5 Reasons Not to Support New Calvinism

On April 21, 2016, the provost and executive vice president of Westminster Theological Seminary, Jeffrey K. Jue, wrote of his experience at this year’s Together for the Gospel 2016 (TGC16) conference.  Jue stated that he participated in the Westminster faculty panel at the conference and that he made a similar appearance at The Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference (TGC15).  In reflecting on his experience,[1] Jue stated that he felt so encouraged by his experience that he felt it important to put together “5 Reasons why the New Calvinism is Worth Supporting”.  After reading the article myself, several counterpoints came to mind.

As I considered how best to put together my response, it occurred to me that Jue had already provided a quite helpful framework.  As such, I will rework his original five points, adding my own thoughts.

Formatting Notes:

  1. To save space, I will provide a list of important links outlining the leadership of various New Calvinist organizations in the footnotes.  I will be referencing these organizations, and the men associated with them, quite often and it is simply untenable to hyperlink every reference. All figures mentioned have ties (directly or indirectly) to the TGC15 and/or T4G2016 conferences which Jue directly referenced.[2]
  2. For each public figure mentioned, a brief footnote will be added with pertinent biographical information.  Only one note per figure will appear.  If you wish to see how the tangled web of New Calvinist leadership works, these footnotes will prove helpful in seeing how all of these persons are directly interconnected.  Also, at the end of this piece, I provide a list of speakers at the CBMW16 and T4G16 conferences, any figures not appearing in the footnotes will have a short biography featured in this list.

With preliminary matters out of the way, I offer the following:

5 Reasons Why the New Calvinism is Not Worth Supporting

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It focuses on pastors by continuing to empower men who have otherwise disqualified themselves from ministry

New Calvinist movement is certainly known for focusing strongly on the authority and privilege of pastors above all else.  Specifically, New Calvinism is known for its corrupt hierarchy and abusive personalities.

Consider the following examples:

1. Mark Driscoll’s leadership was so toxic an entire network of churches closed due to his pride.  He is well-known for being beligerent, misogynistic, and spiritually abusive. He has called women “penis homes” and stay-at-home fathers “worse than unbelievers.” It was these actions, and so many more, which led Darrin Patrick[3] and the rest of Acts 29 to remove Driscoll as the organization’s president and revoke the Mars Hill church network’s membership in the organization. Driscoll has also been accused of numerous financial indiscretions with church funds.

Despite the fact that all of these serial offenses eventually resulted in Driscoll resigning from The Gospel Coalition (TGC) council, John Piper[4] called the fall of Driscoll’s ministry a bad thing, even a Satanic victory.  Piper claims Driscoll has a flawed personality, but overall he gets the Gospel right.  Further, many leaders and institutions – including Josh McDowell, Les and Leslie Parrott, Phoenix Seminary[5], and Josh McPherson[6] – have welcomed Driscoll’s new church, The Trinity Church of Phoenix, Arizona, with open arms.

2. Matt Chandler’s[7] leadership team was so ill-trained that they chose to place Karen Hinkley under church discipline for annulling her marriage to a confessed pedophile and child pornography addict.   Further, leadership communicated demonstrably false information to church members regarding Hinkley.  Finally, when the church did confess it’s sin of abusing Hinkley, the pastoral staff – including Chandler – faced no church discipline themselves for engaging in such gross abuse of ecclesial authorityNeither was Chandler removed from any position of leadership in any other organization in which he serves.

3. Ken Ramey – student of John MacArthur[8] and senior pastor of Lakeside Bible Church – placed a mother and her special needs son under church discipline for reporting rape.  The son, who was 13, was raped by another teen from the church, yet Ramey and staff instructed the mother not to call police but instead to submit to a church mediated reconciliation process.  Ramey even went so far as to call the rapist a “perpetrator” in a letter he wrote to the LBC congregation, using scare quotes to delegitimize the story of the mother and her sonDespite his abusive actions, Ramey has seen no disciplinary action from LBC’s elder board.

Likewise, there has been no outrage from any New Calvinist organization with which Ramey has been associated.  Instead, as the former Youth Pastor at Grace Community Church (GCC), Ramey’s teaching and preaching are featured proudly on Grace Community Church’s site and GCC senior pastor John MacArthur has promoted his book, Expository Listening. Further Ramey’s book is endorsed by Tim Challies[9], 9 Marks[10], and Thabiti Anyabwile[11].

  1. RC Sproul, Jr., along with three other pastors of St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, was defrocked by his denomination, the Reformed Church Presbyterian General Assembly (RCPGA), in January, 2006, for reasons which included a pattern of pastoral abuse of congregants, the teaching of doctrines deemed heretical (paedocommunion), and tax fraud.  In addition, despite his claim of repentance, Sproul, Jr. took deliberate action to ensure he would never face the restoration process prescribed by the RCPGA.  Thus, in order to prevent further trial from his presbytery, Sproul, Jr. instead petitioned to be released from the jurisdiction of the RCPGA.

RPCGA Judgment (PDF)

Repentance Letter (PDF)

To Deposed Session (PDF)

Upon being granted release, Sproul, Jr. et al, were then reestablished as elders of their church.  St. Peter’s then petitioned the Confederate of Reformed Evangelical Churches – now the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) – a denomination founded by Doug Wilson[12] and, at the time, led by Randy Booth[13] – to accept the church under their authority.  By May of 2006, The CREC had decided to take Sproul, Jr.’s church under their authority.  They also had the audacity to ask the RCPGA and ten other Reformed Elders for their support even as they moved to restore Sproul, Jr’s ordination within the CREC without any due process – all of this despite the fact that the RCPGA had unequivocally stated that he was unfit for any form of church leadership.

CREC_to_Reformed_Men (PDF)

CREC_Commission_report (PDF)

Further disturbing, despite these clear violations of pastoral office and defrocking, Ligonier ministries[14] appointed Sproul, Jr. to serve as a teaching fellow.[15]  Also, he serves Ligonier as a popular public speaker, a position for which he “travels extensively as a conference speaker to teach pastors and laypeople around the world on subjects including the family, Christian education, theology, and pastoral ministry.”

Also, in 2014, RBC (where his father, unsurprisingly, served as president at the time and now serves as chancellor) appointed Sproul, Jr. the rector of Theology and chair of the department of Philosophy and Theology – an interesting move given the accusations of heresy.  Also of interest is that, in 2010, Sproul, Jr. moved his ordination to the Covenant Presbyterian Church denomination, where he is permitted to teach the heretical view he had been previously defrocked for, paedocommunion.  As part of CPC, Jr. serves as a teaching elder at Heritage Church of Centerville, Tennessee.  He also planted Ascension Presbyterian Church in Apopka, Florida, where he continues to serve as Senior Pastor, in 2014.

All of this proves more interesting because, in August of 2015 Sproul, Jr. outed himself as having “visited” Ashley Madison and “left an old email address.”  What Sproul of course carefully avoided was the reality that the only way to leave an email address on the site – which exists to arrange sexual rendezvous between persons – is to register an account (see also here).  Yet despite the fact that Sproul was convicted by his presbytery of serial pastoral abuse, found to have committed tax fraud, convicted of teaching heresy, and deemed unqualified for ordination or service as an elder, Ligonier Ministries, RBC, and Ascension all placed him on paid suspension until July, 2016.  That means that, assuming his 2014 salary from Ligonier and RBC, Sproul, Jr. will have made at least $350,000 for registering an account on Ashley Madison.

 

New Calvinism has produced a church polity which holds pastors virtually above reproach.  Besides the names above, I could easily mention Darrin Patrick, Tullian Tchividjian,[16] CJ Mahaney,[17] Joshua Harris,[18] Grant Layman,[19] Gary Ricucci,[20] John Piper, Doug Wilson.  Even then, I would only have begun to address the many prominent pastors with direct ties to the international ministries which claim to be leading the charge of a New Calvinist, complementarian “gospel” message.

 What would have happened had the “least of these” taken more precedence within the New Calvinist tradition than the platforms and privileges of their pastors?

 

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It emphasizes the “need for sound, scriptural theology” by enforcing complementarian gender roles as a contingent of the Gospel.

New Calvinism places complementarian gender roles at the very heart of the Gospel message.  Many of the most influential men within this movement make these gender roles a central tenant of their theology.  While many more examples could certainly be listed, the three below will prove enlightening.

1. Owen Strachan[21] presented at CBMW16 on the “Goodness and Truthfulness of Complementarity.” Among the many troubling statements Strachan made during this speech, Strachan asserted that complementarity is a consistent theme throughout Scripture, insisting that humanity is the apex, the height and purpose of God’s creation.

Already, in doing this, Strachan shows he does not understand the complex structure of the Genesis account.  First, the mirrored structure of the first six days of creation has days one through three corresponding to days four through six.  Day seven, however, stands alone as the day God rests.  This is an image which evokes the creation as temple/tabernacle.  Just as God’s presence rested in the tabernacle after the seven commands for construction were fulfilled, so God’s presence rested upon the earth.  This renders both male and female charged with caring for creation as the priesthood was called to care for the temple.[22]

The problem for Strachan here is that he believes wholeheartedly women aren’t called to the same level of leadership as men within the church.  Yet the very passage he cites to support his argument undermines him.  Since the Imago Dei in Genesis 1 evokes the imagery of a king commissioning his emissaries, this passage serves as an allusion to Exodus 19 where all of Israel is called to be the royal priesthood of God.  It hardly stands to reason, then, that a woman – who bears the same image as man according to Genesis 1 – would somehow be relegated to a lesser responsibility as a royal priest charged with the stewardship of the temple that is God’s creation.

In other words, in order to promote human complementarity, Strachan must literally displace the centrality of YHWH himself to the Genesis 1 creation poem.  But Strachan does not end here.  Instead, he continues to press his luck by insisting that, because the Bible refers to Jesus as head and us as his bride, “the Gospel has a complementarian structure.”[23]

This is shored up by his statement that no doctrine of the Christian faith can take precedence over any other because, as he sees it, “no jot of tittle has passed a way.”[24]  Strachan thus states, rather absurdly, that we cannot rank the importance of doctrines – no doctrine can in fact be any more important than any other.  Thus, for Strachan, the complementarity of men and women, that which he calls a doctrine of anthropology, is just as important to an understanding of the Gospel as Christology.  Strachan has quite boldly declared that complementarian gender roles are just as central to the Gospel as the cross itself.

