Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Who are the NeoReformed? 2

posted by Scot McKnight

We are looking at the rise of the NeoReformed; we began Monday and this is part two.

Calvin*.jpgThe NeoReformed movement of which I speak is an attempt to capture evangelicalism, redefine it by some clearly-defined doctrines that are Reformed, and kick the
rest of us — and there are lots more “of us” than the NeoReformed –
off the village green. When we are in need of profound degrees of
cooperation (as we see in someone like J.I. Packer), we are finding a
division of the evangelical village green. No, in fact, they are not
dividing the village green; they are constructing a Reformed fence
around it. (Well, maybe not. The impact of what I see going on with the
NeoReformed will result in a division of evangelicalism.)

Are you sensing a division? one coming? Do you think there’s room in the tent for us all? What are the themes in theology that seem most divisive?

Furthermore,
the NeoReformed have come to equate the meaning of “gospel” with Calvin’s “Reformed
theology.” And those who aren’t Reformed are somehow or in some ways
denying the gospel itself. When gospel is equated with double predestination, often said in harsh terms, we are seeing a good example of the spirit
of a NeoReformed approach. This leads, inevitably,  to seeing what
they call the “doctrines of grace” as defining both “gospel” and
“evangelical.”



The groups they’ve chosen to exclude witness to
the new kind of Reformed. The sweeping impacts of the Finney revivals
and Wesleyan gospel preaching and the charismatics are simply not, in
the view of the NeoReformed, evangelicals. Anabaptists aren’t even on
the map. A number of historians have clearly demonstrated that evangelicalism in
the USA cannot be properly understood without reference to the powerful
revivals of the Wesleyans; one thinks of David Hempton or Donald Dayton. Their careful studies on the
rise of American evangelicalism are often ignored. The approach of Mark
Noll and David Bebbington, which is broader based than just a list of
Reformed theological ideas, is also rejected as inaccurate.

Oddly
enough, a group not formerly connected with evangelicalism, the
Southern Baptists, have (from the Reagan years on) become increasingly
associated with evangelicalism. And many of them are now advocating
very strong forms of Calvinism — something previously not at all
characteristic of the SBC. I could be wrong here, but my own reading of
Southern Baptist stuff over the years shows a dramatic rise of
Calvinism and a desire to be called evangelicals. I’m open to hear how the SBC see this trend.

And here’s another issue: the NeoReformed are deeply concerned
with complementarianism and see it as a test case of fidelity. Fine, argue your points, but
complementarianism is hardly the center of orthodoxy. You wouldn’t know
that by the way they write or talk. Some see it as the litmus test of
evangelical orthodoxy these days. This grieves me. Don’t we have more significant battles to wage?

And they also have chosen to make one
of their targets today the New Perspective on Paul, and for some odd
reason they’ve landed squarely on the door step of Tom Wright. They see
him as the problem. The Problem. When Tom Wright is our problem, it
is we who have the problem. I blurbed Tom Wright’s book recently with some strong words, and one blogger posted my blurb — a
blogger who had not read Tom Wright’s book — and it drew within one
day about 75 comments, and I’m pretty sure only one commenter on the
entire thread had read both Piper’s book and Wright’s book. The rest
were pretty sure I was wrong. Those who were all riled up about the
blurb are the NeoReformed — ironically, they were wondering who I had
in mind when I used “NeoReformed” in the blurb. I thought that was
obvious.

If I had to sum it up I’d put it this way: the
NeoReformed are those who are obsessed with God’s holiness and grace
and have not learned that grace makes people gracious. These folks are
America’s newest religious zealots and they are wounding, perhaps for a
generation or two, evangelicalism.

My brothers and sisters,
because God in his mercy has made room for all of us at the cross, there’s
room enough for all of us on the village green. Grace would make it so. We might not be able to agree on theology or in some of the finer points of our confessions, but the village green — evangelicalism — is covered by a big tent, and there’s room for all of us who call ourselves evangelicals.

What are options? I keep asking myself. Welcome one another in a common mission or send those we don’t agree with to another location?

Make your decision. Our decision, friends, will shape the future of American evangelicalism. I pray to God we will find a way to focus on the mission of God.



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Robert

posted February 18, 2009 at 7:46 am


Thanks for lifting up this as an issue, Scot and for us to find ways to reach out to folks of differing theological opinions. Of course, the problem is when folks put some of their opinions into the category of “essentials” rather than “non-essentials.”
What I like about John Wesley, is that he sought to maintain the sovereignty of God with free will. For Wesley, his concept of “prevenient grace” (Latin: the grace that goes before) was his way of bridging the two.
Wesley maintained that salvation is still God’s initiative, but it’s through God’s prevenient grace (grace that is working on us even though we’re not aware of it)that stirs within us, causing us to respond with a yes or no. So even if we say “yes,” to God’s grace, it’s only because God took the intitiative.
And this is why Wesley couldn’t hold on to a doctrine of “irresistable grace” which again, and unfortunately, might be another “deal-breaker” with some folks who see it differently.



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Robert

posted February 18, 2009 at 7:58 am


Oh, I forgot to mention (see post above) that Wesley also believed that a measure of God’s prevenient grace is extended to all people in any given moment for us to respond with a yes or no.
God’s grace: Available to all, initiated by God, inviting our response.



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Adam

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:00 am


“Anabaptists aren’t even on the map.”
And some of the original reformers tried to make that a reality.
Sorry, I know it doesn’t add to the discussion much, but I found it ironic.



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Robert

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:03 am


Sorry for yet a 3rd response to this but I think this is so important. Regarding Wesley’s view of God’s grace, he took major hits from the predistinarians during his lifetime in 18th century England. The exchange of letters between the two theological camps are interesting to read.
But like Adam Hamilton’s recent book which seeks a middle way (Via Media) Wesley is a good example of someone who was a theological bridge in his day and age.
The friendship between Wesley (maintaining free will) and George Whitefield (maintainting predestination) reminds me that there is hope to bridge the contrasting views, even though their friendship was often strained!



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:15 am


Hanery,
That’s a good point. The odd thing is that there are plenty of Arminians who write but they are not promoting the distinctives of their Arminian faith like that — who goes around preaching “you can lose your salvation” all the time? That’s not a message that even needs to be preached. But, there are so many well-known preachers and writers who emphasize free will (defined in all sorts of ways) and this can indicate an Arminian. In fact, I would say that anyone who is “Cal-minian” is Arminian. The issue of losing one’s salvation is hardly the only issue indicating Arminianism.
Robert,
I agree. Wesley was a bridge builder and the great story about Whitefield is worth remembering. (I heard this from a friend the other day again.) When asked if he would see Wesley in heaven, Whitefield said no. The questioner was surprised by Whitefield’s response and then Whitefield clarified: “He’ll be so close to the throne of God and I so far that I won’t even be within eyesight of the man.” Something like that.
My suggestion is that the NeoReformed see things in reverse.



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JM

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:21 am


Scot, when I read your blurb on Wright’s book, after laughing out-loud and affirmatively nodding, I thought that in reality these folks have a pretty shallow understanding of Reformed theology itself. Do you think that the prefix ‘neo’ in your ‘neo-Reformed’ should also indicate how these folks are really only narrowly Reformed? That is, I think a lot of times, what this group proposes as ‘Reformed’ is often only superficially Reformed, and ignores the considerable diversity within the Reformed tradition itself…



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T

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:26 am


Scot,
Am I sensing a division? To some extent, but I would characterize it this way: Reformed is the most well-defined and self-segregated group on the village green of evangelicalism. If we compare the neo-reformed to Calvin’s own way of acting rather than other modern evangelical camps, the neo-reformed are like Calvin in many ways, but considerably toned down, even if more ‘Calvin-like’ than other evangelical camps.
I agree with you that making Wright into some kind of theological danger zone can make you want to laugh or cry. Ultimately, though, I’m not overly concerned about the village green called “evangelicalism.” I tend to unify and look for conversation and allies in the larger community of “Christianity” or even ‘orthodox Christianity’ :). As a matter of historical integrity and honesty, I don’t want the reformed camp to think or argue that ‘evangelical’ or ‘orthodox’ means reformed, or has meant that historically, but if they leave or try to take over the green called ‘evangelicalism’, I won’t lose sleep nor begin to think of them or myself outside of the nation of ‘Christianity.’ But then, I’m not employed as a Jesus-scholar in a self-described evangelical institution.



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joanne

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:38 am


What are options? I keep asking myself. Welcome one another in a common mission or send those we don’t agree with to another location?
I don’t know what are the options… i only know that whenever i have engaged with neocalvinists, they have been very harsh. It is as if they can win someone to their side by insult and threat–usually of hell or being outside of election. The zeal is firey and hurtful. Especially when one engages as a woman–worse as a woman pastor–(that is one of the gravest sins). My voice and opinion is simply discounted because they believe that women are easily deceived–therefore i am deceived. I can’t even engage with them because they do not see me as a Christian or as one who has the Holy Spirit–i am not elect so cannot know the truth. Because one shows he or she is elect when one believes exactly as they believe. (adherance to exact doctrine is like a new law based faith and unless one believes as they believe, they are not believers–practically speaking it is not about faith in Christ, but faith in doctrine–their doctrine–that saves).
They are very certain of their beliefs and very certain that they are correct. They are very certain that they can determine who is in and who is out based on adherance to their interpretations of scripture. I don’t see a whole lot of humility.
I have stopped engaging with them for the above reasons. I have no voice with them. And my efforts are entirely futile and frustrating.
I have been very disrespected as a person.



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mark

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:17 am


“I pray to God we will find a way to focus on the mission of God.”
I pray that we will all do this too, but you assume that everyone knows what that mission is. What is to you the mission of God? If it sounds something like “bringing everyone who wants to be together under the same tent” then we have missed it. God’s mission is to bring all men to Himself through the Gospel, but the reality is as the Scripture says, “broad is the way that leads to destruction -narrow is the way that leads to life eternal and few there are who find it.”
There are no doubt Christians who are not gracious in their presentation of their positions. That is unfortunate. Yet, we cannot forget that the message of the Gospel is going to always sound divisive to the person who refuses to accept its specific and “narrow” claims and demands.



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JF

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:23 am


Scot, as someone who is been a part of the world you are describing, I would say you are really hitting on something here.



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My 2 Cents

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:23 am


Joanne, is it any wonder there are those with possible self-worth problems within the Christian community? Thank you for honestly conveying your experience. It is mine as well. There is NO love or acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit within all of us by the Neos.
Is this what we want our legacy to be? To be more fixated on the system than the Savior? It is most certainly a divisive issue…and very focused on the “haves and have nots.”
Adam: some of the current “reformers” are also seriously focused on a modern day version of eliminating any who do not agree. When I read your small post, it reminded me of modern day extremists of all sorts and kinds.



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Rick

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:23 am


Scot-
To be fair, some (not all) of the outcry about your book blurb had to do with how many took (interpreted) the words you used, and the tone of those words. Some saw it as a case of “the pot calling the kettle black.”
I am not part of the NeoRef crowd (I fall more into the Wesleyan camp), and do agree with many of the concerns in this post, but I do think we need to be careful about blaming all well-known reformed leaders for the actions of others. As we can see in history (ironically, reformation church history comes to mind), the beliefs and actions of the followers can quickly stray from the leader’s positions.



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Brian D.

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:24 am


Scot and others.
What I find interesting, since Arminianism has been brought up, is that for many of the neo-Reformed the only possible flip side of the Calvinist coin is Arminianism. Speaking for myself as one who left a large Presbyterian denomination after many years and ceased to identify personally with Calvinism, I have never thought of myself as an Arminian either. Much of the so-called neo-Reformed are limited by this black and white, eithor/or outlook.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:24 am


mark,
Good point; I’ve blogged plenty about the mission of God and I assume that history when I wrote about the mission of God. It’s not about the big tent (except in an indirect sense); it’s about gospeling.
Where do you get a biblical basis that the gospel will “always” be divisive?



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Karl

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:35 am


“the NeoReformed are those who are obsessed with God’s holiness and grace and have not learned that grace makes people gracious.”
Well said. One of my friends and mentors (himself a self-described 5-point Calvinist) describes the attitude of the NeoReformed as “beating people over the head with grace.”



