The New Puritanism Part 1: Carson On Christian Assurance -- By: Zane C. Hodges

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 22:42 (Spring 2009)
Article: The New Puritanism Part 1: Carson On Christian Assurance
Author: Zane C. Hodges


The New Puritanism
Part 1:
Carson On Christian Assurance1

Zane C. Hodges

Introduction To The Series

Over the last year or so a growing number of books and articles has appeared targeting the Free Grace movement for critique and rebuttal. These publications mention the Grace Evangelical Society and its literature. This is a positive development. GES definitely wishes to have its views seriously discussed in the marketplace of ideas.

It might be possible to describe these writings as presenting what is known as “Lordship Salvation.” But this designation, though widely used, does not indicate the true historical antecedents of the movement in its present form. The term could be used with equal ease to describe many who are Arminian in theology. Yet the major “Lordship” writers of today are not Arminian, however much they tend toward conclusions similar to those of Arminians (e.g., on assurance). Instead, these writers describe themselves as Calvinists. But John Calvin himself, were he alive today, would probably disown them because they more closely resemble the scholastic theology that resisted the Reformation than Calvin’s own theology.2

In deference, therefore, to the many Calvinists who hold a biblical theology of grace (e.g., R. T. Kendall, M. Charles Bell, Charles C. Ryrie), we refuse to describe the writers we are talking about as Calvinists. Instead, it would be better to identify them with the theology that became predominant in Puritan thought and which was, in significant respects, a rejection of certain basic concepts of Reformation theology. Hence my series title is “The New (i.e., Contemporary) Puritanism.”

In this series we will consider some of the more significant recent literature produced from this particular theological perspective. In the process we will seek to determine how fairly, and how effectively, these writers have confronted the Free Grace movement.

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In a recent issue of the Westminster Theological Journal, D. A. Carson, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, has

written an article entitled, “Reflections on Christian Assurance.” Carson is a well-known scholar and a prolific writer. Since his presentation is reasonably well-balanced, it seems logical to begin this series with him.

I. Pejorative Language In Carson

Although a scholarly “distancing” generally prevails in Carson’s article, there are a few places wher...

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