Now, whether or not complementarianism is true,[25] I think it is quite obvious why this is a heretical statement.  The argument that complementarity is just as central as the cross of Christ to the Gospel message is an argument that we are saved by complementarity.  Just as the Corinthians before him, Strachan has declared himself a disciple of men and asserted that this is his central Christian identity.  However, as Paul said to the Corinthians he also says to Owen Strachan.  When met with men who argued for the centrality of their own privilege by establishing a hierarchical ordering of persons within the church, Paul declared quite boldly that the cross stands diametrically opposed to all who seek to preserve their own privilege.  Instead, the cross elevates those things which are considered weak, lower in the social strata of entitled men, and confounds those who insist that they are the center of all importance.  Paul argues that any ideology which elevates certain persons above others is entirely incompatible with the cross of Christ (1 Cor 1:18-31).  It is for this reason that Paul establishes the only doctrine which is of the utmost importance to the Gospel he preached to the Corinthians, “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).

Strachan’s assertion places a contingency beyond the cross of Christ, and for that very reason his interpretation of Scripture is suspect and his understanding of both the Gospel and humanity are decidedly anthropotheistic.  His beliefs collapse with a startling finality under the weight of the very Scriptures he dares to quote in order to deify himself.

  1. Gavin Peacock, the Director of International Outreach for CBMW, has a similar take.[26] Peacock believes that denying his definition of “biblical” marriage is denying the Gospel itself.  In an article praising John MacArthur and the Shepherd’s Conference, Peacock has argued – in rather circular fashion – that to question the inerrancy of Scripture is to question God’s authority and to question God’s authority is to distrust his word, which of course is Scripture. Thus, for Peacock, those who do not actually believe the Bible as he interprets it are not actually Christians.

To put a finer head on that, Peacock insists that any person who denies “biblical marriage” is a person who does not believe the Gospel of Christ.  Peacock sees any questioning of any passage as a slippery slope which leads to (and everyone gasps in horror) ROB BELL!  Since we all know Rob Bell is an apostate who hates the Bible and has no actual relationship with Jesus, we would never dare to stray from the clearly delineated path of “biblical marriage” which Peacock has insisted is the litmus test for knowing if a person really believes the Bible, and thus whether or not they are actually a true Christian.  The question to be asked, the single question which apparently separates us all from apostasy, then, is: “How does Gavin Peacock define biblical marriage?”

Lucky for us, he has written a post about it.  In an article he wrote for Christianity Today, Peacock states explicitly that “complementarian marriage is the biblical and historically Christian position on marriage.”  In other words, Gavin Peacock insists that any person who does not affirm his belief in complementarian gender roles cannot then be a Christian.  This claim warrants further examination.

First, it is important to judge, precisely, what Peacock means by “historically Christian.”  A look at this aspect of his claim yields some interesting insights.  For instance, in his article on the importance of inerrancy to the Christian faith, Peacock defines inerrancy as the belief that “the Bible, in its original manuscripts, is ‘without error in all it affirms’.”  He follows this definition by making the rather startling, and quite laughable, claim that “For the first 16 centuries (sic) of church history inerrancy was accepted.” (emphasis original)

Is Peacock aware that the canon of Scripture was finalized during two councils (Hippo and Carthage), with the churches of the East and West coming to an agreement on the official canon in 397 C.E?  Since the origins of the Church are traced to the small community of disciples who met together in Judea after the ascension of Christ, we can safely say that the Church began in the early half of the 1st century C.E., certainly not after 40 C.E.  This means that, for over 350 years the canon of Scripture was hotly disputed.  Some Christian communities even fought to include works such as 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Letter of Barnabas, and the Didache – all of which were recognized as authoritative Scripture by some Christian communities.  Likewise, books like Hebrews and Revelation were hotly debated and even rejected by some communities.  Others, such as 2 Peter, the Johannine Epistles, Jude, and James were also disputed by some communities.[27]  All of that is to say, there was no unanimous recognition of inspired authority of at least 6 of the 27 books of the New Testament in the three and a half centuries leading up to the councils.  It is very hard to recognize the modern canon of Scripture as inerrant when the Church could not even agree which books should count.

Further, the way Peacock describes the “centuries” of the church shows he is being decidedly less precise than I am being above.  He describes the 17th and 18th centuries C.E. as the time at which the trustworthiness of Scripture came into question because of the rise of German Higher Criticism.  This dating shows that, by the words “the first 16 centuries of the church,” Peacock is presupposing the 1st century CE as a “century of the church.”  This means that, since the canon was finalized in the final years of the 4th century CE, nearly five of the sixteen centuries Peacock claims are a fabrication.  The question must be asked, then, “If Gavin Peacock has such a poor grasp of the history of church doctrine and tradition, why ought we to trust him to tell us what the ‘historically Christian’ view of marriage is?”

Still, the question also remains, is Gavin Peacock a reliable interpreter of Scripture?  After all, it is possible to have no concept of church history and still get the Bible right.  But even a quick perusal of Scripture will show that placing complementarian gender roles in marriage as the “litmus test” for a person’s Christianity goes entirely counter to the collective witness of Scripture.  For instance, in Micah 6:8 when the prophet speaks of the desires of God for his people, he lists three specific things: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly.”  This statement is directly juxtaposed with the question of Israel, inquiring what cultic practice might please God and incur his favor.  If we are told, then, that God desires justice, merciful love, and humility where might we look for that?  According to the New Testament that would be Jesus.  Paul refers to Jesus as the “dikaiosyne” of God, a word which can be rightly translated as “justice,” in Romans 3.  Further, according to Jesus, our mercy towards others is properly rooted in God’s mercy toward us (Matthew 18:21-35) and 1 John 4 tells us we cannot show God’s love to one another, except as it has been revealed to us in the cross of Christ.

This is echoed as well in Christ’s statement that his followers will be known by their love (John 13:34-35).  Lastly, we are also given the template for humility through the cross of Christ.  In Matthew 20, Christ calls himself the “servant of all” who is a “ransom” that all might be saved.  He commands all who would follow him to live by this example by seeking to be “last” instead of to be kings who dominate.  This is echoed by Paul in Philippians 2, where the Christian is exhorted to love others as better in self, an idea rooted in the kenosis of Christ who chose human existence that humanity might be made right before God.  In all of these things, we are told not only what God wants but that these things can be made manifest in us properly only in how we respond to the person and works of the crucified and risen Christ.

It is notable then that nowhere within these passages, nor any other in Scripture, is any notion of gender roles listed as a prerequisite for faith in Christ.  In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul speaks into the factioned church of Corinth.  He looks directly into their conflict and disagreement, their divisions and petty differences, and reminds them that identity as a follower of Christ can be determined only in how one responds to him.  In fact, Paul states that no person who curses Christ can be of him, and no one who calls him Lord can do so apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in her life.

Thus, for Peacock to claim that he has established a litmus test for determining Christian faith that runs counter to the witness of the Gospel is to deify himself.  He has established himself, and not the Holy Spirit bearing witness to the person and works of Christ, as the executor of a person’s faith.  As such, Peacock has asserted himself as a replacement for the God he claims to serve.  And any man who would claim himself as god is a man who makes a direct claim against the cross of Christ.  No such man is a trustworthy interpreter of Scripture.  One wonders, then, why such a man would be allowed to participate as a speaker at CBMW16 preconference to T4G 2016, or why Owen Strachan would choose to coauthor a book on gender roles with him – a book enthusiastically endorsed by none other than TGC council men and Ligonier teaching fellow Albert Mohler, as well as such notable New Calvinists as Denny Burk[28] and Bruce Ware[29].

3. Tim Keller[30] is often viewed as the “reasonable” option within complementarianism.  Where others succumb to moral failure or are tainted by association with unsavory characters, it is not uncommon to hear even the most dedicated egalitarian praise the virtues of Keller.  So it is important, then, to consider how Keller answers when asked by Don Carson[31] why, precisely, an organization which calls itself The Gospel Coalition would include several clear statements of complementarian nature in their Confessional Statement and Theological Vision of Ministry.  Keller begins to answer by stating that complementarity is not “directly” a gospel issue.  However, he notes, once someone abandons “complementarity” they will in very quick order abandon the truth of the Gospel as well.

At the 2014 TGC Women’s conference, Tim and Kathy Keller,[32] appeared together in a panel session. During this session, Kathy Keller stated that complementarian gender roles are an inviolable truth of Scripture as Tim sat beside her nodding his head in agreement.  Elsewhere, Kathy has stated that the full justice of Christ is not made manifest where the fullness of complementarian gender roles is not realized.  Further, she has stated that persons who do not embrace these gender roles are persons who do not truly trust in God.  Keller has endorsed his wife’s view of gender, even writing a book on the importance of gender roles in marriage.[33]

In the midst of all these statements, it becomes quickly evident that Tim Keller, like Strachan and Peacock, holds that one cannot grasp the fullness of the Gospel without committing fully to complementarian gender roles.  He softens the blow by, unlike his compatriots, allowing for the possibility of non-complementarian Christians.  However, Keller has no issue insinuating that their faith in God and their interpretation of Scripture are colored more by “worldly” influence than a commitment to the “truth” of Scripture.

 

I have offered ample critique of a “complementarian gospel” above, but I do want to emphasize that this is not a grassroots movement within New Calvinism.  These troubling beliefs are coming from the uppermost echelons of New Calvinist leadership.  As such, it is not enough to claim that “Not all Complementarians” believe these things.  When Tim Keller sits down beside Don Carson and John Piper and states that people who do not believe in complementarianism are people who do not fully trust God or believe the entirety of the Gospel, it must be realized that these thoughts lie at the very heart of New Calvinism and its staunch commitment to a complementarian hermeneutic.

In what way can it be said that any Christian belief system is built on “sound, scriptural theology” if it does not operate with Christ as the center of its doctrines?

 

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It recognizes the diversity of the North American Evangelical Church by actively promoting lies that silence a full half of the church.

As Tim Keller stated in a 2014 panel session at the TGC Women’s conference, the one things which defines the complementarian faith is the belief that women are forbidden by Scripture to hold certain offices in the church, the home, and society at large.  While they differ on any number of semantics, every New Calvinist actively works to silence and disenfranchise Christian women, who comprise nearly half of the people in the pews.[34]  Consider:

  1. Philip Ryken,[35] as president of Wheaton College, went out of his way to target Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a black female professor of political sciences.  For the advent season, Hawkins decided to don a hijab as a symbol of solidarity with the Muslim community, recognizing the common roots of the Christian and Islamic religions.  What ensued was a demonstrably misogynist persecution of Dr. Hawkins.  The sexist roots of Ryken’s treatment of Hawkins was so blatant that an exploratory committee of Wheaton faculty members found that, despite Ryken’s posturing, he had no legitimate case against her.  Instead, they declared that his treatment of her had been entirely based on prejudice against her as a woman of color.  The incident ended in Dr. Hawkins, a tenured professor, leaving the school as a “mutual agreement.”

