Paul's Passing Thoughts

Gospel Sanctification and Sonship’s Gospel-Driven Genealogy, Part 9: Three Men Who Stood Against New Calvinism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 3, 2011

“Your writings have pro­voked a new revolt against the very Biblical idea of righteousness and altered the Biblical understanding of the gospel . . . . With complete distaste for controversy, but with greater aversion to your dangerous and confusing novelties,”

 “….they go on like wild bulls propagating their views of classic antinomianism.”

 “This movement runs contrary to the Reformation and the Scriptures. It is dangerous and must be exposed and halted.”


A friend referred me to a lively discussion going on at the Pyro blog concerning John Piper’s (Piper is a New Calvinist) ongoing association with Rick Warren. It’s not about Piper’s theology, it’s about who he associates with. I’m I here right now? What is more obvious than the fact that New Calvinism came forth from the womb crying, “anomia”?  That was the predominant contention of one of the men who stood against New Calvinism. As we work through New Calvinism’s short history using the Gospel Sanctification/Sonship genealogy chart, let it be noted that the movement ran into two major contentions during its development.


Walter J. Chantry


Chantry occupies much of the subject matter of Zens’ historical essay. During New Calvinism’s early development in Reformed Baptist circles, Chantry launched a fervent offensive against Zensology. And most notably—Chantry called it out as being Antinomianism. Chantry’s first sortie came in 1978; Zens writes the following:

“In 1978 and 1979 the opposition to the articles in BRR accelerated (accompanied also by a number of positive encouragements!). Walt Chantry, a leader among the “Reformed Baptists” in the northeast, wrote a brief letter and accused me (without providing any docu­mentation) of propagating “neo-dispensationalism” and “neo-antinomianism” (July, 1978).

I spent hours at the Vanderbilt Library in Nashville researching ‘antinomianism,’ and documented in my lengthy reply to Walt why I repudiated it. I re-sent Walt my articles that disturbed him, and asked him to underline any sentences that bothered him, and told him that I would be glad to consider any points he wished to make (August, 1978). No reply was ever received.”

Chantry’s second sortie, according to Zens, was in 1979:

“At the Summer, 1979, Reformed Baptist Family Conference Walt Chantry delivered some messages on the ‘Kingdom of God.’ In them he attacked the positions of the Reconstructionist movement and BRR. Walt suggested that our position carried with it a denial that there is only one people of God and one way of salvation, a denial that the O.T. is relevant for now, and a denial that the heathen are sinners (because they are not “under law”). While he quoted from the Reconstructionists, he never once cited anything from BRR to document his strong accusations.

In my reply to these tapes (August, 1979), I tried to show Walt that he had totally misconstrued what I believed. Since Al Martin introduced these tapes by announcing that the substance of Walt’s messages would be put into book form, I pleaded with Walt in my reply to not go into print with these misrepresentations of my position.

Walt replied, but still made no attempt to document his allegations (September, 1979). His displeasure was obvious:

‘It is clear that some major shifts have been made. And your

new categories have sown confusion in our churches — not about what we shall call Biblical teachings. Your writings have pro­voked a new revolt against the very Biblical idea of righteousness and altered the Biblical understanding of the gospel . . . . What has been put into print has been damaging to the cause of Christ . . . . With complete distaste for controversy, but with greater aversion to your dangerous and confusing novelties,

Walter J. Chantry, Pastor.’”

Interestingly, Zens’ articles defending his position against Chantry were coincided with a series of articles by Robert Brinsmead in Baptist Reformation Review. Zens’ stated it this way:

“A sort of (unintended) culmination occurred in the Spring, 1981, BRR. There were lengthy review articles of Walt Chantry’s God’s Righteous Kingdom and Robert Brinsmead’s Judged by the Gospel: A Review of Adventism. The dynamic N.T. approach to law and gospel was stated forcefully by RDB [Robert D. Brinsmead]:”

Notice that the foremost figure of the Australian Forum, Robert Brinsmead, was used to defend Zens’ position against Chantry in regard to “The dynamic N.T. approach to law and gospel.” Without a doubt, this phrase later became known as “New Covenant Theology” which was coined by Zens in 1981, according to Dennis Swanson.


