Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Phil Johnson on Quick and Dirty Calvinism

Phillip Johnson of Grace Community Church has started blogging with a bang. His first post,Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism, identifies some of the major differences between Internet and historic Calvinism. Among them:
Today's rank-and-file Calvinists are more in the mold of Pink, Boettner, and J.I. Packer than they are like Spurgeon or Whitefield. In other words, modern Calvinism is producing mostly students and polemicists, not evangelists and preachers. That's because Internet Calvinism is simply too academic and theoretical and not concerned enough with doing, as opposed to hearing, the Word (James 1:22). To a large degree, I think that's what the medium itself encourages.


ynottony said...

Stop posting convicting material! hahaha Good stuff and very true! I am surely guilty of that, being prone to a more contemplative life.

Anyway, Keith already knew that I would have something to say on this topic LOL. Curt Daniel does an EXCELLENT JOB discussing these problems in The History and Theology of Calvinism lectures at See especially the lectures Practical Implications of Calvinism, and The Future of Calvinism . He warns against the same dangers Phil mentions.

Thanks for providing the link to Phil's blog Keith! :-)

PgfP said...

This was an outstanding article. Unfortunately my introduction to Calvinism was in this way and it pretty much freaked me out. The online Calvinists do seem to be polemic. The folks I know who have taken their time with it and explored it and thrown themselves on the mercy of God regarding this are normally pretty quiet about it.

The reality is that we all believe in the soveriegnty of God. We have some sort of thing wired into us about God's Sovereignty. But the thing is we are desperately rebellious and the flesh is a mess and that has everything to do with this problem.

I believe that humility needs to come first if one is studying Calvinism. Simply because our (my) fleshly ego and pride is so frighteningly enmeshed in who we are, that we (I) turn all this into an intellectual exercise and fall into arrogant self.

The scariest Christians I have met are these kinds of Calvinists. They think they know everything, everyone is excluded from the club and there is no room for the mystery of God in their lives. Calvinism becomes this sick inward self deification in the name of Christ. They either alienate all kinds of folks or walk around terrified because they can't figure out whether or not they are part of the elect. They make no provision in their Christianity for the flesh, sin or their own behavior.

The reality is most of our understanding of the soveriegn choice of God is relegated to semantics, definitions and words. We really don't understand much about the mechanics of how it really works.

I have to live in the finite here and now and be responsible for my decisions. I rely on God's sovereignty, but I need to pray for humility and live in the here and now or my fleshly pride will hijack my intellect and I will become osified in my Christianity due to my own pride.