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.
Originally Published February 27, 2013
I think I have taken my last trip to SBC Today .com and SBC Voices .com. I have been referred over there a number of times to observe truth tone deafness on steroids. A heretic is running our flagship seminary, but the big news is that Tim Tebow cancelled his speaking engagement at FBCD. The big hero this time in the ongoing drama of SBC folklore (in our own pitiful minds) is Dr. Jeffress, who like all other SBC notables has never called out another leader for the same scandalous filth that is going on in most denominations. He will call out homosexuals, but the rape cover-ups in the SBC are a taboo subject. We call out the sins of the world, but to call out our own sin is “gossip.” All of these guys just really make me want to puke. Because they are sorry excuses for leadership—we are a joke in the eyes of the world and rightfully so.
Other articles posit the supposed strength of Calvinists and non-Calvinists working together in the SBC. So, the likes of David Platt will gladly play along while believing that synergistic sanctification is a false gospel and works salvation. This is a simple thing, Jerry Vines needs to call Al Mohler on the phone and ask him if synergistic sanctification is works salvation. I think the answer would surprise him if Mohler has a rare moment of truth telling. Of course, if Vines decides to do something about it, he then has to explain how he missed this all along and focused on symptoms rather than the issue of Calvin’s false gospel. I have been a lay pastor since 1986, and I missed it. Why? Because I was clueless, that’s why. More studied than a lot of Christians, I had a very poor understanding of justification, sanctification, and covenants, and still have a lot to learn. What’s so hard about that? Just admit it! What’s the big deal?
All of this conversation in the SBC about getting along with Calvinists could just as well include the Jehovah Witnesses or the Moonies. There is no difference; a false gospel is a false gospel and a cult is a cult. Calvinism was the epitome of a cult in Calvin’s Geneva and still is. You could slip a playing card in-between Calvin’s Geneva and Jonestown save the fact that Jonestown wanted to go out with a bang. But more to the point let’s talk about Calvin’s false gospel—the gospel that SBC yesomites say we should work together with.
In today’s church words don’t mean things because if they did we would have to do something about it. And we are mostly business as usual loving spiritual slugs. That’s what we need more than anything in the church today: leaders who take words seriously and will act accordingly. They will be easy to spot. When the sun is out during the day they will be walking around rather than sunning themselves on flat rocks like the majority. So, let’s talk about words.
“We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Really? Does this raise any red flags? No. It is so, so indicative of how mindless Christians are in our day. “Wow, that sounds pretty cool. More fish anybody?” Come now, let’s be honest; do we really believe that we have been appointed stewards of God’s life-giving word? Is that how we function? A name that has come up in this ministry a lot this week is Miles McKee. He states a lot of things on his Facebook page that brings hearty kudos from many because their eyes immediately gravitate to the word, “gospel” in the sentence. “Oh there it is! The word gospel! Amen brother!” But let’s
look at his statements more closely. Here is the subline of his Facebook page:
“Preaching Christ crucified to the saved and lost alike. The goal is to pack this web site with rich gospel goodies.”
Yes, and that is exactly what Christian children in adult bodies seek in our day, “rich gospel goodies.” Yum, yum, yum. We can’t take the word of God and help people in real trouble; we are too busy feeding on our gospel goodies. Note the picture at right—that’s us. It is also how the world sees us, and rightfully so.
But note that we are supposed to be preaching Christ crucified to Christians. This doesn’t raise any red flags. Note that the same message preached to unbelievers is also fundamental to the message Christians still need to hear daily. Still no red flags. Particularly alarming should be the idea that Christ’s crucifixion is perpetual in the Christian life. That’s what Calvin believed. He believed the atonement is perpetual. He believed Christ’s death is continually reapplied to the Christian’s life by faith alone until we reach heaven. We are then judged according to whether or not we continually appropriated Christ’s death in our life by faith alone until that day. It’s keeping our salvation by staying at the foot of the cross. We are saved by faith alone, and at any given time that we are not living our Christian life by faith alone we lose our salvation (or they say we were not really saved to begin with). That’s why we preach the same gospel to the saved as well as the unsaved.
It would therefore seem that the new birth would have to be redefined, and you would be right about that. This doctrine necessitates the denial of the new birth. Hence, McKee also states the following:
“Contrary to much of today’s evangelical preaching, we must state that the message of New Birth is not the gospel.”
Regardless of the fact that Christ’s own gospel presentation to Nicodemus was, “You must be born again,” this doesn’t raise any red flags either. The mindlessness truly boggles the imagination. Graeme Goldsworthy, the foremost hermeneutical authority recognized by Calvinists in our day footnoted (with full agreement) an article written by Anglican Geoffrey Paxton entitled, “The False Gospel of the New Birth.” Yes, the gospel that SBC dimwits think they can colabor with denies the new birth in no uncertain terms. This isn’t rocket science: if the gospel that is good for the goose is also good for the gander; this assumes that no change takes place inside of the believer. And in case you haven’t read the papers lately that’s exactly what Christians are acting like.
