In his blurb for N.T. Wright’s new book, Scot McKnight labeled “the neo-Reformed” as “America’s newest religious zealots” who are “more committed to tradition than to the sacred text.” Pretty strong words. Since Wright’s book is a response to Piper (and other critics like Carson and Seifrid), most readers will understand McKnight’s name-calling and accusation as categorizing these pastors and scholars in this broad-brush category.

Now McKnight has begun a new blog series seeking to explain what he means by his designation “neo-Reformed.” You can read his first and second posts.

McKnight sees this group as representing a “new form of Fundamentalism”–one could call them the NeoFundamentalists. McKnight identifies their motives and psychology. The NeoReformed/Fundamentalists have:

  • a need: a trend or an opponent upon whom they can vent their frustrations.
  • two resulting traits: (1) some peripheral doctrine is exalted to central status, and (2) a person is demonized.
  • the goal: to win at all costs.

Michael Horton has argued:

[E]vangelicalism is like a village green, where people, leaving their homes and stores, come to mix and mingle. Or, as C. S. Lewis suggested, it is “mere Christianity”–the hallway where people meet and where non-Christians can hear Christ’s central claims. We were not meant to live on the village green or in the hallway, however, but in the homes and rooms. Evangelicalism is most useful as a meeting place, but disastrous for anyone who tries to make it a home. For a home, we need a church.

McKnight likes Horton and the “village green” imagery. McKnight does not consider him to be in the NeoReformed/Fundamentalist camp.

The NeoReformed/Fundamentalist movement does three things:

  • attempts to capture evangelicalism
  • redefines evangelicalism by Reformed doctrines
  • kicks all of the non-Reformed off the village green

What do these NeoReformed/Fundamentalist believe?

  • The NeoReformed do not view evangelicalism as a village green
  • The NeoReformed want to build a gate on the gateless village green–such that to get onto the green you have to submit to the Reformed confessions and have Reformed credentials
  • The NeoReformed think that the only legitimate and faithful evangelicals are Reformed
  • The NeoReformed think that if you are not a Reformed evangelical you are not a true evangelical
  • The NeoReformed are “more than happy” to call into question the legitimacy and fidelity of any evangelical who doesn’t agree with things like double predestination

I suggested in a blog comment to McKnight’s first post that it would be helpful to hear who he has in mind here. He didn’t respond.

In today’s post, he comes closer to “naming names”:

I blurbed Tom Wright’s book recently with some strong words, and one blogger posted my blurb — a blogger who had not read Tom Wright’s book — and it drew within one day about 75 comments, and I’m pretty sure only one commenter on the entire thread had read both Piper’s book and Wright’s book. The rest were pretty sure I was wrong. Those who were all riled up about the blurb are the NeoReformed — ironically, they were wondering who I had in mind when I used “NeoReformed” in the blurb. I thought that was obvious.

I want to be careful with my language here, but I have to say that this seems a little bizarre. Let’s review: Wright wrote a response to Piper and his other critics. McKnight blurbed the response, and praised the response as a critique of the “neo-Reformed.” He then labeled this group as being “religious zealots” who are more committed to tradition than God’s Word. Those are pretty harsh words, and I hardly think they apply to someone like John Piper and Don Carson.

But if you are “riled up” by such an harsh words, then you are the NeoReformed/Fundamentalists. (By the way, why would one have had to read Wright’s book to have an opinion on whether or not McKnight was being fair or mean-spirited in his blurb?) And if you are NeoReformed/Fundamentalists, then you believe that the only true evangelicals are those that believe in double predestination and you have a win-at-all-costs mentality that seeks to demonize your opponents! This simply doesn’t follow. John Piper, Don Carson, Al Mohler, David Wells, etc. certainly don’t think this sort of thing. Even if you disagree with their theology and their methodology, McKnight’s description is still a pretty stunning caricature. None of them believes that if you reject double predestination that you are not an evangelical and must be kicked off the village green. Some marginal folks believe this, but not these men.

I want to be open to critique, and I know these other men do to. But honestly, McKnight–who has frequently complained about statements about Emergent/ing that don’t make distinctions and paint with broad brush strokes–is doing the same in spades. In addition, he’s publicly caricaturing his brothers and sisters in Christ and doing so in a rather crude way. I hope he reconsiders.

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Comments:


91 thoughts on “Scot McKnight’s Caricature of the NeoReformed”

  1. DamonTitus says:

    JT,

    I think the key statement in your blog is this (in regaurds to Piper and Mohler’s attitudes)

    “Some marginal folks believe this, but not these men.”

    It just seems that he’s taking the fringe, and is making it representative of the whole…

  2. 10ThirtyOneToGlory says:

    Good commentary, Justin, on an interesting topic in the evangelical blogoshere. It does sneakily smell of him doing what he is accusing others of doing. As a sidebar, but still related…while I hold to a reformed theology myself too, I wonder if it would help if the T4G conference and other like conferences had individuals speak there that do not hold to a reformed theology to show that we are truly together for the gospel. Just a thought.

  3. rivercityrevolution says:

    Amen, Justin! I wrote a response as well.

    I hear the so-called Neo Reformed leaders like Mark Driscoll praise Arminian pastors all the time.

    Moreover, does he really think that the only people who have taken strong exception to N.T. Wright’s work on justification are Calvinists?

  4. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “But honestly, McKnight–who has frequently complained about statements about Emergent/ing that don’t make distinctions and paint with broad brush strokes–is doing the same in spades.”

    And honestly, while being careful in my choice of words here, Scot McKnight is being a hypocrite in this matter.

    In addition, he’s publicly caricaturing his brothers and sisters in Christ and doing so in a rather crude way.

    Scot McKnight should be deeply ashamed of his crude caricaturing of his brothers and sisters in Christ.

  5. Misha DX says:

    Good, well-balanced and fair observations. I hope that McKnight reconsiders as well.

  6. Exod1636 says:

    Scot has had issues with Carson that go back at least through his days at TEDS. I’ve sat in enough classes of his to hear injudicious comments. More that likely they banged heads when they were in the NT Department together. They both have very different personalities.

    On the Emergent/Emerging Church issue they find themselves on opposing sides. I hope he slows down a little before he says something publicly he’ll regret.

  7. Dave Burkum says:

    Yes, everyone in favor of kicking McKnight off the village green, say “Aye!”

    Scot is a good guy. I think you make some good points, Justin, and I trust Scot does too.

  8. aboulet.com says:

    In certain ways I think Scot is being too kind. I’ve lived with these NeoReformed people for the past few years. If I was going to describe them on a blog I would have a hard time doing so in a Christian way.

    I don’t think it is fair, JT, to claim that Scot is speaking about someone (such as Piper, et. al.) if he hasn’t explicitly named them. Perhaps he has some of these men in mind; but perhaps he doesn’t and you have misread him. It would probably be best to wait until Scot actually names names (if he chooses to do so) before you knock about claiming that he is demonizing or caricaturing people he hasn’t even named.

    Just a thought.

  9. Karl says:

    I think John Frame would understand what Scot McKnight is saying. I don’t think Frame is looking at just the “fringe” when in his article “Machen’s Warrior Children,” on the Frame-Poythress website linked on your blogroll, Frame says in conclusion:

    Observations

    1. I have enumerated 21 areas of conflict occurring in American conservative Reformed circles from 1936 to the present. [65] Under some of those headings I have mentioned subdivisions, subcontroversies. Most of these controversies have led to divisions in churches and denominations, harsh words exchanged between Christians. People have been told that they are not Reformed, even that they have denied the Gospel. Since Jesus presents love as what distinguishes his disciples from the world (John 13:34-35), this bitter fighting is anomalous in a Christian fellowship. Reformed believers need to ask what has driven these battles. To what extent has this controversy been the fruit of the Spirit, and to what extent has it been a work of the flesh?

    2. The Machen movement was born in the controversy over liberal theology. I have no doubt that Machen and his colleagues were right to reject this theology and to fight it. But it is arguable that once the Machenites found themselves in a “true Presbyterian church” they were unable to moderate their martial impulses. Being in a church without liberals to fight, they turned on one another.

