Mohler represents neopuritanism (see my last post for some of the distinctions): Neopuritanism has plenty to offer, and (as Ray Pennings says) we need to keep the dialogue open with them. While neopuritanism and neocalvinism are “two streams flowing from a single source,” they flow “in very different directions.”
Here are four particular insights of neocalvinism (courtesy, again of Ray Pennings in his article in COMMENT, but found in excellent books like Creation Regained by Albert Wolters):
1. Creation Order
Because the Creation was created “very good,” there is an inherent potential in the created order that is good as well. The “Cultural Mandate” of Genesis 1:28 and 2:15 tells us that humanity has the task of harnessing this potentiality to develop culture as God intended. Technology, popular culture, progress, and yes, even politics, are to be understood as part of God’s original created order.
Sin not only runs through the hearts of every individual human being, but also through the entire cosmos. Romans 8 tells us that all creation is “groaning”—it suffers as well. Pennings writes, “Sin is personal, but it also manifests itself in the various organizations of society.”
3. Common Grace
But God’s creation is still good, though tarnished by sin. If God’s creation is stewarded according to his good will, it still provides good benefits for human beings. By his grace, God not only allows believers to contribute to the common good, but also unbelievers. Pennings writes, “Because all men are made in the image of God, unbelievers can have true insights and perform beneficial works.” This has vast ramifications on our understanding of cultural activity, by both believers and unbelievers, and how we interact together for the common good in societal renewal, technology, politics, etc.
4. Sphere Sovereignty
Neocalvinism states that God has designed a differentiation within society between different spheres of authority. Sphere Sovereignty offers a different matrix for understanding society from the American two-sided paradigm. Pennings writes that our American political discourse is extremely limited by its "two-sided coin" approach to culture. “On the one side, we have individual rights and free markets, on the other side , we have the power of the state as a social engineer.” Contrary to this limited view, Sphere Sovereignty offers intermediary social structures such as families, churches, businesses, and schools that need to be seen as contributing to the social fabric as much as individuals and state.
For more on neocalvinism, check out my online resource: Friend of Kuyper.
- Which is it? “The End of Christian America” or the rise of “The New Calvinism?”
- Jon Meacham and Tim Keller discuss "The End of Christian America" on MSNBC
- Which is the new Calvinism? “Neo-Puritanism” or “Neo-Calvinism?”
- Neocalvinism: What is it? Is it different from the Calvinism of Albert Mohler?