A Hyper-Calvinist Dilemma

A friend of mine believes a pastor we know is a hyper-Calvinist.  Recently this friend sent me an email telling me this is why he no longer attends the church where the pastor preaches.

To protect the identity of my friend, I will not give his name.  And for the same reason, I will call the pastor Dan.  (That’s not his real name.)

This post is my response to my friend’s email concerning this “hyper-Calvinist” pastor.

A hyper-Calvinist dilemma

hyper-Calvinist

Dear ___,

Thanks for confiding in me in this matter.

In your email to me, you said, “I will not sit under a hyper-Calvinist for even Spurgeon and many reformed teachers call that heresy!”

I know Dan’s theology pretty well because I share it.  He is not a hyper-Calvinist any more than I am.  It is too easy to label someone (as a bigot, racist, fascist, conspiracy theorist, tree hugger, hyper-Calvinist, Micky Mouse in a bomber jacket and aviator sunglasses, you name it) but labels can be misleading and give the wrong impression.  Sometimes they are intentionally designed to do this.

Spurgeon “cried down” as a hyper-Calvinist

Ironically, Spurgeon could empathize with Dan.  He said, “We are cried down as hypers; we are reckoned as the scum of creation; scarcely a minister. . . speaks favorably of us, because we hold strong views upon the divine sovereignty of God, and his divine electings and special love towards his own people.” (Spurgeon’s sermons, vol 2, p. 391)

“To be or not to be” a hyper-Calvinist

I agree it is not to Dan’s credit if he did not explain to you what he believes and why, when you asked him to.  But, by the same token, if that is true, it indicates to me, you may not have enough information to say he is a hyper-Calvinist.

You wrote, “I have heard him [Dan] say that God’s sovereignty includes every action that happens both good and evil and as you know that statement can mean that God is the causal arbitrary determining agent behind every rape and murder or a staggering mix of exhaustive divine determination (EDD) theories, theologies and speculations.”

This write-up of yours, about EDD, made me wonder if I have ADD.  I had to go back and read that line two or three times before I could fully grasp it.  My bad, I’m sure.  It reminds me of the ramblings of my college professors in a room full of glossed-over eyes.  One could not blame the professors.  They were just doing their job.  It was all those glossed-over eyes that were to blame because the heads closing in around the blank stares were painfully in need of expanding their intellectual horizons.

hyper-Calvinist1. What Spurgeon believes

First of all, let’s compare what you said (two paragraphs above) to what Spurgeon believes.

The catechism he created says this about the decrees of God: “The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His own will, whereby for His own glory He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass” (Q&A #7).  And, of God’s works of providence, it says, “God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions” (Q&A # 11).  (My underlines)

God’s providence

Here’s what Spurgeon says in a sermon on God’s Providence. . .  (I divided it up to satisfy Word.  But it’s all one paragraph.)

“Providence is amazing.  Oh, that thought, it staggers thought!  It is an idea that overwhelms me,–that God is working in all that happens!  The sins of man, the wickedness of our race, the crimes of nations, the iniquities of kings, the cruelties of wars, the terrific scourge of pestilence,–all these things are, in some mysterious way, working the will of God!

“. . . I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes,–that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit as well as the sun in the heavens,–that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as surely as the stars in their courses,–that the creeping of an aphis over a rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence, and the fall of sere leaves from the poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.

“He who believes in a God must believe this truth.  There is no standing point between this and atheism.  There is no half way between an almighty God who worketh all things according to the good pleasure of his own will and no god at all.”  (Spurgeon’s sermons, vol. 54, pp. 501 & 2)

A hyper-Calvinist dilemma, and question & answer time

It’s question and answer time.  Also, time to revisit a relic from the twentieth century: thinking.

Can anything happen that God does not allow?

Will God allow anything to happen that has no reason or purpose in His divine plan?

If He is not in sovereign control of every aspect of life (“every action that happens,”), He ceases to be God.  And someone else is in control.

How do you like that?  Now we are haunted by another question. . .

When bad things happen, which is a major part of the time, who is in control?

We could be constantly wringing our hands in some neurotic or psychotic state, wondering who is in control!  (It’s not hard to imagine after dragging Muck Boots through a year’s worth of dung piles.)

Why worry?

