Calvinisms Other Side
Our forum that addresses the issues of Calvinism and Reformed Theology
WHAT IS CALVINISM?
By Dr. Laurence M. Vance
The philosophical speculations of Calvinism have been debated for hundreds of years, although called by other names until Calvin showed up. Today, among Baptists who have enough sense not to be associated with John Calvin, these suppositions are called “Doctrines of Grace,” implying that if you don’t believe them you are denying salvation by grace. It is this constant stream of speculation and implication that can be found in the writings of all who hold to the Calvinistic system. And this is just the beginning of the other side of Calvinism. Loraine Boettner, in his book on predestination, starts out thus: “The purpose of this book is to show that Calvinism is beyond all doubt the teaching of the Bible and of reason.” 1 Let me unequivocally assert that the purpose of this book is to show that Calvinism is beyond all doubt not the teaching of the Bible nor of reason. Boettner states further: “Perhaps no other system of thought has been so grossly and grievously and at times so deliberately misrepresented as has Calvinism. 2 Therefore, since the Calvinist suffers from a persecution complex, we will quote extensively and eclectically precisely what the Calvinists say regarding their doctrine, and then simply compare it with Scripture.
What exactly is Calvinism? How do the Calvinists define Calvinism? To begin with, Calvinism is glowingly described in vague terms:
Calvinism is Religion at the height of its conception … evangelicalism in its purest and only stable expression.3
Wherever we find religion in its purity, therefore, there Calvinism is implicit.4
Calvinism is that sight of the majesty of God that pervades all of life and all of experience.5
Calvinism is a system of pure Biblical belief which stands firmly on the Word of God. 6
It has been correctly said that Calvinism is pure biblical Christianity in its clearest and purest expression.7
Dr. D. James Kennedy tells us why he is a Calvinist: “I am a Calvinist precisely because I love the Bible and the God of the Bible. The doctrines of the Calvinist theological system are the doctrines of the Bible. When you get to know what we actually believe you may find you too are a Calvinist, especially if you love the Lord Jesus Christ and desire with all your heart to serve Him.”8 And the respected Spurgeon stated: “The longer I live the clearer does it appear that John Calvin’s system is the nearest to perfection. ” 9
That all sounds nice, but could you please be more specific? What exactly is Calvinism? Again, we hear from the Calvinists themselves:
Calvinism is just a full exposition of and development of the sum and substance of what is represented in Scripture as done for the salvation of sinners by the three persons of the Trinity 10
Calvinism is the Gospel and to teach Calvinism is in fact to preach the Gospel. It is questionable whether a dogmatic theology which is not Calvinistic is truly Christian.11
Calvinism, in this soteriological aspect of it, is just the perception and expression and defence of the utter dependence of the soul on the free grace of God for salvation. 12
What Calvinism particularly asserts is the supernaturalism of salvation, as the immediate work of God the Holy Spirit m the soul, by virtue of which we are made new creatures m Chnst our Redeemer. 13
All of these men are basically saying the same thing: Calvinism is to be equated with the system and doctrine of salvation found in the Bible. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. If biblical Christianity is Calvinism, then any other system is naturally false. And this is categorically just what the Calvinist would have you believe. Calvinism is not just a scriptural system: it is the only scriptural system. Boettner remarks, “We believe the Calvinistic system to be the only one set forth in the Scriptures and vindicated by reason.” l4 Others simply say: “Calvinism is the only system which is true to the Word of God. ” 15 The aforementioned Spurgeon declared: “There is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” l6
To further bolster their position, and because many Christians might be skeptical about wholeheartedly embracing the claim that Calvinism is the only real form of biblical Christianity, Calvinists insist that there are really only two tenable schemes among real Christians: Calvinism and Arminianism. Arminianism to a Calvinist is anything contrary to Calvinism. It is this division into either Calvinist or Arminian that is the strength of the Calvinistic system. Since most people know very little about Arminius, and what they do know they got from a Calvinist, they hesitate to be identified with him. Therefore, if there are only two viewpoints: if you are not an Arminian then you have to be a Calvinist.
