One of the odder aspects of the New Calvinism is how little historical awareness its proponents have. Consider the following in response to Tim Challies’ chart (which gave historical legitimacy to the movement by including the publication of George Marsden’s biography of Jonathan Edwards):
There is a difference between a movement and a reformation, and New Calvinism evidences the latter. A movement is often a response to a concern or opportunity, and benefits from cultural and promotional dynamics, not to mention hype. In time, the church’s attention span invariably moves on, the movement loses steam, and the movement’s effects are short-lived.
A reformation, be it the 16th century version or subsequent iterations, yearns for a healthier, purer church, and goes back to the source of truth itself, the Word of God. The fruits of reformation are much longer lasting, proving to impact the church for decades, if not centuries. Since it is a return to Holy Scripture, reformation often parallels revival.
While New Calvinism has benefited from movement-like dynamics, its emphasis on Scripture and Scripture’s implications leads one to classify it as a reformation in intent, temperament, and scope.
The author is only a Southern Baptist and shouldn’t be faulted for not being aware of Reformed Protestant communions like the OPC, PCA, RPCNA, and URC, for starters. But Calvinism does have a history before John Piper, Crossway Publishers, and the spike of interest in Jonathan Edwards after Marsden’s biography. And the lack of awareness of, make that lack of interest in, the history of Calvinism before The Gospel Coalition makes difficult taking these folks seriously. Not to mention that our fraternal brother Tim Keller isn’t doing much to educate the Calvinists.
It’s like fans of Stephen King thinking that his novels have resemblance to those of Edgar Allen Poe or Charles Brockden Brown. Maybe you want to do a little reading before claiming what you’re doing is new. Then again, if you want to call attention to yourself, why call it Calvinist? Has any New Calvinist read a biography of John Calvin? Was Tim Challies even aware that 2009 was the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s and that the same publisher of Marsden’s biography (which came out on the 300th anniversary of Edwards’ birth) brought out a masterful biography of Calvin?
Where’s the love for Calvin?