20 January 2014

Critiquing the New Calvinism

tulipFrom time to time on this blog I’ve written about the relationship between evangelicalism and the Reformed church. Or, to put things a slightly different way, between evangelical theology and Reformed theology. So, I was interested to read a recent critique of the New Calvinism (one of TIME magazine’s 10 ideas changing the world right now, 2009), which included the following insightful quote:
[T]he evangelical church has no robust ecclesiology, and thus no structured spirituality to put into practice as the body of Christ. And given the absence of a structured spiritual life, Reformed Christianity tends to be reduced to a set of doctrines to contemplate.... Thus, when you remove Reformed theology from its proper historical place in the structured life of Reformed religion and ecclesiology, and plant it in the foreign soil of modern evangelical gnostic spirituality, it takes a grotesque shape that is contrary to its origins.
The whole of the essay (entitled What Is Wrong With the Young, Restless and Reformed Movement?) is worth reading. The tone is, shall we say, somewhat robust! However, it’s a thought-provoking critique and at heart (it seems to me) an appeal for true, rich and rounded Reformed theology and catholicity, as opposed to a narrow, cerebral, judgemental orthodoxy. And that’s a good appeal to make.
 
With thanks to my old tutor, Dr Mike Bird, for drawing my attention to the essay.