calvinism and holiness today

courtesy of Iain campbell here is a different take than one would expect on the state of calvinism and holiness these days.

here is how it starts:

When I was a youngster and newly saved, it seemed as if the chief goal of all zealous Christians, whether Calvinistic or Arminian, was consecration. Sermons, books and conferences stressed this in the spirit of Romans 12.1-2, where the beseeching apostle calls believers to present their bodies a living sacrifice, and not to be conformed to this world. The heart was challenged and stirred. Christ was to be Lord of one’s life, and self must be surrendered on the altar of service for him.

But now, it appears, there is a new Calvinism, with new Calvinists, which has swept the old objectives aside. A recent book, Young, Restless, Reformed, by Collin Hansen tells the story of how a so-called Calvinistic resurgence has captured the imaginations of thousands of young people in the USA, and this book has been reviewed with great enthusiasm in well-known magazines in the UK, such as Banner of Truth, Evangelical Times, and Reformation Today.

This writer, however, was very deeply saddened to read it, because it describes a seriously distorted Calvinism falling far, far short of an authentic life of obedience to a sovereign God. If this kind of Calvinism prospers, then genuine biblical piety will be under attack as never before.

The author of the book is a young man (around 26 when he wrote it) who grew up in a Christian family and trained in secular journalism. We are indebted to him for the readable and wide-reaching survey he gives of this new phenomenon, but the scene is certainly not a happy one.

The author begins by describing the Passion, conference at Atlanta in 2007, where 21,000 young people revelled in contemporary music, and listened to speakers such as John Piper proclaiming Calvinistic sentiments. And this picture is repeated many times through the book – large conferences being described at which the syncretism of worldly, sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic music, is mixed with Calvinistic doctrine.

then he goes after John MacArthur and the Resolved conferences, C.J. Mahaney, Josh Harris, Curtis Allen and Mark Driscoll. you should go read it to see what he says.

then he gets to the meat of his coconut:

Most of the well-known preachers who promote and encourage this ‘revival’ of Calvinism have in common the following positions that contradict a genuine Calvinistic (or Puritan) outlook:

1. They have no problem with contemporary charismatic-ethos worship, including extreme, heavy-metal forms.

2. They are soft on separation from worldliness [see endnote 2].

3. They reject the concern for the personal guidance of God in the major decisions of Christians (true sovereignty), thereby striking a death-blow to wholehearted consecration.

4. They hold anti-fourth-commandment views, taking a low view of the Lord’s Day, and so inflicting another blow at a consecrated lifestyle.

Whatever their strengths and achievements (and some of them are brilliant men by any human standard), or whatever their theoretical Calvinism, the poor stand of these preachers on these crucial issues will only encourage a fatally flawed version of Calvinism that will lead people to be increasingly wedded to the world, and to a self-seeking lifestyle.

Truly proclaimed, the sovereignty of God must include consecration, reverence, sincere obedience to his will, and separation from the world.

You cannot have Puritan soteriology without Puritan sanctification. You should not entice people to Calvinistic (or any) preaching by using worldly bait. We hope that young people in this movement will grasp the implications of the doctrines better than their teachers, and come away from the compromises. But there is a looming disaster in promoting this new form of Calvinism.

and then he gets to this:

A final sad spectacle reported with enthusiasm in the book is the Together for the Gospel conference, running from 2006. A more adult affair convened by respected Calvinists, this nevertheless brings together cessationists and non-cessationists, traditional and contemporary worship exponents, and while maintaining sound preaching, it conditions all who attend to relax on these controversial matters, and learn to accept every point of view. In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every -error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked. These are tragic days for authentic spiritual faithfulness, worship and piety.

True Calvinism and worldliness are opposites. Preparation of heart is needed if we would search the wonders and plumb the depths of sovereign grace.

This fellow Masters is very hard to please.

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