The New Calvinism Gospel
New calvinism is different from traditional calvinism, and, in particular, that includes its gospel. New calvinism is becoming, or is already, the dominant viewpoint of calvinism today. But few people realise that it was founded upon a fusion of Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) and calvinist beliefs, and that a Seventh Day Adventist with calvinist leanings named Robert Brinsmead was largely responsible for kick-starting what we call new calvinism today.
The Australian Forum was a group of people (led by Brinsmead) which, in 1970 commenced to spread its reformed or calvinist SDA views. These views were taken up by Westminster Theological Seminary (USA). The views of the Australian Forum were to merge with the traditional calvinist views of Westminster Seminary to lead, firstly to Sonship Theology, which was then adapted and relabelled as new calvinism.
This document is part of a larger document which covers both the gospel of new calvinism and Biblical Counselling (which was required for the control of the far looser framework of new calvinism). The complete document may be read here: The Gospel of New Calvinism. Also see Biblical Counselling as an Aid to Control the Church.
So what is new calvinism? Basically it’s a fusion of traditional calvinism and Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) beliefs.
Let’s look at two scenarios.
(a) Scenario 1: You are a traditional calvinist.
This gospel is based upon the unconditional election by God of a special group of people who will go to heaven. If God didn’t choose you to go to heaven, then you will go to hell. You don’t make a decision to be saved; God will make that decision. You don’t choose God; he chooses you. If you are one of God’s elect (that is, he chooses you to go to heaven), then you will demonstrate this by living a puritan lifestyle, showing by your works that you are one of God’s elect. In fact, if you are one of God’s elect, God will ensure that you will stay good until the end; you cannot lose your salvation. Of course, if you are not one of God’s elect (that is, you are the non-elect), then you will be incapable of any sustained works of righteousness; you will not be enabled to persevere until the end.
The advantage of the calvinist gospel is clearly only on the side of those who are chosen by God; the non-elect have no real advantages at all, other than being allowed to live for a few years before being tormented in hell for eternity! However, if you are one of God’s chosen ones, then you cannot miss out on heaven ever. God has said you will go to heaven, and to heaven you will go! The gospel of the traditional calvinist is out of your hands. You will either believe or not believe depending upon what God has chosen for you to believe. Nothing anyone can do can possibly alter this.
(b) Scenario 2: You are a traditional Seventh Day Adventist (SDA).
Your gospel is based upon the continued upholding of the works of the Law of God. Despite the SDA claims that they are saved by Christ at the cross, they also teach that you could lose your salvation if you break the Laws of God. Obedience to the Law of God may overrule all other beliefs. So, while this gospel on the surface appears to be Christian (and some may actually believe so), ultimately it is obedience to the Laws of God which will define them as either saved or not saved. The SDA must obey the works of the Law of God until the end. If he breaks a law, then he must repent, confess and get himself back on track for salvation. If he refuses to repent, confess and get right with God, then he may be considered to have lost his salvation (or to have never been saved in the first place). If he were truly saved, he would do those works of the Law of God, and get right with God when he breaks them. In many ways their gospel is very much like the calvinist gospel: if you persevere to the end, you will be saved.
In SDA theology, if you fall into sin, it is your responsibility to help yourself get back on track and righteous for God. It is your responsibility to make sure you repent, confess and renounce your sin in order to regain righteousness with God. You have to reapply the gospel of reconciliation to your life each time you fall, in order to be sanctified and thus justified in the sight of God. The SDA gospel requires ongoing justification based upon ongoing sanctification in order to be saved at the end.
The advantage of the SDA gospel, however, is that you are permitted to decide to clean up your act; this is not dependent upon God deciding whether you are one of his elect or not. If you repent and confess your sin, then you may begin the process of healing and ultimate acceptance by God (that is, justified).
In calvinist theology, if you fall into sin, God will cause you to be made right again, although if you were truly one of God’s elect, the calvinist God would prevent you from significant sin anyway. The downside of the calvinist gospel is that it only covers your spiritual health needs if you are one of God’s elect. If you are not one of God’s elect, then you will get no help at all. The decision about getting better or not is not in your hands; it’s not your responsibility. However, if you are one of God’s elect, then your healing process will be total and complete; you need do nothing; indeed, you can do nothing for yourself!
So why not merge the best of these two gospels! If the calvinist God has chosen you, then you will be looked after totally until the end. Of course, you must be chosen in order to get this, and live a puritan lifestyle as a consequence. However, if you fall away seriously (that is, stop living a puritan lifestyle), then you may no longer be considered as one of the elect, even if you should repent and confess your sin. You may be deemed to have received a temporary faith as defined by Calvin, never receiving true saving faith in the first place (Calvin’s Institutes Bk 3 Ch 2 Section 11). The calvinist gospel generally doesn’t permit coming back from serious sin.
