In the lastweek or so, it has come to my attention, that many Reformed brothers and sisters in South Africa are exited about the coming Rezolution Conference , being held in South Africa in April . I have some concerns about the speakers as they are all from the Young, Restless, Reformed movement also known as the New Calvinism movement. Hearing names like Tim Keller , who is a leader in this new movement is concerning, as Keller, has in recent years embraced mysticism & theistic evolution. Tim Keller’s books are also highly recommended by pastors and teachers across South Africa in Reformed churches.
While Keller claims to be a Reformed Protestant, his writings reveal a profound empathy with the Roman Catholic Church. In The Reason for God (2008) he refers to the Catholic Church as “the largest church in the world”. He explains that he believes in a broad definition of Christianity that includes the Church of Rome. He says that “all Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christians assent together to the great creeds.” And this, in Keller’s mind, means that Roman Catholics are real Christians. He frequently quotes from Roman Catholic sources and authors. (Points 1-3 above taken from here http://www.newcalvinist.com/kellers-affinity-with-rome/kellers-mysticism/)
Another concern should be that Tim Keller and others have signed the The Manhattan Declaration, a document crafted by Chuck Colson, Robert George and Timothy George and signed by a long list of Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox leaders. Also read here :Al Mohler Signs The Manhattan Declaration: Is This a Clear Case for “Gospel-Driven Separation?”
Also read these extensive well written articles of serious concerns, by Dr Paul M Elliott Tim Keller’s False Gospel: A Point-By-Point Analysis. Timothy Keller promotes a “gospel” designed to be attractive to unregenerated man, but stripped of the Biblical essentials and robbed of Divine power and authority. Tim Keller’s False Gospel: Changing Both the Method and the Message. Timothy Keller’s “gospel” rests on a faulty foundation: the misconception that man changes, therefore the message must change. Tim Keller’s Gutless ‘Gospel’. A segment from an interview with Tim Keller shows just how gutless his “gospel” is – a mass of evasions, equivocations, and misrepresentations of God’s truth.Tim Keller: Dangerously Influential. Dr. Timothy J. Keller is one of today’s most influential religious leaders, and one of the most dangerous.
There are only a few evangelical leaders who did not sign The Manhattan Declaration , like John MacArthur and this explanation as to why he did not sign. And James White writes: “There is no question that all believers need to think seriously about the issues raised by this declaration. But what is the only solution to these issues? Is the solution to be found in presenting a unified front that implicitly says ‘the gospel does not unite us, but that is not important enough to divide us’? I do not think so. What is the only power given to the church to change hearts and minds? United political power? Or the gospel that is trampled under foot by every Roman Catholic priest when he ‘re-presents’ the sacrifice of Christ upon the Roman altar, pretending to be a priest, an ‘alter Christus’? Am I glad when a Roman clergyman calls abortion murder? Of course. But it exhibits a real confusion, and not a small amount of cowardice, it seems, to stop identifying the man’s false gospel and false teaching simply because you are glad to have a few more on the ‘right’ side of a vitally important social issue.”
Tim Challies says : ” To varying degrees I agree with each of these critiques though on the whole my thoughts line up mostly closely with John MacArthur’s. In my view, this line says it all: “Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel.” It is good to speak of the gospel, but what does the term mean if used by Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox? Each has their own understanding of the term—the term that stands at the very heart of the faith. I just cannot see past this issue.”
Who are they the New Calvinist who are Young, Restless, Reformed ?
Signatory of the The Manhattan Declaration
The following exert from Wikipedia. The New Calvinism is a growing perspective within conservative Evangelicalism that embraces the fundamentals of 16th century Calvinism while also trying to be relevant in the present day world. In March 2009, TIME magazine ranked it as one of the “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now.” Some of the major figures in this area are John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, Joshua Harris and Tim Keller.
