Thursday, March 9, 2017

What is Hyper-Calvinism?

The first time I ever heard the phrase, "hyper-Calvinism," the first thought that came to my head was a Calvinist who is hyperactive. I know some of you either chuckled or rolled your eyes. Now that I got that embarrassing moment out of the way, lets get to down to it. Hyper-Calvinism is a real thing and it has nothing to do how much sugar in-take they did just before lunch.

What exactly is Hyper-Calvinism? Josh Buice wrote:

Hyper-Calvinism is not a term used for those who are overly passionate about Calvinism. That’s actually what we refer to as “cage stage Calvinism.” When understood properly, hyper-Calvinism is a technical term for an extreme and unbiblical view that rejects any need for Christians to engage in missions and evangelism. Simply put, hyper-Calvinists forbid the preaching of the gospel and the offer of salvation to the non-elect. Such people believe that God has chosen people in Christ in eternity past and will bring about His results without the help of His people. Hyper-Calvinism is heresy and must be rejected.

What is ironic is that many have accused Calvinist of not being mission-minded or having no love for the lost. Although, Calvinist do embrace the doctrine of divine election, where we belief that God choses those by His grace to redeem from sin, it does not mean we don't evangelize nor send missionaries to preach the gospel in a foreign land.

Philip R Johnson, in his Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, has listed five varieties of Hyper-Calvinists whom he has listed "from the worst kind to a less extreme variety."

A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:
1.Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR

2.Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR

3.Denies that the gospel makes any "offer" of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR

4.Denies that there is such a thing as "common grace," OR

5.Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect

He goes on to say:

All five varieties of hyper-Calvinism undermine evangelism or twist the gospel message.

Many modern hyper-Calvinists salve themselves by thinking their view cannot really be hyper-Calvinism because, after all, they believe in proclaiming the gospel to all. However, the "gospel" they proclaim is a truncated soteriology with an undue emphasis on God's decree as it pertains to the reprobate. One hyper-Calvinist, reacting to my comments about this subject on an e-mail list, declared, "The message of the Gospel is that God saves those who are His own and damns those who are not." Thus the good news about Christ's death and resurrection is supplanted by a message about election and reprobation—usually with an inordinate stress on reprobation. In practical terms, the hyper-Calvinist "gospel" often reduces to the message that God simply and single-mindedly hates those whom He has chosen to damn, and there is nothing whatsoever they can do about it.

Deliberately excluded from hyper-Calvinist "evangelism" is any pleading with the sinner to be reconciled with God. Sinners are not told that God offers them forgiveness or salvation. In fact, most hyper-Calvinists categorically deny that God makes any offer in the gospel whatsoever.

Sam Storms wrote:

According to hyper-Calvinism, the extent of preaching is determined by the extent of regeneration. Only those who show evidence of the latter are proper recipients or objects of the former. The principal difficulty with this is that Scripture sanctions no such restriction on the proclamation of Christ and the call to repent and believe. Jesus left his disciples with clear and unequivocal marching orders, to wit, that “repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).

When the apostle Paul preached on Mars Hill he made no effort to distinguish between those he thought were or were not elect, and therefore regenerate. Such knowledge belongs to God alone. Rather, Paul’s gospel took the form of an indiscriminate and universal proclamation: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30).

I can only conclude that the external call of the gospel is a vital element in biblical Christianity. To deny it is to deviate from true Calvinism in a most serious way. However, for the sake of clarity (and even charity) perhaps we ought to drop the label hyper-Calvinist and simply refer to those who hold that view as wrong.

We see in scripture that Jesus commands us to evangelize. The book of Acts shows us the word being planted in people and brought fruit. The Lord does know all who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). God knows who are His and who will be saved by grace through faith in the end. We do not know that. We are to proclaim the gospel. We are to follow the Lord's commands to evangelize.

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