Kevin DeYoung: The Reformed Church is the One True Church

What follows is a refreshingly honest look into how a leading Calvinist, Dr. Kevin DeYoung, views opponents of Reformed theology and the role of Reformed Theology in the Church.

The article from Crossway I’m going to respond to was light on context and so I did some digging. Here is what I found:

I had previously heard of Kevin DeYoung in the spheres of articles-on-the-internet and memes-on-Reformed-social-media. I did not know what he did for a day job. According to his bio for his new book Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us about Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God says:

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, and assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He serves as board chairman of the Gospel Coalition and blogs at DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed. He is the author of several books, including Just Do SomethingCrazy Busy; and The Biggest Story. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have eight children.

The Canons of Dort (1618-1619) are one of the three defining doctrines of many Reformed churches around the world (thanks Wikipedia!). The “Three Forms of Unity” are the Canons of Dort, Belgic Confessions, and the Heidelberg Catechism. Specifically, the Canons of Dort are a response to the Arminian Remonstrance (1610) and, though it was not the original intention of the Canons, have been remembered and re-branded by the acronym TULIP. It seems from the summary of the book, and the endorsements of it, that Dr. DeYoung’s purpose is to bring this historical confession into the present-day concerns of the Church.

The importance of this history and purpose will hopefully become clear.

The article, called 4 False Accusations of Reformed Theology, claims to be “adapted from” Dr. DeYoung’s latest book. What does “adapted from” mean? I’m not too interested in taking what some anonymous editor of Crossway says about the book; I need something more solid here. The “Grace Defined and Defended” page the article linked to turned up the table of contents for the book which includes “Appendix 2: Conclusion: Rejection of False Accusations”. We seem to be on a firmer footing to respond to the article if it was pulled directly from the book and edited for a short article on Crossway.

Instead of addressing each “false accusation” in detail, I will instead critique the structure of the argument and endeavor to show how this kind of rhetoric in the contemporary soteriological controversies leaves us with no common ground for healthy dialogue and seeks only to divide the Body of Christ further. 

Redefining Words is Effective

Each of the “4 False Accusations” is actually a summary statement of rational objections, ie. arguments, to Reformed Theology.

“The doctrine of predestination is a hindrance to godliness”

“The doctrine of predestination makes God the author of sin”

“The doctrine of predestination makes Christians complacent”

“The doctrine of predestination means God predestined some people to hell”

The entire purpose of a discussion is to reason through whether or not the argument is true or false, accurate or inaccurate. Redefining arguments as false accusations poison the discussion before it happens. 

This reminds me of the current debate surrounding “illegal immigration”. One side argues that any nation has the right to set the laws as to who enters their country and under what conditions. The other side argues that a country does not have the right to turn people away under a certain set of circumstances; specifically, we have a primary moral duty to help anyone who needs it. One of the main tactics of the “pro-immigration” crowd is to never use the word “illegal” in conjunction with an immigrant. In order to further their cause, whenever someone is turned away at the border or deported, the headline is “Hundreds of Immigrants Kicked Out!” and if you support such action you are “anti-immigrant”.

Or when a Democrat says something foolish or damaging and is criticized for it, the headline is “Republicans Pounce!”.

See, the tactic is to change the language. Change the language, you change the narrative. By never using the word “illegal” the narrative is moved away from a discussion about law and towards a discussion about morality or race. By focusing on how Republicans pounce the narrative is turned away from what the Democrat said and toward the Republican reaction. Similarly, when DeYoung redefines arguments as false accusations the narrative is pushed away from the merits of the arguments and toward the morality of the objector. What kind of person makes false accusations? A morally deficient one, of course. 

Argument = Slander

Notice that for each “false accusation” DeYoung merely summarizes them without response. Then, at the end of summarizing each “false accusation”, the Canons conclude there are

…very many other slanderous accusations of this kind which the Reformed churches not only disavow but even denounce with their whole heart.

From this DeYoung reveals two statements he considered axiomatically true:

A reasoned objection to Reformed theology is “slander”,

The denouncement of said objections by Reformed churches renders these objections false. 

But, of course, this reveals a basic misunderstanding of these objections. Our objection is not that Reformed churches preach “God is the author of sin” but that Reformed theology inescapably leads to that logical conclusion. So, even acknowledging that Reformed churches denounce these objections, which I do, does not refute the objection. 

The Reformed Church Is the One True Church

The article begins by equating Reformed theology with Jesus Christ’s Church.

At the end of the Canons of Dort—the document produced out of the Synod of Dort summarizing the key tenets of Reformed theology—there is a section dedicated to refuting common false accusations against Reformed theology. We see here Dort’s desire to defend Reformed theology from slander and to call upon Christ to protect the truth and sanctify his church.

