The False Gospel of Hyper-Calvinism

You would think that since Christians derive their beliefs from the Bible, that we would all have common beliefs. This is generally true, but there have been divisions over time concerning interpretations of the Bible. Some divisions, like the Catholic-Protestant break, were over essential matters like requirements for salvation. Other divisions, like those among many of the protestant denominations had to do with things which were non-essential to salvation, though there has been some debate about what constitutes essential doctrine, and whether some of these divisions were actually over essential things.

Hundreds of years ago there came the Calvin-Arminian division.
This divided over things like whether:
Arminian: people have a free will  to believe
Calvinist: God is playing with us like puppets having complete control over all our actions

And whether
Arminian: one doesn't take a stand on the issue of eternal security and perseverance of the saints.
Calvinist: one could say something definite about eternal security (once saved, always saved) and perseverance of the saints (once saved, the saints will inevitably have a lifestyle indicative of their saved condition)

The Divergence of Calvinism

Many Christians accept some aspects of Calvinism and reject others. Some accept the Eternal Security and Perseverance of the Saints aspect of Calvinism, but the free will aspect of Arminianism. This is common among many evangelicals today.

However, there are others, like Dr. Charles Stanley, who accept Eternal Security, but not the Perseverance of the Saints. These are one type of Hyper-Calvinist. To distinguish themselves from those who hold to both Eternal Security and Perseverance of the Saints, they refer to their idea as "Free Grace" as opposed to "Lordship Salvation".

"Free Grace" vs "Lordship Salvation"

"Free Grace" is the idea that once saved, a person can fall away either with respect to their behavior, or even with respect to their belief, and such would not affect their "saved" condition. Once saved, always saved, regardless of your beliefs and behavior afterwards.

"Lordship Salvation" means that once saved, Christ becomes Lord to that person and causes him to persevere in his faith to the end. Holiness and faithfulness will be the general lifestyle of the believer, although temporary sins will come into the Christian's life. This is the idea behind the perseverance of the Saints. Once saved, always saved, but also once saved, it is inevitable that such a person will persevere until the end.

"Lordship Salvation" must not be confused with Hyper-Wesleyanism in which a person must maintain a certain level of performance in order to maintain his salvation status.

What's wrong with Hyper-Calvinism?

The reasoning behind "free grace" is that since justification (the forgiveness of sins) is not dependent upon our performance but rather accepted freely by faith, that once one accepts it by faith, his destiny is then sealed, having had his sins forgiven. Such a person rely's on God's "graciousness", which is His attitude of freely giving to the undeserving, being essential to the message of the gospel.

This is essentially correct. However, the assumption is that being born of God, which occurs when one believes the gospel, has no effect on the person's free will. It has no inevitable effect on the person's behavior or the permanence of his beliefs. This is not correct. For example, John writes:

"No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:6-9
The book of 1John is all about how you can measure whether someone has been born of God by their behavior. Yet it strongly advocates Eternal Security, as in:
"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.
For if they had belonged to us, {ONCE SAVED}
they would have remained with us; {ALWAYS SAVED}
but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19
Notice that although such people may have been presumed to be "saved" before they went out, John evaluates them as merely having been "nominal" Christians, not really having belonged to begin with. How did he know that? By their action of leaving the faith. This verse contains both the concepts of Eternal Security and Perseverance of the Saints.

What about those who believed and now no longer believe? In fact they never believed to begin with. Quite often you will find there was a deficiency in either the content of their faith or the quality of their faith.

What about those who believed, but live a lifestyle of sin? The Bible makes it clear that such are also deficient in their faith, not yet having been saved. This is clear not only in 1John, but also in Paul's writings like:

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Corinthians 6:9,10
The Danger of the "Free Grace" Doctrine of Hyper-Calvinism

Unike Hyper-Wesleyanism this form of Hyper-Calvinism is not an essential deviation from the gospel of grace. It deviates on the non-essential idea as to what to expect from those who have been born of God, but not on the issue as to how to become born of God. It seems to have been developed more out of a reaction against Hyper-Wesleyanism rather than from a dispassionate study of the scriptures.

The main danger I see is that it could trivialize the quality and content of faith that saves. The idea that if we can just get people to pray some prayer or try out belief in Christ in a sort of experimental fashion and then assume that such people are saved, would tend to result in many Christians who are merely "nominally so". Or the object of faith could be focussed away from the atoning work of Christ to Assurance of Salvation: People thinking that they must be certain of their salvation status and be confident that they are going to heaven, rather than being confident in the blood of Christ to justify them.

These are subtle differences, but could affect both a person's eternal destiny, if the content or quality of his faith is deficient, and the manner in which the gospel is presented, which affects other people's eternal destiny.

Message to the Hyper-Calvinists:

Preach the gospel the way the Bible does. And if you life a lifestyle of sin, then, like Paul says:

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-- unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Corinthians 13:5

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015