"The new Calvinists constantly extol the Puritans, but they do not want to worship or live as they did." The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness, Dr Peter Masters, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London. [Check out my visit]
I can relate to Dr Masters and this is one of the reasons why, even though I should probably be a New Calvinist, I am not.
I should be a New Calvinist
I was baptised Presbyterian. I graduated from a reformed Bible College. All my church history professors were from Westminster Theological Seminary. My nickname was Spurgeon because I read so much of him and would not preach a sermon until I had consulted what Charlie said on the same verse. I used to fall asleep with a copy of Fox's Book of Martyrs in my hand. Anything the Banner of Truth published, I bought and read. I SHOULD HAVE BECOME A NEW CALVINIST!
What attracted me was a high commitment to the Scriptures and the no-compromise stance of Reformers who were willing to risk death for their beliefs. I didn't find the same commitment in other streams of Christianity. If I was living back then, when the Puritans and Covenanters and Reformers were shedding their blood, I would have joined them.
But I am not a New Calvinist.
I have issues with some Reformed theology and New Calvinism which hinder me from going further. In a nutshell, I think a lot of the reformed theology I once considered dear is:
- irreversibly Western and not accountable to nor appreciative of the emerging global-south based theology (afraid of the power shift?)
- strangely stuck in the 17th and 19th Century
- locked up in the New Testament, especially the epistles, and not always sourced sufficiently in the Old in a way that brings continuity and coherency to the New.
- often lacking in an adequate Biblical response to the threat of materialism, consumerism, military aggression, environmental degradation, poverty, celebrity-based pulpit ministry, and a few other issues that seem to be blind-spots.
- overly committed to highly attractional forms of Sunday morning ministry that center too strongly around the one-big-hairy-male behind the pulpit and not enough around sending out the church (priesthood) to preach the gospel in the world during the week.
- an identity forged out of not belonging to the Roman Catholic Church (apparently the bad guys) that often becomes an unguarded smugness against the influences of Babylon in its own backyard.
Or am I missing something?
However, I am thankful that so many inside and outside the emerging church have managed to salvage and secure much of the Reformed contributions under this banner of New Calvinism and amazed that Time Mag took note of it. I even bought a hard copy! I also have much to be thankful for regarding my many years of immersion in Reformed writings. Some parts of Reformed theology have been recently enhanced in my own mind, including a robust theology of the invisible church. The Book of Hebrews in particular, that I blogged about recently. And probably a whole lot more that will come to mind once I have uploaded this post. I am sure there are eager readers out there who will remind me.
Anyway, Happy Reformation Day!
Campi, The Riddler, Big Al, DeYoung (of 'Why We're Not Emergent, By Two Guys Who Should Be' fame), a brand new blog that opened today called Justification by Grace . . and . .. . actually, just go back to Campi and click on the bloggers in his "Blogs Worth Reading" list.