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Posts Tagged ‘Hyper-Calvinism

Determinism and Evangelism

In Greg Dutcher’s book, Killing Calvinism, Dutcher writes that Calvinists often hear that Calvinism destroys evangelism.  Yet Dutcher writes that while he disagrees with such a view, the best way to show that Calvinism does not destroy evangelism is to actually do evangelism.  I appreciated that.  Dutcher writes that Calvinists like to point to men such as George Whitefield as proof that true Calvinists can be great soul winners but fail to show through their own lives that they actually do share the gospel with the lost.  Agreed with all that he wrote.  Great words for us all whether we are Arminians or Calvinists.

In another book, John MacArthur writes,

The wonder of the gospel is that it is God’s doing.  W sow the seed by sharing the gospel, then we go to sleep, and the Spirit works through the gospel to give life.  We do not control who is saved, because the Spirit goes wherever He wills (John 3:8).  We do not even know how it happens, any more than a farmer knows how a seed in the ground becomes food.  Our job is not to impart life, only to implant the seed.  Once we have done that, we can rest in the sovereign power of God. (Evangelism, pp.12-13).

I agree here with MacArthur as well.  Our job is not to “save” anyone since we cannot.  Only God can save a sinner who believes (1 Corinthians 1:21).  When a sinner believes the gospel, they are brought from death to life (John 5:24) and from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13-14).  The sinner who believes the gospel does so by the grace of God, through the conviction of the Spirit (John 16:8-11) and after believing, they are sealed with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14) which testifies to their adoption (Romans 8:15).

Yet I would point out that to be a consistent Calvinist, one must hold that all of salvation is unconditional.  God alone is the first and ultimate cause.  God foreordained all things even before time began (1 Peter 1:1-2).  God predestined His elect by His own sovereign choice (Romans 8:29-30).  God elects based on His own choice and not on anything in the person (Romans 9:11-13).  Consistent Calvinism then would hold that God not only elects the person before time began but He also sent His Son to redeem the elect (John 10:14-15).  God then calls and saves the elect not because of anything in man nor by the means of man but by His own sovereign, irresistible power (John 1:13; Acts 13:48).  While some Calvinists argue that God saves the elect by the means of the Word of God, this would not be consistent with the sovereignty of God nor with the unconditional nature of election.  To truly be unconditional, the choice, call, and saving is all done by God for God’s glory.  If we add that a person must hear the gospel, we are adding a condition.  If we add that a disciple must preach the gospel to the elect for them to hear and be saved, we are adding a condition.  This is not consistent.

I was recently reading Charles Spurgeon who was by no means consistent on this issue.  Spurgeon is hailed for his great preaching but also for his evangelism as well.  I appreciate Spurgeon much.  Yet Spurgeon was preaching on John 6:44 and he was being very Calvinistic in this text as I would expect.  Spurgeon even stated,

Now, if the preaching of Christ himself did not avail to the enabling these men to come to Christ, it cannot be possible that all that was intended by the drawing of the Father was simply preaching. No, brethren, you must note again, he does not say no man can come except the minister draw him, but except the Father draw him. Now there is such a thing as being drawn by the gospel, and drawn by the minister, without being drawn by God. Clearly, it is a divine drawing that is meant, a drawing by the Most High God—the First Person of the most glorious Trinity sending out the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, to induce men to come to Christ.

Spurgeon even took a shot at Arminians in this sermon for holding that sinners are converted by hearing the gospel and believing the truth.  Spurgeon here was consistent with his Calvinism.  Truly, if God has elected the elect before the world began and has saved them in His Son, the elect will be saved and further, are saved even from eternity past (eternal justification in the words of John Gill).  The means is not a condition to salvation.  Evangelism, preaching, discipleship, etc. are not means to salvation.  They cannot be.  That would add a condition and would not be consistent with the sovereignty of God as taught within Calvinism.  The fact is that Spurgeon was correct if Calvinism is true: the sinner is drawn not by the preaching of the gospel or any external means but the internal call of God by which the Spirit of God regenerates the sinner so that they can hear God’s voice and live.  The classic example given by Calvinists is Lazarus in John 11.

