The New Calvinism and the New Community
Last week I gave the “Gaffin Lecture on Theology, Culture, and Mission” at Westminster Seminary. This was a high honor because of the esteem I have both for Richard Gaffin and the school. Gaffin’s book, By Faith, Not By Sight, which just appeared in a new edition, came at a time when I needed help and encouragement in dealing with the New Perspective on Paul.
The topic I chose to address was “The New Calvinism and the New Community: The Doctrines of Grace and the Meaning of Race.” There were five reasons I went this direction:
First, the lecture is called “On Theology, Culture, and Mission.” With this topic I was able to embrace all three.
Second, the Doctrines of Grace are true, biblical, and beautiful; the sovereignty of God is glorious beyond words; the gracious, governing hand of God in all the details of our lives is precious and sweet. And since I love to talk about what is biblical, and true, and beautiful, and glorious, and sweet, this was my theme.
Third, racial and ethnic diversity is not overly addressed in our churches and is central to the aim of the blood work of Christ in ransoming a people for God and a bride for himself.
Fourth, I am part of the New Calvinism and feel a sense of fatherly responsibility to continually speak into it dimensions of biblical truth that I think it needs to hear.
Fifth, as part of the New Calvinism I have a debt to pay to Westminster Seminary and the lineage of faithfulness you represent in the Reformed tradition. There would be no New Calvinism without this school and its lineage.
In the lecture I try to define the New Calvinism, celebrate its astonishing ethnic and cultural diversity, and, finally, show how three Reformation themes lead to this diversity — justification by faith, the Doctrines of Grace, and the glory of God.
The thesis of the lecture is that the emergence of a movement that is simultaneously given to ethnic diversity and Reformed doctrine is not an anomaly.
On the contrary, wherever you find a failure to take seriously the multi-ethnic nature of Christ’s new community, what you find is not a people hindered by their Reformed theology, but blind to its inalienable, biblical implications.
God is doing this work. I have no triumphalistic predictions of its duration or impact. I simply rejoice in it, and pray and speak with a view toward both.
Note: This clip is only three minutes of an hour-long lecture Piper gave on the New Calvinism, entitled “The New Calvinism and the New Community: The Doctrines of Grace and the Meaning of Race.”
Related resources on the doctrines of God’s grace: