Calvinism is Not Less than the Five Points
A Review of The Points of Calvinism (Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology) by Kenneth Stewart, Covenant College
Stewart is rigid in his rejection of rigidity. His essay is less about what he does believe, and mostly about what he doesn’t believe–he doesn’t like the vulgar extravagance of those who identify the gospel with the five doctrines.
In his uncritical embrace of the evangelical party, Stewart rigidly cannot embrace parties on the narrow margins like Herman Hoeksema or David Englesma of the Protestant Reformed Church, or Robert Reymond (from Covenant Seminary, in his Systematic, p1125) or Tom Nettles (a Reformed Baptist “five-point Calvinist”, p387, By His Grace and For His Glory) or R.K. Mcgregor Wright (No Place for Sovereignty, IVP, p100)
By demonstrating the lack of historical precedent on a focus on the five points, Steward somehow thinks he has made an argument that we should not in the future focus on the five points.
But Calvinism is not less than the five points, and a lot of the “more than five points” guys don’t believe the five points.
With the non-Bible-church “Reformed” folks who really do believe the five points but want more than that, Calvinism is about “the covenant”. They say “the covenant” in every other sentence without defining it. Which covenant? Is that covenant conditional or unconditional?
“Calvinism is more than the five points” often means
a. infant baptism
b. “sacramental realism”: unlike those Zwinglian rationalists, they really eat Jesus they proclaim that they do not explain how.
3.They don’t withdraw from culture like the anabaptists (or create their own) but try to take over everybody’s culture. (The two-kingdom Calvinists still think there is only one culture, but they agree to it being secular.)
4. Like the brothers Niebuhr, they know there can be no culture without killing. To transform the culture, they will try to transform the killing without killing it.
Speaking from the margins where the atonement is defined in terms of imputation and election, I must say I am glad not to be Stewart’s kind of rigid Calvinist!