But why worry?  There will always be someone who comes along, thinking they can ease our troubled minds by assuring us, “God is in control but He will not violate man’s will.”

(Thanks for the consolation.)

So, how does He get anything done?  Is He even allowed to have a will or plan?  And does it make any difference if He does?  Is the course of human history in reality in the hands of men and demons?  Do we see God as a God who is watching and hoping we will make the right choices so He can accomplish what He wants?  Remember.  If He does any coercing, He is off limits!

So why pray, if man holds all the cards?

And what exactly, is God in control of?

Another problem

But there is another problem.

If we believe God must conform to the human will, man in effect becomes sovereign and God subservient to man.  And “they worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator” is something Christians do every Sunday morning, whenever they say man’s will is preeminent.  After all, aren’t we the ones who determine whether or not God will accomplish His plans and purposes in our lives?  We are the ones who “make Him Lord” of our lives.  We “put Him on the throne.”  Right?  God cannot, or will not, do anything unless man’s free will allows it.

This is commonly taught by Christian pastors, teachers, and song leaders on Sunday mornings.  It has become a measure of orthodoxy to believe and teach it.  So Christian ministers across America repeat the same tired, stereotypical message like parrots in a pet shop.

Fingers on walls

In light of this, what does God think of our worship?  How does it measure up?

It’s time to be honest. . .  It doesn’t look or feel like God is on the throne.  After all, doesn’t it make us feel good about ourselves when we have control of our lives?  We can breathe a sigh of relief!  God is in fact not in control.  Sure.  He takes care of the weather and that sort of thing.  And if we get out of line, He spanks us.  Aside from that, we call the shots.

(But if fingers start appearing on walls, we’re in trouble.)

2. What the Bible says about God’s sovereign and absolute control, whether you are a hyper-Calvinist or not

The verses that follow will tell us what the Bible says about God’s sovereign and absolute control over all things.

This is in reality nothing more than simply admitting there is a God.  Deny it and you may find yourself skating on thin ice theologically.  And the people spinning across your path may be inclined to have an atheistic outlook on life.  What is the difference, anyway, between a “hands-off” God and no God?

So, what does the Bible teach us about God?

The Bible says, He “works all things according to the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11), not according to our will.  Jesus said, “You have not chosen Me but I have chosen you” (John 15:16).  He’s not only turning tables in the Temple; now He has turned the table on us!  What?  “It wasn’t me who chose you?  It was you who chose me?”  Take a ride on that intergalactic spaceship, if you dare!  I’ll bet you haven’t seen the universe from that point of view before!

But once you have, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner!

Intergalactic space traveler

Suddenly, you see yourself through God’s eyes!

To think He has taken a personal interest in you before ages eternal (II Tim. 1:9), before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4,5), from the beginning (II Thess. 2:13); and He Himself, has brought you to His Son!  He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness, I have drawn you” (Jer. 31:3).

As David wrote: “Blessed is the man whom you choose, and cause to approach unto you, that he may dwell in your courts” (Ps. 65:4 and Song 1:4).  Jesus said, “They shall all be taught of God [all those who are sovereignly chosen and drawn by the Father to the Son].  Everyone therefore who hears from the Father, and has learned [from Him], comes to Me” (John 6:44,45).  As He said to Peter: “Flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17; also Matt. 11:25-27 and John 5:21).

Every action, both good and evil

God’s sovereignty does include every action that happens, both good and evil.

How do we know that?

Golgothathe cross

At Golgotha, we see God using the most wicked act in all of human history to accomplish His will and purpose.  If this is true of the greatest evil earth has ever seen, what does it say about all the others?  “Of a truth, against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever your hand and counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:27,28).  “This [Jesus]–being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God–you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).

Notice.  This was done “by wicked hands,” which points out the guilt of those who did it.  They are responsible for what they did, and, if not forgiven, will answer for it.  Yet God’s sovereign purpose was accomplished through it.  We also see this in Jesus’ statement in Luke 22.  “Truly the Son of man goes, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed” (Luke 22:22; also John 19:11).

The nature of God’s dealings

So we see both (1) man’s responsibility for this wicked deed and (2) the fulfillment of God’s sovereign purpose through it.

