Old Calvinists and New Calvinists
Over at Dr. D.G. Hart’s “Old Life Theological Society” (oldlife.org), “Todd” offers these comments on what he perceives to be some of the differences between the “New Calvinists” / YRR (“Young, Restless and Reformed”), and the “Old Calvinists”:
“From what I have witnessed personally, and I am sure this is only a generalization with some exceptions; what is problematic among the YRR New Calvinistic ministers is a desire for glory without first putting in the hard work.
“Instead of spending three years at a theological seminary studying the original languages, church history, theology, etc., they feel worthy of a call because, well, they desire to plant a church somewhere, so God must be calling them. Why bother with the pain-staking process of theological training and proper ordination when I have this strong desire to do this now?
“Instead of spending years in struggling churches learning the ropes, they expect God will do “awesome” things in the first church they plant.
“Instead of ministering in obscurity for many years and gaining wisdom and maturity through that difficult process, they want to be immediately recognized, usually through social media, for their pearls of wisdom they have acquired through – two whole years of ministry.
“Instead of taking the time to read and study the works of Calvin, Turretin, John Owen, Warfield, Machen, etc., they want to proclaim themselves New Calvinists without even studying the Old Calvinism to understand what they are rejecting.
“Instead of learning from older ministers who have spent years in ministry, they assume the older ministers are out of touch with today’s world and assure themselves they have more to offer the younger generation because – well, because they are them.
“And even if they decide to put in the years of time, study, struggle, and faithfulness, they fail to realize that there is no glory even after putting in those years. Ministry is not God doing “awesome,” things through us every week that we always have something to tweet about, but it is quietly and faithfully fulfilling one’s calling and leaving the results to God, and living in the reality that our churches and ministries will be just as unimpressive 20 years from now as they are today.”
Amen, brother Tom! Applying what he says more broadly, when it comes to Christian discipleship, church life, and Christian ministry, it’s not about how “great” or “awesome” or “relevant” or “transformational” or “influential” (or any other hyped up description that reflects a worldly-minded “theology of glory”) we are, or about how big and well-known our church is; rather, it’s about being faithful and persevering in our calling, not only in the good times, but in times of struggle as well (a “theology of the cross”). It’s about “a long obedience in the same direction” (to use the title of a book by Eugene H. Peterson). While we should desire to make the gospel known far and wide, sometimes faithfulness and “long obedience” requires a willingness to be marginalized, misunderstood, ignored, unappreciated, and to labor in obscurity within our various callings. But whether we labor in obscurity or in the limelight, if we are faithful we can be assured that on that final Day our labor in the Lord will be shown to have not been in vain, and we will hear from the lips of our gracious Lord, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”