Tuesday, June 15, 2010


So often today you read about the dangers and horrors of Hyper-Calvinism but what is it exactly?  To Arminians that believe a Christian cannot lose salvation (or so-called 1 point Calvinists e.g. John Rice) anyone holding to the other 4 points is a Hyper-Calvinist, to an Amyraldian (or so-called 4 point Calvinists denying Limited Atonement e.g. Norwich Reformed Church) those who hold to Limited Atonement are hyper, and Infralapsarians often refer to Supralapsarians as hyper( e.g. R.C. Sproul ). Hyper-Calvinism is blamed on people picketing homosexual funerals (e.g. Westboro Baptist Church) and those who hold to "Doctrinal Perfectionism" ( groups that believe a Christian's doctrine will be perfect e.g. Outside the Camp ). I have even recently read someone referred to as a Hyper-Calvinist for denying the charismatic gifts. Usually you see hypers defined by a set of doctrines as in Iain Murray's book Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, where he says hypers are those who deny gospel invitations are universal, the warrant of faith, human responsibility and the love of God for everyone. Someone once wrote that Hyper-Calvinism is anyone more calvinistic than me, and while I find that funny, I do believe there is an error that can be rightfully called "Hyper-Calvinism".

The word "hyper" means "above or beyond" and so added to calvinism would mean anyone who takes the teachings of Calvin to an unprecedented extreme. Therefore to determine what "hyper-calvinism" is one must first know what Calvin held to. This automatically discounts anyone who claims as hyper people who hold to predestination as Calvin himself held to this doctrine. There are some doctrines in which there is some controversy on what exactly Calvin held, for instance both Amyraldians and Infralapsarians claim Calvin for there own and even quote him in there defence, muddying the waters. The key to discussing this properly however is to focus on doctrine and not on Calvin personally due to the confusion.

Hyper-Calvinism is in a nutshell a denial of a natural means of grace. These "calvinists" take the doctrines of grace to the unprecedented extreme of denying, contrary to the Bible, that preaching or any form of teaching is necessary in bringing someone to the faith. An example of this can be seen in the teaching of the Primitive Baptist Church. Elder Kirby of this group says in a statement of their beliefs " 1. What is the basic difference between Primitive Baptists and other religious societies?
Answer: The basic difference is that Primitive Baptists believe in salvation by grace. There are really only two positions that a person can occupy on this matter. One is that salvation is by grace, and the other is that 
salvation is by works. It cannot be a combination of the two. A person may say that he believes in salvation by grace, but if he sets forth any act of man's will, such as repentance, faith, baptism, or hearing the gospel, as a condition for obtaining it, then this position must be put on the works side. Primitive Baptists believe that salvation is of the Lord, that it is by His grace, and that nothing needs to be added to it." he goes on to say again later " 10. Don't you believe that the preaching of the gospel is God's ordained means of bringing eternal salvation to the sinner? Answer: No, only by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit can eternal life be brought to the dead sinner (John 3 : 6-8) .The gospel brings life and immortality to light, but doesn't produce life (llTim.1: 10)."  This is in clear contrast to the scriptures which say that "it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." (1 Cor. 1:21) and in Romans 10:17 we learn that "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

 Now this denial does lead to other doctrines such as anti-missionism and can lead to "eternal justification" but it is the denial of a natural means of grace that is the root of this teaching. Incidentally, it is often assumed that all supralapsarians are hypers and definately that all hypers are supralapsarian but this again is an error. Curt Daniel in his book The History and Theology of Calvinism states that "while all Hyper-Calvinists have been Supralapsarians, not all Supralapsarians have been Hyper-Calvinists" p.89. I would question the necessity of all hypers being supra. Elder Kirby states on predestination "  4. What is their position on predestination? Answer: They believe that God has predestinated a great number to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom.8: 28-30) .While some object to this doctrine because they say it is unfajr, Primitive Baptists rejoice in it, for they see that had it not been for predestination, the whole human family would have been lost forever. Predestination is not the thing that condemns a man, or puts him in a ruined condition, but the very thing that gets him out of such a state. Predestination concerns not "what" but "whom." It is the great purpose of God to lift a people up from sin and corruption and make them like Jesus Christ. That's glorious ! " Notice here we see he denies the doctrine of reprobation which is essential to true double predestinationism and thereby supralapsarianism.


The ramifications to this way of thinking are widespread. As we have already discussed it denies the need for witnessing and missions. Parents in this group often will not even teach their children to pray or worship or anything scriptural as they expect the Lord to do it without them and thus raise up a generation of degenerates. This thinking also leads to a lack of emphasis on education or studying, as God will give as he sees fit and therefore a quietist anti-intellectualism is characteristic of this group. They will pick on or forbid college and reading of books. The pastors in these groups often do not study a sermon as they expect God to give them "direct revelation" in the pulpit and thus they are very similar to charismatic/pentecostal groups. I heard one Primitive Baptist preacher say that he does not work his sermons up but gets them worked down. Finally, this group will be presuppositional in its thinking. This group will not hear of anyone giving proof for God or the Bible as everyone is supposed to just know the truth of these things. Thus there sermons will be more moralistic and less Christocentric as they will preach to the "heart" and not the "head". After all to them salvation is about the will and not the intellect. People are damned not for what they do not know but what they willfully reject.


Anyone familiar with God's word will clearly see the faults to this mindset. Proverbs 22:6 commands us to train our children. Timothy we learn was trained by his mother and grandmother and thus came to faith ( 2 Tim. 1:5, 3:14-15. We are commanded to study to show ourselves approved in 2 Tim. 2:15. God gives the church teachers (Eph. 4:11, 1 Cor. 12:28). Lastly, we are told in John 14:6 that people that do not know the good news of Jesus Christ will go to Hell. A.W. Pink has put it succinctly in saying concerning the "causes of salvation:

" The Original Cause is the sovereign will of God, for nothing can come into being save that which He decreed before the foundation of the world.

The Meritorious Cause is the mediatorial work of Christ, who "obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:22) for His people, purchasing for them all the blessings of it by His perfect obedience to the Law and His sacrificial death.

The Efficient Cause is the varied operations of the Holy Spirit, who applies to the elect the benefits purchased by Christ, capacitating them to enjoy the same and making them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

The Ministerial Cause and means is the preaching of the Word (James 1:21), because it discovers to us where salvation is to be obtained.

The Instrumental Cause is faith, by which the soul receives or comes into possession of and obtains an interest in Christ and His redemption.

Such distinctions as these are not merely technicalities for theologians, but are part of the faith once delivered unto the saints, and unless they apprehend the same they are liable to be deceived by any Scripture-quoting false prophet who accosts them."

Quoted in Curt Daniel's booklet Biblical Calvinism from A.W. Pinks book Sermon on the Mount.


Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill by Curt Daniel - This and his above named resources are only available at Good Books 2456 Devonshire Rd. Springfield, IL 62703 USA

Primitive Baptists of the Wiregrass South by John Crowley

A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism by Phil Johnson at  http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm

Hyper-Calvinism is the Truth: Darth Gill responds to Phil Johnson at http://www.predestinarian.net/content/21-Hyper-Calvinism-is-the-Truth