Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Would R. Scott Clark Respond to the Enthusiast-Calvinist Accusation?

I'd love to see R. Scott Clark or one of the other pre-eminent "Truly Reformed" folks from Westminster West respond to this Lutheran charge that Calvin was an "Enthusiast[]" who "separat[ed] the Holy Spirit from the Word." (link)

For myself, I'd point out that it is mistaken to blame Calvin (or Calvinism) for the errors of Enthusiasm (emphasizing emotional experience, especially in an unguided way, as allegedly being the leading of the Holy Spirit), Pietism (focus on piety without regard for orthodoxy), or the Church Growth Movements (a movement that focuses primarily on expanding the rolls, often at the expense of preaching repentance from sin).

Enthusiasm and Pietism have been consistently rejected by Calvinists over the years, and while the Church Growth Movement may have taken hold in some Presbyterian churches, it is not fairly blamed on Calvinism or Reformed theology more generally. These sort of accusations drive me to view Confessional (LBCF 1689) Reformed Baptists as closer brethren to Presbyterians than Confessional Lutherans are (which, of course, is not to deny that confessional Lutherans are our Christian brethren). My understanding, though, is that R. Scott Clark and some others at Westminster West see things differently, and would actually view Lutherans as closer to Presbyterians.



R. Scott Clark said...


Well, confessional Reformed folk have an awkward relation to confessional Lutherans. They've always regarded us as crytp-fanatics and crypto-Zwinglians. They confess as much in the Book of Concord. In that sense they tend to a kind of fundamentalism: "if you don't say things exactly the way we do, you're out." The Reformed and the Lutherans agree that Christ feeds us on his body and blood in the supper but we don't agree on how this happens. For the Lutherans, if we don't agree with them on the mode of presence, we're fanatics and Zwingians.

I did an essay recently how 19th and early 20th-century Lutherans regard Calvin (as a kind of bogey man). It's an irrational fear really.

Nevertheless, Lutherans accept our infant baptisms as valid and confessional Baptists do not. Even though we share much with confessional Baptists and confessional Lutherans there are significant differences between us. Even the genetics are difficult. The Particular Baptists are rebellious Reformed folk but we are all genetically related to the Lutheran Reformation.

So, the Reformed doctrine of the church and sacraments is closer to the confessional Lutherans and our soteriology, regarding perseverance, is closer to the Particular Baptists.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for the response!

Lockheed said...

Did R S Clark actually call us RBs Reformed?


Anonymous said...

Prof. Clark,

greet Dr. Fesko for me!

Tell him I am waiting for him to write another book! It's not as though we need another book written, but it does go to show the Bible is the Truth written about the Truth, written!

Joh 21:25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

mullinsworld said...

He said the proper term for confessional Baptists, Particular Baptists. As those that wrote the confession called themselves. ;>