Moreover, Calvinists think the evangelical new birth gospel is works salvation: “It would be better to die a heathen than to live a religious life and die without Christ” (McKee). And trust me, synergistic sanctification is the “religious life” being spoken of here.
The Calvinist gospel, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us, is a perfect storm of deception that perfectly facilitates the confounding of salvific terms—I get that. But yet, I see a prevailing arrogance among Christians that since we are so smart, deception will always be evident to us. We are so good at doing Christianity we don’t need practice or diligent study. Our claim that faith is pure and simple is a cloak of arrogance that covers for our bankrupt spirituality and the brunt of jokes among the heathen. If there is a God, where is His representation upon the earth? “Well, we don’t attempt to be the gospel with our own works, we only preach the gospel.” And to that the heathen say,
As a former Reformed pastor, viz, a Protestant, viz, a Calvinist, viz, a Lutheran, viz, an Augustinian, and all other roots of the poisonous tree that make up the Institutional church, I had no comfort for those who suffered the loss of their unborn and infants. I usually let the more expert pastors speak in those situations; you know, the ones with the seminary degrees.
“Is my baby in heaven? ‘We don’t know, but we trust that God is righteous in all that He does.’”
“Why did God allow this to happen? ‘We don’t know, but perhaps to save the child from some worse death.’” That is, something worse than the toddler getting run over in the driveway by their best friend.
Have you ever noticed? Despite trillions of dollars invested in Protestant education, and over 500 years to get it right, Protestants don’t know a lot of stuff. Remember, Jay Adams’ biblical counseling construct introduced in 1970 was considered to be revolutionary. One well-known evangelical even asked, “Could the Bible really be this practical?” Think about it: 1970. That’s how many years after the supposed brilliance of the Reformation?
Not long after 1970, an Adventist theologian named Robert Brinsmead was invited to the hallowed halls of Westminster seminary to inform the who’s who of Protestantism in regard to what a Protestant really is. Now go to Westminster and pay $80,000 for a degree; ya, do that, brilliant. They didn’t even know what the true Protestant gospel was until Brinsmead came along, and they are the experts? Really? So, don’t give me any of that crap about “historical precedent.”
Shortly thereafter, Brinsmead’s revelation was repackaged into things like the Sonship Discipleship Bible Study program and “second generation biblical counseling.” The latter was hatched by Dr. David Powlison who was mentored by another Westminster hack, Dr. John “Jack” Miller. This was the beginning of the New Calvinist movement and launched a Calvinist theological civil war that ended up being won by the New Calvinists who now control Protestantism for the most part. The only holdouts are small Baptist churches that pride themselves on theological ignorance which by the way is a Lutheran Gnostic concept.
But of course, Baptists put a hillbilly twist on that: “We don’t know nuttin about none of that-thar thee-ology stuff. All you do is talk in them 50-cent thee-o-logical words.” Well, at least they know they are ignorant and profess it openly.
Anyway, don’t miss the point: over 500 years after the Reformation Calvinist scholars were arguing about what the true Protestant gospel is. New Calvinism has taken over the evangelical church because no one could ultimately deny that Brinsmead was right. In a presentation at Dr. John Piper’s church, David Powlison stated openly that the difference between first generation biblical counseling and second generation biblical counseling is two different gospels. You do the math. The church is supporting confused men who can’t even agree on what the gospel is.
By the way; babies, born or unborn, go to heaven because they are not under the law. They are born under the law, but they are not susceptible to its condemnation until their consciences are developed. It’s not rocket science, unless your mind is warped with “the gospel of sovereignty.” Don’t bother looking for that in your concordance; it’s not there.
Other than learning real truth from being faithful Bereans, live events teach us well. This week, between our annual TANC conference and the death of my 3rd grandson, I learned a lot more about death. Already in heaven his body was released from what was the comfort of his mother’s womb. His name is now Isaiah, and his short life has taught me much.
The procedure was performed at Kettering hospital in Dayton, Ohio named after Charles F. Kettering the inventor. John Immel spoke of him during this year’s conference. One would do well to read about this man’s astounding life. It is evident at Kettering that they strive to live up to the name for which their facility is named. That’s a very high calling.
But why do we do what we do? Although Isaiah only lived 13 weeks and made no appearance outside of his mother’s womb, Kettering supplies numerous services to honor the life of the unborn. They have a team that focuses on the stillborn exclusively. When Isaiah’s body was delivered, he was placed in a little knit baby crib made by volunteers. Kettering also has a memorial garden for the unborn where ceremonies are held.
