February 10, 2008 Q & A

What is a hyper-Calvinist?


I am interested in Calvinism. I have read A. Pink's "The sovereignty of God." I understand he is a hyper-Calvinist. What is a hyper-Calvinist?


Thanks for the question. I have a good many of Pink's writings. He is rather blunt in his presentation of Calvinism. I can understand why you are turned off by him. There are those today who say he has hyper-Calvinistic tendencies. I read Iain Murray's biography of him. He wasn't critical, but Pink never found a congregation in which he could be comfortable. I've not read much of him lately.

Be that as it may, the difference is not that hyper-Calvinists believe that only the elect are saved. Calvin surely taught that. The distinctive of hyper-Calvinism is the belief that we are not to offer the Gospel to any but those we have a fair presumption that they are God's elect (though my son-in-law, who is also an OPC pastor, informs me that present-day hyper-Calvinists will offer the gospel to all discriminately, though not the promises).

Have you read C. H. Spurgeon's writings? There was a Baptist preacher some time before him, John Gill, who was known as a hyper-Calvinist. I'm not acquainted with his writings, but Spurgeon took exception to his views, which would limit the number of those to whom we might offer the Gospel. Spurgeon offered Christ to all and sundry. Why? Because God's Word tells us to do so! The Great Commission does just that (Matt. 29:19-20; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Cor. 5:20; and many more).

There are those who would make Calvin a hyper-Calvinist. While Calvin is not the author of the Five Points of Calvinism, yet he believed what those points affirm:

Total Depravity = that unregenerate man is depraved in all parts of his being so that he is unable to come to God and be saved except the Holy Spirit draws him and sovereignly enables him to repent and believe (John 6:44; Rom. 8:28-30; John 1:12-13).

Unconditional Election = that God chose those who would be saved from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 13-6, John 17:6-10,20-21).

Limited Atonement = though Christ's atonement was sufficient for all mankind, it was efficient for the elect only (John 10:11, 27-30; Matt. 7:20-23).

Irrisistible Grace = the fact that God, by his Word and Spirit, conquers (eventually) the resistance of those whom he calls to salvation (Acts 9:1-9, cf. Phil. 3:4-8; Matt. 11:27; Gal. 1:15-16).

Perseverance of the Saints = that all whom God has chosen, though they may waver, as Peter did the night Jesus was betrayed, yet they will not utterly fall away but persevere till the end of their earthly days (Matt. 10:22; 1 John 2:19).

Some evangelicals call themselves 3- or 4-point Calvinists, making one who holds to the 5-points hyper-Calvinists. This is incorrect terminology, not that we say that only Calvinists can believe and be saved. Such people let their rationality run away with themselves, not taking all that God says as true.

The whole problem is that (in my opinion) we let human logic determine how we read the Bible. Is it logical to believe that God is one yet subsists in three persons? Is it logical to hold that "in Christ dwells the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form" (Col. 2:9)? If God has foreordained whatever comes to pass (Eph. 1:11), how can he hold the wicked—even the devil—accountable for their sinful acts? In other words, the Bible teaches that the non-elect have the duty to do what they cannot do apart from the Holy Spirit. (That's the problem with Arminianism. They make God less than God to conform to their doctrine of fairness!)

What do we say? Let God be God! We don't have to be able to rationalize the Most High! So these things are revealed, but they are beyond our understanding. All we are called on to do is to worship before him and do his will (Is. 55:8-9; Deut. 29:29).



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