The irony, of course, is that Wheaton College hosted prominent theologian Miroslav Volf in 2011(during Ryken’s presidency!).  At this time, Volf led a discussion forum on the relationship between Islam and Christianity.  Wheaton and Ryken allowed this forum knowing full well Volf’s stance that both religions, at their core, worship the same God.  This clear prejudice did not, however, prevent such prominent figures as Albert Mohler, Denny Burk, and Justin Taylor[36] from unapologetically claiming that Wheaton was functioning as a defender of the Christian faith in their discriminatory treatment of Hawkins.[37]  Also notable were responses from Andrew Walker[38] and its endorsement on Joe Carter.[39]  As is often the case, the treatment of men and women within New Calvinism, even in cases where controversial views are expressed, is disparate at best because, unlike women, men carry a presupposed level of theological privilege and respect.

This has become especially clear at Wheaton in light of the response of the college to the trial of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert[40], a prominent alumnus for whom a building on campus had been named.  While Wheaton removed Hastert’s name from the building after he admitted to sexually assaulting multiple teenage boys, then spending millions of dollars to cover it up.  They have not, however, taken a stance against three of the members of the Faith, Politics, and Economics board – on which Hastert had formerly served – acting as character witnesses on his behalf.  One wealthy board member, who also funded the chair of the FPE’s director stated, “I really know nothing of the details of this case but know that today, Dennis Hastert is a man devoted to others.”  Even as Hastert was unequivocally labeled a serial child sex predator by the trial judge, Wheaton has refused to reprimand these men in any way for speaking on Hastert’s behalf, in total and gross disregard for his victims.  It stands a stark contrast, then, that Philip Ryken opposed a black female professor making a bold, but not unprecedented, theological statement but has taken no exception to three rich, male donors/board members supporting a child sex predator at the expense of his victims.  This clear disparity does not matter, however, in New Calvinist terms because Ryken is a clear complementarian who encourages the supremacy of males by arguing that some positions are denied to women in the church and home per his interpretation of Scripture.

  1. It is also important to consider the work of Voddie Baucham,[41] a man who shared the stage with Tim Keller, Thabiti Anyabwile, Don Carson, John Piper, and Miguel Nunez[42] at TGC15.  Baucham has stated that abused women have no recourse for divorce.  Instead, their job is to submit better to their husbands that they might empower him to be more Christ-like in his leadership, and that the “body” of Christ might be unified.  Further, Baucham opposes the education of women, holding that for them to go to college is a sin in defiance of biblical teaching.  Lastly, he holds that a woman is the property of her father until such a time as he can arrange a marriage for her, regardless of her own consent or will, and transfer her to her husband.  In such a case, the virginity of that daughter is a prize which enforces the honor of her father, a prize which is transferred into the ownership of the man she will marry.  This is troubling, as show that the number one way to perpetuate sexual and domestic abuse of women is to deny them education and the freedom of self-determination.  The ideas Baucham represents are a bastardization of Scripture designed entirely to preserve male privilege and suppress women while masquerading as “Christian.”[43]  Yet, because he agrees that some roles are forbidden to women he is accepted with open arms into the New Calvinist fold.
  2. At the CBMW16 Conference, Jason Allen[44] argued that females in leadership positions are a sign of weakness in the Church. He says that it is better to have a woman “direct” a ministry than for a man to be made a “minister” when he is unqualified.  Yet, it is notable, that Allen considers such a situation a sign that such a church has become “anemic.” Allen argues that “biblical men” are so rare that they are like “corks of testosterone floating in a sea of estrogen.”

As he sees it, we need an insurgence of “sanctified testosterone” so that men can reclaim their rightful place as leaders in the church.  He went on to say that it is not true “male leadership” in the church if men are listening to what women have to say.  Men should not be making decisions based on the wants or opinions of women.

Instead, men need to be in leadership at every level so that the notion of women “directors” who are supposedly stop-gaps to fill a position for which there is no qualified man is rendered an “extinct” thing in the church.  I want to be clear here, at a major New Calvinist conference representing two major New Calvinist organizations – CBMW and T4G – featuring some of the leading voices in all of New Calvinism, a man stood up on stage and said that women should not have say in how men govern the church AND that women in positions of ministerial leadership needs to be “extinct.”

I am tempted to add comment, but the reality is that this is the face of New Calvinism.  Allen’s comments are so thoroughly misogynistic, illogical, and morally and scripturally bankrupt that they are simply self-defeating.  But again, we must remember, that he is accepted as a Complementarian into the New Calvinist fold as long as he believes that some positions are denied to women in the church and home.

There truly a host of other examples of the ways in which New Calvinist leaders disenfranchise women, denying the work of the Holy Spirit through women which is well documented in Scripture and insisting that they must be subordinated to men.  One could easily list the prominence of teachings by Doug[45] and Nancy Wilson,[46] John Piper, John MacArthur, Kevin DeYoung,[47] Mark Driscoll, and only begin to the depths of the injustices against women.

 Can there truly be diversity in a church whose entire stance is based on the denial of equality to an entire half of their constituents?  Is there a point at which subjugating women through either direct action or theological acquiescence becomes too much of a burden for even New Calvinism to bear?

 

It celebrates “solid” Christian writing by promoting the work of men who openly trade in falsehood.

 The reality is, New Calvinism is neither concerned with the falsehoods nor abuses of the pastors which make up its most elite strata.  The only thing that concerns the is the privilege and power that comes with ensuring that no one below them has the power to question their teachings or challenge their abuses.

In fact, many prominent New Calvinist authors have a history of dishonest and immoral actions.  Many have resorted to blatant and demonstrable lies, while others have chosen to trade in subtle deceptions they never intended to actually see the light of day.

1. Doug Wilson has proven himself to be a serial plagiarizer.  First, his book Southern Slavery: As it Was, was proven to contain a significant amount of copied material from another source.  To this revelation, Wilson stated explicitly that, as co-author and editor of the work, he ought to bear a significant amount of responsibility for the plagiarism.  He noted that as the listed editor of the work he had the responsibility to ensure that the work was cited properly.  Ultimately, co-author (and noted White Supremacist!) Steve Wilkins[48] took the fall for the mistakes.

However, more accusations would eventually follow as Wilson’s recent book A Justice Primer was discovered to also contain significant plagiarism.  This time, Wilson blamed co-author Randy Booth, who subsequently resigned his position as the head of the CREC.  However, as before, Wilson noted that the name on the cover is important and that, as someone who took credit for writing the book, he ought to then have ensured the content was in fact original and properly cited.

One would think, then, that Wilson would take full responsibility for his past errors and go back over his work to ensure that no further overlooked plagiarism had occurred.  But this is not the case.  Instead, it has been revealed that Wilson’s Classical Christian Education Omnibus materials also contain significant plagiarism.  Notably different in Wilson’s response is that he has blamed everyone but himself, claiming the plagiarized materials were added after his personal editing work had been completed.  Wilson also offered a series of incredibly lame excuses which were quickly and judiciously debunked.  It seems that the name on the cover only matters until the entire empire upon which Wilson has built his name crumbles around him.  It is also notable that, with each scandal, Wilson applied more blame to others in order to avoid the scandal around himself.

It seems reasonable, with all of these issues with proper citation and personal accountability, that other New Calvinist leaders would shy away from Wilson.  However, this has not been the case.  Immediately after the plagiarism charges were leveled against A Justice Primer, Kevin DeYoung amended his gleaming recommendation of the book to state that, while the materials were in fact plagiarized, they still represented a number of solid points.  While the book had been pulled from shelves, Kevin DeYoung continued to praise a plagiarized work as a solid presentation of Christ-centered justice.  TGC’s site also features an endorsement of another of Wilson’s many books, Writer’s to Read, 9 Names that Belong on your Bookshelf.  Additionally, even in the midst of the Omnibus scandal, John Piper allowed Wilson to write Mother’s Day post.

This is further disturbing because Piper has also allowed Wilson to write several other posts at Desiring god, even as repeated accusations have been made that Wilson worked to silence sex abuse victims in his congregation, even going so far as to blatantly state that a sex abuse victim had wanted and agreed to the vicious and repeated rape she suffered at the hands of a serial abuser.[49]  Despite all of this, Wilson’s teaching is also featured on the sites of TGC, CBMW, and Ligonier.

  1. RC Sproul, Sr. has ignored the victims and abuses perpetrated by his own son, RC Sproul, Jr., allowing him to remain on the board of directors of Ligonier Ministries despite the fact that he has been publicly disqualified to minister in the RCPGA for a host of pastoral abuses, including the teaching of heresy.  Sproul, Jr. heads up the Theology department at Reformation Bible College, where Sproul, Sr. serves as chancellor.  He also represents his father’s ministry as a public speaker and author.  However, despite the apparent nepotist corruption allowed to run straight through Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College, Sproul, Sr. remains a sought after public speaker and popular author.  In fact, a host of New Calvinist notables have chosen to write materials and speak at Ligonier Conferences.  A short list of these men includes:
  • Kevin DeYoung
  • Alistair Begg
  • Ligon Duncan
  • Don Carson
  • Tim Challies
  • Sinclair Ferguson[50]
  • Peter Jones[51]
  • John MacArthur
  • CJ Mahaney
  • Albert Mohler
  • Burk Parsons[52]
  • Stephen Nichols
  • John Piper
  • Philip Ryken
  • Justin Taylor
  • Carl Trueman
  • Bruce Ware

Despite his clear lack of respect for the authority of the RCPGA, abuse victims, and the teaching of sound doctrine (see above under RC Sproul, Jr.), RC Sproul, Sr. has his work proudly endorsed by both TGC and T4G.

3. Multiple prominent New Calvinist authors utilize dishonest hermeneutics and promote demonstrable lies about the LGBTQ+ community.  The following representative sample shows just how far New Calvinists will go to denigrate a community based on their gender or sexual orientation while ignoring the abuses in their own back yard.

