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  • « Justified - "Just As If I'd Always Obeyed" | Main | Book Review: Get Outta My Face, by Rick Horne »

    Old Calvinism or Dispensationalism?

    With regard to the recent article in Time magazine which notes that the New Calvinism is one of the top ten ideas changing the world right now Pastor Mark Driscoll made the following observations last week on his blog, where I think he must be confusing Calvinism with something else. He says:

    1) Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
    2) Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
    3) Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
    4) Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

    Comment: Pastor Dricoll is perhaps mistakenly viewing the fleeing the city, do not engage culture, mentality as belonging to the "Old Calvinism" although I am not certain who, in particular, he is referring to here. -- I speculate he may be referring to Dispensationalism of the 20th century some of which may have had an element calvinistic soteriology but was not Calvinism or Reformed Theology in the classic sense of the term. Some Reformed churches may have left the cities in the 20th century ... but it may be anachronistic of him to read the post-Reagan gentrification of the cities back into the 60s and 70s. Calvinists hardly existed in the 20th century and I think the Time essay may simply refer to its resurgence after a century of dormancy. The Old Calvinism ( see Kuyper, Calvin, the Puritans) were most-of-the-time culturally engaging, not fundamentalistic or foxhole in their mentality. Next, Driscoll's comment about the old Calvinism's treatment of the Holy Spirit is off in my estimation. Calvin was well-known as the theologian of the Holy Spirit and most of those he influenced put the Holy Spirit front and center in their ministry. There is no Calvinism or Reformed Theology without a robust understanding of regeneration and union with Christ. True that the Old Calvinism was cessationist with regard to spirital gifts, but so is a large number of the new Calvinists. No offense intended to Drisoll. Just thought the post was a bit inaccurate.

    Posted by John on March 16, 2009 02:17 PM


    I had a similar reaction to Driscoll's comments especially:
    ) Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

    Help me to understand this. Is this a comment about speaking in tongues? If that is the case, speaking in tongues was a result of dispensationalism and was not part of reformed belief.

    What makes me nervous about his comments is that they seem rather "emergent" in tone. I hope we havent found a new name for the emergent movement i.e., new calvinism.

    What are your thoughts?


    I have noticed an increasing number of blogs regarding some of Mark Driscoll's off-the-mark comments at the pulpit. I believe we need to hear him with caution and like Bereans, check the Scripture if what he is saying is according to it or not.

    A recent blog has requested the Gospel Coalition to assess Mark Driscoll's participation in their conference because of, again, comments that are not in keeping with a pastor's call.

    Because of his visibility, it does become a bit worrisome.


    I think the thing is, Driscoll is just bringing it. People aren't used to hearing preachers bring the gospel like he does. They aren't used to preaches speaking bluntly about masturbation, pornagraphy, and other sexually immoral actions so bluntly. Straight up, that stuff needs to be talked about and he does so in a very very Biblical way. Should it be looked at with caution, yes of course, but what shouldn't?

    I think, the key with Driscoll is to look at his underlying point about everything. And the underlying point is Jesus. That's it. That's all he talks about is Jesus. That's the backbone of Christianity and without Jesus, the Bible is nothing and I'm sure you'd all agree.

    Instead of attacking Driscoll, why doesn't someone attack Joel Osteen for once for preaching a gospel that is not in congruence with our Lord and Savior? I'm just saying, when a guy preaches about Jesus all the time, why criticize him? When Osteen is preaching about how all of his congregation shouldn't be poor or sick, I mean seriously?

    Everything Driscoll preaches or writes about is pointed to Jesus, and there isn't much fault in that.

    Matt Heltzel

    I think you may have misunderstood. This blog is not about criticizing Driscol but critisizing something he said that was inaccurate. I know the onslaught of criticism has made some defensive but we recently actually wrote about a positive experience when visiting his church:

    So this particular post should not be lumped into the category that sees everythign Driscol does is bad. Just wanted to correct an error ... not critisize the whole ministry. And believe me we have plenty of articles on our site about Joel Osteen.

    @tennessee There is nothing wrong with bringing it on. No one is criticizing him for that. We are criticizing him for breaking the number 9 commandent "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16 ESV)
    He is clearly wrong in talking about historical Calvinist. Calvinist in the past were the most hardcore missionaries around. Mr. Driscoll is one confused man. And what is scarey many youths follow him. He also believes in speaking in tongues and that all the miraculous gifts of the Apostles are for today. Another area he errs in. It's good that he talks about Jesus, but which Jesus is he preaching? Mormons preach a Jesus so do Jehovah witnesses, how about Arminians they also preach a Jesus. These men preach a Jesus who fails and fails over and over again to bring men to salvation. They preach the same Jesus that Mr. Driscoll preaches. Driscoll believes in unlimited atonement he believes salvation could be possible, but not effectual. Us in the reformed faith believe in effectual atonement. That who Christ died for WILL come to him and receive Eternal life. Christ does not fail. Mr. Driscoll as mr Joel Osteen have no place in the pulpit. But I guess God has allowed such men in such positions to separate the sheep from the goats.

    @Matt Hetzel my comment above was meant for You, not tennesee. I made a mistake. I know I am almost 3 years late but better late than never.

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