Look at those two sentences in the quote above again. If they were contained in a Psalm we would call it a “couplet” and say it is an example of “Hebrew parallelism” (can you tell I just finished up my Hebrew tract?). In other words, the two sentences are clearly meant to be expressing the same idea twice. Look at how they are structured: Summarizing and defending Reformed theology is the same as Christ protecting and setting apart His church for holiness.

I’m not sure how much of Reformed thought Dr. DeYoung represents, but he is the board chairman of The Gospel Coalition. Make no mistake, Dr. DeYoung, and those who think like him, do not see the soteriological controversies as an ecumenical dispute or sibling squabble in the family of God. Instead, they are the defenders of the Church of Jesus Christ and those who object to Reformed theology are the attackers of the Church of Jesus Christ.

What is the appropriate response to those who attack Christ’s Church? Warn them of God’s judgment, of course.

Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true believers.

Those believers of the Reformed tradition are the “true believers” which leaves anyone outside of the Reformed tradition where exactly? 

Contemporary Dialogue

I am not criticizing a historical document like the Canons of Dort for failing to align with our contemporary sensibilities of what makes for healthy dialogue. While I disagree with their theology, of course, my criticism is less aimed at the Canons the Synod produced and more at Dr. DeYoung’s purpose for them. According to the Crossway article, it seems like his point is to give Reformed folks the impression their theology deserves a privileged place of reverence by Christians and protection by Jesus Christ Himself. DeYoung seeks to transport a four-hundred-year-old confession into the contemporary soteriological controversies in order to give Reformed theology the privileged position of defining what The One True Church is today and to claim that today it is completely exempt from criticism upon pain of being under the judgment of God.

How is this helpful for dialogue? Unless, of course, DeYoung’s purpose is not to find common ground with the non-Reformed and instead desires to divide the Body even further. 

What is needed is a healthy dose of DeYoung’s own advice for the non-Reformed:

The Synod then goes on to call all people to evaluate Reformed theology in a fair and consistent way

Perhaps we could get Kevin DeYoung to bring the Synod into the present by evaluating objections to Reformed theology in a fair and consistent way as well. More effective, certainly, would be the wholesale rejection of this kind of ecumenical preening. No theology deserves the privileged place of being above reformation and correction. The great and tragic irony is that Dr. DeYoung has not “reformed” away from Catholic thought but has only traded one Catechism for another, one Magisterium for another. 

66 thoughts on “Kevin DeYoung: The Reformed Church is the One True Church

  1. The article has: “Each of the “4 False Accusations” is actually a summary statement of rational objections, ie. arguments, to Reformed Theology.
    “The doctrine of predestination is a hindrance to godliness”
    “The doctrine of predestination makes God the author of sin”
    “The doctrine of predestination makes Christians complacent”
    “The doctrine of predestination means God predestined some people to hell”

    The problem here is that opponents of Calvinism attribute to predestination conclusions that have nothing to do with predestination. Were opponents honest in this regard, the above complaints would be rendered:

    “The doctrine of Original Sin is a hindrance to godliness”
    “The doctrine of Omnipotence makes God the author of sin”
    “The doctrine of election makes Christians complacent”
    “The doctrine of Omniscience means God ordained some people to hell”

    So, why do those who oppose Calvinism focus on “predestination” and not Original Sin, Omnipotence, Election, and Omniscience. It is because those who oppose Calvinism basically agree with the Calvinists on Original Sin, Omnipotence, election, and omniscience but refuse to take these concepts to their logical conclusions. Why try to focus the discussion on “predestination.”? Because many people have false notions of what predestination entails and are easily misled as to what Calvinism actually says.

    Dr. Flowers has figured out that Total Depravity destroys free will, so he argues against Total Depravity. That’s fine. At least, one can see a difference between the two sides. Brian Wagner has figured out how destructive Omniscience is to non-Calvinist arguments, so he has rejected omniscience.(as classically defined).

    If Calvinist opponents would properly define Calvinist Theology to reveal the conclusions they do not like, then rational arguments would follow. However, that would require denying Total Depravity, Omnipotence, Election, and Omniscience and those are radical positions that would lead congregations to send the Pastor packing.

    1. But this is just joining with Kevin DeYoung in declaring that those who object to Reformed Theology are actually objecting to the true teachings of Jesus of the One True Church and are, therefore, “radical”. Why should I find that special pleading convincing?

