Hyper Calvinism Defined?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by JM, Jul 31, 2009.

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  1. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Can I get a definition, not Phil Johnson's definition, but a good historical and modern definition of what a Hyper is? If both the historical and modern definition is the same could someone please help me out by telling me?

    Thank you.

  2. Repre5entYHWH

    Repre5entYHWH Puritan Board Freshman

  3. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    or Pink...

    Beza AND Piper in the same section? I don't buy it.

    Thank you for the chart. It seems everyone who a definition has an axe to grind. It's very confusing.

  4. Gord

    Gord Puritan Board Freshman

    The historical definition as taught by Curt Daniel, in his chart he puts Hyper Calvinism at the top of High Calvinism, or ‘High’ Calvinists tended to over-emphasize divine sovereignty.

    1. What is ‘High Calvinism?

    A. The first generation of Reformed theologians were in basic agreement on the issues of Calvinism. These included Calvin, Bucer, Bullinger, Vermigli and others. Most of these men died within a few years of each other, and the leadership fell to their younger assistants.
    B. This ‘Second Generation Calvinism began to expand on the doctrines of their predecessors. Scholars are divided whether they legitimately built on the foundation or not. In the areas where some of the ‘Second Generation Calvinists went where their predecessors had not and would not go, variations took place. Scholars often refer to the 2 main variations as ‘High’ and “Low* Calvinism.
    C. The variations were on a variety of subjects, but they generally revolved around the questions of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The first Calvinists rediscovered this balance, which had been lost for many years. Medieval theology was basically Semi-Pelagian and therefore laid greater stress on human responsibility. Calvinism simply reset the proper balance. But then the later Calvinists argued among themselves over the balance.
    D. Basically the situation was this: the ‘High’ Calvinists tended to over-emphasize divine sovereignty and the ‘Low’ Calvinists tended to over-emphasize human responsibility. But this needs further clarification. For example, none of the ‘Lows’ taught a view of human responsibility as low as the Arminians or even the Lutherans.
    E. Similarly, the differences between these two tendencies were minor when compared with their mutual agreement on doctrines where they disagreed with Romanism, Socinianism, Arminianism and Lutheranism. These were in-house debates. They were the ebbs and flows and tides in the River of Calvinism.
    F. ‘High’ Calvinism was different from ‘Low’ Calvinism, however, in one important aspect: it went in a direction where no man had gone before. The Lows tended to move in the direction of Lutheranism, and so this was territory between two existing theologies. But the Highs went into brand new territory, for no theologian had so stressed divine sovereignty as to weaken human responsibility.
    G. One other point merits mention. The proper balance of sovereignty and responsibility is not that Calvinism has the right view of sovereignty and Arminianism has the right view of human responsibility. Even the lowest of the lows did not suggest that. However, many of the Highs thought that the Lows were semi-Arminian. Epithets of ‘Pseudo-Calvinist!’ were hurled. The debates were primarily theological; but theologians being human, personality conflicts often entered the arena.
    H. In a related way, this typifies all controversies. The Highs came first. The Lows arose as a reaction against them, calling for a return to the original balance. Then the Highs reacted against the Lows and some of them went even higher. And naturally some of the Lows reacted against that and went even lower. It became a chain of over-reactions. Many of the following chapters show how these later reactions went far beyond not only the original Calvinists, but even the original Highs and Lows.
    I. This analysis is important to the correct understanding of the development of Reformed theology. We have often pointed out that though there is a common unifying thread among all Calvinists, there are many varieties and sub-varieties. These did not all arise at once. Most arose as reactions’ and counter-reactions and over-reactions against previous varieties.
  5. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Gord, that section you quoted is good, but I've read other quotes from Daniel and get the impression he is a very low Calvinist.

    Does this affect his understanding of what a hyper is? I'm a high Calvinist and admit this affects my view of what a hyper is.

  6. Gord

    Gord Puritan Board Freshman

    To over-emphasize divine sovereignty is the key. Where you stand on that issue slides you up or down the scale.
  7. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    How can the divine sovereignty of God be over-emphasized?
  8. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    God has decreed to justify us from all eternity, but some hypers say that God actually has given us eternal justification (instead of decreeing to do so from eternity past but actually doing so in time). This appears to be a key mark of hyperism.
  9. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    Which? The sovereign decree to justify or the accomplishment of justification by Christ? Which is the key mark of a "hyper" view? I do not understand.