Regarding biblical salvation, Boettner first tells us that there are only three systems which claim to set forth a way of salvation through Christ: Universalism, Arminianism, and Calvinism. And then of Calvinism he says: “This view alone is consistent with Scripture.” 17 Then after subtly identifying Arminians with Universalists, Boettner informs us: “It must be evident that there are just two theories which can be maintained by evangelical Christians upon this important subject; that all men who have made any study of it, and who have reached any settled conclusions regarding it, must be either Calvinists or Arminians. There is no other position which a ‘Christian’ can take ” 18 Clark avows, “It is clear that Arminianism is anti-Scriptural, but that Calvinism is completely true to the Bible.” l9 Palmer adds “The Biblical truths of Calvinism are never so clear as against the erroneous ideas of the Arminian.” 20 Shedd rejoins, “Ultimately, there can be only two alternatives in evangelical understanding of the Christian Faith, the Calvinistic and the Arminian.” 21 He further goes on to insist that only two systems are “logically possible,” and that “in the future, as the past, all believers will be in one dogmatic division or the other.” 22 Without fail, all the other Calvinists group men into only two groups, including the Baptists. 23
Not being able to convince the ardent skeptic that Calvinism is biblical Christianity, the Calvinist must retreat to the argument about there being only two plausible systems of Christian doctrine. In most cases this entails anything but a retrogression; it is usually more of an enhancement. But to silence the cynic and drive him into the Calvinistic camp, the Calvinist goes so far as to insinuate that anything but his position is illogical, untenable, inconceivable, and completely anti-scriptural. Boettner starts the Calvinistic chorus: “The future of Christianity is bound up with that system of theology historically called Calvinism. ‘, 24 The Baptist Mell repeats the party line: “The doctrines of Calvinism, if believed, are a sovereign remedy against the two great heresies in the so-called Christian world, viz: ritualism, or sacramental salvation, on the one hand, and rationalism, on the other; the one the offspring of superstition, the other, the product of infidelity.” 25 Others unpretentiously inform us that anti-Calvinistic teachings are “heretical doctrines.” 26 Warfield insists that “only the Calvinist is the consistent supernaturalist.” 27 Talbot and Crampton caution us that “any compromise of Calvinism is a step towards humanism.” 28 In order to determine if one has digressed toward humanism, one Calvinist has a simple test: “If the theology of Paul in Romans 9 and Ephesians I in any way disturbs a person, then there are traces of autonomous (humanist) man still left in his thinking.” 29 But perhaps the Calvinist should take a test of his own: if you get nervous when reading Revelation 22:17, I Corinthians 4:15, and Acts 7:51, then there are traces of a Bible-rejecting heretic in your thinking. Boettner doesn’t stop with humanism: “There is no consistent stopping place between Calvinism and Atheism.” 30 Warfield closes this section with an astounding statement: “Calvinism thus emerges to our sight as nothing more or less than the hope of the world.” 31 But if Calvinism is true, then it could not be the hope of the world, for the world and everything in it as it stands right now is perfectly conformed to the will of God, for as they say: “God decrees all things that will ever come to pass.” 32
Yet in spite of these ineffable pronouncements, someone is ashamed to be a Calvinist. Why did Louis Berkhof change his Manual of Reformed Doctrine to the Manual of Christian Doctrine?33 Why did he also change his work on theology from Reformed Dogmatics to Systematic Theology?34 Did you know that Eerdmans used to be known as “The Reformed Press”?35 Not only will a Calvinist change his terms to disguise his doctrine (or to sell more books), but the name and doctrines of his dreaded adversary must be unremittingly invoked to give him something to talk about. John Goodwin has well said about the Calvinists:
The necessity and power of those doctrines nick-named Arminian, is so great for the accommodating and promoting of the affairs of Christianity, that even those persons themselves who get a good part of their subsistence in the world by decrying them, and declaiming against them, yet cannot make earnings of their profession, are not able to carry on their work of preaching, with any tolerable satisfaction to those that hear them, without employing and asserting them very frequently . 36
The way Calvinism is accepted over Arminianism is by a series of subtle implications and innuendos coupled with pious statements and outright falsehood. Once again we emphasize that “Arminian” is the designation given to any doctrine that is not Calvinistic. Most of those so-labeled are not really Arminians at all. But what makes them renounce the name for Calvinism are statements like these:
Salvation as the Arminians describe it is uncertain, precarious and doubtful. 37
Arminians deny the efficacy of the merit of the death of Christ. 38
Arminianism is the plague of the church and the scourge of sound doctrine. 39
Arminians do not understand the Bible. 40 I believe that some Arminians may be born-again Christians. 41 Some Arminians may have indeed been saved. 42
O, Arminian, Arminian, thou that distortest the prophets and minister protest them that are sent unto thee, how often have I told your children the plain truth … and ye would not let them understand. 43
This is not to deny that many are saved through the Arminian message. God can use even the crooked stick.44
Naturally, we are informed that throughout history “Arminianism among Protestantism was in the minority. ” 45 Then to further assail Arminianism, it is described as ritualistic, ephemeral, aristocratic’ unfavorable to civil liberty, caste fostering, and auspicious to the rich. 46 But after these characterizations are adduced’ we find that the author is really attacking Anglicanism, which happens to be true Arminianism. 47 This misrepresentation brings us to another form of deception used by the Calvinists: guilt by association.
