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ID:	1684   Dear Mr. Johnson,
It has come to my attention the two websites I edit, maintain, and promote have been singled out and placed on your website under the heading of “bad theology” 4. They are listed amongst the websites of various false movements including the Vineyard churches and Daniel Fuller’s website which promotes works based justification. I’m not bothered by the fact that 5solas.org and pristinegrace.org have been placed so prominently on your “bookmarks page”, but I am indeed thankful for the subsequent internet traffic which will be directed toward them. However, since you have publicly mentioned my websites as well as my name personally, I am compelled to defend myself as well as my espoused doctrines for which you have boldly indicated a strong distaste. This letter to you is written to directly oppose your popular article, A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism 1.
Your article, A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, for some unknown reason is usually quoted as the definitive article on Hyper-Calvinism. When corresponding with various individuals on the internet, it is not uncommon at all for those who oppose the doctrines of Hyper-Calvinism to refer to your document as their definition of these doctrines. I find this strange after considering your article flatly claims to be a primer and makes little mention of Scripture. Moreover it only briefly touches on particular doctrines you deem as “hyper-calvinistic.” Your article defines a Hyper-Calvinist as one that holds to one or more of five different doctrines. I must commend you that you have limited it to only five points! I will address each of these points of contention in the paragraphs below; but first I will deal with the very first sentence of your article:

Hyper-Calvinism, simply stated, is a doctrine that emphasizes divine sovereignty to the exclusion of human responsibility. (emphasis mine) (Phil Johnson, A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, 1998)
  Mr. Johnson, it’s amazing to me that you strike out on the very first sentence of your article. A well grounded believer that is only interested in reading edifying material would stop reading your article upon reading this first sentence as he would immediately recognize this statement of yours is rooted in an unbiblical presupposition. If you are referring to human responsibility concerning salvation, then according to this definition of yours you have certainly properly labeled me a hyper-calvinist as I certainly contend that men are not in any way responsible for salvation. Responsibility in the dictionary is defined as “a duty” or “obligation”. In other words, what I perceive you to be stating is that men have a duty to be saved. By suggesting that men have any responsibility whatsoever you are stating that men have free agency. But if one were to exhaust the entire contents of Scripture – the entire 66 books of the Bible – one would not find a single reference to "human responsibility." It is true that men will be held accountable (not to be confused with “responsibility”) as they will be held answerable to God; but to refer to accountability as responsibility is misleading and dishonest. If men are responsible in any way for attaining their salvation, then Grace is no longer Grace and salvation is procured by a fulfilled condition on the part of man. Paul in his letter to the Galatians calls this “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6).

Denial of the “Gospel Call” to All Men

  Your first doctrine which you take issue with is a complete mischaracterization of Hyper-Calvinism. For example, in your comments about my website Pristine Grace, you wrote, “This is classic hyper-calvinism of the most virulent kind, teaching that the gospel is not to be preached indiscriminately to unbelievers…” I believe this is a mischaracterization of me as I certainly believe in proclaiming the message of Christ’s accomplished salvation to all sorts of men as the Spirit leads. However, I know that you really mean by your statement about me is that I do not believe I should call upon anyone to do anything about their salvation. In your article, you wrote that the worst kind of hyper-calvinism is defined as follows.

This first variety of hyper-Calvinism denies the general, external call, and insists that the gospel should be preached in a way that proclaims the facts about Christ's work and God's electing grace—without calling anyone to do anything (emphasis mine). (Phil Johnson, A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, 1998)
  I am extremely curious as to what a person can do about their salvation that has heard the facts about Christ’s vicarious work for sinners? Are not men completely dependent upon the free grace of God if they are to have any hope that they are numbered amongst the elect and be given confidence that Christ has made satisfaction for them? Is not Holy Spirit regeneration necessary for men to even see their total depravity and their utter need for a Savior? I see that you quote 2 Cor. 5:20 to make your point that men should be directed to be reconciled to God, but this passage is directed toward the saints at Corinth and not toward presumed unregenerate men who have made no profession of faith.

