Is Neo-Calvinism Creating Mini Popes and a Misapplication of Scripture?

A comment by Daniel Roueche at Nate Sparks Facebook page leads to this quick and brief post. Its an honest question about how sustainable is Neo-Calvinist application of  theology in the end? What is its legacy for abuse, poor theology, and in the process creating a mini-Rome? I’ll let you guys discuss this below. Another post is going up later today.

“It is not wisdom but authority that makes a law

Thomas Hobbes

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

John 21: 15-17 NLT

There is another post going up later today, but I saw this post over at Nate Sparks Facebook page and I wanted to throw it into a quick post for you guys to discuss. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts below. I decided to throw up a classic from the 80’s.

A thought, and a not entirely fair but illustrative counter-argument to one I’ve heard:

If egalitarian theology can be condemned because the hermeneutic to get there also theoretically allows for full inclusion of LGBTQ folks in the church (questionable for a number of reasons, I know), how much more so can we hold neo-Calvinism and complementarian doctrines accountable for abusive authority structures in the church?

Which one of these doctrines has “slain its thousands”, as it were?

Neo-calvinist adherents have gotten to the place where they’re no longer combating scholarship. They’ve reached moral and ethical conclusions from an established hermeneutic, and they’re using those moral conclusions to determine if alternate hermeneutics are right or wrong based on where they seem to land on the pet moral and ethical issues.

Essentially, our guide to faith and practice is no longer careful study of Scripture, but a string of little self-appointed popes and councils.

8 thoughts on “Is Neo-Calvinism Creating Mini Popes and a Misapplication of Scripture?

  1. The moment I hated most in my time at The Village Church Flower Mound was when a member asked JT English, the pastor in charge of theology stuff there, whether what he was discussing was extreme Calvinism. His answer; “No. This is Christianity.” I was, even though I hated labels, a Calvinist myself at the time, but still thought, “come on, man, that’s not Christianity, it’s Calvinism.”

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    • Bingo Charlie….one side is promoting extreme Calvinism as Christianity. In the end in the Neo-Calvinist camp you have a lot of mini popes running around. rooted in “tradition” (meaning whatever John Piper says) and either John Piper or Matt Chandler is the fourth member of the trinity in this celebrity crazy culture.

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  2. Hey, why not “Any Way You Want It”?
    Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
    Yeah, we have a lot of little mini-popes out there, or at least wannabees. Why can’t they live by the golden rule? Would they want people to treat them the same way they treat their “underlings”. Would most CompleMENtarian men want people to treat them the same way women are treated!
    I think we should try a test run and see how they like it.

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  3. So total outsider take. I can’t speak to any of the scripture stuff, just a thought experiment. But the mini-pope thing got me thinking in terms of the Reformed trying to form some actual big dominating denomination. I don’t know if there’s enough true centralized power for another encompassing denomination like the Roman Catholic church to form anymore. Especially in American Christianity where it’s super easy to schism. I just don’t see it happening again. Maybe if LDS really takes off here in the US, then maybe it could be the next minor majority to RC.

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    • Morning Blue! I can see what you are saying. The LDS example is a fascinating thought, I hadn’t considered that…but I can see what you are saying especially with some of my background having explored the LDS faith.


      • I think the Latter Day Saints stand a real good chance of being one of the next major expressions of Christianity. It’s very much a part of the American story (religious freedom and persecution, nuclear family, part of the west and manifest destiny, etc…). It’s adaptive, look how they changed on priesthood to minorities and how they are embracing the internet by looking at their origin story. Don’t know if it’ll survive the internet, where religions go to die, but it’s going at it swinging at least.


  4. The irony is that Calvin himself was extreme. His writing on reprobation is down right bone chilling in that it presents a trickster tyrannical God.

    I think the current YRR crop is closer to Calvin than anything in a few hundred years sans padeobaptism. Most of Calvinism went social Gospel over the last hundred years down playing the authoritarianism. All this current crop need is a state church.

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