This is inspired by R. Phillips’ post on why Old Calvinists should be encouraged by, even rejoice over, New Calvinism. The word inspired is key because inspiration does not come easily to Old Calvinists unless we are talking the doctrine of Scripture. Temperamentally, we tend to be phlegmatic souls who see almost nothing new under the sun (see below). But New Calvinists see inspiration and enthusiasm as part and parcel of genuine faith. Such inspiration also cuts down on cognitive powers — think Gilbert Tennent.
The lone exception to the New Calvinist w-w is Lutheranism. That is where New Calvinists find their critical skills and discern differences. Does cessationism matter? Not so much. But talk too much about the Lord’s Supper or baptism and you feel the wind going out of New Calvinist hedonism.
I wonder if one reason for such skepticism about Lutheranism is that confessional Lutherans put the stiff upper lip in the theology of suffering. Lutherans know the hype and pizzazz of the theology of glory and stay away from it. New Calvinists, in contrast, seem to be suckers for energy, the triumphalism, the earnestness of the religious conference and the celebrity speaker.
For that reason, I propose a thought experiment. What if we took Phillips’ words regarding New Calvinists and applied them to Lutherans? Would the world-wide interweb go kablooie?
1. Old Calvinism should avoid being overly critical but should rejoice in
2. Old Calvinism should not be threatened by or feel pressure to conform to
3. Old Calvinism should humbly listen to
the NewLutheranism, benefiting from its insights and critiques.
4. Old Calvinism should zealously seek to serve rather than to undermine
If Phillips could write about Lutheranism the way he does about New Calvinism, I might be persuaded. Otherwise, I suspect that Phillips was a New Calvinist before New Calvinists starting selling t-shirts.
Postscript: I have taken this personality test that has been going around on the Internet and I further wonder if New Calvinists would score differently from an Old Calvinist, if maybe the differences are primarily temperamental. Here are (all about) my results:
Your habits and perspectives most resemble those of middle-class Americans. Members of this group tend to be gentle and engaging parents, and if they’re native English speakers they probably use some regional idioms and inflections. Your people are mostly college-educated, and you’re about equally likely to beg children not to shout “so loudly” as you are to ask them to “read slow” during story time. You’re probably a decent judge of others’ emotions, and either a non-evangelical Christian, an atheist, or an agnostic. A typical member of this group breastfeeds for three months or less, drinks diet soda, and visits the dentist regularly. If you’re a member of this group, there’s a good chance that you roll with the flow of technological progress and hate heavy metal music.