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dopderbeck

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:36 am


Scot, what you’re writing about here is near to my heart, I guess because I’ve experienced marginalization by fundamentalists communities that otherwise nurtured me — but my experience is with old-school dispensationalists who were basically Arminian (I remember hearing sermons about why the “L” in TULIP is wrong).
Anyway, I’m just a little at a loss because aside from your one oblique reference to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, I’m not really sure who you mean. In the Northern NJ / New York City metro area, where I’m from, I don’t see ACE-type folks as having a huge influence. There are a bunch of big evangelical / fundamental / charismatic / pentecostal churches around here. These churches, IMHO, are going to continue to struggle with a more educated lay population over things like how to define inerrancy and how to understand the natural sciences, but that isn’t uniquely a neo-Reformed issue.
Although — both Don Carson and Norm Geisler spoke in the past year or two at my former fundamental-dispensational church and Carson critiqued emergent while Geisler “named names” (from what I heard, I wasn’t there) — bashing McLaren and others — yet I also heard that many of the leadership there were not happy with this approach.
There also is a strong Christian Reformed Church influence in my area, which I don’t think falls inot the neo-Reformed camp. In NYC, Redeemer Presbyterian has a big influence — but I tend to think of them as more missional than neo-Reformed, even if a core of the PCA and Tim Keller himself in his heart of hearts could be characterized as neo-Reformed.
Not having an ear to the ground within the evangelical academy, but just reading books and blogs, my sense is that a possible storm brewing is yet another battle for the Bible, but again I don’t take that to be uniquely a neo-Reformed fight.



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D C Cramer

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:38 am


Once upon a time at an evangelical institution in the north suburbs of Chicago, three students, A, B, and C had a conversation over lunch. As with many lunchtime conversations at this institution, their discussion quickly turned to the question of Arminianism vs. Calvinism. A didn’t let on to his Arminian-Anabaptist beliefs, but simply described the tenets of Arminianism in an objective manner. B woefully considered the theological divide and suggested, “Isn’t it best to have Both sides represented here?” To which C responded, “No, if it was up to me, there would be only one: Calvinism.”
Later, A privately explained his theological beliefs to B with the new understanding that in C’s mind, he shouldn’t even be there.



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mark

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:47 am


Hi Scott,
thanks for your response.
Just to restate:
The Gospel will always be devisive to the person who refuses it. I do not know how to change the Gospel for the person who doesn’t like what it requires of him. The Gospel calls all men and it calls all men to something (really, someone, which is Christ) and away from something (ourselves and our sins). That is too much for some folks to give up. The Gospel is indeed all inclusive in its voice, but it is exclusive in the content of its message.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:52 am


mark,
Well, I was hoping you’d provide some biblical support for your claims that the gospel is always divisive. I hear this argument far less with respect to nonChristians than I do with those who resist the distinctives of the NeoReformed faith. Isn’t this not only a bit uncharitable but also a promised winning framing of the situation: if they agree, we win; if they disagree, it shows they’re corrupted and we win.
I’ve been studying conversion stories professionally for a long time. There are some that evince that struggle from the core, a wrestling with God over the claims of the Self, but there are many who grow up in Christian traditions who can’t remember a fight with God in their memory.



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MattR

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:00 am


Thank you Scot, once again your insights into this are seriously needed! I have seen this issue for a while, but you helped name it.
It’s a tough situation. It’s hard to find common ground with people who, because of the narrow nature of what they define as Christian (and many people of faith are out), don’t want to have it with you.
When double predestination, a strict complimentarianism, and I would add; substitutionary atonement as THE main view (not one among several scriptural images as you Soct and others have described), and, beyond just women’s roles, a hierarchical/authoritarian vision of life, are said to be GOSPEL… what can you do with that.
I have also heard the term ‘biblical’ thrown around a lot, and the above is what is usually meant in neo-reformed circles.
I am not a Calvinist or Reformed, however, the beauty of Reformed theology as I have read and heard it goes way beyond the narrow doctrine here.
And these things are worth discussing, and even having strong passionate opinions, but they are NOT GOSPEL!
Do I sense a division coming?… I think in some ways, it’s already here, and maybe been here for a while. When I talk to some in evangelical circles, especially in certain leadership contexts, and I hear them describe their gospel… I hear neo-reformed thinking.
What to do? To be honest with you, as the ‘village green’ of evangelicalism has narrowed over the last few years, I have found myself working more outside than in… finding common mission with those more broadly orthodox in faith, and even sometimes beyond.



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James Petticrew

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:02 am


As a Wesleyan (well in as much I am an anything other than Christ follower) can I just make the point that Wesleyanism does not in fact advocate the theological position that “freewill” is an innate human capability.
We believe that God’s grace will take people to the place where they can respond to that grace but that ability to respond is God’s gift to us. Sin means that we are incapable of turning to God of our own volition but God’s grace reaches out to all seeking to draw them to himself. God must open our eyes to the offer of salvation.
Hence Charles Wesley’s words;
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature?s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray?
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
We do not believe in grace and its role in salvation any less than the Reformed crowd what deny is that grace is irresistible. We believe God’s grace extends as far as allowing us as creations to say to our creator no or embrace his saving grace.



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Travis Greene

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:06 am


“Oddly enough, a group not formerly connected with evangelicalism, the Southern Baptists, have (from the Reagan years on) become increasingly associated with evangelicalism. And many of them are now advocating very strong forms of Calvinism — something previously not at all characteristic of the SBC. I could be wrong here, but my own reading of Southern Baptist stuff over the years shows a dramatic rise of Calvinism and a desire to be called evangelicals. I’m open to hear how the SBC see this trend.”
Scot, this is a little off-topic, but can you expound on your understanding of SBC history/evangelical history? I grew up heavily involved there, and always thought of us (them) as evangelicals. In fact, “evangelical Christian” identity certainly superseded “Southern Baptist” identity. I was born in 1984, so there may have been some Reagan-era change I wasn’t aware of, but your statement really surprised me. I’m confused as to why the SBC wouldn’t be evangelicals, historically.
You’re right about the new Calvinist influence, which I think largely comes from an alliance made between conservative Baptists and Reformed Baptists to kick out the moderates and liberals. They’re reaping the whirlwind a little bit now.



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Your Name

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:12 am


Scott:
just to explain again – I did not say that the Gospel is “always devisive.”
I am saying in other terms what you said in an earlier post:
“To embrace the gospel is to embrace Jesus; to embrace Jesus is to embrace the Cross; to embrace the gospel means we embrace the Cross. There is no gospel without the Cross of Jesus. None. Gospel response is death to self. No to self and Yes to Jesus, the Jesus who painted the way in the Cross.”
I did quote the Scripture in my first post today: broad way vs. narrow way – result – few go the narrow way.
I really want and pray and work and give my part that all men may come to Christ, but the tragic reality is all don’t want to come despite our efforts. The allure of self and self-reliance is the “other gospel.”



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:18 am


Travis,
Unless I’m seriously mistaken, and I’ve had plenty of SBCers agree with me on this one, the SBC was not really a part of the evangelical movement, as defined by the CT folks and by places like Wheaton, until the Reagan years when they joined hands with conservatives in the culture war.
The issue here is that you were born in 1984.



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Trish

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:20 am


I don’t understand why you don’t even name someone who is neo-Reformed. Are we a tad jealous about rising tide of a new a Reformers?



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RJS

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:31 am


Trish,
Perhaps names would detract from the conversation – as I understand it this post isn’t about individuals, or even about a theology, it is about an attitude – and the attitude is decidedly unChristian. I know many Calvinist or reformed Christians who are very gracious and exhibit the love of Christ and their love for Christ in many ways.



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Karl

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:32 am


Travis #23, as far as the SBC goes I can’t speak directly to it but my anecdotal observation of SBC folks who used to self-identify as fundamentalists shifting to self-identifying as evangelicals tracks with Scot’s.
The quickest example I can think of is Jerry Falwell. Although he never embraced Calvinism, the fundamentalist-to-evangelical shift in self identification occurred. In the early years (decades actually) of Falwell’s ministry, he was a proudly self-avowed fundamentalist. He wore the title like a badge of honor and used it freely from the pulpit. By the mid 80′s (and even more so in the 90′s and beyond) he was referring to himself more and more as an evangelical. Rather than a fundamentalist college (as it started out), his Liberty University increasingly wanted to be known as an evangelical university. The shift, if any, in his theology was only slight over that period of time but the desire to be identified as evangelical rather than fundamentalist emerged at about the time Scot identifies – the Reagan years and beyond.



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Jason Powell

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:37 am


The issue with the SBC (I come from three generations of them)came in the mid eighties when the seminaries booted a number of their professors who were advocating a literary critical view of scripture. This included looking at manuscript errors, considering how scripture tells the “truth” etc, etc. When they canned those guys, there was a theological and numerological gap…it got filled with nice reformed boys who could easily play along with the SBC’s wishes. Only the dark side was it slowly bent the seminaries to a neo-reformed outlook. Now some figures are pointing to over 50% of the student/pastors coming out of SBC schools are reformed in their theology. This makes a tried and true baptist (like my mom) really, really worried!



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Justin Taylor

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:38 am

Brian McLaughlin

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:39 am


Scot asks if we are sensing a division…I’m not sure. If we look at the history of evangelicalism, there are always internal battles. Just think of the 1900s: pentecostals, fundamentalism, neoevangelicalism, etc. In the midst of all of these debates, evangelicalism has survived, though it has certainly changed. This change causes some to opt-in and some to opt-out, but it remains. So I don’t know if it will be a strong division, but it will continue to redefine itself. Will it remain broad or narrow itself? I don’t know. It does seem to have remained broad over the years despite the protest of some (such as are pentecostals evangelical?)
I think Doug Sweeney’s final conclusion is important: “evangelicalism is not enough.” Evangelicalism is important, but the church is bigger than evangelicalism. “We must stay rooted in the ground of Christian tradition” (p. 184).



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Travis Greene

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:51 am


Scot,
Okay, I was born in 1984. But maybe we need to go back to what defines the evangelical movement. I’m not talking about politically, I’m talking about theologically. Emphasis on evangelism, the new birth, being saved or born again, altar calls, the sacrificial death of Jesus, large strains of pietism, high view of Scripture…all the SBC hymnals are full of hymns by the Wesleys, who we certainly considered part of our spiritual heritage. Billy Graham was around well before the Reagan years. Was he not “evangelical” until then?
Unless huge amounts of revisionist history have gone on, I think my Southern Baptist grandparents would be very surprised that “the CT folks and by places like Wheaton” (are they the gatekeepers then?) didn’t consider them evangelicals until recently.
The SBC may certainly have risen to more prominence/influence among evangelicals, particularly in geographic areas other than the South. But it’s not like they were crashing a party at which they didn’t belong.



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James Gordon

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:51 am


Scot,
As one on the fringes of the Neo-Reformed because of the very reasons you mentioned, I welcome your insight as constructive and chastising.
As a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I am proud to say that the Calvinism/Arminianism divide, at least in my experience, is cordial and of secondary importance. Indeed, a class this semester entitled “Arminianism and Calvinism in Systematic and Pastoral Theology” is being team taught by professors in each of the respective “camps.” Quite thankfully, after speaking with several friends in the class I have heard nothing but good things concerning the charitable dialogue between the differing opinions. Both professors sense what you are sensing and hope to highlight the importance of THE gospel (not the Calvinist or Arminian “gospel”) and the large agreement between the different positions within evangelicalism. Indeed, they hope to model a generous orthodoxy–a mere Christianity.
Though I understand this has not been the experience of everyone at Trinity in every class and department, I am thankful to say that it has been mine.
Thank you, Scot, for the wise rebuke. For me, it is well taken.



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John W Frye

posted February 18, 2009 at 10:55 am


The mission of the NeoReformed is to preserved the embalmed theology of Calvin. They screech about their “biblical” cause and their only ministry is to denounce sons and daughters of God who don’t believe like them. The mission of the evangelical village green is to join God in his sweeping mission to renew the cosmos (see Christopher Wright’s THE MISSION OF GOD).
On “Is the Gospel always devisive?” I recommend Jeremy Bouma’s book THE UNOFFENSIVE GOSPEL OF JESUS.



