Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thoughts on Hyper-Calvinism

Justin Taylor recently published a post on his blog discussing a few thoughts on the subject of "Hyper-Calvinism" that interest me. It is an easy label to throw around for some just as some Calvinists are equally adept at accusing Arminians of being Pelagians or semi-Pelagians. I don't know if there is a corresponding label of Hyper-Arminian that would be comparable to the Hyper-Calvinist application. Arminianism is in many ways a reaction to Calvinism and in that regard I suppose an Arminian who would deny that Calvinism is within the pale of orthodoxy and salvation could be defined as a Hyper-Arminian. However, such a denial is not a hyper-extension of any particular Arminian doctrine so I would suggest the "Hyper" label is inappropriate. With the Calvinist, it is not quite as easy to dismiss.

As Taylor points out in his post, Calvinists themselves have defined what constitutes a "Hyper-Calvinist". Phil Johnson stated as such several years ago with his own definitions (generally accepted among most Calvinists). Others have done so as well. What is still in question however is whether the church at large is bound by the definitions set by Calvinists in what might appear as a self serving defense. Personally, I have few qualms with Johnson's definitions and I am more than willing to have Calvinists define themselves as they wish. Others have expressed different opinions on the matter with a common objection being that the Hyper-Calvinist is the only consistent Calvinist. It is an understandable and logical conclusion but such a suggestion focuses only on the unique distinctions of the Calvinist faith i.e. TULIP or Calvinist predestinarianism as it was once referred to in the early years of these disputes. It ignores the reality that with regard to most doctrines of orthodox Christianity (at least western Protestant orthodoxy), the Calvinist is well within the pale of orthodoxy along with his Arminian, Lutheran and General Baptist brethren. The Hyper-Calvinist, on the other hand, denies the same fellowship to anybody who rejects the Calvinist dogma. In that sense, I do not believe it is fair to state that the only consistent Calvinist is a Hyper-Calvinist.

Johnson identified five versions of the Hyper-Calvinist. As mentioned above I have no problem with his definitions although one in particular does raise some questions. He states with regard to his first version or variety ... "Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear". Many Calvinists would claim that since regeneration must occur first in order to "hear", that not all "hear" in the sense of being witness to the preaching of the Cross e.g. the message not efficaciously intended for all who physically hear. In that sense, the Calvinist who believes such can excuse himself from Johnson's definition by defining "hear" to match his theological dogma. It is similar to the common Calvinist objection of "world" being applied universally in John's Gospel. (Since Calvin can be reasonably argued as having been a proponent of unlimited atonement, he would not fall into that slippery slope of association).

I agree with Taylor and Johnson that Hyper-Calvinism, as they define it, undermines the Gospel and should be actively opposed. Then again, I also believe the unique doctrines of mainstream Calvinism undermine the Gospel and attack the very character of God and should be actively opposed. In that I am a consistent Arminian.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Born Again Jesus: Does the Word-Faith Religion Understand The Grievous Error Of Their Ways? (reposted)

This topic surfaces frequently among those who argue their apologetic on either side of the fence with regard to orthodoxy vs. Word-Faith. The doctrine of a Born Again Jesus was originally presented by E.W. Kenyon in his book entitled "What Happened From The Cross To The Throne". Since then many others of this new Word-Faith religion have essentially parroted the same doctrine, most prominant among them being Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer and Creflo Dollar among others. As a fundamental doctrine of this religion it is the basis for much of the aberrant theology that has swallowed so many people enamoured of this wrong-headed faith. There can be no "equality with God" if Jesus is not born again. There can be no √úbermensch among men if the LORD Jesus Christ cannot be brought down to our level. In the Word-Faith mindset, the born again man must be on an equal footing with Jesus Christ if we are to command the heavens and dictate the promises of our own words. It is a doctrine that seeks to denigrate the holiness of Jesus and exalt the supposed holiness of man.

Given the Word-Faith lack of understanding who Jesus is (for there can be no clear understanding at all if Jesus is to be a born again man in their eyes) the question must be asked "Why must a man be born again?". The answer to this question, a simple question among saints patient in the LORD, is that we are fallen creatures. We were born into this world of a woman in a natural condition tainted by the sin of Adam. We were spiritually dead in our sins, created in iniquity as the Psalmist wrote. John Wesley framed it best in my opinion. In his sermon on the new birth he wrote:

And in Adam all died, all human kind, all the children of men who were then in Adam's loins. The natural consequence of this is, that every one descended from him comes into the world spiritually dead, dead to God, wholly dead in sin; entirely void of the life of God; void of the image of God, of all that righteousness and holiness wherein Adam was created. Instead of this, every man born into the world now bears the image of the devil in pride and self-will; the image of the beast, in sensual appetites and desires. This, then, is the foundation of the new birth, -- the entire corruption of our nature. Hence it is, that, being born in sin, we must be "born again." Hence every one that is born of a woman must be born of the Spirit of God. (my emphasis) (1)

The last sentence carries with it a great importance that must be returned to the first sentence of this quote. Jesus Christ was certainly born of a woman yet was not born of Adam. Christ was never of Adam's loins and instead is referred to as the last Adam. As Wesley rightly pointed out, fallen man, born of a woman (a natural birth) must be born of the Spirit of God meaing born from above, born again as we often phrase it. How did Jesus come into this world? Certainly as one born of a woman. We can also rightly state that Jesus came into this world born of the Spirit of God. It was the Holy Spirit who overshadowed His mother Mary. It was one born of the Spirit of God carried in the womb who gave cause for another babe to leap in his womb just from the presence of Holiness.

“And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:41-44 AV)
Of course the Born Again Jesus doctrine carries with it other doctrines that have been developed to buttress it. Jesus assumed the nature of Satan according to the same fellows. We are gods equivalent to Jesus Christ according to these imaginations. Jesus made Himself a curse in the minds of a few. Jesus became wickedness for these doctrines to stand. The Jesus Died Spiritually doctrine of the Word-Faith religion is an essential accompaniment of a Born Again Jesus scenario and I will address that particular foul doctrine at a later time. In any event we can rest assured that if we realize that Jesus always was, is and will be Holy, the sin of teaching a Born Again Jesus will never give cause for our self-exaltation and the deliberate denigration of Christ give us cause to shout in the words of Creflo Dollar "We are exactly like Jesus Christ and equal to God". (2) God Forbid such blasphemy.

(1) The New Birth, Sermon 45, John Wesley
(2) I am provinding the words as I recall them from a television program of Creflo Dollar's, the series entitled The Righteousness of God.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The LADites

The LADite cult has been stopping by recently. Hey fellahs, why don't you leave a pamphlet or two so I can stay current on your evolving Calvinistic Messianic Sabbatarian Kosher Reformed faith and gain a greater understanding of the anti-Christ Jesuit tainted Haganite Sunday BBQ worshippers? (There is a new acronym in there somewhere)


(this is only in jest, wink wink)