This argument goes much deeper than simply designating their opponents as Arminians, for once this connection is made, Amminians are classified with everything under the sun which is unorthodox or heretical. Fetridge coadunates Amminianism with Arianism, Socinianism, and Unitarianism 48 Clark lumps Amminians and Roman Catholics together like they were cognate systems. 49 Whitefield classifies Amminians with Arians, Deists, Infidels, and Socinians. 50 The most injurious association is to that of Pelagianism. Spencer inforrns us that “Arminianism is but a refinement of Pelagianism, ” 51 while another moderately only employs the term “Semi-Pelagianism” in the onslaught against the Arminians. 52 The significance of Pelagianism to a study of Calvinism and Amminianism remains to be examined in the next chapter. Howbeit, it is highly unorthodox.
Next comes the implication that Amminians believe in salvation by works. This is established by utilizing the full range of heretical associations. Since there are only two groups of Christians, if you are not a Calvinist then you are an Arminian. If you are an Amminian, then you hold to an amalgamation of Socinianism, Romanism, and Unitarianism, which in turn are based on Pelagianism; therefore: you believe in salvation by works. Amminius recognized this and correctly stated that “Calvinists regard any contradiction of their views as tantamount to denying glory to God, and to ascribing salvation to men as being, in a word, Pelagianism.” 53 So not subscribing to Calvinism means that you are the subject of the following opinions:
Arminianism teaches salvation mostly of grace but not all of grace. 54
The doctrine that men are saved only through the unmerited love and grace of God finds its full and honest expression only in the doctrines of Calvinism 55
Arminianism is by necessity synergistic, in that it conceives of salvation as the joint or mutual effort of both God and man 56
Man is exalted to a position where he is capable of choosing God.57
One proclaims a God who saves; the other speaks of a God who enables man to save himself. One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on a work of man. 58
There are in reality only two types of religious thought. There is the religion of Faith and there is the religion of works. We believe that what has been known in Church history as Calvinism is the purest and most consistent embodiment of the religion of Faith. 59
In the eyes of the Calvinist sinful man stands in need, not of inducements or of assistance to save himself, but precisely of saving. He holds that Jesus Christ has come, not to advise urge or woo, or to help a man to save himself, but to save him, to save him through the prevalent working of the Holy Spirit. 60
After shocking the reader with the dreaded errors of Arminianism; after making him feel guilty about not being a Calvinist; after associating him with heretical groups and doctrines: the Calvinist turns to the historical argument. The tactics of deception are still the same, only moving to the scene of history. Naturally, the Calvinist begins with the Bible; like Mason, who contends that “the Bible is a predestinarian book.” 61 Then it is a simple matter of progressing through time. Not only does the Calvinist insist that “Christians of the New Testament times were strong believers in the greatness and sovereignty of God and consequently in the doctrines of election and predestination,” 62but Calvinists also avow that “the chief theologian of the first century was the apostle Paul.” 63 Now who would deny that Paul was the principal theologian of the first century? Sounds like an accurate statement, doesn’t it? The only problem is that the Calvinists mean that Paul taught the same doctrines as modemday Calvinistic theologians; that is, Paul cultivated TULIPS while he made tents. Leaving the New Testament period, we are then informed that “the writings of the Patristic period reveal strong leanings toward Calvinism.” 64 Bringing things up-to-date, Boettner declares, “From the time of the Reformation up until about one-hundred years ago these doctrines were boldly set forth by the great majority of the ministers and teachers in the Protestant churches.” 65 So to sum things up, Singer instructs us that “Calvinism stands today as the great citadel of historic orthodoxy.” 66
Turning now to men in particular in the field of history, the Calvinist claims that the majority of the great men in history have been Calvinistic:
Among the past and present advocates of this doctrine are to be found some of the world’s greatest and wisest men. 67
From its ranks come the great theologians and scholars who are dedicated to the defense of the faith against all its many enemies. 68
There can be little question, in fact, that Calvinism, or some modification of its essential principles, is the form of religious faith that has been professed in the modern world by the most intelligent, moral, industrious, and freest of mankind. 69
Sproul takes an intellectual approach:
Those thinkers who are most widely regarded as the titans of classical Christian scholarship fall heavily on the Reformed side. I am persuaded, however, that this is a fact of history that dare not be ignored. To be sure, it is possible that Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards could all be wrong on this matter. Again, that these agreed does not prove the case for predestination. They could have been wrong. But it gets attention. 70