But SDAs, while not having such an ironclad assurance of salvation at the end, are allowed to choose to repent and confess their sin, after which, if they renounced that sin completely, they are then justified and consequently permitted to resume their relationship with their God. There is no guaranteed salvation at the end, but they are allowed to get back on the horse after they have fallen off! Falling from grace doesn’t necessarily end their hope of salvation, which it might for the traditional calvinist.
So imagine having a syncretistic belief that allows the calvinist guarantee of salvation at the end, and the SDA guarantee that if they fall they could get back into the running again. Enter the new calvinist belief! Such a belief still guarantees assurance of salvation at the end, plus the option of being able to get back into the running if the wheels fall off the cart during the race. All the calvinist has to do is to add on the option of being able to repent, confess and renounce their sins (no matter how large or serious), and they have a winner indeed! Thus the new calvinist also takes on board the SDA teaching that an ongoing justification is dependent upon an ongoing sanctification. No longer are you justified once at the new birth; now you have an ongoing justification (by God, of course) based upon an ongoing sanctification.
The new calvinist could sin and their God would still accept them. This was so much more appealing to the world today which wanted to have both their sin and God’s salvation! No longer did they have to, as calvinists, kick out those who sinned badly, declaring them to be not of God’s elect. No, that was a thing of the past. Now, if a person could be convinced to repent, confess and renounce his sin, then he could remain in the church, for God would only have granted repentance to his elect. Losing members due to sinful behaviour had been a problem in the past. Not only did it lower the numbers in church (and, very importantly, the offering!) but it prevented the scandal of having sinful church members being the cause of others not coming to their church. But now even the sinners could stay (and play and pay!).
This was to form the basis of Sonship Theology, which taught that, as God’s children, Christians could sin, knowing that if they were of God’s elect, their God would always provide sufficient grace to reinstall them into fellowship. That is, if they were God’s elect, then they couldn’t do anything that would lose them their assurance of salvation. If you can never be lost, then no sin you commit can ever change that fact. And Sonship Theology became new calvinism.
The new calvinist gospel was no longer strictly based upon the unconditional election, even though they claimed that this calvinist doctrine was still true. In reality the new calvinist gospel was now based upon your ability to repent, confess and renounce your sin. A bad fall from grace wasn’t the end of your salvation now. You could choose to repent and regain that “grace” from which you had fallen. Effectively the gospel had changed from simply being one of God’s unconditional elect, to the choosing by God’s people to repent again.
New calvinism aggressively pushes its beliefs, usually to those who are already in a church situation. (They rarely evangelise the truly lost!) They believe that they have a mandate to bring their brand of the truth to all the church, in particularly to the fundamentalists. Al Mohler would like to remind us that new calvinism is the only good religion on the block!
Al Mohler: ‘Where else are they going to go? If you’re a theological minded, deeply convictional young evangelical, if you’re committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ, if you want to see gospel built and structured committed churches, your theology is just going end up basically being Reformed, basically something like this new Calvinism, or you’re going to have to invent some label for what is basically going to be the same thing, there just are not options out there,
New calvinists will claim that their “truth” is best, their God is more sovereign, they are more Scriptural, and that calvinism is the gospel, yet they will not come out into the open with such beliefs unless they believe they have sufficient support among their church group to do so. If indeed their beliefs are as good as they claim, then why are they rarely up front and open with their beliefs except to those who have some sympathies already. They will often work with small groups in a church, or disciple individuals, winning them over, only announcing to the general church membership where they stand when they consider they have sufficient support to do so.
When a church gets a new pastor, they should find out about the real beliefs of that man before they appoint him to be their pastor. Far too many calvinist pastors (especially new calvinist pastors) do not reveal their calvinist or new calvinist beliefs until after they have established themselves in their position. But, once they get sufficient support from the members, they will then aggressively seek to win over the rest, or accept the resignations of those who will not bow down to new calvinist beliefs. As long as they get their church, they are usually happy to see the troublemakers leave (that is, those who disagree with them).
New calvinism is a false religion designed to keep the church masses happy (if deluded). It has determined what the world likes today, and has offered it to the fundamentalist religious world. Many genuine Christians have been taken in by its rhetoric and false promises (which are delivered so confidently and so forcefully that it is hard to refute without proper facts at their disposal). It is what the people have asked for, and so they are satisfied with its performance. But new calvinism is a cult of satan and only by testing all things (as we are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:21) may Christians truly determine the dangers that lie within. Be vigilant! Be aware! Or else be enslaved!
For further reading please see Biblical Counselling as an Aid to Control the Church, and The Gospel of New Calvinism.