Is this an isolated incident or is it something that defines the nature of God’s dealings with men and His creation?  As the following Scriptures reveal, it truly does define the nature of God’s sovereign dealings and absolute control over His creation, in every action that happens, both good and evil.  Man is responsible for what he does.  But, at the same time, God’s sovereign purposes are accomplished and He will be glorified through it all!

Worship

To the degree, we fail to understand who God is, we also fail to worship Him in spirit and in truth.  I fear, today, to an alarming degree, Christians worship a God they have created in their own minds, a God they are comfortable with.  (This is strangely similar to worshiping a false god.)  But they are unaware of it.  And if it turns out He is not like they think, they will most likely refuse to follow or believe in Him (see John 6:64-66).

May it be our desire to know the true and living God who desires that we worship Him in spirit and in truth.

His Word will be a light to our path that will help us grow in our understanding of Him. . .

Let the Bible be our guide and give us understanding

You do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

To understand more fully, the sovereign, personal, providential control of God over man and all creation (this includes every action that happens, both good and evil), see what the Bible says in:

The Old Testament (Part 1)

Genesis 1:1; 2:1,7; 3:22-24; 6:7,20; 7:11,12,16,21-23; 9:13; 11:5-9; 18:14,23-32; 19:17-25; 24:14,26,27,50-52; 27:28,29; 30:22; 31:7-9; 38:7,13-18,27-29 (with Ruth 4:18-22 and Matthew 1:3-6,16); 39:1,3,5,21,23; 40:7,8; 41:15,16,28,32; 45:4-9; 50:20 (Psalm 105:16-19).

Exodus 1:17,20; 3:7,8,14,15; 4:11,21; 6:8; 7:3-5,13,22; 8:15,19,22; 9:3-6,12-16,18,29,35; 10:1,2,12,19,20,21,23,27; 11:4-7,9,10; 12:1-3,5-7,11-14,26,27,29,30; 14:1-4,8,13,14,17-28,30,31; 15:1-4,6-8,10-12,14-16,18,21,26; 16:15; 19:4,18,21; 21:12,13; 22:26,27; 23:25; 24:12; 29:43; 34:1,10; 35:30-35; 36:1,2,8; 40:34,36-38.

Leviticus 10:1-3; 14:34; 18:22-30; 20:5,6,20,21; 26:14-45.

Numbers 5:28; 6:24-27; 11:1,23,31,33,34; 12:1,2,9,10; 14:6-9,32-37; 15:30; 16:23-35; 20:23-28; 21:14; 22:18,28-33,38; 24:11; 25:9-11.

Deuteronomy 2:14,15,19-23,30-37; 3:3,24; 4:19,39,40; 6:15,24; 7:6-8,10,12-15; 8:3; 10:14,15,17,18,21,22; 11:11-17; 12:14; 18:14; 26:10,11; 28:1,2,15,27-29,58-61,63; 29:2-4,20,21; 30:1,6; 31:6-8; 32:1-4,35,39-43; 33:3,26-29.

Joshua 2:1-18,23,24; 3:10,11,13; 4:22-24; 5:6,7,13-15; 6:8,20-26 (with Matthew 1:5,6,16); 10:12-14,42; 11:19,20; 23:1-4,9,10; 24:1-12.

Judges 1:6,7; 2:3,15,23; 3:28,29; 4:23; 5:31; 7:2,7,20-22; 9:23,53-57; 14:1-4; 16:27-30; 20:18,23,28,35.

Ruth 1:6,13,19-21; 2:3; 4:13.

I Samuel 1:5,27,28; 2:6-10,25; 6:19,20; 10:26; 12:24; 14:6,23; 16:14,15; 17:37,45-47,50,51; 18:10; 19:4,5,9,18-24; 23:14; 25:26,29,38,39; 26:10-12; 28:16,17,19.

II Samuel 5:12,19,20; 6:7,11,20-23; 7:8-29; 8:6,14; 10:9-12; 12:9,13,14,19,20,24,25 (with Matthew 1:6,16); 15:13,14,32; 16:10-12; 17:14; 21:1,3,4,6,9,14; 22; 23:1,2.5,8-12; 24:1 (notice I Chronicles 21:1),10-25.

I Kings 2:15,32,33,44-46; 3:5-13; 4:29-34; 5:3,4,7; 8:22-24,32,35-43,53,56,58,60; 9:1-3,6-9; 10:9,23,24; 11:9-14,23,26,29-31,39; 12:12-15,24; 13:1,2,26,34; 14:5,6,10-12,14; 15:4,29; 16:1-4,34; 17:1-9,20; 18:35-46; 19:14-18; 20:28; 21:29; 22:19-23.

