ACCC Resolution on "New Calvinism"

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TylerR's picture

Editor

I am also troubled by many of the same things this resolution warns against. Is this, in a nutshell, the "Convergence" which Bro. Johnson and the FBFI are warning against?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

if/what the overlap is between ACCC membership is and FBFI membership is.  If I remember correctly, there was a fair bit in the past, but I don't know either list as the organizations are currently constituted.

EDIT:

New Calvinism is restless in that it is dissatisfied with the godly standards and confessional theology held by previous generations of Calvinists.

Wow, broadbrush much?

The ACCC seems to be throwing everything together into one pot and mis-labelling it as 'New Calvinism'.  There are issues there, for sure, but when I read that post, it's basically a repudiation of 'stuff we don't like' with 'stuff we don't believe' and a dollop of 'bad theology'.  Some of their points are pretty laughable and make the whole thing hard to swallow.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

I hear you. I'm trying to take a step back and see if (a) I'm just interpreting the resolution in a negative way because I want to, or (b) if the thing really is badly written, even if there are some valid points in there.

It sounds similar to a lot of what I hear from the FBFI; a strong emphasis on a "remnant theology" which has a tendency to result in perpetual wagon-circling. It reminds me of the movie "The Village." (NOTE: this comparison will only make sense if you're aware of the plot twist towards the end of the movie).

I'll have to read the resolution again a few times. It makes some good points.I do wonder why this is about 10 years too late.

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

Furthermore, John Piper, the designated “father” of the YRR, has distorted Scripture, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the works of Jonathan Edwards to promote a brand of hedonism that makes God’s glory contingent on man’s pursuit of pleasure. [xi]

I'm sorry, but if the ACCC thinks that Piper's argument is that God is glorified when man is living for [what they imply as selfish] pleasure, then they haven't read Piper.  Piper specifically attacks that argument all over the place in his writings.  Here's literally the first result I got when I searched for "Desiring God Christian Hedonism".  I didn't even have to open my copy of Desiring God[!]:

If you must, forgive me for the label. But don’t miss the truth because you don’t like my tag. My shortest summary of it is: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Or: The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. Does Christian Hedonism make a god out of pleasure? No. It says that we all make a god out of what we take most pleasure in. My life is devoted to helping people make God their God by wakening in them the greatest pleasures IN HIM (emphasis added by Jay).

This is either sloppy misunderstanding or malicious attack.  I'll report - you decide.  I know which way I am leaning.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

I'd better not say this too loudly during deer season, but as a "four pointer" (I have trouble with limited atonement, but I'm still working through things), I got a kick out of how they made a point of referring to Calvin, Spurgeon, and the like as "deceased".  Really?  So Genesis 6:3 has not indeed been removed from the Bible!  Whew!  I also got a kick of how they twisted Piper's theory of Christian hedonism as saying "God's glory is contingent on man's pursuit of pleasure."  Agree or disagree with Piper, no, that's not how he presents it.

Fun aside, I've got to commend them for being fairly specific in their allegations, even if I disagree with some of their conclusions.  To wrestle with this:

1.  Regarding popular culture, why is the popular culture of the 1600s through the 1800s acceptable--things like new instrumentation, four part harmony (except in camp meeting songs of course), the men's suit, etc..--but popular culture of the 20th and 21st centuries is not?  How can we possibly make a Biblical argument for this?  Why is the dividing line roughly between revival songs and the blues and jazz?

2.  Regarding the list of those from whom "new Calvinists" do not separate, I am at least partially in agreement.  I can learn from Catholic and other theologians without having fellowship with them, as things like the Council of Trent get in the way.  Billy Graham?  Big phenomenon, but where is the long term fruit?  The only thing I'd note is that we ought to be as hard on ourselves when our own outreaches bear little or not fruit.  If God's word does not return void, we ought to expect something.

3.  Regarding charismatic theology among young Calvinists, I agree at least in part.  While I am not personally a "hard" cessationist (as I suspect AACC and FBFI are), I simultaneously would agree that the hypothesis of cessationism is compatible with the general lack of evidence for genuine tongues, prophecy, and the like.  We need to take reports of signs and wonders with at least a grain of salt.

4.  Alcohol wasn't mentioned?  Really?  When it's a joke among "New Calvinists" that "Calvinist" means "Christian that drinks beer"? Something of a surprise, but seriously, space is limited, and I've got to commend AACC for NOT dragging this (and Tyler's movies, and mine) into the matter at this point.  They kept on topic.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

The Danger of Neo-Fundamentalism:

Snip:

The neo-fundamentalist call to the convergence of fundamentalists and evangelicals rang loud and clear from the Zondervan publication Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), a book promoted by the managers of the Sharper Iron website. The neo-fundamentalist tolerance for men who neglect or repudiate separatist convictions has spread to the campuses of former citadels of fundamentalism, like Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, PA (scheduled to cease academic operations at the end of the 2013-14 academic year) and Northland International University in Dunbar, WI. We are deeply grieved by these developments.

