Friday, June 29, 2012

New Hyper-Calvinism?

Okay, so I'm a little tired of hearing all this bashing of "New Calvinism". What is that anyway? I realize Time Magazine coined the phrase but more commonly it is a label given to describe the strawman characterization of anyone who is Calvinistic in their soteriology. It is easier to bash generalizations and attach a label to it. It is un-Christlike and unedifying to the church. One of the generalizations that gets labeled New Calvinism is to assume or accuse all such thinking of being akin to Hyper-Calvinism. A Hyper-Calvinist is one who by conviction does not put the gospel before unbelievers for fear that they might be sharing with the non-elect. I've never met a Hyper-Calvinist much like I've never ridden a unicorn. Perhaps one exists but it is unsubstantiated and highly unlikely.

There is a kind of "New Hyper-Calvinist" out there though. It is one who religiously avoids sharing the gospel or being around unbelievers altogether. This person is not a "NHC" by conviction but either by laziness or pragmatism. I've met many a Christian (on all spectrums of soteriology- some Calvinist, some Arminiam, some who would more agree with this "new traditionalism" making the rounds, and some even semi-Pelagianists*) who are too lazy and self-absorbed to even notice unbelievers who God has put in their path much less share the gospel with them. This doesn't really need a label as much as it needs repentance. If you fit this category do you not love what God loves (John 3:16)? Sometimes this laziness is called fear but in my own life I've realized my fear and anxiety towards sharing the gospel is really rooted in a laziness to have faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and to fight the fear of man.

Some do not share the gospel because of pragmatism. I got a chuckle from a recent rant by a prominent and popular (and very fashionable) SBC pastor accusing Calvinistic pastors of not wanting to reach the lost because they discriminate on who the elect are. Perhaps there are discriminating Calvinists out there but they are not alone. I'm amazed by all these "cutting-edge" pragmatic thinkers who determine a target group based on who is most likely to receive the gospel. It is not chic to do evangelism and plant churches among the poor or ethnically diverse or physically disabled or among the elderly (unless of course you are on a mission trip to another country and you can splice together a video montage to impress everyone back home with your sacrifice). No, it is mainly chic to target the young, wealthy, and white (or whoever it just like you). Urban church planting is more pragmatic now in big cities because that's where the young, wealthy, and white are moving. So we determine who is strategically best to share the gospel with. Is this not an attempt to determine who the "elect" are?

Look, I'm not saying there isn't a need for churches in predominantly white suburbs. I don't hate white people and I realize churches are probably going to reflect their communities, ethnically and economically speaking. However, I am against this pragmatic attitude toward evangelism that is practically no different than the "Hyper-Calvinist". Look around you. Whether they are wealthy or poor, black or white, young or old, they are people created for the glory of God but under the condemnation of their sinfulness. They are spiritually blinded and only the proclamation of the gospel will open their eyes. I trust the work of regeneration (which I believe precedes faith) to the Holy Spirit. God does the work of salvation and He gets the glory but He has chosen the "foolish things of this world to shame the wise" and thus has commanded us to share His gospel as the means to call people to faith. Don't be lazy or let pragmatism take you away from this command. Obey and prepare to experience the joy of God's power working through you!

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