Mark Driscoll is Joining the Christian and Missionary Alliance

Or so it seems on the basis of Driscoll’s recent post on the differences between the New and Old Calvinism.  (My, how pertinent the paleo/neo distinction has become.) 

According to Driscoll, the differences between Calvinism 1.0 and 8.2 are simple and short: 1) New Calvinism is missional; 2) it is urban; 3) it is charismatic; and 4) it is loving.  Old Calvinism, accordingly, is not these things.  (Do I feel loved?  Not really, but it doesn’t matter since New Calvinists are loving.) 

What Driscoll may not realize is that American Calvinists have been there and done that.  They did so in the person of  A. B. Simpson, a Canadian Presbyterian who ministered in the PCUSA, established urban missions and a training school (Nyack) in New York City, and was open to the emerging (couldn’t resist) Pentecostal revival.   The institutions Simpson founded, along with his teaching, formed the basis for the Christian and Missionary Alliance (1887).  (Before Keller, there was Simpson.)

So whether Driscoll knows it, he has a denominational home.  The upside is that Driscoll’s Calvinism could develop into the mature evangelical Protestantism of C&MA guru, A. W. Tozer, who could be remarkably perceptive about worship.  But just as likely the New Calvinism will go in a diferent direction because folks like Tozer and the C&MA are not new or hip.

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64 thoughts on “Mark Driscoll is Joining the Christian and Missionary Alliance

  1. Dr. Hart,
    Have you written a more formal critique of the “new Calvinists”? I’d love to read it.

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  2. What is with the knee-jerk negativity towards effort? And why always doing the old thing of making perfect the enemy of good (perfect in your view)?

    Anyway, unreached people simply need to *hear* the Word of God. *Hear it.* As in: *hear it.* It is the Word of God that quickens. It is the Word and the Spirit that regenerates. With regeneration comes discernment for biblical doctrine.

    Just get out there and proclaim the Word of God. Not *your* words. Not the *word of man.* The Word of God.

    Maybe since the new versions the Word of God doesn’t stand out very much in the traffic of life.

    So use the old version. It worked well enough. That is history.

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  3. Christian

    It would be helpful if you would make clear your objections to what Darryl has written. and interact with what he has written.

    -Josiah

    P.S.
    I enjoy reading your posts on this website Darryl
    and glad that you are finally writing again in electronic format.

    Like

  4. Christian, you’re just sore because the C&MA didn’t give you credit when they took their name.

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  5. As Dr. Clark has mentioned in his post, the Driscoll team has pulled down his original post and replaced it with a tamed-down version. They’ve included a link to ccel.org with a tip to go read some “old” Calvinists because “you will be amazed at what you find.” The cynic in me thinks someone just read some “old” Calvinists for the first time after getting heat from the original post. Ah, the great things about blogging are also the erking things – you can remove something from existence when it doesn’t go well and then we’re all stuck with post nostalgia.

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  6. Camden, the old post is still there. In case it vanishes, I’m pasting its contents:
    Four Ways ‘New Calvinism’ is So Powerful

    1) Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.

    2) Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.

    3) Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

    4) Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

    I sure hope the C&MA gets a little bump out of this.

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  7. Tim, I haven’t and if I do I’m not sure what form it would take. (I am reading to review Collin Hanson’s book.) I’m not sure the New Calvinism really coheres as one thing. You have, on the one hand, Piper’s experimental Calvinism. You have Driscoll’s emergent-kick-ass approach which makes Calvinism’s apparent in your faceness appealing — Luther is actually more Driscoll’s speed than Calvin. You have Keller’s urban missions and mercy ministry. And I guess you throw in D. A. Carson’s fairly Reformed defense of biblical authority. What you get when you add all that up is not obvious — a Baptist, an EV Free, a New School Presbyterian, and an independent, shock-jock-like youth pastor. At some point, I think these guys will look around the table and wonder what they’re doing in the same room (at least with Driscoll).

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  8. Christian,

    What is with the knee-jerk negativity towards effort? And why always doing the old thing of making perfect the enemy of good (perfect in your view)?

    What is with the knee jerk negativity towards critique? And why always doing the old thing of making the new thing perfect because it’s the new thing without realizing we have all been here before? I mean, someone once said there is nothing new under the sun. Don’t you think he was right?

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  9. Haha… This post has got to be one of the most witty and precise posts I have read for a while. Tit-for-tat on the Tozer bit, well taken.

