At least, these are three I’ve heard used:
1. Total Depravity. “Humans are totally corrupt. They can’t produce anything good. Therefore, we shouldn’t borrow from them.” I heard this used by a talk-show host firing at Tim Keller.
But ‘total depravity’ isn’t Calvin’s word: it’s a pneumonic device. We’re not totally corrupt, as in “as bad as possible.” We’re utterly corrupt. At root, we are corrupt.
But not all of us are Adolf Hitler. We’re not as bad as possible. God’s common grace gives unbelievers rain, and grace, and culture, and conscience. In fact, failing to acknowledge God’s common grace is blasphemy (Romans 1).
That’s what unbelievers do. Not Christians.
2. Scriptural Sufficiency. One “reformed” book for high-schoolers pitted scriptural sufficiency against using illustrations. Another preacher used it as a reason not to use humor. Another used it against video illustrations, and drama. These are well-known voices.
But what is scriptural sufficiency?
It means scripture contains all we need to know to understand and live out the gospel. We don’t pit this against translating the Bible into English. We don’t pit it against the need for preaching. We don’t pit it against acts of mercy (well, depending who you are).
So why would we pit it against contextualization? Answer: because this is a pet-doctrine used by us Reformers when we don’t like something.
3. God’s sovereignty. Admittedly, this one has been used by ME. I’ve already addressed this, but I’ll address it again. The question isn’t whether the Holy Spirit can sovereignly draw people to himself. The question is: “By what means does He delight to do it?”
We can agree that He delights to do it through the preaching of the gospel.
We can agree that He delights to do it through prayer.
And we’re comfortable saying: “More people will be saved in a given context when preachers preach the gospel and pray.” But when it comes to contextualization, we change the game-plan: “The Holy Spirit is Sovereign! He doesn’t need that!”
He doesn’t need it. Nor does He need prayer. Or preaching for that matter.
But he delights in it. Because, as I’ve noted, it 1. Honors His common grace, and 2. Is an act of Christ-like love. And yes, more people will be saved in our ministries when we do it.