II Kings 1:9-16; 2:11,23,24; 4:27; 5:1,14,15; 6:5,6,8-12,16-18,20; 7:6,7; 9:6-10,24-26,35-37; 10:10,11,16,17,30; 11:1-3,20; 13:5; 14:25-27; 15:5,12,37; 17:20,24-26; 18:7,8; 19:6,7,19,22-28,31,32,34; 22:20; 24:2,20.

I Chronicles 2:3; 4:10; 5:18-22,26; 6:15; 10:13,14; 11:9,14; 12:17,18; 13:10; 14:10,11,13-16; 16:21,27,28,30-32; 17:19,20,27; 21:7; 28:4,6,19; 29:10-12,14,18,25.

II Chronicles 6:27; 10:15; 11:4; 13:15,16,20; 14:6,9-15; 15:5,6,15; 16:7-9,12; 18:18-22,31,33,34; 19:2; 20:5-7,12,14-24,26,27,29,30,37; 21:10,16; 22:7; 24:22,24,25; 25:8,16,20; 26:20; 28:19; 29:36; 30:12; 32:21,22; 33:11-13; 35:22; 36:17.

Ezra 1:1,2,5; 5:5; 6:1-15,21,22; 7:6,9,21-23,25,27,28; 8:18-23,31,32; 9:5-9; 10:9,13 (Job 37:11-13),14.

Nehemiah 1:11; 2:1-4,7,8,11,12,17-20; 4:7-9,14,15,19,20; 5:19; 6:9,12-16; 7:5; 8:6; 9:5,6,10-12,15,20,25,32; 12:43; 13:28-31.

Esther 4:14.

Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; 9:1-12; 12:7-10,14-25; 37:5-18; 38:1-13,15,16-18,22-27,29,31-41; 39:1,2,5,6,13-17,19-27; 40:1-19; 41:1,2,7,10,11,33; 42:1-3,5,6,10-12.

The Old Testament (Part 2)

Psalm 2; 3:3,5; 5:5,6; 7:11-13,17; 8:1,3,4; 9:6,11,12; 10:13-18; 12:2-5; 16:5-7; 17:3; 18:1-19,28,34,50; 19:1-6; 21:8-12; 22:10,30,31; 23; 24:1; 31:15; 32:8; 33:6-11,13-17; 36:6; 46:8-10; 47:1-8; 50:10-12,21,22; 65:4-13; 74:12-17; 75:2,6,7; 90:3; 103:19-22; 104:1-31; 105:14-17,24,25; 107:23-25,31-38; 110:1-3,5-7; 113; 115:3; 118:22,23; 135:6-12; 139:1-6,12-18,19.

Proverbs 3:25,26,33,34; 5:21; 10:3; 15:3,25; 16:1,4,9,33; 19:21; 20:22,24; 21:1,30,31; 22:22,23; 23:10,11; 29:25.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,11,14; 5:6,18-20; 6:1,2; 7:13,14; 8:8; 11:5.

Song of Solomon 1:4.

Isaiah 6:1-4,8-12; 8:18; 10:5-15; 14:24-27; 24:21-23; 25:1,2; 26:4-6,12; 28:21-29; 34:1-7,16,17; 37:5-7,18-20,26-29; 40:6,7,12-17,21-23,25-31; 41:1-4,17-20; 42:5; 43:1,13,20; 44:2,7,18; 45:1-7,9,13,18,21; 46:9-11; 48:12-15; 53:10; 54:13,16; 55:8-11; 57:15; 59:1,19; 61:1-3; 63:1-6,9; 64:1-4,8; 65:8-10,13-19; 66:1,2,15,16,24.

Jeremiah 1:4,5; 3:23; 4:6; 5:22-24; 9:23,24; 10:23; 14:22; 17:5; 24:7; 25:36,37; 31:33,34; 32:17-19,27,36-40; 34:20-22; 43:8-13; 46:15; 47; 50:34; 51:10-12.

Lamentations 1:12-15; 2:1-9,17,20-22; 3:22,37-39,55-58; 5:19,21.

