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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

ABP Answers "Neo-Calvinist" Usage

Kevin Hash contacted the writer of ABP article about Mark Dever concerning the usage of the term "neo-Calvinist." Here is what the writer said (the comment can be found here).

I appreciate your inquiry. I thought seriously about using that term before I employed it in my story, but I think it's descriptive because of the nature of many of the SBC's new Calvinists. Those who hold to five-point Calvinism in the SBC are often people who have grown up in SBC churches with a more modified Calvinist/Arminian-friendly (for lack of a more succinct term for that) kind of belief regarding soteriology, but claim to be reclaiming a belief that was held to by many more Southern Baptists historically. Their rhetoric often reflects the belief that they are reclaiming something that had been largely lost in Southern Baptist life until recent decades (e.g., the use of the term "Founders" in the name of the largest fellowship of SBC Calvinists). In order for readers to understand a little better that this was a renewal or reclamation movement in the eyes of its advocates, I used the prefix "neo" before "Calvinists" in one reference.
So what do you think? Neo-Calvinist or retro-Calvinist?


Blogger Tony K. said...

If "Neo" means we are not on the same level as the Founders. Then it is okay. I guess no real puritan would have an ipod.

5/30/2006 10:57:00 AM

Blogger Stephen Newell said...

I'm not sure. I got mixed feelings on this one. He might be terminologically correct, but rhetorically it just keeps coming across as negative no matter how you read it. Even when you try to be as nice as possible or playing devil's advocate.

5/30/2006 12:30:00 PM

Blogger Gavin Brown said...

The use of "neo"-whatever in any context usually can be identified with an significant, identifiable movement/school/philosophy. To employ the term neo-Calvinist in this context seems historically (linguistically speaking) misguided.

5/30/2006 12:50:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

"I guess no real puritan would have an ipod"

Talk about an anachronism!

The whole "neo" thing inrigues me because people think that can drum up whatever new catch phrase or term and assume a meaning to it without qualification or delineation. And to have someone who is a reporter (who is to report the facts) use such a term must employing a rhetorical technique (i.e. "spin") rather than a reporting technique.

Even terms such as "missional" is not clearly defined and understood (although it is extensively written about these days). If such a term as "missional" is still vague after books and a litany of bloggers have written about it, what are we to think about such terms as "neo-Calvinist?"

Welcome to the po-mo world.

5/30/2006 01:08:00 PM

Blogger Tony K. said...

A timely Derek Webb (my favorite villian) quote:

i’m in love
oh i love what i can convince you of
‘cause i’m a prophet by trade
and a salesman by blood

5/30/2006 01:37:00 PM

Blogger Stephen Newell said...

I don't know if we can say that it's "historically" misguided, Gavin. We have to admit that over the past 10 to 15 years there has been an upsurge of Calvinism within the convention and especially in the seminaries. It is a "significant, identifiable movement." T4G has recently become one of the signs that identify the "movement."

If we were to say it was misguided because it is a rhetorical tactic that is clearly intended to cast the one being labelled in a negative light (despite what the reporter has claimed in this comment), we'd be more correct.

5/30/2006 02:18:00 PM

Blogger Gavin Brown said...

Well then, we'll just have to credit this APB reporter with coining the moniker that he now applies to Dever & co.

Someone call Webster so they can put neo-Calvinism in their next edition.

5/30/2006 02:57:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

In that case, I will call Mr. Webster and ask that "ultra-Calvinist" and "super-duper-Calvinist" be added as well . . . and to give me the credit for coining those monikers. :)

Could this be the new trend?

You know, kind of like postmodern, post-evangelical, post-foundational, post-Christian, post-liberal, post-postmodern, etc.?

5/30/2006 05:15:00 PM

Blogger D.R. said...

To me this is just another person who thinks they can just take any label and make it fit into their definition. Just like the Caner's did with Hyper-Calvinism, Kevin Hash seems to think that he can do it with Neo-Calvinist. And while I don't think he was trying to be overtly negative, as I stated in the previous post on this on P&P, there is an already generally accepted definition for Neo-Calvinist. So why didn't Hash just explain what he was trying to say rather than use a term that no one would understand and didn't match up with any perceived definition?

It seems language is getting more and more flexible to the point that whatever you want something to say, it just says. Guess that is how guys like the Emerging Church gurus can take their cues from Jacques Derrida and discount objectivity in language.

5/30/2006 09:28:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


To clarify, I do not think Kevin Hash was espousing the term "neo-Calvinism" as much as he was simply reporting what the writer's definition of it was. As far as I know, I have not heard or read a comment Kevin has made about the idea. The quote was from the writer of the article, not Kevin Hash himself.

In my attempt at satire, I was trying to make the same point you were. People are always looking for a nicely package way to demonize Calvinists. For instance, where does Frank Page get the idea that it is the work of Satan to limit the atonement? And how can one not deduce that such a statement is not intended to Calvinists who believe in limited atonement?

I think the point we are all trying to make, however, is the necessity for clarity and precision in writing and reporting. The author of the article had no substantial reason, warrant, or necessity to come up with the term "neo-Calvinist" as though Dever was the leader of a new brand of Calvinism. If Dever is anything, he is one of the finest examples of what classical reformed theology is all about. There is nothing "neo" about him whatsoever. The term was pure spin (which I guess is to be expected from the NYT of the SBC).

5/30/2006 10:07:00 PM

Blogger D.R. said...

Sorry, Tim (and Kevin), I misread that first sentence, but aside from that I still think that the term was used recklessly by whomever wrote it.

6/02/2006 02:15:00 AM

Blogger Timmy said...

I agree, Daniel. Reporters don't have the right to make up terms on the fly, especially if they don't even attempt to define or explain them!

6/02/2006 04:00:00 AM


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