      1. Eric Kemp writes, “But this is just joining with Kevin DeYoung in declaring …”

        Not sure you read my comment. I argued that the objections to Calvinism are misspecified in terms of “predestination” when the basic argument is primarily about God’s omnipotence and omniscience. Trace through the significance of omnipotence and omniscience in soteriology and define the true positions and most people end up Calvinist or join one of the fringe groups. This is not to say that the fringe groups are wrong (Who knows?) but that most people subscribe to God being omnipotent and omniscient.

      2. “Not sure you read my comment. I argued that the objections to Calvinism are misspecified in terms of “predestination” when the basic argument is primarily about God’s omnipotence and omniscience.”

        Right, this is you saying “When you disagree with Reformed theology you disagree with basic tenants of Christian theism”. It’s a special pleading, the same kind DeYoung is asking for, to equate Reformed theology with mere Christianity; with, as you say, the most basic stuff anyone who believes in Christ agrees with. You make this claim without an argument for why it is so; you assert it is so and claim we must discuss under this new parameter you’ve created. It is the definition of a special pleading and I don’t see any reason to take it seriously until you provide an argument for why Reformed theology = basic Christian theism.

      3. Very well put, and I’m glad you are pointing this out. This is exactly how I got snookered into Calvinism, as I was assured that all of the ‘scary stuff’ I had heard were false accusations, or only applied to nasty Hyper-Calvinists. As for us, why we simply believe the orthodox, historical teachings of scripture. Just what a lot of folks, tired of the celebrity evangelical sideshow, are looking for. Gotcha!

        Until the day arises when they seek to disagree with some principle or practice, and find themselves ‘under discipline’ or excommunicated for daring to disagree with God’s anointed one. Freedom of conscience were fine words which the Magisterial Reformers never truly allowed. Calvin all over again.

      4. Eric Kemp writes, “Right, this is you saying “When you disagree with Reformed theology you disagree with basic tenants of Christian theism”.”

        No, I am saying that those who disagree with Reformed Theology, agree on the basic tenants of Christian theism but then apply those tenants inconsistently in practice (e,g, in their preaching). It has nothing to do with special pleading. Rather the Calvinist objects to the inconsistent application of basic tenants by those who oppose Calvinism while claiming to agree on those basic tenants.

      5. Hutch, “I am saying that those who disagree with Reformed Theology, agree on the basic tenants of Christian theism but then apply those tenants inconsistently in practice…”

        I’m not quite sure what this means. I think you’re saying that omnipotence = theistic determinism. Is that right?

      6. Eric Kemp writes, “I’m not quite sure what this means. I think you’re saying that omnipotence = theistic determinism. Is that right? ”

        Yes – “…God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” and “…God does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ If one says that God is omnipotent, he must agree with these. If you can legitimately take such Scripture to say that God does not determine all things, do so.

      7. Hutch,

        Sure, I can. It does not even hint that God determines all things, only that He “does what He pleases” and “no one can ward of His hand or question him”. How do either of those phrases = determines all things? Those phrases say what they mean, they don’t “actually” mean something else in the background.

    2. I agree that when one uses “the doctrine of predestination” it muddy’s the waters to begin with (I agree with you on something RHutchin!). Predestination as it’s laid out in the Bible by Paul I agree with. It’s the Calvinist doctrine created out of Augustine’s erroneous view of predestination and everything that goes along with it that I disagree with. I actually do agree that using “the doctrine of predestination” can make it appear that one is attributing to predestination conclusions that have nothing to do with predestination and I would actually agree the words you used are much more helpful and clear (although I would put “Calvinist” between “The” and the next word in every one of these statements (ie. The Calvinist doctrine of Omnipotence makes God the author of sin) because my view of Omnipotence and election is much different than the Calvinists (I agreed again!).

      It’s almost laughable however that you would say that those of us who oppose Calvinism focus on “predestination” and not on those other areas. Just look at the articles on this website. How many of them focus on “predestination?”

      Bad assumption as no, I don’t agree at all with Calvinists on their distorted views of original sin, omnipotence, election, and omniscience.

      You need to go back and read Leighton’s articles and listen to his podcasts here. I’ve not heard Leighton ever disagree or argue against Total Depravity, at least not as it would be correctly Biblically defined. He argues against the Calvinist concept of total Inability (which I, along with Leighton, consider to be scripturally unsupportable). I think you know this though and are just trying to mis-represent.

      You are also very wrong on the motivation for arguing against Total Inability, it’s not because it destroys free will. I don’t give a wit about free will for free will’s sake. It’s because Total Inability is not a biblical concept supported by scripture and it’s acceptance renders most of God’s invitations, commands, and promises in scripture meaningless. But I think you’ve been on this website enough to know this as well.

