A Few Thoughts on Hyper-Calvinism
â€œRememberâ€¦ while some Arminians are Armenians and some Armenians are Arminians, Armenians and Arminians are two very different groups. Second, while itâ€™s true that some Calvinists can be a bit hyper, that doesnâ€™t make them Hyper-Calvinists.â€ â€“ Justin Taylor
Amongst the archives at www.aomin.org here I found this, written by my friend Dr. James White; a response to a man named Marc Carpenter.
It is rather lengthy but I think you will find it worthwhile. To allow for easy reading I will make James White's words appear in bold type. - JS
The following exchange took place around the year 2000. If I am recalling correctly, an unsolicited e-mail arrived with a large "cc" list of people. As you will see, my initial response was very brief, because I learned long ago that these kinds of impromptu e-mail lists will suck the life right out of you if you let them. False teachers have, seemingly, unlimited time resources. In any case, when the reply came, I did invest a few moments to type out a few thoughts I have had on the subject of the demands of hyper-Calvinists. I hope they are useful to others as well.
Marc Carpenter writes: The person who wrote this (below) does not see the MAIN work of the Devil. The Devil works in FALSE RELIGION. It is his goal to keep people in false religious refuges of self-righteousness. The work of the Devil is to keep people believing that salvation is conditioned on the sinner in any way to any degree. The work of the Devil is to get people into churches where the false gospel is preached. The work of the Devil is to keep people believing that Jesus Christ died for all persons without exception, thus keeping them believing that the difference between heaven and hell is not the work of Christ alone but is the work of man.
The work of the Devil is to keep false religionists focused on fighting the immorality of the day, such as gambling, abortion, assisted suicide, homosexuality, taking God out of schools (as if He were ever in there to begin with), drugs, and pornography, thinking that fighting these things proves that one is a child of God -- whereas God says that everything that false religionists do (even their morality and sincerity) is an abomination in the sight of God.
What is more wicked:
(1) Two homosexuals in a gay bar singing homosexual songs
(2) A married Arminian couple (man and wife) who have always been faithful to each other sitting in an Arminian church singing hymns?
Lost religionists have no idea that BOTH of these are an abomination in the sight of God. They do not realize that ALL who are going about to establish a righteousness of their own (which includes ALL Arminians) are lost. They do not believe the gospel of salvation conditioned SOLELY on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ. They are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel (Romans 10:3). They are haters of God. They are just as filthy and wicked as those who are engaged in open, gross immorality.
Homosexuality, abortion, and pornography are most certainly wicked, but what did Jesus say about the moral self-righteous religionists in relation to the wicked immoral sodomites?
"BUT I SAY TO YOU, IT WILL BE MORE TOLERABLE FOR THE LAND OF SODOM IN JUDGMENT DAY THAN FOR YOU." (Matthew 11:24)
While all these self-righteous religionists who believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner are condemning sodomy, they do not realize that it will be more tolerable for the sodomites in the day of judgment than for them.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Marc D. Carpenter
[James White then wrote:]
I am reminded by this kind of rhetoric that even God's truth can be professed without love and without balance.
I feel for anyone who thinks themselves to have such a perfect understanding of all things that they can make the comparison made above. Most of the folks I know in Reformed churches once stood and sang hymns without a full knowledge of the doctrines of grace: to compare them to two homosexuals is
God protect us all from imbalance.
[Carpenter then wrote:]
James White said: I am reminded by this kind of rhetoric that even God's truth can be professed without love and without balance.
In the mind of most professing Calvinists who speak peace to Arminians, "love" and "balance" include speaking peace when there is no peace, saying that one who is ignorant of righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is a brother in Christ, and saying that those who believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner are saved. This shows that these professing Calvinists do not know what the true gospel is. What they call "love" and "balance" God calls Satanic. Those who defend or excuse God-haters show themselves to be God-haters. True love will tell the unregenerate that they are lost and their deeds are evil, in hopes that they will seek the remedy. To promote a lost religionist in his false refuge is actually HATRED and is promoting his eternal destruction. I am not saying this to be mean or unloving; I say this hoping that both Arminians and tolerant "Calvinists" will believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone and repent of dead works and idolatry, including repenting of speaking peace to those who worship a god who cannot save.