Following the heritage of Reformed, or Calvinist, theology, New Calvinism strives to be deeply interested in the correct doctrine. In a Christianity Today article, Collin Hansen describes the speakers of a Christian conference:
Each of the seven speakers holds to the five points of [Calvinism]. Yet none of them spoke of Calvinism unless I asked about it. They did express worry about perceived evangelical accommodation to postmodernism and criticized churches for applying business models to ministry. They mostly joked about their many differences on such historically difficult issues as baptism, church government, eschatology, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They drew unity as Calvinist evangelicals from their concerns: with seeker churches, church-growth marketing, and manipulative revival techniques.
The New Calvinists look to Puritans like Jonathan Edwards who taught that sanctification requires a vigorous and vigilant pursuit of holy living, not a passive attitude of mechanical progress. (SeeLordship salvation.)
Mark Driscoll identifies four main differences between Old and New Calvinism:
- New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
- New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
- Old Calvinism was generally cessationist (i.e., believing the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as tongues and prophecy had ceased). New Calvinism is generally continuationist with regard to spiritual gifts.
- New Calvinism is open to dialog with other Christian positions.
This fourth distinctive is what Driscoll considers a vital component in being able to engage with the present day society. (Source Wikipedia googled New Calvinism)
I did some more research and below will be our deep concerns lined out as written by well known Tim Chalies, John Macarthur , Dr ES Williams and also Ken Silva pastor-teacher . You will find their comments and concerns below in writing and video clips.
It is my sincere prayer and hope that the brothers and sisters who plan to attend the Rezolution conference in April here in South Africa , will do as the berean’s did to test all things and see if it is from God. We all know the verse that reads “a little leaven”. Daniel 5:27 TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; (ESV) JohnGill explains: Daniel 5:27
TEKEL,…. As for the meaning of this word, and what it points at, it is this:
thou art weighed in the balances: of justice and truth, in the holy righteous law of God; as gold, and jewels, and precious stones, are weighed in the scales by the goldsmith and jeweller with great exactness, to know the worth of them:
and art found wanting; found to be adulterated gold, reprobate silver, bad coin, a false stone; found to be a worthless man, a wicked prince, wanting the necessary qualifications of wisdom, goodness, mercy, truth, and justice. The Scriptures of truth, the word of God, contained in the books of the Old and New Testament, are the balances of the sanctuary, in which persons, principles, and practices, are to be weighed; and sad it is where they are found light and wanting: men, both of high and low degree, when put here, are lighter than vanity. The Pharisee, or self-righteous person, when weighed in the balance of God’s law, which is holy, just, and good, will be found wanting of that holiness and righteousness he pretends to, and appear to be an unholy and an unrighteous man; his righteousness, neither for the matter of it, nor manner of performing it, being agreeable to that law, and so no righteousness in the sense of it, Deu_6:25, it being imperfect, and so leaves him to the curse of it, Gal_3:10, and not being performed in a pure and spiritual manner that it requires, is rejected by it; and miserable will be the case of such a man at the day of judgment, when his works will be found wanting, and not answerable to the demands of a righteous law, and he without the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness, and so naked and speechless. The hypocrite, and formal professor, when weighed in the balance of the Scripture, will be found wanting the true grace of God; his faith will appear to be feigned, and his hope groundless, and his love to be in word and in tongue only, and not at all to answer to the description of true grace given in the word of God; and bad will it be with such persons at last, when at the bridegroom’s coming they will be destitute of the oil of true and real grace; only have that which is counterfeit, and the mere lamp of an outward profession, which will then stand them in no stead, or be of any avail unto them: in the same balances are the doctrines and principles of men to be weighed; and, such as are according to them are solid and weighty, and are comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; but such as are not are light, and like wood, hay, and stubble, which the fire of the word will reveal, try, and burn up, not being able to stand against it; and if these are weighed in the balances, they will be found wanting of real truth and goodness, and be but as chaff to wheat; and what is the one to the other? there is no comparison between them; and dreadful will be the case of false teachers, that make and teach an abomination and a lie; and of those that are given up to believe them, these will not be able to stand the trying hour of temptation, and much less the last and final judgment. Sad for preachers of the word to be found wanting in their ministry, and hearers to be wanting in their duty; not taking care neither what they hear, nor how they hear, or whether they put in practice the good they do hear.