Ezekiel 5:5,8-17; 6:11-14; 8:18; 14:6-9,22,23; 20:46-48; 26:7-14; 29:2-5,8-10,13-15,18-20; 30:9-12,24-26; 31:15-17; 34:23-28; 35:7-9; 36:9-11,22,26,27,32,36; 38:1-6,18-23; 39:1-6.

Daniel 1:1,2,9,17; 2:16-23,28-30,34,35,44,45,47; 3:26-29; 4:1-3,16,20-37; 5:5,6,17-28; 6:22,23,25-27; 7:13,14,18-27; 8:19-25; 9:18-27; 10:12,13,18-21; 11:27,32,36; 12:1-3,10.

Hosea 1:2,5; 2:18; 6:1,2; 9:12-17; 11:3,4; 13:11; 14:9.

Joel 2:1-11,20-27,32.

Amos 3:6; 4:7,9,10,12,13; 5:8; 8:11,12; 9:3.

Obadiah 1,2,18.

Jonah 1:4,17; 2:10; 3:10; 4:6,7,11.

Micah 5:2-5a,7.

Nahum 1:2-6.

Habakkuk 1:5-12; 2:14,20; 3:3-7,9-13,15.

Zephaniah 1:2,3; 2:4,5,9,11-14; 3:6,12,17.

Haggai 1:14; 2:21-23.

Zachariah 3:1,2,9; 4:6,10 (with Revelation 5:6); 6:5,12,13; 9:3-5,9,10; 10:11; 11:6,11; 12:10; 13:6,7; 14:4,8,9,12.

Malachi 1:1-3; 3:1-3,6,10,11,16-18; 4:5,6.

The New Testament (Part 1)

Matthew 1:20-23; 2:12,13,19,20; 3:9; 5:34,35,45; 6:8,13 (KJV),26,28-30; 7:11; 8:3,8,26,27; 9:32,33; 10:1,20,29-31,34; 11:11,25-27; 12:13,18,20,22; 13:35,37,38,47-50; 14:25,27; 15:13,30,31; 16:4,15-18; 17:27; 18:10; 19:26; 20:23,34; 21:14-16,18,19; 22:7,11-14; 23:10,12,34-36; 24:2,24,29,30,36-39,50,51; 25:30,34; 27:3-10,50-54; 28:9,18.

Mark 1:15,41; 2:10,11; 3:13; 4:10-12,34,41; 5:12,13,19,20,25-30,41; 6:7; 7:29,34; 8:25; 9:21-27,31,41; 10:6,26,27; 11:2,7; 12:24; 13:20; 14:13-16,21,49,61,62; 15:27,28,38; 16:19.

Luke 1:35-37,45-55,76-79; 2:1-6 (with Micah 5:2),8-11,18,20,47,49; 4:25-27,32; 5:4-7; 7:11-16; 8:2,10; 9:12-17,43,44; 10:12-15; 11:2,20-22; 12:20,32,49-53; 13:28,29,31-33; 14:23; 18:7,8,16,27,31; 19:5,10,27,35-40,44; 20:16-18,26; 21:15,20-24; 22:22,31,32,35,42,53; 23:42-46; 24:6,7,25-27,41-53.

John 1:1-4,12,13; 3:8,21,27,31,35; 4:4; 5:21; 6:37,39,44,45,65; 9:1-3; 10:3,16-18,26-29; 11:1-4,47-52; 12:37-40; 13:3; 15:16,19; 17:1,2,6,9,11,12,24; 18:6,11; 19:10,11,23,24,28,31-37; 20:28; 21:1-6,11,18-22.

Acts 1:7; 2:23,36,47; 3:17,18; 4:23-28; 5:1-11,17-20,31,38,39; 7:9,10,35,36; 8:26,29,39; 9:6,10-12,15,16; 10:3-6,22,28,33,36,40-42; 11:11-14,17,18,21,27,28; 12:5-11,21-23; 13:1,2,16-23,27-29,36,48; 14:3,15-17,27; 15:13-18; 16:6-10,14; 17:24-28; 18:9,10,27; 20:22,23; 22:10,14,21; 23:11; 26:16-18,22,23,32; 27:22-24; 28:25-28.

