Friday, December 28, 2012

Answering Monax

I'm dedicating this post to answering questions from a commenter named David, who goes by the handle "Monax", who recently commented on a post titled Neo-Calvinism In The Rear View Mirror.

I'm anxious to read more of your thoughts on this conservative segment of the reformed church. I have swam in these waters too.
Monax, I've written much here on my blog about this circle of people.  And, I'll be writing much more in the future, hopefully.  I'm not sure if you caught my update to the post on which you commented, but I think there is somewhat of a misnomer in the mix. I should probably refer to "New Calvinism" rather than "Neo-Calvinism."  Neo-Calvinism is a form of Dutch Calvinism influenced by Abraham Kuyper, where New Calvinism is the animal I'm talking about here.  In recent years it has become popular to use the term "Neo-Calvinism" to speak of the "New Calvinism" movement. I provided links to Wikipedia articles on each view in the previous sentence.

What is interesting about the list of people I gave in my recent post is that only after I updated for the misnomer did I compare it with the list in the Wikipedia article on New Calvinism.  Pretty similar.  One thing I would say about these people, is that they take certain Reformed distinctives, such as Reformed soteriology, the five solas, the five points of Calvinism, the tenets of the Protestant Reformation, and glean from Reformed writers from the past, including the Puritans.  But, what they don't do, necessarily, is take covenant theology, infant baptism, Reformed polity and many other points traditionally associated with Reformed theology into their beliefs.  They also add an emphasis on being "missional", that is, they make a priority of domestic church planting.  They want to reproduce their ideology.  Also, some of these groups can be plain Baptists or generic evangelicals that adopt the core beliefs of Calvinism.

One key difference, I believe, between these "new" Calvinists and a more traditional outlook, is the heavy emphasis they place on church authority.  Most of them hold to an "elder rule" view of church government.  And unlike congregationalism or Presbyterianism, where the elders are in a checks and balance system being held accountable to the congregation or to a presbytery, the elder rule system has very little accountability built in.  Thus all the authoritarianism and church abuse stuff we've all been reading about.  I have abandoned an "elder rule" system in favor of a "Christ rule/elder servant" system, which I think is more, uhm, if I may use the term, "biblical."

I’d be curious to know why Keller’s considered a “neo-calvinist,”

If you want my opinion, it's rather simple.  He holds to some similar teachings - although to Presbyterian polity - but he's a success.  He has a Reformed church in a big city that has a lot of people going there.  It has grown, rather than remaining stagnant.

Also, why I’m here. Do you consider yourself a layman? I think this layman / clergy distinction is one of those things that skews the proper understanding and working out of the Body of Christ.

Glad you're up front.  The answer is no, I don't consider myself a layman.  That's why I use the term in quotes at the top of my blog margin.  Traditionally I'm considered a layman because I'm not an ordained clergyman.  But, my blog subtitle comes into play here as well: "Because Theology Is Everybody's Task."  I don't care for such a clergy/layman distinction, either.  I believe there are some special responsibilities given to elders that aren't given to all others (such as being held responsible for the care of each individual's soul, teaching is a must for an elder, etc.) It is often held that it is the pastor's job to do theology and we just sit and listen to learn.  But I'm under the conviction that 45 minutes a week from a sermon is not nearly enough to learn everything you need to know.

I could probably write much more on all this, but I hope it answers some of your basic questions.


  1. Steve Scott, thank you for putting the time in to answer me.

    fwiw, i believe every “elder rule” system, for it to be bibical must necessarily be—as you say—a “Christ rule / elder servant” system. That should be a given.

    and i’m all about healthy congregations discerning corporately the will of the Lord for their church. Strong bodies that know their Scriptures and their God, possessing theologically and Spiritually informed discernment. Healthy churches with good teachers.

    I’m still a Keller fan. I have yet to see or hear anything that would have me discount him. I consider his book Counterfeit Gods to be one of the best of its kind.

    And although I don’t characterize myself a Calvinist—I find the soteriology of the late Calvin Theo. Seminary teacher Anthony A. Hoekema in his book Saved by Grace to be in line with what I believe, with what I believe the Scripture teaches about the mystery of our faith. It’s one of those books I often give to those working through the question of salvation.

    as for this clergy/laity thing! there's a wall of division there that needs to come down. i could go on at length, but i need to get back to bed (for some reason i'm awake here in the middle of the night).

    I followed your links and did a little reading. Thank you much,


    1. *biblical

      (i feel my benadryl kicking in now, feeling a bit hypnagogic


  2. A Layman is one who lays down in a pew and lets others think for him.
    You, on the other hand, Steve, are more like a Lay-dude. A Lay-dude is one who reclines in his easy chair with his beer and bible meditating on the word of God and applying it to his life.

    As for what David mentioned re a wall of division re clergy/laity, it's almost like different planets rather than just a wall that you might be able to climb over, shout over, or jackhammer through. The only way you can get to the clergy planet is via the clergy controlled space shuttle. And to communicate, you have to get a license from the clergy to use the clergy controlled radio frequency on the clergy controlled radio system, operating hours to be determined whenever they feel like listening to their radio.

    1. Don't forget that the clergy controlled radio frequency is regulated by the FCC.