July 17, 2008

The Controversy Over Hypo-Calvinism Revived

One hundred and fifty years ago the controversy was not severe. There have been justified questions about Spurgeon's Calvinism. Perhaps the Baptist historian, A. C. Underwood, was correct about Spurgeon's departure from Calvinism.* (if this is true it was probably a temporary departure and perhaps a part of the downgrade controversy)

The criticism irrevelant then is very relevant today. Hypo-Calvinism needs to be analyzed and who best than the old critics of days-gone-by. First however is a criticism by Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation (Eerdmans, 1942), pages- 93-96: "The schematization of the order of decrees presented by the Amyraldians, in a word, necessarily implies a chronological relation of precedence and subsequence among the decrees, the assumption of which abolishes God, and this can be escaped only by altering the nature of the atonement. And therefore the nature of the atonement is altered by them, and Christianity is wounded at its very heart."

The free offer and duty faith require an alteration of scriptural atonement and wounds the message of the Church. Charles Banks stated in his pamphlet, "Earthen Vessel" 1857: "1.) duty faith dishonors God. To preach that it is man's duty to believe savingly in Christ is absurd. A babe in grace knows better... 2.) Duty faith points the sinner to himself for a remedy against sin... 3.) Duty faith is is calculated to mislead and deceive." "A babe in grace knows better."

These warnings stated 150 years ago are absolutely relevant to today's gospel preachers. Are there any babes who know better or has American Christians been so beguiled with free-willism? Has humanism so infiltrated the message that we can't see what it was expected that babes could see 150 years ago.

James Wells not as sympathetic as Banks said of Spurgeon unfairly: "that it is most awfully deceptive; that it passes by the essentials of the Holy Ghost, and sets people by shoals down for Christians who are not Christians by the quickening and indwelling power of the Holy Ghost. Hence free-willers, intellectual Calvinist, high and low are delighted with him, together with the philosophic and classic taste Christian! This is simply deceiving others with the deception wherewith he himself is deceived." C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, 1899, p. 39

Where are Wells and Banks when we need them today? Would anyone heed their words?

*A.C. Underwood, A History Of The English Baptist, London: Baptist Union Publications Dept., 1974, p. 204

added: "The kind of theology being presented by Spurgeon and Murray is sometimes known as 'hypo-calvinism' (see trinityfoundation.org), where G-d is seen as electing only some people to salvation (true), but at the same time honestly desiring the salvation of every single individual in the world (false - see Proverbs 16:4, 1 Peter 2:8), and where His grace is divided into a higher kind (shown to the elect) and another lesser kind (shown to everyone else)." review of Spurgeon v Hyper-Calvinism

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