The New Calvinists look to Puritans like Jonathan Edwards who taught that sanctification requires a vigorous and vigilant pursuit of holy living, not a passive attitude of mechanical progress (see Lordship salvation); however, as implied by the “New” designation, some differences have been observed between the New and Old schools. Mark Driscoll, for example, has identified what he considers to be four main differences between the two:
- New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
- New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
- Old Calvinism was generally cessationist (i.e. believing the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as tongues and prophecy had ceased). New Calvinism is generally continuationist with regard to spiritual gifts.
- New Calvinism is open to dialogue with other Christian positions.
This fourth distinctive is what Driscoll considers a vital component in being able to engage with contemporary society.
New Calvinism is a movement that is sweeping across congregations in the USA and the UK, and other countries around the world. It has been described as a resurgence of the reformed teachings of John Calvin, and luminaries such as Jonathan Edwards. It has been called ‘a growing perspective within conservative evangelicalism that embraces the fundamentals of 16th-century Calvinism while also trying to be relevant in the present-day world’. Led by very well-known names in the evangelical world, it plausibly gives the appearance of doctrinal soundness, but on closer examination we see a movement that dramatically changes how we live our Christian lives. It challenges the view of nearly twenty centuries of church history –that believers should be separate from the world. For the New Calvinism promotes full involvement in the pursuits of the world, bringing the world into the church in worship and witness, and eroding the difference between the holy and the profane. It is for the sake of individual Christians and churches that we should be aware of seriously harmful aspects of a movement that appears to be so promising. From the evidence presented in this book, we shall see that the problem of New Calvinism lies in both doctrine and conduct, and especially in conduct. [..]First we will look at the origin of New Calvinism and its association with The Gospel Coalition; then we will meet three American ministers who stand at the heart of New Calvinism, namely Dr Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York; Dr John Piper, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, and director of Desiring God Ministries; and Pastor Mark Driscoll, of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, who is reputed to be the most downloaded pastor in history.