Musings 70

This first variety of hyper-Calvinism denies the general, external call, and insists that the gospel should be preached in a way that proclaims the facts about Christ’s work and God’s electing grace—without calling for any kind of response. This is the worst form of hyper-Calvinism in vogue today. I’d class it as an extremely serious error, more dangerous than the worst variety of Arminianism. At least the Arminian preaches enough of the gospel for the elect to hear it and be saved. The hyper-Calvinist who denies the gospel call doesn’t even believe in calling sinners to Christ. He almost fears to whisper the gospel summons to other believers, lest anyone accuse him of violating divine sovereignty. Phil Johnson

With all the issues going on today and the confusion over what hyper-Calvinism is or is not, I was reading through what Phil Johnson thinks hyper-Calvinism is. While I have read his stuff on this before, for some reason the statement that hyper-Calvinism (at least one aspect of it) is more dangerous than the worst variety of Arminianism struck me as odd. He then goes on to say that “at least the Arminian preaches enough of the gospel for the elect to hear it and be saved.” Again, this struck me as quite an odd statement in any context.

What does it mean for someone to preach enough of the Gospel for others to hear and be saved? What does it mean for an Arminian to preach enough of the Gospel for others to hear it and be saved? How is it that this variety of hyper-Calvinism is such an extremely serious error that it is more dangerous than the worst variety of Arminianism? If Martin Luther was correct, one was not even ready to hear the Gospel until s/he denied free-will. John Owen thought of those who believed in free-will as idolaters. Could it be that Phil Johnson is not as Reformed as he thinks? While it is easy to understand a person standing against hyper-Calvinism, when a person thinks that the worst variety of Arminianism can preach enough of the Gospel it makes me wonder if that person understands Reformed or Arminian theology.

The only kind of grace that there can possibly be is sovereign grace. The Arminian cannot preach sovereign grace because by definition the Arminian believes in the sovereignty of the free-will. The Arminian cannot tell the sinner to look to God for a new heart and the gift of faith, but instead the Arminian can only tell the sinner to look to self in order to make a choice. Romans 11:6 is so clear that any work added to grace makes grace no longer to be grace. The best of Arminians cannot preach a Gospel of grace alone if he is to be consistent with his system, so we can be assured that the worst of Arminians have no Gospel at all.

So, is it more dangerous to preach Christ and the sovereign grace of God without calling for a response (though who knows for sure that that means) or to preach a grace that is not sovereign at all? Jesus told us that the will of His Father was “that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 6:40). He did not say that he who hears a preacher urge him to respond and he does will have eternal life. What we see, then, is that preaching the Gospel is to set forth Christ in His glory and in beholding this Christ one believes and as such has eternal life. The fear is that the Arminians practice is that the focus is on a response that men can actually carry out in their flesh and so as they focus on the response they are not truly lifting up Christ. The worst of Arminians don’t truly have a Christ to lift up but instead they have man to lift up and man to urge to do something in order that he will be saved. The worst of Arminians cannot preach Christ as a sovereign King, so no real grace to preach.

Scripture also sets out that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation. It does not set out that man’s response to something offered is the power of God to salvation. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). The text does not say that faith comes by being offered Christ, but faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. Romans 16:25 also tells us that God “is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.” Could it be that God’s method for men to come to Christ and to be established in Christ is for men to preach Christ rather than to stop preaching Christ and urge men to respond in some way?

A man who loves his wife, and for some reason has not seen her for months and months, does not need to be told to run and embrace her when he sees her after such a long time. In a similar manner a sinner who feels the weight of his sin will flee to Christ when Christ is truly preached and held up. The Arminian of the worst kind (and perhaps the best kind as well) do not hold up Christ as He should be preached as One who saves apart from anything we do but by grace alone. He will also stop preaching and start trying to get men to look to their free-will (as if they had one) to choose Christ. That is not only dangerous, it is fatal to the Gospel of grace alone.

One Response to “Musings 70”

  1. Jim Says:

    Oh how on point this is. So many who think they are reformed actually mislead and approve of those who mislead others into some form of an action. I had a man curse me and yell what do you want my Dad to do as I shared the gospel w him and his father. He had “accepted Jesus” more than 50 times….He yelled do yo want him to go and stand on a hill and wait for the @&*#% wind to blow by……in tears I rejoiced and said yes yes a thousand times yes…..a hill a closet or wherever…..but in fear……look to God and equip yourself with his promises ……look and believe in the God who said that this is all that will grant you life believing he must do it and plead like David that according to God’s loving kindness and the greatness of his compassion that he would wash and cleanse you!!!!!! Look to Christ for Christ to grant you repentance and forgiveness

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