Certainly they could all be wrong! All of the aforementioned men were wrong on baptism; they sprinkled babies. Certainly they could correspondingly be wrong on predestination. By far the most preferred appeal to respected men that were Calvinistic is the entreaty to the Baptist Charles Spurgeon. All of the Calvinistic writers treasure Spurgeon’s Calvinism: the Baptists, naturally, to convince the Baptists; and the Pedobaptists, knowing that they can’t attract the Baptists to their position, to do the next best thing: make a Reformed Baptist. The Reformed scholar referred to most often, excepting Calvin, accordingly, is Loraine Boettner, who, like Spurgeon, is held in high esteem by both Baptists and Pedobaptists alike. His book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, is the Bible for the Calvinists, even being referred to by Machen back in the 1920’s when it first came out. 71
There are a multiplicity of other historical adducements in support of the Calvinistic system. Boettner is quick to tell us that “the great majority of the creeds of historic Christendom have set forth the doctrines of Election, Predestination, and final Perseverance.” 72 We are then informed that Calvinism is responsible for capitalism73 and makes cultural and scientific activity possible. 74 And if that wasn’t enough, regarding the United States in particular, it is maintained that Calvinism is responsible for the Constitution, 75 yea, the whole nation. 76 Another claims that “in Calvinism lies the origin and guarantee of our constitutional liberties. ” 77
For a Calvinist to equate American liberty with the adh rents of his doctrine is to repudiate the facts of history. Great mention is made of the Puritans who settled in this country and th fact that they were strongly Calvinistic. 78 The Calvinist would lead you to believe that the Puritans are associated with the Pilgrims. But such is not the case. The Puritans did not flee religious persecution in settling America but paradoxically established it. The historian Miller rightly declared: “The government of Massachusetts, and of Connecticut as well, was a dictatorship, and never pretended to be anything else; it was a dictatorship, not of a single tyrant, or of an economic class, or of a political faction, but of the holy and regenerate. ” 79 He further states, ‘ They maintained here precisely what they maintained in England, and if they exiled, fined, jailed, whipped, or hanged those who disagreed with them in New England, they would have done the same thing in England could they have secured the power. 80 Imagine a Presbyterian Calvinist talking about religious liberty in light of the theocratic kingdom that existed in Massachusetts. Although Calvinistic, the Sovereign Grace Baptists wouldn’t dare make use of such erroneous historical arguments. Absolute liberty resided in Rhode Island -settled by the Baptists.
Before taking up the Baptists in particular, it would be pertinent at this point to examine a historical statement made by Kuyper: “Calvinism means the completed evolution of Protestantism.” 81 If Calvinism is the quintessence of Protestantism; the culmination of the Reformation, then it is built on a spurious foundation. As will be maintained throughout this work, the Reformation was a reformation not a return to biblical Christianity. The Lutherans were first called “Protestants’ after a protest was presented to the Second Diet of Spires (1529). 82 The designation “Reformed” came to be applied to those in the Swiss Reformation because they were “more reformed than the Lutherans. 83 As for the appellative “Presbyterian, it began to be used in the first half of the seventeenth century in Scotland over the issue of polity. 84 Although it is common today to apply the name Protestant to any Christian system in Opposition to Catholicism, in actuality, Baptists are not Protestants and neither can they be designated Reformed. The Baptists were not a product of the Reformation and hence may be termed the original Protestants, since they protested the errors of the Roman Catholic Church hundreds of years before the Reformation, although from without instead of as a dissenter or descendant. Calvinism is therefore distinctly a Reformed doctrine, the Baptists notwithstanding. This is recognized by the Dutch Reformed Hanko, who ascertains, “Those who hold to the truth of infant baptism have generally maintained that the ideas of believers’ baptism and sovereign grace are mutually exclusive, and that those who hold to these two positions hold a contradictory view of salvation.” 85
Now regarding the Baptists specifically, the same type of historical arguments are used, either by them or in pertammg to them, in order to prove that Calvinism is the biblical position. Mason begins with the first century: “Baptists have been Predestinarians down through the centuries, from the days of Christ.” 86 Boettner reminds us that most Baptist confessions have been Calvinistic. 87 The Presbyterian Fetridge merely says: ‘The Baptists, who are Calvinists,” 88 disdaining the established facts of history. The easiest way to invoke the argument from history is to divide all Baptists into two groups (where have we heard this before?): “General” and “Particular” Baptists; General Baptists holding that Christ died for all men in general, and Particular Baptists viewing the Atonement as only for the so-called elect. In America these were called “Separate” and “Regular” Baptists. Once this designation is made, the Particular or Regular Baptists are referred to as a “great body” while the General or Separate Baptists are denominated a “smaller group.” 89 Thus the Christian is led to believe that the orthodox view was held by the Calvinists since they were in the majority. The great writer and preacher John Gill is highly revered and quoted often, although it is never mentioned that during the time he ministered in London (1719-1771) the church dwindled down to 153 people by 1753 m a place where seating was 2000. 90 Thomas Crosby, who was a deacon in John Gill’s church and the son- in-law of the illustnous Benjamin Keach, 91 pertinently observed in his The History of the English Baptists:
