Paul's Passing Thoughts

Often Asked By Those Looking For a Church: How Do I Know If It Is New Calvinist Or Not? Important Addendum

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 7, 2012

There has been an important development for the answering of this question. Specifically, how a pastor interprets Romans 8:30 will determine whether he is New Calvinist, or not New Calvinist. This is best explained by using an excerpt from another recent post, and then I will repost the original article afterward.

As many know, especially my wife, I have spent almost five years researching the present-day New Calvinism movement. The movement has its roots in the Progressive Adventist movement fathered by Robert Brinsmead. The magnum opus of that movement was their interpretation of Romans 8:30. I will pause now and quote an individual who witnessed that remarkable movement firsthand:

In 1971, Brinsmead scheduled a flurry of summer institutes to bring us his latest emphasis. There was more excitement than usual; the latest round of tapes had prepared us for something big. Bob had been studying the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith, comparing it to Roman Catholic doctrines. Reading Luther, he saw that justification is not just a means to the end of perfect sanctification. When we are justified by faith, not only does God impute Christ’s righteousness to us but we also possess Christ Himself—all His righteousness and all His perfection. Eternity flows from that fact.

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified’ (Rom. 8:30).

The same ones he justified he also glorified. We began to realize we had inserted extra steps into Paul’s chain of salvation: sanctification and a final atonement brought about by blotting out sins. Those added steps, in fact, were the heart of the Awakening message—but we had ignored the heart of the real gospel: being justified by faith, we ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ Our righteousness is in heaven, said Brinsmead:

“The righteousness by which we become just in God’s sight, remain just in His sight and will one day be sealed as forever just in His sight, is an outside righteousness. It is not on earth, but only in heaven…only in Jesus Christ” (Martin L. Carey: Judged by the Gospel: The Progression of Brinsmead’s Awakening )

Brinsmead further articulated this magnum opus in the theological journal, Present Truth:

Then in the golden chain of salvation, Romans 8:30, justification spans our Christian life all the way from calling or conversion to glorification: “Whom He called, them He justified; whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Here justification, our standing before God, is coterminous with sanctification, our being conformed to the image of God’s Son, in Romans 8:29. In 1 Corinthians 1:30 the apostle mentions Christ as our righteousness or justification before he names Him as our sanctification. But in 1 Corinthians 6:11 the order is reversed: “You are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

Accordingly, Luther taught that to accept justification by faith in Christ is our whole work for the whole Christian life. We never learn this too well. For the forgiveness of sins is a continuous divine work until we die. Christ saves us perpetually (Luther’s Works, American ed. (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press; St. Louis: Concordia, 1955- ), Vol.34, pp.164, 167, 190) [Present Truth: volume 25, pages 11,12].

Now, the term, “golden chain of salvation” did not originate with Brinsmead, but when that term was used by theologians of old, it doesn’t seem to be in reference to Romans 8:30. The term seems to have a contemporary meaning when associated with Romans 8:30, and that is how it will be used in this post. Furthermore, Brinsmead attributes the magnum opus of Progressive Adventism to Martin Luther, and Carey attributes it to Brinsmead who again, states that he learned it from the writings of Luther.

But the need for further research aside, this post will focus on the what. And the what is the following:

[1] Brinsmead’s interpretation of Romans 8:30 combines justification and sanctification, and perpetuates the need for a just standing before God until glorification.

[2] And the need for  a progressive justification until glorification, ie.,“Christ saves us perpetually.”

[3] And sanctification is missing from Romans 8:30 because it is “coterminous” with Justification. “Conterminous” means, 1. having the same border or covering the same Area 2. being the same in extent; coextensive in range or scope.

[4] This Romans 8:30 golden chain can be definitively traced throughout the New Calvinism community as a single mainframe that holds the doctrine together and determines its  modus operandi.

[5] The Romans 8:30 golden chain manifests itself as, Gospel Sanctification, Sonship Theology, New Covenant Theology, and Christian Hedonism which all dwell in the community of New Calvinism.

