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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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    Comments on Two Cheers for the New Calvinism

    Yesterday Justin Taylor posted an interesting guest spot on the “New Calvinism” by a Wesleyan-Arminian professor at Trinity Evangelical entitled "Two Cheers for the Resurgence of Calvinism in Evangelicalism: A Wesleyan-Arminian Perspective.” The first part was what the author saw as positive elements of the new Calvinism and the second part some criticisms of it. Both positive and negative are interesting and should be heeded but he makes one statement which is not entirely accurate that I felt worth mentioning. He said:

    "But it seems quite obvious to me that there indeed is a central dogma to the New Calvinism: belief that God determines everything, and that he does so for his own glory, is taken to be necessary and sufficient."

    While it is true that Calvinists affirm the meticulous sovereignty of God over all things and consider this to be of highly critical importance, yet if there is something else which is even more substantial and central than this to their dogma, it is that Christ is all in all. History and creation revolve around Him. Calvinists, in other words, have a Christocentric view of all things.

    How is this a distinctive you ask?

    The Father says, "This is my Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him." The Spirit has come to remind us of all that Jesus has done, to take from Him and give to us and ultimately to bring Christ, not Himself, glory. All are to honor the Son as they honor the Father. We preach Christ and Him crucified because it is He and He alone who is our hope. All that we have is from His hands…all spiritual benefits find their source in Him. In fact, what good things do we have that we did not receive from Christ? As this distinctive regards salvation, consider, what makes someone differ from another? Does Christ ALONE make you to differ from your neighbor, or is it Christ plus something else, such as your "good will" that generates a right thought? Is God's requirement of us, including the command to believe the gospel, something we have the power to do, or is it grace itself in Christ that we even have the desire, understading and faith to believe? It is only the gift of grace we have in Christ itself that we are obedient and humble. Humility is not something that springs from our unregenerate human nature. Only Christ can change that. It is only by grace alone in Christ alone that we have life, this is THE central difference between biblical Calvinism and all other synergistic forms of Christianity.

    We believe that all erroneous and inconsistent views of the Bible come from not seeing the truth of Christ as the center of Scripture. See this essay for examples of some of these errors. Hopefully this will clear up exactly what Mccall gets wrong and what turns a lot of people off, the idea that God is sovereign is not the center of calvinism ... it's central but not THE center.

    John Hendryx

    Posted by John on April 30, 2008 02:33 PM

    Comments

    John-
    Thanks for this article! I absolutely love that last sentence. While the statement that God is sovereign is necessary to properly understand the Scriptures, it is Christ who is at the center of the Scriptures (as Christ Himself explained to His two disciples). This I would agree is at the center of Reformed Theology (and thus Calvinism).
    I however think that the article makes an accurate observation because it is talking about this "New Calvinism." Speaking from experience (from myself and thus my assumption of other young Calvinists), this idea that God determines all things for His Glory. I think practically, and the way I argued, that this idea was central in my thinking. As I have developed in my theology, I am beginning to see more and more that Christ is at the center of Scripture, and if I am going to have a Biblical Systematic Theology, then Christ needs to be t the center of my theology.

    I have been hearing alot of harsh statements from the reformed/Calvinistic community about the “new” Calvinism over the last year. Seems like its pretty much 3 issues the “traditional” reformed, is complaining about this “new”Calvinism.


    1)that they not “truly” reformed cause they don't follow the “traditional” a Presbyterian/reformed church government. Well lets see the particular baptists did not have “reformed” church government. They were just as bit as Calvinistic as the Presbyterians and congregationalists. Either do the congregationalists, but one would be hard pressed to say that Johnathon Edwards was not Calvinist.

    2)The new Calvinism is not truly “Reformed” cause they may not in some churches follow the “traditional” reformed confessions like the Westminister Standards or Three Forms of Unity or neither of London Baptist confessions. This is totally not true. I have seen some “independent/bible” type churches confessions of faith over the years and their pretty calvinistic

    3)that these new Calvinists are too “spirit-filled”,”fruits of the spirit”. Well im sure the first Great Awakening was that way and it was very Calvinistic


    I guess my point is just cause a church or a movement is not your “type” of Calvinism. That doesn't mean they are not true blue Calvinists. I mean if u follow the 5 points”Tulip” in your theology, you are considered Calvinist.


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