Calvinists will insist that external call goes out to all (Revelation 22:17) but the internal call goes out only to the elect.  The internal call is the call of God and is irresistible.  The internal call of God is based on His sovereign choice.  The internal call of God is unconditional.  The external call is the preaching of the gospel but the internal call of God is only to His elect (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).  The Calvinist evangelist then will preach the gospel to all and call all to repent and believe the gospel but he knows that only the elect will do so (1 Peter 1:3).  J.I. Packer writes that this is great comfort for the Reformed evangelist since they know that the work of God is done not by them but by God’s power and grace.  The evangelist merely preaches the gospel and the Lord does the work of saving sinners for His glory.  The duty of the evangelist is not to save anyone (he can’t) but to preach the gospel and God takes the gospel and brings forth fruitfulness in His timing (Matthew 13:3-9).

Yet is all this consistent with divine determinism?  If in fact God has chosen His elect before the foundation of the world and if in fact this election is based on God’s sovereign choice and if in fact this election and salvation are purely monergistic, what role does the evangelist play?  In reality, none.  If one argues that the preaching of the gospel is necessary to the saving of the elect, is this a condition?  How can one argue that election is unconditional while placing certain conditions upon election such as faith, repentance, or hearing the gospel preached by an evangelist?

I agree with much of what I wrote above about the external call.  I reject the internal call because this violates the power of choice in a given relationship and God, in Scripture, treats us as people.  God deals with people as people who can choose because they have been created in His image (Genesis 1:26-27).  The preaching of the cross is to be preached to all and all can be saved (John 16:8).  The prevenient grace of God is the preaching of the gospel and the work of the Spirit as He works through the preaching of the gospel to bring forth salvation among lost sinners (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).  I agree entirely that God alone saves because He alone can save (Isaiah 45:22).  The “work” of mankind is to humble themselves and believe the gospel (John 6:29; Romans 4:5).  When a sinner humbles themselves before the cross, they will find that the Lord is merciful toward humble sinners and He will save them by His grace (Luke 18:14).  This is the hope of the Bible (1 Timothy 2:4).

Consistent Calvinists (known as hyper-Calvinists) hold that God saves only the elect and He does so in His own timing and power.  He does not need man nor does He even use man.  God alone saves His elect.  Everything that happens happens because God wills it so including the damnation of the non-elect or reprobate.  Calvin acknowledged this calling it the “horrible decree.”  I’m not sure why Calvin would label it as such since everything happens to the glory of God including the damnation of the reprobate.  In the consistent Calvinist church, how does one become a Christian?  By God’s sovereign decree and timing.  In fact, some consistent Calvinists believe that assurance of salvation is impossible in this life.  One cannot know they are elected until the final judgment.  Some have even taught that many will think they were elect but will find at the final judgment that they were not.  This reminds me of the Islamic view of eternal life in which Allah sometimes even casts faithful Muslims into hell simply because Allah wills it so.  While the consistent Calvinist would view Yahweh as loving and good, they would agree that Yahweh may or man not allow some into heaven even if they thought they were elect simply because He did not will it so.

Yet the Calvinist must admit that the consistent Calvinist is correct.  If God is sovereign as Calvinism teaches then everything that happens happens because of the will of God.  As R.C. Sproul is famous for saying, “If there is one rebellious molecule in the universe, God is not sovereign!”  In Calvinism, sovereignty means “complete control, divine determinism of all things.”  How can one say the uphold such a view of God yet say that He allows sinners to willfully reject (with free choice) the salvation offered to them?  Remember, compatibilism holds that free choice is not allowed.  Let me repeat the definition of compatibilism:

Compatibilism (also known as soft determinism), is the belief that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is “compatible” with voluntary choice. In light of Scripture, human choices are believed to be exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices about occur through divine determinism (see Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28). It should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism – be clear that neither soft nor hard determinism believes man has a free will. Our choices are only our choices because they are voluntary, not coerced. We do not make choices contrary to our desires or natures. Compatibilism is directly contrary to libertarian free will. Therefore voluntary choice is not the freedom to choose otherwise, that is, without any influence, prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition. Voluntary does mean, however, the ability to choose what we want or desire most. The former view is known as contrary choice, the latter free agency. (Note: compatibilism denies that the will is free to choose otherwise, that is, free from the bondage of the corruption nature,for the unregenerate, and denies that the will is free from God’s eternal decree.)

