f The Wittenberg Door: New Calvinists: Revivers or Revisers?

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Calvinists: Revivers or Revisers?

J.F. Jones of Faith Presbyterian Church of Anchorage makes an interesting distinction about the so-called “New Calvinists”: Some are revivers and others are revisers. Here’s what he means:

Some of these contemporary Calvinists believe that New Calvinism is new because it is better than the old Calvinism. This is certainly the position of men like Mark Driscoll. In this regard, Old Calvinism needs some revising. But there are others who believe that New Calvinism is new simply because the Old Calvinism has returned from a period of latency. This is the position of men like Kevin DeYoung and Ligon Duncan. In this regard, Old Calvinism doesn’t need revising, it just needs reviving. The former believe that the rediscovered Old Calvinism needs revamping for today’s world. The latter believe that the rediscovered Old Calvinism needs republishing for today’s world.

To tie things together, New Calvinism is, necessarily, . . . eclectic! It is broad enough so that some of the historic high-points of Calvinism can be revived (the sovereignty of God, God’s initiative in conversion, complementarianism), while some need only be gently revised (baptism, the Lord’s Table, covenant theology, church government, confessionalism). So, for instance, Adam Omelianchuk can list a dozen New Calvinist pastors and we instantly see that they represent a spectrum of views on worship, ecclesiology, charismatic gifts, evangelism, eschatology, and baptism. Now, we could contend that Old Calvinism itself was just as multifaceted, but this would be stretching things a bit; the Old Calvinists may not have been die-stamped from the factory, but there was more unity than there is in this broader New Calvinism movement. Ultimately, I believe that a helpful lens for understanding the New Calvinism is to determine who is a reviser and who is a reviver. How can you tell? I don’t think it’s the “Jesus was a Calvinist” t-shirt. Instead, I think the revisers tend to edit Old Calvinism ecclesiology, while the revivers keep it unchanged.

You can read the entire explanation here.

--The Catechizer

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