TylerR's picture

Editor

a book promoted by the managers of the Sharper Iron website

See, Jim - you're not retired after all. You're a manager!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

TylerR wrote:

a book promoted by the managers of the Sharper Iron website

See, Jim - you're not retired after all. You're a manager!

Am demanding a complete audit to find where those commissions disappeared!

Jay's picture

What we are clearly in need of is a resolution (maybe even a joint one by the FBFI and the ACCC) admonishing everyone of the evils of SharperIron and the need for all God's people to stop reading and posting here.  As a matter of fact, maybe we should ban the phrase 'sharpening iron' (and all possible cognates) from Christian vernacular as well, while we're at it...

Hey Jim - looks like I bailed out of the admin team just in time, huh? That was what, three years ago? :)

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jim's picture

Jay wrote:

Hey Jim - looks like I bailed out of the admin team just in time, huh? That was what, three years ago? :)

You can say ... you separated from us

Ron Bean's picture

Back in the day when I was a  "fellowshipper" (GARBC, NRBFC, FBF, IFCA, ACCC, World Congress of Fundamentalists) the ACCC was attractive to me because of its embracing of fundamentalists from varied denominations. (A quality not appreciated by some of the other fellowships.) I haven't had any contact with them for years and this announcement surprised me, not for its content, but for the venue of the meeting. A relatively small (but sound) Baptist church in Maine. Maine? As I've said before, some of these groups have circled the wagons to the point where one wonders if there will be enough wagons to circle.

And Jay, welcome to "The Village" fan club. A number of years ago my son, who's one of the YRR's, invited me to watch "The Village" with him. I really got into the intrigue of the story. When the movie ended, I looked over to see him sitting with arms folded, staring at me. "We lived there didn't we Dad?" 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jay's picture

Jim wrote:
Jay wrote:

Hey Jim - looks like I bailed out of the admin team just in time, huh? That was what, three years ago? :)

You can say ... you separated from us

Yeah, I guess I could, huh?

Well, "I will not hide behind a wall of stone while others fight our battles for us!!"

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

I don't remember anything about the movie. All I remember is the woman climbing over the wall and being confronted by a puzzled private security guard. I remember drawing an immediate parallel to certain segments of fundamentalism, and I recall the impact of that thought hitting me like a sledgehammer. That is all I remember about the movie.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

I'm not trying to stir up debate about fundamentalism. I really don't even like discussing it. But, to use a lame journalist excuse, that's what's newsworthy right now. Not my fault, is it!? All the same, I wonder why the FBFI and now the ACCC are issuing these salvos now. What is the impetus? What is the problem? What has happened recently to cause these two fundamentalist organizations to issue similar statements to their constituencies about essentially the same thing at the same time?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

TylerR wrote:
I wonder why the FBFI and now the ACCC are issuing these salvos now. What is the impetus? What is the problem? What has happened recently to cause these two fundamentalist organizations to issue similar statements to their constituencies about essentially the same thing at the same time?

Acts of desperation!

  • Both groups represent shrinking constituencies
  • Also aging constituencies
  • Name calling is the outworking of an inferiority complex

 

Andrew K's picture

Some of these concerns are valid, some are overstated, imo.

Of notable absence, however, is the regular critique from others within the Reformed community re. the "big names, big money" elements of New Calvinism. I'm curious why this is omitted, given the very vocal criticisms of Carl Trueman and many others.

Also missing is any significant sense of concession on the contributions of the movement.

TylerR's picture

Editor

One thing which seems to be overlooked is that evangelicalism has a spectrum, and it tries to police itself. In a very similar way, fundamentalism also has a spectrum. It is usually dangerous to broadbrush a movement; can you really lump Osteen and MacArthur into the same category!? Likewise, it is really ridiculous to mention Ruckman and Hyles in the same breath as Pickering and McCune. Different worlds.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

TylerR wrote:

I'm not trying to stir up debate about fundamentalism. I really don't even like discussing it. But, to use a lame journalist excuse, that's what's newsworthy right now. Not my fault, is it!? All the same, I wonder why the FBFI and now the ACCC are issuing these salvos now. What is the impetus? What is the problem? What has happened recently to cause these two fundamentalist organizations to issue similar statements to their constituencies about essentially the same thing at the same time?