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  10. I was thinking more of their theology of continuing charismata than their re-batizing. Mind you, I’m positive they re-baptize too.

    Driscoll spoke at a church down the road from me over a year ago. I snuck in to hear him (I know, I know). I couldn’t believe how willing he was to share a platform with these crazy health/wealth charismatics. Instead of challenging them on their heresy, he spoke about sex.

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  11. “What Driscoll may not realize is that American Calvinists have been there and done that. They did so in the person of A. B. Simpson, a Canadian Presbyterian who ministered in the PCUSA, established urban missions and a training school (Nyack) in New York City”-

    -What is with the undertones of this that being missional and going into the cities is some kind of tried method or technique? Is not being missional to a city where culture is made something that all Christians should have in mind as is evident in paul’s example i.e. Rome?

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  12. Achilles: since when do cities have a monopoly on culture? A number of contemporary writers advocate the importance of local culture, and even the hard-to-believe idea that rural places have culture. Wendell Berry is one of the most important in this regard, and the people who write at Front Porch Republic are proud to live in places like Batavia, NY, Perry, KS, and Alexandria, VA. Some people like Peter Lawler even stick up for the culture of Walmart and Burger King, where Joe-Six Pack reveals his humanity.

    So do you really think it’s a good idea for Christianity to be elitist? Seattle and NYC are not exactly places for the meek and lowly. (I doubt that Driscoll’s salary is meek or low.)

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  13. My mistake. I must have been clicking a wrong link. Thanks for posting, now I can read the post over and over so that I can know my “old” Calvinist self better.

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  14. Dr. Hart,
    I do not mean to advocate that we should only be a part of larger urban areas, and I agree that culture can be found in rural and smaller places. I just appreciate the focus Driscoll seems to have for the urban cities. I don’t think that cities have a monopoly on culture, but there are a number of factors that cause a city to have a greater cultural influence. If every pastor had the mindset of Driscoll there would be an imbalance, but that is of course not the case.

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  15. Achilles: now we are talking about cultural analysis, not necessarily about biblical teaching. My own sense of cultural history is that provincial cultures are actually much more influential than the cosmopolis — think Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner and U2. But for the sake of the gospel, I think families and local congregations are far more influential than any city.

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  16. I encountered a lot of the New Calvinism in college. I must readily acknowledge the positive influence of the New Calvinism on Evangelicalism since it has served to introduce both a whole generation Calvin and the Puritans. But what irks me the most is the pick and choose attitude towards the Confessions and Church history. They want all the perks of a historically grounded faith without any of the responsibility which comes with being part of a historic Faith. As DGH implied, I think it tends to be more of an ethos than anything of real substance.

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  17. “But just as likely the New Calvinism will go in a diferent direction because folks like Tozer and the C&MA are not new or hip.”

    Recently, the local C&MA is being pushed by their superintendent into what they perceive to be “new and hip” a la Willow Creek. I’m not so sure Tozer would approve…

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  18. “But what irks me the most is the pick and choose attitude towards the Confessions and Church history. They want all the perks of a historically grounded faith without any of the responsibility which comes with being part of a historic Faith.”

    They want the apostolic faith without the man-centered churchianity.

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  19. Christian said
    “They want the apostolic faith without the man-centered churchianity.”

    Please remember that the only reason the Apostolic faith once-delivered still exists today is that the Holy Spirit used faithful ministers, church councils, and confessions to preserve it. Remember, we would not even have the Scriptures if were not for God using these things. Could God have chosen another way to perpetuate the Faith? Absolutely. But he chose to work through fallible human beings. Defining Christianity (without simplistic sloganeering) apart from the Church in history will, I daresay, give you a bit of trouble.

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  20. >Please remember that the only reason the Apostolic faith once-delivered still exists today is that the Holy Spirit used faithful ministers, church councils, and confessions to preserve it.

    Really. I see God’s remnant (God always has his remnant in all eras of the history of redemption) as a bit more rag-tag and harried than you do. You see, when the world and the Beast and the devil is persecuting you, hunting you, burning you it’s a bit much to engage in formal councils and to draft and publish confessions and what not, but the Holy Spirit in the heart and the shield of faith and the Sword of the Spirit in hand and mouth suffice somehow. And it’s not ‘ministers’ being burned, is it? It is individual prophets, priests, and kings called Christians – men, women, children.