Hence, New Calvinists can run, but they can’t hide—their interpretation of  Romans 8:30 identifies them. And it also identifies what they will teach, and how they will counsel.

The Two Romans 8:30 and Their Gospels

Therefore, one version of Romans 8:30 suggests that sanctification is missing from the verse because justification and sanctification are the same, and justification is perpetual till glorification. The second interpretation of Romans 8:30 suggests that sanctification is missing from the verse because justification and sanctification are completely separate; and justification is a finished work that makes sanctification possible, but does not directly power it. This position would hold that sanctification is powered by regeneration, and not justification. Hence, Romans 8:30 is missing sanctification because justification is a finished work that guarantees glorification.

These are two completely different gospels. One is monergistic substitutionary sanctification, and the other is monergistic justification and synergistic sanctification. How the gospel is presented from each of these different viewpoints must necessarily be radically different. Moreover, counseling is necessarily, and radically different as well.

New Calvinism is not only dangerous to one’s soul, it is very subtle, and its proponents are deliberately covert. A post on what to look for is overdue, and my thanks to the reader who wrote and reminded me of this need. First, know this: in our day, New Calvinist churches will be the rule and not the exception. When you visit a church, assume that it is in the process of being taken over by New Calvinists, or has been in that camp completely for a period of time. Churches that have been solidly New Calvinist for a number of years will have cult-like characteristics.

Now, let me first begin my list by specifically answering the readers question and then I will expand from there: “….and would like to have a few questions to ask a Pastor to be able to know for sure if he is or is not in the NC camp by how the questions are answered.  At the top of your head what questions would you recommend be asked that would be very telling?”

1) The biggie: “What hermeneutic do you use when you are preaching? Do you use the grammatical historical hermeneutic, or the redemptive historical hermeneutic?” Whether the pastor is NC or not, a deer in the headlight look will follow because most parishioners of our day do not know any theology.  Think about it for a moment. These are two very different ways of approaching the Bible with the results being radically different; but yet, 99% of the parishioners out there have no idea which one their pastor uses.

GHH  seeks to be exegetic; all ideas about everything are drawn from the text. RHH has an eisegetic approach; the sole purpose of the Bible is to gain a deeper understanding of Christ. It is sometimes called the “Chrstocentric” hermeneutic.

If the pastor admits that he is RHH, he is a NC. If he becomes aloof, for example; “Well, why don’t you come and see what we are about at one of our services, and then if you still want to talk about theology, we can do that” (by the way, that’s an actual quote from a pastor in response to my question concerning his hermeneutics), he is suspect. If he claims to be both, he is also suspect. If he is NC, he will know the very second  you asked that question that he does not want you in his church.

2) Ask him who his favorite teachers are (you may want to word the question in a different way).  If aloofness follows, he is suspect. If his favorite teachers are the likes of John Piper et al, he is either undiscerning or NC. In other words, he’s suspect.

3) You can ask him about his view on obedience, but you have to ask it this way in order not to be roper-doped: “Does all legitimate obedience and duty come out of a deeper understanding of our salvation? And when it does, is it a ‘mere natural flow?’”

4) “Do you believe that we are sanctified (set apart) by contemplating the  gospel that saved us, or colaboring with the Holy Spirit in applying the word to our life.”

Bottom line: a skilled NC pastor can get around all of these questions except question number one. Even then, he can claim that he uses both hermeneutics.

Things to Look For

5) Is everything going on in the church about the gospel and Jesus? Is all of the music about redemption? Are all the messages about salvation, even though it’s a Christian setting? Is God the Father and the Holy Spirit rarely mentioned?

6) Another biggie: The missing transition communication technique in teaching and conversation. Like number one, this is huge. A message will begin with the subject of our Christian walk, but then will move into the subject of salvation without a transition in subject, as if the two are the same thing. Really, number one and number six are the most significant answers to the reader’s question.