Paul Washer on the YRR/New Calvinists
Paul Washer talks about the dangers facing the young reformed people, do they know God? is there a reality in their life? or just mere head knowledge.
Tim Challies , wrote the following in 2011 :
John MacArthur is in the midst of penning a series of articles that will address (and encourage and scold) the Young, Restless, Reformed movement—this thing they call the New Calvinism. I have one great concern about this. I will tell you what it is, but only after I give a brief overview of what MacArthur has said so far.
MacArthur’s series will extend to four parts (after which there will be a couple of follow-ups by other writers). In the first article, which serves as an introduction, MacArthur showed the direction he intends to take the series: He will tell this Young, Restless, Reformed movement (YRR) to “Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming.” After showing that the allure of postmodernism, best exemplified by the Emerging Church, has largely proven futile, Dr. MacArthur says:
But young, restless, Reformed students (YRRs) still seem to be multiplying and gaining influence. I’m very glad for most of what this movement represents. It seems to be a more biblically-oriented, gospel-centered, theologically-grounded approach to Christian discipleship than this generation’s parents typically favored—and that is most certainly to be applauded.
YRRs have by and large eschewed the selfishness and shallowness (though not all the pragmatism) of seeker-sensitive religion. They are generally aware of the dangers posed by postmodernity, political correctness, and moral relativism (even if they don’t always approach such dangers with sufficient caution). And while they sometimes seem to struggle to show discernment, they do seem to understand that truth is different from falsehood; sound doctrine is opposed to heresy; and true faith distinct from mere religious pretense.
But it isn’t all good. MacArthur has some concerns.
It is overall a positive development and a trend to be encouraged—but the YRR movement as it is shaping up also needs to face up to some fairly serious problems and potential pitfalls. So I have some words of encouragement and counsel for YRRs, and I want to take a few days here at the blog to write to them about their movement, its influences, some hazards that lie ahead, some tendencies to avoid, and some qualities to cultivate. (A few men on our staff will also join the discussion with a few thoughts of their own.)
This introductory article sets the tone. Yesterday MacArthur posted the first of the 3 articles that will form the heart of the series. He titled it “Grow Up.” He gets straight to the point:
If I could impress on Young, Restless, Reformed students just one word of friendly counsel to address what I think is the most glaring deficiency in that movement, this is what it would be: “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20).
I’m very glad the ranks of YRRs are growing numerically. Many good things about that movement are full of promise and potential. In order to fulfill that potential, however, this generation of Reformers desperately needs to move past the young-and-restless stage. Immaturity and unrest are hindrances to spiritual fruitfulness, not virtues.
Now, with that context in place, let me share my great concern. It is this: That we will not give MacArthur a fair hearing. The irony is that this would just go to prove his point. The unwillingness to listen to the counsel of older men, the inability to be lovingly rebuked—this is a sure mark of immaturity (which Dr. MacArthur has already said is a mark of this YRR movement). And while we tend to pay lip service to those who are older and wiser, I am not convinced that we, the New Calvinists, listen very well. We are awfully excited about what the Lord has been doing in us and through us, but I am not so sure that we are seeking counsel and seeking wisdom from those who have accumulated it over many years. Are we seeking them and listening to them, even when it hurts and even when what they say seems old-fashioned?
I say this largely to the young contingent in this Young, Restless, Reformed movement—people who may be in their mid-thirties like I am, or those who are even younger. I think we can tend to discount this kind of critique when it comes from an older man. It is easy to assume that he is out of touch with culture (we all know he must have consulted with someone before writing of “HCo. clothes and hipster hair…”) or that he is trapped in the past. This is always a temptation. And it is a temptation I have already seen and heard in connection with MacArthur. In my travels and in many conversations with people like you, I have come to realize that many people discount MacArthur as a man whose time has come and gone. “He has finished the New Testament; he fought the theological battles of the 1980’s and 1990’s, but it’s time for him to stop. He doesn’t get it anymore. He’s stuck in the past.” It may not come in those exact words, but that’s the sentiment I’ve heard time and again. His much-publicized comments about men like Mark Driscoll and Darrin Patrick have just confirmed what people already believe.