Jim's comment above about an act of desperation could be true, but keep in mind here that to understand things this way, we have to assume a degree of duplicity on their part.  Given our arguments here, I don't doubt that people actually believe what they're saying, and hence I've got to offer an alternative hypothesis; given overlap between FBFI and AACC membership (e.g., ironically, Dr. Bauder), I'd guess that the "intellectual background" came together at about the same time in both places, perhaps from some of the same people who happen to talk to one another.

Doesn't rule out a pragmatic reason, of course, but it's theoretically more innocuous, really. 

My hope is something I've repeated a lot elsewhere.  Make your case from Scripture.  If we can indeed point to a point in the early 20th century where the use of popular culture became impermissible--remember we're using a ton of popular culture from the centuries before--let's have it.    A case for cessationism that goes beyond the verb tenses in 1 Cor. 13 and the lack of current tongues and prophecy?  You bet! (I'll get you started; just ask what else needs to be revealed except for the 2nd coming and end times in general--and He promised we wouldn't know that)  

I am, however, unpersuaded on a number of issues.  While I tend to separate more readily than even some of my fundamental peers, I still can't get worked up about Victorian culture as Biblical, or about a hardline cessationism.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

Bert said this:

I'd guess that the "intellectual background" came together at about the same time in both places, perhaps from some of the same people who happen to talk to one another.

I'm sure that this is some of what's going on. I haven't seen the FBFI membership roll to compare names, but when I read through the leadership of the ACCC, there were a lot of BJU grads listed.  So I'm convinced there's cross-pollination going on between the two. 

I also think that there's a fair amount of fear about all the people 'leaving Fundamentalism', coupled with an earnest desire to see the truth defended and the gospel proclaimed.  I very much doubt - but will leave the possibility open - that this is some kind of vengeance taking or intent to attack others.

What I don't understand - and why I mentioned malice in an earlier post - is the level of ignorance or lack of basic understanding for some of the things they are attacking.  Like I said, some of what they cover in the resolution is​ bad theology.  Some of it is ​beliefs that have traditionally not existed within traditional Baptist Fundamentalism (postmillennialism, five point Calvinism) and things that should be openly and frankly discussed between brothers in a spirit of 'we disagree, but we can disagree and still be friends'.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant - demonstrate why, from the light of God's Word, these things are errors and wrong.  Come now and reason with us.  Some things are wrong because God says so ​(malus in se).  Some things are wrong because people say so ​(Malum prohibitum).  One is not the same as the other, and lumping them all together just make you look bad.

That being said...some of this resolution, particularly the one key paragraph that I noted before, seems to indicate an ignorant, hostile, pugnacious, and deliberate mis-characterization of something so basic that literally the first Bing search result proves them wrong.  That​is something that I will never understand, and something that ought not to be.  If you have to go to war with someone - go to war.  Absolutely do whatever must be done.  But don't go to war against people - much less believers! - without absolute dead certainty that there are serious violations of Biblical teachings and issues at the core of it.  Count the cost when you raise that army.

Maybe it's epistemic closure, maybe it's an echo chamber, maybe it's heartfelt concerns by men who love Fundamentalism and want to see it prosper, and maybe it's something else.  But Christians - much less Fundamentalists! - ought to be known by dealing in truth​ and dealing in facts, and when the first search result proves an underlying assumption wrong, I'm going to have a hard time trusting the rest of what you say or ​giving you a lot of the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe I'm just weird like that.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ron Bean's picture

I emerged from the fundamentalist "Village" in 2004. (BTW, I still consider myself an historic fundamentalist.) I had no idea what was going on outside of that world.

I was stunned when I heard what had happened in the SBC seminaries. In the Village, the SBC and its seminaries were apostate and beyond rescue.

I had been told that the 20-30 year olds were leaving the church for the world and that church planting was impossible. Imagine my reaction when I visited Capitol Hill Baptist Church or attended T4G.

Someone gave me a copy of Piper's Desiring God. My first reaction was that it was an updated and somewhat earthy expression of Jonathan Edward's Religious Affections.

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

I am disappointed in this resolution. First of all, there are many Pastors of many different stripes, including many non-calvinistic independent Baptists who are embracing modern hymnody and Biblically sound updated music.  I watched the video of BJU's recent Thanksgiving singspiration and notice the use of modern hymnody- beautiful.  I have never been to T4G but have noticed in their recordings that this group is bringing back some hymns that our churches have neglected for years.  The resolution also paints a false picture of many of these Pastors' views of men like Tim Keller.  The young reformed guys that I have met express concern for some of Keller's statements while at the same time appreciating some of the good things he has written,