Why am I a part of the medical profession where billions of dollars are spent to serve the severely disabled? After all, what can they contribute to others? Why are there so many cemeteries? Wouldn’t it just be easier and cheaper to cremate everybody? For some reason, cemeteries often have “memory” in their names, but I have learned this week from Isaiah that it is not about memory at all. It is rather about defending life and honoring it.
Those who we know and love cannot be forgotten. They become a part of our lives and being. When we lose family and friends, truly the part of our lives they contributed to is lost for the time being. We never completely get over any loss in this lifetime. With each new day we regain more of our happiness and begin functioning according to a new normal of wellbeing. Our mind will find balance, but not because we forget anything. Loss is part of overall homeostasis. There will never be complete closure until the final enemy of God is defeated: death. Christ defeated sin on the cross by ending the law, sickness will be defeated in the Millennial Kingdom, and death will be completely defeated at the new heaven and new earth.
We do what we do because we stand for life. That’s why I no longer think cremation is ok, because of what Isaiah taught me this week. Something is defective in our thinking when dad is sitting on a bookshelf with the family pets. Pets are important, but our lives are worth more than sparrows according to Christ. This is why some cultures have cemeteries, and others just have mass graves. But it’s not about memory, it’s about honoring life—nobody forgets the part of them that is gone.
May I be frank? This is why my knowledge of the Protestant Reformation has caused me to set my face completely against it. If you have followed my teachings on the founding documents of the Protestant Reformation, you know that it is an ideology of zero-sum-life and a doctrine of death. Martin Luther and Charles F. Kettering represent the antithesis of two ideologies in regard to state of being. One loved life so much that he only wanted to know about problems so he could solve them to make life better; the other cursed life and despised anything that improved the quality of it, calling such improvements “the glory of man story” as opposed to the “cross story.” When Christians come to me and Susan for counseling via the electric starter invented by Charles Kettering and end up lecturing us about how spiritual wellbeing only comes from suffering, where does this come from? It comes from the root of the tree. No matter how old a tree is, the fruit is determined by the roots.
We make much ado about the dead because they once lived. We don’t honor their memory—we honor their life. Their memory charges us that when times are good they would have us rejoice, but when times are bad, we are to consider because the creator of life is watching. In this way they speak from the grave.
Sin hates life and brought death. And its advocates despise the idea that man can choose life because they believe he has no right to it. As I walked through the hallways of Kettering Medical Center yesterday I thought about Martin Luther. I thought about how much he would hate that place if he were here today. I thought about how he would rail against it as the “glory of Charles Kettering story” and not the “cross of suffering story.” How he would despise the comfort my daughter received there and its subsequent circumvention of real knowledge in his Book of Concord. This is a vile misrepresentation of the true gospel of life.
But Isaiah and his horde speak of a better testimony…one of life and the upholding of it.
“The Protestant teachers proudly proclaim themselves as bad people and even laugh about it, but yet the simplicity of cause and effect somehow escapes us.”
“In all cases, orthodoxy is the knowledge handed down to the spiritual peasants to inform them on how to be progressively saved by the institution.”
“…in the final judgment followers will stand alone before God.”
Recently, the host and domain address for eldersresolution.org came up for renewal. With everything I have going on with TANC Ministries the due date slipped between the cracks and the site is temporarily down although there are other extensions of the site online (clearcreekchapel.com).
Looking through the information that the site documents was a defining moment and one of deep reflection. I decided to renew the domain address and move it to another site that I will develop sometime in the near future. Perhaps this very post will be the centerpiece.
Before I move on to the primary ideas of this post, let me say that eldersresolution.org, which can now be found in pdf format at http://clearcreekchapeleldersresolution.weebly.com/ was the work of my son-in-law, Pastor David Ingram, and pioneered the concept of using websites to hold the institutional church accountable in a public way. He came up with the idea as a way to take a stand in my situation (circa 2008), and to my knowledge there were no such sites on the internet at that time. It would seem that the Bangladesh missionary kids (https://bangladeshmksspeak.wordpress.com/) were also innovators in regard to the concept early on. In 2009, the concept went viral in response to the heavy-handed leadership mode of the New Calvinist movement which had finally come of age after 39 years of covert growth; what many called the “Quite Revolution” (http://founders.org/library/quiet/).
Reviewing the information made me cringe as it revisited what a weak and confused person I was at the time. With that said, it was also a major turning point in my life that I find impossible to regret. How many times did I dismiss the numerous and serious problems I saw in the church with, “What else is there?” For 27 years I struggled to find relevance in the church.
The turning point was the New Calvinist movement, and specifically the New Calvinists that covertly obtained control of Clearcreek Chapel (Springboro, Ohio). I had been a member there for 20-years-plus and a former elder. As these leaders began transforming Clearcreek from Reformation Light to Reformation Lager, I wondered if I had finally stumbled upon the answers to why Protestant sanctification is so anemic, illogical, and irrelevant.
