Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moderate, High, and Hyper-Calvinism

I consider myself a classic moderate Calvinist. The term 'moderate' itself with respect to Calvinism goes back to the 1600s. These Calvinists held to an unlimited expiation in the sacrifice of Christ.

This is not 4-point Calvinism, nor is it necessarily Amyraldism. Though highs very often throw these accusations at us moderates, and even the insult 'Arminian,' when frustrated. Classic moderate Calvinism believes in a kind of limited atonement, proper limited atonement - an unlimited expiation/limited intent variety. This view was represented by many delegates at the Synod at Dort, and the Canons of Dort were written broad enough to allow moderate Calvinists to sign. Some of the Westminster Assembly Divines, like Calamy, held to this view also.


The classic moderate view is also that of the original Reformers, including Calvin (see the Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 37, together with Ursinus' commentary on this Q & A). Classic moderate Calvinism best explains all scripture teaching on the atonement, both general texts and texts that teach a special intent. It embraces real sufficiency as it was meant in the Lombardian formula - sufficient for all, efficient for the elect. This view is consistent with the sincere offer of the gospel to all.
    
High-Calvinism is a Calvinism that goes higher than the original Reformers and Calvin. This occured with Beza's supralapsarianism, and with a limited expiation view of the atonement. Hyper-Calvinism is the highest form of high-Calvinism. That is almost axiomatic. High-Calvinists often put it in either/or fashion this way: either Christ died to make certain the salvation of his people; or his death merely made the salvation of all possible. Classic moderate Calvinism presents it as both making the salvation of the elect certain, and making it possible for all to be saved.

Hyper-Calvinism manifested itself with a denial of the Free Offer of the gospel and other things like Duty Faith, denial of the love of God for all including the non-elect, the denial of common grace, a denial of a preceptive will of God, etc. Hyper-Calvinism is one, or more, of these beliefs. For the hyper-Calvinist there is an over-emphasis on sovereignty and the will of decree, which eclipses human responsibilty.

I think hyper-Calvinism is the logical result of the limited expiation of high-Calvinism. I would argue that the free offer and duty faith are not consistent with the limited expiation of high-Calvinism. For if the expiation is strictly limited to the sins of the elect: 1) how can all men be genuinely offered salvation; & 2) how could all be commanded to obey the gospel? Nor can the work of Christ be sufficient for the forgiveness of the sins of all in this view. Sufficiency for high-Calvinists becomes a hypothetical sufficiency - i.e. if more had been elected, the value is such that it would be sufficient, etc.

5 comments:

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  2. CALLED AND CHOSEN

    Matthew 22:14 For many are called , but few are chosen."

    Definition of called: Invited or summoned.

    Definition of chosen: Those who are eligible or suited for election. Elected and chosen are synonymous.

    WHO ARE THE CALLED?

    Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

    Every person who has heard the gospel has been called. The call is not limited to a select few who have been predestined for salvation.

    WHO ARE THE CHOSEN (THE ELECTED)?

    The chosen are the ones who are obedient to the call of the gospel.
    The chosen are those who have 1. Faith: John 3:16

    The chosen are those who 2. Repent: Acts 3:19 (Repent means to make the commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God).

    The chosen are those who 3. Confess: Roman 10:9-10

    The chosen are those who are 4. Baptized in water: Acts 2:38

    The chosen are not those who were supposedly, unconditionally selected, for salvation. The chosen have to be suited for election.

    THE CALLED WHO ARE NOT CHOSEN.

    Matthew 22:2-3 "the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.

    Many have had the gospel preached to them, but of their own free-will have rejected the call. If men reject the gift of eternal life by rejecting Jesus as Lord and Savior; then they have been called, but not chosen.

    Matthew 22:11-14 "But when the king came to look over the dinner quests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?" 13 Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 For many are called but few are chosen."

    This wedding quest was disinvited. He was called but not chosen ; because he was not suitable to be chosen. Improper clothing was a big deal.

    Galatalians 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

    DO YOU HAVE THE PROPER WEDDING CLOTHES TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

    When you stand before the KING OF KINGS are you going to be speechless when He asks; where are your wedding clothes? WHAT WILL YOU SAY WHEN HE ASKS YOU WHY YOU REJECTED IMMERSION IN WATER FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS. WHAT WILL YOU ANSWER BE, WHEN JESUS ASKS YOU WHY YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH BEING CLOTHED IN CHRIST?

    MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN!


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  3. Jim,

    Nice article and very well put. It is funny that moderates are sometimes called "Arminian" by highs, who apparently forget that the Westminster Assembly was populated with quite a few moderates. Do they really think the WCF was composed by a mixed group of real Calvinists and closet Arminians??? Then again, anyone who knows history has to accept the fact that the moderate stream is a genuine (possibly the most genuine) expression of Calvinistic theology. This admission might require one to shed some deeply ingrained theological bias, so it is not always possible to get there.

    On the other hand, I think we have to be careful to avoid labeling all highs as "hyper," since this would equally malign the WCF as a document composed by a mixed group of mainstream and hyper Calvinists.

    Let us remain peaceable--yet forceful in sound argumentation--insofar as we are able, by God's mercy.

    Blessings,
    Derek Ashton

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    1. Thanks Derek,

      Yes, I agree that it is important to properly label and identify syatems of thought. Not all highs are hyper; but all hypers are high. Nor are the labels high & hyper meant as perjoratives.

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  4. "Let us remain peaceable--yet forceful in sound argumentation--insofar as we are able, by God's mercy."

    I find it interesting you said "mercy" rather than "grace" -- do you make them equivalent? If so, how can you be a Calvinist? Grace in Calvinism is magic enabling power, certainly not mercy.

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