A couple of weeks ago my mother penned a short article I titled 4 Remarkable Things about John MacArthur. One of the things she found remarkable about him, based on reading Iain Murray’s biography, is his level of insight. She said, “The first [remarkable] thing is the level of his insight. Love of the Bible and a love of church history—MacArthur has both—always make people insightful. They enable a bottom-line, ‘essence of the essence’ judgment of issues that seems prophetic. In reality, it is the weighing of alternatives on a very finely balanced biblical-historical set of scales.” If you know the ministry of John MacArthur, you know that this is the case. He has the ability to get to the essence of the essence, and this is one of the things we love about him. He is a staunch defender of the truth who has a great love for Christ’s church.
We know all of this, and yet I am concerned that we still will not give him a fair hearing. We love it when he scolds Joel Osteen or when he critiques church growth. But are we willing to let him speak to us? To stop our ears at this point would be utter folly. This would be the most foolish thing we could do—to believe that we do not need the wisdom of those who are older than we are and to believe that this man’s time has come and gone.
If anyone has earned the right to speak to us; if anyone has earned the right to speak about us; if anyone has earned the right to be heard, it is Dr. MacArthur. We do not necessarily need to agree with him—he could be wrong!—but it would be the very height of arrogance and folly to not listen at all. (HL – http://www.challies.com/articles/john-macarthur-wants-us-to-grow-up )
John MacArthur with Three Clear Concerns
Characteristics of New Calvinism by Dr ES Williams
New Calvinism is a broad church, with a wide range of beliefs, doctrines and practices. The Gospel Coalition (TGC), which started in 2007 with a conference headlined by Don Carson, Tim Keller and John Piper, was a significant event, for the Coalition has become a national network for the New Calvinist movement. Theologian Don Carson wrote the original draft of the confessional statement, while Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church,New York, wrote the theological call to ministry. The Gospel Coalition Council boasts familiar names like Tim Keller, John Piper, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever, Al Mohler and Joshua Harris. Coalition leaders explain that they are not a ‘boundary set’, for that would mean nailing down the outer limits of who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’, and that they do not want. As a consequence just about everyone is welcome to join the TGC Network, whatever their doctrinal beliefs.
While there are certain characteristics around which New Calvinists are united, it is a broad movement, and not all practice their faith in the same way. While most claim to be faithful to Scripture, and to follow the essential tenets of Calvin’s theology, many are marked by a love for the ways and things of the world, which manifests itself in unbecoming conduct that is far removed from the ways and beliefs of traditional Calvinists and Puritans. Here are some of the key characteristics of New Calvinism:
1. Doctrinal errors
New Calvinism has a reputation for teaching the biblical doctrines of Calvin (TULIP). Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards are held up as heroes of the movement. But the reality is that while paying lip service to Calvin, Spurgeon and Edwards, New Calvinism, in fact, is weak in matters of doctrine.
New Calvinists seek to contextualise the gospel of truth to make it relevant to the postmodern world. Tim Keller is a major protagonist of this view. He teaches that for an inner city church to be successful it must contextualise the gospel to make it relevant to the needs of a multi-ethnic population. The message must be crafted to make it sensitive to the cultural trends of the day. So shaky is Tim Keller’s theology that in an interview with Martin Bashir, he says that he is unsure whether God has provided a trap door for unbelieving Muslims and Hindus. (Listen to the interview with Martin Bashir).
John Piper’s concept of the Christian hedonist is doctrinally flawed, as will show on this website. While Mark Driscoll claims to be a Calvinist, he separates doctrine from conduct. He hates rules and much of his ministry is antinomian in approach.
The New Calvinism movement is characterised by a careless attitude towards God’s moral law. A common assertion is that Christians are no longer under God’s law, but under God’s grace. It follows that the Christian life is not to be governed by a set of rules, or a set of commands, or a list of do’s and don’ts, for Christ’s grace has set us free. Obedience is not a popular concept. The subject index of Piper’s blueprint for Christian Hedonism, Desiring God (1987), contains over twenty references to happiness, but only one to obedience.
