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What Is Hyper-Calvinism?

One of our readers asks: "What is hyper-Calvinism? How would you define it?"

The charge of hyper-Calvinism is bandied about very much these days. One would almost think sometimes that there is no other heresy around nor any so serious as this.

We ourselves are charged with being hyper-Calvinists, often maliciously and simply as a matter of hearsay. The New Dictionary of Theology, for example, gives an accurate description of the teachings of hyper-Calvinism and then claims that Herman Hoeksema is the most prominent modern hyper-Calvinist, though he was not responsible for a single one of the teachings listed as characteristic of hyper-Calvinism.

Quite often the charge is brought against those who deny that the gospel is a well-meant offer of salvation on God's part, that is, that He expresses in the gospel a sincere love and desire for the salvation of every one who hears the gospel, and well-meaningly promises salvation to all without exception. If not as a matter of mere rumor, then for this reason, that we deny these things, we are charged with hyper-Calvinism.

Usually, however, those who charge others with this error do not really even know what hyper-Calvinism is. We have come across those who believe that anyone who teaches limited atonement is a hyper-Calvinist and others who are convinced that anyone who teaches any of the Five Points of Calvinism is such. They mistake true, historic, Biblical Calvinism for hyper-Calvinism (something that goes beyond Calvin and Calvinism).

The same goes for those who believe that a denial of a universal love of God and an intention on God's part to save all, expressed in the gospel, is hyper-Calvinism. It can easily be shown that the Calvinistic creeds and writers have always taught the opposite, and that those who do teach these things are teaching, not true Calvinism, but the Pelagianism of Rome and the Arminianism of the free-willists.

So, what is hyper-Calvinism? Is it a serious error?

We would emphasize, first, that there is such a thing as hyper-Calvinism, though some would deny this. Historically, the name has been applied to those who deny that the command of the gospel to repent and believemust be preached to all who hear the gospel.

A hyper-Calvinist, therefore, is not someone who teaches that in predestination, in the death of Christ in the preaching, and in the work of the Spirit, God loves only the elect and intends only their salvation. That is simply Biblical Calvinism.

Rather a hyper-Calvinist (historically and doctrinally) is someone who, because all are not chosen and redeemed, will not command all who hear the gospel to repent and believe. He is someone who starts from the right premises, but draws the wrong conclusions - who does not believe that "God now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30).

A true hyper-Calvinist, then, is one who believes rightly in sovereign, double predestination and in particular redemption - who denies a universal love of God and a will of God to save all men. Yet he concludes wrongly that because God has determined who will be saved, sent Christ for them only, and gives to them salvation as a free gift, therefore only the elect should be commanded to repent and believe in the preaching of the gospel.

This, we believe, is a serious error. It is an error that effectively destroys both gospel preaching and evangelism - an error that must be avoided.

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 15
Hanko, Ronald

Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: November 1979

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017

Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/

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