    3. One slogan of the Machen movement was “truth before friendship.” We should laud their intention to act according to principle without compromise. But the biblical balance is “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). We must not speak the truth without thinking of the effect of our formulations on our fellow Christians, even our opponents. That balance was not characteristic of the Machen movement. [66]

    4. Reformed people need to do much more thinking about what constitutes a test of orthodoxy. Is it really plausible to say that, say, Gordon Clark’s view of incomprehensibility was unorthodox, when neither Clark’s nor Van Til’s positions are clearly set forth in the Reformed confessions? But again and again through the history described above, writers have read one another out of the Reformed movement (and even out of Christianity) on such dubious bases. The assumption seems to be that any difference of opinion amounts to a test of fellowship, that any truth I possess gives me the right to disrupt the peace of the church until everybody comes to agree with me. But surely there are some disagreements that are not tests of orthodoxy, some differences that should be tolerated within the church. Examples include the disagreements over days and the eating of meat described by Paul in Rom. 14, and the disagreements about idol food which he discusses in 1 Cor. 8-10. In those passages, there is no suggestion that people holding the wrong view should be put out of the church. Rather, Paul condemns the party spirit and calls the disagreeing parties to live together as Christian brothers and sisters. In my judgment, the Machen movement thought little about the difference between tolerable and intolerable disagreements in the church.

    5. Scripture often condemns a “contentious” spirit (Prov. 13:10, 18:6, 26:21, Hab. 1:3, 1 Cor. 1:11, 11:16, Tit. 3:9) and commends “gentleness” (2 Cor. 10:1, Gal. 5:22, 1 Thess. 2:7, 2 Tim. 2:24, Tit. 3:2, Jas. 3:17). The Reformed community should give much more attention to these biblical themes.

    6. With many, though not all, of the issues described above it is possible to see the positions as complementary rather than as contradictory. I believe that is true of the Van Til/Clark controversy, the counseling controversy, the Sonship controversy and some others. As I said earlier, I find these positions more persuasive in what they affirm than in what they deny.

    7. With other issues, there are genuine contradictions between the positions of the parties. But even in those cases, I think that often these parties are trying to express complementary biblical truths. Theonomy, for example, emphasizes the continuity between Old and New Testaments, anti-theonomy the discontinuity. A more adequate account will seek to do justice to both.

    8. Overall, the quality of thought displayed in these polemics has not been a credit to the Reformed tradition. Writers have gone to great lengths to read their opponents’ words and motivations in the worst possible sense (often worse than possible) and to present their own ideas as virtually perfect: rightly motivated and leaving no room for doubt. Such presentations are scarcely credible to anybody who looks at the debates with minimal objectivity.

    9. The various anniversary celebrations and official histories in the different Reformed denominational bodies have been largely self-congratulatory. [67] In Reformed circles, we often say that there is no perfect church, that churches as well as individuals are guilty of sin and liable to error. But Reformed writers and teachers seem to find it almost impossible to specify particular sins, even weaknesses, in their own traditions or denominations, particularly in their own partisan groups. A spirit of genuine self-criticism (prelude to a spirit of repentance) is an urgent need.

    10. Nevertheless it is important to remember that there are some theological issues that really are matters of life and death for the church. In the PCUSA as of the time of this writing, there are controversies over whether church officers should be expected to observe biblical standards of sexual fidelity and chastity, over the ordination of homosexuals, and over whether Jesus is the only Lord and Savior. The outrageous fact that such issues can actually be debated within the church places other controversies into perspective. The Confessing Church Movement within the PCUSA is fighting a courageous battle, and they deserve the prayers and encouragement of all Reformed believers.

    11. My assignment was to write on Reformed theology. But I should note that the remedy for the divisions above is not merely better theological formulations. The almost exclusive focus on doctrinal issues in many Reformed circles is itself part of the problem.

  10. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    JT “In today’s post, he comes closer to “naming names”.”

    Aboulet: “It would probably be best to wait until Scot actually names names (if he chooses to do so) before you knock about claiming that he is demonizing or caricaturing people he hasn’t even named.

    Scot McKnight is erecting and then burning strawmen. Not naming names of who he labels as “neo-reformed” is moral cowardice.

  11. JT says:

    Art, I think Scot essentially did name names.

    Karl, Frame may be right and the Reformed may be contentious, but it’s still the case that Scot has ascribed a number of beliefs to people who don’t hold to them. That’s bearing false witness.

    JT

  12. elderjohn says:

    “Those who were all riled up about the blurb are the NeoReformed — ironically, they were wondering who I had in mind when I used “NeoReformed” in the blurb. I thought that was obvious.”

    He expects us to know who he is talking about. Therefore, I think it is completely fair to speak about these people although he has not explicitly named them. If we have missed the “obvious” then hopefully Scot will help us out.

  13. Daniel says:

    JT and other responders, I am confused by your reading of Dr. McKnight. I may be reading him wrong, but this is how I understood the post:

    He defines the Neo-Reformed as those who want to make Reformed theology the only form of Evangelicalism. He does not mention Piper, Carson, Mohler etc. In his posts McKnight does not mention these men, and if we agree that they do not want to define Evangelicalism this way, why are we identifying them with McKnight’s Neo-Reformed term. They obviously do not fit into his category and he certainly did not mention them as those who would be among such a designation.

    It seems that when he discusses the post and comments of his blurb and says that it was obvious who the Neo-Reformed were, he again did not mean the aforementioned Evangelical leaders, but those who were commenting on the post and assuming that he meant those men. This would seem to follow better:

    The commentators assumed he meant the Evangelical leaders. The Evangelical leaders are Reformed. Since he rejects Reformed Evangelical leaders he rejects Evangelicalism. Therefore the commentators who said these things would fall into the Neo-Reformed term and not the Evangelical leaders.

    I think it best to allow McKnight definition of his own term rest. If his term Neo-Reformed means those who only think Reformed theology should be considered Evangelicalism then those who do not think this are not Neo-Reformed according to McKnight.

    This definition seems to rule out many of those who have been suggested as McKnight’s referents. So why not let his definition speak for itself?

  14. aboulet.com says:

    Art, I think Scot essentially did name names.

    Right, I understand your point. But when you get down to it, he didn’t actually name names…which is my point.

  15. Luke says:

    JT,

    I think it’s wrong for you to “assume” who Scot is talking about and post a long blog post about names he never named. Scot is mainly speaking about the movement, not the individuals, and that’s what we should be focusing on. You show the spirit of the “Neo-reformed” by doing this, and he evidently hit a nerve with you. So maybe you need to ask yourself if you might be one who he’s speaking about. I don’t think there’s any denying that the movement is very real and very prevalent. You’re the one bearing the false witness by naming names that Scot never mentioned, assuming he’s speaking about exactly those people. Some of these leaders may fuel the fire for the “Neo-reformed” and their rhetoric is sometimes disturbing, but I believe Scot is talking more about the young people and the movement more so than the scholars you mentioned. So basically, bad move with the assumptions, and bad move with calling Scot out for “bearing a false witness,” because you’re taking up the spirit of the “Neo-reformed” when you do stuff like that, which doesn’t surprise me one bit.

  16. JM says:

    Oh, the pettiness of evangelicalism…

    Get ‘em ‘Truth Unites and Divides’. You tell ‘em!

  17. michael says:

    How find discover the Neo-reformed. (1) Say something provocative and attack straw men. It helps to mention something about NT Wright and/or emergent stuff. (2) Those who give any negative response (even if they don’t exclude you from evangelicalism, which is a keynote of the Neo-reformed) are indeed the Neo-reformed. It’s that easy.

  18. Frank Turk says:

    My opinion is that Dr. McKnight is like all of us in this respect: he says what he means the first time, and often that doesn’t quite come out as nuanced or informed as it might be if we considered our biases and our immediate goals.

    However,unlike some of us, Dr. McKnight is either unable or unwilling to offer an apology when he screws up. My hope for him is that he can find it in himself to be as humble as he demands others should be.

  19. Tony E says:

    It seems his main beef is with the Together for the Gospel crowd – who are all reformed. He takes that to mean that the gospel is Calvinism and if we have a meeting of like minded people and don’t invite him we are mean and exclusionary.

    He also misses the larger point that complimentarianism is more about biblical authority than it is about men and women, and we exclude these people because they don’t hold that scripture is infallible. Calvinism shouldn’t exclude you from evangelicalism but denial Biblical authority should.