And I know that there are several churches, ministers, and many particular persons, among the English Baptists, who desire not to go under the name either of Generals or Particulars, nor indeed can justly be ranked under either of these heads, because they receive what they think to be truth, without regarding with what human schemes it agrees or disagrees with. 92
So not all Baptists accepted these man-made designations contrary to the endless stream of conjecture that flows from the Sovereign Grace spigot. When put between a rock and hard place those Baptists who choose to believe the Bible rather than the speculations of Calvinism or Arminianism, have sometimes referred to themselves as “Biblicists.” Naturally, this is offensive to both Calvinists and Arminians, for it correctly implies the unbiblical nature of both systems. One affronted Calvinist insists that Biblicist is “overused” and is employed “in attempts to avoid what the Scriptures actually teach about God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation.” 93 Any attempt to be just a Bible-believing Baptist and you are labeled with the moniker of “Calminian,” 94 obviously a derivative from the only accepted suppositional opinions. Not only are chapters in books devoted to Calvinistic Baptists in history, but whole books have been written on just the subject of Baptists in history who supposedly were Calvinists. 95 The problem with these references, however, is that often times quotes are taken only partially or out of context, thus misrepresentmg the true position of the author.
Among those men included as strong Calvinists are four great leaders of the modern Baptist missionary movement: William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, and Andrew Fuller. 96 While it is true that Carey’s missionary society was officially entitled The Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen, 97 to maintain that Carey was a consistent Calvinist is another story. It is because of this disparity that John Ryland retorted to Carey at his appeal for the use of means in mission work: “Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine.” 98 Judson and Rice were Congregationalists who later became Baptists. Whatever their profession, they proved by their actions on behalf of foreign missions the pretense of their “Calvinism.”
Perhaps the greatest misrepresentation is the use of Andrew Fuller as being a Calvinist of the same caliber as modern Sovereign Grace Baptists. Fuller was an English Baptist preacher and voluminous writer on par with John Gill as a Bible expositor. 99 He was the theological leader of one side of the Baptists who rejected Limited Atonement and believed in using every means possible to bring sinners to Jesus Christ and to spread the Gospel throughout the world. 100 He was attacked by both Calvinists and Arminians.101 About the Calvinistic Baptists he declared: “Had matters gone on but a few years the Baptists would have become a perfect dunghill in society.” 102 Fuller was the man who dealt the mortal blow to the system which held that it was impossible for any but the elect to embrace the Gospel and therefore that it was useless to invite the unconverted to believe on Christ. 103 In 1785, Fuller published his The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, Or the Obligations of Men Fully to Credit and Cordially to Approve Whatever God Makes Known. An excerpt from this work will show the true nature of Andrew Fuller’s “Calvinism”:
I believe it is the duty of every minister of Christ plainly and faithfully to preach the Gospel to all who will hear it, and as I believe the inability of men to spiritual things to be wholly moral, and therefore of the criminal kind, and that it is their duty to love the Lord Jesus Christ and trust him for salvation though they do not; I therefore believe free and solemn addresses, invitations, calls, and warnings to them to be not only consistent, but directly adapted, as means, in the hand of the Spirit of God, to bring them to Christ. I consider it as a part of my duty which I could not omit without being guilty of the blood of souls. 104
While the designations Regular and Separate, as well as Particular and General, are no longer used to denominate Baptists, most Calvinistic Baptists have some sort of name identifying themselves as Calvinists. The standard term is “Sovereign Grace Baptists,” while others prefer the title of “Hardshell,” or “Primitive.” The “Gospel Standard Baptists” is another, and occasionally you see the designation “Old” or “Strict” or “Reformed.” The name of “Missionary Baptists” that some Calvinistic Baptists take upon themselves is a misnomer. All Baptists should be missionary Baptists. The reason that the Sovereign Grace Baptists use the aforementioned term is to distinguish themselves from the Primitive Baptists the ones who practice their Calvinism. If Christ died for only the “elect” then it is certainly foolish to send out missionaries. The “elect” couldn’t possibly be eternally lost no matter what any missionary did or did not do.
