All of a sudden many of the CU students at Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria seem to be thinking about Calvinism and Arminianism. I think that thinking about the sovereignty of God in this way has got to be a brilliant thing so long as it is done humbly and with Scripture open.
I had one conversation recently with a student on this issue, and we got to talking about hyper-Calvinism (that is, one who goes beyond and over the bounds of what Calvinism teaches, and excessive in application of the doctrines of Calvinism). The student asked me what the symptoms of hyper-Calvinism are.
Tim Challies cites Phil Johnson who theologically defines hyper-Calvinists with a five-fold definition. According to Johnson, a hyper-Calvinist is someone who:
- Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR
- Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
- 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
- Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,” OR
- Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.
- A lack of commitment to evangelism and world mission (possibly even an unwillingness to evangelise at all - or at least to evangelise without appealing that non-believers accept and believe the gospel);
- A lack of commitment to political engagement and the desire to improve society (because there is no common grace in non-believers);
- A perceived lack of value in anything made by non-believers (again rooting from the belief that no common grace exists). Art, for instance, is seen as something made by a reprobate person rather than someone made in the image of God using their God-given talents;
- A tendency towards arrogance and elitism, and an attitude of deploring the 'non-elect';
- A strongly fatalistic prayer life that does not seek to grow in relationship with the Father;
- A lack of assurance (because the believer is constantly looking for evidence within themselves that they really are elect).