So a sinner hears the gospel and notice that according to compatibilism, that person cannot choose freely to receive or reject the gospel.  Notice carefully that a person is not free to choose otherwise.  In other words, the Reformed evangelist comes along preaching the gospel to a crowd.  The Reformed evangelist preaches, “Repent and believe the gospel” but he knows that only those who have the internal call of God will respond while the others are dead in their sins and cannot even hear him spiritually speaking (1 Corinthians 2:14).  Yet even before the evangelist ever came and even before time began, God had already chosen His elect.  The evangelist comes and the people have no choice in this matter.  They will believe because God wills it so.  It has nothing to do with the evangelist or the sinner.  Go back and read Spurgeon at the top.  God draws the sinner not by external means but by His grace alone (John 6:44).  God needs no minister in the words of Spurgeon.  This, my friends, is consistent Calvinism.  It is not practiced much but it is consistent.

Conclusion

Some Calvinists will read this post and say that I got it all wrong.  I may have.  I am not a Calvinist and have never been so.  However, I read Spurgeon and most of the above came from a book I have on John Calvin written by a Calvinist.  I rejoice that consistent Calvinism is not rampant.  I believe that as more and more Calvinists read into Calvin and think deeply on the implications of Calvinism, they will reject the system.  Calvinism is not practical.  Calvinism is not congruent.  Especially for those who love sinners and want to see them saved.  Most Reformed evangelists I know preach like Arminians.  They call sinners to repent and they reason with sinners to come to faith.  Yet they are not consistent with their evangelism and their theology that they believe backs up their preaching.  From Jeremiah’s Cry to many other Reformed evangelism groups, they are not consistent in their application of Calvinism toward preaching to the lost.

My prayer is that we would soon see a turning of the tide away from Calvinism.  I love my Calvinist brothers and sisters.  I love to listen to many of them preach and teach the Word of God.  I have been blessed to have even evangelized with many Calvinists brothers and sisters in the open air.  I do not view Calvinists as enemies of the gospel.  Let me repeat that: I do not believe Calvinists are enemies of the gospel.  I disagree with Calvinism but love Calvinists.  I listen to many Calvinist podcasts and enjoy their labors for the Lord.  I rejoice that nearly every Calvinist I know is not consistent.

In the end, I will freely admit that I am not a brilliant man and could be wrong.  I pray that God would show me where I am wrong.  I would humble myself before His throne and admit my failures in my own theology as He reveals it to me.  I also confess that theology always has some mystery to it.  I cannot understand fully how God is able to take free choices of men and women and still has His own outcome.  I don’t understand the nature of petitionary prayer to the sovereignty of God.  Yet I am okay with mystery.  The gospel is not a mystery (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  The gospel is clear (Acts 13:38-39).  Yet other aspects of theology are a mystery and I suppose we may never fully grasp them even in eternity in God’s holy presence.

In my next post I won’t to jump into John 6:37.  Does John 6:37 affirm divine determinism or is there another way to read John 6:37 in the context of both John and Scripture that affirms the universal call of the gospel?  We shall see.

May God be glorified in His Church!

The Cycle of Calvinism From A Biased Arminian

I enjoy Church history.  I enjoy reading the story of how the gospel flowed from the book of Acts to the nations.  I love reading how people have taken great steps of faith to take the gospel to the nations.  It blesses me to see Psalm 110:1 being taken to the nations.

That said, I will confess that this post is very biased.  I am not writing from a position of having studied many hours over Church history books.  I did listen to a podcast by Dr. Curt Daniel on hyper-Calvinism.  If his views hold, we will see cycles of Calvinism in the church.  This seems to be the view of Dr. Daniel and my own as well though I have not lived through them.

Dr. Daniel views the cycles of Calvinism as follows.  These points are my own:

1.  Initial Revival of Calvinism

2.  Cage Staged Calvinism

3.  Apologetical Calvinism

4.  Hyper-Calvinism

The first is the embracing of Calvinism followed by the cage stage where the young Calvinist is zealous for all things Calvinistic.  I have noticed that in this stage the Calvinist often will not necessarily read the works of Calvin or Spurgeon or Edwards or MacArthur or Sproul but will write and talk as if they have.  In this stage, Calvinism is the gospel and the point of agreement.  If a person is not a Calvinist, they are viewed as wrong, perhaps heretical, and even unsaved.  I have been declared as all three!