  I am surprised that you have not criticized Hyper-Calvinists for historically standing in opposition against missionary societies. It is common knowledge that Hyper-Calvinists oppose what people refer to as “missions”. We are opposed to the missionary societies that take in grossly large amounts of money from various people of various denominations and churches and having them redistribute it to the “missionaries” in hopes of saving as many “redeemable” people as possible as well as further adding to the coffers of the board members. While we may oppose these methods of unbiblical proselytizing, we definitely are not opposed to itinerate preaching! An itinerate preacher is one who has been led by the Spirit to go where he is directed to proclaim the news of Christ’s accomplished salvation to those people that the Spirit leads him in providence. We also recognize that not everyone is called to be an itinerate preacher. We are often accused of denying the need for “personal evangelism” because we don’t see the necessity to stop every individual on the street by handing them a tract and begging them as you suggest to “be reconciled to God.” We believe that God has His sheep and in time His Spirit will direct the Gospel to them through preaching or publishing. We believe that the Gospel comes as “glad tidings” (Rom 10:15) to these men and they will be given the gift of saving faith to see that the Gospel promises apply to them. This is a work of the Spirit and is not dependent upon any duty “exercised” by men! A true Hyper-Calvinist loves the Gospel so much that he can’t keep quiet about it as he runs home to his friends and tells them what great things the Lord has done for him (Mark 5:19). But a Hyper-Calvinist unlike the “soul winning evangelical” doesn’t inquire of complete strangers their religion so as to pressure them to “decide for Christ” out of duty because of “God’s love” for them. If this is what is meant by “Gospel preaching”, then yes of course, every true Hyper-Calvinist denies this.

Denial of Faith as a Duty

  The second doctrine you define as hyper-calvinistic is a denial of faith as a duty. It is absolutely true that I deny that faith is the duty of men whether they are regenerate, unregenerate, elect, or reprobate! Faith in Scripture is defined as a covenant blessing (Gal 5:22), not a condition which must be met in order to “be saved.” I perceive in your article that you have mischaracterized the Hyper-Calvinists by suggesting that we believe it is not every man’s duty to believe the truth of the Gospel and turn from their wicked sins. Hyper-Calvinists believe that all men outside of Christ are under the law to God. It is every man’s duty to love God, to believe His Word, and to obey His commandments as every man who is not a benefactor of the covenant of Grace is under the law, or a covenant of works. Men are commanded to believe the Gospel and throw down their arms of rebellion; and there is not a single true blue Hyper-Calvinist that I know of which denies this! The controversy as you have deemed it is that men are responsible or obligated to savingly believe the gospel. In other words, you believe that reprobate men (the non-elect) are duty-bound to believe that God loves them and that Christ has atoned for their sins as well. If a reprobate man did believe the Gospel promises were true for him (which is a lie), then it is completely unreasonable to maintain that this would procure for him salvation. Hyper-Calvinists believe that Christ died for a definite number of people and that the gift of faith is applied to each one of these persons in time. This faith is not solely a mere assent by the individual to the historical facts of the Gospel, but it is a faith by which the Spirit causes the individual to look to Christ for assurance that He has indeed made satisfaction for him. The regenerate individual who has the gift of saving faith simply does not receive belief that the historical facts of the Gospel are true, but they jump for joy because the Spirit has testified to their consciences that the Gospel promises are for them. How can anyone, elect or reprobate, be under obligation to believe the Gospel promises are for them? They cannot, and to suggest otherwise is just downright ludicrous.