    Now look at your generation. With all your freedom from persecution you can’t even find it in you to protect the very Word of God that that remnant of past eras defending and handed down with their very lives. You eat what the liberals of the 19th century set on your plate, and you fear man too much to question any of it. I’m speaking to the academic Reformed.

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  21. Christian, but what of the technological-Reformed? You seem to be doing okay with access to a computer and the Internet? BEWARE the world, the flesh, and the Gates. Spooky!!

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  22. While I am a credo-baptist, I am reformed in my soteriology. Moreover, I am not a cessationist. I find a dearth of charity in the way in which many are dealing with Driscoll’s errors. I do agree that he has wrongly assessed the topic at hand. However, I do not find the maligning of his doctrinal stance on baptism or the Holy Spirit to be charitable or beneficial. I don’t go around with maliciously slandering my paedo-baptist brothers and sisters. While neither of us should lose our doctrinal conviction over such things as baptism, I do believe that is more of a Christian’s charge to seek to be unified. Neither of us has forsaken the faith. Therefore, may we magnify Christ in the Gospel! Obviously, the secular world is watching Protestants, focusing on the Sovereign One who saves people from sin. I have written briefly about this here: http://josephdethrow.blogspot.com/2009/03/christs-command-new-calvinism.html

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  23. That you can’t discern the influence of the world and the devil any better than some fundamentalist is telling. You types are just as culturally shallow as those good ol’ boys.

    A Christian is a warrior with understanding of himself and the world around him. You have to know what is out there and what is inside you before you can do battle with it. The devil’s kingdom operates best in the darkness. It is the Christian’s task to wake up.

    Start with seeing the fact that innerant Scripture is *not* just contained in the autographs (i.e. your idol Warfield, though he could pen a good essay here and there, was hardly some intellectual light to be followed on the most foundtional subject). If you can’t yet see the Word of God, and value it, you will be in darkness no matter what.

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  24. Robert K.–aka “Jackson”, and now “Christian”,

    At the risk of being rebuked for attempting to spread the kingdom of the Beast by encouraging gambling, I think I’m going to begin taking bets on what name you’ll come up with next after you’ve ruined the credibility of this latest pseudonym.

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  25. I recognize you as one of those ‘ReformedCatholics’, Mr. Bonomo, who worship at the feet of the great liberal Anglican N. T. Wright (you see, his first two initials are ‘N. T.’ just like New Testament, so that means he’s really smart and stuff about the New Testament). You also fail miserably in engaging anybody who confronts you directly. You’re doing it again.

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  26. Why do the same police patrol all the Reformed blogs? Who are you protecting? I’ll tell you: you’re protecting your professors. Think about that. (Think about that professors.)

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  27. Robert K.,

    It seems that once again we have that whole alternate universe problem popping up (a conclusion I reached during our last run-in at the Heidelblog), where I am forced to conclude by what I know to be true concerning myself, my previous encounters with you, and the world in which I exist, that you actually mean the exact opposite of what your language implies.

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  28. I think critiques of this sort have their place, on the other hand this is an opportunity to model Christ by returning crassness with graciousness.

    It’s true that many amongst the new reformed are running off half-cocked with some of Calvin’s ideas. OTOH, institutions just like humans are never flawless, and so therefore there is a place for critique of the old ways – look at the way that reformed state churches in most of Europe have resulted in an almost entirely, and a north american model that has alternatively fled the most populous coastal cities, and at the same time splintered along fundamentalist and liberal lines. In turn the ‘young restless and reformed’ are all set to make their own peculiar set of mistakes, but they do get some things right – their heart for mission, in an age when many of the reformed denominations are pulling back on their missionary efforts.

    What does semper reformanda mean, if one age is immune from learning from others ?

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  29. Chris, you are assuming that the New Calvinists’ critique of the Old Calvinists is correct. But that is precisely what is at issue. Is it the case that Oldies are not missional or loving? And how you reconcile charismatic Protestantism with Calvin’s views on the Word and Spirit is one of the more impossible intellectual feats to accomplish. And believe it or not, the Old Calvinist denominations actually have mechanisms for always reforming — they are called the courts of the church. How do you reform a celebrity?

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  30. I’m not assuming anything. I would however ask this, is there any critique that you’d actually admit is valid?

    To the extent that the various reformed denominations have splintered, generally left the larger cities in America, and split into alternatively liberal and fundamental factions, is there any place for admitting failure?