  20. D.C. Cramer says:

    Perhaps it takes being on the outside of the neo-Reformed movement to appreciate the importance of McKnight’s criticisms here. As a former TEDS student, I can say that there were definitely times when professors and students marginalized those with differing views, especially if those students were women.

    Take the Gospel Coalition, for example, which clearly proscribes and excludes any view outside of their Reformed, complimentarian perspective. Of course, if you already agree with their views, this probably doesn’t seem problematic in any way. But if you have misgivings with their Calvinism and/or their complimentarianism, then their self-definition as defenders of the ‘true gospel’ does indeed seem to be hedging a fence around their corner of evangelicalism!

    I suspect McKnight’s (so far) refusal to name names is not to set up straw men, but rather to be charitable to particular individuals while addressing a larger trend. And since most of the Reformed leaders tend to be careful enough in their presentation, the real effect of their exclusion is seen most explicitly through their anonymous followers (who post 75 comments on blogs) than from the mouths of the leaders themselves. This, I think, is one of Scot’s points.

    That’s not to say that Scot shouldn’t be careful with his own presentation. But please try to appreciate where he is coming from before rushing to dismiss his critiques.

  21. JT says:

    Please keep in mind that McKnight gave very specific beliefs held by this group (in addition to judging their motives). It’s not just that this group is cranky or too exclusionary or draws the boundaries too tight. Rather, they think you cannot be a non-Reformed evangelical. For prominent Reformed leaders, that’s a straw man.

    As for the naming names thing–McKnight himself used it about a response by Wright to very specific people. Further, he singled out me and those who disagreed with his blurb. He himself said it’s “obvious” to whom he is referring.

    JT

  22. TD says:

    I appreciate Scot’s larger point and take this as a rebuke of some of my actions (and a necessary rebuke at that).

    That said, my introduction to the word ‘Neo Reformed’ came from the back of NT Wright’s book. I think that blurb was not the appropriate place to make such a comment and it is destroying his ability to communicate the larger point. I think if we were to take away the book blurb from the context, a lot of the frustrations with him would disappear. I think a lot of us read into the blurb Piper and Carson as it seems appropriate to do so. This may not have been the intention of Scot, but it was indirectly communicated and if that is not what he meant, he should make efforts to clarify things. I think it is ruining our ability to see some of the validity in the things he says.

    At least, that is all my take on it. I’ve been very wrong about things before, and I’m sure I’ll be very wrong again. I’m just glad this post came shortly after the post entitled ‘Ephesians 4:29 and Blogging’. Wholly appropriate!

  23. D.C. Cramer says:

    JT,

    I guess the question is, would it be more charitable for McKnight to say: by neo-Reformed, I mean specifically Don Carson, John Piper, JT, and Mark Driscoll, among others.

    I think not. Even if there is insinuation in his comments, leaving it ambiguous allows each reader to evaluate whether or not he or she fits his definition: Do I exclude others? Am I uncharitable? Have I defined ‘gospel’ too narrowly? If you can honestly answer ‘no’ and those who know you well agree, then he must not be referring to you specifically. Perhaps he’s referring to others who comment on your blog, etc.

  24. Daniel says:

    JT, I do not mean to be rude, so forgive me if it sounds such, but you seem to ignore the point of comments of those who do not agree with you.

    “Rather, they think you cannot be a non-Reformed evangelical. For prominent Reformed leaders, that’s a straw man.”

    Its not a straw-man if he does not mean the prominent Reformed leaders, which is what I tried to say in my last comment. If he talking about those who only want to cause trouble and exclude everyone who is not Reformed than he is not talking about those Reformed leaders.

    “As for the naming names thing–McKnight himself used it about a response by Wright to very specific people. Further, he singled out me and those who disagreed with his blurb. He himself said it’s “obvious” to whom he is referring.”

    Again, as I said in my last comment the “obvious” should be understood as you and those who commented on your previous post assuming he was talking about the leading Reformed Evangelicals, when it seems as though he was not. I might disagree with McKnight, as I would not put you in the Neo-Reformed camp because I do not think you think only Reformed people are evangelicals, but I think your and the previous commentators reflect what he means by your actions, because you misinterpret McKnight and therefore reject him for something he really was not saying. I think if you were to simply take his definition of Neo-Reformed at face value and read into it, then you would be in more agreement with him.

    Tony E: As a thorough going complimentarian I think you don’t understand McKnight and others view of egalitarianism. They do not think that the Bible is wrong about male/female issues. They interpret them differently (I think you and I would agree they interpret incorrectly) but that does not mean they reject Biblical authority. They think the Bible is still the absolute authority, they just think it says something different (even if we think they are wrong).

  25. Daniel says:

    DC Cramer I think you nailed it on the head! I totally agree!

  26. JT says:

    Daniel,

    Nope, not taking you as rude. Thanks for your comment. I meant to respond. I disagree with your read on it.

    I think McKnight has problems with what he discerns to be a certain “spirit.” But then he overreaches to add some “teeth” to it, giving very specific beliefs (and of course motives).

    So that’s why there’s an illogical jump in his comments: he says anyone who was “riled up” at his blurb is “NeoReformed”–but of course you can be frustrated with his label/accusation and still think that Arminians can be evangelicals! But that too is part of Scot’s definition.

    Scot clearly has people in mind and he thinks it’s “obvious” whom he’s referring to. So I’d be interested in hearing some names of these people who think that only people who believe in double predestination should be considered evangelicals.

    Thanks,
    JT

  27. greenbaggins says:

    Spot on target, JT. I have not read Wright’s newest book yet. I have read Piper, and I have read Doug Wilson’s review so far of Wright’s book. I think Scot has gone too far in his characterizations.

  28. rivercityrevolution says:

    Daniel,

    I’m confused. McKnight clearly refers to the Reformed view’s rise in popularity, which is due to Driscoll, Chandler, Keller, Mohler, Piper, Carson, etc.

    So, if he is not talking about them then who is he talking about and if it is a handful of bloggers that no one reads then why is McKnight spending so much time on them?

    Also, he is clearly disturbed by “attacks” on Bishop Wright and the only ones who have leveled cogent criticism have been…well…Carson, Mohler, Duncan, etc.

    Again, if he is not talking about them then I am confused.

  29. Brad Jones says:

    There are a lot of complexities to this topic as a whole. I am from NC in an area that doesn’t have too many “Young, Restless and Reformed” people, as I here many areas do. With that said, I do not know nor understand a lot of the issues going on in this area.

    One thing I would note is that there is a rather large difference between the Arminianism taught by people such as John Wesley and the Arminianism taught in most churches today. The Arminianism taught by John Wesley is so similar to Calvinism that even Wesley acknowledged there only being a “hairs difference” between his theology and the theology of others, say, John Calvin. I do think that there is a large cry going out against unbiblical Pelagianistic Christianity, and often Reformed people paint all non-reformed people as unbiblical Pelagianists. Many Arminians also do a terrible job of characterizing Calvinists, as in my experience, neither “side” actually understands what the other is saying. Perhaps evangelicals should take a note from Jonathan Edwards, as Edwards did an excellent job of understanding his opponents views and was thereby able to effectively engage the “other side” to help them see what the Scriptures actually say.

    Personally, I will delight in the day that the methods of Charles Finney and a Pelagianistic “Christianity” are no more. However, I am not going to be one to be ungracious with others in being a part of helping people to know Christ in a more biblical way. I was an “angry Calvinist” at one time but have come to the realization that if I do have any insight into the Scripture at all, it is the gift of the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with me. People that don’t know certain doctrines don’t know them because they have not recieved them. I cannot fault people for not giving what they don’t have.

    The reality is that both Reformed and non-reformed people do a heck of a job of painting the other side with broad strokes a lot of the time. It is great to be doctrinally right, and I do believe that doctrine is of upmost important, but I do remember the words of 1 John that tells us that if we hate our brothers, we are still in darkness.

    It doesn’t matter if we are Arminians or Calvinists: if we hate our brothers, the truth is not in us.

    And that my dear friends, is the heart of the matter. Let us press on to know the LORD and asks Him for grace to cleanse our own wretched hearts before we go out trying to spout anything about “those terrible” Arminians or Calvinists or whatever else they may be.

