DeYoung, Duncan, and Mohler: What’s New About the New Calvinism

Certain shared beliefs on the authority of Scripture, sovereignty of God, sovereignty of grace, and gender roles in the home and in the church unite the movement commonly called new Calvinism. Beyond a Reformed superstructure, though, you’ll find an eclectic doctrinal mix and match. In this video, two traditional Reformed confessionalists—Kevin DeYoung and Ligon Duncan—discuss the appeal and challenges of the new Calvinism with a Southern Baptist, Albert Mohler.

Whatever you want to label the movement, Mohler says, we can all be excited about the sustenance younger evangelicals are finding for gospel ministry in the authoritative Scriptures. Yet a dynamic, enthusiastic coalition built around core convictions cannot substitute for settling in a particular church home where you can learn about ecclesiology, baptism, covenant, and a host of other important issues.

All three men will participate in The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 national conference, April 12 to 14, in downtown Chicago. Mohler will preach from John 5:31-47, while Duncan will participate in a panel on preaching from the Old Testament. DeYoung will lead a workshop with Greg Gilbert on “The Mission of the Church.” You can register today for the conference and benefit from early-bird rates that expire October 31.

  • Kip

    You sound like a Lone Ranger, Zach …

    • Epideacon

      Just perusing. Amen Zach!

  • Tom Cameron

    If what Kevin DeYoung was talking about in his discussion of “New Calvinism” was a more digestible version of something like the Westminster Confession of Faith: (
    Which is certainly a grand document, especially with all its scriptural support. But ask the average Christian to study it, and only a small percentage of Christians have the capacity to stay with and endure, or even comprehend the gravity of all 33 chapters. A small percentage could walk away from such a document feeling totally nourished. But for the average Christian, it would be like giving a 18 oz. Porterhouse Steak to a one year old child.

    Face it, we live in a cliff notes, built point, “just give me the facts” culture. They no longer communicate in long form. Boomers, you can pull out your cherished 33 LP albums, but how will they play in an MP3 / Kindle / IPad world? They don’t. We better embrace those who are the bridges from one generation to the next. I’m willing to bet that young man like Kevin DeYoung is closer to spreading the truth and is more relevant than the other two combined. No disrespect to the other two (Dunkan and Mohler) but we are seeing the most unchurched generation in the History of America, and much of that fault lies with the lightening speed by which the culture is in a constant state of change. We had better start listening to the younglings.

    Tom Cameron

  • Phil Vander Ploeg

    How diverse is the New Calvinism on the 5 points. I have always struggled with TULIP, not because I don’t think that it could be true, but beause it seems too rationalistic to me. I think that God never intended us to parse it out like that. Total Depravity – I’m there. Eternal Security – I’m there. Unconditional Election – yes, but I think that the fullness of the doctrine and its implications are hidden in the mystery of God. Irresistable Grace – eeehhh I can’t quite reject the human ability to choose completely (and I think this is difficult to do from Scripture.. to much exegetical gymnastics). Limited Atonement- I’m not there at all. Why do we need to parse this theology out in so much detail? I think we will inevitably run into wrong doctrine when we take this route (on all sides of the issue). I’m good with some mystery (like the Trinity). God chose me before the foundation of the world, and he gives me the ability to obey or disobey. How does that work out? I don’t have a clue, and I don’t think anybody can. Am I a New Cavinist?

  • Ryan Donell

    There’s no doubt that “5 pointers” are on the rise in the U.S., but so are 3.5ers and 4 pointers. Here’s the deal: I think we need to be more reformed than our protestant reformed forefathers and have some charity on the issues. That means that we make a bigger to-do about the Gospel (see gospel coalition summary) than we do TULIP. I believe in the 5 points, because I believe they are the most consistent way to hold tension and embrace mystery, not because they explain everything; nevertheless, TULIP will never be Jesus. Additionally, I think we can be missional, authentic, legit, and Christ-centered without being 5 point calvinists. For marks of the New Calvinism (which to me is more of a semantic debate- which is fine) check out the Time magazine article called “10 Ideas Changing the World”. I’m currently a member in a church I love called Grace Church in Greenville, SC that has elders with different views on the “Big 5″ and eschatology. We’ve got everything from 3-5 pointers on the board and on pastoral staff, but it’s not splitting our church or compromising the Gospel. I actually feel like there’s something extremely John 17esque and authentic about it. Seems like this is the whole point of the GC, to discuss these differences with charity, because we’re clear on the most important thing: the Gospel.

  • Ryan Donell

    Mohler makes it sound like a calvinistic expression of the gospel is the only “deeply rooted, robust” Christian game in town. I’m thankful for him, but that’s just frustrating. If maturity was surmised by adherence to a series of doctrinal boxes to check, then I would agree with him. However, I Corinthians gives a different picture. I think for the health of the church we need to steer clear of anything that categorizes the healthy and the anemic based on their 5 point position instead of their relationship to Jesus, progress in faith, hope, repentance, self-denial, commitment to the church, and fervor for the nations. I love to talk about the details of particular redemption and the nuances of the atonement (b/c I love what Jesus did), but that conversation has got to be had in a spirit of unity, humility, and fellowship. ok- i’m done now.