From the cage stage the Calvinist turns to apologetics to defend Calvinism.  This often leads to men such as James White or R.C. Sproul.  I have found the younger Calvinists to prefer to download White than to read Sproul.  The apologetics stage is where the young Calvinist goes on a witch-hunt for anything and anyone that is against Calvinism.

The final stage is hyper-Calvinism.  I praise God that not many have found their way here yet.  Even R.C. Sproul, despite agreeing that Romans 9:22-23 does teach double predestination, admits he cannot go on to being a hyper-Calvinist.  Most stop at point #3 and many turn back either to being biblical Arminians or some reject the faith altogether.

If Church history can teach us anything then according to Dr. Daniel, we will see a rise in hyper-Calvinism over the years to come after we have watched Calvinism explode onto the scene the past 15 years.  I pray that godly Calvinists will fight against hyper-Calvinism as hyper-Calvinism always leads to loss in missions, loss in unity even among disagreeing brethren, and leads to dead faith.

This is just the views of a very biased Arminian.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/10/2014 at 11:05 AM

Hell Makes Sense If Conditional Election Is True

Hell is a hotly debated subject (sorry for the pun).  Is hell eternal conscious torment?  Is hell just a figure of speech for death for the ungodly?  Are people really burning forever in hell or is hell just where people are thrown and then destroyed forever?  These are all debated.

Yet hell is a biblical reality.  Even those who hold to conditionalism believe in hell.  They deny that hell is eternal conscious torment but they do believe in hell.  They can even warn people of hell and the need to repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus alone to save them or they will go to hell.

But hell doesn’t make sense unless one holds to conditional election.  Otherwise, one is faced with the idea that God has arbitrarily chosen to save a few while damning most human beings in hell not because of their sins but also because of His sovereign choice.  Hell, for those who hold to unconditional election, is simply the glory of God being manifested as He casts the lost into hell.  Calvinists such as John Piper teach that hell for the non-elect glorifies God by showing His goodness toward the elect.  Calvinists often will say that the fact that God chooses to save sinners from among the sinful lump shows His goodness.

John Calvin went further.  Calvin taught from Romans 9:22 that the vessels of wrath are people whom God has not just passed over but He hardens.  Calvin wrote:

But if we wish fully to understand Paul, almost every word must be examined. He then argues thus, — There are vessels prepared for destruction, that is, given up and appointed to destruction: they are also vessels of wrath, that is, made and formed for this end, that they may be examples of God’s vengeance and displeasure. If the Lord bears patiently for a time with these, not destroying them at the first moment, but deferring the judgment prepared for them, and this in order to set forth the decisions of his severity, that others may be terrified by so dreadful examples, and also to make known his power, to exhibit which he makes them in various ways to serve; and, further, that the amplitude of his mercy towards the elect may hence be more fully known and more brightly shine forth; — what is there worthy of being reprehended in this dispensation? But that he is silent as to the reason, why they are vessels appointed to destruction, is no matter of wonder. He indeed takes it as granted, according to what has been already said, that the reason is hid in the secret and inexplorable counsel of God; whose justice it behoves us rather to adore than to scrutinize.

Romans 9:21, according to the unconditional view of election, is clear that God has made both His elect and the non-elect for His own purposes.  God, from the foundation of the world, has chosen whom He will save and whom He will damn.  This is not merely God passing by the non-elect but His active choice to prepare them for the purpose of hell.

R.C. Sproul admits that he struggles with Romans 9:20-24.  He admits that the idea of double predestination seems very strong here and that hyper-Calvinism finds its heart in these texts.  Yet Sproul is not a hyper-Calvinist and so the best he can do is to teach that there is one batch of sinful creatures and that God endures the vessels of wrath which are reprobate (Chosen by God, p. 153).

Calvin’s successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, taught that Romans 9:21 is mankind not yet made and much less corrupted.  In other words, Beza taught that God sovereignly chose to elect before even creating mankind while also choosing to reject those whom He had not chosen.  God then made humans and even before the Fall, He chose to elect and harden.  Beza taught that this view alone protects God of His sovereignty and glorifies Him since everything (including the Fall) was for the glory of God.