These Baptists are all quick to emphasize their Calvinism, so it isn’t hard to recognize any of them. However, some Baptists, especially those who reject Limited Atonement, are hard to pin down. The GARBC contains a number of Calvinists and would have even more if some hadn’t broken away to form other groups that weren’t afraid to declare their Calvinistic affinities. You will find Baptists with Calvinistic leanings in all the various Baptist conventions, associations, and fellowships. Upon inquiry, most of these men will affirm their Calvinism; however, this is not to say that they publicly preach and teach these opinions nor put them into practice. These men are what might be called “closetCalvinists,” since they keep their Calvinism, like the proverbial skeleton, in the closet, lest their church members take to heart what their pastor believes and stop visitation and giving to missions. This is not to imply that these men disdain visitation and missions; quite to the contrary, they might be ardent about visiting and support many missionaries. They are woefully inconsistent; never resolutely employing their theology. One Calvinist has rather accurately termed these men “shelf- Calvinists,” since their Calvinism is mainly to be found on their library shelves. 105
All library shelves contain basically one thing: books. Books have to be published, hence publishers. There is to be found a Calvinistic bias in most major Christian publishers, the Baptists notwithstanding. Most of the small independent publishers who reprint old Baptist writings are Calvinistic. Regarding theology books in particular, it is very difficult to find one that is not Calvinistic. You would naturally expect to pick up a book by Reformed theologians such as Vos, Kuyper, Warfield, Hoeksema, Van Til, Berkhof, or Hodge and be bombarded with Calvinism from start to finish, but to find the same amongst the Baptists is tragic indeed. Rather unlike their Presbyterian and Reformed “cousins,” the Calvinistic Baptists differ among themselves to a substantial degree. Some are four-point Calvinists, while others take the whole TULIP. All viewpoints of eschatology can be found, likewise ecclesiology. Various dispensational views are held by all parties. Nevertheless, there is one common bond which unites them: God’s sovereign eternal decree of election.
Like the Campbellite, the Seventh-Day Adventist, and the Roman Catholic, the Calvinist will claim that he is being misrepresented when his true position is exposed. Another type of Calvinism has been invented, and it is to it that every objection against the Calvinistic system is consigned. The adherents of this fictitious scheme are referred to by various terms: “ultraCalvinists,” “extreme Calvinists,” “high-Calvinists.” The favorite designation for this group is “hyper-Calvinist.” 106 The trouble is, hyper-Calvinism is an ambiguous term. To the Arminian, a four-point Calvinist is a hyper-Calvinist. To the four-point Calvinist, those who take the whole TULIP are hyper-Calvinists. Those who take all five points, yet deny the reprobate “common grace,” likewise receive the label. The supralapsarian Calvinist often bears the term because of his extreme views. Some mistakenly attack only hyper-Calvinism because they have been led to believe that Calvinism in general is orthodox, but this is exactly what the Calvinists relish. To the majority, a hyperCalvinist is one who goes beyond the teachings of John Calvin regarding predestination. This is incorrect, for as we shall see in chapter seven, John Calvin was an extreme, supralapsarian hyper- Calvinist. Therefore, to say that a person could go beyond the teachings of John Calvin is a false statement: it is not possible to be a more rabid, fanatical TULIP propagator, although Arthur W. Pink comes very close.
The only proper use of the term hyper-Calvinist is in practice not profession. As one writer has said, “When we talk about ‘hyper-Calvinism’ we are not talking about the extending of Calvin’s doctrines to a place beyond which he taught, but we are merely talking about an overemphasis on what he taught.” 107 To say that Charles Spurgeon was a moderate Calvinist and his predecessor John Gill was a hyper- Calvinist is to say that Spurgeon did not put the emphasis on Calvinism that Gill did. Spurgeon was just not as consistent as Gill, although he admits they were united in most of their beliefs:
Now I, who am neither an Arminian nor a hyper-Calvinist, but a Calvinist of Calvin’s own stamp, think I can stand between the two parties. Believing all that the hyper-Calvinist believes, and preaching as high doctrine as ever he can preach, but believing more than he believes; not believing all the Arminian believes, but still at the same time believing that he is often sounder than the hyper- Calvinist upon some points of doctrine. 108
The Calvinist Ross has correctly stated: “The misuse and abuse of these doctrines will deaden and kill.” l09 Why is that? Could the doctrine of the Deity of Christ deaden and kill? Could the doctrine of the Trinity deaden and kill? Why do some Calvinists have large churches and a fruitful ministry? Is it because they have not “misused and abused” the doctrines of Calvinism? I trow not. The doctrines of Calvinism will deaden and kill anything: prayer, faith, zeal, holiness. The only reason it seems that these doctrines don’t deaden and kill in some instances is not because they have not been misused, but rather because the Calvinist has been inconsistent in practicing what he truly believes.