    God did indeed sovereignly decree to justify His elect before creation, and it is by His sovereign grace that all the elect are justified by the cross work of His Son.

    Is that not the gospel message?

    So I question why faith placed in either the decree (covenant promise) or the cross (covenant performance) would ever be considered "hyper."

  10. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    God has decreed from all eternity to justify us - but this justification occurs in time. Some hypers place this justification actually from all eternity, thus denying that we were ever children of wrath, even as others.
  11. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    I think he is talking about how hyper Calvinists believe that the elect were justified before they were born.
  12. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore


    The eternal decree of God to justify sinners, and the incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ would not have been necessary if the elect were not descendents of Adam and therefore "by nature children of wrath, just as the others." Ephesians 2:3

    To declare otherwise would be a denial of the Total Depravity of all men.

    I have never met a Calvinist who has denied the doctrine of Total Depravity or taught that the elect were sinless before regeneration. Have you?

    However, myself and many other Calvinists believe that the elect were predestined by God, before the foundation of the world, to receive all heavenly blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:4-6) and to share in His inheritance and glory (Romans 9:23). God never purposed any of His elect for destruction, as will be the end fate of all reprobate souls. (Romans 9:22)

    Is this the view that is considered to be "hyper?"

    -----Added 8/1/2009 at 01:16:15 EST-----

    When do you think the elect were justified?

    There are three choices:

    1. When the Father decreed to elect souls in Christ unto justification.
    2. When the Son died on the cross to justify the elect.
    3. When the Holy Spirit regenerated the elect, gifting them with faith and knowledge of their forgiveness (justification) before God.

    Frankly, I believe one must accept all three truths in order to appreciate God's sovereign forgiveness and grace. Since two of these Godly works of grace done on my behalf, occurred before I was born, does believing so make me a hyper-Calvinist?
  13. Hungus

    Hungus Puritan Board Freshman

    I think being where we are I would be remiss not pointing to Dr. C. Matthew McMahon's Critique Of Hyper-Calvinism. That being said, Phil Johnson's definition (which you have already mentioned) is a solid one, the denial of the well meant offer.

    I think that if you look historically you will see that all "hyper calvinists" are high-calvinists/supra-lapserian, but certainly not all (or even a strong minority) of high/supra are hyper-calvinists.

    Of course my old mentor (for a very short time and only because he assigned himself as such) Emir Caner, would tell us that more than 1 point makes one a hyper-calvinist, but then he says a lot of :barfy:
  14. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Often, when people use this term, they mean "Calvinism" (the "five points" TULIP) and simply do not understand it.

    They do not understand how each point is necessarily dependent on each other for logical and biblical consistency, amounting to a deep biblical truth.

    The "hyper" part would be where one does no evangelism, does not engage in it, justifying that by some notion that "God will do it, so we have no part."

    That, of course, is not biblical. God does command us to share, teach and preach the gospel, even to center our lives upon it. Though in a sense one is "passive" in receiving salvation, we are commanded to be pro-active in sharing it (ordinarily through the local church) because while God has ordained the ends (whether someone gets saved or not), he has also ordained the means (ordinarily, through preaching the gospel).

    Not doing so is not Calvinism, nor related to it.
  15. Gord

    Gord Puritan Board Freshman

    Of course it can not. That is not what Daniels is saying. It is the Hyper Calvinists personal view that Divine Sovereignty holds a 'higher' position of importance then 'Human Responsibility', which would then classify him as a 'Low Calvinist' by comparison.

