July 24, 2014

New Calvinism and Continuationism

New Evangelicalism and New Calvinism: The Same Disaster: Part 2

Matt Recker

Part 1 ♦ This is Part 2

In his final book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Francis Schaeffer, with tears, passionately pled with evangelicals of his day to repent, saying, “in the most basic sense, the evangelical establishment has become deeply worldly.”[1] In this second article in our series comparing the tenets of the New Evangelicalism of the 1940’s and 1950’s with the New Calvinism of this present generation, my premise is that the same disaster is being repeated.

In 1956, in a Christian Life magazine article, “Is Evangelical Theology Changing,” the principles of the New Evangelicalism were enumerated. Here is a summary of those points:

  1. “A friendly attitude toward secular science”
  2. “A willingness to re-examine beliefs concerning the work of the Holy Spirit” [this emphasis contributed to a surge of charismatic teaching]
  3. “A more tolerant attitude toward varying views on eschatology”
  4. “A shift away from so-called extreme Dispensationalism” [the New Evangelicals objected to Dispensationalism’s pessimistic view of world history]
  5. “An increased emphasis on scholarship” [part of an attitude viewing fundamentalists as anti-intellectual]
  6. “A more definite recognition of social responsibility” [viewing fundamentalists as retreating from social and political involvement]
  7. “A re-opening of the subject of biblical inspiration” [a change which opened the door to question Biblical inerrancy]
  8. “A growing willingness of evangelical theologians to converse with liberal theologians” [finally resulting in evangelicals not seeing theological liberals as lost souls but merely misguided but well-meaning Christians][2]

In this article, let’s especially take a look at how the New Calvinists like the New Evangelicals of old are characterized by a willingness to “re-examine beliefs concerning the work of the Holy Spirit.” The New Calvinism continues to trend heavily charismatic, and even seems to outdo the old New Evangelicals by a wide margin. The common New Calvinist view of “continuationism” says that at least some of the miraculous gifts described in the Bible such as miracles, healing, prophecy, and speaking in tongues continue in the church. The opposing view, “cessationism,” which says that the miraculous gifts have ceased for the church in this present era, often draws derision.

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  1. 1. The Great Evangelical Disaster, p. 142 []
  2. “Is Evangelical Theology Changing?” Christian Life, March 1956, pp. 17-19. []

A. T. Pierson on the London Tabernacle

Submitted by John Mincy

“This Metropolitan Tabernacle is a house of prayer most emphatically,” Dr. Pierson writes. “Here are numerous rooms, under and around the great audience-room, where for almost forty years this one servant of God has held forth the Word of Life; and in these rooms prayer is almost ceaselessly going up. When one meeting is not in progress, another is. This is a hive of bees, where there are comparatively few drones. There are prayer meetings before preaching, and others after preaching; Evangelistic Associations, Zenana Societies, and all sorts of work for God find here a centre, and all are consecrated by prayer. Before the preacher goes upon the platform to address these thousands, the officers of this great church meet him and each other for prayer as to the service; and one feels upborne on these strong arms of prayer while preaching. No marvel that Mr. Spurgeon’s ministry has been so blessed. He himself attributes it mainly to the prevailing prayers of his people. Why may not the whole Church of God learn something from the Metropolitan Tabernacle of London as to the power of simple Gospel preaching backed by believing supplication?

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The Future of Fundamentalism?

John Vaughn

In his review of the book Evangelicalism Divided, by Iain H. Murray, which appears in this issue of FrontLine, the late Dr. Jim Singleton concludes with this question, “Will Fundamentalism remain true to its heritage, or will it produce from its ranks another generation of New Evangelicals?” Good question. Other articles in this issue provide food for thought on the subject.

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The Eclectic Web–Charismatism and more

The Pentecostalism and Charismatic Movement have long been a concern for their popularization of aberrant beliefs and practices. Their influence on evangelicalism as it is today is surprising, given their relatively brief history. One source of information on the movement is data gathered by the Assemblies of God. This article provides many links to their information, as well as some interesting claims.

Without the support and rapid growth of Pentecostalism, however, evangelicalism would not have reached its position of influence in the twentieth century.

As Pentecostals slowly move away from the practices that distinguished the movement [spirit baptism and tongues, in particular], many evangelical churches are adopting approaches to music, broadcasting, and worship styles from Pentecostalism. … As it enters its second century, the movement shows no signs of losing momentum when measured by the number of people filling its churches. While this is a sign of continued growth, the practices that mark Pentecostalism are changing. Pentecostalism and American evangelicalism continue to become more similar in practice.

The acceptance of charismatics by evangelical groups like The Gospel Coalition and others is thus not surprising, but it ought to concern those who proclaim loyalty to inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scriptures.

More stories in this edition of The Eclectic Web:

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The Fundamentalist and Social Issues

Layton Talbert

Adjusting Popular Misconceptions

Over the past twenty years, Fundamentalists have grown more sensitive to community opportunities and responsibilities. To some, this is a negative development, a distraction from our prime directive as believers in a lost world. But it need not be. Rather, it ought to be an extension of our ministry, a fulfillment of another facet of our calling. In short, Christians are returning to a more broadly defined responsibility to be salt in a corrupt society, to be light in a dark world, and to occupy till Christ returns. A starting point for all believers must be this: God possesses the power and reserves the right to work as gloriously as He chooses in any given generation to save souls and grant victory to His children. But two popular doctrinal misconceptions have historically hindered the practical outworking of this conviction.

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