Monday, March 16, 2009

Andrew Faris on James Grant on Mark Driscoll on Time Magazine on the New Calvinism

Most of us already saw the Time magazine piece that says that the "New Calvinism" is the third of ten major ideas changing the world right now. I'm not even going to go to the trouble of linking it again here- that's how confident I am in our readers' blogospheric intake.

Mark Driscoll responded to that piece with four ways in which the "New Calvinism" is doing what the "Old Calvinism" failed to do:
  1. Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
  2. Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
  3. Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.
That's the whole of Driscoll's post. I linked it, but you really don't need to go read it. That's it- word for word, and all of the emboldened text is his emphasis.

Well, James Grant rightfully took issue with Driscoll's post. Go read his thoughtful response to each of Driscoll's all-too-vague, unqualified charges. Grant makes it clear that Driscoll has been unclear at best and downright wrong in his caricature of the "Old Calvinism" at worst.

I agree almost entirely with Grant's assessment, though I took some issue in a comment with his understanding of cessationists. I'm not html/blog savvy enough to know how to link directly to my comment, but I think the exchange between us that followed was good. In short, Grant's post suggests that cessationists are not in fact "fearful of the power and presence of the Spirit," and I say they are. Discussion and clarification follows. At the time of this post it's likely not finished, and it's quite cordial and friendly and all that.

If you want to know why I think cessationism happens (sounds like a disease or something when I put it like that...), go check out my comments on that post. Here's a hint on my view: most times I don't think it's entirely from the Bible!


David A. Carlson said...

I have to agree with Driscoll on the Holy Spirit issue - for many old Cal's it is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Bible. While they would never say they don't like the Holy Spirit, I think many of them are, at a minimum, uncomfortable with something they cannot control - they are much more comfortable with theology and knowing all the details exactly. Very much the modernists - they need to have certainty.

David A. Carlson said...

This anti Holy Spirit Attitude is nothing new - AW Tozer wrote:

There has emerged lately in American Christianity a school of religious thought conceived in intellectual pride and dedicated to the proposition that everything of value in the Christian faith can be reduced to philosophical terms and understood by the human mind. The notion seems to be that anything God can utter we can comprehend, allowing possibly for the need of a little divine aid with the heavier stuff.

The brethren who are promoting this movement seem to feel that the trouble with evangelicalism is that it is not scholarly enough, that it cannot state itself in scientific terms. They appear to be chagrined by the chuckles of the learned liberals at the allegedly ignorant fundamentalists and have been needled into an attempt to prove that we evangelicals are not so dumb after all. They hope to make their point by equating Christian theology with Greek philosophy and the findings of modern science, and demonstrating that if the truth were known the Christian revelation is just good clean reason, nothing more. I pass over the pretty obvious fact that there is in all this more than a trace of the taint of mind-worship.

Sue said...

I would suggest that in 2009 it is time to staret asking some real questions about John Calvin and his very dark influence, both while he was alive, and via the dreadful shadow that he has cast ever since---manifest as the USA "religious" right(REICH).

By their fruits you will inevitably know them is an immutable template for assessing the authenticity of any and everyones religious consciousness and understanding.

How many people would Jesus execute?

How many people, including children, his own adult step-children, and his former best friend Servetus, did Calvin execute or allow/cause to be executed under his dismal leadership (really reign of terror)in Geneva?

True religion is always a celebration of The Beautiful.

Anything less than that is an abomination and a curse on all of those who become infected/affected by such an abomination.

Real Life is conscious ecstatic participation in unbounded feeling-radiance.

Kaitiaki said...

I know this is *way* after the fact ... but I can't help but respond to Sue's question: "How many would Jesus execute?"
The answer is "I don't know but he did imply he would separate the sheep from the goats at the final judgement." Now I know modern Christians are squeamish when it comes to talk of discipline for heresy - very few Churches even practice excommunication any more - but it seems to me that Jesus has no trouble consigning those who fail to care for even one of his followers to everlasting fire and torment.
Beside that, taking the life of someone while not being able to touch the soul is small potatoes. I make no more excuses for Calvin than I do for any of the other Reformers. They were children of their time and so are we - but (I wonder) are we better than them or do we just have more subtle sins we are prey to?