  • Burk Parsons has stated that being a “homosexual” is contrary to nature and a “heinous sin.”  He has declared that homosexuality is a mockery of God and his creation.  Because he finds it to be “unconscionable” he declares it “worthy of God’s wrath and condemnation.”  He says that true Christians will not hesitate to publicly expose ALL sin, and that doing so is an act of love for neighbor, as allowing anyone to continue in sin is inconsistent with the love of God.

It is strange, then, that Tabletalk, the magazine he edits for Ligonier Ministries, has issued no statement condemning the actions of serial sex predator Nathaniel Morales or of Grant Layman and CJ Mahaney in covering up abuses they were well aware of.  Parsons is one of many influential New Calvinist leaders who has received multiple emails detailing the depth of the SGM cover-up, including information on Morales sexually assaulting multiple teenage boys.

Parsons believes that we demonstrate “Christian love…by praying for the sexually immoral of this world, by calling sin what God calls sin, and by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to the end that the sexually immoral might know their desperate need to repent and…cling to Christ and His righteousness.”  This, he claims, is tantamount to hating the sin of homosexuality, and indeed all sexual sin, while still loving the sinner.

However, judging Parson by his own standard, it stands to reason that he neither hates the sins nor love the sinners involved in the SGM sex abuse cover-up.

In fact, if the above standards are those of a true minister of the Gospel, then Parson, by calling “homosexuality” a “heinous sin” which must be exposed, while failing to use his considerable platform to publicly condemn the sin of sexual predation and the conspiracy which existed within Sovereign Grace Ministries to cover it up, has shown himself an unfit minister.  Perhaps, given that Parsons works for RC Sproul at Ligonier, as well as serves as his co-pastor at St. Andrews Chapel, he has succumbed to a conflict of interest.  When forced to choose between two masters, it seems he has abandoned his own his own standards of the Gospel in order to keep the peace with his influential New Calvinist friends.[53]

  • Russell Moore recently wrote an article entitled, The Real Meaning of Transgender Bathrooms. In this article, Moore perpetuated a great number of falsehoods regarding the continuing controversy in the US over transgender persons and public restrooms.  Below, I have detailed some of Moore’s claims and provided brief information on why each is a falsehood.[54]

First, Moore claims that the Obama administration has chosen to “target children’s restrooms.”  This is an ironically self-defeating case of sensationalism.  The reality is, the actions the government has taken are geared towards all public restrooms in order to protect trans persons from violence and persecution.  In fact, while experts say the threat of transgender persons harming others in restrooms in non-existent, one study has shown that nearly 70% of trans persons have faced harassment, discrimination, and assault while using public restrooms.

These statistics are truly staggering among trans persons in grades K-12.  78% stated they have experienced what the study calls “alarming rates of harassment.”  Likewise, 35% of trans students have been physically assaulted (that’s more than 1 in 3) and 12% report being sexually assaulted.  Nearly 1 in 6 students dropped out of school because of the harassment.  Many reported that the harassment and attacks were at the hands of teachers.  So, while Moore may be content using fear tactics to imply the status quo is working just fine and traditional values are under attack, there are real people suffering because of the very notion of “children’s bathrooms” Moore is fighting to protect.

In fact, because of the discriminations noted above, 50% of trans persons have attempted suicide at least once by the age of 20.  It may be inconvenient for Moore to admit, but his fear based rhetoric is part of the problem, not the beginning of a solution.  Moore has shifted the focus off of victims and created a persecution complex in the minds of his readers, convincing them their very moral values are under attack.  But, the reality is, whatever one’s beliefs on transgender identities, no Christian response to the transgender community should lead half of them to want to kill themselves.

Second,  Moore went on to claim that this is an issue of trying to divorce gender from biological sex. The problem here is that Moore is treating words as synonyms which are, in fact, not.  This is where Moore’s complementarian agenda shines forth brightly.  Because complementarians assert that the Bible teaches absolute, completely differentiated, and universal gender roles, they must tie these roles specifically to notions of biological sex.

Thus, for Dr. Moore, allowing for more than two biological sexes – a position he adamantly defends in this post – is tantamount to betraying his belief system.  The problem is, that it has been demonstrably shown that (a) sex and gender are not interchangeable and (b) neither gender nor biological sex exist within a masculine/feminine or male/female binary.

a. A brief look at the complementarian notions of sex and gender roles will show why this is deeply problematic.  As gender essentialists, complementarians like Moore argue that not only are there distinctly masculine and feminine traits – traits which ought not mix or be violated according to “God’s design” – but these traits are defined against the opposite sex.  So a woman is only fully woman in relationship to men, whether that be father, brother, partner/husband, or pastor/teacher.  When she violates her “divinely assigned” gender role, she violates the very nature of womanhood.  But the problem here, of course, is that the nature of womanhood is realized not in God but in human beings.  That is to say, that the image of God in women is not only differentiated according to calling, but it is also filtered through the lens of masculinity.

It is interesting, then that Jesus chose women – and not men – to be the first messengers of the Gospel message of the resurrection.  This is ironic, because complementarians insist that creation order matters,[55] that Eve was usurping Adam in the garden and that, as the one to whom God’s garden covenant was entrusted, the failure of Eve was a failure of masculine leadership.[56]  It is striking, then, that the roles are reversed at the resurrection.  Christ entrusts his message to women, who must carry this good news as Apostles of the Gospel to those men we most traditionally think of as Apostles.   The faith of these men, was filtered directly through the testimony of feminine voices.  Voices considered so important by each the Gospel writers that they preserved the feminine tradition with no attempt at a masculine gloss.[57]

If women are to learn about God through masculine leadership as Moore and his compatriots insist, surely the Bible then would have men instead of women being witnesses to the crucifixion.  Surely it would be men, and not women, who discover empty tomb.  Or, at least, Jesus most certainly could have simply appeared to the twelve in the same fashion he did later (Luke 24:26-49), completely forgoing the need for the feminine witness. But he does not do this.  Despite the claims of some, the Gospel message has feminine roots which directly contradict the gender roles they claim enforce.  It seems to me that, if the order of Creation and the giving of the covenant to Adam, which he must then communicate to Eve, is so direly important to New Calvinist Complementarian doctrine, then surely the order of New Creation – inaugurated in the Resurrection of Christ – in which Christ gives the New Covenant of the Gospel first to women, who must pass it on to men, cannot be ignored.

b. The notion of only two biological genders or sexes is completely devoid of scientific evidence.  In fact, despite Moore’s claim that these binaries are “one of the most basic facts of science,” the science he claims supports him directly contradicts him in numerous ways.  One way is through neurological study.  The reality is, neurological studies show that there is no clear evidence of specifically male and female brains.  In a recent study it was shown that, despite earlier claims of distinct features unique to male and female brains, these characteristics actually exist on a spectrum.  Persons who were both born as and identify as male were often found to have brain characteristics typically associated with being female.  The reverse was true as well.

The reality is, brain chemistry and makeup is a complex thing and no two people have identical brains.  Yet, at the biological level, at the very core of our contemplative faculties there lies no clear distinction which would enforce stereotypes of strict male/female gender traits.  Another way Moore’s assertion falls apart is by looking at the occurrence of intersex persons.  Studies have shown that roughly 1 in 1500 children can be externally identifies as having neither male nor female genitalia.  That, by itself means that it is more common for a person to be intersex than for a person to be born with cystic fibrosis.  Further, these studies only deal with children born visibly intersex.  It is also possible for a child to be born appearing externally female (and thus having “female” on their birth certificate) but possess internal testicles instead of ovaries.

Studies taking into account all forms of intersexuality suggest that 1.7% of the world population is intersex.  This means that there are as at least as many intersex persons as there are redheads in the world.  It is strange, then that Moore treats these persons as irrelevant, a statistical anomaly, by asserting that biological sex is only male or female.  It strikes me as interesting that he denies the existence of nearly 2% of the world’s population.  If Moore is going to deny the existence of nearly 2% of the world’s population by taking a literal approach to the words “male and female” in Genesis 1, it seems to me he should also take it literally when it depicts a heliocentric universe where the sky is a solid dome holding back a giant ocean.[58]

The reality is, the entire basis of Moore’s post is a faulty reading of Scripture and an even faultier understanding of science.  Given that Moore also resorts to a decidedly egregious slippery slope argument, this is all around a sad offering for a man who is president of the Ethics committee (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention.

 

A mentality of fear and prejudice permeates New Calvinist response to the LGBTQ+ community.  Rather than treat them as human beings, New Calvinists treat them as an enemy, and evil agenda to be opposed.  This was fully embodied by rhetoric of Owen Strachan in his plenary address at CBMW16.  During this speech, Strachan spoke of his audience as the last line of defense against the corruption of LGBTQ+ support in society and the church.  He even went so far as to say he would rather die than allow gender inclusive restrooms at his daughter’s school.  They may claim to make a distinction between “hating the sin” and “loving the sinner, but the ways in which they turn human beings into objects used to promote an ideological agenda through tactics of fear and falsehood communicates nothing but hate.  Whether or not one supports the full inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community within the church, for Christians all arguments must be based on a sound reading of Scripture and a rhetoric of love rooted in the Gospel, which is the good news of Jesus Christ crucified (1 Cor 2:2).  On this most basic level, New Calvinism elevates fear and falsehood above the love they are called to, the love first shown them by Christ (Matt 18:21-35; 1 John 4).

How deep do the corruption and lies of New Calvinism go?  At what point do these instances cease to be the “sinful acts of individuals” and become a systemic problem tied to abusive theology and unaccountable egos?  How much falsehood must these men trade in before they lose their public platform?

 

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It is committed to protecting the spotless facade of the New Calvinist tradition, even if that means actively silencing abuse victims.

Before I make my points, I want to take a moment to clarify a choice I have made here.  While the New Calvinist movement likes to claim the represent and defend THE Reformed tradition, the reality is that they are only a niche within the Reformed church.  For instance, the broad spectrum of Reformed churches includes the Presbyterian Church USA, which allows women and LGBTQ+ persons in all levels of church polity and affirms same-sex marriage. Further, despite their claims to follow strictly the teachings of John Calvin, New (or Neo) Calvinists are in fact more disciples of Abraham Kuyper than of Calvin himself.  For these reasons, I chose to change Jue’s original words from “Reformed traditions” to “New Calvinist tradition.”  Despite Jue’s words, the two are in no way synonyms.