      Dr. Flowers, Eric Kemp, Kevin Thompson, and may others who have argued our position have gone above and beyond in properly defining Calvinist Theology (most of the time using quotes and passages from Calvinist’s themselves) to reveal the conclusions they do not like in a most rational way. Most of what I heard in the Calvinist church I attended for many years reflects the article above, that they and they alone were the unblemished purveyors of truth and what I heard of those who oppose Calvinism I found later, were almost entirely erroneous mis-representations.

      1. andyb2015 writes, “It’s the Calvinist doctrine created out of Augustine’s erroneous view of predestination…”

        Calvin took the term, “predestination,” and clearly defined what he meant by that term (it is not the Biblical usage). So, there is nothing to disagree with. One need offer an alternative term that would avoid confusion with the Biblical “predestination” and move on.

        Then, “…my view of Omnipotence and election is much different than the Calvinists (I agreed again!). ”

        I’ll guess and say that your problem is over the God’s exercise of omnipotence and election as the basic definitions are pretty straightforward. Even in the exercise of omnipotence and election, I think people just don’t think about what they are saying. Whether you do this remains to be seen.

  2. As Andy suggests, it is not the terms themselves that people object to, but the definition assigned to them by Calvinists. No one is going to come out against God’s sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence, etc. Most will even grant the existence of some form of predestination and election. Obviously, the fact that people have been debating these things for centuries tells us that there are various definitions for such terms.

    But the Calvinist exposes his motives when he poses the centuries long debates as ‘false accusations’. This is to ignore the real issues, and simply assert they do not exist. It is all a lie. The concerns non-Calvinists have are based on ignorance, fear, malingering, etc., hence, on cue, the trusted ol’ ‘Calvinism has been misrepresented’ is trotted out.

    As those with even a cursory knowledge of logic understand, when a person has no real basis on which to defend their assertions they resort to logical fallacies in order to hide their lack of salient argument. ‘You lie’ or ‘these are false accusations’ is not a legitimate argument, it is a deflection.

    There is simply no logical escape from the points mentioned. A God who ordained every minute aspect of whatsoever will come to pass before the existence of the people who would eventually act out his plan, is indeed the author of sin along with whatsoever else comes to pass. It is absurd and unjust to blame those who simply do as has been irresistibly ordained by an omnipotent power. to The God who predestines men’s destinies before they were ever born, most definitely predestined those whom he did not ‘elect’ to hell, as it is posited by the system.

    While one might allow a little more leeway on the other two points, even Calvin and Luther acknowledged in their writings that their system led to complacency and concupiscence in many, although they insisted they did not understand why it should be so. I have witnessed the latter in nearly every Calvinist I have known, and it had the same effect on my spiritual life. My dismay upon seeing this was one of my motivations for rejecting the system, as such complacency had never before defined my spiritual journey. Calvinism does not inspire one to pursue sanctification or godliness, but makes one comfortable with one’s own sin. My pastor was irate that his flock did not seem to have any interest in sanctification, particularly as many had come from holiness denominations.

    On another blog a former Calvinist humorously suggested there was no such thing as Calvinism, as every representation of it was claimed to be false. It appears no genuine representation can be found. 😉

    1. TS00 writes, “Obviously, the fact that people have been debating these things for centuries tells us that there are various definitions for such terms.”

      No, it not the definitions that are at issue but the implications of those definitions. For example, by omniscience, God knew who would be saved and who would not be saved before He created the universe. Consequently, God never intended for all – each and every individual – to be saved. God did intend for some to be condemned from birth. yet, we find non-Calvinists adamant in saying that God is omniscient but then denying that God makes some for hell. In doing this, it is not Calvinism that is misrepresented but omniscience. Are not such actions duplicitous?

      1. rh writes:
        “No, it not the definitions that are at issue but the implications of those definitions. For example, by omniscience, God knew who would be saved and who would not be saved before He created the universe. Consequently, God never intended for all – each and every individual – to be saved. God did intend for some to be condemned from birth. yet, we find non-Calvinists adamant in saying that God is omniscient but then denying that God makes some for hell. In doing this, it is not Calvinism that is misrepresented but omniscience. Are not such actions duplicitous?”

        In truth, that is a pretty huge assumption. And one can see in it why Calvinists believe in a disingenuous, duplicitous God, who treats people as if they can make choices that they genuinely cannot. Who know, perhaps Open Theism has the proper understanding, or perhaps none of us see through the glass clearly?

        I stand on God’s goodness, honesty and justice, and believe that all men genuinely have the opportunity to choose as God commands them to choose. Their choice is real, undetermined and, even if known by God in some way beyond our comprehension, not settled until it is made.