What is Calvinism? What it all comes down to is this: ARE MEN ELECTED TO SALVATION OR ARE THEY NOT? All Calvinists, whether they be Presbyterian or Reformed, Primitive Baptist or Sovereign Grace Baptist, four-point or five-point Calvinist, Supralapsarian or Infralapsarian; all Calvinists: premillennial or amillennial, dispensational or covenant theologist; all Calvinists, whether they go by the name or not; all Calvinists have one thing in common: God, by a sovereign, eternal decree, has determined before the foundation of the world who shall be saved and who shall be lost. To get your mind off the real issue, a vocabulary has been invented to confuse and confound the Christian. The arguments about reprobation (God damning the non-elect), infralapsarianism (God causing the Fall and damning the non-elect because of it), and supralapsarianism (God damning the non-elect and causing the Fall to insure it) are immaterial. Likewise all the tripe about free will and free agency, common grace and special grace, effectual calling, preterition, and the sovereignty of God. The issue is: election to salvation. This fact is recognized by the Calvinists:
The Arminian will say that man is elect because he believes. The Calvinist asserts that man believes because he is elect. 110
Thus according to the Arminian, the reason one accepts and another rejects the gospel is that man decides; but according to the Calvinist, God decides. 111
What is the real question at issue? It is the question whether a man is predestinated by God to salvation because he believes in Christ or is enabled to believe in Christ because he is predestinated. 112
The answer to this issue has many far reaching effects, the most important of which is acknowledged by the Calvinist Murray: “The whole case for the public appeal can be reduced to the question whether this order of salvation is right or wrong.” 113
Concerning all the senseless rhetoric that is passed off for Bible doctrine, John Wesley, although an ardent Arminian, had enough sense to comprehend the real issue:
Call it therefore by whatever name you please, Election, Preterition, Predestination, or Reprobation, it comes in the end to the same thing. The sense of all is plainly this: By virtue of an eternal, unchangeable, irresistible decree of God, one part of mankind are infallibly saved and the rest infallibly damned; it being impossible that any of the former should be damned, or that any of the latter should be saved. But if this be so, then is all preaching vain. 114
This is the other side of Calvinism. The stumbling block for the Calvinist is the simplicity of salvation; they have been beguiled:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor 11:3).
Upon rejecting the simplicity of salvation, a system has to be constructed whereby salvation is made a mysterious, arcane, incomprehensible, abstruse decree of God. The only way this can be accomplished is by confounding election and predestination with salvation, which they never are in the Bible, but only in the philosophical speculations and theological implications of Calvinism: the other side of Calvinism.
1. Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1932), p. 1.
2. Ibid., p. 340.
3. Benjamin B. Warfield, Calvin and Augustine, ed. Samuel Craig (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1956), p. 498-499.
4. Ibid., p. 498.
5. A. W. Martin, The Practical Implications of Calvinism (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1979), p. 3.
6. W. J. Seaton, The Five Points of Calvinism (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1970), p. 17.
7. Leonard J. Coppes, Are Five Points Enough? The Ten Points of Calvinism (Denver: by the author, 1980), p. xi.
8. Kenneth G. Talbot and W. Gary Crampton, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1990), p. iv.
9. Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sovereign Grace Sermons (Edmonton: Still Waters Re
ival Books, 1990), p. 18.
10. Alan P. Sell, The Great Debate (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), p. 4.
11. Arthur C. Custance, The Sovereignty of Grace (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1979), p. 302.
12. Warfield, Calvin, p. 499.
13. Ibid., p. 506.
14. Boettner, Predestination, p. 352.
15. Talbot and Crampton, p. 78,
16. Spurgeon’s Sermons, p. 129.
17. Boettner, Predestination, p. 4849.
18. Ibid., p. 333.
19. Gordon 11. Clark, Predestination (Fhillipsburg. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1987), p. 144.
20. Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), p 26.
21. William G. T. Shedd, Calvinism. Pure and Mixed (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1986), p. xviii.
22. Ibid., p. 149.
23. Manfred E. Kober, Divine Election or Human Effort (n. p., n. d.), p. 44; Roy Mason, What is to Be, Will Be (n. p., n. d.), p. 5; Arthur W. Pink, A Fourfold Salvation(Choteau: Gospel Mission Press, 1981), p. 10.
24. Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Faith (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1983), p.2.