New Calvinism wants us to believe that God’s grace means that New Testament Christians are free from bondage to God’s moral law. Mark Driscoll uses this interpretation of Scripture to justify what he refers to as New Covenant tattoos. He declares in a sermon: ‘You are free in Christ to be weird… How about this one, tattoos? How many of you grew up in that fundamentalist church where they told you about the one verse on tattoos? Where is it? What book? Leviticus… It’s right here in Leviticus, don’t get a tattoo. Okay. But the thing is if you read the whole context it actually doesn’t apply—its old covenant, not new covenant, so Jesus has fulfilled the law.’
The idea that believers should strive to live in obedience to God’s moral law is dismissed as legalism. No, says the New Calvinist, we are free in Christ. Driscoll says that he hates religious people who have rules to obey, and lists of do’s and don’ts. He teaches that grace and works are antithetical. ‘Works is me boasting, grace is me boasting about Jesus. Works is me looking at what I’ve done; grace is looking at what Jesus has done.’ And while Scripture teaches that we are saved by grace alone, it goes on to say that the person who is saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus is saved ‘unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2.10).
In his book, Paths to Power (1911), AW Tozer defined antinomianism this way. “The creed of the Antinomian is easily stated: We are saved by faith alone; works have no place in salvation; conduct is works, and is therefore of no importance. What we do cannot matter, as long as we believe rightly. The divorce between creed and conduct is absolute and final. The question of sin is settled by the Cross; conduct is outside the circle of faith and cannot come between the believer and God. Such in brief, is the teaching of the Antinomian… It takes the teaching of justification by faith and twists it into deformity.”[i]
The Reformed faith teaches that the moral law of God has three uses. The first is to convict of sin and drive the repentant sinner to the Lord Jesus Christ. The second use of the law is to restrain lawlessness in society. The third use is to function as the rule of life for the believer. One of the most famous statements of this truth comes from the Puritan Samuel Bolton in The True Bounds of Christian Freedom: ‘The law sends us to the gospel for our justification; the gospel sends us to the law to frame our way of life.’[ii] The Puritan way of thinking and conduct is diametrically opposed to the ways of New Calvinism.
The fruit of New Calvinism’s antinomian tendency is a mindset that finds pleasure in the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2.15). Worldliness is a state of mind that conforms to the pattern and pleasures of the world; it does not seek to separate from the things of the world, or the entertainments of the world. This pattern of thinking allows great leeway in Christian conduct and is common among New Calvinists. Many New Calvinists teach that Christians are free in Christ to do anything that is not specifically forbidden in the Bible. So smoking and tattoos, reading worldly magazines, watching adult rated movies and salacious TV programmes, immodest dress, crude language, coarse joking are regarded by some as acceptable behaviour, for in the eyes of New Calvinists these forms of conduct are not specifically forbidden in the Bible. All forms of contemporary music, even punk rock, and hip-hop are accepted as permissible for Christians to enjoy. Those who say that these forms of conduct are not right for Christians are labelled as legalists, just like the Pharisees.