      2. TS00 writes, “I stand on God’s goodness, honesty and justice, and believe that all men genuinely have the opportunity to choose as God commands them to choose. Their choice is real, undetermined and, even if known by God in some way beyond our comprehension, not settled until it is made.”

        Talk about being in denial – “… even if known by God in some way beyond our comprehension, not settled until it is made.”. But, that’s my point. So, why take it out on Calvinists just because they tell the truth?

  3. I’m amazed at the length he purposes to go to defend in his view the one true church. What!!! don’t Catholics, Church of Christ, Mormons  Seventh day adventists etc all believe this to be true of their church??? A believer is one who worships in spirit and truth! So a reformed theological man doesn’t have the final word & (he) never will!! Praise God who alone gets the glory!!!

    John 4:24 NASB — “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    So those who reject calvinism he believes this;

    “Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true believers.”

    I say to him, but sir my heart’s desire is;

    Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB — “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 

    And I personally do NOT trust where your soteriological view of God leads!! I stand here begging you to logically consider what your saying! I sadly have the same (“feelings”) against calvinism, but I know this appeals to no one and is rather pious!!! I desire for all true believers to be united in Spirit and grow in His love! But I reject calvinism because it presents a marred view of our Holy God and I will never stand for it unless He forcefully changes my will which I trust He will not!!! He is a much bigger Creator who needs not force, but rather reveal!

  4. BTW, all comments are no longer showing up stacked in my notifications. I am not sure I am receiving all, as I am having difficulty finding and replying to some. Is it just me?

  5. Clickbate headline much? This article is filled with Reading into Things that aren’t there. Kevin DeYoung would never teach that only reformed churches are the only true Churches that is a flat out lie

    1. Matt, let me see if I’m keeping score correctly.

      Clickbait headline on an internet blog article = not good
      Flat assertions without argument or dealing with the content of the article = good.

      Do I have that right?

      1. This is in the same vein as Calvin killing “heretics” and Spurgeon claiming that “Calvinism is the Gospel and nothing else (is).

      2. Dustin nicely put and both true!!!! I remember that quote from Spurgeon I sent it to a pastor once who I knew loves Spurgeon hoping it would give him pause🤔

        Br.d thank you also for the quotes from calvin such an odd words to write down about God yet alone believe!!!

      3. Where is your quote saying Kevin DeYoung believes the Reformed Church is the only church?

      4. It’s literally right there in the article. The Canons call Reformed believers “true believers” and they equate defending Reformed theology with Jesus defending and sanctifying his church. 1+1=2

      5. Apparently you are ok with ripping quotes entirely out of their context, and twisting them to fit your agenda. Next time read the actual book before making such claims. Or should I just simply find an article about a book written by Dr Flowers, and attack his writing from an article? I bet, you would expect me to actually read the book before attacking it wouldn’t you?

      6. What context? As I said at the beginning of my article, I made sure the article I was responding to was actually FROM his book. It’s a section in his book.

        So, I have to read the entire book in order to critique a section of the book?

      7. How hard is it to understand that critiquing a book based upon an article on a snippet from the book is lazy.

      8. I didn’t critique the book, I didn’t claim to critique the book. I claimed to critique the article. Maybe aim your criticism at things I actually said?

      9. You made a false accusation against another Brother, based upon a third party source.

      10. It’s not a third party source…it’s directly from his book. You aren’t turning a critical eye on what this section of his book says because you generally agree with DeYoung and personally like him.

      11. A quote taken completely out of context, and twisted to fit your own Agenda. Soteriology 101 is now in my mind just another source of Fake News.

      12. So, Crossway edits a section of the book and posts it online. No one can critique this section of the book, as posted online, without reading the whole book or they are lying, slandering, and spreading fake news?

      13. A very short article talking about why somone might be interesting in reading said book, but hey why waste an opportunity to get in cheap digs at your opponent. Funny how Traditionalists constantly talk about having charity for others when their Position is critizised, yet don’t have the decency to show charity themselves

      14. What is amazing about this is that I am actually dealing with the text of the Canons and what Dr. DeYoung’s says about the Canons, and you refuse to do so, you cannot see past your personal offense at the criticism of someone you admire and have personally met. And yet it’s ME who is accused of acting in bad faith.

        The truth is, you came here already offended, you aren’t listening to a word I say, and instead are here to prove what you already decided based upon the title of the article: that I’m a nefarious character with sinister motives.

        A person without their mind made up, and without the agenda of proving how nefarious you already believe I am, would comment with something like “I read the book the article is about and here is Evidence A that you are wrong in your conclusions. Dr. DeYoung actually says here that he does not endorse the Canons’ exclusive view of the Reformed Church”. I’m willing to hear clarification from Dr. DeYoung, do you have any?

