John Piper’s Twelve Features of the New Calvinism

“I am part of the New Calvinism, and feel a fatherly responsibility to continually speak into it dimensions of truth that I think it needs to hear. As a part of the New Calvinism, I have a debt to pay to Westminster Seminary and the lineage of Reformed theology that you represent. There would be no New Calvinism without you.” — John Piper

On March 12, 2014 at Westminster Theological Seminary, John Piper delivered the seventh annual Richard Gaffin lecture on theology, culture, and missions entitled, “The New Calvinism and the New Community: The Doctrines of Grace and the Meaning of Race.” The whole message is well worth your time, but I wanted to highlight what I thought was a remarkably accurate, thorough, and perceptive description of the New Calvinism. As you read the list, keep in mind it is descriptive, not prescriptive or evaluative. Dr. Piper was also careful to emphasize that this list is a list of features, not distinctives that separate the New Calvinism from the Old Calvinism. Like any historical comparison, there are points of continuity and discontinuity between the New and Old, pros and cons to both Old and New, but those evaluations form a different topic. This list, I think, provides precision and scope to descriptions of the current Reformed and evangelical worlds.

Twelve features of the New Calvinism:

  1. The New Calvinism, in its allegiance to the inerrancy of the Bible, embraces the biblical truths behind the five points (TULIP), while having an aversion to using the acronym or any other systematic packaging, along with a sometimes qualified embrace of limited atonement. The focus is on Calvinistic soteriology but not to the exclusion or the appreciation of the broader scope of Calvin’s vision.
  2. The New Calvinism embraces the sovereignty of God in salvation, and in all the affairs of life in history, including evil and suffering.
  3. The New Calvinism has a strong complementarian flavor as opposed to egalitarian, with an emphasis on the flourishing of men and women in relationships where men embrace a call to robust, humble, Christ-like servant leadership.
  4. The New Calvinism leans toward being culture-affirming rather than culture-denying, while holding fast to some very culturally alien positions, like positions on same-sex practice and abortion.
  5. The New Calvinism embraces the essential place of the local church. It is led mainly by pastors, has a vibrant church-planting bent, produces widely-sung worship music, and exalts the preached word as central to the work of God locally and globally.
  6. The New Calvinism is aggressively mission-driven, including missional impact on social evils, evangelistic impact on personal networks, and missionary impact on unreached peoples of the world.
  7. The New Calvinism is inter-denominational with a strong (some would say oxymoronic) Baptistic element.
  8. The New Calvinism includes charismatics and non-charismatics.
  9. The New Calvinism puts a priority on pietism or piety in the Puritan vein, with an emphasis on the essential role of affections in Christian living, while esteeming the life of the mind and being very productive in it, and embracing the value of serious scholarship. Jonathan Edwards would be invoked as a model of this combination of the affections and the life of the mind more often than John Calvin, whether that’s fair to Calvin or not.
  10. The New Calvinism is vibrantly engaged in publishing books and even more remarkably in the world of the internet, with hundreds of energetic bloggers and social media activists, with Twitter as the increasingly default way of signaling things new and old that should be noticed and read.
  11. The New Calvinism is international in scope, multi-ethnic in expression, culturally diverse. There is no single geographic, racial, cultural governing center. There are no officers, no organization, nor any loose affiliation that would encompass the whole. I would dare say that there are outcroppings of this movement that nobody (including me) in this room has ever heard of.
  12. The New Calvinism is robustly gospel-centered, cross-centered, with dozens of books rolling off the presses, coming at the gospel from every conceivable angle, and applying it to all areas of life with a commitment to seeing the historic doctrine of justification, finding its fruit in sanctification personally and communally.

50 Responses

  1. “The New Calvinism leans toward being culture-affirming rather than culture-denying,”

    “The New Calvinism puts a priority on pietism or piety in the Puritan vein, with an emphasis on the essential role of affections in Christian living”

    This is why I avoid talking about culture with these folks…

  2. Kenton

    I don’t know about “culture-affirming”. Perhaps culture-engaging would be more accurate a term? The former implies that one either affirms or denies the culture (including all of its subcultures). But that’s the current cultural mindset. We engage the culture, redeeming what is good and opposing what is evil through the proclamation of the gospel, don’t we?

  3. Thomas

    “The New Calvinism has a strong complementarian flavor”

    I think this quite the understatement. The “New Calvinists” are attempting to redefine biblical complementarianism by injecting a strong element of machoism into it. Any views which come up short (even if they are the classic complementarian) are considered egalitarian. Michael Horton, an “old” Calvinist, touched on this topic in Modern Reformation magazine: http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=1355

  4. Sensible

    So what is the logical division between New Calvinist machoism and classic complementarianism? One looks more palatable than the other?

  5. Eagle

    John Piper fails to mention that Neo Calvinists must be arrogant, corrupt, cover up criminal activity (like SGM has done….) and that one must create a culture of celebrity pastors.