Having covered that territory, I want to take a moment to consider the words of Jason Meyer.[59] Meyer is known for his strong call for Complementarians to be “outspoken against abuse,” even he has gone out of his way to distance abuse from the actual day to day theological realities of Complementarian doctrine.  Instead, he has insisted abuse occurs only because the doctrine has been abused, what he calls hyper-headship.  Theological distancing aside, he has stated explicitly that a person has three options in the face of abuse.

  1. Side with the abuser
  2. Do nothing
  3. Side with the abused.

According to Meyer, options 1 and 2 are the same thing.

  1. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, proudly tells the following story (reproduced according to a transcript here):

I had a woman who was in a church that I served, and she was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “All right, what I want you to do is, every evening I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene, not out loud, quietly,” but I said, “You just pray there.” And I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.” And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.” And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”

And what she didn’t know when we sat down in church that morning was that her husband had come in and was standing at the back, first time he ever came. And when I gave the invitation that morning, he was the first one down to the front. And his heart was broken, he said, “My wife’s praying for me, and I can’t believe what I did to her.” And he said, “Do you think God can forgive somebody like me?” And he’s a great husband today. And it all came about because she sought God on a regular basis. And remember, when nobody else can help, God can.

And in the meantime, you have to do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can and to elevate him. Obviously, if he’s doing that kind of thing he’s got some very deep spiritual problems in his life and you have to pray that God brings into the intersection of his life those people and those events that need to come into his life to arrest him and bring him to his knees.

It is apparent from Patterson’s words that he sides with the abuser, not the abused.  He goes so far as to tell an abused wife to “submit” and “pray” so that her husband might find God.  Patterson is proud to rejoice in abusive situations, as long as someone finds Christ in the end.

  1. Every speaker who appeared on stage at CBMW 2016 and T4G 2016 did so despite protests regarding disturbing accusations against CJ Mahaney.[60] This is a significant and disturbing reality as most of these men, and a hand full of women, are prominent authors and speakers with the New Calvinist movement.  It is also troubling because the allegations against Mahaney are of orchestrating a conspiracy to cover up the sex abuse suffered by numerous children at Covenant Life Church where he served as the lead pastor.  The seemingly insurmountable evidence disqualifying Mahaney from any sort of public ministry did not stop a single speaker from ignoring the protest of family members affected by CJ Mahaney’s egocentric and abusive leadership. Instead, Albert Mohler openly joked about the abuse scandal, even going so far as having the audacity to state, “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet.” In case the reader is unaware of the persons who appeared at these two conferences, I supply the following exhaustive list of speakers at these two conferences:

CBMW16 Speakers

  • Owen Strachan – footnotes
  • Gavin Peacock – footnotes
  • Kevin DeYoung – footnotes
  • John Piper – footnotes
  • Grant Castleberry – Executive Director, CBMW
  • Jason Allen footnotes
  • Thomas White – board member, CBMW; president, Cedarville University
  • Jackie Hill-Perry – Christian writer and hip hop artist; Female Mentorship Coordinator, Grip Outreach for Youth (Chicago, IL)
  • Miguel Nunez – footnotes
  • Sam Allberry – editor, TGC; speaker, Ravi Zacharias Ministries
  • Michael Kruger – president and professor, Reformed Theological Seminary
  • Trillia Newbell – Director of Community Outreach, ERLC
  • Courtney Reissig – Freelance writer and speaker featured on TGC and Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics site
  • Danny Akin – council member, TGC; Board Member and Council Member CBMW; president and professor, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • HB Charles, Jr. – speaker, author, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida
  • J. Ligon Duncan – footnotes
  • Albert Mohler – footnotes
  • John MacArthur – footnotes
  • GraceAnna Castleberry – wife of Grant Castleberry; writer; speaker
  • Mary Mohler – wife of Al Mohler; writer; speaker; leader; Seminary Wives Institute, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary),
  • Kristie Anyabwile – wife of Thabiti Anyabwile; writer; speaker)
  • Mary Kassian – professor, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; speaker; writer; Women’s Ministry Consultant; council member, CBMW
  • Ronnie Floyd – president, Southern Baptist Convention
  • Heath Lambert executive director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors[61]; professor, Boyce College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; founding council member, The Biblical Counseling Coalition; associate pastor, First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL.
  • Anthony Moore (campus pastor, The Village Church, Fort Worth; writer, The Front Porch)
  • Alistair Begg – footnotes

 

T4G16 Speakers

  • Brian Daviship hop artist, performing as God’s Servant; former intern, Capitol Hill Baptist Church; pastor, Risen Christ Fellowship.
  • John Onwuchekwa – lead pastor, Cornerstone Church, Atlanta; co-founder, Blue Print Church, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Kempton Turner – Church Planting Resident, Bethlehem Baptist Church; pastor and founder, City of Joy Fellowship, East St. Louis.
  • Matt Schmucker – vice chairman, board of trustees Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; executive director, T4G; former executive director, 9 Marks; pastor, Anacostia River Church
  • Thabiti Anyabwile – footnotes
  • Ian McConnell – Pastor of Preaching and Vision, Grace City Church, Philadelphia; Director of Church Planting and Missions, Sovereign Grace Churches.
  • Mark Prater – executive director, Sovereign Grace Churches; elder, Covenant Fellowship Church, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
  • Clint Humfrey – senior pastor, elder Calvary Grace Church
  • Ryan Fullerton – lead pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church
  • David Platt – council member, TGC; president, International Missions Board; founder, Radical
  • Geoff Chang – associate pastor and elder, Hinson Baptist Church, Portland
  • Jeff Jue – footnotes
  • Jeremy Yong – lead pastor, First Baptist, Hacienda Heights, California; former pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church; adjunct faculty, Biola University.
  • Julius Kim – council, TGC; dean of students and professor of Theology, Westminster Seminary California
  • Won Kwak – lead pastor, Maranatha Grace Church, New Jersey; graduate, Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College; church planting trainee, Redeemer City to City, ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
  • Al Mohler – footnotes
  • John MacArthur – footnotes
  • Ligon Duncan – footnotes
  • Matt Chandler – footnotes
  • Bob Kauflin – pastor and music director, SGC Louisville; Director, Sovereign Grace Music
  • Keith Getty – modern hymn writer whose songs have been recorded by Newsboys, Mercy Me, Natalie Grant, and Owl City (to name only a few)
  • Matt Boswell – pastor of ministries and worship, Providence Church in Frisco, Texas; founder, Doxology and Theology
  • Matt Merker – pastoral assistant, Capitol Hill Baptist Church; contributor, Doxology and Theology
  • Juan Sanchez – senior pastor, High Points Baptist Church; council member TGC and Coalicion por el Evangelio.
  • Miguel Nunez – footnotes
  • Sugel Michelén – pastor Iglesia Biblical de Senor Jesucristo
  • CJ Mahaney – footnotes
  • John Piper – footnotes
  • Mark Dever – footnotes
  • Kevin DeYoung – footnotes
  • Jim Hamilton – pastor of preaching, Kenwood Baptist; professor Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Peter Williams – warden, Tyndale House, Cambridge, England; translator, English Standard Version of the Bible; Honorary Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Aberdeen University; affiliated lecturer, Cambridge University Divinity School
  • Simon Gathercole – Reader in New Testament Studies, fellow, and Director of Studies, Fitzwilliam College of Cambridge Divinity School.

It strikes me as strange, then, that the persons claim to have assembled in order to be “Together for the Gospel.”  If the Gospel is truly to be “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2) then we must take very seriously the words of Christ stating that if anyone neglects or abuses the “least” among them, they have neglected and abused him (Matt 25:31-46).  If this is the case, then for those listed above who knowingly participated in T4G knowing full well the accusations against CJ Mahaney have abused and neglected the very figure who stands at the center of the Gospel they claim to have come “Together” for.  The cross of Christ bears stark witness to their hypocrisy.

How can New Calvinists claim to represent the one, true interpretation of the Gospel and the Reformed tradition, if their actions run counter to the call of Christ to serve and protect the “least” of the Church and their communities?

Concluding Thoughts

The stark reality is that I have only scratched the surface of the New Calvinist movement.  For instance, to save time I – by and large – did not mention the seminaries each figure graduated from.  If I were to have done so, one would find that the seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention as well as Reformation Theological Seminary come up in nearly every case as a place of study.  Further, there are numerous names I did not name for the sake of brevity which would further serve to complicate the already complex web of connections I have drawn.  New Calvinism is an insider’s club built on the elite status of specific men, connected to specific institutions all built around a complementarian theology which enforces their power while subjugating and ostracizing any who would dare to question the status quo.

In similar fashion, I have chosen to present only a representative sample of the abusive teachings and scandals connected to the New Calvinist movement.  While what I have presented here is more than enough to show a systemic correlation between New Calvinist churches and theologies and rampant injustice and abuse within the tradition, there is so much more that could have been said.[62]

So, as I finish what has been a rather arduous research project, I feel it necessary to note that the collective weight of the evidence against New Calvinism must lead us to conclude:

New Calvinism is not a theological tradition worth endorsing.

Footnotes

[1] It is interesting to note that, though Jue indicates his reasons for endorsing New Calvinism are related to these conference appearances, he has clear ties to 9 Marks, and TGC.  Also, Jue has served as a visiting professor at Reformation Theological Seminary since 2002, a school notable for having a number of influential TGC members on administration and faculty, including Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, and Kevin DeYoung.

[2] To avoid the necessity for excessive linking to the same sources, I will provide below a link list to pertinent sites detailing the leadership of certain organizations and speakers at certain conferences.  All other info will be available as hyperlinked in the body of the post above.

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) Council

Acts 29 Board of Directors

9 Marks Staff

Ligonier Ministries Board of Directors and Teaching Fellows

Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) Board of Directors and Leadership Council

Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission (ERLC) Staff and Leadership Council

Together for the Gospel (T4G) Founders and Leadership and Speakers

CBMW 2016 (CBMW16) Pre-Conference Speakers

The Shepherd’s conference 2015 and 2016 speakers

Reformation Theological Seminary Administration, Faculty, Guest and Adjunct Faculty.

Sovereign Grace Pastoral College

TGC National Conference 2015 speakers

[3] Darren Patrick was, until quite recently, the Vice President of Acts 29, a council member of both CBMW and TGC, and the senior pastor of The Journey Church.  He was also originally slated to appear at the CBMW16 conference.  However, due to his “historical pattern” of unrepentant sin, Patrick was fired, or resigned from, all of these.