      15. This is the equivalent to someone writing an article title Eric Kemp Beats His wife, prove I’m wrong.

      16. Except that within the article is the argument, based on DeYoung’s own words, that provides the reason for the title. It’s an argument. A logical conclusion based upon what DeYoung said about the Canons which you are free to disagree with and provide evidence to the contrary. But you haven’t even done that, you haven’t even disagreed. All you’re doing peering into my heart and seeing sinister motives and peering into DeYoung’s heart and seeing sunshine and rainbows. That’s a neat superpower you got there.

    2. I’m going to step out of the conversation for a while. I have been way too emotional and have been too much of a Cage Stage Calvinist, which is not who I want to be. I have received the book in the Mail, and will spend time chewing on it. Again, I apologize for my poor attitude, it was not christlike and is not the attitude I want to have towards brothers with which I disagree with.

      1. I think you are wise to know your limits. That’s something I’m still learning. You’re welcome back anytime. I can promise we’ll keep it about the ideas as much as possible. Ooooor you join the Facebook discussion group to get more practice!

  6. “The great and tragic irony is that Dr. DeYoung has not “reformed” away from Catholic thought but has only traded one Catechism for another, one Magisterium for another.”

    That is a lie. Having actually Heard Kevin DeYoung speak in person about the perpose of this book, it has nothing to do with the Catholic Idea of the Magisterium. It is all about a Canon that he grew up with and wants to introduce it to those who would otherwise would never read it.

    1. Is it a lie or just a biting criticism?

      Did I say DeYoung is saying he’s doing this or is it a conclusion I’m making based on other things he said? Would you like to actually deal with the claims in the Canon as supported by DeYoung?

      1. Your very title to the article is in fact a lie. I will say it again, Kevin DeYoung does not believe the Reformed Church is the only true church. Writing a response to a short article by crossway talking about a book that he wrote, and not actually reading the book is a poor attempt at slander.

      2. I find it interesting that I cannot know what DeYoung thinks from reading a section of his book but you can because .

        But Matt, let’s start here. Do the Canons of Dort claim that the Reformed Church is the one true church?

      3. I’ve actually met Kevin DeYoung, and heard him speak as to why He wrote the book. So no, I am not assuming what his Intention is, unlike you.

      4. Right, so that’s what is going on here. This is personal for you. Well, it’s not for me. I don’t know Kevin DeYoung and do not like him nor dislike him. I’m criticizing his words in a section of the book.

        The crux of the criticism is based upon what the Canons of Dort actually say. I asked you about this already: care to answe this time?

      5. Do these Canons of Dort equate Reformed Theology with Jesus Christ’s church?

      6. I wish you would take DeYoung’s word for it, that’s what he thinks the Synod was doing, “We see here Dort’s desire to defend Reformed theology from slander and to call upon Christ to protect the truth and sanctify his church.” Defending Reformed theology is directly equated with protecting “the truth” and “sanctify his church”.

      7. And I wish you would stop lying. And reading in something that isn’t there. This is the equivalent to me saying, well Eric Kemp holds to the Traditional Statement and anyone who disagrees with the Statement is not of the true church, therefore Eric Kemp believes only Traditionalists are of the true church.

      8. Yes, that’s exactly what it would mean if I said “anyone who disagrees with the Statement is not of the true church”. That’s my point, thank you. When you say to “defend Reformed theology” is the same as Christ protecting “the truth” and to “sanctify his church”, and then the Synod calls Reformed believers the “true believers”, you are saying the Reformed church is the one true church. That exactly the kind of valid deductive logic one can do.

      9. What the Canons of Dort are, is a description of what the Reformed Church at that time believed. It is a laying out of the beliefs by those who belonged to the reformed church, just like you have a statement on what Traditionalists believe. It is NOT saying that anyone who disagrees with us, is not a believer, or does not belong to the true church. Also, the entire reason for the statements of false accusations, is to say, here is what we do not believe, and these are many of the false accusations being made about what we believe are. They are not saying, that any argument against what we believe is false, but are clearly saying, here is why these arguments are false. This doesn’t mean at all that there aren’t arguments that can be made against what is taught by the reformed church, there are, but is clarifying what arguments can not be made, based upon a clear understanding of what has been laid out.

        So again, Kevin DeYoung, and the framers of the Canons of Dort do not believe that only the Reformed Church is the true church, and to say such is a misunderstanding of the intent of the writers of the canon.

        I apologize for my harshness previously, I acted without thinking, and should not have resorted to name calling.

