Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A comparison of Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism

I thought the following excerpt from the article What Hath Geneva To Do with Nashville? by Thomas K. Ascol does contains a succinct and accurate comparison of Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism.
In one sense, hyper-Calvinism, like Arminianism, is a rationalistic perversion of true Calvinism. Whereas Arminianism destroys the sovereignty of God, hyper-Calvinism destroys the responsibility of man. The irony is that both Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism start from the same, erroneous rationalistic presupposition: Man's ability and responsibility are coextensive. That is, they must match up exactly or else it is irrational. If a man is to be held responsible for something, then he must have the ability to do it. On the other hand, if a man does not have the ability to perform it, he cannot be obligated to do it.

The Arminian looks at this premise and says, "Agreed! We know that all men are held responsible to repent and believe the gospel [which is true, according to the Bible]; therefore we must conclude that all men have the ability in themselves to repent and believe [which is false, according to the Bible]." Thus, Arminians teach that unconverted people have within themselves the spiritual ability to repent and believe.

The hyper-Calvinist takes the same premise (that man's ability and responsibility are coextensive) and says, "Agreed! We know that, in and of themselves, all men are without spiritual ability to repent and believe [which is true, according to the Bible]; therefore we must conclude that unconverted people are not under obligation to repent and believe the gospel [which is false, according to the Bible]."

In contrast to both of these, the Calvinist looks at the premise and says, "Wrong! While it looks reasonable, it is not biblical. The Bible teaches both that fallen man is without spiritual ability and that he is obligated to repent and believe. Only by the powerful, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is man given the ability to fulfill his duty to repent and believe." And though this may seem unreasonable to rationalistic minds, there is no contradiction, and it is precisely the position the Bible teaches.
On a related note, I am aware that the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (PRC) are often times accused of being hyper-Calvinists. This is an excerpt from David J. Engelsma’s article Is Denial of the "Well-Meant Offer" Hyper-Calvinism? that responds to the charge of hyper-Calvinism.
The PRC [Protestant Reformed Churches in America] do not deny that the gospel is to be preached to all men, or that the preaching includes a call to all hearers without exception, to repent and believe on Jesus Who is presented in the gospel, or that the promise of God, that every one who does believe shall be saved, must be declared to all.

Restriction of the preaching, and particularly of the gospel-call, to those who give evidence of election by their regeneration is a real hyper-Calvinism. It is disobedience to the command that God gives the church in Matthew 22:9: "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, call to the marriage." It is exposed as erroneous by verse 14 of Matthew 22, "Many are called, but few are chosen." The objection of the PRC to the offer is not at all that the offer requires that the gospel be preached to all, or that the offer insists that all be called to believe on Christ. But the objection is that the offer holds that this preaching and calling are grace to all.

God does not call all men alike. God calls the elect, through the preaching, with the life-giving, converting, and irresistibly drawing Spirit in their hearts, whereas He calls the reprobate only with the external Word. He calls the elect out of grace, the grace with which He chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world, whereas He calls the reprobate in divine righteousness, requiring of them their duty, namely, repentance and faith.


Anonymous gaylegoh said...

so, what *does* geneva have to do with nashville? i'm going there on friday, i should know :)

7/3/06 3:47 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

Well, Geneva is recognized as the birthplace of Calvinism. While you are there, be sure to check out the Reformation Monument, otherwise known as the Wall of Reformers. The Reformation Monument features the statues of the four famous Reformers: William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox.

The excerpt I have quoted is taken from an article by Founders Ministries, a Calvinistic arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. The headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention is situated in Nashville, Tennessee.

Enjoy yourself!

7/3/06 5:19 PM  
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