    An Académie française style defense of ownership of a term is doomed to failure in the long run. As to how to reform a celebrity, I’m not sure, but I’m sure you have to try, if only because he’s a brother in Christ, flaws and all.

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  31. “An Académie française style defense of ownership of a term is doomed to failure in the long run.”

    That’s a great line.

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  32. And let’s be honest and unafraid to ruffle feathers: what the Reformed academics want to preserve is not even really Reformed in the first place. It’s the fat and grease left over on the Romanist plate after the reformers got through throwing the Romanist slop doctrine into the garbage. It’s also what the reformers compromised on for political (and tactical decisions of war) reasons. PVM, anybody?

    Five solas, doctrines of grace, Federal Theology is Reformed doctrine. Ecclesiology and sacramentology is not and has never been defining of Reformed.

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  33. Because somebody will accuse me of making a reference to Parallel Virtual Machine or Pneumonia Virus of Mice: PVM = Perpetual Virginity of Mary. Something Calvin for some reason decided to continue to hold to. Something about: why upset the people with the pitchforks?

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  34. Chris: Do you know anything about my own communion? If so, why would you say the OPC is a failure? The OPC ministers to the people who are members of it, it publicly proclaims the word in North America, Africa, South America, and Asia. It administers the sacraments and discipline. Are we chopped liver? (Where’s the love?)

    The last I checked, I can’t get to Mark Driscoll’s church from Philadelphia.

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  35. Christian: In case you missed it, you just declared yourself Reformed pope. You alone, without counsel from other ministers and Christians, know what is Reformed. Talk about Romanist garbage.

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  36. >Christian: In case you missed it, you just declared yourself Reformed pope. You alone, without counsel from other ministers and Christians, know what is Reformed. Talk about Romanist garbage.

    You even default into Romanist rhetorical comebacks.

    So, apparently, the five solas, doctrines of grace, and Federal Theology is off the ranch, according to your side. No, your side demanding to make ecclesiology and sacramentology the defining loci of Reformed Theology is what is popish. These are the two areas man always uses to insert and demand and police the fear of man into Christian environments. And notice the Bible gives you zero warrant for using them. Sola Scriptura. And don’t come back with your nuda or solo canards. Sola Scriptura is powerful and meaningful to a Christian who understands what is at stake.

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  37. First,

    Although many “reformed” Christians might not totally agree with the C&MA on all their theological position, I don’t really see the point of slamming the denomination. There are many in the C&MA with a heart for serving the Triune God and a heart for missions. Go read “evangelism and the sovereignty of God” if you feel as though missional work is not important.

    Second: Such division and sarcasm/contempt/criticism towards Driscoll, who I might add is a brother in Christ. Remember the Nicene Creed you recite every sunday but don’t live when you post on blogs and get together to slam anyone who isn’t a “reformed” 5 pointer. Universal, united Body of Christ? It makes me wonder what it really does for “the Body” to spend hours dismantling someones blog post about “new calvinism”. Keep up the good work. Lutherans, Anglicans, and anyone else not confessing the WCF must be apostate right? Theologically fouled up right? Not sound in doctrine right? Reading some of your comments it’s no wonder why some of us who might be “reformed” theologically want very little do to with the arguing of theological minutia and the dismantling of ones character merely for not being “reformed” enough.

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  38. Jason: no one is slamming the C&MA. The post actually complimented A. W. Tozer and I have yet to see a negative reaction from Alliance people.

    Also, you may be misconstruing the nature of blogging, it is light, breezy, snarky, and ephemeral. That was the spirit in which I received Driscoll’s dismissive blog about Old Calvinism. You need to take a chill pill.

    BTW, it didn’t take hours to analyze Driscoll’s post. It really wasn’t that profound.

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  39. It is interesting these “leave him alone” responses to those who have the nerve to raise their hands to certain neo-new lights. Do we imagine any tolerance for sympathizers to, say, Charles Taze Russell? (Calm down, I’m not making a comparison so much as a point.) I mean, everyone has his sympathizers. So why can’t the defenders simply admit they are sympathetic and positively defend the new lights instead of all these false appeals to “unity” and faulting for criticism? I hope none of you is pre-law.

