Paul's Passing Thoughts

Why Jay Adams Had to be Neutralized by the New Calvinists

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 11, 2012

Susan and I had a glorious fellowship with another Christian couple this afternoon.  They are in a ministry of significant influence and will be unnamed. At some point, the conversation turned to New Calvinism. As Susan and I sat and listened to the husband’s testimony concerning what he valued in John Piper’s teachings, I was filled with an understanding in regard to why Piper’s teachings are so attractive. I might add that I was very impressed with his calm, articulate answer immediately following my comment that I believe Piper to be one of the premier heretics of our day.

What this brother described was the fact that serious Christians were looking for an alternative to the fallout from the first gospel wave in contemporary Christian History: raise your hand, sign a card, don’t drink, smoke, chew, or hang out with girls that do. Christianity had been reduced to living by a list of do’s and don’ts by people who didn’t have any life to show for it. Fair enough. Guilty as charged.

But the fact of the matter is that Jay Adams did offer a viable alternative. It was based on hearing the word of God and applying it to our lives according to the whole counsel of God’s wisdom and not just, “stop doing that.” I saw firsthand how this “first generation” biblical counseling movement changed lives in radical fashion, including my own. And the movement continues to do so today even though the fact of that matter is covered up by a whole lot of New Calvinist noise.

To me the crux of the matter is in this brother’s testimony. New Calvinists have effectively sold the idea that they are offering the only alternative to easy believeism in our day. That’s only true because they got rid of the other alternative through slander and persecution, and they know it. Jay Adams’ “first generation” biblical counseling was a threat to the emerging New Calvinist tsunami.  Why? 1) Because it worked and God used it to change lives. 2) It was/is the antithesis of New Calvinism because the latter fuses justification and sanctification while first generation counseling doesn’t. Furthermore, this is what New Calvinist David Powlison said was the fundamental difference between the two while teaching at John Piper’s church:

This might be quite a controversy, but I think it’s worth putting in.  Adams had a tendency to make the cross be for conversion.  And the Holy Spirit was for sanctification.  And actually even came out and attacked my mentor, Jack Miller, my pastor that I’ve been speaking of through the day, for saying that Christians should preach the gospel to themselves.  I think Jay was wrong on that.

If we associate justification with “conversion,”  and we do, Powlison’s statement can be reworded as follows for clarification:

Adams had a tendency to make the cross be for justification (justification cannot be separated from conversion).  And the Holy Spirit was for sanctification.

Second generation counseling/New Calvinism is sanctification by justification, and that was also propagated by his mentor that he mentions. New Calvinists choose their words carefully. Imagine how far the movement would get if they didn’t replace “justification” with “gospel”:

The same finished work of justification that saved you also sanctifies you. Or, we must preach justification to ourselves every day. Or, sanctification is the finished work of justification in action.

I explained to the brother that the other alternative was relentlessly persecuted, and that’s why it would seem that there is only one alternative. He concurred that he perceives criticism of Adams taking place on a continual basis. Why? Because the truth he teaches is the competition. It’s a threat.

This is an approach that I have never used before: 1) Powlison admits a fundamental difference between first generation and second generation counseling; ie, sanctification by the cross (justification) verses sanctification by the Spirit apart from the finished work of justification. 2) An alternative is confirmed. 3) You only have the New Calvinists’ testimony that they are the only alternative. 4) Why not investigate and find out for yourself?

He agreed, and was sent off with a copy of The Truth About New Calvinism. Please pray for the situation. Christianity doesn’t need a second gospel wave. The first wave devalued sanctification by focusing on justification only; the second devalues it as well by making it the same thing as justification. Both are just as deadly, and when the novelty of New Calvinism wears off, the results will be worse.

paul

13 Responses

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  1. Born4Battle said, on March 12, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    “I believe Piper to be one of the premier heretics of our day.”

    Prov 6:16

    Not defending Piper, but not condemning him wither……just sayin’.

    So when all the ‘heretics’ have been shot killed and hung in the den, who will be left?

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 12, 2012 at 9:10 AM

      B4B,

      In our day, not many. And if everyone is a heretic because we are all totally depraved, why is your handle “Born 4 Battle”? What are you fighting against?