  30. Aaron says:

    Perhaps those of us who are concerned about the broad brush in play here could take a lead from Kevin DeYoung and define what exactly we mean by Reformed (which will be different for different folks) so as to distance ourselves from some of the caricatures used by Mr. McKnight.

    http://www.revkevindeyoung.com/2009/02/what-i-mean-by-reformed.html

    Aaron

  31. D.C. Cramer says:

    JT,

    (Sorry to keep posting, but this has sparked my interest today.)

    Your defense so far has been slightly ambiguous. By calling for Scot to ‘name names’ and calling his criticisms a ‘caricature’ or ‘straw man’, it seems that you could mean one of two things:

    (a) that those people Scot insinuates in his comments don’t actually fit the phenomenon he describes (i.e., ‘name names’ so we can explain why the shoe doesn’t fit), or

    (b) that the phenomenon Scot describes doesn’t really exist (i.e., this is just a ‘caricature’ devised in Scot’s imagination).

    If your argument is (a), then my earlier comments seem to apply. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it! If your argument is (b), then I’m afraid there is much evidence to the contrary. The phenomenon of exclusionary, narrow, and mean-spirited younger Reformed people is very real indeed. Yes, there are many Reformed complimentarians who are charitable, open-minded, and gracious too, but pointing that out simply goes back to (a) and ignores (b).

  32. Daniel says:

    JT,
    I agree it is the spirit that he is mainly responding to, I am glad we agree there. I also agree he does give a specific example: You and the commentators on the previous post. He says:

    “Those who were all riled up about the blurb are the NeoReformed — ironically, they were wondering who I had in mind when I used “NeoReformed” in the blurb. I thought that was obvious.”

    So here he identifies you and the commentators as the Neo-Reformed. I think he does that because you (plural) assumed his blurb meant the Reformed leaders. I think he means that you, because of your assumption that he was meaning those Reformed leaders, are the “obvious.”

    I also do not think you should understand each different characteristic of his description as all encompassing. By that I mean he is not saying that, you (again plural) who he described as Neo-Reformed because you assumed he meant the Reformed leaders, require double imputation for Evangelicalism. I was your assumption of what he meant in his blurb that prompted him to put you in the Neo-Reformed camp, I do not think he would then also say that therefore means you believe double imputation is required for Evangelicalism.

    rivercityrevolution,
    I do not think McKnight is referring to the rise in Reformed popularity. I think his post makes that clear. He disagrees with Reformed theology in certain places but his problem in this post is those who say Reformed theology is the only way to be Evangleical. Driscoll, Chandler, Keller, Mohler, Piper, Carson and other do not think this, he does not name them so you should not think he is referring to them.

    I think he is referring to the bloggers who make up the spirit that Reformed theology is the only Evangelicalism. You say no one reads them, but that is not true. McKnight is heavily involved in the blog world and there is much of this present. He is disturbed by “attacks” on Wright, not critiques. Carson, Moo, Mohler, even Piper critique Wright, they do not attack him. However, there are many bloggers who do attack him Wright. I think it is clear that is it is those people McKnight is talking about.

  33. JT says:

    DC,

    I’ll give it a quick stab.

    Your defense so far has been slightly ambiguous. By calling for Scot to ‘name names’ and calling his criticisms a ‘caricature’ or ‘straw man’, it seems that you could mean one of two things:(a) that those people Scot insinuates in his comments don’t actually fit the phenomenon he describes (i.e., ‘name names’ so we can explain why the shoe doesn’t fit), or(b) that the phenomenon Scot describes doesn’t really exist (i.e., this is just a ‘caricature’ devised in Scot’s imagination).

    I would hold to both and b.

    If your argument is (a), then my earlier comments seem to apply. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it!

    The reason that doesn’t work is that is that he included anyone “riled up” as having the shoe fitting. So the shoe fits, but then Scot says that the shoe has all sort of other terrible scuff marks that I reject!

    If your argument is (b), then I’m afraid there is much evidence to the contrary. The phenomenon of exclusionary, narrow, and mean-spirited younger Reformed people is very real indeed.

    Amen. I do, after all, read Reformed blog comments! :) As I said in my post, this is certainly a big problem. But, as I also said, McKnight is going beyond talking about bad attitudes and ascribing specific beliefs. As I mentioned, some marginal folks hold to this, but not the main leaders.

    Does that help?

    JT

  34. JT says:

    Oops. DC, I didn’t mean to say that (b) wasn’t true. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

  35. Daniel says:

    I hate blogging it is so hard to keep up! This will be may last, I have to go to class!

    JT you said:

    “The reason that doesn’t work is that is that he included anyone “riled up” as having the shoe fitting.”

    Right, those who were all riled up were you and the other bloggers, not the Reformed leaders so often mentioned. And the only reason you were riled up and therefore used as an example is because you assumed he meant the Reformed leaders i the blurb, when he did not.

    By the way, even in the midst of this debate, this is one of my favorite blogs, thanks for all the great audio and online resources you post. And while my comments may betray me, I am quite reformed myself, and I agree with you 90% of the time!

  36. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    JT: “…but it’s still the case that Scot has ascribed a number of beliefs to people who don’t hold to them. That’s bearing false witness.

    Luke: “You’re the one bearing the false witness by naming names that Scot never mentioned, assuming he’s speaking about exactly those people. … So basically, bad move with the assumptions, and bad move with calling Scot out for “bearing a false witness,” because you’re taking up the spirit of the “Neo-reformed” when you do stuff like that, which doesn’t surprise me one bit.”

    I wonder how King Solomon would adjudicate this. I don’t see how cutting the baby in half could work in this instance.

  37. rivercityrevolution says:

    Daniel,

    We must agree to disagree. I travel throughout the country fairly regularly meeting with Christian leaders, I maintain a site, help with a church plant and spend many a sleepless nights prowling the various Christian blogs and I still have no idea who McKnight is speaking of if he is not speaking of the "Young, Restless & Reformed" bunch.

    If he is speaking of those who "attacked" his blurb on Wright or those who regularly comment on his own blog at Beliefnet then he (and you) are mistaken to think that they belong to some type of "movement." They're just people with too much time on their hands!

    Few young people in Reformed circles say, "forget Matt Chandler or Keller's latest book, I've got to know more about what BURNSERVATUS has to say! Did you read his comment on the blurb over at the Christian publisher's web page! You know, the one that gets like 10 hits a day! Awesome!!!"

    Sorry to be flippant but I just don't see it.

  38. Jason says:

    All in all, I think there’s some truth in McKnight’s stated concerns. But then again, I would also say he’s significantly overstating things. He’s painting with a very broad—indeed, too broad—of a brush. As an evangelical insider who is not a Calvinist, I have to say that I share a bit of Scot’s perspective. There are times and places (e.g., TG4) where the acceptance of Reformed doctrine is set forth as necessary to truly stand for the Gospel—or even to be a small part of a great movement like this. Can Arminians also not come together to stand for the Gospel? I struggle with this, as a pastor committed to Gospel-centered preaching and ministry who nevertheless embraces a modified Reformed (Arminian) theological perspective.

  39. ryan says:

    Here is the comment I left on Scot’s blog. I only post it here because I think conversation about such matters is helpful but only if offer clarity instead of ambiguous generalizations.

    “I worry though without naming names or organizations in your post if you only incite speculation about who these “neoreformed” are. Which only leads to more rock throwing and demonetization by those who are just as intolerant of Reformed theology as some reformed people are of those who are not reformed. Does that make sense?

    I am not trying to stir up a hornets nest hear, but I really did not read any specifics in your article about who, what, and why you are making the claims you are making.

    Being a person who embraces reformed theology, but tries to walk in humility and grace to all my Christian brothers and sisters, I would say that I have faced just as much vitriol and intolerance from other groups of the evangelical community. I also wonder if what you are sensing is more a sense of “passion” and dedicated mission than intolerance and fundamentalism. In some conversations I’ve had with those outside the Reformed camp what really irks them is the massive success of some young Reformed movements in church planting, converts, and mission advancement.