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  40. Jason,

    As one who has spent years trying hard to figure out a way to work a reasonable method for principled and doctrinally honest ecumenism in our current ecclesial context, let me just say that I think you have to realize that the way to seeking true concord between communions is emphatically *not* to simply cover over differences and say, “Hey, we’re all brothers so what does it matter?” The first step is for each of us to be faithful to our respective confessional ecclesiastical identities, so that we can have a basis for conversation. The ability to honestly say, for example, “I am a Presbyterian, you can find out what I believe by looking at the Westminster Confession. You are a Lutheran, I can find out what you believe by reading the book of Concord”, is the starting point.

    To say that Driscoll is not Reformed but more along the lines of the C&MA is not necessarily to “slam” either the C&MA or Driscoll. It is simply to identify who they are and where they are coming from. We need to be honest about who we are and the depth of our differences before we can seek true concord. The wishy-washy, “Can’t we all just get along” method simply does not work, for it is unprincipled. We all do have, after all, distinct ecclesial identities.

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  41. Robert K./Jackson/Christian,

    “Why do the same police patrol all the Reformed blogs?”

    To reveal the identities of the same trolls who lurk in all the Reformed blogs using aliases.
    Few things are funnier than Jonathan Bonomo unmasking R/J/C in another blog. It’s like the end of every Scooby Doo episode.

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  42. >To reveal the identities of the same trolls who lurk in all the Reformed blogs using aliases.
    Few things are funnier than Jonathan Bonomo unmasking R/J/C in another blog. It’s like the end of every Scooby Doo episode.

    Go with what I said, it’s more on-the-mark. It’s the police protecting the professors (who often are a bit sheltered) from the influence of us non-Village-of-Morality types. When man-fearing is exposed in your domain the police come out of the woodwork. “Don’t worry, Dr. Hart (Clark/Horton/Enns/Beelzebub’s nephew – that’s a descending scale), we’ll run interference for you against this ‘troll.’ They’re just trying to wake everybody up, and it’s annoying. Go back to sleep, we’ll take care of it.”

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  43. Christian: do you know Hebrew? You’d be more comprehensible if you used it. (Don’t forget the vowel points.)

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  44. Well, I’ve never had any of the aforementioned luminaries for a professor. But I have read a lot of their books (Hart waxes especially popish in Recovering Mother Kirk), and I had a beer with Beelzebub’s nephew once.

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  45. It’s perfectly possible to admit failure in some areas without having to admit being an utter failure. As all institutions are composed of fallible human beings it would be odd if they didn’t get things wrong now and again. The church in every age bears a certain responsibility where it fails to act as salt and light.

    And internet being non-local, it would have been perfectly possible to write a different sort of post.

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  46. And yet, though “New” Calvinism and Pastor Driscoll are hip, I suspect that “Old” Calvinism will be what endures for another 500 years.

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  47. I have no idea what the non-localness of the Internet has to do with writing a different post. It does seem to me that everything you have written could be also written of Driscoll’s post. That implies you have a double standard — it’s okay to criticize Old Calvinists but okay to critique New Calvinists. One of the rules at this blog is having your cake and only looking at it.

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  48. I’m probably wasting my time asking, but really, Calvin and the PVM? Do you have any real proof of this. From my readings of his Commentaries he never falls solidly on a PVM position. Direct quotes would be helpful. Of course if you’re the Reformed pope perhaps you just spoke ex cathedra.

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  49. Yoy know, Christian, I find it funny. Most of the reply’s on this and other blogs that feature the likes of DGH, Zrim and others that are directed to are reply’s I find myself noddig my head, reading your reply’s makes me smile and wondering what the h* you’ve been smoking.
    But I never had any one the people you name as a professor. I haven’t read a single book of one of them and as long as they aren’t translated into Dutch, I never will.

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  50. Darryl,

    Can you recommend some good historical sources on AB Simpson and/or the C&MA? I ask because I grew up in the CMA and am now a PCA minister, so I find the comparisons fascinating. Just finished reading Tozer’s biography of Simpson.

    Thanks!
    David

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  51. David, your several steps ahead of me with the Tozer book on Simpson. To my knowledge, the C&MA hasn’t attracted much scholarly attention.

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  52. Not true about the scholarly attention. Try All For Jesus, God At work in the Christian and Missionary Alliance Over 100 years, by Niklaus, Sawin, and Stoesz; or Genuine Gold: The Caustiously Charasmatic Story of the Ealy Christian and Missionary Alliance by Paul King, or A Movement For God by Keith Bailey

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  53. I realize this is an old thread but something caught my eye. “The C&MA hasn’t caught much scholarly attention”? Anybody ever heard of Dr Ravi Zacharias!?

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