Comments on Two Cheers for the New Calvinism
Yesterday Justin Taylor posted an interesting guest spot on the â€œNew Calvinismâ€ by a Wesleyan-Arminian professor at Trinity Evangelical entitled "Two Cheers for the Resurgence of Calvinism in Evangelicalism: A Wesleyan-Arminian Perspective.â€ 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 handsâ€¦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.