Friday, November 07, 2008

John 3:16 Conference, Reymond Hyper-Calvinist

Now according to my friend Mark (I just love saying this) who is at the John 3:16 conference, David Allen is claimed to have argued that Robert Reymond is a hyper-Calvinist. Being that this information is second hand and interaction with primary material is difficult, caution must be granted. Yet we all know this is a conference against Calvinism. Calling Calvinists hyper-Calvinists or defining Calvinism to mean hyper-Calvinism has been all to common by these pastors. One need only listen to Dr. White (who was also called a hyper-Calvinist) review some of their sermons on the Dividing Line to verify such a claim.

Now hyper-Calvinism has an historic definition. Something which these pastors are often confused about. Allow me to quote Tim Challies for a definition.
A hyper-Calvinist is one who:
  1. Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR
  2. Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
  3. Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR
  4. Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,” OR
  5. Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.
Now allow to me contrast these definitions with Robert Reymond's "Summary of the Doctrine" of effectual calling found in his Systematic Theology. Keep in mind as you read these two paragraphs that the doctrine of effectual calling according to reformed doctrine comes about primarily through the external call or the Gospel proclamation.
"Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the Gospel" (Shorter Catechism, Question 31). By the regenerating work of His Spirit, God the Father irresistibly summons, normally in conjunction with the Church's proclamation of the Gospel, the elect sinner into fellowship with, and into the kingdom of, His Son Jesus Christ. His call is rendered effectual by the quickening work of the Spirit of God the Father and God the Son in the hearts of the elect.

By the Spirit's regenerating work the elect sinner (1) is made spiritually alive, thereby opening and favorably disposing him to the things of the Spirit, which were foolishness to him before (1 Cor 2:14), (2) is convinced of his sin, (3) is enlightened to the all-sufficiency of the Savior Jesus Christ as He is offered in the Gospel, and (4) is renewed in his will, rendering him thereby willing (no sinner is brought to Christ against his will!) and able to embrace Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. In other words, the Spirit's work makes the sinner willing and able to repent and to believe, but his repenting and believing per se are not aspects of the effectual call itself. They are his divinely effected responses to God's effectual call which, taken together, are indicative of his conversion.
Reymond also discusses the effects of the Atonement. All men need to repent and believe. He writes,
"So too, the God of salvation, in order to save His elect (His particular end), has commanded both that the Gospel should be proclaimed not simply to the elect but to men everywhere (His general means) and that all men should repent (Acts 17:30)." -page 684
After citing several passages speaking of God's goodness to all mankind he writes,
"These and the myriad other passages that speak of God's goodness to all-the just and the unjust (designated by theologians as His "common grace"), and His love for the world which moved Him to give even His own Son for it..." -page 201
I hope it is seen that it is simply impossible to believe what Reymond has written and be a hyper-Calvinist according to the definitions provided. He clearly says that the Gospel proclamation is the normal means by which the sinner is saved (others that might be saved are infants who obviously need different means). He clearly writes that sinners do not come to Christ against their wills but have their wills changed by God's sovereign grace through the means of preaching the Gospel. Since no one knows who the elect are, the external call must be made to all men. This he teaches when he speaks of the "church's proclamation of the Gospel". Reymond teaches about God's common grace as a result of God's mercy. We must keep in mind that Christ's work offers benefits to all.

In conclusion, in has been my observation that non-Calvinists read the writings of Calvinists through their Arminian glasses. They are able to wrest quotes out of their contexts simply because they are not able to grasp one key idea, man is a sinner in the deepest sense. Man does not have a free will, yet he freely chooses to do what he desires (as long as God is not restraining his evil). Until they see that we are not "mostly dead" but really are dead, this conference will not solve anything.


Anonymous said...

Hey bro,

Check my latest post for Dr. Allen's handout in pdf form where he offers theological definitions.



Howard Fisher said...

Thanks jM. I just love saying I have a friend at the conference in Georgia.