The New Calvinism is not the Old Calvinism

John Piper's "New Calvinism" compared to "Old Calvinism"

The New Calvinism embraces the essential place of the local church. It is led mainly by pastors, has a vibrant church-planting bent, produces widely-sung worship music, and exalts the preached word as central to the work of God locally and globally. The Old Calvinism does not exist apart from congregations where the marks of the church are evident and which are part of regional, national, and ecumenical assemblies.

 

We can be sure of that thanks to Jared Oliphint:

Twelve Thirteen features of the New Calvinism:

1.The New Calvinism, in its allegiance to the inerrancy of the Bible, embraces the biblical truths behind the five points (TULIP), while having an aversion to using the acronym or any other systematic packaging, along with a sometimes qualified embrace of limited atonement. The focus is on Calvinistic soteriology but not to the exclusion or the appreciation of the broader scope of Calvin’s vision.

1. The Old Calvinism begins with the doctrine of Scripture summarized in confessions like the Westminster Confession of Faith and is willing to use TULIP as a handle for understanding Calvinist soteriology. Old Calvinism also relies on systematic thought.

2. The New Calvinism embraces the sovereignty of God in salvation, and in all the affairs of life in history, including evil and suffering.

2. The Old Calvinism affirms divine sovereignty in everything, even in Christ’s death on the cross for the elect.

3. The New Calvinism has a strong complementarian flavor as opposed to egalitarian, with an emphasis on the flourishing of men and women in relationships where men embrace a call to robust, humble, Christ-like servant leadership.

3. The Old Calvinism follows biblical teaching on male ordination and refuses to describe human life this side of glory as flourishing.

4. The New Calvinism leans toward being culture-affirming rather than culture-denying, while holding fast to some very culturally alien positions, like positions on same-sex practice and abortion.

4. The Old Calvinism understands salvation to be distinct from culture, hence Old Calvinists’ belief that deceased saints are saved even though they no longer inhabit a culture.

5. The New Calvinism embraces the essential place of the local church. It is led mainly by pastors, has a vibrant church-planting bent, produces widely-sung worship music, and exalts the preached word as central to the work of God locally and globally.

5. The Old Calvinism does not exist apart from congregations where the marks of the church are evident and which are part of regional, national, and ecumenical assemblies.

6. The New Calvinism is aggressively mission-driven, including missional impact on social evils, evangelistic impact on personal networks, and missionary impact on unreached peoples of the world.

6. The Old Calvinism actually calls and supports home and foreign missionaries through assemblies of presbyters that oversee such ministry.

7. The New Calvinism is inter-denominational with a strong (some would say oxymoronic) Baptistic element.

7. The Old Calvinism is Reformed Protestant and seeks fraternal relations with communions of like faith and practice.

8. The New Calvinism includes charismatics and non-charismatics.

8. The Old Calvinism excludes charismatics because Old Calvinists believe in the sufficiency of Scripture.

9. The New Calvinism puts a priority on pietism or piety in the Puritan vein, with an emphasis on the essential role of affections in Christian living, while esteeming the life of the mind and being very productive in it, and embracing the value of serious scholarship. Jonathan Edwards would be invoked as a model of this combination of the affections and the life of the mind more often than John Calvin, whether that’s fair to Calvin or not.

9. The Old Calvinism does not drop names and includes Reformed Protestants who are temperamentally restrained (read Scots, Dutch, Germans, Swiss).

10. The New Calvinism is vibrantly engaged in publishing books and even more remarkably in the world of the internet, with hundreds of energetic bloggers and social media activists, with Twitter as the increasingly default way of signaling things new and old that should be noticed and read.

10. The Old Calvinism has more books than New Calvinism, and many of them are ones that New Calvinists need to tell the difference between Calvinism and other kinds of Protestantism.

11. The New Calvinism is international in scope, multi-ethnic in expression, culturally diverse. There is no single geographic, racial, cultural governing center. There are no officers, no organization, nor any loose affiliation that would encompass the whole. I would dare say that there are outcroppings of this movement that nobody (including me) in this room has ever heard of.

11. The Old Calvinism was and still is international in ways that the New Calvinists would not understand. Old Calvinists also appreciate in ways that New Calvinists don’t how European and Western Calvinism is. This means that Old Calvinists speak English without feeling guilty.

12. The New Calvinism is robustly gospel-centered, cross-centered, with dozens of books rolling off the presses, coming at the gospel from every conceivable angle, and applying it to all areas of life with a commitment to seeing the historic doctrine of justification, finding its fruit in sanctification personally and communally.

12. The Old Calvinism teaches that Christ died on the cross only for the elect and Old Calvinists are happy to let the Reformed creeds and confessions define the way that Reformed pastors teach and apply the atonement (among other doctrines taught and professed by the Reformed churches).

13. The New Calvinism uses words like robust, vibrant, embrace and lots of adverbs.

13. Old Calvinists don’t.

D. G. Hart is Visiting Professor of History at Hillsdale College in Michigan, and also serves as an elder for a new Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Hillsdale.  Darryl blogs, along with his partner in the venture, John Muether, at Old Life where this article first appeared. It is used with permission.

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