25. Patrick H. Mell, The Biblical Doctrine of Calvinism (Cape Coral: Christian Gospel Foundation, n. d.), p. 18.
26. Talbot and Crampton, p. 5.
27. Warfield, Calvin, p.506.
28. Talbot and Crampton, p. 3.
29. Gary North, Dominion and Common Grace (Tyler: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987), p. 203-204.
30. Boettner, Faith, p.2.
31. Warfield, Calvin, p.507.
32. Talbot and Crampton, p.14.
33. The Preface had to be altered to cover this up.
34. See Preface to his History of Christian Doctrines.
35. On the Title page of Berkhof s Manual of Reformed Doctrine before the title was changed.
36. Sell, p. 29.
37. Clark, Predestination, p. 133.
38. John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1967), Vol. 10: 13.
39. Herman Hanko, God’s Everlasting Covenant of Grace (Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1988), p. 16.
40. Gordon H. Clark, The Biblical Doctrine of Man (Jefferson: Trinity Foundation, 1984), p. 74.
41. Palmer, p. 26.
42. Clark, Predestination, p. 95.
43. Ibid., p. 187- 188.
44. Morton H. Smith, Reformed Evangelism (Clinton: Multi- communication Ministries,1975), p. 29.
45. Talbot and Crampton, p. 80.
46. N. S. Fetridge, Calvinism in History (Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1989) ,p. 6-10.
47. Ibid., p. 10.
48. Ibid., p. 5.
49. Clark, Man, p. 64; Predestination, p. 127.
50. George Whitefield, Letter to John Wesley on Election (Canton: Free Grace Publications, 1977), p. 15.
51 Tuane Edward Spencer. Tulip The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), p. 65.
52. Grover E. Gunn, The Doctrines of Grace (Memphis: Footstool Publications, 1987), p. 3.
53. Sell, p. 8.
54. Gunn, p. 3.
55. Boettner, Predestination, p. 95.
56. Samuel C. Storms, Chosen for Life (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987),p. 30.
57. Kenneth D. Johns, Election: Love Before Time (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1976), p. 1.
58. David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism. (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1963), p. 22.
59. Boettner, Faith, p.1.
60. Martin, p. 13.
61. Mason, p. 5.
63. Talbot and Crampton, p. 78.
64. Ibid., p. 79.
65 Boettner, Predestination, p. 23.
66 C. Gregg Singer, JOHN CALVIN: His Roots and Fruits (Atlanta, A Press, 1989), p. 28.
67. Boettner, Predestination,p.1.
68. Singer, p. 28.
69. Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1931), p. 15.
70. R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1986), p. 15.
71. J. Gresham Machen, The Christian View of Man (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1947), p. 51.
72. Boettner, Predestination,p.2.
73. John H. Leith, Introduction to the Reformed Tradition, rev ed. (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), p. 218.
74. Singer, p. 218.
76. Fetridge, p. 39.
77. Kuyper, p. 78.
78. Fetridge, p. 39;Boettner,Predestination,p.2.
79. Kenneth H. Good, Are Baptists Reformed? (Lorain: Regular Baptist Heritage Fellowship, 1986), p. 259.
81. Kuyper, p. 41.
82. Leith, p. 32.
83. Ibid., p. 34-35.
84. Ibid.,p. 155.
85. Hanko, p. 2.
86. Mason, p. 3.
87. Boettner, Predestination,p.1.
88. Fetridge, p. 49.
89. Kober, p. 45.
90. Sell, p. 83.
91. William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia (Paris: Baptist Standard Bearer, 1988), p. 296.
92. Thomas Crosby, The History of the English Baptists (Lafayette: Church History Research & Archives, 1979), Vol. 1:174.
93. Good, p. 51.
94. Ibid., p. 50,56,57.
95. Robert B. Selph, Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election (Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications, 1988).
96. Ibid., p. 29-31.
97. Good, p. 58.
98. Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Inan Jaya (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983), p. 115.
99. Cathcart, p. 421.
100. Ibid., p. 422.
101. Sell, p. 86.
102. Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists (Watertown: Maranatha Baptist Press, 1980), p. 584.
103. John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists (Texarkana: Bogard Press, 1922), Vol. 1:351.
104. Sell, p. 86.
105. Good, p. 67.
106. Arthur W. Pink, The Doctrine of Sanctification (Swengel: Reiner Publications, 1975), p. 9; Spurgeon’s Sermons, p. 14; Talbot and Crampton, p. 76; Smith,p. 13; Palmer,p. 84.
107. Peter S. Ruckman, Hyper-Calvinism (Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1984), p. 3.
108. Charles H. Spurgeon, The Two Wesleys (Pasadena: Pilgrim Publications, 1975), p. 4.
109. Bob L. Ross, The Killing Effects of Calvinism (Pasadena: Pilgrim Publications, n. d. ), p. 1.
110. Kober, p. 44.
111. Palmer, p. 160.
112. Machen, p. 58.
113. Iain H. Murray, The Invitation System (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1967), p. 19.
114. Sell, p. 73.