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joanne

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:03 am


I am thinking of Paul… Paul in his letter to the Galatians said that anything added to the gospel corrupts it…
Does the Judiazer situation found in Galatians apply?
Has something been added to the gospel when we attach particular roles or assumptions about masculinity and femininity or other disputible matters?
Has something been added when we make salvation/election about faith in Christ plus adherance to the neo-calvinists assumptions or the TULIP?
And what of the Spirit? Where is the Spirit in all of this?
It’s hard to talk about this because i believe there are theological beliefs that embody Christianity but it seems that neo-calvinists have gone beyond to a correct belief as they understand and interpret the Bible.



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Chris E

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:03 am


This thread is bizarre. It has truly created a straw man which everyone seems eager to attack. It strikes me as blatantly hypocritical to decry the harshness of the NR and then turn around and write publicly about their unloving ways. >>>My suggestion is that the NeoReformed see things in reverse.



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Travis Greene

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:04 am


Karl @ 28,
I’ve always thought of fundamentalism and evangelicalism on a continuum. With maybe a connection to the charismatic movement.
Maybe that’s just because of my own experience. Still, I think of Billy Graham as a kind of prototypical evangelical.
Maybe some of what’s going on is the difficulty of tracing theological pedigree. If you go by confessions and official denominational splits and so forth, you can construct a family tree of sorts. But in practice, it doesn’t necessarily work like that. For instance, you can trace back Methodists to Anglicans to the Roman Catholic church. Baptists to Puritan separatists/Anabaptists. And yet, on the ground (so to speak), in the South at least, Baptists and Methodists have been very connected, almost allied in a lot of ways.



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Julie

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:07 am


Perhaps the best look at this phenomenon is a brilliant article by Molly Worthen in the New York Times, discussing a particular Seattle pastor and his church as a microcosm of this NeoReformed movement: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11punk-t.html?_r=1



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Chris E

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:09 am


Ironically, I would actually agree with you, Scot, about some of the trends you identify. As I said before, broadly construed, I am in the NR camp. There can be a narrowing of ‘gospel’ and an exclusive mentality over here. In a zeal for the Bible to be defended and the means of salvation to remain clear, there is some disregard for a diversity of Christian theologies. But this thread overstates the case, and, far worse, causes us to lose sight of the fact that these are brothers and sisters in Christ.



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Tony Stiff

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:11 am


Scot,
Have you considered Tim Keller’s piece awhile back on the cultures in the PCA. Here’s the link for it:
http://www.epcnewark.org/recread/TKeller_CultureofthePCA-rev.pdf
I think it would help the dialogue here if there was more of a nuance to the picture of younger Reformed people. We’re a very mixed bag. My fear is that people may read your series here Scot and think every Reformed person they meet wants to kick them off the green onto the pavement and such is definitely not the case. Sectarianism is a sin of the heart that every tradition is sufferable to.
That being said I think you’ve begun to lay out well what the issues are that are being used to push people off the green. Your posts have a lot of angst in them and they’ll “work” with those who know by experience what you’re talking about but I’ve found just as I try and engage the different cultures of my denomination that not every will have the angst and they need a more nuanced picture of things.
Some questions that I think would clarify things for readers would be these:
1. Who in particular (names) are Neo-Reformed catalytic leaders who are spreading the movement?
2. What are the issues pushing people off the village green (definition of the gospel, role of women in the church etc. which you’ve begun to lay out)?
3. Are their people who are reformed and are seeking to confront Neo-reformed or what I’ve called un-catholic expressions of Reformed theology? If so who are they and how are they confronting it?
4. Why did the village green get this way in the first place?
5. What can be done to bring renewal for EVERY tradition within it?



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Matt

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:12 am


“When Tom Wright is our problem, it is we who have the problem.” Well put!
I recently “converted” to the New Perpective through the writings of James Dunn, Wright, and Francis Watson. Sure, they level some critiques of Reformed theology, but in the end they are more similar than different. It troubles me that so many influential Reformed-types see the New Perspective as the enemy.



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Nicholas Hill

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:14 am


Yes, I think as a young reformed Christian because we are passionate about truth and because we are deeply concerned about the state of the church as it becomes more human centered, soft on doctrine, getting away from expository preaching, less evangelistic, less of a focus on the unreached people groups of the world, we can get pretty fired up! However, this is not always done with grace and love. As Christians we need to speak the truth in love to one another and search the Scriptures together. I have been persecuted for being reformed. You can be persecuted today if you claim that something is true in itself because of an overreaction to modernity.



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MattR

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:16 am


Chris E (26 & 29),
My understanding of Scot’s post was to discuss the ideas/issues here, not get personal and name names… However because he didn’t (name names) some have filled in that blank… And then others just take it personally (on both ‘sides’). Some trying to defend people who they admire, yet Scot NEVER mentioned!
If you find yourself in the NR camp, then engage with the ideas here…
Do you see this trend?
If not, why?
Is it helpful or harmful?



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Dave Moore

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:16 am


AN APOLOGETIC FOR NAMING NAMES
Scot,
I have growing unease over an extremely common practice, yet one that I am no longer so sure of: steering clear of naming names. I sure understand the reluctance. In our desire as Christians to use edifying speech we refrain, and yet the lack of naming names can make one’s argument close to impossible to interact with. Furthermore, it opens all involved to speculate as to who the culprits are. And that brings us to our irony: unedifying speech.
I would ask you to consider naming some names so we can challenge and/or better interact over the force of your arguments.
Best,
Dave



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Kacie

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:19 am


Scot, I think the reason that this train of thought has concerned me is that when you characterize a theological movement as being “religious zealots” that have “not learned grace”, you’re not leaving room within the movement for people that agree with the movement theologically but are not so zealous, exluclusive, or condemning.
I agree with your concern about theses zealots, but wouldn’t it be better to express your concern with their zealousness rather then your concern with the theological movement? I think it is possible to be neo-reformed and also be graciously within the evangelical village green. Your writing would put that kind of person in a box and on the defensive.



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Eric

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:27 am


Brian (#31),
Yes, there have always been divisions, but what about the attitude that “my brand of evangelicism is the ONLY one that can be consistent with the faith, and that others must be preaching false gospels”? I think that is what Scot is describing.
To answer Scot’s post, I have noticed it — for some, the dominant mode is “attack and defend.” This is seen in the bizzare attacks on N.T. Wright by various neo-reformed academics and pastors, to the point where I know regular Calvinist folks who are afraid to even read him for fear of polluting their minds and being “led astray” by a “false prophet.”
And how about the personal attack on all things “emerging”? Driscoll’s personal attack on Bell and McLaren is just one example: His attacks were (1) largely not accurate (if you compare what Driscoll said to the Bell and McLaren books he was discussing), and (2) largely guilt-by-association. I have seen this sort of approach picked up and repeated by other churches, and regular church attenders, who label them “false prophets” and refuse to listen to a word they say. I don’t agree with Bell and McLaren on everything, but they have a lot of worthwhile things to say, and they should not be demonized by their fellow Christians.
More personally, I recently engaged in a search for an evangelical church to attend, and wasn’t able to find one that didn’t require members to agree with either strict Calvinism or strict inerrancy (or both) (I realize the latter is not strictly a view of the neo-Reformed). So I’m excluded from membership in evangelical churches in my area. Something isn’t right.



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Karl

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:38 am


Travis @37, I’m writing from a non-expert’s viewpoint (i.e. Scot or many others on this blog have more expertise to speak to this than I do), but I think that from an objective point of view you are correct – it’s a continuum and there’s a pretty blurry area where the most conservative evangelicalism meets fundamentalism. But the separatist nature of fundamentalism, the exclusionary, combative and uncharitable way of engaging in dialogue, a harsh and judgmental attitude and rhetoric, are more strongly traits of fundamentalism.
I’ve sat in fundamentalist (SBC) churches and heard fundamentalist pastors excoriate evangelicals, who have sold out to the world. Those guys sure thought there was a difference between themselves and evangelicals! I’ve heard Falwell preach about how Wheaton College, the supposed bastion of conservative Christianity, has sold out to the world and the devil because it allows people on its faculty who are complementarians and others who believe in theistic evolution. Yeah, it’s a bit of a continuum. The Bob Jones folks think Falwell sold out to the world and the devil, Falwell thinks Wheaton is sold out to the world and the devil, etc. But it used to be that more people proudly claimed the fundamentalist label and used it to distance themselves from the more ecumenically minded, theologically open “evangelicals.” I think Scot is right that the moral majority stuff of the Reagan years played a big part in people (including many in the SBC) who used to wear the label fundamentalist, dropping that label in favor of the label “evangelical” because it played better in the public square and allowed them to make common cause with more people.
At the same time saying there’s a continuum doesn’t mean that there is no distinction – that we can’t still use terms fundamentalist and evangelical as meaning separate things, or at least separate places on the continuum. It’s like saying that all political liberals are really socialists or communists because there’s a continuum of government economic intervention and wealth redistribution and they are all on it somewhere. No.
You also hit on something with your comment about theological pedigree. Evangelicalism has fundamentalist roots, but it also has other roots as well that are unconnected to fundamentalism – some protestant reformed, some charismatic, holiness, etc. And which “strain” is more prominent will depend on the particular pedigree of the particular evangelical body. The SBC as expressed by Falwell et al., to the extent it’s truly evangelical rather than fundamentalist, carries a pretty heavy dose of the fundamentalist strain in its pedigree – having previously self identified as fundamentalist in many cases. And now many of the same, are adding strongly reformed theology to the mix while in some cases retaining fundamentalist habits of thought and interaction.
Not that it’s only former fundamentalists-turned-reformed who can exhibit that confrontational attitude. For an example of a reformed person exhibiting similar attitudes, over a decade ago I heard R.C. Sproul – to an ecumenical gathering of Christian professionals who were there to be encouraged in walking out their faith in their profession – use most of one plenary session to preach on why Arminians are saved only by a felicitous inconsistency and we should all be reformed because Truth matters and reformed theology is Truth, and then throw in as an aside that Wheaton College should put the words “Screw the Truth” over its gates as its new motto instead of “For Christ and His Kingdom” because Wheaton was allowing relativism and postmodernism to creep into its classrooms.



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Brian McLaughlin

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:57 am


If we want to hear divisiveness it is found in this comment above: “They screech about their “biblical” cause and their only ministry is to denounce sons and daughters of God who don’t believe like them.” Utter nonsense.
Let’s take one example that has been mentioned a couple times: John Piper. Although I love Piper and hold to his Calvinist theology, I too am sometimes frustrated by his strong words against Wright, emerging, Arminians, NPP, etc. However, to claim that this man’s only ministry is to denounce is the most absurd comment I’ve heard in a long time. This man loves Christ, loves the church, loves the lost, and is making an amazing impact on his flock, his city (Minneapolis), and legions of others through his writings. Yes he is passionate and, in my opinion, sometimes too harsh against others, to claim is ONLY ministry is to denounce is a horrific mischaracterization and is unchristian to say so.
Yes there are some neo-Reformers who may want to exclude, but is the alternative to blast and exclude them?



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Travis Greene

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:57 am


Karl,
Good points all. I guess I differ in that I don’t think of Falwell as typical of the SBC.
I’m going by David Bebbington’s four hallmarks of evangelicalism when I talk about who is and isn’t evangelical. He talked about
* biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible (e.g. all spiritual truth is to be found in its pages)
* crucicentrism, a focus on the atoning work of Christ on the cross
* conversionism, the belief that human beings need to be converted
* activism, the belief that the gospel needs to be expressed in effort
(I copied all that from Wikipedia, btw)
By that analysis, I would include Wesleyans, Baptists, some Presbyterians and Lutherans, Anabaptists/Mennonites, trinitarian Pentecostal/charismatics, evangelical non-denom types (many of which are strongly Baptist-ish)…anybody I’m forgetting?
Is there another definition or idea we should be using? Scot has mentioned the big tent, but I don’t think “evangelicalism” has been defined in this discussion. Maybe if we can agree on what the village green is, we can agree why it’s so harmful to be divisive.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:07 pm


Brian,
Thanks for your very important warning.
I don’t want to sit here and monitor every comment and say “don’t say this and say it this way” etc.. So, yes, there are some strong comments being made, and perhaps we need to hear them, but let’s respect this:
When this is over, we want to be with such folks on the Village Green and sit down over coffee as friends in Christ.