      Like

      • Born4Battle said, on March 12, 2012 at 6:29 PM

        Fighting FOR the gospel.. Comes from a book by R. Arthur Matthews bu that name, and a Steve Camp song from years back called Run to The Battle. I’m not saying everyone is a heretic, but you have a pretty long list. I hesitate to just judge folks heretics. They might not be correct in all of their throligy (none of us are) but I think you have on your list, some who hold to a true gospel message as defined by Paul. When I think of heretics, I think of all of the men who tell folks to come to Jesus for their best lives now – who have a patently false gospel and probably deserve the term. Even then, I would rather try and spread a true gospel message and let God open hearts to receive it, fall in love with the Word and discover for themselves who are the real heretics.

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      • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 12, 2012 at 7:04 PM

        B4B

        I believe truth is the exception and not the rule in our day. And I believe that Christ and the apostles predicted that would be the case.

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      • Born4Battle said, on March 15, 2012 at 1:59 PM

        We are in a truth war, and apostasy is rampant, but NOT where men hold to the true gospel that Christ died for the sins of His people, and not ‘their best life now’. Now that’s a heresy worth exposing, but by bringing truth and letting the Holy Spirit take it to open hearts, FROM a heart of love for the brethren.

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    • ToNY Minchew said, on August 15, 2020 at 12:59 AM

      I am in the process of changing churches (after 34 years) after a new pastor was challenged by another staff member (with 27+ years on staff) regarding the new pastor’s Calvinist beliefs. It cost the staff member his ministry and his 600 member Sunday School class. It was and still is a mess. I am still in shock and have been w/o a church home for about three weeks now.

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  2. lydiasellerofpurple@yahoo.com said, on March 12, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    “New Calvinists have effectively sold the idea that they are offering the only alternative to easy believeism in our day”

    This is it. This is exactly what attracted me to it in the first place. But as I dove in, I saw little difference in the end result. IN easy believism you kept on sinning because you were covered by cheap grace. In NC, you keep on sinning because Jesus already obeyed for you and besides, you are too depraved to do anything else. (Hide your wallets when talking to NC’ers)

    So, NC goes for psuedo intellectualism with lots of mysticism and what I call Platonic philosophy. They make everything so complicated and mystical you keep thinking that someday, you might just get it….. as they keep telling you over and over. While they can claim to be totally depraved and still qualifed to lead people. Amazing when you think about it, huh?

    For those of us who get it and know it is bunk, their followers keep parsing every word of the celebs and saying they are not saying what we say they are saying. Even well paid public communicators who make a living communicating. Fewer and fewer people see the logic in that and that worries me a lot. It is as if basic thinking and logic are out the window. I cannot take at face value what public communicators of the word are saying. I am just told I cannot understand it. What a gig!

    “. That’s only true because they got rid of the other alternative through slander and persecution, and they know it. Jay Adams’ “first generation” biblical counseling was a threat to the emerging New Calvinist tsunami. Why? 1) Because it worked and God used it to change lives. 2) It was/is the antithesis of New Calvinism because the latter fuses justification and sanctification while first generation counseling doesn’t.”

    There is a 3rd reason. In NC, you must depend on the leaders because they are playing Holy Spirit for you. When you are obedient and the Holy Spirit IS leading, you won’t need them and their gig is up. They really do fear that.

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 12, 2012 at 7:43 PM

      Lydia,
      Excellent observations.

      Like

    • Tony Minchew said, on August 15, 2020 at 1:07 AM

      Great points. I was shocked to find out how illogical, ignorant, and shallow I am because I tend toward what the Bible says versus what another man says the Bible says.

      Not a Piper cub.

      Like

  3. David Ingram said, on March 16, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    “So, NC goes for pseudo intellectualism with lots of mysticism and what I call Platonic philosophy. They make everything so complicated and mystical you keep thinking that someday, you might just get it….. as they keep telling you over and over. While they can claim to be totally depraved and still qualified to lead people. Amazing when you think about it, huh?”

    Wow, that is the best description I believe I have ever seen or heard of New Calvinism.

    Really your entire comment is spot on!

    This is really the core issue and why so many of them turn into cults: “There is a 3rd reason. In NC, you must depend on the leaders because they are playing Holy Spirit for you.”

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 16, 2012 at 6:55 AM

      David,
      You have been calling that for awhile and I was thinking about that yesterday. The pastor I had lunch with also said, “It sounds like Gnosticism to me.”

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  4. David Ingram said, on March 16, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    I was intrigued that you mentioned Platonic philosophy. I wrote an article a couple years ago about the connection to Plato and Gnosticism and NC folks when nuts. It really is modern day Gnosticism which anyone who understands both would see.

    Like


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