    So have at it…practice your “Gospel Centered Plagiarism” as Mark Driscoll has done. Practice your “Gospel Centered Blackmail” as CJ Mahaney has done. Keep giving ammunition to the Richard Dawkins of the world as you practice this “Gospel”

    Oh and Brother John you truly don’t believe in God’s sovereignty. Why? A while back you wouldn’t have reported that threat you received to the Minneapolis police. The Lord gives and takes away and in your determinism… (cough,cough) I mean the Lord’s sovereignty you would have submitted to your death. Instead you rebel against God and go to the police. Yup….you believe the Lord is sovereign. Just remember tornado season is around the corner can you just stay quiet?

    Thank you brother John…

  6. Sensible

    Another thought on the New Calvinist brand of sovereignty: I find it curious that most neocals I have talked to are rather adept at resorting to the “God is sovereign, God is sovereign, God is sovereign…” catchphrase, yet when I ask, “What do you think of Deborah?” or Huldah, or any other woman in a position of spiritual authority, the answer is basically, “Well, God was forced to do that…there just weren’t enough good men around.” Very interesting…God is sovereign…usually…but not when a woman serves his people.

    1. tom

      Well, speaking as a neocal and as a preacher, I don’t have any problem with the idea that God used Deborah powerfully, and that he chose to do so. I’m not sure that means the entire complimentarian view point can be swept away though.

  7. mark mcculley

    I suppose some would nominate Jonathan Edwards as the promoter of “new Calvinism”. But Andrew Fuller gets my vote as the person who promoted the “new Calvinism” of the New England theology.

    Romans 3:25–”Christ Jesus, whom God put forth as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith…”

    Andrew Fuller (Reply to Philanthropos, Complete Works,II, p 499): “There would be no propriety in saying of Christ that He is set forth to be an expiatory sacrifice THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, because He was a sacrifice for sin prior to the consideration of our believing in Him. The text does not express what Christ WAS as laying down His life , but what He IS in consequence of it.”

    Though Andrew Fuller, like John Piper today, affirms a particular atonement in a certain sense– in that the atonement will only procure faith for the elect–he is not willing to say that Christ was only the propitiation for the elect alone. Instead of saying that Christ either already died for a sinner or already did not, Andrew Fuller wanted to say that Christ died for all sinners in some sense.

    And for the sake of this universal sense Andrew Fuller denied that Christ in the past propitiated the Trinity for the sins of any specific person. Andrew Fuller taught that Christ died to make an offer of propitiation to every sinner.

    According to Andrew Fuller, there could be propitiation now if the Holy Spirit were to cause a sinner to accept the offer of propitiation. Fuller asserted universal conditional sufficiency in Christ’s death for all sinners., even though this “sufficiency” has not been enough to really justify all these sinners.

    What is accomplished by shifting from what Christ DID back then over there to who Christ Is and what He can do here and now if the Spirit helps a sinner to take up the offer?

    Andrew Fuller changed the meaning of the propitiatory death of Christ. With the Arminians, he made the propitiation to be dependent on the sinner being elected to have faith (in the offer)

    All the justified elect are people who believe the gospel. Belief in the gospel is a consequence (not a condition) of God’s imputation of the PAST DEATH OF CHRIST. “Through faith” in Romans 3:25 does not mean “conditioned on faith”. Faith for the elect is what justice demands after they are placed by
    God into Christ’s death.

    So I can and do say to any unbeliever, unless you believe the gospel, you are not yet justified. But I also say to those unbelievers: your believing is not something you can or will do unless Christ died for you to propitiate your sins, and you will never know if Christ paid for your sins until you believe the gospel.

    If God is so sovereignly superior to strict justice in God’s government, why did Christ need to die at all? If the meaning and extent of Christ’s death was only to be assigned and determined now(and later), is that meaning a matter of justice or only arbitrary?

    For a good answer to the New Calvinism, I recommend the appendix to The Divine Justice Essential to the Divine Character by Abraham Booth.

    1. Eagle


      Actually I repented of agnosticism and sought forgiveness and reconciled with nearly 140 people this past year. In the process I put my name, and financial reputation on the line. My anger is more of a righteous anger. Its an anger at the corruption that exists that is perpetuated by John Piper and his fan boys. Jesus was angry at the money-changers in the temple, and the Reformed Industrial Complex has done nothing but spread greed, corruption, and decadence.

      Several years back I went to the largest Atheist rally in the United States here in Washington, D.C. I was driven by my involvement in this corrupt theology. So much so that when atheists ranted about how angry they are about fundamentalist preachers who teach women to submit to domestic abuse I thought of how John Piper does the same thing.

      Real men get angry that children are molested…not speak at the church of CJ Mahaney who covers it up. Real men take responsibility for their mistakes not stand by and exonerate folks like Mark Driscoll who frauded the New York Times bestseller list. Real men act like men and own up their mistakes and not hide behind ridiculous doctrine while ignoring the least of the these as Mark Dever has done. What good are the 9 Marks when CJ Maheny flees discipline and his church membership at Covenant Life Church and hides behind Mark Dever’s skirt?

      A faith system that protects and elevates celebrity pastors at the expense of the least of these is a faith system that is worthless. And as a man and Christian I am angry to have this garbage being perpetuated. Curtis do a heart check…you’re faith is far from healthy if you’re holding up the corrupt Pharisees.