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Dan Martin

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm



If I had to sum it up I’d put it this way: the NeoReformed are those who are obsessed with God’s holiness and grace and have not learned that grace makes people gracious.

Excellent point, Scot, though I would add that the lack of graciousness among those who’re preaching grace–in my experience–is not confined to the neo-Reformed. But for those who keep insisting that you’re not specific enough, I think a good example of the NR type would be the Why We’re Not Emergent website (I haven’t read the book) of DeYoung and Kluck. I also think of a number of critiques I’ve recently read re: Wright vs. Piper, in which I got the distinct impression that some of Wright’s opponents seem to see the reformers as right up there with the apostles in terms of authority.
The hyper-Calvinist, nobody-else-is-gospel attitude is certainly a common perspective in the Evangelical circles in which I live. I guess I would mostly question the “Neo” part of your characterization because it doesn’t seem all that new to me. . .as an anabaptist myself, I’ve been marginalized by this sort of perspective for the better part of two decades in which I’ve operated in Evangelical circles. The only thing I see as “Neo” is the enthusiasm with which some (though definitely not all) younger Evangelicals are adopting Reformed thought. Is it, perhaps, in part a reaction to perceived excesses within Emerging/Third Way thought?
I have suspected for some time that part of the attraction to Reformed and particularly Calvinist thought is may be a misunderstanding of the concept of God’s sovereignty and how that interplays with human will. For those interested enough to tease that thought a little further, I blogged on it a few weeks ago.



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Matt

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm


Scot
Would be able to give any examples of people you are referring to as neoreformed? I’d like to look into their teachings a bit more (just as an educational exercise, don’t worry about leading me astray).
Matt
Christian2.0



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MattR

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm


Scot,
How do you be “on the village green and sit down over coffee” with some who don’t want to sit with you? Or, if they do sit, they only do so to convert you to their particular strand of thinking?
This is something I’m wrestling with…
I want to be on the “green” with others in a broader conversation and mission, but it’s hard when some continue to build fences and aggressively drive their ‘keep off lawn’ signs in the ground!



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Kacie

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm


Ok. I’m going to say that I have one foot in and one foot out of what I consider to be the neo-reformed movement. My husband is in it. Many of my friends are in it (and many are also in the missional/emerging movement).
I am unsure if the disscussion is ultimately helpful, and I admit I feel a bit defensive. I suppose that to put it bluntly, I wish for people to understand that one can believe in the tenants of neo-reformed theology and not at all be convinced that there is no room for dialogue, or that any other member of the evangelical community does not belong on the evangelical green as brothers and sisters.
But – Scot has said that he sat on this post for months, and it’s obviously been brought up with a heavy heart. Others on here are expressing their frustration and anger at the wounds that have been inflicted on them by neo-reformed zealots. I understand this pain because I have felt it towards fundamentalists (hence my push-back against having neo-reformed equated with socially conservative fundamentalists).
I think the intent of this discussion is to call out inappropriate, divisive behavior within the church. If that is so, and if it is deserved, then how can someone like myself help? You obviously have a number of readers who are young, theologically educated, and probably neo-reformed. What would you say to people like us? What can we do? What do you ask of us?
I for one can’t stand the exremes that are shown at times by people like Piper or Driscoll, even if I do agree with them theologically. I see it as my purpose to represent all of the things that I believe (in all areas of life) with honesty, love, and grace. Is there something more that is needed in order to help stop the damage being done by the neo-reformed folk that you speak of?



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John C

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:22 pm


I wonder if it isn’t better to name names and then be quite careful and specific in our criticisms (rather than make provocative allegations about an ill-defined other). One can critique ‘The Gospel Coalition’ while acknowledging the sincerity, learning, gifts and godliness of its leading figures. All of us can learn from Piper, Carson, Keller, Dever etc, but still have some serious misgivings about their project as its currently framed and presented.
As I see it the GC people are saying: (1) evangelicalism today is hopelessly broad, (2) it used to be tightly defined around The Gospel, (3) join us as we attempt to turn back the clock.
Now there are several major problems with this:
(a) it simply skates over the diversity of Evangelicalism in the 18th/20th centuries. There’s just no acknowledgement that Wesleyan Methodism and Pentecostalism have been two of the greatest (perhaps the two greatest!) driving forces within the Evangelical movement over the past two centuries.
(b) by framing a Statement of Faith that rules out Arminianism, gender egalitarianism and annihilationism, you make it quite clear that you don’t want to form a coalition with people like Wesley, John Stott, FF Bruce, Gordon Fee and many many others who fail your test at one of these points (now presented as new fundamentals).
(c) by branding your group ‘The Gospel Coalition’ rather than ‘the Reformed Coalition’ you inevitably give the impression that other self-styled Evangelicals aren’t really centred on The Gospel. Sometimes that is explicitly stated, and it’s certainly implied.



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John W Frye

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm


Brian (#48),
Did I mention Piper in my comment #34? No. So you jumped to a wrong conclusion.
“Utter nonsense??” Have you been reading the comments here, my friend?



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jon marq

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:38 pm


Scot wrote: When this is over, we want to be with such folks on the Village Green and sit down over coffee as friends in Christ.
I agree in principle. But I wonder if the tone of these posts “against” neo-Reformers — not to mention the comments — is conducive to authentic christian friendship. “Can two walk together unless they agree to do so?”
Perhaps I misunderstood something but it seems like anyone and everyone are welcome at the evangelical coffee table — except the neo-Reformed.
A bitter-sweet irony.
“For neither [neo-Reformed] counts for anything, nor [non-Reformed], but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”



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RJS

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:52 pm


Scot,
You asked several questions.
Starting with a division — I think the history of protestantism in the US over the last 100-150 years is appalling. We chew up our young and spit them out; not so much at the average Christian or local church level, but at the leadership level. What we see today is nothing new – it is a replay of the past and likely doomed to cause much pain and suffering in the church.
I think there’s room in the tent for us all – but if there are those who are intent on defining a reduced set, they will.
Its not Theology I don’t think that there is a theme in theology that is specifically divisive – I think that there is an attitude that is destructive. Perhaps bringing a little Galatians 5 into the mix would help. We are never justified when we devour each other and when we fail to exhibit the fruit of the spirit. One can be “right” theologically – and still dead wrong.



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Travis Greene

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm


jon marq,
Of course they’re welcome at the coffee table, as long as (as Kacie puts it), they “can believe in the tenants of neo-reformed theology and not at all be convinced that there is no room for dialogue, or that any other member of the evangelical community does not belong on the evangelical green as brothers and sisters.”



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Brian McLaughlin

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm


John (55) – you did not mention Piper. I brought him up as one who is often considered in this NeoReformed group.
But I still hold to my conclusion because what I think is “utter nonsense” is not that there are people in this group who want to exclude. I acknowledge this and it frustrates me, as I mentioned. But what is “utter nonsense” is your claim about their “only ministry is to denounce…” Really? These people aren’t passionate about Christ? They aren’t serving their communities? They aren’t being used as a sign, foretaste, and instruments of the kingdom of God? I cannot think of one neo-Reformer whose only ministry is to denounce.
Your words in your previous post display the same condemning, divisive attitude that you are accusing the neo-Reformed of doing.



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Randy

posted February 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm


The Pharisees have returned, as they always do, and they will try to crucify the Christ when He comes…for He will show grace to the weak, those who can’t understand, those who simply trust…
And some will hear the words–Get away from me, I never knew you– I hope I am not one of them.



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E.G.

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm


Oftentime, when talking to my Piper-influenced acquaintances, I get the same feeling that my wife and I did when once we visited a particular church that believed that you had to be immersed in their baptismal tank to be saved.
After our visit, one of our hosts – a seemingly prominent man from the congregation and his wife – took us out to dinner. After dinner, as my wife and I drove home, she said “well, I think that they are Christians, but I’m not so sure that they think that we are – it will be fun to surprise them some day in heaven.”
Anyhow, along with our generous Sunday-dinner hosts, I’m also looking forward to saying “boo” to a few of these folks too.



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Stephen

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm


It’s funny. The negative characteristics you ascribe to the NeoReformed nicely describes what I experienced growing up in pietistic Wesleyan churches strongly influenced by the revivalism of Finney, etc. It’s only as a convert (for lack of a better word) to the Reformed faith as expressed in its historic confessions (not by TULIP) that I’ve had the categories to celebrate and interact with the holy catholic church we confess in the Creed. I have books by Tom Wright and John Piper on my bookshelf, but I happen to think that Piper is right on justification sola fide sola gratia. Does that make me one of the intolerant NeoReformed? I think you may be overreacting. Grace and peace to you.



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Rebeccat

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm


Well, as a biblical universalist on salvation, I can say that what Scot has described here represents the reception I recieve from both Calvinists and Arminians – neo or otherwise. I can provide reams of evidence and explanation, but it’s roundly ignored and condemned without examination, as am I and my faith (which otherwise fits precisely into the 4 hallmarks of evangelism which Travis quotes above). But my point isn’t to complain and bash people; I just want to make the point that we all have a hard time dealing gracefully with those whose views we find to be not only wrong, but dangerous. (Heck, I know universalists who believe that the teaching of eternal hell is demonic and that those who preach it are satan’s minions!)
I think it is appropriate to reprove those whose actions vear into being unloving. However, I also think that often about all we can do is trust that God can handle the whole thing. For whatever reason, God seems to have seen fit to have allowed what from our perspective is a mess to have evolved. Like the Father in the story of the prodigal son, God will still allow His children to take their portion of the inheritance and wander off to misuse it. Sometimes when we get too deep into worrying about all the ways that others are off track, it can be like if the older brother had followed the prodigal around telling him, “you’re messing up!” It’s pointless.
For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth which an issue like this can cause and as much as some of us really are called to be prophets and stand up for what is right, just and loving, in the end God is in control. He will work all things out for His good purposes. He will render His judgements which will set all things to rights. As appalling as some of the neo-reformed are to me, I think that often the best response is to simply do what work God has assigned you to do and speak to truth He has given you to speak without worrying too much about those who find the work and words you’ve been given objectionable.



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Rick

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm


Of course they’re welcome at the coffee table, as long as (as Kacie puts it), they “can believe in the tenants of neo-reformed theology and not at all be convinced that there is no room for dialogue, or that any other member of the evangelical community does not belong on the evangelical green as brothers and sisters.”
With that in mind, I think Driscoll would not have a problem joining others on the green.
In regards to Tim Keller (a member of the Gospel Coalition), here is how he sees the Gospel:
“Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever.”
His full description can be found here:
http://www.ctlibrary.com/le/2008/spring/9.74.html



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Tim

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm


Scot -
As an Arminian I have to say I think I may actually be one of your ‘neo-reformed’ (since I think Wright misses the boat on justification…). Secondly, who do you have in mind here? Driscoll? Tim Keller? D.A. Carson? John Piper? Matt Chandler? Josh Harris?
None of those men fit with the characteristics you have described. I have learned a great deal from all of them, and although none are perfect, I can say that even if you don’t have these men in mind you have publicly thrown shots at them in a way that will not promote conversation.
Religious Zealots? That is insulting and without clearly defining where your shot is aimed, may I suggest you not fire because there will be innocent people hit, something I cannot imagine would honor Jesus, even if your critique is a needed one for many young Calvinists.



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Hanery

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:29 pm


Stephen@63;
I don’t think any of us here say that if you are reformed, read Piper (or anyone else for that matter) that you are ‘neo-reformed’ or an intolerant Calvinist imperialist. What is the point, and I can FULLY relate to it from personal experience, is the divisive nature of the neo-reformed movement, and the tendency to restrict Christianity to equate to reformed theology.
For a remarkably similar discussion on this see Mike Bird’s comments here:
http://euangelizomai.blogspot.com/2008/12/evangelicals-and-reformed.html
Mike is a Reformed Calvinist by the way, in case you think its only us non-reformed people worrying about this.



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Matthew Cisneros

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:33 pm


I think this post might have been more helpful if it had attacked the destructive attitude that leads people to want to exclude others from the village green rather than attacking a particular tradition. I think this attitude can be found in other traditions as well and attaching it to one seems to muddy the water more than it does to bring clarity to a serious heart issue.