For the Arminian, Adam Clarke taught that Romans 9:22 were the unbelieving Jews.  Clarke taught that Romans 9 has the Jews and Gentiles in mind and not individual unconditional election.  Romans 9:24-29 point to Clarke’s view.  God has in mind Israel as the vessel of wrath since they rejected His grace.  Thomas Oden states that people harden themselves by the rejection of the grace of God.  2 Timothy 2:21 states the people can turn from vessels of wrath to vessels of honor by the grace of God.  This is conditioned upon faith in the Lord Jesus (1 Timothy 4:10; 2 Timothy 2:10).

Why then would God, in the Calvinist viewpoint, create mankind for destruction?  There is no clear teaching on this.  Most simply will quote Deuteronomy 29:29 as the end all of the debate.  Calvin warned that this is indeed a mystery that one need not ponder too deeply.

For the Arminian, hell makes sense since God has been reaching out to the world since the Fall.  Mankind was created in the image of God and by their own willful choice, brought sin into the world (Genesis 3:1-7).  Even in the Garden of Eden, Yahweh reached out to mankind in His grace by calling them (Genesis 3:9), giving them a promise even in the midst of the curse (Genesis 3:15) and then clothing them (Genesis 3:21).  From Genesis onward, God is preparing the world for His Messiah.  The Messiah would come and would bear the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:4-6; John 1:29).

In Matthew 7 Jesus speaks much of two’s.  He says there are two gates (Matthew 7:13-14), two types of fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), two confessions (Matthew 7:21-23), and two types of people who either obey or disobey (Matthew 7:24-27).  Even now there are two types of people: lost or saved.  The saved become the elect.  The lost remain outside of His elect but do so by their own free choice.

If this is the case, if the lost are still in rebellion because of their own hardness, their own refusal to submit to the Lordship of Christ, their own rejection of God’s grace and mercy, etc. then hell makes sense.  Hell is fitting for those who would reject the Lord God.  No sinner will be able to stand before a holy God and said, “You made me a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction” but will simply acknowledge the justice of God and condemning them in their sins.  It is sin that sends a person to hell and not God’s unconditional election (Romans 6:23).  It is willful rebellion against God that leads to mankind’s utter destruction.

If I were a Calvinist, I would then reject unending conscious torment in hell since I would hold that people go to hell because God has not chosen them to be elect.  The thought that a loving and good God would send people to hell not because of their sins but because He simply did not choose them to be His elect would be grievous to me.  God is pictured in the Bible as loving and good.  John 3:16 is probably the most known verse in the Bible yet how does it fit into the idea that God loved the world so much that He created vessels of wrath whom He fitted for everlasting destruction and misery in hell?  The only comfort I would be able to find is that people are destroyed in hell (or annihilated) because God simply did not choose them.

Jesus said that hell was created for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).  Revelation 20:10 says that the devil will be tormented there day and night forever and ever.  Hell was not created for the glory of God in condemning the non-elect but in destroying Satan.  Those who are not found in Christ will also go there (Revelation 20:11-15).  I believe that this is based on either salvation in Christ or rejection of Christ but is not based on the unconditional election of people.  Hell makes sense to me because I see hell as the final destruction for those who have hated God and rebelled against Him while on earth.  Hell makes sense because of the cross (John 3:17-18, 36).

One Point About My Post on Hyper-Calvinism

I want to make one point about my previous post on hyper-Calvinism and how I see it as consistent Calvinism.  I want to make it clear that I don’t agree with the underlying thesis of the hyper-Calvinist and I believe that the hyper-Calvinist exalts the decree of God above all things.  It makes the decree of God supreme when in fact, as an Arminian, I believe the love of God is supreme as seen in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9).

