Is the New Calvinism Insular?

David Fitch has a post up where he worries that the New Calvinism is becoming, in his words, a new fundamentalism. (Fitch defines fundamentalism here as insular, distrustful of culture and therefore given to an “us vs. them” mentality.) As evidence he presents a video of Kevin DeYoung and Al Mohler discussing how Calvinism was the true foundation of the North American church and the only option to withstand the “tide” of secularism.

In the same post though, Fitch mentions that Tim Keller goes very much against this sort of image of popular-Calvinism as being over and against culture. Indeed Keller is at the centre of a Redeemer NYC-inspired grouping of culturally-engaged, theologically-Reformed churches growing in North America. While Keller may be in the minority among the New Calvinists, his church’s presence in a major media centre and his influence among city-focused church planters may ensure that he has a considerable influence irrespective of his standing among other New Calvinist leaders. At any rate, Keller is getting noticed in places where few other pastors might receive mention.

What Keller’s identification with Reformed theology indicates is that the New Calvinism is not inherently insular or distrustful. Some of the key personalities involved in the movement do have this tendency, as I have mentioned before in other contexts. Mark Driscoll is sometimes touted as being “relevant” to “kids these days,” but that doesn’t really go beyond his haircuts and t-shirts. His new condemnation of yoga as well as Stephanie Meyer seems to indicate that he’s becoming more and more suspicious of culture, and no amount of Threadless t-shirts can reverse that impression.

The most likely prognosis is that there may well be a battle in the heart of the new Calvinism over how much it should be culturally engaged. I don’t know what will happen, though perhaps Machen’s theological heirs will go through another round of civil war. I would not bet against it.