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Jason

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm


For what it’s worth, we should probably avoid the name calling. Look what happens. Everybody’s all worked up in the blogosphere. I happen to think you have a strong point, though–even if a bit overstated. Hopefully some in the Reformed camp (I’ll avoid calling them anything more than that) might get the message and reconsider a few things.



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Terry

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm


Scot, I find it interesting that, at least in my observation, this trend is not simply limited to a neoReformed flavor. The tradition of which I am a part — which is definitely NOT Reformed — is increasingly throwing everyone who is not with them on a variety of topics out of the lifeboat and under the bus. Topics are broad, and getting broader: Dispensational eschatology, anti-Emerging, penal substitutionary atonement, anti-recent Bible translations, Eucharistic theology, anti-Catholic, specifically defined inerrancy, literal Genesis, verse by verse sermons, etc. There is only one right answer, and we have it. It is not open to discussion.
Distinctives that identify us can have merit. Distinctives that make every other believer not completely aligned suspect, or worse, are not limited to the one group. Sometimes I think we would do better to mend some fences, rather than build even more walls.
It was good to meet you last week. Thanks for sharing your time.



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Eric

posted February 18, 2009 at 2:09 pm


To the reformed folks, here is something I would like to understand: Suppose that you and I agree on our mission as Christians. Also suppose that we disagree on certain doctrinal points — in particular, I tend to agree with Tom Wright on a lot of things, particularly where he disagrees with people like Carson and Piper. I would include you in my mission, and in my church, and I would not question your orthodoxy.
Would you participate in mission with me? Would you allow me to be a member of your church? If not, why not?
I ask these questions with all sincerity, trying to understand the disconnect a little better.



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Rachel H. Evans

posted February 18, 2009 at 2:12 pm


I’m sooooo glad that we’re talking about this.
Neo-Calvinism so permeate my nondenominational Christian college that while I was there, I was told by my fellow students that questioning certain aspects of Reformed Theology was the same as questioning God Himself. I nearly gave up my faith because the doctrine of double predestination troubled me so deeply, and I was under the impression that all evangelicals HAD to believe it in order to be faithful followers of Christ.
Of course, I’ve changed my mind since then. But if hadn’t been for Clark Pinnock and others, I might have just given up.
On the one hand, I do sense a division coming. This sounds jaded and cynical, but I really don’t mind if there is. I’ve grown weary of Calvinists attacking the sincerity of my faith and calling me names just because I believe in free will and support women in ministry.
On the other hand, I found Phyllis Tickle’s observations in “The Great Emergence” to be pretty interesting. I wonder if the Neo-Calvinists are just retreating to their ideological corner, while the vast majority of us will eventually wind up somewhere near the center.
Scot, thanks so much for talking about this. I think some of us are getting some free therapy out of it! :)



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Mason

posted February 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm


I might be off base here, but I think one of the big reasons that the Neo-Reformed movement gets so worked up about N.T. Wright is because he is a different type of threat to their theological distinctives.
I say this because, in recent years, those who have challenged the Reformed understanding of justification and the like have typically fallen into one of two camps; either theologians who are overall quite liberal in their interpretation and also disagree with central tenants of orthodoxy, or Arminians.
The threat (from a Neo-Reformed perspective) is that Wright is neither. He?s not liberal, in fact one would be hard pressed to find more articulate and historically grounded defenses of the resurrection, the atonement, the authority of Scripture, etc then those Wright has put out.
Wright is also not Arminian, quite the opposite in fact. The ironic thing about this is that he is often seen as ?too Reformed? by those on the other side of the fence.
Since Wright does not fit their standard set of counter-arguments, but is still challenging certain defining doctrines for them, you see a oddly hostile response.
In part because I think there is the fear that he will more easily appeal to those within the movement itself who are not predisposed to dismiss him as liberal or Arminian, and in part because they simply don?t know what to do with him. As a result most of the Neo-Reformed attacks on Wright sound like they are arguing with liberalism or Arminianism, and by and large miss the point of what he is actually getting at.



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Kevin D. Johnson

posted February 18, 2009 at 2:24 pm


http://www.prophezei.com
I may write about this more at my blog, but here’s what I have to say after post #2:
Yaaaaaaawwwwwnnnn…..
All this debating about who is or is not part of the “village green” of the evangelical world is just as egocentric and partisan as talking about who is really Reformed.
Why not rather start working with the reality of the matter? The fact is that if we are members of the Body of Christ in this world we are all one. We are all part of the Church and the “village” if there is one is worldwide and includes all who name the name of Christ as Lord.
What a blessing it would be if denominational and theologically-inspired partisan movements had a lessening influence among us (within the framework of biblical orthodoxy of course)–but to do this we must be ready to deep six an “evangelical identity” as much as the Reformed or others do away with their own pride of place. This is not to say we cannot value these traditions and their contributions but we must speak more fundamentally here in terms of who we are as Christians.
I personally don’t believe the right response to the name-calling of those who are “Truly Reformed”/”NeoReformed”/Whatever is to do your own name-calling. What, really, does that accomplish?
Rather, we should be taking dramatic and decisive steps toward being the covenant communities that God has called us to be TOGETHER recognizing that there is only “one holy catholic and apostolic church” on this planet if we speak to the actual reality of the matter. Perhaps one reason we have little in the way of men coming to Christ in any meaningful sense in America is exactly because the lost man can see the utter hypocrisy present in pretending that we have our act together and those other “Christians” don’t.



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Rachel H. Evans

posted February 18, 2009 at 2:43 pm


Mason – Great thoughts on NT Wright. I agree.



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Travis Greene

posted February 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm


“Perhaps one reason we have little in the way of men coming to Christ in any meaningful sense in America is exactly because the lost man can see the utter hypocrisy present in pretending that we have our act together and those other “Christians” don’t.”
Oh, I doubt they pay much attention to our intramural squabbling at this point.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2009 at 3:26 pm


Steve,
Well, I’m sorry for the comments that you think have strayed beyond. But I have made it very, very clear that I’m not talking about Calvinism per se or the Reformed per se, but a kind of Reformed that has arisen within the last ten years or so … and there are many who recognize immediately about whom I’m speaking.
I said in my first post that Calvinists and Reformed have always been in the big tent and welcomed on the village green. And they tolerated and enjoyed at times the presence of others. So, I don’t know how many ways I can say this. I’m talking about a narrower group and I’d appreciate that I’d be taken at my word that I’m not talking about Presbyterians or the Reformed or Westminster or Calvinists in general.
And I’d appreciate it if we would do our best to avoid sweeping statements that include anyone remotely Reformed.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2009 at 3:28 pm


What irony … I just saw a Google Ad on this page that was for Calvin Seminary. Love it.



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Aaron

posted February 18, 2009 at 4:00 pm


#30
Justin Taylors Response:
“And if you are NeoReformed/Fundamentalists, then you believe that the only true evangelicals are those that believe in double predestination and you have a win-at-all-costs mentality that seeks to demonize your opponents! This simply doesn’t follow. John Piper, Don Carson, Al Mohler, David Wells, etc. certainly don’t think this sort of thing. Even if you disagree with their theology and their methodology, McKnight’s description is still a pretty stunning caricature. None of them believes that if you reject double predestination that you are not an evangelical and must be kicked off the village green. Some marginal folks believe this, but not these men.”
I really hope your right Justin!



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Sacred Frenzy

posted February 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm


“and there are many who recognize immediately about whom I’m speaking.”
And there are many others who do not. It is fair, I think, to ask if those about whom you are speaking identify themselves as Neo-Reformed?



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Ben Wheaton

posted February 18, 2009 at 4:27 pm


Question: Is anyone who questions N.T. Wright and is troubled by his version of justification thereby a “neo-reformed” zealot? Many of the comments here seem to interpret all opposition to Wright as heresy.



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Hunter Beaumont

posted February 18, 2009 at 5:02 pm


Scot,
When D.A. Carson wrote “Becoming Conversant with Emergent,” it appeared that he was primarily critiquing Brian McLaren, and yet he tried to go beyond McLaren and critique an entire category of people. Many people felt misunderstood and misrepresented in the critique. In hindsight, it might have been better if Dr. Carson had just written a book directly critiquing Brian McLaren. This would have avoided lots of unnecessary confusion and acrimony.
I fear the same thing is happening here. There are many of us who found your blurb on N.T. Wright’s book unsettling. As soon as I read it, I though, “Oh no, everyone who agrees with a more traditionally Protestant view of justification is going to get labeled as a religious zealot.” I know that was not your intent, as you stated clearly above. Nevertheless, I still feel attacked, at least like a shotgun has gone off and some of the spray has hit me.
I do believe that the traditional Protestant view of justification is important. I am a complementarian and think it’s an important issue of biblical fidelity. I am Calvinstic in my soteriology. And yet, I’m happy to learn from other evangelicals (like yourself) who don’t share these beliefs. And I’m glad to hang out with them on the village green. And yet, I feel that if the cause you’re campaigning for here gains steam, then I am going to be labeled as a religious zealot and fundamentalist by your followers.
So here is my plea: Name names and critique them directly, citing their work and words. But the attempt at broad categorization and not-so-subtle hints is going to do more damage than good. Lots of Reformed folk are going to feel misrepresented and misunderstood, and are going to have to defend misapplied attacks on their ministries because you’ve shot a shotgun instead of a bullet.



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Sung

posted February 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm


I agree with this. I think the reason why the younger generation has an appeal to the reformed or calvinist perspectives is because they have a desire for a more structured understanding of what they believe. when it comes to a systematic theology, reformed is probably the first one they’ll come across.
I think once they recognize this characteristic, it also appeals to the fact that the reformed view is counter-cultural, almost non-comformist, or “punk”, in comparison to what the younger generation has interpreted as modern evangelicalism. reformed becomes “different”. for younger people, this sort of characteristic is valued.
i sometimes wonder how many of these younger individuals would react if the majority of evangelicals became reformed overnight. sorry call me a cynic :(



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Scott Eaton

posted February 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm


After reading all of these comments I’m leaving the village green and going to the village tavern to enjoy a quality pint. Anyone want to join me? All are welcome. :-)



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Peggy

posted February 18, 2009 at 5:16 pm


Perhaps we can all just take a deep breath and ask the Spirit to search our own hearts, to “see if there is any wicked way in me”….
When Jesus said one of his disciples would betray him, Judas knew who he was talking about, but the rest of them asked, “Lord, is it I?” …so I think we all could spend a moment with that thought and consider how we might be more welcoming and gracious toward each other.
Sometimes I wonder whether the Body of Christ has contracted an autoimmune disorder….
Christ have mercy.



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james wheeler

posted February 18, 2009 at 5:41 pm


I was just out with a friend for coffee and we started talking about the good old days–just a few years back when more conservative-ish evangelical scholars and pastors were enraged by free will theism thinkers like Pinnock, Sander, Boyd etc. It made me nostalgic for the hate of the evangelical hatred and intolerance of the mid-90′s.
During these debates about Free Will theism the question was: are free will theists still Evangelicals or have they moved outside the camp?
My question is this: Is there a spiritual problem when a religious group is prone to hand wringing and obsession about doctrinal purity? Is there something fundamentally amiss when we demonize one another over secondary theological issues? For all the posturing about theological integrity i wonder if some Evangelicals are producing a judgmental gospel which empowers a scapegoating mechanism?



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Tom

posted February 18, 2009 at 6:11 pm


The ‘Reformers’ terminology was hijacked roughly four hundred years ago by those who decided to ‘reform’ outside the Catholic Church. There were plenty who remained inside the Church who were ‘reformers’ in the strictest sense of the word, perhaps even more so than the esteemed figureheads of Luther and Calvin.
The same can be said for ‘Evangelicals’, or the ‘Church of Christ’ or the ‘Church of the Twelve Apostles’. Catholics can be just as ‘Evangelical’ even though they differentiate between evangelization and proselityzation; nor would we remain Catholic if we thought we weren’t in the ‘Church of Christ’ or the ‘Church of the Twelve Apostles’.
My point is not to wage war with fellow Christians as many Evangelicals are some of our closest allies in the culture wars, and I hope they remain so. But these semantic word games are trivial at best. If it is wrong to re-define the parameters of religious terminology at this day and age, then perhaps it was wrong lo the past four hundred (maybe five if anabaptists are included) years. Your just getting a wiff of what Catholics have been smelling for all these centuries, Scott.



