Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Calvinism vs. hyper-Calvinism

One of the classes I'm taking  this semester is "Faith, Reason and the Christian Mind" which is being taught by Dr. Jamie Dew.

The question came up  about how Calvinists could support missions (or Evangelism) if they believe that God controls everything, and that only certain people are called or elected to salvation. Dr. Dew handled the question superbly. A fellow student was simply going on what they had been told by others, and I'm really glad that they asked the question so they would no longer hold such a skewed view of many of our Christian brothers and sisters.

Early on in my conversion I was a full fledged 7-point "Piperist". I got through that phase but I would still consider myself Calvinistic, let's call me a "moderate" Calvinist, a term I have heard in a couple of books I have been reading.1

I won't quote Dr. Dew here, but we agree that there have been many from church history such as Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards, Boyce, Broadus, Judson -- all Calvinistic men who were evangelical, missional and still embraced Reformed Theology.

It brought back to mind some thoughts I'd had as I was reading the two books I mentioned above. So many times I hear where people relate 5-point Calvinism (or "High Calvinism" as a term I've seen in both of these books as the opposite to "Moderate Calvinism") to hyper-Calvinism. I'm going to quote from an excerpt from an e-mail our seminary president, Dr. Danny Akin wrote back in 2006 in regards to some concerns he had with students and theological integrity and responsibility.
In regards to 5-point Calvinism being the same as hyper-Calvinism: This statement again demonstrates historical ignorance. Hyper-Calvinism is a particular movement that appeared in the mid 1700's that rejects the mandate to share the gospel, denies man's responsibility to repent and believe the gospel, and in some instances runs perilously close to making God the author of sin...Perhaps what some mean by "hyper-Calvinism" is extreme Calvinism or Calvinists with an attitude. I have met more than a few in my lifetime and to be sure, they were not of much value when it comes to the health of the church and reaching the lost. Still, we need to be honest with history and accurate with the facts. Mischaracterizations are of no value on any level.2
I don't believe a contemporary supralapsarian 5-point Calvinist would agree with any of those points.

I would also like to point you to an article our seminary president Dr. Akin wrote back in 2006 on Calvinism. Now, if you know Dr. Akin's theology, you'll know that he is not a 5-point Calvinist but I feel he described and critiqued the doctrines of grace very succinctly here and I highly commend it to you if you are interested.

Sure, there are some Calvinists that are jerks about their theology, but I've come across some non-Calvinists (I won't use the term Arminian for this blanket category) who were also jerks about their theology. I don't feel that either camp does anything to help the Kingdom. We should be focusing on a sound, Biblical theology that preaches the gospel of King Jesus rather than standing on different sides of the issue and pointing fingers over things that Christians have consistently disagreed about throughout the history of the church such as soteriology and eschatology.

Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism and Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue
2 Sage, Courageous Counsel from Dr. Danny Akin

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