SBC Blogger Muses About: “The Root of Angry and Divisive Calvinists”
The author of Borrowed Light blog has written a multi-part theses on why the following happens:
Two years ago Podunk Baptist Church sent a bright, energetic, and humble young man off to the seminary. This little gathering of believers has for over two-centuries housed some of the dearest saints. But Mark was different. Though young and a relatively new believer he stood out because of his marked brilliance, passion, and dedication.
Then, when he was invited back to preach:
Time went by and Podunk Baptist heard less and less of Mark. Finally, two long years later Mark accepts an invitation to come back to Podunk to preach a revival. The community is buzzing, in a way that only a small-town can buzz. Even people that darken the door of the church only on Santa’s birthday are considering coming to see if this kid’s fancy book learnin’ may have a remedy for their hurt….
Mark is introduced by the pastor; still the same guy that had shared the gospel with him years ago. After the glowing introduction the now-bearded Mark swags into the pulpit. It only takes a few sentences for Podunk Baptist to realize this is a different Mark than the one they sent away.
And it’s not good.
This revival will not be about the beauties and excellencies of Jesus. It will not be a passionate gospel exposition. This revival meeting will be five nights of Mark setting his old church straight. Each night he will put together a finely crafted sermon filled with three points addressing everything that the church erroneously taught him two years ago. Mark is in the “know” now.
What happened to Mark?
The author then wrote several more parts that presented his theses on what the root of this recent phenomenon is in the SBC, but here is the crux of what I think is up to like, six parts:
Really all of these posts is only backing up what Joe Thorn noted as the three reasons for angry and divisive Calvinists. In his interview with Ed Stetzer (which you should real all of including the comments, here) Thorn notes three principle reasons that I will summarize.
1. Over-zealous and excited about a new found truth. “Some of us, and I was one of them, would benefit from being locked up in a cage for a few years until our heart can catch up with our head.”
2. Anger at being denied this in the past. “They feel as if they’ve wasted years of their life, or the church has let them down. So, they’re angry about that…”
3. A short-circuit between the head and heart. “When we Calvinists are ungracious, unnecessarily combative, proud, and arrogant, we are not being true Calvinists. We are posers.”
So how do you disciple a young Calvinist whose either angry, over-zealous, or simply has a short-circuit between his head and heart? Apart from patient plodding and let the gospel take deeper roots one particular thing I do with young Calvinists (including myself) is introduce them to John Newton–and that will be what we do in Part Five and Part Six.
Note: According to the posts, Calvinism isn’t the problem, youthful indiscretion is the problem. Not.
I, myself, have undergone a transformation of thinking on this issue. I once thought that New Calvinism was the problem, and not Old Calvinism. And that’s right, well, sort of. True blue Calvinism that came directly from the man himself is a serious problem, but Old Calvinism as we know it today has undergone some transformations that have aligned it with most of evangelical Christianity except on issues of election. Determinism or foreknowledge? But traditionally, Old Calvinists and Arminians agree on the relationship between soteriology and sanctification—leading to, for the most part, an uneventful cohabitation.
But the New Calvinism in the SBC is a return to the original doctrine of John Calvin himself. Fogging the issue is the whole predestination / free will debate. Until recently, I only knew that my five years of research traced contemporary New Calvinism back to the Progressive Adventist Movement. The founder, Robert Brinsmead, claimed that he had rediscovered the true Reformation gospel of Martin Luther and John Calvin. Brinsmead labeled the doctrine, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. The doctrine is clearly progressive justification and sanctification by faith ALONE. I didn’t know for sure, but I sort of assumed that Brinsmead was full of it, or read into Luther / Calvin what he wanted to, and contrived the doctrine on his own.
Then it was brought to my attention by author John Immel that in fact, progressive justification is exactly what Calvin believed. And if you read Immel’s book, “Blight In The Vineyard,” you will learn the following: that particular brand of Reformed theology brought about the exact same kind of spiritual tyranny that we see in present-day New Calvinists. And besides that, it’s a false gospel that also denies the new birth and replaces it with various forms of mysticism. I confirmed what Immel shared with me by reading in the Calvin Institutes, and have written a couple of articles about it here and here.
Moreover, the “divisive” nature of the movement comes from the fact that New Calvinism fits the biblical definition of a “sect” to a “T.” A biblical “sect” is: a movement or group of people who divides with false doctrine. I wrote an article on that subject here.
Youthful indiscretion is not helpful, but the doctrine is the problem.