he calls the "neo-reformed" is unfair. I believe his caricatures have more to do with his prejudice against Reformed theology than the actual facts.

Anyway, I have found Piper to be a continually important, challenging, and refreshing voice. Some of his more important books are some of his least read: "The Justification of God" (a study of Romans 9-11) and "Counted Righteous in Christ" (a biblical defense of the doctrine of imputation). His response to N.T. Wright is also very important ("The Future of Justification"). I also highly recommend "The Pleasures of God."

I came to Reformed theology about nine years ago because of my study of the biblical text. After years of fighting against what God was clearly saying about himself in the Scriptures I finally bowed my knee to His Word.

It is God who saves from start to finish. He is indeed sovereign and not merely partly so. His will is not thwarted by the sinful whims of man. Whatsoever comes to pass is due to his sovereign will. Grace is truly unmerited. I am saved only because He sought me and overcame my stubborn, sinful will. The cross accomplished genuine, not potential redemption. God's glory is the supreme good in the universe.

These are things I had seen clearly in the Scriptures but had tried either to dismiss or minimize in some way. Embracing these truths became something of a conversion experience.

Mainline Mom said...

This is a really hard concept for us as humans to accept...mainly because it seems to conflict with the idea of our free-will so much. But it's ALL over scripture, and when you have a clear vision of Reformed theology, you see it in so many more ways...everywhere. It just starts to click and make sense...but it is profoundly humbling and it means you have to give up any notion of thinking we can know everything about God, our faith, and His plan. We have to allow for some amount of mystery...we have to accept that He is God and we are not. But the peace that goes with it is immeasurable.

Mike said...

agree with Todd that there are folks who can be whack on both sides of this issue. Todd it is a shame that you have been treated so negatively by those whose views have differed from yours...I truly mean that.

There seems to me though a growing divide between those who would espouse a Calvinist view versus those for whom a reformed view creates problems...perhaps that is what McKnight is responding to. I also have had problems with some of Piper's statements that arise from his reformed beliefs...they can sound very unchristlike. For instance his response to his daughter (Talitha)'s question about the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.” Now I realize this is entirely internally consistent with Piper's views...however misapplied I think his theology is.

Todd Pruitt said...


Do you recall Jesus' response to those who asked him why the tower of Siloam fell and killed 17 people or why Pilate killed worshipers at the temple and mixed their blood with that of their sacrifices?

Any remember how Jesus responded?

Mike, with all respect, would Jesus' response fit your criteria of a "christlike" response?

Mike said...

I may not be understanding your statement...but Jesus is not making a point of why bad things happen to good people in LK 13...his point was to contradict the notion that they (the people crushed by the tower) were somehow more "sinful" because of what happened to them. Jesus' point was to make the listeners repent and not see themselves as better...I don't see the parallel to how Piper views the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

In Pipers' world those people died so that "God may be feared"...I think a better answer to his daughter as to why God allowed the bridge to fall in Minneapolis would have been "Honey, I don't know...but I trust that God has his reasons"

Todd Pruitt said...


My reference to Jesus' reply was to point out that, "Repent unless you all likewise perish" is akin to a call to fear God. Fearing God is always an appropriate response to tragic events (although not the only response).

However, let me add that your hypothetical response is something very close to what I would say to my child in the face of tragic events. "God is sovereign. God is holy. God is good. I don't really know why this thing happened."