    Now of course you can always find the caricature of the angry hyper-Calvinist that is ready to condemn everyone who does not align with his 7 points of Calvinism to Hell, but I think that is missing the big “E” on the eye chart. There are some very loving, passionate, mission-oriented reformed people right now who are having a tremendous impact in loving their cities, and communities.”

  40. Tony E says:

    The problem is not that egalitarians don’t pay lip service to biblical authority but that their “interpretation” techniques deny it. The main arguments used by egalitarians do not come from the text but from claiming that the text had a cultural that is no longer relevant today based on our now superior culture. There is a reason why churches that ordain women tend to be the most liberal in theology. It is not by accident that so many (although not all) egalitarians are the first to be ok with homosexuality. The interpretation techniques used to defend egalitarianism are the same used to defend homosexuality. They say that they believe in biblical authority but the way they interpret the bible denies that claim.

  41. Adam Omelianchuk says:

    I think Scot’s remarks go quite a bit farther than a simple blurb on a back of a book that is implicitly insulting some highly regarded Calvinists. It is tapping to the “boundaried-set” –“centered set” controversy over what defined evangelicalism. It is absolutely true that the Reformed want evangelicalism to be defined by boundaries, and it is not uncommon for them to name names as to who is in and who is out. If you are an egalitarian or an open theist you are on a “new path” to liberalism and or “beyond the bounds” of Christian orthodoxy. Further, those that interpret justification along Wright’s lines are said to be undermining the gospel (Piper). And you can’t undermine the gospel and be an evangelical.

    Those who believe in a centered set like Roger Olson or Scot McKnight believe a few core doctrines–Lewis’ idea of Mere Christainity–defines covering of the “big tent.” I agree that the Reformed are eroding the big tent with their boundary keeping. Some see that as a positive thing, but others don’t.

  42. niles says:

    I would certainly take exception to the way “neo” calvinists are portrayed by McKnight. Quite similar to taking the exception as the rule. The rant against the unnamed “neo” calvinists really makes no points other than, these people aren’t loving and gracious to other views – as though all other world views are.

    Each house in the village will have the louder prideful brother, and that brother should be lovingly rebuked. Not taken as representative.

    If one would acknowledge the pervasive topics of reformed theology, he would understand why the Gospel Coalition or other conferences might only invite leaders of the reformed conviction. Its speaks to more than double predestination. However, the GC includes both PCA and BGC pastors – thus it is in fact inclusive of different doctrinal views. But a line of certain convictions must be drawn at some point.

  43. Tony E says:

    Adam,

    I think you are right that reformed people want boundaries on what is and isn’t evangelical. Where McKnight is wrong is that Reformed people (at least none I know of) want to make reformed theology that boundary.

  44. Daniel says:

    I should not be posting during class…this has sucked me in to far…

    rivercityrevolution – I cannot speak to your experience but I would look at JT’s understanding that there are such people out their, but I agree with that most Reformed leaders are not this way.

    Tony E – We should probably not get into a big hermeneutical discussion on the this post, but it is hard to say that the way egalitarians intperet sex issues is rejecting Biblical authority becuase they appeal to a old culture. Even the most conservative of us, you and I included, do the same in our interpreations, we just think the teachings on sexuality do have concrete connections to all times.

  45. Stéphane K says:

    Thanks Justin for this good post (I haven’t taken the time to read the other comments, but I’m sure there is nothing original in my saying that…).
    But I do want to say: Who’s McKnight? :-)

  46. ryan says:

    Hey Daniel,

    Without diving to deeply into a hermeneutic discussion, I think Tony’s point still stands. Just looking at the empirical data of which denominations and churches have the highest percentage of the ordination of women and then embracing more liberal theology and homosexuality, one must at least admit there is a statistical link.

    Modern church history of the last hundred years of the mainline denominations gives a strong indicator that often, not always, the ordination of women later leads to a doctrinal understanding that embraces more liberal theology.

    But then again that is not the topic here. And I think it bears mentioning that Scot does not at all interact with the fact that the so-called “neoreformed” movement has produced much good and plants more churches, proportionally, than any other evangelical group right now.

  47. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Tony E.: “It seems his main beef is with the Together for the Gospel crowd – who are all reformed.”

    We won’t know unless he names names. And until he does, he’s setting up fictitious strawmen.

    Be that as it may, pastor John MacArthur has affirmed the T4G coalition. Would Scot McKnight label John MacArthur “neo-Reformed”?

    And speaking of Adam O’s reference to a boundary-set and center-set, what would Scot McKnight and his affirmation and endorsement of the emerg*** embrace of postmodernism think of MacArthur’s comments here:

    “The reason behind postmodernism’s contempt for propositional truth is not difficult to understand. A proposition is an idea framed as a logical statement that affirms or denies something, and it is expressed in such a way that it must be either true or false. There is no third option between true and false. (This is the “excluded middle” in logic.) The whole point of a proposition is to boil a truth-statement down to such a pristine clarity that it must either be affirmed or denied. In other words, propositions are the simplest expressions of truth value used to express the substance of what we believe. Postmodernism, frankly, cannot endure that kind of stark clarity.”

  48. gavinsdomain says:

    Does McKnight have a new book out or something:)?

    But seriously…

    1. As a reader of this blog for several years, McKnight’s (round-a-bout) lumping JT in with the “neo-reformed” is laughable.

    2. I get where McKnight is coming from…but his comments are exaggerated.

  49. Daniel says:

    Ryan,
    I understand the point of stats, but I don’t think it’s too valid because the vast majority of liberals are also paedobaptists. That certainly does not mean that paedobaptism leads to liberalism at all. It is simply one of way of interpreting the text, it ma be right or it may be wrong, but it is an interpretation that wants to be faithful to the text and come under its authority. In the same way, some egalitarians really do think the Bible teaches egalitarianism (again I think they are wrong), that does not mean they do not believe in the authority of the Bible. Consider Gordon Fee, a man deeply committed to Biblical authority, but yet he interprets the NT and is an egalitarian. But I think JT might get annoyed if we make this into a hermeneutics post.

    Your statement about church planting assumes that the Neo-Reformed are equal to the growing number of young Reformed people. Again, I think this is not what McKnight means. Neo-Reformed does not equal New/Young Reformed. Refer to his actual definition of the term.

  50. heidelblog says:

    As one of Machen’s Warrior Children and happily so, I heartily agree with Mike’s “Village Green” metaphor. This approach is the way to move beyond the question of “who is in charge of evangelicalism?” If it’s just a place to talk then no one is “in charge.” It’s ironic, however, that in that dialogue Roger Olson rejected the metaphor in favor of “the big tent”? Why? Because, arguably, the evangelical latitudinarians (e.g. Roger, Scot, and Frame) are now “in charge” of what remains of the movement.

    Further, we ought to consider Darryl Hart’s argument that there really is no such thing as “evangelicalism. There are too many particulars and not enough universals among contemporary evangelicals to form a coherent theological movement.

    We’re the Reformed confessionalists “contentious” in the 20th century? It depends upon who’s defining “contentious.” Pietists define it one way and confessionalists another. In the 20th century the effects of Modernity began to transform the American culture and mainline churches.

    That transformation created a more obvious antithesis between historic, confessional Reformed Christianity and the proposed alternatives. Working out and through those pressures created conflict.

    One could argue that being contentious is obviously wrong but that “contending for the faith” (Jude 3; 1 Tim 6:12) is necessary and even required by holy Scripture.

    Father Machen used to say, “fortiter in re, suaviter in modo (“strongly in substance, winningly in manner”). Contemporary evangelicalism seem to have given up the “fortiter” bit and Scot and his allies are dreading dangerously close to falling away from the “suaviter” bit.

    Scott Clark
    Westminster Seminary California

  51. Tony E says:

    The reason why I brought up egalitarianism was because McKnight uses it as an example of how the mean neo-reformers exclude people for petty theological differences. However, the desire for boundaries is that reformed people don’t want theological liberals to be included in the evangelical hallway. Now we have “neo-liberals” (i.e. emergent and egalitarian charismatics – neither group being paedobaptists) who pay lip service to traditional evangelical views but in practice deny them. The reason for their exclusion is not that they are not reformed (as McKnight argues), it is because they hold many of the theologically liberal positions and have more in common with mainline denominations than with traditional evangelicals. They left us theologically and now complain we are asking them to leave our hallway.

