I read this morning an interesting New York Times magazine article on the rise of a "New Calvanism" as embodied by one preacher and church in particular: Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill.

Thought folks here might be interested. And I wonder what Convergent folks think about it.

Here's the long article.

Views: 1471

Comment by N. Jeanne Burns on 1st mo. 12, 2009 at 12:48pm
Um, the article itself is "unQuakerly," or are you talking about Driscoll's Calvanistic theology?

Either way, both never intended to be Quakerly, so I'm not sure what your point is.
Comment by N. Jeanne Burns on 1st mo. 12, 2009 at 6:54pm
You don't need to apologize for my not understanding what you were saying is "UnQuakerly." I am just confused by the label.

Calling the article "UnQuakerly" is like calling green bean casserole "UnQuakerly."

I've just heard Convergent Friends talk a bit about Calvanism and the article made me wonder what folks thought about Driscoll's theology. Which you talked about later in your post. :-)
Comment by Will T on 1st mo. 14, 2009 at 5:53pm
Robert Barclay called the doctrine of predestination "horrid blasphemy" because it made God the author of sin and because it put God in the position of demanding people do things that they couldn't You can wrap it with all the lattes and grunge music you want. I happen to agree on Barclay on this one.

Will T
Comment by Richard B. Miller on 1st mo. 14, 2009 at 11:01pm
Yes, Calvinism is very different from the theology of Friends early or late. I am repelled by it also. But I wonder at its continuing appeal. I think that the Biblical case for Calvinism is so weak that its appeal to people must be psychological. It must be that some people like it so much that they selectively read the Bible in order to find it. What do they like about it? It seems to appeal to people who like to be tough. The appeal is that they can judge everybody to be bad. No need to pay attention to their excuses. No excuses are acceptable. People are evil by nature and there is nothing good in human nature. The denial of free will doesn't get people off the hook because everything we do is evil despite the fact that we don't have any freedom. So there's no namby-pamby worrying about whether we are judging anyone too harshly. You CANT judge anyone too harshly. The comment in the article that Calvinism has almost disappeared from the American religious scene and this sort of preacher represents some kind of a modest revival strikes me as wrong. Around here I detect a lot of Calvinism of a milder tone. It appears as a kind of fatalism that almost but not quite amounts to a blanket excuse for not being better than we are. The ultimate appeal of Calvinism is that it can shift subtly back and forth between rigorous universal condemnation to an all-purpose excuse of "that's just how God made me."
Comment by Daniel Wilcox on 1st mo. 15, 2009 at 3:55pm
I first encountered Calvinism when my youth leader tried to convince me that God was above ethics--that God orders humans to violate biblical laws. And he tried to convince me that I should go to Vietnam and kill communists. Another Calvinist Bible teacher claimed in a Bible study on the N.T. that every murder and every rape was the will of God. Then I read Arthur Pink in his book The Sovereignty of God where he says it was God's will that Adam and Eve sin! That Christ died only for a select few of humankind, etc.
Thankfully eventually I read Elton Trueblood's book on Quakerism, that God is completely the opposite of Calvinism, indeed, God's love is endless for all.

I studied many books of Calvinism in 40 years and still can't fathom why so many people are attracted to such a gospel of despair and hopelessness.
Probably, some are attracted to it because they become convinced that they are 'in,' that God loves them even though God has predestinated most other humans to damnation. Also, when they sin, they know that it was predestined, not their own free choice.

Also, strangely, thinking everything is 'written'--predestined is what gives both Calvinists and Muslims so much daring. In both religions, predestination for the convinced gives them a sense they can't go wrong. They have total security.

When people, don't accept Christ, no worry, they weren't meant to; they were predestined reprobates.

I am so thankful for the contrary message of the Friends--of the overwehming ocean of God's infinite love for all.

Daniel Wilcox
Comment by Paul Landskroener on 1st mo. 16, 2009 at 7:44pm
Jeanne -- I don't see any correspondence whatsoever between Driscoll's ministry and anything that I've ever considered to be "convergent" Friends. While the Puritan (i.e., Calvinist) branch is in many ways the most influential branch of the three roots of Quakerism (Anabaptism and what many call "mysticism" are the other two), from what the article says Driscoll emphasizes those aspects of Calvinism that the Quakers most vehemently rejected.

I'm curious what you read in the article that made you think of convergent Friends -- nothing jumped out at me.
Comment by N. Jeanne Burns on 1st mo. 17, 2009 at 12:50am
I've just read some references to Calvanist stuff in some Convergent Friends' blogs, and I wanted some illumination.

I got some.
Comment by Richard B. Miller on 1st mo. 17, 2009 at 4:12pm
Paul, What makes you say that Puritanism was "in many ways the most influential of the three roots of Quakerism"? I see early Quakers as about as far removed from Puritanism as it is possible to get as far as theology goes. Now both are in reaction to Catholicism in a couple of respects--they like simplicity in both worship and church organisation, but theologically Quakerism and Puritanism are opposites not kin.
Comment by Simon St.Laurent on 1st mo. 19, 2009 at 9:55pm
Historically, yes, Quakers come out of a Puritan period that was heavily influenced by Calvinism. They retained the sense of mission that Calvinism had given Puritans of that period and some other cultural values of Puritanism.

I think, though, that the early Quakers stood much of Calvinism on its head. It feels to me like Fox went deep into the despair of Calvinism, and found Christ preaching a very different message than the "professors" of Calvin.

I can't go so far as to say that Quakerism and Calvinism are opposites, but there's a huge tension there, a tension that I think drove the early Quaker movement forward and stays with us today.
Comment by Daniel Wilcox on 1st mo. 19, 2009 at 10:17pm
Hi Simon,

Yes, standing Calvinism upside down on its head is a very good analogy. Whereas Calvinism posited a God who primarily created most humans to be predestined for eternal damnation, Friends felt God was eternal everlasting love. Calvinists were obsessed with intellectual creedal explanations of God and his nature; Friends opposed such head "notions" for the most part, instead wanted to concentrate on experiencing God. Calvinists were very strongly pro-military and pro-war; though a large number of Friends came out of the military, soon Friends became known for the Lamb's War--winning the world via evangelism and love, not killing and capital punishment.

Calvinism has claimed that all revelation and spiritual gifts ended with the apostles, but Friends strongly emphasized continuing revelation and continuing spiritual gifts.

Calvinism was very narrowly focused--only good news to a hidden elect; The Society of Friends was wide as the Infinite Ocean of Light and Love.

And that dear Friends is the Good News:-)

Daniel Wilcox


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