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Rebeccat

posted February 18, 2009 at 6:34 pm


Tom, there was a church for quite a few centuries before the Roman Catholic Church became “the church”. (And it believed many things that both protestants and catholics would deem heretical today, fwiw.) If you would like to make an argument for the Roman Catholic Church being the “real” church, then you will need to address the historical reality that this was not the case for many centuries after the death of Christ. Otherwise, it is hard to take such claims very seriously.



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Eric

posted February 18, 2009 at 6:44 pm


Ben (#80),
You say “Many of the comments here seem to interpret all opposition to Wright as heresy.” Which comments are you specifically referring to?
People above who agree with Wright (myself included) generally have said folks should stop demonizing him — not that you have to agree with him to be orthodox. In fact, my post above said exactly the opposite — i.e., that I accept people who disagree with him as orthodox Christians, even though I may disagree with them.



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Eric

posted February 18, 2009 at 6:49 pm


Tom and Rebeccat,
As a protestant, I can admit that many protestants have unfairly demonized Catholics in many of the same ways you are seeing protestants demonized each other today (you also see demonization of protestants by some Catholics, although perhaps not quite as much). If that is Tom’s point, I wholeheartedly agree. I want our Catholic brothers and sisters on the same “village green” as protestants.



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Mike Mangold

posted February 18, 2009 at 7:34 pm


Man, all of this is giving me a headache. Now I find out that Wheaton is modernistic and “demonic”? I’m not sure I can add anything new to the conversation but I have a couple of points:
1. Anyone who attends events for youths has seen this shift coming for a long time, probably the last 10 years Scot talks about;
2.How much of this is a political (instead of a religious) reaction? There is nothing more dangerous than someone or some group losing power.
3. Does this mean I shouldn’t attend events at Wheaton?
4. I agree, we should all go to the Village Tavern and have a beer: I’m for a Guiness these days.
I’m just so glad that God loves us all, no matter how vitriolic our speech.



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BeckyR

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:22 pm


Wow, 90 whole comments and not one use of the word homosexual.
The problem isn’t with what they believe, the problem is the insecurity that comes out as anger. If it wasn’t calvinism, the anger would be directed somewhere else.



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Chris

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:32 pm


Just one point on the SBC/evangelical link echoing early comments.
I don’t know if the overwhelmingly majority of Southern Baptists ever desired to be called evangelical, but since Billy Graham, who was as close to an evangelical spokesperson as we every got, was and is a Southern Baptist, I think the ties have always been pretty close. Perhaps not between the SBC seminaries and the evangelical movement, but at least between SBC churches and the movement.



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Tyler

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm


C’mon Scot – just name some names so we’re all clear who you’re talking about – while we know you’re not blasting the Westminster and Reformed persons period, who are you thinking about? Actual authors/significant pastors or just the legions of jackboot calvinist bloggers like; I don’t know, this guy: http://www.youtube.com/user/AndrewcBain
Any help clearing this up would be appreciated.
PS: So we’re clear, I’m not trying to cause a fight, I’m a big fan of the village green, Noll, Packer, Wright, etc. Forgive me for flaunting my non-neoreformed credentials here, but I don’t want to be mistaken for one of these religious zealots you speak of.



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Dan

posted February 18, 2009 at 8:38 pm


I’m amazed at how the “center of orthodoxy” has shifted over the years — both directions at the same time!



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ChrisE

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:22 pm


BeckyR #91
That’s just brainless commentary. On what planet are comments like that helpful?
homosexual



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Tom

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:37 pm


Rebeccat, if you’re refering to Gnosticism, then yes, strains of this were in existence before Christ was born. And no, the argument of the Roman Catholic Church being the “true” church is not my intention. Scott was upset about NeoReformers attempting to set the tone for reform orthodoxy and I was clarifying that the original ‘Reformers’ set that tone long before the ‘NeoReformers’ of today. He could have taken them to task for this as well as the other parallel examples I proposed.



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Black Hat

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:38 pm


Well said.
But its easy to fall into a mirror like trap where we are Pharasees and see ourselves as defenders of the true (Anabaptist-Arminianish?) faith.
We must keep in mind Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 and that our battles are not against flesh and blood.
Greg Boyd’s book, “The Myth of a Christian Nation” talks about “power over” versus “power under.”
Grab your towels, its time to wash some Neo-Reformed feet!!
:-}
Maranatha



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ChrisEq

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm


Becky-
Unless you were trying to be funny, in which case, to homosexual, I’d add anything to do with women in ministry.
Peace



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Tim F

posted February 18, 2009 at 9:53 pm


What I have found to be most disconcerting in my interactions with some who might be called neo-reformed is the lack of any humility in how they hold to their positions. To be absolutely certain about absolutely everything, and to express disdain for those who have arrived at different conclusions does nothing to contribute to the body, the kingdom or the mission.
I attended a conference 2 years ago now at which the platform personalities responded to submitted questions. My question was read aloud, and I asked, “Is it possible that you are wrong on any of the positions you hold?” The response was laughter and mild protests, but none of the men on that platform could offer an example of a current position they held with any uncertainty, or an example of something they had previously been convinced of, but about which they now thought differently.
When anyone thinks they have everything all figured out, it can easily lead to arrogance and treating others with condescension. These attitudes are destructive as well.



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tjc

posted February 18, 2009 at 11:25 pm


Wow! I think I’ll be comment 100 or so!
Scot, think you’ve touched a nerve here? I follow the blog fairly regularly, and generally enjoy the interaction that happens here.
To return to what I think is the spirit of your original post, I couldn’t agree more. There are specific individuals/friends I know who fall into the neo-Reformed camp, and the arrogance can be quite strong.
Quick side note – I think neo-Reformed is linked very much to fundamentalist roots, evidenced in the rise of neo-Reformed within the SBC. Like I think others have said, the neo-Fundamentalists have only latched on to certain elements of Reformed theology – ones that support the theological tenets that are precious to them. I have thought it odd that folks from a baptistic background (stressing personal salvation, need for a ‘decisive’ salvation moment, adult baptism) would adopt so much (but only ‘so much’) of the Reformed theology which leans heavily on covenantal theology. End side note.
However, to return to the reason for the comment, as much as the arrogance of certain people from the neo-Reformed side (of the green) is disheartening, I’ve been equally discouraged by the arrogance of some from other parts of the green. In this, I’m not really talking much about the scholastic discussions (frankly, I think Piper and Wright’s discussions are carried on in a fairly gracious manner). Rather, it is those who hang on every word that either of them might say that tend to take the conversation into dogmatic unhelpful places.
Really, the place I’ve been most saddened by it is by folks in the emergent movement. Again, not so much by those framing the discussion, but those who enter into it with little or no knowledge of the issues at hand. Half-cocked so to speak, and yet speak with disdain about the dreaded “fundamentalists, conservatives, inerrantists, etc…” who just haven’t seen the light.
I often play devil’s advocate at this point (I haven’t really reflected too much on it, but I’m probably situated squarely in the emergent fold), and remind them that as evangelicals (however one wants to define that) we stand on the shoulders of our fundamentalist fore fathers. They fought a necessary fight at the time and I personally am grateful that they had to courage and perseverance to do so. I wouldn’t agree with everything they might espouse, and certainly don’t fancy myself a neo-fundamentalist of any kind. But that doesn’t keep me from acknowledging that they have made valuable contributions to the Kingdom in their time and place.
I think we can all agree that arrogance, no matter where it rears its head on the green, is never helpful. My own included. And what is needed is for much more grace to be extended all the way around.



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www.atone.me

posted February 19, 2009 at 2:12 am


I’m still trying to figure out who all these “neo-reformed” folks are that are supposedly camped out on the village green. And I’m also wondering how they have gained so much power in Scot’s eyes to be able to push the majority of Christians off of it, given that they are such a small minority.
If it’s a Piper or Carson that we are talking about, then Scot’s assessments are simply wrong – as they in no way describe the character and actions of these men or (generally speaking) of the people who serve under them. In fact, I’ve witnessed a renewed resurgence over the last five years among Calvinists such as Piper, Driscoll, Keller, Carson, Mahaney, etc., who have bent over backwards to explain that a perfect adherence to TULIP is not required for salvation – only faith in Jesus Christ. Could it be that Scot is letting theological disagreement be misconstrued for something sinister?
Sadly, Scot has cast a pretty wide net, and given that he isn’t telling us about any of the fish that are in it, while heaping scorn on these condemned heretics who “preach another gospel” (for that is the inevitable conclusion of his rhetoric), we are left to wonder who it was that has him so offended to go to such lengths to spill so much ink. I guess maybe we’ll learn more part III, but until then, he shouldn’t expect anyone to take him all that seriously.
Brad



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Gunner

posted February 19, 2009 at 3:01 am


Hi Scot,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns. I’ve noticed many asking that you identify some of the individuals or groups you’re talking about (besides the label “neo-Reformed”). If you choose not to do so, would you mind at least explaining why? It seems clear that doing one or the other would bring a lot of clarity and give some helpful direction to the discussion. There are certainly good reasons for not naming names sometimes, but no one knows what your reasons are right now. Thanks for your consideration.
Gunner



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Scott M

posted February 19, 2009 at 8:41 am


I lose track of these arguments and distinctions and tend to stay out of them. I did spend some time trying to understand the terms and theologies involved back in the past as I explored and tried to understand the story of this Christian faith I found myself within.
One thing I’ve noticed that’s always been odd to me is that people seem to refer to a Calvinistic brand of theology as ‘reformed’ and essentially everything else as ‘arminian’. That’s really not true. Arminius held to a variation of ‘Reformed’ theology that differed with Calvin on a few points, but was pretty similar in other ways. While I’m a zero point calvinist, I could only agree with Arminius on perhaps a couple of his points, and then only if I squinted and looked sideways. Notably to my mind, both Calvin and Arminius held to the doctrine of total depravity. Their specific theologies are just variations of the Reformed theme and are more similar to each other and dissimilar to the majority of Christian theologies and perspectives.
I don’t really have any thoughts on the ‘neoreformed’ issue specifically. I tend to not hang out anywhere that they hang out in great numbers and I certainly don’t seek out or listen to any of the leaders of this movement. Perhaps it should, but it doesn’t really bother me if they want to take their toys and go play by themselves.



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Bob

posted February 19, 2009 at 8:43 am


I hang out with some of these NR folks, having retreated from the specific theological particulars some years back, yet remaining happily, but contrarily, within the same church and community. I, personally, would draw a larger circle around this group than merely those who “have not learned that grace makes people gracious”, for every clique can tend to have some members of that description.
My largest concern, and the way that I would characterize NR folks, is that the definition of the term “gospel” has become the center of the turf war, and the primary measure of who is “in”. I’ve heard the “together for the gospel” conference referred to as “together for Calvinism”, which is both funny and revealing, for it is rather accurate in suggesting the marriage of “gospel” and “Calvinism”. My NR friends seem to espouse a particular reformed soteriological perspective as the gospel. Without denying the wider church’s understanding of this term, it seems that the essential definition of the gospel for NR thinkers, in reduced form, cannot be separated from the distinctives of Calvinism.
The gospel is essential, but if the articulation of the gospel is overly narrow or distorted, it is, it seems, no longer the gospel. “Another gospel!” is an accusation often heard from this camp. If this is truly believed, then their reaction is reasonable, but very sad. Can we kindly hold up a mirror to our brothers and help them see that errors of this sort *might* be informing their thinking and their posturing? I hope so!



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Larry

posted February 19, 2009 at 8:59 am


Scot,
Do you see a parallel between the neoReformed as you describe them and some of the egalitarians? It seems to me that there are many egalitarians who are as fervent in their position (and frequently quite negative towards complementarians) as the neoReformed are.
Often the egalitarians (both here in the comments on your blog as well as elsewhere) are very vocal and make some serious charges against complementarians.
I wonder if the same comments you make about the neoReformed could or should also be made about the egalitarians?
Larry



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Larry

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:05 am


Addendum: I should clarify my last sentence by adding “some” so that it reads, “I wonder if the same comments you make about the neoReformed could or should also be made about some egalitarians?