Romans 1:1,5,10,16,18,24-32; 2:4; 3:11,18; 4:16-21; 5:10,21; 8:19,21-23,26-39; 9:5,10-24,27-29; 10:19; 11:1-10,28,29,33-36; 12:19; 13:1-6; 14:4; 15:5,6,8-13,32; 16:20,25-27.

I Corinthians 1:4,8,9,18-21,24,26-31; 2:5-8,16; 3:5-9; 5:3-5; 6:20; 7:7,17,20,24; 8:6; 9:14; 10:4,5,13,26; 11:29-33; 12:4-11,18,24,28; 15:8,10,22-28,38-41,57; 16:7,9.

II Corinthians 1:21,22; 2:12-14; 3:5,6,18; 4:7,14,15; 5:5,17,18,21; 7:6; 8:9,16; 9:8-15; 10:4,5,17,18; 12:9,10; 13:3,4,10.

Galatians 1:15,16,23,24; 2:8; 4:22-31; 5:10; 6:7.

Ephesians 1:1,3-11,17-23; 2:4-10,19-22; 3:7-11,20,21; 4:4-8,11-13,30; 5:23-27; 6:10.

Philippians 1:6,11-13,28,29; 2:9-13,27; 3:10-15,20,21; 4:7,13,19,20.

Colossians 1:12,13,16,17,25-29; 2:8-10,13; 3:10.

The New Testament (Part 2)

I Thessalonians 1:2-5; 2:13-16; 3:3,11-13; 4:9; 5:9,23,24.

II Thessalonians 1:3-12; 2:11-14,16,17; 3:3,5,16.

I Timothy 1:15-17; 6:13-16.

II Timothy 1:9; 2:4,9,10,24-26; 3:5-9; 4:17,18.

Titus 1:2.

Philemon 15.

Hebrews 1:3; 2:10,13-15; 7:25,26; 8:1 (Mark 14:61,62); 10:5-7,12,13,30,31 (I Peter 4:17); 11:3,12,16,20,21,39,40; 12:2,28,29; 13:20,21.

James 1:18; 2:5; 4:6,10,14,15; 5:11,17,18.

I Peter 1:1-5,9-12,18-21,23; 2:5,7-9; 3:12,22 (with Mark 3:11 and Colossians 2:10); 4:11,14-16,19; 5:5-7,10,11.

II Peter 1:1-4,10,11,21; 2:1-9,13; 3:5-13,15,16,18.

(II Peter 3:9 applies to the elect-“us-word” [the same audience Peter began writing his epistles to in I Peter 1:1,2, and with whom he now includes himself]: keywords in the context also support this understanding in II Peter 3, verse 8, where the readers are referred to as “beloved“- the elect- the “us,” and in verse 15, where God’s longsuffering “is” said to be “salvation“: that is to say, God is not just hoping people will get saved- they will actually be saved, hence, they are elect; compare II Peter 3:9 with what Paul says in I Timothy 1:16 and II Timothy 2:10: these three verses all share the same meaning and have the same goal- the salvation of the elect: their [our] salvation is the will of God [Acts 13:48] and Jesus will see to it that it is accomplished, according to John 17:2 and Isaiah 53:10.)

I John 1:1,2; 2:18-20,27; 3:8,9,20; 4:10,19; 5:16,18-20.

II John 1,9,13.

III John 2.

Jude 4-7,24,25.

Revelation 1:1-3,17,18; 2:10,13,16,23-27; 3:3,7,8,16,21; 4:11; 5:5-14; 6:1,2; 7:1-3,9-12,17; 9:4,15; 10:5-7; 11:15-19; 12:5,10; 13:5-8; 14:7,9-11,14,15,19; 15:1-4,8; 16:5-7,12,14,15,17-21; 17:1,2,6,8,10-12,14,17; 18:4,5,8,19-24; 19:1-8,11-21; 20; 21:1-8,10,11,22-27; 22:1-4,10,13,16.

Sorry, but I’m just getting started.  I guess you’ll just have to read the Bible. 🙂

Tossing things in a “hyper-Calvinist” basket

Personally, I don’t care for titles like hyper-Calvinist.  You can throw too many things indiscriminately into a basket with that label.  (A person can make it mean almost anything.)  And whatever you toss into it will also fit in a garbage can.  It carries a bad connotation no matter how much you polish it.  Having a title like that is like wearing a T-shirt that says “Kick me.”  It is a bad apple.  A bad penny that always turns up.  You know the conversation is digressing when those words enter the room.  And, what is probably the saddest thing of all: the term hyper-Calvinist can actually succeed in discrediting, undermining, or even destroying a foundational teaching in the Bible: God’s sovereignty and providential control.  Like the baby who is thrown out with the bathwater.

