“What Should We Call the New Calvinism? How about, ‘The New Calvinism’?”

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by Brian Abasciano

There has been some talk recently about what the resurgence movement of Calvinism should be called. In this post, I mostly want to draw your attention to two noteworthy articles on this question, but I also want to register my suggestion for the best label. A recent discussion seems to have been sparked by Bob Robinson in his post, “So What’s Wrong with Neo-Calvinism?” In that piece, Robinson distinguishes between the Calvinism of what Collin Hansen has called the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” (YRR) movement, and “Neo-Calvinism,” a label that already referred to a distinct expression of Calvinism predating the YRR movement. He suggested that “Neo-Puritanism” is the best label. I don’t think that works well because the soteriology and sovereignty of Calvinism are at the heart of the new movement and not all Puritans shared those Calvinist distinctives, such as John Goodwin, an Arminian Puritan who wrote learned Arminian works and argued against Calvinism.

In his article, “Naming the New Calvinism,” Timothy Paul Jones suggests “’Dortianism’ or, if some prefix must be affixed to denote the distinct contours of the current movement, ‘neo-Dortianism’.” But he recognizes that “Dortianism” is unikely to take hold and suggests that the best workable label would be “neo-Reformed.” I could live with that, but it is not ideal due to the fact that Arminianism can fall under the label “Reformed.” Moreover, I think that “Calvinism” should be part of the label because the term is widely understood as referring to the view of soteriology and sovereignty (or more catchily, salvation and soveriegnty) that is at the heart of the movement in question. Therefore, “New Calvinism” seems to be the best label, particularly since the movement is already called that! Notice that in naming his article, Jones asks what to call the New Calvinism, giving the impression that this is the most recognizable term for the movement. As for any possible confusion with “Neo-Calvinism,” even though the prefix “neo” means new, the fact that the label “New Calvinism” uses a different word seems sufficient to distinguish it from “Neo-Calvinism.” “Resurgent Calvinism” would be my second choice since the movement has also been widely called a resurgence of Calvinism.