Monday, March 16, 2009

The New Calvinism

I just learned that the latest TIME Magazine says that "The New Calvinism" is one of the 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now.

This was the first I'd heard of "the New Calvinism."

I've been a hard-core Calvinist for over 20 years, but I don't keep up with the latest evangelical trends anymore, possibly because all my Calvinist friends from decades past have excommunicated me because I'm a radical libertarian.

For me, "Calvinism" has always been a world-and-life view, not just a debate about who gets to go to heaven when they die. When Abraham Kuyper, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, delivered his "Lectures on Calvinism" at Princeton University, he didn't talk much about who the elect were, he talked about:

Lecture 1: Calvinism as a Life System
Lecture 2: Calvinism and Religion
Lecture 3: Calvinism and Politics ( This includes the ideas of resistance to tyranny that ignited the American Revolution.)
Lecture 4: Calvinism and Science
Lecture 5: Calvinism and Art
Lecture 6: Calvinism and the Future

So when TIME Magazine announced that "the New Calvinists" are "changing the world," I assumed that since I hadn't heard about "the New Calvinists," they weren't really changing the world, that is, they weren't a threat to the Eastern Liberal Obamanian world of TIME Magazine.

TIME says (links are mine),

Neo-Calvinist ministers and authors don't operate quite on a Rick Warren scale. But, notes Ted Olsen, a managing editor at Christianity Today, "everyone knows where the energy and the passion are in the Evangelical world" — with the pioneering new-Calvinist John Piper of Minneapolis, Seattle's pugnacious Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler, head of the Southern [Baptist Theological] Seminary of the huge Southern Baptist Convention. The Calvinist-flavored ESV Study Bible sold out its first printing, and Reformed blogs like Between Two Worlds are among cyber-Christendom's hottest links.

I've linked to Al Mohler once before. I recall seeing the fuzzy photo on the "Between Two Worlds" blog, but don't recall linking to it or any of the other "New Calvinists" mentioned by TIME.

It doesn't sound like the "New" Calvinists are much different from the Old Calvinists (though TIME never identifies who the truly "old" Calvinists are). Says TIME:

Calvin's 500th birthday will be this July. It will be interesting to see whether Calvin's latest legacy will be classic Protestant backbiting [Skirmishes among the Southern Baptists (who have a competing non-Calvinist camp) and online "flame wars" bode badly] or whether, during these hard times, more Christians searching for security will submit their wills to the austerely demanding God of their country's infancy.

I have had exactly zero contact with Southern Baptist flame wars between Calvinists and (presumably) Arminians. But the phrase "or whether" in the lines above is a complete non sequitur. The Calvinists of America's infancy surrendered America to the Unitarians and their atheist/ACLU progeny precisely by their theological flame wars over "security" (not "national security," but assurance of who goes where when they die) and submitting their wills not to "the austerely demanding God" of Calvinism, but to the austerely demanding clerics of the various established churches.

Pinpointing the elect seems to have annoyed the more deistic Founders like Jefferson, and protecting ecclesiastical power prevented various denominations from being able to promote a generic Christianity. John Adams, for example, proclaimed national days of prayer, but regretted some of them because they were exploited by one particular ecclesiastical body over others. These power-grabs prompted some Founders to tone down their public promotion of religion and resulted in an appearance of secularism which was exploited by the ACLU in the 20th century to create the modern myth of "the separation of church and state."

If they're really going to "change the world," the "New Calvinism" must undercut our trust in government and encourage submitting our wills (that is, every area of life -- even "public" life) to "the austerely demanding God" of Calvinism. John Calvin would never allow the civil government to ignore the most basic moral precepts: "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "Thou Shalt Not Steal."

A note on the "austerity" of God and/or Calvinism. One could start with Leland Ryken's Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were. Austerity is a myth. They dressed like peacocks and "Bloody" Mary said they danced jigs in church.

Anyone who attempts to obey God's commandments in a self-consciously systematic way (see the two "Thou Shalt Not" links above) will be called "austere" (or worse) by those who want the freedom to sin (meaning, in this case, the freedom to steal ("redistribute the wealth") and making the killing of inconvenient people "safe" and "legal."

The God of the Bible is hardly "austere." God designed the peacock. God commanded the building of a temple which could hardly be called austere. Toward those who obey Him, He promises blessings, not austerity. It is always secular governments that demand "austerity budgets."

The Invisible Hand of God's Sovereignty is the basis for optimism and a rising standard of living, not "austerity."

Look at the Bible Through New Eyes.

Odds 'n' Ends (Mostly for Google's Benefit)

Calvin's Institutes on the Civil Magistrate
Book III Chapter 19
Book IV Chapter 20
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 1
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 10
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 11
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 12
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 13
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 14
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 2
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 3
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 4
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 5
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 6
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 7
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 8
Book IV Chapter 20 Section 9
Calvin on Romans 12
Calvin on Romans 13
Calvin on Romans 13:8-10
Calvinism and Anarchism
Calvinism: Source of Democracy?
Calvin's America
Calvin's Defense of the State
Contents: Calvin Thesis files
Defining "The State"
God Sends EVIL ! Why Calvinists are Anarchists
In Defense of the Crusades
Outline - Calvinist Anarcho-Capitalism
Outline - Calvinist Anarcho-Theocracy
Predestination in American History
Radical Calvinism
Refuting "the State" by Defining "the State"
Romans 12 and 13
Romans 12 Cross-References
Romans 13 and the American Revolution
Romans 13:9-10
Scandal and conscience in Romans 13
The Biblical Prohibition of Vengeance
"Private" Vengeance and "Public Justice."
A Prima Facie Case for Biblical Anarchism
Anarchism: Chaos or God's Law?
Bibliography - Calvinist Anarcho-Capitalism
The Myth of Private Religion
The Old Testament and the New America
The Structure of the Book of Romans
The Thesis in Broader Perspective
VIOLENCE AND THE STATE: Why the Prince of Peace was an Anarchist

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