As I’ve been thinking through the responses to my question, “Who are the NeoReformed?” (an open invitation for you to weigh in on). I’ve got to be honest, no one who uses that term has given me an answer. Lots of great comments though.
When Scot McKnight writes that the “neo-Reformed are more committed to tradition than to the sacred text,” he essentially takes on the same type of attitude that critics of Reformed theology use when they suggest that Calvinists do not pray and do not evangelize.
“NeoReformed” is the new “Hyper-Calvinist” of our age.
Make no mistake, when many people in the blogosphere use the term “NeoReformed,” they do not generally intend to convey a positive appreciation. No, the “NeoReformed” are the “NeoFundamentalists” who allegedly do not believe Christians are “truly” evangelicals unless they hold to Imputation and Reprobation (see McKnight’s post here and here). I realize that McKnight wrote this a few years ago and that others have responded, but the more that I see this term thrown around, the more I think it needs further clarification, and push back. McKnight’s definition is simply ridiculous. It’s false. The fact that his definition continues to control it’s usage is equally problematic.
Critics of Reformed theology have made accusations about Calvinists for a long time. And some of that criticism has been very helpful and much needed. But as someone who holds to Reformed theology and is part of that “young” group that seems to embody the “NeoReformed,” I want to state as a matter of fact that I would never suggest that Christians aren’t real or truly evangelical unless they hold to Imputation and Reprobation (“Double Predestination”). I’m Reformed, not an isolationist who denies the doctrine of the Universal Church. I’ll even go out on a limb and state that I believe the Body of Christ is comprised of many people outside of Reformed circles, Evangelical circles, and Protestant circles. Yes, there are Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians who are justified by the grace of God through their faith in Christ. The Church is big. Okay? Big! Every tribe, tongue, and nation!
This is not to suggest that there aren’t some who claim to be “Reformed” and “Calvinists” who believe they are the only ones who are “saved” and that if you don’t agree with them you aren’t a Christian. But they aren’t the alleged “NeoReformed.” They are “hyper-Calvinists.” And if Calvinists trace their lineage to Calvin and the Reformers, they really shouldn’t even be given that name either. They are simply “heretics” who are outside the bounds of both orthodoxy and evangelicalism.
As many of you know, I’m totally cool with the use of terms and labels. Words mean things and using terms and labels can be helpful in furthering conversations. But I’m 100% opposed to the usage of terms and labels that are either incorrectly defined or are not representative of a view or label. We should never misrepresent people’s views, even those who we most strongly disagree with. I hope and pray I can avoid that, and I hope and pray others will too.
If you are an Arminian or an Egalitarian or a Pentecostal or a Baptist or a Lutheran or a Presbyterian or an Anglican or Orthodox or Catholic, please ensure you represent other people’s views correctly and use labels that they would be comfortable using. And if you use a term that they do not find comfort it, either take the time to explain why you are using it and why it is a correct caricature or stop using it.
Back to being a young “NeoReformed” Christian who loves Jesus and who interacts with and loves and ministers alongside tons of non-Reformed Christians. And I sure hope that continues…