Denial of a Gospel “Offer”

  The third type of Hyper-Calvinist according to you is an individual that denies the Gospel makes any sort of offer to non-elect. I propose to you that not only is the Gospel absent of any offer of salvation to the non-elect, but that it doesn’t “offer” anything to the elect either! The Gospel is a historical account of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection for sinners according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4). When presenting this message to men, we do not believe we ought to press men to make a decision or to “accept” our message to the salvation of their souls because we can find no mention of it in Scripture. Yet, you boldly wrote the following:

The whole thrust of the gospel, properly presented, is to convey an offer (in the sense of a tender, a proffer, or a proposal) of divine peace and mercy to all who come under its hearing. (Phil Johnson, A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, 1998)
  You must be reading a different bible than me, because I do not see that at all! If Christ did not die for everyone, how is it that He is able to “offer” salvation to every single being that hears this message? Salvation or imputation of righteousness is a past event procured by Christ for His people on the cross (Rom 5:19). It is impossible for Gospel preachers to “offer salvation” because it’s already a done deal. Consider that the Bible speaks of redemption as a past event. It was “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12b).” Christ actually accomplished what He set out to do as the Bible states, “he shall save his people from their sins.” (Mat. 1:21b). When Christ received that bitter vinegar and uttered, “It is finished,” what is it do you think He actually meant? Do you think He procured the possibility for men to be saved, or did He actually save those He intended to save? If He actually saved the elect, how in the world can salvation be “offered” as something men can choose to accept or reject?

  Hypothetically, even if the Gospel were an “offer” of salvation to all men, it is not men who have the authority to offer salvation to anyone. Only Christ has the authority to “offer” salvation as He is the Savior. Modern day evangelicals seem to think they can chant “John 3:16” as if it were an incantation capable of producing spiritual life in a dead carcass which has the "free agency" needed to accept or reject a message to the salvation or damnation of their soul. “Salvation” in this evangelical “scheme” comes by proxy as opposed to the effectual and substitutionary death of Christ and regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.

Denial of Common Grace / Love for Non-Elect

  Finally, the last of your five doctrines that you consider as hyper-calvinistic doctrines reveals to me what your real point of contention actually is. You seem to believe that if a preacher cannot proclaim to all men that “God loves you”, evangelism is undermined. But what is evangelism? I propose it is the proclamation of the facts of Scripture, specifically, Christ’s salvific work for His people, to men. That’s all there is to evangelism. Yet, today, evangelism seems to be equated with the Arminian notion of “soul winning.” It is true that “he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30b), but it is Christ who won souls on Calvary. The unregenerate individual will not have any more desire to follow a Christ that supposedly loves him than one that doesn’t love him. So once again, why is this such a big deal to you other than it might hurt “your chances” of potentially “winning a soul” to Christ?

  I realize that you believe common grace is a necessary doctrine because you believe it is biblical. I do not deny that God is good to all men. Men, by their very nature are deserving of eternal damnation because of their awful and wicked rebellion against their Creator. Yet God still provides daily for them as you pointed out by providing rain, sunshine, food, shelter, and even civil government. But to call this “grace” is not only unbiblical, it destroys both God’s love for His people and His hatred for the wicked. I suppose it would be fine if you taught that common grace is just another term for “common bounty” or providence, but it goes deeper than that as you believe that this phrase is an expression of God’s love for all men. The Bible says “when the wicked spring as grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever” (Ps. 92:7). When God is shining all that sun and sending all that rain on reprobates, this is not an expression of His love for them. It’s an increase of His wrath against them! Each day a reprobate man enjoys the goodness of God toward him he continues to increase his transgressions toward God and is kindling God’s wrath against him. For an eternity men will look back on the goodness of God they experienced and long for a drink of water and to bask in the sunshine once again (Lk 16:24). If you want to call this “grace” go right ahead, but I will have none of it.

  I’ve demonstrated to you how “common love” perverts God’s wrath, and now I will demonstrate how this profanes God’s love for the elect. The love which God has for His people is described as the love a husband has for his wife. Christ loves His Bride and numerous references to Her are made throughout Scripture. Paul instructs husbands to love their wives even as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). Reflect for a moment what kind of love a husband has for his wife. Does the husband say to his wife, “I love you, but I also love these other women and even desire to marry them; but please remember I have a special love for you?” This statement profanes the husband’s love for his wife, and it demonstrates how the doctrine of God’s common love profanes Christ’s love for His Bride. Not only does it profane God’s love for His people, but it is a flat out lie! Men do not need to be told that God “loves them” in a “general sense”, but they need to see the awesome glory of God and the depravity of their souls. They need to see that they have offended the Almighty and there is nothing they can do to appease His wrath. Sadly, this is missing from the vast majority of today’s “evangelical” preaching whether it is “calvinistic” or “arminian”.

