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. I will give you one fresh off a prophetic word that was given to me yesterday. Take it or leave it for whatever. I am cautious when people come to me with these kinds of things, but it rang true, and you can get it without having any claim to special, divine authority.
False God of Theology
Beware of making theology god instead of God, loving doing theology rather than loving God. Sam Crabtree said to me one time, “The danger of the contemporary worship awakening is that we love loving God more than we love God.” That was very profound. 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.
“Beware of making theology god instead of God, loving doing theology rather than loving 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. The best want to make sense of all of it, not to pick and choose and say, “I don’t like that verse. That sounds like an Arminian verse. We will put that over here.” No. You fix your brain. You don’t fix the Bible. So, being those kinds of people, we are prone to systematize and fit things together. Those kinds of people (myself included) are, therefore, wired dangerously to begin to idolize the system. I don’t go here too much, because I think the whiplash starts to swing the other direction and minimize system and minimize thinking and minimize doctrine so that we start losing a foothold in the Bible.
Fix Your Eyes
That would be a big caution: We must be intellectually and emotionally more engaged with the person of Christ, the person of God, the Trinity, than we are with thinking about him. The two 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 person. The danger of those who do the other thing — namely, all that intellectual stuff — 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. Handing that over is pride. I mean, that is a species of pride. When I say there are many species of pride, that is just one of them. You can call it intellectualism if you want. There is emotionalism over 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 to tell me his doctrine of the Bible, he said, “Inerrant, authoritative. But I don’t mean all my interpretations of it are inerrant and authoritative.” That is, of course, right. We should talk that way. So, that would be my flag.