7) The either/or communication technique, or the missing option C communication technique. The classic example is this prayer I heard spoken by a New Calvinist elder: “Lord, forgive us for obeying you in our own efforts.” The prayer insinuates that it’s either all of our effort, or all of something else that we don’t need forgiveness for. New Calvinists use this communication technique over a wide spectrum of teachings.

The Danger Zone

8.) Don’t forget, New Calvinist elders believe they have authority over you if you are a professing Christian and you are in their neck of the woods. Never, never, never, never meet with an elder or a group of elders ALONE. Never. And document everything. If you find yourself trying to ascertain where a church is doctrinally, and things are getting uncomfortable—that’s a New Calvinist church, or a cult, one or the other. Also, in this type of situation in a NC church, they consider these meetings to be steps of Matthew 18. They also consider any type of formal or informal counseling to be part of the discipline process. Regardless of whether you are a member or not, they will formally excommunicate you from the church universal in a Sunday morning service. And by the way, you have no legal grounds for a lawsuit in any state. Please, please, avoid these situations.

9) Watch for signs of exclusiveness; such as, “We preach the scandalous gospel,” ect. Or, “We teach this, as opposed to the ‘vast majority’ of other Christian churches.” “This is what makes us unique.” If you hear verbiage like this, gather your family and run for the nearest exit door. And don’t look back.

10) Watch out for love bombing. An overemphasis on love usually replaces things that are missing—like TRUTH! True loving relationships, even among Christians, are developed over time.

Also, in a NC church, if you are thought to be discerning, you may be approached by an elder with an unsolicited offer to “disciple” you on a weekly basis. This is more than likely for the purpose of neutralizing you as a threat. In many NC churches, this is considered counseling/discipline whether you are aware of it or not. It is known as “redemptive church discipline.” The goal is to bring you to a “redemptive” view of sanctification.

paul

3 Responses

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  1. William said, on February 7, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    If they quote John Piper in particular, when teaching and interpreting scripture, instead of Matthew Henry or sound, proven, orthodox teachers from the past, it should be a red flag. If they have quotes or videos from John Piper on their website, stay away. Association is implied where honor, respect, and imitation are displayed.

    No pastor will ever rise above those whom he honors and quotes, and no congregation will ever rise above their pastor (that’s why he is pastor). Do not submit, therefore, to inferior teachers or those who hold the wrong men in esteem. It is proof they lack discernment and shows who they are following.

    The apostle Paul provided the infallible, inspired standard of whom we should follow in Philippians 3:17:

    “Brethren, be *followers together of me* (Paul), and *mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example*.

    (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

    Another mark of New Calvinist churches is worldliness (as the verse above suggests), and incorporation of worldly methods into church and ministry (e.g. certain conferences they support, T4G, Rebelution, etc.) while feigning orthodoxy, because it flows from their philosophy of justification=sanctification and antinomian New Covenant Theology. 2 Tim. 3 provides the marks of apostate church and ministry, which has a “form of religion, while denying the power thereof”, from which we are commanded (not suggested) to “turn away”.

    This narrows the field very rapidly (showing the extent of apostasy in this country), but it is the standard of holy scripture which most of modern Christianity, including loose New Calvinism, cannot bear, which is why they alter their doctrine accordingly. Many have set their eyes on these “heroes” who quote the Puritans and Spurgeon because it appears they take their standards from good men of the past—which is the great deception and serves as a cloak for their false teaching!

    Like

  2. William said, on February 7, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Here is a recent example of a New Calvinism church and pastor in this Southern Baptist church in Kentucky. Can you spot some of the marks in it? Listen how the pastor talks, the way he communicates his message.

    http://www.greenvilleonline.com/article/20120131/LIFE01/301310035/New-Calvinism-finds-Southern-Baptist-fans?odyssey=nav|head

    Like

  3. William said, on February 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Pardon me, the article link above requires subscription to view. Here is the original article from its source. It is worth seeing:

    http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20120129/NEWS01/301300029/New-Calvinism-finds-Southern-Baptist-fans

    Like


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