06
Sep
09

“Hyper-Calvinism”

Addressing Calvinist objections to the terminology.

It is common to hear Calvinists call non-Calvinists, “Arminian’s.” Many non-Calvinists object to this label as they are not necessarily fully agreeable with all of the conclusions of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609).

In the same way, many Calvinists take exception to the term “Hyper-Calvinist” being used to describe those who are proponents of John Calvin’s view of sovereignty.

So then, why do some critics call Calvinism “Hyper-Calvinism?” Is it possible for a person to be a Calvinist without the “Hyper” prefix? Could a person be Calvinistic without being a Calvinist?

There are millions who claim affinity with Reformed theology without being full-fledged five-point Calvinists. Generally, these people are referrred to as  moderate Calvinists. People like Ravi Zacharias, Norman Geisler,  Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley and even retired evangelist, Billy Graham fall into this camp.

Though the renowned Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), the great British “Reformed” preacher claimed the distinction “Calvinist” for himself his preaching and writing was less than consistent with Calvinist theology (See his sermon: “Compel Them to Come In”  for only one of a thousand examples). Often Calvinists do not preach, pray or practice in consistent harmony with their theological or philosophical positions.

In fact, the larger portion of those who call themselves Calvinists are often in direct opposition to a Calvin, Beza, Piper description of Calvinism.

The one distinction of John Calvin’s  that  all of these people universally hold without equivocation is “unconditional eternal security” or position 5, Preseverance of the Saints. However, moderate Calvinists also generally disagree with Calvin’s means of arriving at “unconditional eternal security.” The reason for not ascribing to every point of John Calvin’s TULIP has to do with the implications of agreement.

Here they agree with Arminius, Wesley and others who argued two things. First, miniscule sovereignty, calls the character and nature of God into question. As both Arminius and Wesley claimed, the doctrine turns God into a dualsitic god and father of both heaven and hell. God becomes a tyrant, the father of good and evil and hence, the devil himself. Philosophically speaking, if there is no free-will then all evil in the universe originates with God. One does not need to have a Ph.D. in philosophy to figure this out. Calvinists do fancy foot-work to dispell this outcome but for many thinking people their defence and varied explanations fail to hold up under scrutiny.

Secondly, the doctrine must omit scripture that indicates something other than Calvin’s predestination. Moderate Calvinists  accept the “P” without the “TULI” portion.

So then, WHAT IS “HYPER-CALVINISM?”

There are descriptions but  no one definition. Here is a description that may help the reader understand the difference between “moderate Calvinism”, “Calvinism” and “Hyper-Calvinist.”

Moderate Calvinism has been roughly explained in the above paragraphs. Essentially, they recognize certain scriptures having to do with pre-ordination, election, pre-destination and so forth but will not, in any hard edged way, say that they are in league with Calvin’s assumptions and view his theology as philosophy beginning with miniscule (absolute) sovereignty. If Calvin was right, that man possesess absolutely no authentic free-will, then he is also right on all five-points. However, if sovereignty might be understood in some other way, as many people have surmised,  then his conclusions are faulty because the priory assumption was faulty at the outset.

Moderate Calvinists look at scripture and say, “Calvinism is something but it is not everything.”

On the other hand, a Calvinist that tenaciously holds to all five-points has no alternative but to view all scripture through his or her philosophical TULIP lens. When scripture seems to deny the tenants of Calvinism then dedication to the dogma calls for a re-interpretation of/or a ignoring of the text and/or context. Language must be redefined. Interpretors are called upon to reframe what appears to be a contradiction for their constituents. To many, this is “Hyper-Calvinism”.  Hyper-Calvinism requires an unyeilding commitment to the philosophical conclusions of John Calvin irrespective of any evidence to the contrary.  This is why Hyper-Calvinism” must have it’s commentarialists. Those familiar with the Jehovah’s Witnesses will recognize this same methodology. The ordinary member of Watchtower (and Calvinism) must never think themselves competent to unravel the complexities of scripture on their own.

Regrettably, Calvinism does not allow for non-conformity. All of those claiming to be adherents must unquestionably subscribe to every postulate of the hierarchy. There is no room for a  difference of opinion. Within Calvinism there is a required political correctness and those who will not submit to every tenant will find themselves intellectually bullied into compliance.

See: “The Horrible Decree” entry.

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1 Response to ““Hyper-Calvinism””


  1. 1 dave
    July 2, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Boy, you have “hit the nail on the head.” We are seeing that in our church!


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