      10. Matt, apology accepted. And I understand the reaction. While I meant it, the last paragraph was worded in order to be provocative and the title was meant to grab the attention. But I always try to be careful to support my statements with evidence and argument and I think I did so in this article. I also understand that often for Reformed folks these confessions are sources of piety and so criticizing them can seem sacrilegious. However, if you want to understand us, you have to understand we don’t share this reverence for the confessions and so we may come off as insensitive but we’re just disagreeing.

        I accept everything you’re saying about the Canons in your view, and I’m glad to hear it. But I have to push back on the actual text of the Canons so that you can understand where my criticism is coming from. You said:

        “It is NOT saying that anyone who disagrees with us, is not a believer, or does not belong to the true church. ”

        It may not say “true church” but it does call Reformed believers “true believers”. I will quote the relevant section from my article. I’m open to hearing a different reading of this. “Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true believers.”

        Those who accuse Reformed theology are seeking to prejudice the minds of others against “the fellowship of true believers” ie. Reformed churches. Can you see where I’m coming from?

        “They are not saying, that any argument against what we believe is false, but are clearly saying, here is why these arguments are false.”

        But this particular article only claims that the arguments are false because Reformed churches say they are false. That’s not a “here is why”, that’s a special pleading akin to “our claim is true because we say it is while yours is false because we say it is”.

        And the Canons don’t stop there but go on to pronounce the judgment of God against those who make such arguments against Reformed theology. Do you see how this would come off as abrasive to us?

        And to be clear, I’m not reaching back into history and pulling the Canons into the contemporary discussion to paint all Reformed folks with the same brush. Kevin DeYoung did that. He wrote a book with the express purpose of bringing the Canons forward and calling Reformed people to return to them. With such rhetoric against any who disagree…is this wise or helpful?

        “…but is clarifying what arguments can not be made, based upon a clear understanding of what has been laid out.”

        Why do the Canons get to tell us what arguments cannot be made simply because they say so? Perhaps you don’t endorse the Canons’ rhetoric here but you have to see how unconvincing that is for us.

        Like I said in my article, we acknowledge the Reformed folks don’t go around teaching “God is the author of sin”. Rather, our argument is that Reformed theology leads to that inescapable logical conclusion.

        “So again, Kevin DeYoung, and the framers of the Canons of Dort do not believe that only the Reformed Church is the true church, and to say such is a misunderstanding of the intent of the writers of the canon.”

        Help me to see it differently. The Canons equate Reformed churches with Christ’s church. The Canons equate Reformed believers with “the fellowship of true believers”. How should I be reading that?
        As for Dr. DeYoung, in his book, is he critical of the Canons in this regard? Does he criticize their exclusivity elsewhere in the book? If the Crossway article left out this balance please show me where Dr. DeYoung clarifies.

      11. Excellent comment. Those who seek to rule by self-claimed authority will always proclaim some or other ‘Orthodoxy’ which cannot be questioned. All questioners will be swiftly declared heretics, and burned at the stake.

        The actual methods may have changed somewhat, as the secular government saw fit to remove the sword from the bloody religionists’ hands, but the philosophy remains essentially the same. Grab for power, declare oneself or one’s views unquestionable, then condemn all who dare to disagree.

        Instead of welcoming and responding to genuine concerns and questions about undeniable, hideous assertions Reformed Theology logically demands. Instead of acknowledging the hideous but necessary corollaries to their doctrines, Calvinists have long blustered and punted, insisting ‘We don’t say that. We don’t believe that. You simply don’t understand Calvinism.’

        Listen carefully, Calvinists: We know you won’t say it upfront. We know you will seek desperately to deny the unavoidable ‘scary stuff’. We know you like to think you can make such inconsistencies mysteriously disappear just by denying their existence. We know you refuse to confront the logical conclusions of your system. That is why we speak out, so that those within your fold who have never thought things fully through will be enabled to do so.

      12. I’m going to call foul here. I distinctly remember the traditionalist Camp in the SBC actively pushing a President forward strictly because they didn’t want a Calvinist as President. Which by the way, it turns out, He really wasn’t exactly a Calvinist after all. Also the entire traditionalist Statement is framed in such a way as to say, Calvinists are not Welcome within the SBC. So before casting too many Stones, you might want to examine your own camp first.

      13. So by saying “Traditionalists are doing it too!” you acknowledge, then, that the Canons are stating what I claim they are?

        I’m not a Traditionalist, and I disagree with them on several fronts, but I don’t mind defending this specific thing.

        There is an imbalance of charity here and I fear it is hindering understanding. On the one hand, you give DeYoung and the Canons a blank check of charity even when I quote it for you. You won’t actually respond to the specific language of the Canon’s or DeYoung’s book, but you believe, in your heart, everything is peachy keen. This hinders you from understanding my criticism, even if you still end up disagreeing with me.