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ryan

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:30 am


TimF
I am confused. Hunter gives a very eloquent, gracious and humble comment but instead of anyone acknowledging it or interacting the strawmen attacks just continue.
I would just ask all those who are arguing from ancedote that for ever time you have met a mean, intolerant, arrogant, certain, Calvinist; there has been a reformed person who has had an interaction with an emergent person who was snobbish, judgmental, arrogant, and certain. Now where does that get us? Really? We have to move past this kind of conversation if we are to actually have a meaningful one.
And Becky if you are comfortable with attributing someones theological beliefs (Calvinism) to having an anger problem than I would really encourage you to rethink that notion. Talk about disdain for fellow Christians and wanting to kick them off the Village Green.



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joanne

posted February 19, 2009 at 9:58 am


I think getting ideological about theology of any brand can be dangerous. It is more about one’s attitude and self-concept and maturity around theology than the theology itself.
I am not a fan of neo-reformed or neo-calvinists views. (i love NT Wright and can’t abide the strict complimentarian tendency in neo-reformed perspectives) However, i am more opposed to their way of being around their views. (i especially don’t like it when i am told that i am not a christian because i am a pastor and a woman).
When i say ideological, it is theology with an OCD (obsessive) component in which anyone and everyone must be converted. It is a way of being that is very anxious and full of fear and condemning. That is primarily what if find objectionable and difficult.
I have also known such types who will attend a church that is more middle way theologically…and embraces women fully and create all sorts of division and ideological havoc. I don’t get why they would evangelize within a church when the theological boundaries are stated up front?



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Rick Phillips

posted February 19, 2009 at 11:18 am


The critics of N. T. Wright are not insisting that evangelicals believe in double predestination, but rather justification through faith alone. It is this doctrine, sola fide, that has held the Reformed together with Arminian/Wesleyan evangelicals. We think, for instance, of the fervor with which John Wesley himself preached justification through faith alone. Were Wesley not devoted to sola fide, the union of Reformed and Arminian/Wesleyans in evangelicalism could never have been possible. This happens to be the very point at which the New Perspective on Paul and N. T. Wright are demanding revision. This is why Wright is seen as “the problem,” because the Reformed disagree with him on justification and justification is what has joined Reformed and Arminians in evangelicalism. So, contrary to your assertions, the Reformed critics of Wright are not demanding that evangelicals be Reformed (I know not one Reformed critic of NTW, and I am one of them, who takes the position you ascribe to them). Rather NTW critics like John Piper are simply insisting on the key doctrine that has historically joined Arminians and Calvinists together in evangelicalism: justification through faith alone. I suppose it would be nice if we Reformed could take credit for sola fide, but we cannot. Behind evangelicalism stands Reformation Protestantism, and at the core of Reformation Protestantism are sola scriptura and sola fide. So, yes, the Reformed believe that any meaningful union of evangelicalism must include sola scriptura and sola fide. But that is hardly us insisting on Calvinism.



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Jaltus

posted February 19, 2009 at 11:27 am


I have run into my fair share of neo-Reformed people. I also attended a certain seminary in the northern Chicago burbs. As an Arminian (Molinist, and closely adhering to Arminius and Wesley rather than Finney), I had nearly all positive reactions. However, I was told on at least two occasions that I was not saved by various Calvinists (once was a group another occurrence was an individual).
However, none of the professors felt that way, and in fact went out of their way to make the gospel as broad as possible. While I feel there is less charity from Piper (see his comments on serving on staff with an Arminian or even being in the same denomination) and no charity from White, I think Dr. McKnight has done a wonderful job in framing this discussion. He is not naming names because it is not his place, nor is he accusing anyone (as far as I can see).
At the same time, I do find it ironic that Dr. McKnight would make such comments about neo-Calvinists and not even notice that the same thing happens with respect to his beloved egalitarians on this very blog.
Those who are Emerging/ent hold up their own little list of additions to the gospel, so be careful in critiquing when the same can be said of you. And for the record, I am certain that I have some incorrect additions to my own definition of the gospel, I just have not figured out what they are yet.
In order to spend time on the green, we need to be able to embrace one another. It is hard to hug when you are carrying so much baggage.



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Travis Greene

posted February 19, 2009 at 11:55 am


Rick Phillips @ 109,
Though we probably disagree on a lot (I’m a fan of NT Wright and the NPP), your comment is perceptive, wise, and gracious, while being firm in your convictions. You aren’t who we’re talking about here.



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jane

posted February 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm


Wow – what a discussion. Tim F (#99) – I attended a similar conference more than 7 years ago and experienced such a lack of humility it was appalling. Plus, being a woman (whose male pastor had brought her to the conference along with the rest of the staff, male and female), I was treated as ‘invisible’ by the majority of men there. I had an appreciation for what my brothers and sisters of color have felt over the years when they are treated as non-persons.
We can argue theology until we’re blue in the face, but Scot brings up significant concerns with a rising movement that is, I believe, hurting the gospel and groups of people (namely women). Does this approach to the gospel move people closer to Jesus or farther away? Oh, that we would see each person as created in God’s image, love Jesus, and love people into the Kingdom, and love each other as followers of Jesus, and work together to build God’s Kingdom, male and female, people of all ethnic groups, and all socioeconomic levels. It saddens me that seminaries are moving in neo-reformed directions, also.
Joanne, I feel your pain…and I’ve experienced it too. Following God’s call as a woman is not easy, but God’s grace is sufficient.
Shalom.



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Common Loon

posted February 19, 2009 at 6:21 pm


Calvinists and Emergents drive each other crazy, but they both have some valid points from time to time. If we could find a way to de-escalate this family feud within evangelicalism, we’d all be better off.
If anyone is interested, I came up with 5 questions for each group to consider.
http://thecommonloon.blogspot.com/2009/02/fued-rages-on-five-questions-for.html



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David O. Donovan

posted February 19, 2009 at 10:48 pm


Hello Scot, as one who does not have a dog in this fight, I find your position/complaint to be quite ironic. You have backed a man that has introduced a new doctrine of justification, which you have referred to as having “out-Reformed America’s newest religious zealots,” whom you believe are more committed to tradition than the Bible. Those defending the historic Reformed understanding of justification are the ones introducing something “new”?
The guy who is introducing the new doctrine that has never been proposed in the last couple thousand years is not the one who is being divisive, it is those who are believing the same things believed by Christians for, at least, five hundred years?
Who is the one being novel? Who is the one that should be awarded the prefix “Neo”? Who is the one causing folks to choose up sides for a rousing game of “Red Rover” on the village green?
It would seem, Scot, that if you are going to spend so much time and energy in your attempt to bring peace and unity, you should at least come up with a slur that makes sense.



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Ben P.

posted February 19, 2009 at 11:35 pm


I agree with Scot that there are many in the Reformed camp who are patently ungracious in dealing with those who are not reformed. However, I don’t believe ALL in the “Reformed Resurgence” are like this. I think there is a group of “Neo-Reformed” who love Reformed theology and cherish it, but wish to graciously learn from others who are not of our tradition, and welcome them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Indeed, this is what grace is all about. So please don’t place me and others like me in this group. However, I don’t believe being in the “big tent of evangelicalism” means we can’t have strong convictions. Sometimes I feel as if I am only welcomed into “the tent” if I don’t hold my Reformed convictions strongly. I believe we can have strong convictions, and at the same time be radically gracious. I don’t believe painting each other with broad strokes is helpful.



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Gage Browning

posted February 20, 2009 at 10:27 am


Just to be upfront, I admit that I am a Reformed Presbyterian. I feel the angst in your post. I am sincerely sorry that there are those of us in the “Reformed” camp who are arrogant and haughty. Who are we to be arrogant…if we are actual calvinists.
I do like Horton’s analogy of the village green. I also believe that the lines between the green and the chancel have been blurred. And I don’t think it’s just the calvinists who are blurring the lines.
You mentioned that until recently, that Calvinism had not been characteristic of the SBC. Well that is most definitely wrong if you mean since the London Baptist Confession of Faith was written. However you are partially right if you mean within the last 50 years.
The founder of Southwestern in Fort Worth…BH Carroll was a Calvinist. So were William Carey, John Gill, Spurgeon, JL Dagg and J.P. Boyce who founded Southern Baptist Seminary. There are a host of others and my point is not to play a game of “I have 50 calvinists in my tent, vs. your 23″ or anything of the sort. It is only to point out that while many modern day baptists are not calvinists, many are amaraldyan…that doesn’t mean that the SBC was not at one time characterized by being Calvinistic. There were even anabaptist calvinists…who are now the modern day Landmark Baptists.
If we are going to use the village green as our meeting place, then I will meet you there. But let’s not blur the line of membership into the green. It seems to be a green that is dominated by non-calvinists these days. Or shall I call them the “neo-anabaptists” or the “neo-amaraldyans” or the “neo-arminians” or the “neo-socinians”?



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Taylor

posted February 20, 2009 at 12:49 pm


@David O. Donovan #114 No dog to fight? It sure sounds like you’ve got a dog to fight judging by the tone of your comment.



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David O. Donovan

posted February 20, 2009 at 1:48 pm


Taylor, no dog IN the fight [sorry about all caps, I don't know how to italicize in the comment :) ]. I am a confessional Presbyterian who loves my church and enjoys fellowship with Evangelicals. I enjoy the “village green” and am not concerned to define it–I enjoy it for what it is. And, I would agree with Scot that others should not try to turn the village green into something that it is not. So, I don’t have a dog in this fight–this seems to be Scot’s fight. But I don’t think he is approaching things very helpfully.
Those responding to Wright on justification are not attempting to fence off Evangelicalism with Calvinism in general and definitely not “double-predestination” specifically. He originally used the label “neo-Reformed” in the context of the justification debate. Now he is using it to speak of persons who seem to want to create a confession of faith (fence) for Evangelicalism. It seems to me that he is fusing two different issues into one, which seems to be more confusing than helpful.
I also agree with him that there are persons out there that can be jerks. However, I would caution anyone from thinking that “jerkness” is confined to one tradition. There are jerks in every tradition. And here again, Scot seems to be confusing. If he is truly concerned about unity and graciousness, why is he utilizing a pejorative label for those with whom he disagrees? Is that going to foster unity?
It would appear to me that the new doctrine of justification he is advocating is essentially a polarizing issue and will doctrinally create disunity–adding an inflammatory label to those with whom he disagrees is not helpful.
I apologize if my tone came across harsh, I was actually chuckling at the whole situation as I wrote. I find it pretty funny that an individual who has challenged people doctrinally and is calling them a name is upset, pointing fingers and blaming others for stirring up disunity.
But tell me, Taylor, what do you think of Scot’s tone? Do you think he is fostering unity?



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Taylor George

posted February 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm


David, I’m one who has been kicked off the village green by someone who told me, “I don’t see how anyone could be a Christian who doesn’t believe the doctrines of grace” and by that he meant Calvin’s five points. He didn’t just come up with that idea on his own as he’s only been a Christian a few years. He recieved it from an ever growing segment of the reformed crowd.
What Scot is accomplishing here is pulling many of us back from seeking cover outside of evangelicalism. We shouldn’t have to leave just because we’re not Calvinists. So in some ways it is unification of a greater group.