The gospel is the good news of salvation based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:17). Anyone who believes that any part of salvation is conditioned on the sinner (which includes all Arminians) is lost. Those who do not believe the gospel (which includes all Arminians) are lost (Mark 16:16). Those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel (which includes all Arminians) are lost (Romans 10:3). This is not saying that believing the true gospel is a prerequisite to salvation; it is saying that when God regenerates someone, He glorifies Himself by causing that person to believe the true gospel of salvation based on the blood and imputed righteousness of Christ. There are not many paths to God; there is only one. And if anyone preaches another gospel, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9). If anyone does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, he does not have God (2 John 9). If anyone will speak peace to one who believes a false gospel, then he, too, is evil (2 John 11). God is glorified in the salvation of sinners when He manifests all His redemptive glory to their hearts. He will not have His saved ones spit in the face of His Son and dishonor His redemptive glory.
I am also willing to correspond with any of you who would like to discuss this.
Soli Deo Gloria,
[James White then wrote:]
I generally do not participate in massive "cc" e-mails where dozens of people who have not requested the original e-mail, nor the replies, are involved. As I look through list of folks, however, I see many I know, many who are friends and acquaintances. (Indeed, I'm glad to get the e-mails of a number of you I didn't have before!). So I will make one response to this hyper-Calvinistic presentation simply because I believe it needs to be refuted. Hyper-Calvinism does those of us who are historic Calvinists no good: indeed, many who will not even talk to us about the sovereignty of God's grace do so because hyper-Calvinists have added *perfection of understanding* to the gospel as *the* standard of salvation itself and they assume that we, likewise, hold such a position.
Marc Carpenter: =====James White said: I am reminded by this kind of rhetoric that even God's truth can be professed without love and without balance.
In the mind of most professing Calvinists who speak peace to Arminians, "love" and "balance" include speaking peace when there is no peace, saying that one who is ignorant of righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is a brother in Christ, and saying that those who believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner are saved. This shows that these professing Calvinists do not know what the true gospel is. What they call "love" and "balance" God calls Satanic. Those who defend or excuse God-haters show themselves to be God-haters.=====
Let's consider well what is being said here. If you do not make perfection of understanding an addition to the gospel, you are "speaking peace" to an Arminian. I have no idea how recognizing the simple truth that one does not have to have perfection of understanding to have eternal life is to be confused with "speaking peace" to a belief that, from looking at the list, most everyone reading this exchange would admit is in significant error on many points. I do no speak peace to Arminianism. Anyone who knows me knows this. I would not have dedicated the past nine radio programs we produce through our ministry to a refutation of Norman Geisler's new anti-Reformed book "Chosen But Free" if I was "speaking peace" to Arminianism. Recognizing that one can have traditions in their thinking that are not biblical and still be a Christian is not the same as "speaking peace" to falsehood. My goodness, do we not *all* have such traditions? If perfection is the standard *to be saved,* who of us actually is? Are hyper-Calvinists claiming to have no traditions, to have a perfection of understanding in all matters? I fear those who make such claims.
Most on this list I would assume came to understand the doctrines of grace through a process: a breaking, difficult process, one that has, for many of us, cost us dearly. But it was not that PROCESS that saved us. It seems that some would have us to believe that God births no children, but only mature adults, in the kindgom, in the sense that unless you have a full-orbed, perfect understanding of the relationship of all parts of the gospel to each other that you do not, in fact, know Christ. I am so thankful that is transparently false.
Seemingly we are likewise being told that the "Arminian" is ignorant of the righteousness of God and trusting in salvation "conditioned" upon themselves. I suppose a hard-core, convinced Arminian might well believe those things, and I for one would believe that such a faith is not likely genuine. But I've met very FEW such people. The vast majority of those I meet who have difficulty with the doctrines of grace do so out of ignorance, not malice or rebellion. And what do we do with them?
The previous message likened a couple singing hymns in an "Arminian church" to two homosexuals in a bar. Such a concept makes no place for the simple truth of IGNORANCE. How many do you we all know who are simply untaught and unaware, blanketed by layers of evangelical tradition? Are we seriously to call such a person a God-hater? Because they were converted to Christ within an imperfect fellowship (gracious, who is converted to Christ within a perfect one?), are we to make our OWN understanding and practices an ADDITION to the gospel so that they remain in their sins, and are, in fact, God-haters?