        On the other side, though, you have not one iota of charity for Traditionalists. The Traditionalists in the SBC don’t want a Calvinist President, therefore, they want to expel Calvinists from the SBC. Never mind that no leading Traditionalist I know has ever said that (I’m open to being corrected) and I would disagree with them if they did. You’re not open to other possibilities or explanations.

        Truly, Matt, I know you have no reason to believe me, but please take this as the friendly advice it is meant to be: We all have biases but it seems like your biases are unexamined. Please, examine how your biases might be affecting your view of this issue.

      14. I never said it was okay for either side. In fact I grew up in a denomination where it was agreed, that we will agree to disagree on this issue. What troubles me is, right now soteriology is one of the SBC’s least Important issues. When you have people importing Critical Race Theory and Cultural Marxism, which do directly Impact the gospel. Whether one is a Traditionalist or not doesn’t effect one’s salvation, although sometimes Reading the comments on this Website would make one believe Calvinists are the very Spawn of Satan himself

      15. Matt writes:
        “Whether one is a Traditionalist or not doesn’t effect one’s salvation, although sometimes Reading the comments on this Website would make one believe Calvinists are the very Spawn of Satan himself”

        Just in case my own comments may be among those you reference, may I say, with all sincerity, that I do not condemn Calvinists as the spawn of Satan. Several of my most beloved relatives are among that number. You will disagree, and I hope forgive me if I do assert that the system is one of doctrines of demons, admittedly a biblical description. I no doubt need to do better in my comments at distinguishing between the people and the institution.

        I have said it often, but perhaps not enough, that I know and love and have the utmost belief in the sincerity of many Calvinists. However, I do not believe most Calvinists grasp the logical ramifications of their theology. They are given reassurances – as I was – that ‘Calvinism doesn’t say that’ or ‘We would never say that’ which is, strictly speaking, true; but it does not discount the fact that the logical conclusions remain, whether unknown, unacknowledged or denied. So when I condemn Calvinist theology as doctrines of demons – which I do – it is out a heart of love for the people who, I believe, mostly do not understand them.

        I realize that still doesn’t redeem me in the eyes of those who are in the thrall of Calvinism, and some here encourage me to rein in my passion. It is only because I have seen so many hurt, so many who have lost hope or even their faith that I continue to share what I had to learn the hard way. I would rather annoy or incur dislike than to know I failed my duty as a watchman to share what I believe to be true.

      16. TSOO writes, It is only because I have seen so many hurt, so many who have lost hope or even their faith that I continue to share what I had to learn the hard way. I would rather annoy or incur dislike than to know I failed my duty as a watchman to share what I believe to be true.

        Reggie I would just like to say thank you!!!

      17. Matt, what’s actually going on here is that I’m engaging substantively with your ideas and you are not with mine. If your goal is to find offense, I’m sure there is plenty of material for you to be offended by. Cheers.

      18. This is simply despotism. I am the authority. Whatever I say must be unquestionably accepted and obeyed. The thing is, the one and only being who actually has the right to such authority, has chosen to not use it. This is where Calvinists and non-Calvinists part ways.

        Both acknowledge that God alone has the right to be a despot, because he is indeed the eternal, Divine, holy, omniscient, omnipotent, perfect Creator and Ruler of the Universe. But the ‘amazing’ in his grace is that he chose to not rule his creation tyrannically. Had he done so, there would be no evil, no sin, no death and no need for atonement, redemption and judgment.

        Instead, God astoundingly granted to mere created, mortal beings who depended upon him for their very existence, the right to choose. He allowed them to rebel against his will and wishes, to do things he would never desire to be done and to wreak a terrible havoc upon his once perfect creation.

        That is not to say that God abandoned his perfection and justice, but he gave men a second chance. Justice will indeed someday prevail, but first, men have been offered grace and pardon, if only they will avail themselves of it. Those who stubbornly cling to sin and rebellion will indeed someday face the curse of death. But none need do so.

        Forgiveness and undeserved grace has been made available for all men, and the genuine gospel proclaims this good news. What a terrible, unthinkable crime against God and humanity to declare to men that no such genuine, universal grace exists. Calvinism declared – however much they might mask it – that God does not love and desire to save all men, but that he has orchestrated all things from the very start, and none has the slightest freedom to do other than he has deterministically ordained.

        These are not the doctrines of Grace, but the doctrine of Despotism.

  7. #The Reformed Church is the One True Church#
    I would expect that most churches would regard themselves as having the “most correct” interpretation and practice in line with the Bible. But when adherents act as though their outlook is almost Scripture itself, that when the alarms should go off.

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