      1. NL

        The problem is, Eagle, when you conveniently + self-servingly designate your anger as “righteous”, as well as speak of how you’ve “reconciled with nearly 140 people” and attended “the largest Atheist rally in the United States”, it just smacks of the same Pharisaic attitude you’re bent on critiquing. We don’t need to know of your ‘righteousness’ and the fact that you’re so keen to tell us about it speaks volumes.

        If you’re a real man, talk with Christ-like tenderness about the facts. As Paul says, you have a right to be angry – but you’re commanded not to sin in your anger (Eph 4:26). You’re also commanded to keep your speech gracious (Eph 4:29), and to show gentleness and tenderness (Eph 4:32). Can you honestly say that you’re innocent here?

        So, calm down a little. Disabuse yourself of the notion that [a] we care about all your ‘righteous’ deeds, and [b] that your anger is somehow ‘pure’ and that your analysis is always accurate.

        Now, more calmly. Some points to consider:

        1) If you have a problem with theological determinism / the Calvinistic teaching on sovereignty, then talk about that. Yes, Piper et al teach it. But your concern should be to search the Scriptures and have that debate properly. Don’t passive-aggressively snipe like you have done here. If you have a problem with that kind of theology, then be a man and take up arms in the proper forums and in the proper way.

        2) You’re mistaken when you speak about Piper on domestic abuse. You’re undoubtedly referring to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OkUPc2NLrM. Let’s make some observations:
        [2-A] Piper makes the careful observation that abuse comes in different forms, and so should be responded to in different ways. This seems reasonable – we would jail a man who physically abuses his wife, although we would probably consider it an abuse of justice if he were to receive the same sentence ‘only’ for insulting her, however heinous that still is.
        [2-B] Piper then makes another ‘foundational’ kind of comment, that whatever our conclusion regarding this issue, we must not abandon the scriptural truth that a woman is to submit to her husband.
        [2-C] Piper states that a woman should not do what her husband says if he is getting her to do perverse or harmful things.
        [2-D] Piper states that if a woman endures a season of abuse, whether verbal or physical, she should seek help + protection + safety from the Church, who she should then expect to discipline her husband.

        Your comment was that Piper teaches women should “submit to domestic abuse”. According to this video, that’s wrong. Piper never says that women should submit to abuse. Rather, he makes some careful distinctions, some careful observations, and then says women should be protected from abusive husbands by the Church, who should discipline the abuser. He doesn’t comment either way on police involvement but from other videos (such as this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsQgGqdGX1k, see 4 min 8 sec mark) we know that Piper’s church *does* involve the relevant authorities when necessary.

        So, you have misspoken concerning Piper here. He’s not a perfect man (thankfully God uses sinners like you and me and Piper to make straight lines). But I’d suggest you’re mistaken.

        3) You are right to be outraged concerning institutions + individuals involved in blackmail, or covering up criminal activity, etc. But I see no reason why this must *necessarily* reflect on the New Calvinist movement as a whole. Many YRRs that I know wouldn’t even recognise Mahaney’s name. What’s the logical connection between “someone involved in the NC movement doing something bad” and “the NC movement being bad”? That strikes me as a genetic fallacy.

        4) You write that the Reformed movement has “done NOTHING but spread greed, corruption, and decadence”. I understand you were being hyperbolic, but this is patently nonsense. For a start, anecdotally, I know many YRRs who have grown in their faith in Christ and love Him more dearly. Immediately, your statement is shown to be wrong. And then, more concretely, you’ve got the growing numbers in new Reformed churches. Are you honestly going to suggest that ALL the people in Acts 29 churches / MH churches / New Frontiers churches [etc] are doing “NOTHING” but imbibing “greed, corruption and decadence”? What nonsense.

        5) Concerning Driscoll and the NYT bestseller list, go and read his recent apology letter. It’s very clear, both from what he has said and what MHC has gone on record as saying, that [a] they were unaware of the extent of the marketing program in question, [b] they have promised never to use it again, [c] they have also promised to remove all references to the bestseller status. You can question Driscoll’s sincerity in all this, but I’d suggest that this would illumine your own cynicism more than it would his failings.

        So, brother, I’d return the charge. Do a check on your own heart – look for a log rather than a speck. I’m not saying that you’re wrong for opposing the Reformed view on God’s sovereignty (although, personally, I would say you are). I’m not saying you’re wrong for condemning institutional abuse and/or neglect. But the way you’ve spoken here is out of order and mistaken on several counts.

      2. Gail

        Real men get angry that children are molested…not speak at the church of CJ Mahaney who covers it up. Real men take responsibility for their mistakes not stand by and exonerate folks like Mark Driscoll who frauded the New York Times bestseller list. Real men act like men and own up their mistakes and not hide behind ridiculous doctrine while ignoring the least of the these as Mark Dever has done. What good are the 9 Marks when CJ Maheny flees discipline and his church membership at Covenant Life Church and hides behind Mark Dever’s skirt?

        A faith system that protects and elevates celebrity pastors at the expense of the least of these is a faith system that is worthless. And as a man and Christian I am angry to have this garbage being perpetuated. Curtis do a heart check…you’re faith is far from healthy if you’re holding up the corrupt Pharisees.”

        Yes! Thank-You Eagle for Naming it like it is. Curtis can bury his head in the sand by insulting you, but the facts speak for themselves!