[4] John Piper is a council member of TGC, founding member and leadership councilman for the CBMW, and serves as a member of the leadership team of T4G.  He was a speaker at both CBMW16 and T4G16, as well as a speaker at TGC15.  He is also served as the lead pastor of Bethlehem Baptist church for 33 years, before retiring from pastoral ministry to focus on other endeavors.  Piper is the founder and leader of Desiring God Ministries.  He is also Chancellor, Trustee, and Professor at Bethlehem College and Seminary.

[5] Wayne Grudem is an esteemed professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. He is also a founding member of the board of CBMW and a member of their leadership council, and the general editor behind the ESV study Bible.

[6] Josh McPherson is the Lead Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Grace City Church of Wenatchee, Washington.  He is also the Regional Director of the Northwest Region of Acts 29.

[7] Matt Chandler serves as President of Acts 29, a council member of TGC, and speaker at T4G16.  In addition, Chandler is on the leadership council of the ERLC of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), under the leadership of president Russell Moore.

  • Russell Moore is president of the ERLC and a council member of TGC.  He has previously served as provost and dean for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He is also the former chairman of the board of CBMW and spoke at T4G’s 2012 conference.

[8] John MacArthur is pastor of Grace Community Church, president of The Master’s College, founding president of The Master’s Seminary, founding president of Grace to You Ministries, leadership member of T4G, and speaker at T4G16.

[9] Tim Challies is a prominent New Calvinist blogger and regular speaker at GCC’s Shepherd’s Conference alongside such TGC and CBMW notables as Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Alistair Begg, as well as Ligonier founder RC Sproul.

  • Ligon Duncan is a council member of TGC and CBMW.  He also serves CBMW as a senior fellow and member of the board of directors.  Duncan is Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary and a founding member of T4G.  He spoke at TGC15, CBMW16, and T4G16.
  • Alistair Begg is a council member of TGC, founder of Truth for Life Ministries, and spoke at CBMW16.

[10] 9 Marks is led, and founded, by Mark Dever, who also serves as a member of leadership in TGC and T4G. He is also a trustee of the SBC, Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and a member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Dever spoke at both CBMW16 and T4G16, and is a regular speaker at the Shepherd’s conference.

[11] Thabiti Anyabwile is councilman at TGC, leadership member of T4G, and a pastor at Anacostia River Church.  He spoke at both T4G16 and TGC15.  Thabiti is also one of the three men who runs the blog The Front Porch.  Thabiti is a regular speaker at GCC’s the Shepherd’s Conference.

[12] Doug Wilson is the pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho.  He is also the founder of the CREC, influential figure in the Christian Classical Education movement, founder of New Saint Andrews College and Greyfriars Hall. Wilson is also a serial abuser of pastoral authority.  I have well documented many of his abuses in other posts, which can be accessed here.

[13] Randy Booth was formerly the head of the CREC and served on the board of directors of New Saint Andrews College.  When it was discovered Booth had plagiarized sections of a book he co-authored with Doug Wilson, he resigned all positions of leadership.  Prior to this scandal, Booth was also heading the committee looking into accusations of pastoral abuse against Doug Wilson.

[14] Ligonier Ministries was founded and is led by RC Sproul, Sr.  In addition, Sproul, Sr. is Chancellor of Reformation Bible College, a leadership member of T4G, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine.

[15] Other notable teaching fellows for Ligonier Ministries are:

  • Albert Mohler, who serves as a council member for TGC, a member of the leadership for T4G, a council member for CBMW, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).  He was a speaker at CBMW16, T4G16, and TGC15.  He is also a regular speaker at the Shepherd’s Conference;
  • Steve Lawson, who is a regular speaker at GCC’s Shepherd’s Conference. He serves as board member of Ligonier, president of OnePage Ministries, council member and executive staff of Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and a professor at The Master’s Seminary;
  • Stephen Nichols, who is president of Reformation Bible College (RBC) and a leadership councilman for Ligonier. Nichols is also listed as a professor who teaches at Sovereign Grace Pastoral College; and
  • W. Robert Godfrey, who is president and professor at Westminster Seminary California and serves on the board of directors of Ligonier.

[16] Tullian Tchividjian is the former pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.  He is also formerly a prominent blogger for TGC.  In 2014, Tchividjian was asked to move his blog from the TGC site.  TGC sited theological differences, but Tchividjian claimed it was because he dared to speak out about the way TGC was handling the CJ Mahaney scandal.  Tchividjian has since been embroiled in multiple scandals related to extra-marital affairs, pastoral abuse, and conspiracy to cover these sins.  At least one of the above affairs occurred while he was a blogger for TGC.

[17] CJ Mahaney is currently the lead pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Kentucky.  He is the founder and former president of Sovereign Grace Churches (formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries).  He is also a founding member of T4G and on the leadership council of CBMW.  He was formerly a council member of TGC until it was revealed that he had knowingly concealed systemic sexual abuse within his congregation at Covenant Life Church in Virginia.  Mahaney was forced to resign from TGC, but remains connected to many of its most influential members through T4G and CBMW.  Mahaney serves as a professor at the Sovereign Grace Pastoral College, which is hosted by SGC Louisville.

[18] Joshua Harris is a former pastor of Covenant Life Church, and a protégé of CJ Mahaney.  In 2015, as the SGM sex abuse scandal continued to swirl, Harris walked away from ministry and his positions on the boards of both SGM and TGC.  He is also a former council member of CBMW.  Harris is now a seminary student at Regent College. Harris has stated that sex abuse at SGM was handled improperly, including failure to notify authorities (source).

[19] Grant Layman is a former executive pastor at Covenant Life Church and the brother-in-law of CJ Mahaney.  Layman testified in court against serial child sex predator Nathaniel Morales.  During the course of his testimony Layan admitted that he had covered up Morales abuses.  Layman now owns a painting business in Maryland.

  • *At 8:23 AM, on May 16, 2016, I discovered that Grant Layman had a subpage under the url covlife.org/about/pastors/grant_layman.  I contacted Covenant Life Church via phone and was curtly informed that Grant Layman is not employed by the church.  When I mentioned that he was featured as a pastor in his biography on the church website, the woman on the phone hung up on me.  At 10:12 AM, on the same date, I received a tweet response informing me the link had gone dead.  When I checked the original url, it led to an error page on the churches website.  I have attached a screenshot here, where one can see the biography attached, describing Layman’s former role at the church.

screenshot_2016-05-16-08-23-17.png

[20] Gary Ricucci was a member of the pastoral staff at Covenant Life Church under CJ Mahaney.  Ricucci has been directly implicated in covering up child sex abuse which occurred at CLC under Mahaney’s leadership.  Further, Ricucci now serves as a pastor at SGC Louisville and is the director of student care at Sovereign Grace Pastoral College.  Ricucci is also CJ Mahaney’s brother-in-law.

[21] Owen Strachan is the president of CBMW.  He also serves as an associate professor at Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Theological and Cultural Engagement.  Strachan is a research fellow for the ERLC; and, before coming to MWBTS, he has served as a full-time member of the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also married to Bruce Ware’s daughter, Bethany.

[22] I am drawing here upon a much more in depth analysis I wrote here.

[23] I have addressed this assertion here.

[24] I have deconstructed such bastardized usage of Matthew 5 by a different person (Kevin DeYoung) here.

[25] I have argued extensively to the contrary here.

[26] In addition to serving as the Director of International Outreach at CBMW, Gavin Peacock is also former pro-soccer player in the U.K. and pastor of Calvary Grace Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, which hosts the Canadian chapter of the CBMW.

[27] Charles E Hill, Canon of the New Testament pp. 217-220 in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (ed. David Noel Freedman, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000).

[28] Denny Burk is a prominent New Calvinist blogger and associate pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is also a professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, where Southern Baptist Theological Seminary hosts their undergraduate program.

[29] Bruce Ware is a council member of CBMW and professor and associate dean of Theology at SBTS.  He was previously the chair of the Department of Biblical Studies and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

[30] Tim Keller is a cofounder of TGC and founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York City.  He is also a visiting professor at Reformation Theological Seminary, chairman of church planting ministry Redeemer City to City, and was formerly an associate professor of Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

[31] Don Carson is cofounder and president of TGC and Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  He is also a visiting professor at Reformation Theological Seminary and Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College.  Don Carson spoke at TGC15.

[32] Kathy Keller is the wife of Tim Keller and assistant director of communications for Redeemer Presbyterian Church.  She is also a respected author and speaker and has a Masters in Theology from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

[33] The Keller’s marriage book is called The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God.

[34] For an excellent analysis of how women are affected by patriarchy in the church see Carolyn Custis James, Half the ChurchFor a vision of masculinity beyond patriarchy, her book Malestrom is a must read.

[35] Philip Ryken is president of Wheaton College and a counsel member of TGC.  Ryken was also involved in ousting Peter Enns from Westminster Theological Seminary, where he previously served on the board of Trustees alongside Carl Trueman and Peter Lillback (also instrumental in the injustice perpetrated against Enns).  Ryken spoke at TGC15.

  • Carl Trueman is a professor of Church History at WTS and a regular speaker at GCC’s Shepherd’s Conference. While Trueman appeared at T4G in 2012 and has had his work recommended by TGC as recently as September 2015, he – and the rest of the contributors to his podcast the Mortification of Spin – have been highly critical of T4G and CJ Mahaney recently.
  • Peter Lillback is president and professor of historical theology at WTS.

[36] Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing for Crossway Books.  His blog, Between Two Worlds is hosted by TGC.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Bethlehem College.

  • Crossway has published books by such New Calvinist notables as John Piper, John MacArthur, Don Carson, and Kevin DeYoung.  It is also the publishing company behind the ESV translation of the Bible, the translation hailed by CBMW as unapologetically complementarian.

[37] A sentiment expressed by Justin Taylor when Ryken was chosen as president in 2010 as well.

[38] Andrew Walker is the Director of Policy Studies for the ERLC.

[39] Joe Carter is the Communications Specialist for ERLC.  He is also a prominent TGC blogger.

[40] Dennis Hastert is a former US Speaker of the House who was recently convicted of violating banking law.  During the course of the trial, Hastert admitted to being a serial child sex predator and to paying millions of dollars to cover up the sexual assaults he had committed.  Wheaton’s Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy was formerly named for Hastert, and he served on the board of advisers for the center.

[41] Voddie Baucham is the Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas.  Baucham spoke at TGC15.  Baucham is a popular speaker and author within the New Calvinist movement with strong ties to the Christian Homeschooling movement.  He has also served as an adjunct professor at Reformation Theological Seminary.  Baucham has several posts featured on TGC’s blog.