    It's that 'old sin nature' that always has to pridefully come up with a better way than what God intended, of which I for one am constantly at war with.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009
  16. Repre5entYHWH

    Repre5entYHWH Puritan Board Freshman

    according to Norman Geisler we are all hypers and he's a moderate :lol:
  17. Bookmeister

    Bookmeister Puritan Board Freshman

    According to the chart I am a Hyper-Calvinist.
  18. ExGentibus

    ExGentibus Puritan Board Freshman

    For the Pelagians, Arminians are Hyper Calvinists; for the Arminians, all consistent, 5-point Calvinists are hypers; for low Calvinists, those who have a high view of God's grace are hypers; for the Hyper Calvinists, all other reformed are Amyraldians. ;)

    Seriously, I agree with Dr. McMahon's definition of Hyper Calvinism, using Turretin's categories, as the tendency to explain everything from the "compound sense" of the Bible, i.e. the perspective of God, while downplaying the "divided sense", the human perspective.
  19. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    I believe the chart is a great help in understanding the different beliefs held by Calvinists. Johnson's definition would label most of us Hypers.
  20. steven-nemes

    steven-nemes Puritan Board Sophomore

    I believe a lot of the hyper-Calvinist doctrines, then. Haha, my friends called me a hyper-Calvinist when I suggested that God doesn't love the reprobate, but maybe it's...true!!!
  21. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    Scott1 has provided the most accurate and historical definition of "Hyper-Calvinism," (far more accurate than Tony Byrne's chart) that rightfully defines the radicalism of the Anabaptists during the early Reformation years.

    Those people separated so totally from the world system, that no evangelism was done, and the gospel was taught only in closed worship systems to those who were deemed to already be of the elect.

    It is a very rare thing, these days, to meet up with a true Hyper-Calvinist who refuses to publically proclaim the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

    These types practice fatalism, which philosophy and lifestyle, as Scott1 posted, does not represent Calvinism or even Christianity at all.

    Thus, calling a fellow Christian a "Hyper-Calvinist" is very demeaning in my opinion, and constitutes a slur when mistakenly applied to Christians who faithfully and indiscriminately proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and desire with all their hearts to see God save souls through the hearing of His word.
  22. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    A hyper-Calvinist is someone who is more Calvinist than I am. Next question?
  23. Bookmeister

    Bookmeister Puritan Board Freshman

    I thought a Hyper-Calvinist was a reformed Christian with ADHD:um:
  24. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    Good post Scott1.

    My working definition is that all the people who sneered at the late Jack Miller and said New Life wasn't really a church were hypers. If that makes no sense, never mind, you had to be there :)
  25. Reformed Thomist

    Reformed Thomist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hyper-Calvinism, basically, is all of those things that Arminians falsely accuse plain old Calvinism of being.
  26. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    Dr. Curt Daniel did his doctoral discertation on this. He essentially defined it as a twisted a form of reformed theology that is always superlasperian in nature, usually credo baptist (though some have been padeo), an over emphesis on the sovereignity of God verses the responsibility and freedom of man, and the key deffining point is a refusal to offer Christ freely to anyone and tell them that''if they repent God will save them and He wants them to repent'' or something to that effect. This is an academic and theological posistion not just a slur used to label someone as. He would say John Gill is a hyper-calvinist at its best and someone like the phelps gang is hypercalvinism at its worst.
  27. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Didn't Daniel deny in his PhD thesis that Calvin did not hold to limited atonement? I thought I read that on this forum somewhere.

  28. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    My definition of a hyper-Calvinist is my son. He simply cannot sit still and is constantly scratching himself and fidgeting during worship.
  29. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Listen, hyper-calvinism is a real threat and it is much more than just what Arminians call true calvinists.
  30. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I'm not certain defining what a hyper-Calvinist is. It's a term thrown around as if it exists according to an easy set of criteria.

    In my estimation, Confessional subscription turns out to be a better barometer for whether a man or woman has a healthy apprehension of the broad theological concepts because people can get into trouble in any number of areas. It would be too easy to label somebody a hyper-Calvinist and not try to figure out where the real issues lie.

    If we take the term "Calvinist" to mean someone who is hitting on all cylinders with respect to Reformed orthodoxy then then wouldn't the person who is not simply "lukewarm" about those issues be a hyper-Calvinist? But then we would go on to discover that what we're really trying to put our finger on falls under a specific issue within the spectrum of theology.

    From a moderating standpoint, we've never suspended a person for being a "hyper-Calvinist" because we're usually dealing with something specific and defining them as a hyper-Calvinist is really too broad to define.
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