      3. Righteous anger is anger that is directed at sin. As a Christian woman who formerly identified herself as complementarian it was because of things written directly by Piper and his cronies that drove me to the scriptures to double check if their brand of it was really what the bible says. Surprise, surprise. They tweak, word dance and play fast and loose with far too much with their “proofs”. This explains the crud seeping from their closet. If you tamper with scripture on one topic you are highly likely to do it in others. They are shining the signs of self serving hypocrites. Wearing the clothes of those who crucified Christ not the clothes of those who serve Him.
        Real men have the balls to admit they were wrong. Admitting you are wrong is apparently a worse sin than denying Christ so it never happens.

    2. Gail


      Eagle is the last person who needs to get some spiritual & mental health help. He was almost ruined in faith by the teachings of Piper, but God had another plan for him. He isn’t angry, unless the truth hurts you Curtis. Eagle is a truth teller.

      “John Piper fails to mention that Neo Calvinists must be arrogant, corrupt, cover up criminal activity (like SGM has done….) and that one must create a culture of celebrity pastors.

      So have at it…practice your “Gospel Centered Plagiarism” as Mark Driscoll has done. Practice your “Gospel Centered Blackmail” as CJ Mahaney has done. Keep giving ammunition to the Richard Dawkins of the world as you practice this “Gospel”

      Oh and Brother John you truly don’t believe in God’s sovereignty. Why? A while back you wouldn’t have reported that threat you received to the Minneapolis police. The Lord gives and takes away and in your determinism… (cough,cough) I mean the Lord’s sovereignty you would have submitted to your death. Instead you rebel against God and go to the police. Yup….you believe the Lord is sovereign. Just remember tornado season is around the corner can you just stay quiet?

      Thank-You Eagle for telling the truth!!!!

  8. Brandon

    Much respect for Piper, that being said, there’s not a chance that us faithful reformed people will ever adopt the out of control troublesome charismatic side (Piper is a rare exception given his somewhat convicted non-hyper stance). Calvinism is not sumed up by wearing a J. Edwards T-shirt, jumping aboard the intellectual side for all the wrong reasons, or being an avid follower of Driscoll.

  9. One denomination that has erected a firewall against Calvinism, new and old, is the Anglican Church in North America. Its College of Bishops has approved a catechism for the denomination that blends together Arminian and Roman Catholic theology. It is essentially a repudiation of the Anglican Church’s Reformed confession of faith–the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. In the introduction to the catechism J. I Packer lays out three guidelines that the writing team purportedly followed in the drafting of the catechism. Among these guidelines is that all the material in the catechism would be acceptable to all recognized schools of Anglican thought. However, the writing team ignored all three guidelines, this one in particular.

    1. Carol Davis

      Sadly, I think you are very mistaken.
      The churches in Northern Virginia, The Falls Church and Restoration for example,
      are heavily influenced by “Reformed” theology. (Reformed with a capital R being
      a polite word for Calvinist.)
      The preaching, the music lyrics, the instruction material in fact the entire experience
      is galloping toward a full on Presbyterian type experience !

    2. RDavid

      Anglicanism does not put up a wall against Calvinism, but does have things set so that Calvinism is not the only thing represented. Calvinists, Arminians, Anglo-Catholics, etc… all can find a home there.

    3. The only denominations, of major import, that have real firewalls against neo-Calvinista, are the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Interesting isn’t it?

  10. Sensible


    So if I’m married and my husband smacks me, are you saying that I don’t have to listen to Piper and endure it for one night?

    And sort of discourse is why I am a single egalitarian…

    1. NL

      I don’t care whether you’re an egalitarian or not.

      My point to “Eagle” was simply this: that the most charitable interpretation of Piper here, seeing as [a] he’s speaking ‘off-script’, [b] he immediately talks in terms of refuge, and [c] he elsewhere speaks of contacting the authorities on occasions when there has been abuse, is that he’s saying a woman might suffer a moment of abuse (i.e. “for a night”) and then seek help, protection, justice + safety. Any other interpretation of the above-linked interview is not only profoundly uncharitable, but it would also ignore other salient facts pertaining to Piper’s Church.

      This is the important question. Given the camber of Piper’s response and what he actually said, if you were to endure domestic abuse tonight and immediately left to seek refuge with an elder from your Church, do you believe Piper would insist you return home and come back in the morning? OR, do you think he would say, “well done, now we’ll protect you and keep you safe”?

      I honestly don’t believe you can say, with any degree of honesty or Christian charity, that it’s anything other than the latter.

      1. Sensible

        I am glad that you don’t care I’m an egalitarian. It is refreshing to hear that (sometimes egals are not extended that sort of “Christian charity” that is extended to Piper, Mahaney, et al.). Now what if I do not want to wait for a “moment”…am I allowed to call the cops (not my pastor) immediately? I know what my pastor’s off the cuff answer would be…

      2. Win

        Did Piper provide financing for therapy for the woman who had to ask her husband to go from one room to the other, even the bathroom? He heard her story, how her husband got his ideas from Pipers sermons. Did Piper offer her any reparation at all? Or are abused women totally to be disregarded by Piper? Does Piper list all the things that a woman is allowed to do without asking permission? Does Piper really care about the damage done and would he in any way make restitution for women who have lost a lifetime in bondage to men who “misunderstand” Piper’s teaching of submission and deprive their wives of normal human rights.