[42] Miguel Nunez is a member of the TGC council.  He spoke at TGC15, CBMW16, and T4G16.  He is also a regular speaker at GCC’s The Shepherd’s Conference.

[43] Baucham’s views on parenting are equally troubling and, I suggest, directly tied to issues of child abuse within the church.

[44] Jason Allen is the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He formerly served in a vice presidential role at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

  • It is notable that Jason Duesing serves as Provost of MWBTS. Duesing is also a research fellow for the ERLC and a board member of CBMW.  Duesing is also a former Vice President and Provost for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

o    Interestingly, a council member of CBMW, Dorothy Patterson serves as first lady and women’s studies professor at SWBTS. Her husband, Paige Patterson, is president of SWBTS. Paige Patterson once told an abused wife to return home to her husband and antagonize him.  When she returned to church with two black eyes, Patterson stated he was happy it had happened because it got her husband into church.

[45] For Doug’s insinuation that feminists deep down want to be raped, and that male authority is an “erotic necessity” see here.

[46] Nancy Wilson is an accomplished author and wife of Doug Wilson.

[47] Kevin DeYoung is a council member of TGC.  He also serves on the faculty of Reformation Theological Seminary.  DeYoung spoke at CBMW16 and T4G16.

[48] Steve Wilkins is the pastor of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church of Monroe, Louisiana.  Wilkins and his church were members of the Presbyterian Church of America until 2008, when Wilkins came under fire for his beliefs regarding Federal Vision.  Rather than face a trial in the PCA, Wilkins and the congregation of Auburn Avenue unanimously decided to be transferred to the CREC.  Wilkins relationship with CREC founder Doug Wilson dates back to the book they plagiarized together in 1996.  Other Federal Visionists include Randy Booth, and Doug Wilson, who chose to back Wilkins against the accusations of the PCA.  In addition, Wilkins is the co-founder of the League of the South, a white supremacist group who believes that society should be hierarchical with “Anglo-Celtic” elites leading and everyone submitting to their leadership.  This, they claim, is modeled on the idea of Christ being head of the church.  Further, LOS is a secessionist group who holds that the “Southern” way of life is incompatible with the rest of the United States’ culture.  This is a view under the umbrella of Neo-Confederacy, a belief system to which Doug Wilson himself also holds.  Both men argue that slavery was an institution which, by and large, was of great benefit for “racial harmony” between black slaves and white slave owners.  To be quite clear, Doug Wilson – a man who has no problem describing himself as a Paleo-Confederate co-wrote a book calling Southern Slavery an institution that was both wholly Christian and beneficial to all involved with Steve Wilkins, who serves the purposes of organization whose attitude to be considered racist is “so, what?”  Strangely, Thabiti Anyabwile – who fashions himself a Black Lives Matter advocate – has allowed Doug Wilson to share his views of slavery and race relations on his TGC blog site.

[49] Wilson has also stated that the same rape victim bears moral agency for her own rape, as show here.

image

[50] Sinclair Ferguson is a professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary and an esteemed visiting professor at Westminster Theological Seminary.  He is also a teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries.  Ferguson is a regular speaker at The Shepherd’s Conference.

[51] Peter Jones is a CBMW board member and a former professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is also the founder and Leader of TruthXChange.

[52] Burk Parsons is a former Backstreet Boy and currently serves as editor of Tabletalk magazine for Ligonier Ministries.  He is also a teaching elder at St. Andrews Chapel of Sanford, Florida, alongside RC Sproul, Sr.

[53] In 2015, Burk Parsons released John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion and Doctrine, a Christian Audio series featuring 18 Reformed pastor’s thoughts on the legacy of Calvin. Contributors included John MacArthur, Sinclair Ferguson, Philip Ryken, Thabiti Anyabwile, W. Robert Godfrey, and Steve Lawson.  It is interesting to note that each of these contributors is linked to TGC, CBMW, T4G, or Ligonier Ministries (often to multiple ministries).

[54] Julie Rodgers has written an excellent rebuttal here.    Julie is a former speaker for Exodus International and has served on the Chaplain’s staff at Wheaton College.  She now serves the Church as an in demand public speaker and consultant on issues pertaining to LGBTQ+ inclusion and support in the Church.

[55] This view is expressed here by John Piper. However, Moore endorses the teachings of Piper on gender roles.  This is hardly surprising, given Moore’s history of service with CBMW.

[56] I have thoroughly critiqued this view here and here.

[57] Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20 all mention the women as first witnesses to the empty tomb.

[58] For a more in depth critique of taking Genesis 1 as proof of complementarian theology, see here.

[59] Jason Meyer is the Pastor of Teaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church.  He is also an associate professor of New Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary.

[60] Of the men listed throughout this post, several have spoken out openly in support of Mahaney and his ministry. They are listed below.

Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor as representatives of TGC.

Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, and Al Mohler as representatives of T4G.

Denny Burk openly endorsed the post from T4G leadership.

John Piper while speaking at Mahaney’s church, expressed his full support of Mahaney as a friend and fellow minister of the Gospel.

Doug Wilson called the accusations (made by myself) against CJ Mahaney lies.

Thabiti Anyabwile called the accusations against Mahaney “he said, she said.”

Kevin DeYoung wrote a post answering criticism from the Mortification of Spin in which he strongly implied (without of course actually mentioning his name) that CJ Mahaney is a minister of the Gospel who is above reproach.

 

[61] ACBC is partnering with 9 Marks to put on the Pre-Conference to their annual Conference.  Justin Leeman of 9 Marks is scheduled to speak at this event on Monday, October 3, 2016 at 10:30 AM and participate in a panel discussion at 2:30 PM.

  • Justin Leeman is the editorial director of 9 Marks.  He also an elder at Capitol Hills Baptist Church.  Leeman serves as adjunct faculty at Southeastern and Southern Baptist Theological Seminaries as well as Reformation Theological Seminary.

[62] I have highlighted a great deal more in the posts found here.

**Cover Image from https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/erikraymond/files/2011/09/dangerous.jpg**

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42 thoughts on “5 Reasons Not to Support New Calvinism

  1. This is a movement I have long reproved as heretical and malevolent and this stand I’ve suffered for a great deal. So it may appear odd to you that I think no less of yourself. You call them mysoginists for advocating a biblical role in the family and yet you allude to no scriptural refutation of their position but rather put up videos of Driscoll (the most abandoned of them all) giving a sound scriptural defense of mom’s staying at home and father’s providing. All you really prove is the truth of that scripture that the way of truth will be brought into disrepute by heretics. Except of course that this is supposed to be with unbelievers.
    I appreciate the excellent documentation of your article and the thoroughness if it. I hope to reference it much in the future but only for myself. You will look like just another liberal voice attacking them for what is right and it’s thus unfortunate such an otherwise excellent piece can’t be referenced with profit.in the end however people who embrace New Calvinist heterodoxy are clueless about the gospel anyway. But so are those who make war with very plain scriptural principles regarding Christian sanctification.

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    1. Charles, my dismantling of patriarchal gender roles is well documented elsewhere on this site.

      I do not need to defend the absurdity of Driscoll’s claim about stay at home dads. It is entirely hermeneutically bankrupt.

      Also, the supposedly forsaken Driscoll has relaunched a new church, and was backed by prominent New Calvinist leaders. This is also something I have well-documented elsewhere.

      Feel free to explore the site more thoroughly. You will find what you are looking for.

      And to the last point about liberalism, I honestly don’t care. I write what I believe to be true, I go where the Spirit guides me. Label that what you wish.

      Peace

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  2. I’m really saddened to see Alistair Begg’s name included with the likes of these men. 😦 While I’ve never met him in person, I used to listen to him often on the radio and have always respected his humble, scholarly, and Scripture-focused approach to teaching. I had no idea he was connected to and/or supported TGC, etc. and their heresies! I hope and pray God wakes him up and that he publicly and emphatically separates himself from them!

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      1. nothing substantial in this blog. all you do is to critic these people without giving any solution to address the problem. i think your only contribution to christianity is criticism. shame on you.

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        1. Ed, spare me your sanctimony. You just read about children being raped, and your first response is to complain I’m too critical.

          You clearly have read very little of this blog, I offer thoughts on how to combat abuse and even form alternative ways of doing theology throughout.

          So the reality is, I’ve challenged that you hold sacred – sanctified testosterone – and you respond with shame and insult. Insult isn’t an argument, nd shame is a tactic used by persons who can’t form a coherent counter-argument.

          I don’t entertain logical fallacy, and I certainly have no further time for a person who considers child rape less important than ensuring his favorite celebrity pastor goes uncritiqued. Your comments have been consistently insulting and poorly argued.

          You are no longer welcome to comment here, I have no responsibility to further entertain insults.

          Peace to you.

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  3. I also wanted to add that Owen Strachan, the pup who heads the Center on Biblical Manhood Womanhood, is the son-in-law of Bruce Ware (the creator of the “Eternal [a lie] Subordination of the Son” heresy that Ware uses to prop us his faulty subordination of women teaching).

    The notes didn’t indicate these two men are related by marriage.

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  4. I will add that I am convinced that the new-Calvinism (or neo-Puritanism) is not only dangerous for all of the reason you state, but it is also harmful for engaging in God’s mission. Not only because the hierarchal leadership, along with the associated male-dominated leadership, to the point that the church is operating with half of it’s body, but also because of the over the top, gathering centric focus, along with the associated priority of preaching. I am not diminishing the importance of preaching, but when the church becomes merely about hearing the word preached, church becomes a place where certain things happen (led by the shepherd / teacher) rather than being a called and sent (five-fold APEST) people of God.

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  5. Nate, thanks for all of the work that went into this post.

    I will add that I am convinced that the new-Calvinism (or neo-Puritanism) is not only dangerous for all of the reason you state, but it is also extremely harmful for engaging in God’s mission. Not only because the hierarchal leadership, along with the associated male-dominated leadership, to the point that the church is operating with half of it’s body, but also because of the over the top, gathering centric focus, along with the associated priority of preaching. I am not diminishing the importance of preaching, but when the church becomes merely about hearing the word preached, church becomes a place where certain things happen (led by the shepherd / teacher) rather than being a called and sent (five-fold APEST) people of God.

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  6. Although I disagree with liberal theology, and the irony associated with quoting Christ while simultaneously arguing that we can’t really trust much of what our Bibles say, my critique of your argument here is not really theological. It’s simply a matter of basic reason.