Pastor Al Martin


According to Zens:

“In February of 1980, Al Martin presented an emotionally charged message on ‘Law and Gospel’ to a pastor[‘]s’ fellowship in Canada. In it he echoed the charges Wa[lt]if Chantry – ‘neo-antinomianism,’ ‘de facto dispensationalism,’ ‘nothing is regulative for the Christian but the N.T. documents,’ ‘Moses no longer has any valid function in the church of Jesus Christ.’

In my reply to Pastor Martin, I had to ask him just how he would document his sweeping charges, and why he had to resort to such high charged emotionalism (e.g., saying that we encouraged people to ‘stop their ears to Moses,’ and ‘they go on like wild bulls propagating their views of classic antinomianism,’ March 25, 1980). I further said:

As Pastor D.M. Canright said, ‘men who are conscious of being in the right can afford to state the position of their opponents fairly.’ . . . You do your position no help by saying that BRR has put a ‘concrete barrier’ between the two Testaments, and that ‘nothing is carried over.’ No, Pastor Martin, such biased sentiments cannot be documented in BRR. If your position is right, then please manifest a Christian, brotherly approach in stating the position of your opponents fairly (3/25/80). No reply was ever received from Pastor Martin. One of the pastors who attended this presentation in Toronto,

James Shantz, wrote a letter to Al Martin in which he said, ‘I con­tinue to be greatly dismayed by your lecture on Law and Grace, as I have continued to study it on tape. Your declaration that BRR . . . is teaching antinomianism reveals that you yourself have not care­fully studied all the materials.’ Further, Shantz wrote a lengthy paper, ‘The Puritan Giant and the Antinomian Ghost,’ in which he raised a number of questions about traditional Reformed theology.’”


Dr. Jay E. Adams


One must now look to the other side of our genealogy chart ( ). The doctrine cooked-up by Brinsmead and Zens had several points of entry into Westminster Seminary. I am in the midst of the research, but: Zens was a student there; both Present Truth and Baptist Reformation Review had a wide readership at Westminster; Michael Horton was infatuated with the Australian Forum, and at least one writer says the Forum framed much of his theology/ministry; in fact, the Australian Forum formally met with the Westminster Faculty; students from Westminster attended a church where Zens was a Sunday school teacher; it is likely that Westminster’s present infatuation with Geerhardus Vos came via the Australian Forum and Jon Zens.

Jack Miller, a professor of theology at Westminster Seminary, took the basic concept of sanctification by justification alone  and put his own twist on it: Sonship Theology. More research is needed, but it appears that New Covenant Theology was dieing out on the Reformed Baptist side (thanks to Walter Chantry?). Continental Baptist presently have a very small following. However, New Covenant Theology found new life among Presbyterians via Jack Miller and Westminster Seminary. Notwithstanding, the movement encountered fierce opposition in Presbyterian circles, most notably from Dr. Jay Adams who wrote a book in contention against it: Biblical Sonship: An Evaluation of the Sonship Discipleship Course Timeless Text 1999. I must say, the intestinal fortitude of Presbyterians in standing against Sonship Theology is very impressive—if not refreshing.

Which is why the nomenclature was dropped as the movement was forwarded by disciples of Jack Miller: Tim Keller and David Powlison. Therefore, for several years, the movement had no name. Christians knew it was something, and that it was attached to like elements, but there was simply no way to identify it. Worse yet, it seems that “Sonship” nomenclature was replaced with “gospel,” giving it a sort of hands-off protectionism. Finally, the movement was recently named “Gospel Sanctification” by protestants and the label seems to be sticking. The movement itself has recently begun to accept the “New Calvinism” label. But still, identification is a major problem and the movement deliberately hides behind the confusion.

Recently, Jay Adams has added a “Gospel Sanctification” archive to his blog where he writes articles against the movement. In one such article, Adams recently stated: “This movement runs contrary to the Reformation and the Scriptures. It is dangerous and must be exposed and halted.” The fact that Tim Keller and David Powlison are major figures in the New Calvinist / Gospel Sanctification movement speaks for itself. The popular slogans among New Calvinist, “You must preach the gospel to yourself every day,” and, “The same gospel that saves you also sanctifies you” where coined by Jack Miller. But those from the top of the genealogy chart are also present in today’s New Calvinism; for example, G. Goldsworthy, one of the original Australian Three, wrote the “Goldsworthy Trilogy” which is the New Calvinist authority on gospel-centered interpretation.