        I had to pay the bill for my own therapy and therapy for my children. No church offered to help. Piper doesn’t ask churches to set up funds for therapy for women driven insane by submission to men’s unedited demands.

  11. Harold Hunter

    John Piper’s theology is intellectualism run amok. These twelve statements try to justify a New Calvinism that is error at best and heresy at worst. The sad truth of the matter is that no new convert to Christ would ever by himself and his only book a Bible come to embrace TULIP and particularly the odious idea of limited atonement. Further, as I preached at the SBC, a few years ago, I am wearied with having to try to mend non-Calvinist churches who were almost damaged beyond repair by a disciple of Piper or adherent of reformed theology who became that church’s previous pastor with such low ethics and absence of integrity that he never told the leadership that he held a biblical view that was in stark contrast to theirs.

    1. Micah Burke

      John Piper’s theology is intellectualism run amok.

      In other words, you’re unable to grasp it. You don’t provide any examples but wish to disparage the man’s ministry. Got it.

      These twelve statements try to justify a New Calvinism that is error at best and heresy at worst.

      Can you provide a single example of heresy, that is specifically anything Piper said in these statements that violates the historic creeds and confessions?

      The sad truth of the matter is that no new convert to Christ would ever by himself and his only book a Bible come to embrace TULIP

      The truth is that before the SBC existed, the concepts defended at the Synod of Dort were widely held and taught. Just because you deny them doesn’t make them less Biblical or historic.

      I preached at the SBC, a few years ago, I am wearied with having to try to mend non-Calvinist churches who were almost damaged beyond repair by a disciple of Piper or adherent of reformed theology

      So many fallacies. I’d name the ones you’re committing but you’d accuse me of being overly intellectual.

      1. Sensible

        Now here’s a question: are women in “error” when they decide not to endure physical abuse for a “night” or even a “moment” from their husbands, but instead choose to immediately call the police (not their pastors or elders)? Are they subjecting their husbands to the improper form of “discipline”?

      2. Daniel

        I couldn’t help but notice your comment. You may have missed Harold’s point about intellectualism. He’s not saying he lacks the intellect to understand Piper, but that Piper’s views are hugely influenced by the philosophical movement in which a great deal of Calvinistic (and Reformed) thinking was formed. That is what has been called intellectualism.

    2. Wayne Boyd

      When I was first converted, when I read Rom 9 I almost accepted limited atonement–but, I didn’t think that the truth staring me in the face was “fair”. Now, years later. I accept it, TULIP, and basic Reformed theology. Life can push you back to where you started from.

      1. Daniel

        But don’t you think that Romans 9 shouldn’t be read in isolation from the rest of scripture let alone the rest of Christian history (prior to the 1500s?); that instead of viewing all of scripture in light of what you found in Romans 9, you should read Romans 9 in light of the rest of scripture? Just a thought. There may be room for either a less confident conclusion (which is the Calvinist position) and more room for understanding, at least, that there is a level of mystery in God’s election of Israel in the OT and Christians in the NT (and today) and leave it at that. Doesn’t that seem more honest?

  12. Eagle

    I share of my past to show you where I have come from. I do not dangle it in your face nor boast for as to boast of my past. I tell you this to show you my heritage. When I attended the “Reason Rally” in Washington, D.C. I did so as an agnostic. I did so because of the thought process I had at the time. When I tell you that I sought forgiveness from nearly 140 people I did so out of a personal desire (Matthew 5:22-23) to approach each one and work things. The Neo-Reformed crowd is cheap about grace and forgiveness. In what I did I put my financial reputation on the line in offering to travel to cities around the country to seek forgiveness in person and make things right. How many Neo-Reformed have you known that have offered to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation on such a scale? Could it be that the reason why you have not is due to how many Neo-Reformed are consumed by cheap grace?
    Innocent? You’re arrogance is showing NL. Am I entirely innocent…no? However I am also not a pastor who teaches and has also been in a cover up of child sexual abuse. I haven’t intentional sent out to fraud publishers, government (county-state-federal) like many Neo-Reformed have done. I also don’t hide my motives and act dishonestly like Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever and James MacDonald have done. You know me upfront in how I state things.

    As for the other points you make let’s discuss them.