  52. Daniel says:

    Tony,
    Sure, I agree. I guess what I was saying is that egalitarianism (as wrong as I think it is) does not equal liberal. I have no problem excluding “real” liberals from the Evangelical tent. Those who deny resurrection, miracles; are universalists or think Christianity is about being a nice person and not radical Jesus discipleship. I would say those are the real liberals and would agree they are not Evangelical and would have not problem excluding them.

  53. SACRED FRENZY says:

    JT, I think you are right to note that “McKnight–who has frequently complained about statements about Emergent/ing that don’t make distinctions and paint with broad brush strokes–is doing the same in spades.”

    However, there is an important distinction that is overlooked here. When critics painted the emerging church with broad brush strokes, it was because virtually all of its leaders used the term without really defining it: Jones, Kimball, McLaren, etc. identified themselves with the label, didn’t define it very carefully, and the result was broad brush strokes by critics. What is happening here, though, is that a critic has used the Neo-Reformed label to identify a group which does not identify itself that way. As such, Dr. McKnight, in assigning a label to the Neo-Reformed, is not allowing them to define themselves. Given such an uncharitable definition of Neo-Reformed, is anyone willing to identify themselves as among them?

  54. Michael R. Jones says:

    I certainly don’t agree with everything Scot McKnight said, but when he said that some don’t realize that God’s grace is to make us gracious he was correct.

    The current “Reformed” generation is often just plain nasty, both in person and on the web, and no matter how right you are, there’s no call for that.

  55. donsands says:

    “The current “Reformed” generation is often just plain nasty, both in person and on the web, and no matter how right you are, there’s no call for that.”

    And so to the non-reformed can be nasty.

    There’s enough nastiness to go around in both camps methinks.

  56. Gary says:

    The current “Reformed” generation is often just plain nasty, both in person and on the web, and no matter how right you are, there’s no call for that.

    There’s something about the anonymity of the web that encourages such nastiness — I myself partook of it when I was younger and slightly more foolish. At the same time, as heated as the Christian blogs can get, they are worlds more civil than something at Yahoo or CNN.

    Perhaps it’s not so much the reformed specifically, but it’s the young specifically. The “reformed” part just makes them an easier target for the non-reformed.

  57. whatchrislikes says:

    Well, I’m coming in waaaaay late, but let me just say that as I began reading through these comments, I was really expecting more name-calling, etc. and I was pleasantly surprised that (for the most part) it seems like most of us read and took to heart the Eph 4.29 post from Dr. Mounce yesterday. It’s so nice to read through a long comment thread without ending up angry.

    Tony,

    I think what McKnight may have been getting at in his poke at complimentarians (and the “peripheral doctrines” comment in general) is that many people take something like complimentarianism and say that if you don’t agree with the doctrine, you obviously don’t agree with biblical infallibility. It seems to discount the fact that there are godly and intelligent people who have searched the Scriptures and have come to different conclusions. The same thing, I would say, happened here at Westminster Seminary when some people were labeled as not caring about the Scripture when they found themselves in agreement with some conclusions of higher criticism.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t lump you in with the “neo-reformed” (or TR) camp just because of the opinions you’ve expressed. I agree with JT that I think McKnight was thinking more about the “spirit” or attitude that some Reformed folks have, rather than their specific beliefs necessarily.

    I’m typing this quickly before I’ve gotta run out so I hope that all made sense and wasn’t too redundant of what other people have said.

    Chris

  58. Andrew Faris says:

    Isn’t McKnight, at least a little bit, doing exactly what he says the NeoReformed shouldn’t, namely using really harsh language for Christians he disagrees with?

  59. Gary says:

    Isn’t McKnight, at least a little bit, doing exactly what he says the NeoReformed shouldn’t, namely using really harsh language for Christians he disagrees with?

    Yes, but they started it first.

    Per the playground rules, that makes it OK.

  60. Jeremy says:

    DC Cramer,

    You said, “But if you have misgivings with their Calvinism and/or their complimentarianism, then their self-definition as defenders of the ‘true gospel’ does indeed seem to be hedging a fence around their corner of evangelicalism!”

    Read Carson’s message at the Gospel Coalition last year on 1 Corinthians 15 and the gospel. The things he says the “true gospel” is can be affirmed by every self-professed Evangelical. They are by no means hedging a fence around the Neo-Reformed gospel. Just because someone has a distinctive (and we all do), doesn’t mean fences are hedged. When Carson wrote a blurb on the back of “Young, Restless, and Reformed” he commended the movement not because it was Reformed or Calvinistic, but because it was biblical. The issues that Carson disagrees with McKnight on are not really Neo-Reformed vs. Non-NeoReformed ones. Carson is concerned that McKnight had made the gospel too big, and that isn’t a Calvinistic vs. Arminian problem necessarily. Piper, on the other hand, is a little bit more willing to call what he thinks is a spade a spade and ruffle some feathers. I wonder if he is following Edwards here, who early in his ministry was concerned that New England pastors were slowly leaving Reformed teaching and wasn’t afraid to confront the issue.

  61. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    JT blog title: “Scot McKnight’s Caricature of the NeoReformed”

    Is Scot McKnight’s caricature of the NeoReformed done out of his anger? Then he might be well-advised to read JT’s blog post:

    “Anger: The Image of Satan”

  62. Nick Parsons says:

    Interesting discussion. Since people are discussing wether or not “neo-reformed” people draw the line of evangelicalism around their own Reformed (read: Calvinistic) and complementarian views, maybe people posting could explain where they draw the line of evangelical orthodoxy.

    This is issue is one of particular importance to me. I am a pastor of a church planting team that holds to complementariansim, innerancy, PSA, justification by faith (we reject NT Wright’s redefinition of the gospel) and yet, we are Arminian.

    When I first found out about the Gospel Coalition, after being deeply troubled by the slide into liberalism (via many in the emergent crowd as well as liberal theologians), I was overjoyed to find a network of Christians who were evangelistically oriented and yet firmly holding to an orthodox confessional statement. Our church planting organization quickly joined the Gospel Coalition and adopted their theological confession as our publicly held statement of beliefs.

    Interestingly though, we have now been removed from the Gospel Coalitions organization list and member map. The only reason I can think of is because of our Arminian beliefs.

    What I am trying to get at is that I understand to some degree what McKnight is talking about (but I neither agree with his theology or the harshness of his critique). I recently heard Mark Driscoll praise Rick Warren at his most recent Acts 29 boot camp saying he was a Christian who they could learn from, yet you have to be a Calvinist to join Acts 29. The Gospel Coalition is supposed to be about creating a network of gospel-centered ministries, yet if you do not define the gospel in Calvinistic terms you will not be an insider, and possibly not even associated with as a member.

    Does this strike anyone as odd? Or at least in some ways consistent with some of what McKnight is saying?

  63. Ben says:

    Interesting post, Nick. I’d love to hear an informed/Reformed response to it.

    One one hand, I mean, TGC does say outright that they are identified with “the Reformed heritage” in the very first sentence of their “Who We Are” webpage. So in that sense, it isn’t that surprising that they don’t want to draw a circle that explicitly includes your own Arminian fellowship. Surely you could not have originally joined TGC while claiming to honestly hold to all the language in section 8 of their confessional statement? In the sense that they obviously mean it, that is?

    On the other hand, excluding someone from “The Gospel Coalition” on the basis that they do not embrace all of the Reformed heritage does get at the heart of what McKnight is saying, in my view. Apart from all this secondary blogger stuff about whether names have been/should be named and whatever – surely this is the central point which needs to be honestly thrashed out. Why didn’t they just call it “The Reformed Coalition”, and be done with it? In that sense, I agree with you that McKnight is alluding towards an issue which needs to be answered by those who self-identify as both Reformed and Evangelical (in the “village green” sense).

  64. Nick Parsons says:

    Thanks for the reply Ben,

    I appreciate your comments. Concerning section 8 of the GC’s confessional statement, I have no issue with any of what is stated in this section and find no problem with statement adequately describing my understanding of justification. I think justification is by grace alone, through faith, I think that faith is a gift from God and I see no problems reconciling that with the free choice of man.