(The same effect waving a Nazi flag has at a Freedom Rally.)

So why do Christians want to remove the crown from God’s head?

Are they planning an insurrection?  Perhaps they have already succeeded in that.

Hyper-Calvinist or bust

A couple of other things concern me.  In your email, you referred to “[Dan’s] love of Calvinism.”  This is unfortunate.  I dare say, Dan is not in love with Calvinism.  He is in love with the Bible.  And the sovereign God and His Son Jesus Christ revealed in the Bible.  I think it would be more accurate to say he is in love with Jesus Christ.  That’s the Dan I know.

You also wrote, “I found it disturbing that he [Dan] has a bust of John Calvin on his file cabinet.”  Frankly, I was surprised anyone would be disturbed by a bust of Calvin on a file cabinet.  Especially in America where we are still free to put whatever we want on a file cabinet.  The only person I know who might be concerned about it would be Calvin. 🙂

I don’t think he would like a bust of himself being displayed.  So, in that sense, Dan is not doing him a favor.

But let’s look at ourselves too. . .

How many of us have pictures of well-known Christians from the past?  I have a large framed picture of Spurgeon.  That is essentially the same as a bust of Calvin.  Would you be disturbed if you saw Spurgeon’s picture hanging on a wall?  . . .To say nothing of pictures in books.  And statues of Christians in churchyards.  (Gotta watch out!  I feel myself being sucked down a rabbit hole.)

On the road to find out

So, seeing as how we find ourselves on this road, it would probably be good if we determine what exactly a hyper-Calvinist is.

If we ran across one in the woods, what would he look like?  Do people have pictures of them?  (I’m trying to throw in a little humor.)

(But, while I throw it in, you may be throwing it out.)

First of all.  Believing God’s sovereignty includes every action that happens, both good and evil, does not make one a hyper-Calvinist.  John Calvin believed that.  And he did not favor putting a hyphen in his name.  In my own experience, I have found a hyper-Calvinist to be someone who does not believe the Gospel needs to be preached because God’s elect will be saved anyway.  (They are not all that interested in missionary or evangelistic endeavors.)  Dan does not believe that.  Nor does the Bible teach it.  See II Thessalonians 2:13 and 14, Ephesians 1:11-13, and John 17:20.

Wrapping up a hyper-Calvinist dilemma

I look forward, as you do, to the day when “all [of] Christ’s body will see Him in all His glory and fully worship Him in our heavenly home.”  That’s a line from your email.

But I will add a line to that. . .

God help the church to begin now, to truly worship Him.

After all.  What makes us think we will truly worship Him then if we don’t do it now?  When the Bible says God is seeking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4) it doesn’t mean He’s waiting till we get to heaven to do it.  Of course, a lot of things will change when we see Him, but our relationship with Him better not be one of them.  Or else He may say, “I never knew you,” and you never knew Me.

Been nice conversing with you.  Sorry I was so slow in responding.  The time and work I put into this post may explain the reason for that.hyper-Calvinist

God bless you, brother.

In Jesus, James

P.S. Jesus reigns!

Read more:

Glad When They Saw Jesus

 

© James Unruh 2022 and beyond

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8 Responses to A Hyper-Calvinist Dilemma

  1. Beddard says:

    A tremendous article.

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  4. Joe says:

    Unbelievable. After your overly lengthy rabbit hole blog post of your own, now you decide you don’t want to chase rabbits anymore?

    It’s not splitting hairs it’s the character and goodness of God. Typically hyper calvinist’s do not like the conclusion of their theology that makes a god that decreed every rape and murder and Ukrainian slaughter and the damnation of trillions of people made in God’s image before the foundations of the world and those same people have no choice to not rape or murder for instead of the devil making them do it as Flip Wilson said it’s the calvinist god who makes them do it. No matter how much they want to confess the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead, they are unable because they are not elect.

    You say you just want to believe the Bible?
    Tell me truthfully if you really believe you could have come to Calvinism from just reading the Bible? Without the influence of Augustine and Calvin?

