Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Edwards’

Old Princeton and the Puritans

Friday, May 28th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

I just recently started going through William B. Evans Imputation and Impartation: Union with Christ in American Reformed Theology. The book is a provocative exploration of the kind of Reformed theology called Federalism that was developed at Old Princeton, especially Charles Hodge. Federalism derives from the Latin term for covenant (foedus), and thus Evans traces the emergence of a particular stream of Reformed thought that used the idea of covenant to separate justification and sanctification and to overemphasize legal metaphors in salvation. Thus the kind of union that became important in this scheme was a legal union that existed completely outside of the believer and this union was completely separate from the spiritual union occurring in sanctification.

In his attack of both Puritan revivalism and the Mercersburg theology of John Nevin and the famous church historian, Philip Schaff, Charles Hodge was to push Federalism to the point that forensic justification and legal union became the dominant ways to describe the Reformed position. Evans thinks, and I agree, that this would have disastrous effects on Reformed theology in America. It is in contrast to the Puritan vision of an experimental piety grounded upon and flowing from a spiritual union with Christ. Once again, we see that Old Princeton, and its successor Westminster, through the continuing influence of their writings would redefine Reformed theology in such a way that it could not be compatible with the revivalist stream of evangelicalism. Read the rest of this entry »

Westminster Captivity, “New Calvinists,” and the Spirit

Friday, May 7th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Gifts of the Spirit, Pusey House, Oxford

Photo by Lawrence OP

I see that my initial post on a “Westminster Captivity” has raised an eyebrow or two, and also an amen. In addition, this week my Regent colleagues, Richard Kidd and Scott Pryor have entered the discussion with Kidd talking about Reformed roots and Pryor suggesting that I may have a point with respect to forensic justification while at the same time challenging me on the importance of penal substitution.

In this post I wish to renew my invitation to the “New Calvinists” by a brief look at Reformed pneumatology in light of my two concerns: the possibility of being Reformed and charismatic and the possibility of an evangelical core centered upon a theology of conversion. The Reformed readers of my blog rightly intuited that my “beef” is with the way Reformed theology–and by extension evangelicalism–has been co-opted by a particular stream that can cloud its rich diversity. It is most definitely not an assault on Reformed Christianity, but a call not to allow one interpretation of the Reformed faith to define the whole.

The kind of Reformed Christianity I hope the “New Calvinists” will embrace is a particular stream that moves from the early Reformed thinkers to the Puritans and into the present. This does not mean that other streams must be rejected, but that this stream should become the interpretive lens rather than Old Princeton/Westminster (OP/W). Read the rest of this entry »

The Westminster Captivity of Evangelicalism

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Anyone paying attention to recent trends within evangelicalism knows about the “New Calvinism.” Time published a piece on the movement just over a year ago as one of the  10 ideas changing the world. The usual list of names associated with it are Albert Mohler, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Mark Dever, among others. I have also seen Michael Horton on a list or two. Regardless of whether the “New Calvinism” is actually new, and some bloggers have their doubts, it is exposing the fault lines in Reformed theology within the U.S. More importantly, in my view, it is highlighting what I would describe as the “Westminster Captivity” of American evangelicalism, particularly its Reformed wing, which I see as a positive development.

Before explaining myself further, an admission: While I attended Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL, I am not Reformed. Rather, I am a Classical Pentecostal within the holiness stream that goes back to John Wesley. And, I now teach at an institution shaped by the Reformed charismatic theology of J. Rodman Williams whose heritage I wish to honor. Now, on to the explanation: Read the rest of this entry »