    I abhor the thinking of those who pay lip service to confessions, reinterpreting the points in a manner that would be at odds with the original intent of those who created the confession (like many are currently doing in the Anglican world). I read the GC’s statement and thought that they intentionally constructed it in a way that Arminians could affirm.
    Words like “elect”, “irresistible” and the concept of limited atonement are all absent for the GC’s statement.

    Concerning the use of the word “Reformed”, things are a little fuzzy in my own mind here since the word is both used as a synonym with Calvinism (or an antonym to Arminianism) as well as a more general term for those who tracing their theological linage back to the Reformers (like I do).

    I would love other opinions, maybe from other GC members about where they think Arminians (of my persuasion) stand in relation to the GC as well as if they think they should be included in the “village green” of orthodox evangelicalism.

  65. Ben Peays says:

    Nick, as Executive Director for The Gospel Coalition, please accept my sincere apology for your disappearance from our Network. We changed servers and lost about 10% of our folks. We are slowly adding them back in as we become aware. We are launching an amazing new interface at the April conference that will replace the current Network. Go ahead and resend me your stuff and I will get you added. Please don’t read too deeply into your mysterious disappearance. Happened to a lot of good folks. We love you guys and are so happy that you are part of this effort to promote Christ and the gospel as the center of your lives and ministry. Press on my friend.

  66. Morris Brooks says:

    Why the rock throwing at the Gospel Coalition and T4G? If it is their group aren’t they allowed to invite or exclude those whom they don’t feel belong, and to set their own theological boundaries? And if you don’t like it or disagree, then you don’t have to participate or belong. Surly there is a group you would feel comfortable being around, and who would accept you.

    I haven’t noticed the Emergents inviting anyone from the groups mentioned above to speak at any of their conferences. Why not castigate them for being exclusionary?

  67. Beloved says:

    My experience with the NeoReformed (yes, i think they exist. i think Collin’s book describes a certain portion of them) has been that they are very exclusionary when it comes to partnering in ministry, hosting conferences, etc. They explicitly equate TULIP with the true gospel, and therefore deem everyone else heretics (Pelagians!). Some TEDS profs do this. Several of the Acts 29 guys more or less do this (though at least Darrin Patrick is willing to work with non-Reformed folk through “associations”, even if not “networks.” i like Darrin a lot).

    Everywhere i turn to try to find people with whom to partner in ministry, i run up against people who are Calvinists and not willing to link arms with you (particularly in the area of church planting). You have the pragmatists and egalitarians on one side, and the uncooperative Reformed on the other. What about those of us who are complementarian, evangelical, gospel-driven, covenantal, conditional predestinarians? I just want to be about the Lord’s work, and feel frequently frustrated by all of this. I admire and learn much from many Reformed folk—only they would reciprocate.

    Shalom,

    matt

  68. Beloved says:

    *if only (sorry)

  69. Daniel says:

    Beloved,
    I am confused by your claim that TEDS professors or Acts 29 guys have equated TULIP with the Gospel, or called non-Calvinists Pelegians. Can you give some examples? I listen to Driscoll, Chandler and other Acts 29 guys all the time and I have never heard them say anything like this. Carson is probably the strongest Calvinist at TEDS and I have never heard him say anything like this in any of the dozens of online sermons or in class. When did you hear these guys say things like this?

  70. Ben says:

    Morris – no one’s “throwing rocks” at TGC or T4G. Further, it’s not a question of a groups’ right to set theological boundaries – of course any group can and should do that as they feel is appropriate. The concern here was that you are perceived as somehow having a lesser gospel if you are not operating under the Reformed/Calvinist banner. I must say I was encouraged to see Ben Peays’ clarification above!

  71. Mike Garner says:

    The concern here was that you are perceived as somehow having a lesser gospel if you are not operating under the Reformed/Calvinist banner. I must say I was encouraged to see Ben Peays’ clarification above!

    I guess I must be in the Neo-Reformed crowd, because I do think that much of the semi-pelagian / Finneyism that passes in Protestant churches to today is a lesser gospel.

    Then again, I’m not a complementarian and according to some that means that I deny biblical authority, so maybe I’m not in this group.

    Hmm.

    Okay. Give me / us whatever labels you want, but identify who exactly you are speaking about and then do your best not to make strawmen.

  72. Ben says:

    Mike,

    My comments were in the context of Nick’s concerns regarding his membership of TGC in the light of his theological views; Ben Peays clarified that there was no concern, just a clerical/administrative glitch. Case closed.

  73. Rick Phillips says:

    The debate pertaining to NT Wright does not center on Reformed distinctives. Justification through faith alone is not exclusive property of the Reformed. So in the context of his book blurb, McKnight is slamming the “Neo-Reformed” (he really means the actually Reformed) for insisting that evangelicalism include justification through faith alone. He is certainly right in stating that critics of NTW hold to this position, but he is completely wrong is saying that therefore we insist that all evangelicals be Calvinists. What we are insisting on is not Calvinism but evangelicalism, as generally understood until the recent attempts at revision by the likes of NTW and Scot McKnight.

    The blurb is just another ad hominem attack on Reformed critics of NPP/emergents with the aim of personal marginalization. Ah, what liberty there is when one first annoints oneself with the labels “charitable” and “humble”.

  74. russellveldman says:

    Justin,

    I am a Classical Arminian and can relate a bit to what McKnight is saying. There are Reformed folks who do not consider any non-Reformed Christians as evangelical and don’t want us on the green. Some of the Reformed blogs express clear distain bordering on hatred for Arminians, which suggests to us at times that maybe we should reject the label evangelical for ourselves if it means getting beat up by fellow believers. But I do not think this attitude can be said to characterize all Reformed leaders.

  75. blackreformingkid says:

    In theory McKnight’s words ought not to bother anyone. He clearly is disturbed by the Reformed resurgence and so he wants to make his case as to why he is disturbed by it, which as a self-proclaimed anabaptist

    Dragging it into reality, he makes his case using real bad argumentation and doing that annoying thing of saying names without “saying names”. Surely if you have a problem with certain people, be man enough to do so, as to allow some response.

  76. Matthew says:

    His attack against the so called Neo-Reformed may or may not be accurate. As has been pointed out many times in previous comments, the criticism of Wright have absolutely nothing to do with TULIP or Reformed theology. Anyone who holds to the Reformed Confessions, the Book of Concord, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the London Baptist Confession and numerous other evangelical documents should be alarmed at the teaching being advocated by the NPP proponents. It’s a denial of Sola Fide; not unconditional election, or limited atonement.

    It’s an attack against what largely defines the term “evangelical.” If one can be evangelical and deny Sola Fide, then evangelicalism is truly dead.

  77. Daniel says:

    The talk here about NT Wright is off topic again, but to those who have previously posted about him here saying that he denies justification by faith, I would suggest you reread him. There are several places where what he says can be critiqued or argued, but saying that he denies justification by faith is simply wrong. Argue and critique Wright, but do it on what he says not a false caricature of him.

  78. Saint and Sinner says:

    “There are several places where what he says can be critiqued or argued, but saying that he denies justification by faith is simply wrong. Argue and critique Wright, but do it on what he says not a false caricature of him.”

    Well, of course he believes in ‘justification by faith,’ but that is by using his (i.e. the NPP) definition of ‘justification!’

    By Luther’s definition (which is the historic evangelical position), he most certainly denies the double imputation of sin and righteousness. He substitutes the verdict of the eschatological judgment being declared at the moment of faith with being declared to be in the Covenant. He then adds that our final destiny at the Final Judgment will be as a result of ‘the whole life lived’ in the Spirit.

    The result of his system is so functionally close to Roman Catholicism that RC apologists have started to use NPP arguments to back up their own system!!!

    [Let's not also forget that, in order for the NPP to work, they have to deny the Pauline authorship of Ephesians and Titus.]

  79. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Thank you Saint and Sinner for answering Daniel on his grounds. That was quite instructive.

    By the way, is it really true that in order for NPP to work, they have to deny the Pauline authorship of Ephesians and Titus? I was not aware of that. Is this widely known?

    If they deny Pauline authorship of Ephesians and Titus, what do they propose instead?