Now that said, I want to make one more point about this post and that is that I do not hold that Calvinists are all hyper-Calvinists.  Not at all.  In fact, the vast majority of them would preach against hyper-Calvinism and would view it as unbiblical.  I want to make that clear.  I have seen various non-Calvinists say that Calvinism is hyper-Calvinism.  For instance, Dr. Norman Geisler, in his book Chosen But Free, writes that Reformed Christians are hyper-Calvinists whereas he sees himself as a moderate Calvinist.  Another author, John Rice, wrote a book on Calvinism in which he called Calvinism, “hyper-Calvinism.”  I disagree with this term being applied to all Calvinists.  All the Calvinists I know personally would preach against hyper-Calvinism and would gladly go and preach the gospel along with me to all people.  They rightfully agree with us Arminians that the gospel is to be preached to all and we should leave the results to God alone.

So again, I want to make it clear that most Calvinists would deplore the teachings of hyper-Calvinists.  For that, I am thankful.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2013 at 12:42 PM

If I Became A Calvinist…

From time to time I read on a Calvinist blog or a site that the logical end of Arminianism is universalism.  Therefore, so the writers imply, that if they embraced Arminianism then they would likewise embrace universalism since this is the Arminians logical end.

For me, if I were to embrace Calvinism, I would embrace hyper-Calvinism.  Hyper-Calvinism is the logical end.  If you follow TULIP correctly, the logical end has to be hyperism.  I recently even heard a Reformed Bible teacher lecturing on hyper-Calvinism and he lamented that despite the success of the “young, restless, and reformed” movement, he believed that history showed that with the rise of Calvinism also followed hyper-Calvinism as young, zealous Calvinists go beyond the bounds and take Calvinism to places that Calvin never intended the theology to go to (though I think that Calvin was not always consistent).  This Reformed teacher warned that the next movement he saw on the horizon would be a rise in hyper-Calvinism.

Now for those who don’t know what hyper-Calvinism is (as some Arminians tend to think that all Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists), hyperism is the following:

The prefix “hyper” may be used generically to refer to anything that is considered “extreme” or which goes beyond the accepted norm. There is therefore a sense in which one may refer to Calvinistic views regarded as going beyond normal Calvinism as “hyper.” This non-technical use, usually as a pejorative term, has been applied to a variety of theological positions which fall outside mainstream Calvinism:

  • that God is the source of sin and of evil
  • that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect
  • that it is wrong to evangelize
  • that God does not command everyone to repent
  • that there is no common grace, i.e. God only cares for his elect and has nothing but hatred for the non-elect.
  • that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord over it, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority
  • that only Calvinists are Christians

I believe that the following is actually consistent if you logically follow TULIP.  Think about it.  If you hold to total depravity as taught by Calvinism than this means that mankind is dead in their sins like a corpse and even with the grace of God, they cannot respond to His call, they cannot hear His voice.  God must regenerate them first to give them spiritual life so that He can give them the gift of faith.  Now if this is true then it follows that God must do the complete work of regeneration and this means that God is the one who has chosen whom He will save and whom He will damn.  Before you run away from that by saying that God merely passes over the non-elect, even if He does do this, He still has not chosen them and condemns them in theirs sins.  It is not their sins then that condemn them to eternal hell but the sovereign will of God (Romans 9:22).

If God then is the One who elects whom He will save and whom He will condemn, it logically follows that He sent Jesus Christ to bear the sins of the elect.  This limits the atonement to only the elect and none more.  Further, whom Jesus died for on the cross will come to Him by His irresistible grace (John 6:44) and will be saved forever (John 10:27-29).

Now I had a Bible college professor who was a Calvinist and he always said he was a TULIPER.  He added E and R for evangelism and responsibility to avoid hyper-Calvinism.

Yet hyper-Calvinism is very logical.  Very coherent.  Consider evangelism.  Consider just a bit from a hyper-Calvinist blog I follow on Acts 17:30 (a passage that both Arminians and Calvinists use to teach that God commands all to repent):

Acts 17:30 is an exhortation to idolators to turn from their idolatry in light of the holiness and coming judgement of God. “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry… Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious… Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (vs. 16, 22, 29) The context of Paul’s sermon to the men of Athens does not expound on the glad tidings of the gospel, nor is there a directive command to believe on Christ in the hope of eternal life.