    You spend most of this article confusing the issue of the “New Calvinist movement” and its leaders with the issue of Scriptural interpretation. Fortunately, they are separate issues, and should be treated as such. Millions of Christians around the world hold to many of (not all*) these same stances but have never even heard of the “New Calvinist” movement. This is important to address. I think you should spend much more time discussing how to make sense of scripture like 1 Corinthians 11:3-10, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, and Matthew 19:5, rather than attacking individual pastors.

    I understand your purpose in pointing out what you find to be hypocritical, and I think you did a good job of that. Regardless, you have still confused two separate issues here.

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    1. I do not believe there is a degree of separation between theology and praxis.

      Also, I drew a clear distinction between theological traditions of being Reformed or Calvinist and the New Calvinists.

      While I have theological issues with certain aspects of Calvinism, the hyper Kuyperian roots of modern New Calvinism are a whole other ball-game.

      The biggest difference I see is that I know very few traditionally reformed persons that place complementarity, or any other theological position, prior to or on the same level as the cross. Yet this commitment lies at the very heart of New Calvinism.

      I am critiquing a specific yet powerful movement within the church, primarily though not entirely in the West, which has decentralized the cross from the Gospel, and shown how the elevation of men to such unquestionable heights in their theology has resulted, repeatedly in a top down system of abuse.

      But, again, I am making and maintaining a distinction between historically reformed theology – with which I have some disagreement but also deep respect – and the New Calvinism which tries to assert decidedly secondary doctrines as primary for being truly “Christian.”

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      1. If you are interested in my take on certain passages, I have a subpage entitled “Complementarianism” in which I have multiple posts dissecting those relevant passages.

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      2. Thanks for the quick response!

        In terms of theory and praxis, remember, we are talking about sinful men just like you and I. Of course, that does not mean “anything goes,” or that the actions of pastors do not matter. That certainly is not the case. However, we must not equate God’s word through what He has revealed in scripture, to the practice of mortals. Once again, I feel as though you blur the lines here.

        We will agree to disagree about these men elevating these issues to being “on the same level as the Cross.” Just because a particular stance on a particular issue is important to a movement or denomination, this does not mean that likewise, one’s salvation depends on it. We would agree on that, I suppose. However, I have read many books by some of the men you named, and I would certainly disagree that they have decentralized the Cross. Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection wIll always be their essential concern.

        God bless!

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        1. For the record, I am not saying the complementarian reading of Scripture has no basis. But that it represents a hermenteutic which dismisses a great deal of mitigating context. That, for me, represents a dangerous reading of Scripture but could never be enough to merely cancel their identity as Christians. I have no animosity toward these men, but see their individual “sins” to use your wording, as endemic to a larger systemic problem.

          Thanks for taking the time to respond respectfully in disagreement, not always the way these things go.

          Blessings to you as well.

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    2. Actually Rush Rushdoony started the whole Patriarchy teaching in the U.S. Bruce Ware started the “Eternal [a lie] Subordination of the Son” heresy to prop up Patriarchy/Comp teachings. Wayne Grudem joined in. Bill Gothard had another strain of it.

      These men have been rightly, and severely, criticized by other Christian denominations -including conservative ones – who have said there is no such thing in the Bible as Patriarchy/Comp. These men have merely tried to create an Old Testament culture (Patriarchy & The Law) with a New Testament Covenant.

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      1. This is a post from Gram3, over at The Wartburg Watch blog, who answered by question about the history of Patriarchy/Comp in the United States and conservative Protestant Christianity. Post on May 24, 2016:
        “I would add to BradFuturist that Rousas Rushdoony was the fount of Reconstructionism (the Reformed version of Dominionism) which led to Federal Vision which plagues many PCA churches to this day. Federal Vision is Doug Wilson’s theology, though it is taught by Peter Leithart who is still inexplicably tolerated by the PCA.
        Dominionism was also promoted heavily in charismatic circles via TBN and other outlets. The connection between the charismatic form of Dominionism and the Reconstructionist version was Gary North who is Rushdoony’s son-in-law.
        Reconstructionism is a perversion of standard Covenant Theology. Some consider it merely an extreme form of Covenant Theology, but I disagree. As Brad said, they wish to establish a theocratic state modeled on the OT theocracy. They take that as a pattern for how we should do government and church and family. This includes the idea of Patriarchy.
        Federal Vision shifted the focus from establishing a theocracy to establishing a church that is the center of everything. There is much talk of priests, fathers as priests of their family, etc. Rather than a focus on individual conversion, the FV focuses on baptism and communion. One becomes a Christian by being baptized and one is baptized because one is born into a family headed by a Christian man.
        The word “covenant” is plastered all over a lot of different things, and I think it is important to keep those things separate lest we blame people who hold to standard Covenant Theology for the weirdness.
        I think a lot of Reconstructionist baggage got ported over to the YRR by guys reading Greg Bahnsen who was an affiliate of Rushdoony. He was a brilliant guy who was highly respected as an apologist in the Van Til school as was Rushdoony.
        Gothard is another thing entirely, as far as I know. Wheaton in the 60’s was not a Reformed stronghold. I believe that Gothard’s views were primarily shaped by a fundamentalist mindset in reaction to a liberalizing culture. The answer was more laws and rules rather than an emphasis on regeneration and the internal work of sanctification in the individual believer. He began his work helping parents who were frustrated with their teenagers’ rebellion. Any of us who have raised teenagers can identify with their desperation for answers, and Gothard offered a System for that just like our current Female Subordinationists offer a System which supposedly produces happy marriages and families.
        I think there was a lot of cross-pollination among these various streams of thought back in the 60’s and 70’s to get us where we are today. The Christian homeschooling movement is another place where ideas crossed over. Rushdoony decreed that homeschooling is the only Biblical way.
        The bottom line is that people will use whatever means works if what they desire is to rule over others. We have all been useful idiots, but typically in the present it is much easier to see when other people are being useful idiots. Retrospectively, some of us have been able to realize that we were useful idiots.
        That’s enough for a comment box. If you Google these names and movements, you will find a wealth of information.”

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        1. And another post to share from over at The Wartburg Watch. This one by BL on May 24, 2016, on the subject I asked a question about – the history of Patriarchy in the conservative Protestant U.S. chuches:

          Excellent synopsis, Gram!
          The charismatic river of Dominionism that came through the shepherding/discipleship movement was via Ern Baxter. He had worked with William Branham from whom Dominionism came through the Manifest Sons of God, The Latter Rain, and the End-Time Harvest Movements.
          This particular branch also flows through Mike Bickle (IHOP), C. Peter Wagner (NAR, & ‘Convening Apostle of the International Coalition of Apostles’), Francis Frangipane (River of Life), Che Ahn (former PDI pastor for 19 years, and one the NAR’s apostles), Kenneth Hagin & Kenneth Copeland (health & wealth quacks), Rick Joyner, Paul Cain, Lou Engle, James Goll, Chuck Pierce (Kansas City ‘prophets’), Jack Dennison (CityReach), Paul Cedar (Mission America Coalition), Ed Silvoso (Transformations), Tom White (City-Wide Prayer Movement), George Otis (Sentinel Group), Loren Cunningham (YWAM), Os Hillman (Marketplace Leaders), John Dawson (Taking Our Cities for God), Rick Warren (PDL), Bill Bright (Campus Crusade).
          That’s not an exhaustive list. The above folks are connected and interconnected together in mulitple ways.
          Finally, one pivotal man who connects the charismatic stream of C. Peter Wagner & the reformed stream of John Piper is Ralph Winter (US Center for World Mission, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement). Winter’s teachings on the Abrahamic covenant (as being the only covenant) – that this (the Abrahamic Covenant) is the ‘secret mission’ of the church.
          Quoting Winter:
          “Neither Matthew 26:28 nor mark 14:24, in the scene of the Last Supper, speak of the “new covenant, They read, “this is my blood of the covenant” not, as does Luke 22:20, “the new covenant in my blood.”
          “Apparently the word “new” is not the principal point of the passage but rather the fact that this act of outpoured blood finally ratifies and enables the same covenant in a new and ultimate sense. The sacrifice of the Cross is thus, at the very least, a definitive renewal of the Abrahamic Covenant, as we have already seen.”
          So, there you have it. There is no new covenant. Just a ‘ratification’ and ‘enabling’ of the Abrahamic covenant…
          .
          Terms to search: City Transformations, Seven Mountains Mandate, Marketplace Movement, Prayer Marching, Taking Our Cities for God, Spiritual Mapping, Spiritual Warfare, Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God, Coalition on Revival, Global Mapping Project, The Lausanne Covenant, The Lausanne Movement, Loving Our Cities to Christ,
          ReplyReply w/Quote (select the text to quote then click this button)

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          1. And another post from The Wartburg Watch, where Brad/FuturistGuy (a great researcher/blogger) answered my question about Patriarchy/Comp in the conservative Protestant church in the U.S.

            Posted by Brad/FutuistGuy on May 23, 2016:
            I thought about some key indicators, and remembered that a lot of them are in the lists for this post I wrote on “Calvinistas” a few years ago. Although Shepherding-type authoritarianism isn’t only in Neo-Calvinist/Neo-Puritan or Pentecostal settings, there is a common paradigm of thinking that always separates things into classes and categories, and that similarity goes far deeper than the doctrinal differences.
            https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/calvinistas/
            FWIW, here’s a bullet list of some of the items on those lists, and I’ll leave the descriptions of them over there.
            * Dualism
            * Reductionism
            * Perfectionism
            * Patriarchalism
            * Totalism and Authoritarianism
            * Dominionism
            About the only other thing I think I’d add to this is something having to do with the ways these groups tend to “collaborate.” If they engage in ministry partnerships at all, it’s like to be where there is high overlap on those other essential approaches to thinking processes, systems, personal growth or behavior modification, authority and subservience, and stance toward culture. And the rest of the churches-theologians-Christians are labeled as either non-gospel, heretical, etc.

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  7. Thoughtful and well-researched. Quick typo note (feel free to delete this comment after you see it): the phrase “continuing to empowering” in your bolded and underlined opening, and also a reference to Malachi 6:8 when you mean Micah.

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  8. That was a lot of info! Great job putting that all together! My goodness! And I was all up into reading most of those before I left the Baptist denom. Ugh!!

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Thanks for taking the time to read and engage. I look forward to your feedback, I welcome any criticism. However, as my goal here is mutualy respectful, beneficial conversation, I only ask that we keep civility in mind with our words. Grace and Peace.

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