    ———

    But getting back to the topic of Scot McKnight’s caricature of the NeoReformed, does anyone think that he will acknowledge that he made a caricature? Because I have read in one of the trackbacks that McKnight should repent. And he can only repent if he acknowledges and owns up to his error. Does anyone think he has the humility to do that?

  80. Morris Brooks says:

    Two terms to remember when dealing with postmoderns are deconstruction and reconstruction. They deconstruct the doctrine and then reconstruct it according to their liking, all while using the same terminology as those who hold to an orthodox understanding. They want to appear like us, to be accepted by us, so as to work in their disbelief alongside the truth. Of course, this is nothing new, as it was spoken of by Peter in II Peter 2:1-3.

    You must always be on the alert to ask them to define the terms they use, and be discerning as to how they use them. Which is why knowledge of the truth is important as it gives you the foundation to discern error.

  81. david mitchel says:

    Saint & Sinner,

    You wrote that for the NPP to work, one has to deny that Paul wrote Ephesians and Titus. Interestingly, N.T. Wright has (more than once) defended the Pauline authorship of Ephesians; not sure what he thinks about the authorship of Titus. Moreover, NTW actually seems to think that Ephesians solidifies his reading of Paul in general. He often poses some form of the question, "What if the reformers had begun with Ephesians and Colossians, then read Romans and Galatians in light of Ephesians and Colossians, rather than the other way round?"

    Not sure what to make of all that, but thought you might like a little data on Wright on Ephesians.

    Peace,
    David

  82. Saint and Sinner says:

    “Interestingly, N.T. Wright has (more than once) defended the Pauline authorship of Ephesians; not sure what he thinks about the authorship of Titus.”

    That is interesting. I do intend on reading Wright’s book on Justification.

    As to Wright thinking that Ephesians supports his view, that is a bit odd. The most straight-forward way to read Ephesians 2:8-10 would be to recognize that the ‘works’ of v.9 that do not contribute to justification (yes, I know it doesn’t use that word, but it is understood) are the same ‘works’ that believers are expected to produce as a result of their salvation in v.10.

    If the ‘works’ in v.9 are ‘works of the Law’ (i.e. only boundary markers) which are now excluded, then why would Paul say that believers should do these works as a result of their salvation in v.10?

    It seems that NTW is responding to a version of sola fide that is typical in modern Evangelicalism or in European existentialism (i.e. one that stops the reading at v.9) but cannot be found in historic Protestantism.

    That would explain his straw-man attacks on the historic Protestant doctrine.

  83. Daniel says:

    Saint and Sinner,
    This is not the place to get into a discussion of Wright or NPP. However, from your comments I can see that you might not be really understanding some of Wright’s theology. I would love to discuss this more, if you are willing, but not here, I don’t want to log up the comments. If you click on my username you should be able to see my email on my user profile. Shoot me an email if you like and I would love to dialogue with you on some of these matters.

  84. dac says:

    Lets Name Names then – in fact JT, it would seem you have a perfect example in the whole pyro’s v. Dr. Moorland imbroglio. As a someone who sat on the sidelines, it seems that Dr. M was a target because he is judged(and his comments/interview), by some, as being off the green. To Frank’s credit, he apologized, but the whole “assume the worst” rather than being charitable and not assuming the worst is a classic example of new fundamentalism, in particular of those who are “suspect”

    And was it that thread or another that you turned off the comments on because of attacks?

    just asking….

  85. The Common Loon says:

    Calvinists and Emergents drive each other crazy, but they both have some valid points from time to time. If we could find a way to de-escalate this family fued within evangelicalism, we’d all be better off.

    If anyone is interested, I came up with 5 questions for each group to consider.

    http://thecommonloon.blogspot.com/2009/02/fued-rages-on-five-questions-for.html

  86. Nick Parsons says:

    B. Peays,

    Thank you so much for the info! I am glad to know that it was a technical glitch and nothing more. My sincerest apologies for not giving you and the GC the benefit of the doubt.

    Sometimes when you are taking shots from various camps, you start to think everyone is shooting at you. Again, my apologies for rushing to judgement.

    We are so glad to be a part of the Gospel Coalition and glad to be working together for gospel-centered ministry.

    Grace and Peace!

  87. The Common Loon says:

    It’s very clear that Calvinists and Emergents tend to drive each other nuts.

    But instead of picking a winner in this latest blogosphere skirmish or discussing the merits and flaws of each viewpoint, I would like to propose some sort of Calvinist-Emergent peace summit where diplomatic talks can take place. I have suggested five questions that, if answered in the affirmative, could begin to ease the family tensions. If someone as liberal as Jim Wallis and a former Bush speechwriter like Mike Gerson can co-found an advocacy group to address poverty, there is still hope for mutual respect and collaboration between evangelicals of different stripes.

    5 Question for Emergent Christians
    1. Can you name a Calvinist writer/thinker who has written a book you consider to be a helpful and worthwhile read?
    2. Can you name a complementarian writer/thinker who you consider to be a faithful follower of Jesus?
    3. Can you name a public policy issue on which your views are at odds with the Democratic Party’s general platform?
    4. Can you name something you appreciate about either J.I. Packer or John Piper?
    5. Can you name something that concerns you about either Brian McLaren or Rob Bell?

    Five Questions for Calvinist Christians
    1. Can you name an Arminian writer/thinker who has written a book that you consider to be a helpful and worthwhile read?
    2. Can you name an egalitarian writer/thinker who you consider to be a faithful evangelical Christian?
    3. Can you name a public policy issue on which your views are at odds with the Republican Party’s general platform?
    4. Can you name something you appreciate about either Dallas Willard or Eugene Peterson?
    5. Can you name something that concerns you about either John MacArthur or Mark Driscoll?

  88. James says:

    Let’s be clear: Anyone who thinks Wright has “redefined” the gospel or doesn’t believe in “justification” through Christ alone or is “dangerous” is probably just following his or her errant theological heroes and neither knows Wright’s view nor the substance of the Reformation doctrine of justification. See Doug Wilson’s blog (dougwils.com) through Wright’s response to Piper, where he acknowledges that Wright is basically at home with the Reformed view on all counts, even if he tweaks certain terms. And as to the latter, Wright is making a BIBLICAL case for his view and that is the basis upon which he modifies our understanding of “salvation” and “justification”. Instead of being shocked by these, perhaps we could just listen to them long enough to see that not only are they more faithful to Scripture’s own usage, but also a more robust understanding of the theology which we’ve inherited from the Reformation.

  89. James says:

    Furthermore, I submit that the thing that evangelicals find most troublesome about Barth is not a feature of the Reformation view, so much as the theology of conversion that was worked out later by the Puritans and especially during the Revivals most notably by Jonathan Edwards. All this “Wright is dangerous” stuff really needs to stop.

  90. James says:

    Woops, “Barth” is supposed to be “Wright” there. But evangelicals are troubled by Barth too, so, you know, it’s hard to keep all the dangerous people straight.

  91. dghart says:

    Common Loon: your questions assume that the debate here is between Reformed and emergents. What is actually going on here is a contest among those who think of themselves as evangelical and then keep stumbling over higher loyalties, whether to Calvinism, or to a new kind of ministry, worship, etc. If we would simply give up the label “evangelical” a lot of this infighting would go away because it would then simply be the disagreement between various Christians that has always existed in the church going back at least to 1054. Evangelicalism, I know, was supposed to cure Protestants of such infighting. As Billy Eliot’s ballet teacher says in the movie, “Fat Chance.”

    But I’ll bite to show how wrong your mapping of the current world might be from the perspective of an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and one who is proudly Machen’s war child.

    Five Questions for Calvinist Christians
    1. Can you name an Arminian writer/thinker who has written a book that you consider to be a helpful and worthwhile read?
    Wendell Berry

    2. Can you name an egalitarian writer/thinker who you consider to be a faithful evangelical Christian?
    Rich Mouw

    3. Can you name a public policy issue on which your views are at odds with the Republican Party’s general platform?
    Second hand smoking.

    4. Can you name something you appreciate about either Dallas Willard or Eugene Peterson?
    Peterson reads Wendell Berry for profit.

    5. Can you name something that concerns you about either John MacArthur or Mark Driscoll?
    Neither of them is in a Reformed communion. No oversight by elders and presbyters, no reform.

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Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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