It might seem like a waste of time to write about the dangers and errors of Hyper-Calvinism. Certainly the prevailing view among most churches is Arminianism or some abbreviated form of it. However, since the strong resurgence of historic Calvinism in the early 1980s (and especially its growing influence among a younger generation of Christians in the last ten years), it would be very prudent to understand its anomaly known as Hyper-Calvinism.
In addition to this, there’s also the confusion in many Christian circles that sees no difference between historic Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism. In fact, depending on who you’re talking with, the moment you express your belief in the biblical teaching of election or predestination, you’re instantly placed in the camp of the Hyper-Calvinist. And the way this is identified is when the person will say to you, “Well, then, you must not believe in evangelism and missions!” To which, you’re reply has to be an explanation of what the Bible teaches regarding both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility when it comes to salvation and missions. But nevertheless, the reason for this misunderstanding is either the ignorance or willful refusal to see that true Calvinism is not Hyper-Calvinism.
So to understand and set forth warnings against Hyper-Calvinism is not a waste of time. As I said in my last post, “Ideas have consequences.” Therefore we would do well to note the consequences of embracing the ideas behind Hyper-Calvinism.
Some years ago I was given a small booklet published by Chapel Library entitled, “The Killing Effects of Hyper-Calvinism.” The author of the booklet is a Calvinist, but he has a great burden to warn his Calvinistic brethren to beware the dangers of Hyper-Calvinism. In the first half of the booklet he lays down five things which Hyper-Calvinism kills. In this post I will cover the first three with my own commentary, and then proceed in my next post to handle the last two.
In the first place, Hyper-Calvinism will kill Gospel preaching to the lost. This is always the first biblical mandate and ministry to go in a local church that follows Hyper-Calvinism. We have to remember, that for the Hyper-Calvinist, all they can see in Scripture is God’s sovereignty to the exclusion of man’s responsibility. Therefore to call on all sinners to believe on Christ and repent of their sins is, for the Hyper-Calvinist, an outright denial of God’s sovereignty in salvation. Hence, they scorn Gospel preaching! In their erroneous thinking, they have cut out the imperative and necessity for sinners to hear the Gospel if they would be saved (cf. Rom. 10:13-17). Since God has already chosen who will be saved (Rom. 9:6-24; Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13), then God’s elect, the Hyper-Calvinist reasons, do not need to hear the call of the Gospel unto salvation. But to believe this, not only misrepresents the doctrine of election, it denies the fact that God has ordained Gospel preaching as the divine means to bring His elect to saving faith (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18-2:5).
In the second place, Hyper-Calvinism kills prayer. As the Hyper-Calvinist muses on God’s sovereign decree, he concludes: “Well, if I pray, it won’t change things; if I don’t pray it won’t change things.” What a terrible error! First of all, God calls us to pray (1 Thess. 5:18). Second of all, like preaching, prayer is ordained by God as an instrument through which He accomplishes His purposes (Phil. 1:9-20). But the Hyper-Calvinist wants to kill such activity because he thinks it to be a sign of unbelief in God’s eternal decree. What foolish and arrogant thinking this is! How can it be useless to pray if God has commanded His people to pray? To reason otherwise is in itself unbelief in what God has in fact ordained.
In third place, Hyper-Calvinism kills a grateful spirit in the providence of God. The Hyper-Calvinist is essentially a fatalist. His view of God’s sovereignty takes no account of how God is personally, wisely, and lovingly working all things together for the believer’s good (Rom. 8:28). Thus, with all events in life, the Hyper-Calvinist concludes: “Well, what is to be will be, so what happened was just what was planned.” Where is the thankful heart in this surmising of what God is doing in one’s life? Instead, it is a grim and sour stoicism which is determined to endure, but with no joy and gratitude in how God is fulfilling His purpose. If we truly understand God’s providence over our lives, then we will be able to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18).