4. Contemporary Worship
What flows from the New Calvinist’s worldly mindset is a love for the music scene of the world. And so it is entirely predictable that contemporary worship is the most universal characteristic of New Calvinism. Mars Hill Church, Seattle, leads the way by claiming that God loves punk rock. Holy hip-hop is embraced by many New Calvinists and rap artists are regarded as the missionaries of the 21st Century, according to Mark Driscoll. Contemporary worldly music is an essential ingredient of the Passion Conference (Louie Gigilio and John Piper),The Resolved Conference (John MacArthur) and the Legacy Conference. The Gospel Coalition National Conference 2011 ended with a concert to celebrate the contemporary music scene. Delegates were invited to join Lecrae and the rest of the Reach Records rap artists as they ‘exalted Christ’ through the medium of hip-hop. The effect was to profane the Name of Christ, the Name which is above every name, and the Name to which every knee shall bow, on the altar of holy hip-hop. See Christian rap – Music of the New Calvinists
Passion Conference, worshipping the Lord through rap music,
The Gospel Coalition concert, http://youtu.be/flqkGFJjvHs
5. Emerging church
New Calvinists tend to be ambivalent about the emerging church movement. Mark Driscoll was involved with the emerging church, and claims to be on the Reformed end of the emerging spectrum. His book Confessions of a Reformission Rev (2006) is described as ‘hard lessons from an Emerging Missional Church’. Many are sympathetic to the emerging church movement and contemplative prayer is encouraged by some, such as Keller’s Redeemers Presbyterian Church in New York, which promotes the Monk’s prayer.
JOHN MACARTHUR COMMENTS ON NEW CALVINISM by Ken Silva on Feb 13, 2011
Apprising Ministries has been blessed of Jesus to be used as one of His online apologetics and discernment works becoming known for its coverage of corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), a ne0-Gnosticism now pandemic within mainstream evangelicalism through its foolish embrace of the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church with its quasi-universalism in a new version of Progressive Christian theology under their spiritual circus “big tent” Emergence Christianity.
In posts like Acts 29 Network And Reformed Counter Reformation Spirituality?, Tim Keller Recommending Roman Catholic Mysticism, and What’s Going On With Dr. John Piper? I’ve been cautioning that with key perpetrators of spurious CSM, like Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mysticRichard Foster and his spiritual twin Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard, now openly being recommended within so-called New Calvinism there is much reason for serious concern.
What seems to be happening is the formation of a postmodern form of Calvinism where one embraces select portions of Reformation theology, while at the same time practicing the anti-sola Scriptura spirituality of Counter Reformation theology. With this in mind, I point you to 10 Questions with John MacArthur posted at The Christian Worldview blog of David Wheaton.
In response to the question, “Since you wrote Charismatic Chaos we have seen the unexpected confluence of Reformed theology with charismatic beliefs (such as in the Sovereign Grace family of churches). If you were to write the book today, how would you affirm both love and critique for today’s Reformed Charismatics?,” Dr. MacArthur replies:
I would affirm my love and appreciation for C. J. Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and other conservatives in the continuationist camp. I consider these men to be friends and allies for the sake of the gospel. Charismatic Chaos was primarily written against the excesses of the broader Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. And those excesses are not what these men are best known for.
But, I would still challenge these men to reconsider their position on the charismatic gifts. I am convinced that the charismatic movement opened the door to more theological error than perhaps any other factor in the twentieth century (including liberalism, psychology, and ecumenism). That’s a bold statement, I know. But once you allow experientialism to gain a foothold, the results are disastrous.
Moreover, I am thoroughly convinced that the biblical description of the charismatic gifts is incompatible with the charismatic gifts practiced in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches today. For example, Acts 2 is explicit in describing the gift of tongues as the ability to speak previously unlearned foreign languages. The rest of the New Testament affirms this same understanding (as does the testimony of the church fathers). But that is the very opposite of the nonsensical gibberish that characterizes modern glossolalia.
So I would challenge them to explain why they hold on to a modern practice that, in reality, has no biblical precedent—especially when that modern practice is the gateway to all sorts of theological error. (Online source)
You can read this piece in its entirety right here.
HT: Discern The Time
More Related Resources:
- Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming.
Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed (blog)
- Growing Up: How to Listen Like a Man (blog)
- Paul Edwards Interviews Phil Johnson about GTY’s YRR Series (blog)
- The Marks of Immaturity, and How to Keep Growing (blog)
- Growing Up: Becoming a Real Man (blog)
- Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty (blog)
- The Brouhaha over the Brew (blog)
- Discussing the Controversy over John MacArthur’s “Beer” Posts (blog)
- Wretched on the YRR (blog)
- Keep Reforming (blog)
- TIM KELLER AND CONTEMPLATIVE PASTRIX ADELE CALHOUN