Conclusion

  This letter to you is only a defense of the doctrines of Hyper-Calvinism in response to your bold attacks. I encourage all who may read this to investigate these doctrines in the Scriptures for themselves and take neither my word nor yours as the absolute authority on the subject matter. Further, I could have certainly resorted to harsh rhetoric as you did toward me and accused you of all sorts of things; but I won’t stoop to that level because I want this paper to stand as a defense of the truth in antithesis to your paper not just in word, but in deed. It is my hope that if and when individuals read your article, they will be led by God’s Providence to this paper so that they may draw a comparison between the two. Further, I hope that you will consider responding to me formally as I am sincerely interested in serious dialogue. It is my opinion that if you are so bold as to demean hyper-calvinistic doctrines in an introductory paper, you should at least be willing to publicly defend your charges against dissenters such as myself. I invite you to participate on the 5solas.org forum2 or engage me in an e-mail discussion. At the very least, please consider linking3 to this article from your article so as to give those who are interested a Hyper-Calvinist’s opinion on the topic.

  It is true that the terms “hyper-calvinist”, and “hardsheller” have been used historically as derogatory terms. I have adopted these labels not because they are controversial nor because I am seeking attention but because these are labels that have been given to me. While these labels may be seen by many as derogatory, I must consider the source of the accusations. Before, when I resisted these labels, I used the nickname, “Dr. Gill” on various message boards and chat rooms in honor of the Particular Baptist and Gospel stalwart John Gill. When it was discovered that I affirmed the doctrines you define as hyper-calvinistic, others started to refer to me as a harsh and mean old hyper-calvinist. I changed my pen-name because I found it simply silly for others to refer to me as such and I found a way to make light of the situation through satire. I was amused that you seemed to imply in your comments about me on your web page that I was actually serious! I also find it amusing that you think that I am “naturally drawn to radical ideas.” I always thought Christianity was considered a radical religion, so why would you not consider yourself drawn to this “radical idea” as well? Is Christianity now the “norm” and everything you consider outside of what you deem as orthodoxy now to be considered as radical?

  Considering the history of the label, “hyper-calvinist”, it is difficult to actually ascertain a true definition. Some claim that hyper-calvinists are “fatalists”, “do nothingers”, “hardshellers”, “anti-means men”, or "mossybacks". Others state boldly that belief in doctrines such as justification from eternity, equal ultimacy concerning sovereign reprobation, and supralapsarianism classifies one as a “hyper-calvinist”. I have even heard men label others as "hypers" because they perceive freewillism to be a blasphemous teaching. Anyone who goes “beyond” Calvin in their soteriology or goes beyond the “reformed” creeds makes one a hyper-calvinist according to others. It is my opinion that the term “hyper-calvinist” is used historically and primarily as a derogatory and defamatory term to persuade others against the doctrines a particular person might hold. It’s certainly easier to slap a label on an individual and condemn them for wearing that label rather than to actually roll up one’s sleeves and engage these “heretics” in the realm of systematic theology and biblical hermeneutics.

  In conclusion, I consider it an honor that you have deemed my website as “a site that is doing more to befoul and degrade the doctrines of grace than practically any other Web site [you] have seen.” 4 While men from their lofty and esteemed “evangelical” positions may turn their nose up at me and mischaracterize me, I am reminded that “blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Mat. 5:11).

In Hope,
Darth Gill aka “Brandan Kraft”

1. Phil Johnson, A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, 1998, http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm

2. Discuss this article here: http://forums.5solas.org/showthread.php?t=1925

3. URL of this article: http://www.pristinegrace.org/media.php?id=404

4. Phil’s Bad Theology Bookmarks: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/bookmark/bad.htm

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