    1. John Piper loves to talk of a sovereign Lord, Sovereignty of God and how God is in control of things. So here is up talking about how every tornado and the I-35 bridge collapse is God’s will and a result of the Lord’s sovereignty. THEN you have this John Piper who teaches of this sovereignty who when he gets death threats in Minneapolis goes straight to the Minneapolis Police Department. My reaction of hearing this is the following..”Brother John..don’t you believe the Lord is sovereign? Don’t you believe like Job is told that the Lord givith and taketh away? Why have you resisted the Lord’s will by going to the Minneapolis Police? Don’t you know that by your actions you have shown that the Lord is not sovereign over all creation? Brother John doesn’t that sovereignty apply to you? Since the Lord wanted to take you life, why didn’t you submit and recognize that it was time for you to be taken away? Its not just John Piper, Matt Chandler showed that he doesn’t believe in the Lord’s sovereignty by seeking medical treatment for his brain tumor. CJ Mahaney showed that Sovereign Grace doesn’t believe in the Lord’s sovereignty by fighting a lawsuit. If the IRS comes down on Mars Hill Seattle like a load of bricks for violating their 501 (3)(C) status and Mars Hill cannot recover will you believe the Lord is sovereign? Likewise when your wife is killed by a drunk driver will you praise the Lord that the intoxicated driver was a tool of the Lord to accomplish his will? If your child is molested by a Sunday school teacher then really that molestation against your child is an act of glory and an act of worshiping the Lord since it was foreordained by the Lord. Can I recommend taking the molester out, buying him a drink and praising the Lord together that he was obedient to the will of the sovereign Lord. The hypocrisy from you guys stink in how you randomly apply sovereignty. Since all your brand of sovereignty is but nothing but determinism…can I recommend that you just submit to whatever life deals. For example…a gunman walking through an elementary school and killing 26 elementary school students is obviously the Lord’s will. A 767 tearing through 1 World Trade leading to thousands of deaths, again the Lord’s will. Or a serial killer in Milwaukee who murders, cannibalizes and has sex with corpses…again its’ the Lord’s will, so praise the Lord for every evil act that comes forth as its foreordained. Not only that but since your sovereignty is more Islamic than Christian and belongs more in a Mosque in Karachi, Pakistan than a Baptist or Evangelical Free Church in the US.
    2. That video by John Piper on domestic abuse. Can I recommend you step out of the bubble and stop drinking the kool-aide? Also remove the IV that is pumping the kool-side into your system. That video has been the ire of domestic abuse counselors and counselors in homeless rescue missions. I know this because I have heard this from someone who works in a homeless shelter that takes in abused women fleeing domestic abuse situations. They are livid that Piper recommends a woman endure domestic abuse “for a night” and endure emotional abuse for a season. How do you define “for a night”? How do you define a season? To what extent should a women just submit? And since when did John Piper become the expert on domestic abuse situations? Have you run this video by domestic abuser counselors? Please enlighten me on this subject.
    3. When it comes to John Piper talking about women not doing perverse things, I must ask you, have you read the infamous Chapter 10 of Mark Driscoll’s “Real Marriage” the chapter that says, “Can we?” So all the glorification of anal and oral sex per Driscoll’s whim. But WAIT…John Piper says he loves Mark Driscoll’s theology, so even if a man forces his wife into “Gospel Centered Anal Sex” than its okay because it’s Biblical? Correct? So why the hypocrisy? If John Piper says about women not doing perverse things then why speak out of another side of his mouth and celebrate and hold up someone who publically proclaims such teaching?
    4. You’re naïve NL if you think that apology is legitimate. He says nothing about what he did to Paul Petry and Bent Myer. He’s made no effort to contact the Myers and Petry’s and make things right. Did he contact Tyndale or Crossway and take back his plagiarized works? No. He’s still publishing them. Has he approach DA Carson at TED and ask him for his forgiveness and offered to do whatever it takes to make it right? No. This is part of the reason why I wrote about my forgiveness and all that I have done. If Mark Driscoll were serious his efforts would show and he’d do it in a way that would show a change in behavior. Repentance is not saying I am sorry. Repentance is admitting and changing and offering to do whatever it takes to make it right. Mark Driscoll NL is sorry….he’s sorry that he was caught and sorry that his Industrial Complex has been threatened. Remember what Deep Throat told Bob Woodward during Watergate. Follow the money…this is about “Gospel Centered Capitalism” and not about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is another Gospel that Paul encouraged people to reject because it is not the Gospel that he has taught.

    1. NL


      Thank you for your lengthy reply. Despite your verbosity, you didn’t respond to my reference to the Biblical command to maintain gentleness + graciousness, nor did you provide a reason why the sin of Piper/Driscoll et al *necessarily* communicates failure in the NC/YRR movement. You also failed to substantiate your gross hyperbole, that the NC/YRR movement has done “nothing” but promote greed, decadence etc. Neither did you defend your original statements regarding Piper + domestic abuse. Rather, you have given me anecdotes of how Piper’s message has been received negatively. This does not and cannot substantiate your original statement.

      So, there’s quite a lot that you missed. Turning to your reply:

      1) As Ross has made clear, you have an erroneous understanding of Reformed theology regarding the sovereignty of God. Consider Acts 2:23 – Christ was crucified according to the predestination of God. However, Peter also notes (in the same verse no less) that Christ was handed over according to the “lawless[ness]” of the Jews. Here you have two truths held together in the same breath: first, that God’s was meticulously sovereign at Golgotha, and second, that those killing Christ were committing a lawless act for which they are culpable.