    I’m all for just taking the Bible at face value.
    There are scriptures that seem to imply election but is it individual election or is it corporate election or even national election or the election of the bride of Christ. It’s a delicate issue and I don’t want to be careless with it but the reformed are taking over traditionalist churches worldwide like a cancer. I can fellowship with a four point calvinist but I cannot fellowship with anyone who believes that the Bible teaches God decreed every rape and murder and eternity past for his glory. I used to be proud of being a calvinist now I’m ashamed. I thought it gave a high position to God and a low position to man. When you follow the so-called doctrines of Grace out to their logical conclusion you ultimately end up with a puppet master god and robot people.
    James 1:13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

    • James says:

      Your quarrel is not with me but with God. One could blame Him no matter how you look at it. Even if He’s not a “puppet master,” as you like to put it; if He has the power to stop sin and carnage, why doesn’t He? Wouldn’t that be enough to implicate Him? That’s why some people are atheists.

      God is not the author of sin, but in His infinite wisdom and power, and for His own glory, He accomplishes His purposes through it and has sovereign control over everything that happens. “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?” (Amos 3:6). “The Lord has made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16:4). “I have created the smith that blows coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destoy” (Isa. 54:16). “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36). But those who do bad things are responsible for what they do, and they will answer to God for it. I stated this very clearly in my post.

      Also, there is no person who wants to be saved who cannot be saved. If anyone has a desire to be saved, God has given them that desire and He will always honor it. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and he who comes to me I will in no way cast out” (John 6:37).

      I want to be very clear. I did not “come to Calvinism.” When I began to discover the Bible’s teaching on the sovereignty of God, I was reading John chapter 6. I hadn’t read anything from Augustine or Calvin. These men didn’t matter to me. But the Bible very much did. I was about three years old in the Lord then. And I rejoiced as I saw the God of the Bible unfold in the pages of Scripture.

      I’m approaching fifty years now, walking with Jesus, and I’ve only grown deeper in that faith in an omnipotent and sovereign God. And I still haven’t read Calvin’s Institutes.

  5. Joe says:

    First off you sent me an email and asked me why I am not attending said Church any longer. I gave you a response. It’s not my job whether you like my response or not it was truthful. Then you decide to make a blog about it. A personal email for me to you becomes fodder for your blog. Okay I’m fine with that too. So I am responding to you on your blog.
    I would appreciate if you would have at least done just a little research on the discussion of Exhaustive Divine Determinism before you set up straw man arguments and did not even acknowledge the term or definition of EDD. You are defining your own terms and have not considered the position of your opponent in this discussion. One of the basics of debate is to be able to argue your opponents position as well as your own. You haven’t even put in a casual inquiry into what I’m even talking about before you went off on your own talking points and tore down the straw men of your own making.
    Several seminary trained pastors in our area have understood EDD or at least what it means and they are the ones who pointed me to EDD or what it means to being a hyper calvinist position. Those pastors I mention, two of the four describe themselves as 4 point Calvinist’s and two are no point Calvinist’s.
    While you’re at it why don’t you do just a little investigation on penal substitutionary atonement? That discussion has calvinist vs traditionalist considerations as well. Have you ever even understood the traditionalist position? I’m not talking about Armenian nor Molinist but Traditionalist?

    • James says:

      I’m not going down these rabbit holes with you, my friend. Honestly, I’m not all that interested in the “theological” positions or academic and philosophical discussions/debates men have about God. Jesus said, “I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes” (Matt. 11:25; also see I Cor. 1:19-31; 2:1-8,13-16; 3:1-5,18-23; Job 11:7-9; Acts 4:13; Gal. 2:6; Isa. 66:2,5). I prefer to abide in the stronghold of God’s Word under the shadow of the Almighty.

      I don’t have all the answers. But, either God is God or He’s not. Splitting hairs over whether He “permits” or “determines” (the kind of thing EDD is preoccupied with), and the like, is not all that helpful or useful. The fact is, NOTHING that happens is beyond His sovereign control or Divine purpose.

      I meant no harm by making a blog post about your email. I’ve written several posts in the past in this way and usually make it anonymous to protect the identity of those involved. I believe this post is instructive and I desire to glorify God and His Word through it.

      By the way, a no-point Calvinist is an oxymoron.

      Grace and peace to you.

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