Tom Chantry Doesn’t Like the Charismatic Brand of the Reformation’s False Gospel
I was sent a post written by Reformed Baptist Tom Chantry. As the rats begin jumping from that sinking ship named New Calvinism, the boring side of Calvinism is trying to distance themselves from Charismatic Calvinists like CJ Mahaney. New Calvinism, which is a resurgence of authentic Calvinism, at least makes heresy a little fun with concoctions like the scream of the damned which was an ad hoc addition to the 2009 Resolved Conference hosted by the who’s who of contemporary Reformed doctrine. Usually, the tyranny and spiritual abuse that goes hand in metaphysical hand with Reformed doctrine dampens any semblance of humor, but this bunch is special; their shenanigans can bring laughter to the darkest realities. Nevertheless, Chantry bemoans the following reality in said article:
That “Reformed Charismaticism” should eventually go down this path – dragging the rest of the “New Calvinism” with it – was predictable. Such a doctrine has no solid confession. It pays scant attention to the means of grace. It is not actually Reformed in any meaningful sense.
Chantry’s grammatical scare quotes indicate so-called Reformed Charismaticism on the first wise and New Calvinism isn’t “New….” on the second. He is dead wrong on the first and absolutely correct on the second.
Let’s take the second scare quote first. New Calvinism isn’t new, it’s a resurgence of the original authentic article. That would be, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. That’s a contemporary tag, but is an apt in regard to the authentic Reformed gospel. Nothing happens inside of us—grace comes from outside of us completely.
“But Paul, that’s true isn’t it? We were not saved by anything inside of us; it all came from God’s righteousness that was imputed to us. Certainly, you are not saying that we had any righteousness inside of us that aided our salvation!”
Sigh. This is where the Reformers have been pulling the wool over our eyes for the better part of 500 years. They believe that righteousness is only imputed to us positionally, and not internally. We remain the same. God does everything in both salvation and our Christian walk. Our salvation is predetermined, and our Christian walk is predetermined. All righteousness/grace remains outside of the “believer.” Hence, and don’t miss this, only the gospel is objective. We are so totally depraved that if any righteousness at all is within us, anything that we would make of it intellectually would be subjective at best. The only reality lifeline man has is the same lifeline that saves him: the gospel.
Therefore, we live by the gospel; i.e., an “objective” endeavor to obtain a deeper and deeper knowledge of our sinfulness (as believers) in order to have a deeper and deeper understanding of God’s holiness and appreciation for the depths of His sacrifice for our sin. Depending on the stripe of Reformed buffoonery, the result is a manifestation of Christ’s obedience in the Holy Spirit realm as opposed to the worldly (flesh) realm or mere wellbeing of spirit with a disregard for whatever God decides to do in our lives.
In the first case, the perfect life that Christ lived on earth is imputed to our Christian walk so that we can live by faith alone in sanctification. When Christ’s obedience is manifested in the Spirit realm, we experience it because we are in that realm, but it is not because of anything inside of us. We experience it as if we are performing the work, but it is really the manifestation of Christ in the Spirit realm.
The latter is explained well in the magnum opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation. In that document, he clearly states that we don’t work, but rather God works as it is predetermined for our particular life. Luther stated that as we mediate on our total depravity and God’s holiness we experience death which leads to a joyful resurrection. In other words, the gateway to joy is a deeper understanding of our total depravity. This is the basis of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism in 500,000 words or less. This was also Luther’s definition of the new birth. For Luther, the new birth was progressive and not a onetime event.
John Calvin then took Luther’s concept and applied its dualism (all reality being interpreted through God’s holiness and our depravity) to the full spectrum of how religion is experienced, lived, and believed. That would be the Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion. This all survives under masterful preaching that only follows this systematized dualism, but much can be preached about God’s holiness and our sinfulness. All preaching by the likes Spurgeon et al can be parsed into this dual prism. Missing is practical application and a true understanding of our role in the Christian walk which results in what we see today in the American church. This eventually leads to a social death and then historical resurgences that follow.
Some of what I am saying can be seen in Chantry’s rant:
One way to summarize the doctrine of divine sovereignty is this: It is God who acts, not man. How will the lost be saved? God must act. How will sinful Christians overcome the “old man”? God must act. How will the church grow in both holiness and influence? Again, God must act. He is the sovereign; He is the great Actor in every aspect of our spiritual life.
Notice that “old man” is in scare quotes. They don’t believe that there is any “old man.” We don’t change—we remain empty vessels. The Bible is merely a tool for aiding us in seeing Luther’s “cross story” as opposed to our “glory story.” Again, this fleshes out in many different ways among Reformed cultists. The sacraments, along with preaching Luther’s cross story, aid us in seeing the need for constant forgiveness, what is called “deep repentance” leading to death and subsequent resurrection experienced by joy. The Christian walk is an endeavor to live by faith alone which is an experience, not a work that we do. This is why the Reformers were so exercised in regard to the book of James—James stated a salvation by faith alone while calling for believers to add works to their salvific faith. This turns Reformed theology completely on its head.
Chantry’s thesis is beyond lame. The Charismatic New Calvinists know their cuts of Reformed theology very well. CJ Mahaney’s five word gospel, “Christ died for our sins” and all reality flowing out of that is classic Reformed theology. Chantry doesn’t like Charismatic subjective results of the same Reformed objective gospel. Therefore, he denies that they have the same gospel. That’s not true. When all reality is interpreted through dualism, the results are always subjective. But the prism is the same.
That’s why Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit. If Chantry doesn’t like the fruit he needs to change trees.