New Calvinism: 5 Points, 4 ways, No Foolin’

Five hundred years after John Calvin, his rock-ribbed theology is finding new converts as worshipers look for an alternative to Jesus-is-your-buddy evangelicalism. Calvinism generally refers to five doctrinal points – Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints (or TULIP). The doctrines explain the most basic questions any theology or philosophy can ask:

•Why are people the way they are? Total depravity – you’re fully corrupted by sin.

•How can people ever change? Unconditional election – God chose some people to be saved without regard to their behavior or character.

•Who benefits from this change? Limited atonement – only God’s chosen.

•How does this change happen? Irresistible grace – you can’t thwart God’s effort to save you.

•What guarantees the change lasts? Perseverance of the saints – once saved, you’ll continue in faith.

Mark Driscoll gives his thoughts on New Calvinism vs. Old Clavinism:

Four Ways ‘New Calvinism’ is So Powerful

  • Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
  • Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
  • 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.
  • Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.
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    4 thoughts on “New Calvinism: 5 Points, 4 ways, No Foolin’

    1. Ben Arbour says:

      It seems to me that much of the New Calvinism doesn’t go far enough in building bridges. Consider, for instance, one of the primary manifestations of the New Calvinism’s popularity: Together for the Gospel. As a reformed thinker, and as one who has attended a T4G event, it seems to me that little is being done to rally around the Gospel itself as opposed to the Gospel as understood by Calvinists. For instance, each and every person invited to give a plenary address (and the breakout speakers for that matter) were all 5-point Calvinists. In what way does this show any sort of bridge building? After all, if we’re truly together for the Gospel, do we mean to insinuate that Arminians deny the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (which is the way Paul describes the Gospel in 1 Cor. 15)? In order for the New Calvinism to really be as influential as it could be, much more work is needed along the fourth way you’ve mentioned above.

      • Mike says:

        Good thoughts Ben, it’s difficult to disagree with your assessment, but you must admit that T4G has done a good job of rallying up speakers from other denominations and beliefs. For instance, you have reformed cessationists speaking alongside reformed charismatics and Baptists alongside Presbyterians. Just a thought.

        • Ben Arbour says:

          Yes, Mike. That is definitely an astute observation. I was merely thinking that T4G, and perhaps also The Gospel Coalition as well, don’t really demonstrate the type of bridge building that I hope we will see more of in the future of the New Calvinism.

    2. Ricky says:

      Good points Ben. Here on OneTwentyOne however you do see that bridge building as me and Mike work together to better this blog and I am not a 5point Calvinist. I do believe New Calvinism is a powerful movement.

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