      Let’s translate this to your examples:
      -> If my child is molested, the Scriptures promise me that God is sovereign over that event – He’s working it for good (Rom 8), He’s making all things new (Rev 21), He’s gathering it all up in Christ (Eph 1), etc. The Scriptures, however, would also promise me that something sinful and therefore grievous has occurred (Rom 1 etc). Whilst mourning such a tragic event, I would also have confidence and joy that Christ is still on the throne, and that He will work it for good. Nothing inconsistent there.
      -> Brother John is sent a death threat. He is promised in the Scriptures that in this world there will be trouble (John 14-16), and so he isn’t surprised at this, but he is also promised in the Scriptures that lawlessness is curbed by God-given government (Rom 13). He is therefore acting in obedience to the Scriptures, and in accordance with the means of God’s providence, to seek legal action. It’s not Piper’s job to second-guess the providence of God (something he has been rightly criticised for when it comes to certain events); but it IS his job to act according to Scripture in submitting lawlessness to the appropriate God-given authorities. Nothing inconsistent there.
      -> Matt Chandler got a brain tumour. He recognises from Scripture that the human body is under the sovereignty of God (e.g. Job..!), but he also recognises from Scripture and from biblical reasoning that God’s providence is such that we have wonderful medical treatments available. He avails himself of these treatments, all the while asking God that he rejoices in his sufferings (Col 2) and is relieved from them if the Lord wills (James 4). Nothing inconsistent there.

      I imagine that you blunderbuss these examples as a way of getting the Reformed participants here to admit the sort of ‘determinism’ that you seem so opposed to. Of course, you should know (and likely DO know) that Reformed theology is *softly* deterministic, in that it is compatibilistic – it still gives room for inter-mediate means. The type of Calvinism you’re critiquing is hyper-calvinism and you’d do well to fine-tune your comments accordingly.

      Nevertheless, if the Scriptures say that the worst evil in human history (i.e. the rebellious murder of the Son of God) was predestined and sovereignly purposed by God, all the while holding accountable those involved, then I too am going to say nothing is beyond the victory + sovereign reign of the Lord.

      2) You know nothing about me, so don’t presume to think that I exist ‘in a bubble’. As it happens, I have very intimate knowledge of domestic abuse scenarios. But that’s not the point right know and you’re merely obfuscating. The question WASN’T whether Piper’s words have been mis/interpreted and ab/used for nefarious purposes. The question was whether Piper was advocating domestic abuse. And you’ve done nothing to show he was.

      3) Piper’s interview is not necessarily connected to Driscoll’s “Real Marriage”. That he says he “loves Mark Driscoll’s theology” does NOT necessarily constitute an endorsement of every word written in that book. And besides, we’re not talking about the merits of that chapter. Stop throwing out red herrings.

      4) Driscoll’s apology is not illegitimate just because he fails to detail reconciliation with Petry + Myer. He does note in the apology that he’s personally sought reconciliation with a fair number of individuals and wants to keep doing so. Unless information becomes available either way, neither of us are in a position to comment.

      Nevertheless, I’m glad that you admit you hold Driscoll up to YOUR standard, YOUR praxis, and you’re so quick to defend YOUR own righteousness. Again, “Eagle” – it speaks volumes that you laud your own virtues, but are so unwilling to even grant that another brother’s apology might be genuine. You quite clearly consider yourself The Arbiter when it comes to these things.

      I wish you luck in carrying that greatly cumbersome burden.

      1. Sensible


        I could make the case that in spite of your own verbose attempts to critique Eagle’s “verbosity,” you did not answer my question: what if I do not want to wait for a “moment” to be slapped by my husband…am I allowed to call the cops (not my pastor) immediately? I know what my pastor’s off the cuff answer would be…and I wish you luck in carrying the “greatly cumbersome burden” of that question.

        Have a good evening.

      2. NL


        Just because you can echo my turns of phrase doesn’t mean your questions necessarily carry the same weight. To put it simply, that’s why I haven’t responded – because I felt your question was utterly irrelevant. I’m honestly not trying to be rude. It’s just that I can’t possibly fathom how *my* response to that situation is in any way pertinent. What’s in question here is whether one can charitably read *Piper* as ordaining domestic abuse. And, put simply, you can’t.

        (Although, if you want my answer, it would be two-fold: first, yes of course you would be ‘allowed’ [the Scriptures don’t speak explicitly about this situation and so it boils down to your own wisdom rather than right/wrong]; second, I would still encourage you to contact your pastor and seek refuge.)

  13. Ross


    Your understanding of sovereignty is ignorant and wrong. While I do not and cannot know the complete sovereignty of God, I do know that he is sovereign and he would not want his people to delight in evil which is the extreme you have concluded. You clearly assume that there is no room for responsibility for man if God is sovereign.

    I would like to know if you believe that God is sovereign and how that works with your worldview.

    1. Beakerj

      There are many who don’t believe in the exhaustive ‘meticulous’ deterministic sovereignty proposed by Piper, & many of the things Eagle speaks of are not ignorance, they are the logical out workings of such a view, irrespective of what kind of intellectual sleight of hand people use to try to deny that.

      Calvinism prides itself on the Scriptural basis for its rational system, this seems to be what draws many people to it in fact. But it chooses to ignore some of the rational out workings of what it claims Scripture says clearly (i.e deterministic sovereignty) at will, whilst heavily pursuing others (such as limited atonement in the sense that God only really wants to save some, not all). This seems inconsistent, at best.