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WGG

posted February 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm


I think we need to recall what distinguishes a ‘reformed’ person from a ‘neo-reformed person’. Doctrinally they can be identical. It is the issue of how they regard those who disagree with them. Thus, you can reject much that NTW has written of justification and still not be a ‘neo-reformed’ person, because you do not consign him to some outer hell. But this means that what is distinctive about ‘neo-reformed’ is their view about the boundaries of the faith. John Piper is publicly in conversation with NTW and although he rejects much of NTW he cannot be regarded as ‘neo-reformed’ because of this. Don Carson rebuked the Sydney Anglicans for the way they conducted the debate about the ordination of women precisely on the issue of showing love in debate. He clearly felt that love had been sadly lacking. So he too, reformed though he is is not ‘neo-reformed’. But as Carson’s critique of the Sydney Anglicans made clear, the harsh judgmentalism of the ‘neo-reformed’ can be paralleled by the harsh judgmentalism of some who are not reformed at all.
Justin Taylor recently (actually it might have been the best part of a year ago) had a posting giving the views of an Arminian colleague of Don Carson called I think Thomas MacCall. It was very enlightening and clearly Justin was happy to promote the posting even though he would have disagreed with elements of it. This is a positive way.
But even though Justin Taylor and Piper and Carson and others who are feted by the neo-reformed are innocent of the charges made by Scot McKnight (SM may not have intended these luminaries anyway), those who do fete them are often not. Certainly in England where I live, in Australia where a close friend lives and if the blog of Scot is to be believed in the US as well, there are an amazing number of confident condemners of those who question the reformed position. Scot is right to raise this pernicious practice as it brings the gospel into disrepute and causes some who love Christ to waver and perhaps even to fall.
There are therefore two proper responses that I can see to the original posting. First, if you have felt rejected by the ‘neo-reformed’ do not worry. Even their champions think they are wrong. Second, if you feel offended by the posting regarding as grossly unfair on the reformed, recognise that there really are some guilty of being ‘neo-reformed’, consider briefly the anguish these cause and seek to defend those on the receiving end of the ‘neo-reformed’ polemic.



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Kurt

posted February 21, 2009 at 12:16 am


Scot,
I appreciate your bold comments. I see the influence that neoreformed have in some of my friends taht are critical of tom wright and also of emerging church writers. They will say, “but what about Piper…he’s a scholar that i trust” or “I hear that Wright is a heretic…we need to stay true to reformed orthodoxy.” I wish this camp of people would be more open minded and at the least, generous in their definitions of orthodoxy and evangelical.



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David O. Donovan

posted February 21, 2009 at 1:13 am


Taylor, let me say that I’m sorry to hear about the strife you’ve experienced, especially given that it is within your family. I used to jokingly refer to persons new to Calvinism as being in the cage-stage: they should be put in a cage and not allowed to speak to anyone.
And I understand that there are persons out there who want to turn the village green into something it is not. The great hall does not need to be turned into one of the side rooms. If anyone should know and maintain this it should be Reformed folk. So as I’ve said, with regards to that issue, I agree with Scot.
The irony in all of this to me is that its as if Evangelicalism has become a victim of its own “sucdess.” Evangelicalism has grown to the influence it has because of theological minimalism. Evangelicalism has attempted to create its identity by engaging in the theological enterprise outside of confessional and ecclesiastical boundaries. Evangelicalism has decried confessional maximalism because it divides instead of unites. As Evangelicalism has grown in influence, it has reproduced its minimalist effect among those involved who are coming from “Reformed” traditions. Historically, to be “Reformed” was to be a theological maximalist who confessed a common interpretation of scripture. As Evangelicalism’s minimalist leaven has mixed with some of these Reformed folks, they have begun to leave their commonly confessed interpretations of scripture behind and are picking and choosing what they believe to be the “essential” doctrines. Because of this minimalist theological enterprise, they are no longer seeking to do theology in their particular confessional and ecclesiastical side rooms and have brought it into the great hall. But their theological minimalism is still much more maximalist than most non-Reformed. This is not to excuse the behavior, but to suggest that in one way, Evangelicalism is dealing with a situation it created for itself.
But, when Scot first employed the term “neo-Reformed” it was not in addressing that issue, it was in response to persons who disagree with Wright’s new doctrine of justification. On that issue, the strife is not coming from Reformed folks trying to make everyone hold to Calvinism or double predestination. The justification debate transcends Calvinism. So it seems inconsistent to lump these two separate issues into one and blame it on Calvinism. I’m not sure I’ve read or heard anyone argue that Wright’s view of justification is wrong because it is not Calvinistic.
Secondly, what exactly is Scot accomplishing? Is he unifying people or exacerbating the division? You should be seeking shelter outside the great hall in your particular side room–in your particular ecclesiastical setting. You say that “in some ways it is unification of a greater group.” What your calling unification seems like polarization from my outside-looking-in perspective. Is the unity one of Calvinists and non-Calvinists together? Or is it that the non-Calvinists are uniting in one part of the village green while the Calvinists are uniting on the other side?
There are two separate issues at hand. With regards to the problems with those who are trying to make Evangelicalism more theologically maximalistic in a fundamentalist understanding of Calvinism, Scot has not brought upon himself–but name calling is not going to unite. The problems because of the justification debate he has brought on himself, and once again, unity is not going to be achieved by name calling. He is not going bring the sides together by acting like the people at whom he is pointing a finger.
Are you reconciled with this other individual with whom you disagreed? If so, was it accomplished because you called him and name? If not, go call him a name and see how that goes. Divisiveness is not averted with pejorative labeling of those with whom you disagree–even if they are wrong and you’re right.



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james wheeler

posted February 22, 2009 at 6:54 pm


i was thinking through this topic over the weekend and wonder if the neo-reformed could be another manifestation of stoicism? It seems, in the most ironic of ways, to require its adherents to follow certain codes and believe certain truths in order to be “in.” It is also highly rationalistic. Just a thought.



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Doug Allen

posted February 23, 2009 at 9:35 am


As a reader and sometime poster here, this conversation reminds me why I do not call myself a Christian and merely a follower of Jesus. Yes, I have been here long enough to be convinced of Scot’s good will, scholarship, and intelligence. Yes, you’re right, I’m in no position to judge most of that, but thinking requires some measure of judgment. And yes, after reading Scot and others here I now know that evangelicals can be gracious, funny, and compassionate. I was not always sure about that before finding this blog. I just finished Scot’s “Catching the Wave or Facing the Tsunami,” some of his best writing in my opinion even though it was a transcribed lecture, I believe.
As to this struggle for the heart of orthodoxy, the rancor, the uncharitable and unJesuslike belief that so many who disagree are consigned to hell … where is Jonathan Swift when we need him? Spending so many hours a week reading this blog has convinced me that the second part of our UU church’s name, the one with which both of our pastors identify, is the only theology which both reflects Jesus’ Abba and undercuts this debate (and most of the others). If universalism and the Jesus creed takes me to hell, I know I’ll have better company there then anywhere else!
Doug



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Common Loon

posted February 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm


In case anyone missed it, I’m still looking for more responses to a few questions in order to de-escalate this evangelical mini-feud with a sort of Emergent-Calvinist peace summit. Scot was kind enough to post his responses on my blog (as have a couple of gracious Calvinists) but I’d to love hear Justin Taylor’s responses. I’ve tried to comment on his BTW post, but he seems to have stopped receiving new comments.
5 Questions for emergent/missional/post-modern Christians
1. Can you name a Calvinist writer/thinker who has written a book you consider to be a helpful and worthwhile read?
2. Can you name a complementarian writer/thinker who you consider to be a faithful follower of Jesus?
3. Can you name a public policy issue on which your views are at odds with the Democratic Party’s general platform?
4. Can you name something you appreciate about either J.I. Packer or John Piper?
5. Can you name something that concerns you about either Brian McLaren or Rob Bell?
Five Questions for Reformed/Calvinist Christians
1. Can you name an Arminian writer/thinker who has written a book that you consider to be a helpful and worthwhile read?
2. Can you name an egalitarian writer/thinker who you consider to be a faithful evangelical Christian?
3. Can you name a public policy issue on which your views are at odds with the Republican Party’s general platform?
4. Can you name something you appreciate about either Dallas Willard or Eugene Peterson?
5. Can you name something that concerns you about either John MacArthur or Mark Driscoll?



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Darren King

posted February 26, 2009 at 11:44 am


Personally, what I think these kinds of problems partly point to, is the outdated nature of a term like “evangelicalism”. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not sure why people feel it necessary, or even helpful, to keep talking about this entity as if it exists. I’m convinced the term no longer represents anything substantial enough to worry about holding it together -conceptually or otherwise. It is a relic like the steam train.
Unless, perhaps, people use it merely as a way to stand in distinction to Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Mainline theology/practice, and perhaps even some threads of emergent thought. But that seems like a silly endeavor. “I’m this because I’m not that!”
And to be totally honest, hearing how the neo-reformed want to hijack this term (evangelicalism), that I already think is virtually meaningless, almost makes me think – let them have it. We are of Christ, not Apollos, Paul, Piper, McLaren, Wright, Graham, etc… Let’s get on with conversation and partnership – and, to use Scot’s term, gospelling, without feeling the need to repaint and repair old, withering fences that for too ling have littered the village green.



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Daniel Ray

posted February 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm


I’m a member of a Southern Baptist church, and I wanted to comment on what you said about the SBC. In my church and all the SBC churchs I’ve been a part of, evangelism has been core to what we do. Every Southern Baptist church I’ve been to strongly emphasizes the importance of missions, and a percentage of the church tithes goes to support Southern Baptist missionaries world wide. We are constantly sending people out on missions, both short term and long, and we understand the value of the Great Commission.
That being said, I’m not sure of the trend of rising Calvinism in the SBC. I’m aware of several leading individuals who are staunchly Calvinist, but that doesn’t necessarily speak of the pastors and the flock in the SBC. I know for myself, I am not Calvinist.



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Pete Cantelon

posted March 4, 2009 at 12:03 am


I was refered to this site from Ken Schenk’s blog Quadrilateral Thoughts where I was reading part one of his review of Tom Wright’s new book Justification which I just started reading.
In terms of the “neo-reformed” you reference -there certainly appears to be a sort of divide opening up within evagelicalism (or perhaps more broadly post-modern Western Christendom) which seems increasingly us and them oriented.
There also appear to be some identifiable leaders in each camp (although I think many would be irritated at the idea of being in a camp at all).
It seems to me too much to consider either perspective so organized that they would have rules of engagement. I would think the reality is more complex.
I wonder if the extremes are another ripple effect of what we are calling post-modernism in the West? Divides are forming not simply within Christendom but all over the place – politics to name one obvious choice. There is an inter-relationship to be sure. I think if one is to label neo-reformed as a somewhat reactive extreme (which I think it is and agree with your point on complimentarianism) then we need to understand that extremes often form as a response to fear.
The question then is – what are those we might label neo-reformed afraid of?



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tomas kindahl

posted March 17, 2009 at 3:13 pm


Oh, I now see why the Southern Baptists behave as they behave.
BTW: it’s in the TULIP doctrine, it will be unavoidable when the system is put under pressure.



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Chris Bowditch

posted April 27, 2010 at 10:41 pm


A thought provoking couple of posts. I would define myself as being a reformed evangelical, but one who feels very uneasy with the attitude of the so called neoreformed, even though I do agree with much of their theology.
I like the village green metaphor, but I’m wondering if there are actually some things that would keep you from the green? How do you determine where you draw the lines or build the gates? I guess I’m probably as equally uncomfortable with having no gates as I am with having the wrong ones!



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Randy in Tulsa

posted February 10, 2011 at 8:48 am


“Big tent” vs. “Narrow gate; narrow path; few will find it.”
Which paradigm is biblical (in either Testament, for that matter).
One way, if not the best way, to understand scripture is to see all that it teaches divided into two parts, which are connected by the word “therefore,” or its equivalent. On one side of the “therefore,” what should we believe about God (and ourselves). Then (or, therefore), based on what we believe about God, how are we to live (speak and act toward God and our neighbors). There really is no big tent on the first side of the therefore. The way to the gate and the gate itself are narrow, not wide or big. After the therefore, we live in a way that is big because it is God doing the living through us. But that way from the gate to glory is still narrow, and it is a hard way; no, it is an impossible way, unless God is living through us. It is the way of holiness, self-denial and love of God and others before ourselves, carrying the cross, and appreciating the benefits God gives us, including material, natural blessings.
The description above is taken from Calvin’s Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life (which is an excerpt from the Institutes). If the “new Calvinism” endorses this, by God’s grace and power, I am for it.



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ray ban

posted May 18, 2011 at 11:16 pm


 I want to thank you for your efforts, you write this article. I hope that in future the same high-level posts and your comments. In fact your creative writing skills inspired me tomake my own blog. The real blog is its wings rapidly. You write that it’s a good example.



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Michael Christian

posted September 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm


You’ve made many assertions and claims but this article (both parts) is of limited use since there is no references or attribution for readers to corroborate/analyze your opinions against.



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