What seems ironic is that our hyper-Calvinistic friends will say they believe it takes an act of grace to bring a person to an understanding of such issues as sovereignty, providence, election, and depravity: yet, they will tell God that He MUST give this grace *on their timetable* and none else. The idea that God can bring a person over time to come to understand fully what it means to truly believe "you have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you" has no place in the rigorous, and sadly unloving, world of the hyper-Calvinist.
=====True love will tell the unregenerate that they are lost and their deeds are evil, in hopes that they will seek the remedy.=====
Of course: but in the hyper-Calvinistic view that assumes that to be regenerated one must have memorized Pink's "Sovereignty of God" or some other such standard. I was converted to Christ as a youth: a very young youth in fact. I wouldn't have understood the terms "reprobation" or "predestination," but I did understand sin, love, and Jesus' dying. It seems that possibly the hyper-Calvinist confuses the tremendous necessity that I hope we all feel to honor God by the proclamation of the *entirety* of God's truth (I preached on particular redemption just this morning in fact) and the constant effort to bring people to a full understanding of these vital issues with the fact that God can, to borrow from one of my fellow elders, draw a straight line with a crooked stick. God is not dependent upon the perfection of OUR understanding in bringing regeneration to the heart: and unless you are ready to say that the Apostles preached that the object of saving faith included all five points, in clarity, perfection, and completeness, right from the start, you have a problem. I do have to wonder why Titus had to teach and preach these truths (Titus 2:11-15) if, in fact, every Christian who had saving faith already knew them implicitly?
=====To promote a lost religionist in his false refuge is actually HATRED and is promoting his eternal destruction. I am not saying this to be mean or unloving; I say this hoping that both Arminians and tolerant "Calvinists" will believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone and repent of dead works and idolatry, including repenting of speaking peace to those who worship a god who cannot save.=====
And it is my hope that our hyper-Calvinist friends will come to realize that they need to let God bring His children to a full understanding of His truth in His time, not theirs. I can reject such rhetoric because I am consistent on this point: I do not compromise the Reformed faith in the face of opposition (anyone who has attended my live, public debates against Roman Catholics on Long Island, for example, knows what I mean): but I likewise do not insist that one of the divine gifts given in regeneration is perfection of theology. God has, in His wisdom, set certain standards: I do not believe that a faith that does not include repentance from sin and trust in Christ as Savior saves. I don't believe faith as propounded by Rome, for example, saves. But it is a simple matter of imbalance to then fly to the other side and demand *perfection* of faith as the standard. Indeed, I learned this week, while preparing for the ministry of the Word, more about the wonderful work of Christ in our behalf: does that mean I had an imperfect faith yesterday, and a perfect faith today? Did I "get saved" this week because my understanding is better now than it was before? I don't believe so.
I will close with this: in God's gracious providence I've had the opportunity of writing about the doctrines of grace in a couple of books that have, in His will, gotten into the hands of folks all across the world. Just yesterday a fellow called into our radio program from England to talk about some issues. One of the things he noted was that until he had encountered our website and my tapes, he had been a garden-variety Arminian. But, though he went through some sleepless nights, he now sees the truth of the doctrines of grace. Is someone asking me to believe that when he first encountered my writings this Englishman, though professing faith in Christ, was an enemy of God, a rebel in his sins, but, once he accepted what I had to say, he was regenerated? Regenerated men seek out such material and give it a hearing? You see, if one takes that position (and I can't see how our hyper-Calvinistic correspondent wouldn't fit in this category), one is forced to assert that in point of fact it was not the gospel message that converted this man, but a sudden growth in his understanding of the relationship of certain elements. Such is simply untenable.
Balance, my friends. It is a difficult thing to maintain. It takes grace, maturity, experience. May God be pleased to give us all spirits that are steadfast and balanced, always tempered by love and a recognition that there is not a single person reading this note who can honestly say that he or she has a perfect and complete understanding of all there is to know of God's grace and truth.