      The concept Eagle (& countless others) have of sovereignty has always been around in Christendom, & how it works is well expressed in books like Scot McKnight’s Long Faithfulness ( http://www.amazon.com/Long-Faithfulness-Case-Christian-Perseverance/dp/1629214698/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1395176328&sr=8-10&keywords=scot+mcknight). He holds the NT position formerly held by Don Carson, which shows not all high level scholars hold to meticulous sovereignty. You many also want to look at others such as Udo Middleman’s work (Francis Schaeffer’s Son in Law): The Innocence of God (http://www.amazon.com/The-Innocence-God-Does-Ordain/dp/B00D9TV6KC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395176466&sr=8-1&keywords=Udo+Middleman.

      There are others, but suffice to say meticulous sovereignty is NOT held by all thinking Christians, far from it.

    1. Sensible

      Amen…it’s funny, I grew up in the SDA church, and while they had their share of praise for their “prophet” Ellen White, it was piddly compared to what I have lately been hearing about Calvin…

  14. Drew

    God’s sovereignty does not imply that the workings of the church are always according to God’s revealed will – only that they are always according to His decree. Isaiah’s audience was according to God’s sovereignty (ever hearing never understanding etc.), but surely such an audience is not desirable. That being said, New Calvinist do sometimes mean something a little bit ‘New’ when speaking of God’s sovereignty.

  15. Walt

    Perhaps the better answer is that God used Deborah as a means of judgement against Israelite men who failed to be faithfully obedient to him. Of course God could raise up men if he wished. Instead, he chose to use Deborah as a judgement against them.

  16. E. Burns

    This blog post is worth the read.

    I like this comparing and contrasting of the old Calvinism vs. the new Calvinism at Dr. Hart’s site. Nails it I think. You state that this list of new Calvinism is not prescriptive, I don’t buy that. For the new Calvinist it sure is. If the old Calvinism is efficient why does it need to be hijacked and redefined by Piper devotees and fellow new Calvinist’s?

  17. neil

    i would have to respectfully disagree on your assault on piper not believing in God’s sovereignty. the Lord’s sovereignty leads us to action, not to sitting idly. the Lord is sovereign through our action not always in absence of it. see the entire life of Joseph and his response to it at the end of Genesis….”what you mean for evil God meant for good,” he sees all the actions in his life as the sovereign God working through human actions not in spite of it.

  18. Tara Hall

    In ‘taught’ doctrine, I see only consistent division as evidenced here. The irony is that our God is greater than all our machinations/understandings/knowledge…as a believer, Christian, I can not align myself to a doctrine, but to the Holy Word, the living supernatural filling of my vessel through the Holy Spirit. Why does man insist on complicating faith? Arrogance. It all boils down to my way of ‘believing’ is better than your way. Does God not lead us? I will look to no man to lead me, other than Christ.

  19. I don’t have any problem with the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace and such so don’t think that I am a non-Calvinist but I do think that most all modern Calvinists should stop calling themselves Reformed and Calvinist. Let me explain… What is the definition of sin? Well 1 John 4:3 says that “sin is lawlessness” NKJV or “sin is the transgression of the law” NKJV. Now modern Reformed people say that you must repent of your sins before you can be justified. So since sin is the transgression of the law they are saying that sinners must repent of transgressing the law to be justified. Logically then they are saying that the sinner must agree to keep the law to be saved. There is no real logical way around this. Paul said, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” The modern Reformed people tell a sinner …. Look to Christ alone for salvation you are justified by faith alone and not by the law…. however you must repent of sin …. which is the transgression of the law…. so really you must agree to keep the law to be saved. This is so totally messed up. That is why John Calvin preached that repentance followed justification. Of course the Greek word for faith is metanoia and it just means an intellectual change of opinion about what you believe. So in that sense repentance does precede justification. But modern day Calvinists are teaching you must repent in the sense of metamelomai the other greek word for repentance…. sorrow and regret for lawbreaking and agreeing to keep the law. The New testament only uses metanoia in the verses about becoming a Christian. Metamelomai isn’t used in passages that are talking about justification. Again…. Jesus was asked what is the greatest COMMANDMENT in the LAW. He answered to Love God and your neighbor. Yet the Lordship Calvinists of today tell sinners… to be justified you must agree to Love God supremely. In other words you must agree to keep the greatest commandment in the LAW to be saved. We know that the first 4 commandments are how to love God and the next six are how to love man. So really the Lordship “Calvinists” are just telling sinners that to be justified they just need to agree to keep the ten commandments. But then they act like they are Calvinists. Calvin never taught this…. His definition of faith was that faith is a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence and mercy toward us in Christ. In other words faith is knowing and trusting that I am right with God because of the blood of Christ alone. Modern reformed lordship justification people teach that faith is promising to love God supremely and submit full to Christ being committed to following Him while repenting of all sin which means agreeing to keep the Law. Calvin never taught this. This isn’t faith alone this is faith plus works for justification. Stop calling yourselves Calvinists and stop calling yourselves reformed… I used to be in the reformed churches but realized that they are teaching another gospel. And saying that regeneration precedes faith doesn’t get you off the hook for requiring a comittment to keep the law for justification. Regeneration does indeed precede faith. However the Spirit won’t indwell a non justified person. You have to be Justified to get the Spirit and only then can you produce the first fruit of the Spirit which Galatians says is Love (Love for God and man) Regeneration only brings faith then you get Justified then the Spirit enters you and then you start producing the fruit of the Spirit (love and goodness)

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