  • Phil Vander Ploeg

    Thanks for your comments Ryan. Your church sounds really interesting,and I agree…I think your living out Christ’s prayer in John 17. I think my biggest issue with 5 points, is giving God responsability for human sin. Right now I am picturing John Piper (who I have great respect for) in a video I watched recently. In this video Piper is asked about God ordaining human sinful choices. He says that he believes that God does, but then look deeply into the camra and acknowledges that thinking to much about it can make you crazy. So, it seems to me that the questions is ultimatly unanswerd even for Piper, at least in the sense that he is not completely satisfied with the implications.
    About Mohler, I agree with you, but at the same time I can personally relate to what he said. I have soo much in common with what the Gospel Coalition is about, but feel like an outsider when it comes to 4 and 5 point Calvinism. I am also finding it difficult to find a place that fits. In this sense, at least for me, “where else can they go” carries some credence. I attend and Acts 29 church, but it seems that I couldn’t become apart of that movement (ministry) unless I am a 4 1/2 point Calvinist. I find this to be disheartening and discouraging. A group that I have so much in common with (innerancy, complimentarianism, eternal security, missionalism, etc.) Where can I go?

    • Rob Ely

      Phil, you and I have got to become friends! Man, you just said in these few paragraphs how my whole thinking is on the subject! Email me.

  • Phil Vander Ploeg

    I should maybe clarify that my pastor has not told me that I do not have a place (in fact I taught this past Sunday), but reading the doctrinal statement, which I almost completely agree with (questioning only irresistable grace), has led me to question whether or not I could continue looking into Acts 29 as a place of future ministry.

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  • Ryan Vinten

    Anyone else see the bug that gets blasted by Al Mohler at around 6:50-7:05?

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  • Chris

    New? More like “current”. 500+ years going strong, and welcome aboard the ship.

    Why accept the premise that this is “new”?

  • Robby

    Lots of critiques….hope that means a lot of Christ-centered living to go along with the opinions.

  • nhe

    Chris – good question…….I don’t think its new, I think it’s a reaction to what has not been working – particularly, decision-based salvation that dates back to the late 1800s and Charles Finney.

    Prior to Finney, soteriology (among those who would call themselves evangelical)was viewed through the lens of what we now call neo-Calvinism. Decision-based salvation made a mess of things throughout the 20th century (even despite warnings against it from the likes of Tozer, Bonhoffer, and CS Lewis).

    However, whether it’s “new” or 500 years old, I think we might agree that it is a healthy trend.

    • James-Michael Smith

      “Decision-based salvation”? Or “Shallow uninformed decision-based salvation”? The Wesleyan revivals and the current Latin American evangelical explosion would beg to differ if you’re referring to the former. ;)

  • Chris

    Well said. But my contention with the “new” label is that there have been many faithful churches who never had to rediscover the reformed faith, nor reject Finney-ism. There has been a faithful witness to the reformed faith since the Reformation began, and it has been continuing quietly and effectively without fanfare. The “new” guys are simply coming on board an ancient ship. “Welcome aboard” but just keep in mind that there are many passengers and deck-hands who have been here for some time now.

    What remains to be seen is whether or not the WHOLE Reformation is accepted, ie Covenantal/Federal Theology and everything that goes with that.


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  • James-Michael Smith

    “Where are they gonna go?” (6:44)

    Passionate about the authority of Scripture? Check.
    Passionate about the spreading of the Gospel? Check.
    Passionate about robust theological reflection? Check.
    Evangelical? Check.

    Mohler just described pretty well the overall thrust of evangelicals within the Wesleyan tradition, among others.

    Are Mohler, Duncan and DeYoung they really that insulated within their Reformed circles that they don’t see ANY other option for intellectually, theologically robust Christians to embrace than their own forms of Calvinisim?? I was at GCTS with DeYoung, so I know he knows better!

    This is why the Reformed tradition comes across as aloof and arrogant to so many Evangelicals who are not part of the Calvin Club. I know they don’t INTEND to sound this way, but it’s as if Mohler is unaware of the existence of the Ben Witheringtons, Doug Stuarts, Scot McKnights, Roger Olsons, Craig Blombergs or I.Howard Marshalls of the Evangelical non-Reformed world.



    • Rob Ely

      Yeah man. You nailed it, James.

  • James-Michael Smith

    No more “coalitions” are needed. What’s needed is for those within various “coalitions” to stop drawing lines in the sand and telling their fellow brothers and sisters that unless we’re on their side of the line we aren’t REALLY passionate about the Gospel, theology, missions or God’s sovereignty.

    Acknowledge our differences which are based on taking Scripture every bit as seriously as they do, disagree honestly and charitably, and agree to recognize us as players on the same team for the same Lord serving the same Kingdom.

    Is that too much to ask of my Reformed brothers and sisters?

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  • Patrick

    Zack, Wright’s a calvinist as well.
    But I’m sure new missional calvinists will love wesleyans as well.
    Love you in Christ Zack.

  • Zach Hoag

    Thanks for the love bro. To be fair, I do think that Wright’s form of Calvinism would not fit in so well with the Reformed Baptist resurgence. One looks in vain, for instance, in his Romans commentary for anything resembling individual Unconditional Election in 9-11.

    I lean to the Wesleyan side on some things, the Anabaptist on others, and honestly, I would consider myself Reformational, as well.

  • Rob Ely

    Stands to reason. This is because Romans 9-11 isn’t about individual unconditional election at all, as much as Calvinists would love to make it that. It is talking about redemption coming through Promise and not through either Israel’s nationality or obedience to the law. The only individual election that happened was for Jacob who later became Israel, God’s chosen vessel (nation) through whom Christ would come and bring redemption through faith alone. This is all grace. All of it. And that’s the point. It doesn’t come through the works of man, but it is God who brings it about. It is through faith in the God who promised, and, more specifically, in Christ who is the promise fulfilled.