Cautions for New Calvinists

The following is a transcript of the audio.

A few years ago Pastor John was asked if he had any concerns or cautions for the “New Calvinism” movement? He did, and here’s what he said.

Oh, yeah. And I will give you one that is just fresh off a prophetic word that was given to me yesterday. You know, take it or leave it for whatever. I am cautious about things when people come to me with these kinds of things, but it rung true and you can get it without, you know, having any claim to special, divine authority. Making theology God instead of God, God. Loving doing theology rather than loving God. Somebody said to me one time, Sam Crabtree, it was, I said through there: The danger of the con-temporary worship awakening is that we love loving God more than we love God. That was very pro-found. And you might love thinking about God more than you love God or arguing for God more than you love God or defending God more than you love God or writing about God more than you love God or preaching more than you love God or evangelizing more than you love God. Reformed people tend to be thoughtful. That is, they come to the Bible and they want to use their minds to make sense of it. And the best want to make sense of all of it, not pick and choose and say: I don’t like that verse. That sounds like an Arminian verse. We will put that over here.

Well, no. No. You fix your brain. You don’t fix the Bible. So being that kind of person that we are prone to systematized and fit things together, those kinds of people, me, are, therefore, wired dangerously to begin to idolize the system. And I don’t go here too much, because I think the whiplash starts to swing the other direction and so minimize system and minimize thinking and minimize doctrine that we start losing a foothold in the Bible. So that would be a big caution that we be intellectually and emotionally more engaged with the person of Christ, the person of God, the trinity than we are with thinking about him. And they are inextricably woven. But the reason you are reading the Bible and the reason you are framing thoughts about God from the Bible is to make your way through those thoughts to the real per-son. The danger of those who do the other thing, namely all that intellectual stuff, no, no, no. Doctrine, no. Intellect, no. Study, no, Experience, yes, is that they wind up worshipping a God of their own imagination. It feels so right. It feels so free. It feels so humble, because they are not getting involved in all these debates, but it isn’t. It is losing their grip on reality.

We are compelled to go there. So handing over that is pride I mean, that is a species of pride. We are not saying there are many species of pride. That is just one of them. You can call it Intellectualism if you want. There is emotionalism. We are there. That is not the danger right now. Intellectualism is a species of pride, because we begin to prize our abilities to interpret the Bible over the God of the Bible or the Bible itself.

When I asked Rick Warren, tell me your doctrine of the Bible? He said: Inerrant, authoritative. But I don’t mean all my interpretations of it are inerrant and authoritative and that is, of course, right. We should talk that way. So that would be my flag.

That was Pastor John a few years ago addressing his concerns for this movement called “New Calvinism.” And speaking of “New Calvinism” we did a recent episode on the theme, titled: “Where Did All These Calvinists Come From?” That was episode #237 in the Ask Pastor John archive. See also the very recent episode—if haven’t already heard it—titled: “What’s New About ‘New Calvinism’?” That was episode #319, released earlier this month. We will be back tomorrow to ask: If I want people in other religions to consider reading the Bible, should I then be willing to return the favor and read their holy book? We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I’m your host Tony Reinke, thanks for listening.

©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in physical form, in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For posting online, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. For videos, please embed from the original source. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org