So I just read one of McLaren’s latest blog entries, Calling all Calvinists. In McLaren’s post, he basically states that there are basically two types of “Calvinists.” Interesting. He goes on to then break down these two Calvinistic groups by a summary. They are summed up in his following statements:
“… when people tell me they’re Calvinist or Reformed, I generally ask them what they mean. One line of response goes to TULIP (an acronym for five points of a type of deterministic Calvinism) and the Westminster Confession and a list of things they’re against. Folks in this camp seem eager to repeat and redo faithfully in the 21st century exactly what Calvin said and did in the 16th.”
“The other line of response refers to the Lordship of Christ over all of life, the priesthood of all believers, the absolute importance of God’s grace, and the integration of faith with every dimension of human enterprise … seeming more eager to imitate Calvin’s general example, seeking to translate into our times what Calvin generally sought to do in his times, even when that means disagreeing with specific things Calvin – and many Calvinists – have said and done.”
I apologize in advance if this sounds harsh, but I’m not sure if McLaren actually understands that Calvinists, as far as I’m concerned and aware of, would agree with both of these statements. In fact, he sets up what appears to be poor logic in that what he sets up is a false dichotomy. I hesitate to even write that because I’m sure that McLaren has to understand that every Evangelical who holds to Reformed theology would argue that both of the above statements are true; though I would hesitate to say that all Calvinists make long lists of things they are against and that they would seek to live according to the culture of the 16th century. Perhaps some, but not all. I’m sure a lot of Fundamentalists might do that, but that word does not own the theology of the Reformation!
Sure, some people might do just what McLaren is stating, but I can’t say that it reflects all or even the majority of folks who are Calvinists. I suppose that this would be the same as someone stating that all who are a part of the Emerging Church Movement are liberal Democrats who think that Jesus isn’t the only way to salvation and that the bible isn’t the inspired Word of God without error!
Yes, these definitions might be claimed by some who choose to hold to these terms, but that doesn’t mean that they actually do. This is to say that just because someone says they are Reformed doesn’t actually mean that they are. This is similar to how McLaren can attempt to define Calvinism with some brief sentances but those sentances don’t necessarily reflect the truth.
Perhaps McLaren should do a better job of defining terms and making his point without the false dichotomy or ad hominem arguments. In the past, I’ve appreciated a lot of what McLaren has written or said. It just seems that with this post he’s completely missed the mark.
Interesting… I guess I’m a Calvinist Calvinist who affirms TULIP and also the Lordship of Jesus, the priesthood of all believers, the importance of grace, and everything else that McLaren said defines only one type of Calvinist. Hmm…
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.