Noul Calvinism (2)

Continuam seria notelor de lectura preluate din cartea “The New Calvinists – Changing the Gospel” scrisa de E.S. Williams.
The Gospel Coalition Established in 2007, The Gospel Coalition is the brainchild of Dr Don Carson, Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in America (who wrote its confessional statement), and of Dr Tim Keller (who produced its theological vision for ministry). Pastor Mark Driscoll was also involved in the founding of the Coalition. He was invited to attend a small theological gathering, led by Carson and Keller, which also included men from a number of prominent American evangelical churches. Also represented were organisations such as the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Desiring God, Together for the Gospel, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Sovereign Grace Ministries and ministries started by Mark Driscoll, namely the Acts 29 Network and The Resurgence. The ambitious vision of The Gospel Coalition was to create a movement that by long-term effort would renew and reform evangelical thought and practice, both in the USA and worldwide. Collin Hansen writes about the first Coalition meeting: ‘As Carson told me today, this group could not have come together five years ago. Make of that what you will, but something’s stirring in the evangelical movement. The Gospel Coalition seeks nothing less than a return to the theological consensus enjoyed in the days of neo-evangelicalism, led by Billy Graham, Carl Henry, Harold John Ockenga, and many others.’
Dr Peter Masters, long-serving pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London (Spurgeon’s church), expressed himself as deeply saddened to read Hansen’s book. He said that ‘it describes a seriously distorted Calvinism falling far, far short of an authentic life of obedience to a sovereign God. If this kind of Calvinism prospers, then genuine biblical piety will be under attack as never before…The author begins by describing the Passion Conference at Atlanta in 2007, where 21,000 young people revelled in contemporary music, and listened to speakers such as John Piper proclaiming calvinistic sentiments. And this picture is repeated many times through the book –large conferences being described at which the syncretism of worldly, sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic music, is mixed with calvinistic doctrine. We are told of thunderous music, thousands of raised hands, “Christian”hip-hop and rap lyrics…uniting the doctrines of grace with the immoral, drug-induced musical forms of worldly culture.’Dr Peter Masters emphasised the point: ‘You cannot have Puritan soteriology without Puritan sanctification. You should not entice people to calvinistic (or any) preaching by using worldly bait. We hope that young people in this movement will grasp the implications of the doctrines better than their teachers, and come away from the compromises. But there is a looming disaster in promoting this new form of Calvinism.’
Among its prime aims The Gospel Coalition sought to motivate pastors and theologians to undertake social activity. Its theological vision for ministry would urge Christian people to become a counter-culture for the common good. The ‘doing of justice and mercy’ would become a highly important aspect of Gospel-centred ministry. It is claimed – ‘The resurrection of Jesus shows that he is going to redeem both the spiritual and the material. Therefore God is concerned not only for the salvation of souls but also for the relief of poverty, hunger, and injustice.’ Evangelical churches and missions have always shown immense compassion for the needy, but not as a mission equal to the spreading of the Gospel. The resurrection of Christ points to the perfection of the eternal hope. It is not a warrant for the promotion of a perfect society on earth. This view is none other than the old social gospel conceived by theological liberals and popular among them in the early twentieth century. [The notion of social restoration as Christ’s purpose goes further than the Neo-Calvinism of Abraham Kuyper.]
The Gospel Coalition is also concerned to revise the way the church relates to culture, which is referred to as the contextualisation issue. ‘We believe that every expression of Christianity is necessarily and rightly contextualised, to some degree, to particular human culture; there is no such thing as a universal a-historical expression of Christianity… The Gospel itself holds the key to appropriate contextualisation.’ The Gospel Coalition warns that the Gospel may be ‘over-contextualised’ or ‘under-contextualised’, and so the aim of the church must be to get the right cultural ‘balance’ in presenting the Gospel. In short, the old, well-defined standards of separation from the world are obscured in the mist of pseudo-intellectual jargon, so that believers can be led into compromising flirtation with worldly methods.

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