Like the Protestant leaders I had rubbed shoulders with in the past, they couldn’t answer the hard questions, but this time I really pressed the issue because they were just adding more confusion to the confusion I had found a way to live with. That was troubling to me. Then, when they started responding to my persistence with passive forms of aggression, and later not so passive, I figured I was on to something.
Funny, one question I kept asking publically in Sunday school seemed to be the lightning rod: “How do we know when we are trying to please God ‘in our own efforts’ and what exactly does that mean to begin with? How should we do effort?” It was very obvious to the congregation that they didn’t want to answer the question, but I kept pushing the issue and that’s when all of the trouble started. It would seem that in my search for Protestant relevance, I had finally found the right question. If Christians are to rightly partake in a right effort versus a wrong effort, how is that determined?*
And of course, now I know why they didn’t want to answer the question. Protestantism teaches that sanctification is a “Sabbath rest” in which we “rest in what Jesus has done—not anything we do.” This is what Protestant Light formally criticized as let go and let God theology. But of course in the scheme of things, the folly of this construct is fully realized: not doing things is a metaphysical impossibility; so, what we are talking about is two different types of works. That would be, not working work and working work. Or if you may, faith alone works and work work.
This boils down to Protestant orthodoxy classifying works according to the traditions of men. They determine what faith alone works are as opposed to works that are “self-justifying.” It boils down to the following: obedience to their definitions determine your salvation. Non-self-justifying works pertain to Protestant ritual that keeps you saved. And of course, the sacrament of tithing keeps the money pouring in for infrastructure that bolsters the aurora of authority. What will people pay for their eternal salvation? Observe the splendor of Protestant temples and institutions that pollute the landscape everywhere.
Eldersresolution.org is merely a documenting of the symptoms. The domain will always be there, but I am not really sure why it is a good idea. It was originally constructed to warn others about the Clearcreek Chapel elders who had supposedly distorted Protestant orthodoxy and done really bad things to other people. What I know now is that Protestantism itself is the bad thing. Bad things happen in church because church is bad. In fact, one of the premier leaders of the present-day Protestant church, Dr. John Piper, brags about being bad (https://youtu.be/6-GxkAJ1OBU). The Protestant teachers proudly proclaim themselves as bad people and even laugh about it, but yet the simplicity of cause and effect somehow escapes us.**
Other mediators other than Christ necessarily demand institutional salvation based on what is supposedly God’s authority by proxy. This is why the body of Christ is a literal family and NOT an institution in any way, shape, or form. It is a literal family that one is literally born into by the baptism of the Spirit otherwise known as being “born again.” It is the literal “household of God” and the family of God the Father—not an institution any more than any family is an institution. Christ’s mandate to His assemblies is to be carried out through a family format—the literal family of God. Any vestige of institutionalism will cripple the cause of Christ to the degree that it exists within the assemblies of Christ expressed where families dwell: in homes, not institutional purpose buildings.
ALL institutional churches and religions have these things in common: mediators other than Christ or mediators in addition to Christ. There is a claim of authority other than Christ or a shared authority with Christ, and finally, there is always a gnosis caste system; the haves and have-nots in regard to the ability to know truth owned by the institution. In all cases, orthodoxy is the knowledge handed down to the spiritual peasants to inform them on how to be progressively saved by the institution.
False religion is always a broken road, but unfortunately, the pain of that road will rarely lead people to other places. But when it does, the pain of that road becomes an irrelevant and distant concern. It is a pain that is finished and its purpose completed. It is swallowed up by the experience of where the road has taken you. The story of your broken road will rarely warn others of danger or save anyone; people will forgive or look the other way in many, many things in order to gain eternal life. In the minds of the “good Germans” during WWII Germany was not perfect, but what else was there? In their minds; nothing.
In the mind of a good Protestant or Catholic what else is there? Nothing. It may be a nasty bus, but it’s the only bus going to heaven because the authority of men says so. But in the final judgment followers will stand alone before God.
And so it is. The broken road has led me to a place that makes its potholes and highway robbers a distant and irrelevant memory. Their work is finished. When experience teaches you a new way, and you begin to live in that new way, that’s healing.
Staying on the broken road and revisiting its experiences will never heal. Never. When pain is a finished work…you are healed. It is little different than Christ’s obedience to the cross which He despised and bore for the joy that was set ahead.
It is finished.
*Chad Bresson, an elder at Clearcreek Chapel once prayed before the congregation: “Lord, we know that we have tried to please you in our own efforts this week, please forgive us.”
**The father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, stated in a letter to Philip Melanchthon: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides.”