Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

What is Hyper-Calvinism?

In American churches today, there is much confusion over the definition of "hyper-Calvinism." I have personally heard several misguided notions of how to define "hyper-Calvinism;" for example, I've heard people say that a hyper-Calvinist is 'anyone who is more Calvinistic that you are,' or that a hyper-Calvinist is 'someone who holds to Limited atonement' [which is strange, since Limited atonement is one of the traditional 'five points of Calvinism']. But it is important to correctly define "hyper-Calvinism" so that one may accurately refute the grave, anti-Great Commission error represented by this term.

There are numerous competing scholarly definitions of hyper-Calvinism, and many of these definitions offer different characteristics in identifying hyper-Calvinism.[*] Common to all these definitions is the denial of “duty-faith” as essential to hyper-Calvinism. hyper-Calvinists reject the idea that every person is under obligation to trust in God; because hyper-Calvinists understand that only the elect are able to believe, and because they claim that obligations are co-extensive with ability, hyper-Calvinists teach that an individual must have a reason to think that he or she is numbered among the elect (i.e., a “warrant to believe”) before he or she is called to repent and believe.

A hyper-Calvinist is one who will not indiscriminately call sinners to immediate repentance and faith due to the doctrinal commitments mentioned above. As followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has called us to be witnesses for His gospel, Christians have a duty to reject the doctrine of hyper-Calvinism. We also have the duty to reject any hyper-Calvinist tendencies that would make us reluctant or timid to call upon all people everywhere to repent and trust in Christ (Acts 17:30-31).

[* See, for example: Jim Ellis, “What is Hyper-Calvinism?” Reformed Perspectives Magazine 10 (2008); James Leo Garrett, Baptist Theology: A Four Century Study (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2009), 89-91; Timothy George, Amazing Grace: God’s Initiative- Our Response (Nashville: Lifeway, 2000), 90-91; Phillip R. Johnson, “A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism” [on-line], accessed 16 April 2010; available from http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm; Internet; Thomas J. Nettles, By His Grace and For His Glory: A Historical, Theological, and Practical Study of the Doctrines of Grace in Baptist Life (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986; reprint, Lake Charles, LA: Cor Meum Tibi, 2002), 385-91; Peter Toon, “Hyper-Calvinism,” New Dictionary of Theology (Leicester: IVP, 1988), 324.]

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