Gospel invitations are particular and not general because Jesus came to call the sick who have need of the Physician. This gospel call excludes the self-righteous. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17) Jesus only came to preach glad tidings to the meek, the brokenhearted, the captives, them that are bound, and all that mourn… that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (See Isaiah 61:1-3)

Now what hyper-Calvinists often vent against the most is the idea of “duty-faith.”  This is the teaching that it is the duty of unbelievers to place their faith in Christ for salvation.  They see this as a false teaching and against the gospel of Christ.  For example, this hyper-Calvinist blog post that compares the words of Charles Spurgeon (who preached against hyper-Calvinism) and his predecessor, John Gill found here.  You’ll notice that the writer pits Gill against Spurgeon time and time again.  Gill was against duty-faith.  Gill followed through on his Calvinism and he believed that whom God had elected, they will be saved.  We need not call people to repent.  God will save His elect in His time by His means.

John Gill stated this against preaching a universal gospel call:

To which I answer, that salvation is not offered at all by God, upon any condition whatsoever, to any of the sons of men, no, not to the elect: they are chosen to it, Christ has procured it for them, the gospel publishes and reveals it, and the Spirit of God applies it to them; much less to the non-elect, or to all mankind; and consequently this doctrine, or God according to it, is not chargeable with delusion and insult. When this author goes about to prove any such offers, I shall attend to them; and if he can prove them, I own, I must be obliged to think again.

He followed through.  Gill was consistent.

I applaud those Calvinists who are not consistent.  I do.  I am friends with several brothers like that.  In fact, in many ways they are Arminians in their gospel approach.  They preach as I do, that Christ shed His blood so that men can come and be saved.  They do as I do and preach the gospel to all men (Mark 16:15).  They have no thoughts about whether or not this person is elect or not.  They, like I, leave that to God.  They preach God’s salvation to the lost and allow the Spirit to do His work (John 16:8-11).  Yet they are not consistent.

Now let me state that if Arminianism leads naturally toward universalism, my question is this: which God would you rather serve? The God who loves all and desires all to be saved (or has saved if universalism were correct and the natural end of Arminianism) or the God who condemns people in their sins before time began and offers them no hope at all apart from His sovereign election?

In closing, I believe both hyper-Calvinism and universalism are wrong.  I believe they are extreme views.  If universalism is the logical end of Arminianism then I am happy to be an inconsistent Arminian as I am sure that many of my Calvinist brethren are happy to be inconsistent Calvinists.  Dr. Robertson McQuilkin always exhorted his students to “find the center of biblical tension and stay there.”  I say “amen” to that.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2013 at 10:00 AM

All I Can Say About This…

I was interested in reading some of A.W. Pink on predestination today so I googled the subject and lo and behold I read this article from Pink on the subject of reprobation of the wicked.  I will say this about Pink, at least he is consistent.  He held that God not only predestined the elect to salvation but that God also elected the wicked to reprobation.  Near the end of his article he states in clear terms:

We ask our readers to mark well the above language. A perusal of it should show that what the present writer has advanced in this chapter is not “Hyper-Calvinism” but real Calvinism, pure and simple. Our purpose in making this remark is to show that those who, not acquainted with Calvin’s writings, in their ignorance condemn as ultra-Calvinism that which is simply a reiteration of what Calvin himself taught—a reiteration because that prince of theologians as well as his humble debtor have both found this doctrine in the Word of God itself.

Pink made no apologies for holding what he called “a hated doctrine” or what Calvin called, “the horrible decree.”  Some Calvinists hold that Calvin was calling the doctrine horrible in the sense that the outcome for the reprobate was horrible but not that God decreed their destruction.  Pink calls such views as foolishness.  If God elected the elect to salvation then He elected the unsaved to eternal damnation.

Is this the God of Scripture?  Is this the character of God that we see in the Person of Jesus Christ?  The thought that God, who could send His Son to die for the sins of all and thus decree that all who repent of their sins and having saving faith in Jesus can be saved by the work of the cross, chooses instead to damn the majority of humans to hell not because of their sins but because of His own wise and holy (?) decree does make our blood boil.  Count me among the heretics Mr. Pink who rejects such views.

By the way, in fairness, most Calvinists would reject A.W. Pink’s views but nonetheless he is correct in arguing that his Calvinism is consistent with his views regarding God’s sovereignty.  I sit here and ponder whether Mr. Pink ever shared his faith.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/17/2012 at 3:03 PM

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