Calvinism vs Hyper-Calvinism



5 thoughts on “Calvinism vs Hyper-Calvinism

  1. That’s not my understanding of Calvinism. Calvinism doesn’t say that God makes you choose salvation. Instead, Calvin believed that man had “free will,” but he put that in quotes because of the following. While man has a will to choose between good and evil, it nevertheless willingly rejects God because of the infection of sin. God does not make him sin; man does so willingly. This is what the Bible describes as bondage to sin. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, the only influence upon our wills is sin; therefore sin wins. Now, when God chooses to open a man’s eyes, He does so by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. But this does not make the man choose God. Instead, the Holy Spirit breaks the bondage to sin, enabling him to choose God. This is the quickening work of the Holy Spirit. Paul describes the resulting state as a war within–the battle of the will between sin and spirit. The part people stumble over is that God doesn’t quicken everyone. He only quickens “those that are His.” For this reason, all that are quickened come to Him, but not out of compulsion. It truly is an exercise of the will between good and evil now that man is freed from bondage to sin by the Spirit. This is described well in John 6.


  2. I think our disagreement may be largely semantic, but I am open to rethinking this way of presenting the distinction.

    ‘Make’ is perhaps not the ideal word since it can be taken in two different ways.
    1) To ‘make’ as in ‘make by overpowering the will’, to ‘make by compulsion’. That is certainly a valid use of the word, and that seems to be the use that you are [rightly] objecting to.

    Still, would posit that the word could be properly used to mean:
    2) To ‘make’ as in make by means of ‘enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God… renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.’ He is still ‘making’ them, but he is ‘making’ them by changing their will from within rather than from without.

    Or as Spurgeon put it: “I take it that the highest proof of Christ’s power is not that He offers salvation, not that He bids you take it if you will, but that when you reject it, when you hate it, when you despise it, He has a power whereby he can change your mind, make you think differently from your former thoughts, and turn you from the error of your ways.”

    That is why I settled on the word ‘make’. If we could resist it, if God merely ‘enabled’ us to choose him but we were still capable of refusing (as in Arminianism), then I would agree that ‘make’ would be a wholly inappropriate word. We are not made to accept through compulsion, but it seems fair to me to say that we are made to accept through a transforming of our will, a transforming that results in us *willing* to choose God; ie, we are not made against our will, but our will is remade.

    Then again, even if the word can be explained so as to fit, it is perhaps not the ideal word since it is prone to misunderstanding.

    Do you have a suggestion for a better term?


  3. The way I have understood Calvin from his Institutes, is that Adam and Eve were created with free will and possessed the spiritual gifts of faith and righteousness. But at the Fall, those spiritual gifts were removed, leaving man with a will without light. Removing the spiritual gifts cast man into darkness so that he could no longer even see the path of righteousness because all that stirred within him was sin.

    When we are regenerated, those spiritual gifts are returned to us, but we differ from Adam and Eve pre-Fall in that they did not suffer from the stain of sin. Instead, we are a new creation (and different from pre-Fall Adam and Eve) by the addition of the Spirit into our hearts, which leaves man with the internal spiritual war between good and evil bemoaned by Paul.

    This is what leads Calvin to conclude that all of our good works, including faith, are reliant upon grace by the work of the Spirit, because man left in bondage to sin is blind. But Calvin is careful to distinguish between the will of man and compulsion by God. He cautions that we do not sin out of compulsion, rather we sin willingly under the sole influence of sin. Conversely, Calvin explains that we are dependent on grace for any goodness because only by the light of the Spirit can we see and follow the path of righteousness. But, again, Calvin is careful that grace does not compel us–in other words, God does not transform us into robots. Rather, God gives us the grace needed to overcome the sinful nature. This is not compulsion; God simply provides the amount of grace needed for His chosen people to overcome. That sounds like semantics to many.

    The trick here, I think, is that He only regenerates and calls “those that are His.” John 6. In other words, the ones He calls will come to Him because they know His voice and will come with the proper amount of light. Jesus doesn’t say we come kicking or screaming or that we are hogtied and dragged to Him. Instead, He tells us in John 6 that we willingly come to Him. What we are not told is why He chooses one over another to provide this regenerative work. That is simply not answered in the Bible. All we do know is that only by His grace by the power of the Holy Spirit are we able to see/hear Christ and follow Him. The picture I have of this in my mind is restoration instead of compulsion. God restores those who are His to a condition that frees them to follow Him willingly.

    How that is summarized in a neat little diagram, I’m not certain. But I think the intent is that Hyper-Calvinism says God creates man bad and punishes them for being bad and elects some out of that bad batch and makes them follow Him. Kinda like Minions. Whereas Calvinism separates itself from compulsion by focusing on restoration through grace. Restoration v. Compulsion is way more than semantics.


  4. I think I need to add one more point of clarification, as I did not overtly address your efficacy of grace argument–i.e., the “I” in TULIP (irresistible grace). By my description above, I don’t mean to suggest that there is a possibility of rejecting God once He regenerates someone. That regenerated person will indeed “persevere” (“P” in TULIP), not on his own, but by the grace of God working in him. But this must be understood in the context of restoration. The perseverance isn’t due to compulsion, rather sufficient grace is provided the person to guarantee his ability to overcome the sinful nature within him (i.e., perseverance). While this may sound like compulsion, we have to keep in perspective that God is restoring, not forcing. Those He chooses to regenerate were His from the beginning based upon whatever judgment God chose to reserve to Himself. But Christ makes clear that these restored persons do in fact hear Christ’s voice and follow Him willingly.


  5. I agree with everything you’ve said, so we don’t disagree regard any of that. As mentioned, I wouldn’t hold that God does make anybody believe via compulsion, against their will, or kicking and screaming. He doesn’t make them against their will. The question is whether it is accurate to say that he ‘makes them by transforming their wills’, where no compulsion or force is implied. The will is not forced to divert it’s path by grace, rather grace transforms – ‘restores’ – the root of the will and the will in turn changes its own path.

    I’ll agree that ‘make’ is not the best word due to the compulsion that it normally implies. It may be more accurate to say:
    -“God causes you to choose”/”You naturally choose”
    or even more broadly
    -“God is the source of”/”You are the source of”
    The latter perhaps best gets to the core of the distinction being made.


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