Jared Smith On Various Issues

Six Hundred Hyper-Calvinist Baptist Churches

High-Calvinism[1] may be defined as that set of teachings which denies duty faith, rejects the free offer and renounces the moral law as a rule of conduct for the believer’s life. Stated positively, High-Calvinism is that set of teachings which promotes the preaching to all sinners of a full, free and fruitful gospel. By a full gospel, I mean it is the good news of the three branches of the gracious covenant—the electing love of the Father, the redeeming grace of the Son and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. It is on this basis we reject the pernicious doctrine of the free offer. By a free gospel, I mean there are no conditions or requirements placed upon the sinner in order for him/her to be born again. It is on this basis we reject the pernicious doctrine of duty faith. By a fruitful gospel, I mean the rule for the believer’s life is his/her spiritual union with Christ (the gospel law), wherein He is made all things to His people, the Spirit of God infusing the graces of Christ into the soul. It is on this basis we reject the moral law as a rule of conduct for the Christian life. In essence, High-Calvinism understands the masterplan of God for the ages to revolve around two perpetual covenants (that of works of grace), and all members of the human race are responsible to God under one or the other of these covenants.

Now, the foregoing definition does not satisfy the Arminians and Moderate-Calvinists, for they do not understand its meaning. As they approach the gospel from a free will perspective, failing to grasp the significance of the covenants, they interpret High-Calvinism from a humanistic standpoint, thereby drawing the erroneous dichotomy between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. From this false presupposition, they proceed to create a caricature of High-Calvinism, describing its adherents as those who don’t believe the gospel should be preached to the lost, or those who don’t nurture any love for souls, or those who don’t believe man is responsible for his sins, or those who don’t believe man is responsible to believe, or those who exploit their liberty in Christ by making a license to sin. This caricature, together with the false dichotomy between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, have absolutely nothing to do with the teachings of High-Calvinism. Nevertheless, this is what the Moderate-Calvinists continually present to their people, warning them of the evils and dangers of the “Hyper-Calvinists”. What a pity these preachers waste so much time creating a set of teachings to which no one subscribes, and then warning their people to avoid those teachings.

To top it off, the Arminians and Moderate-Calvinists enjoy dismissing the “Hyper-Calvinists” as a small group of extremists who have never represented the orthodox views of Christianity/Calvinism. However, in his book “Strict and Particular”, Dr. Kenneth Dix points out the following on pages 266-269:

“There were almost 600 Strict Baptist churches in England at the end of the nineteenth century, unevenly spread in thirty-seven counties…Strict Baptists were unanimous in their condemnation of Andrew Fuller. His teaching on the obligation of all who hear the gospel to believe the gospel, was seen as a departure from the old paths, as ‘the leaven’ by which ‘step by step the old faith was forsaken’. In 1861 J. Andrews Jones described Fuller’s teaching as ‘a heresy of the very first magnitude’. Some forty years later W.J. Styles wrote in gentler tones, but the opposition remained. Through Fuller’s teaching, it was argued, the old Calvinistic position had been weakened; the door towards Arminianism and with it open-communionism had been opened, and it was only the Strict Baptists who were holding ‘firmly to the “faith and practice” of the original Particular Baptist Church’.”

In other words, by the turn of the 20th century, almost one-third of all Baptist churches in England subscribed to the teachings of “Hyper-Calvinism”. Now, it must be asked, if “Hyper-Calvinism” has existed only as a small group of extremists who have never represented the orthodox views of Christianity/Calvinism, then how could there have been so many churches organized around those teachings towards the end of the 19th century? If “Hyper-Calvinism” is so wrong in its creed, then how could so many Christians/Calvinists subscribe to it, and for so long? If “Hyper-Calvinism” kills evangelism, and a love for souls, and prayer and godly living, then how could there have been almost 600 congregations of Baptized believers following the commands of Christ by the year 1900? Surely, this figure should give pause to every honest and truth searching believer. Why are the Arminians and Moderate-Calvinists dismissing “Hyper-Calvinism” as unorthodox and unworthy of serious consideration, when the “Hyper-Calvinist” Baptist churches have made up such a large section of the various theological camps among Christian assemblies?

My dear friend, you may not be persuaded of “Hyper-Calvinism” by examining its teachings and learning of its history, but would you not agree it is of benefit to us all that you form right views on the subject? We are not the crazy extremists or evil monsters the Arminians and Moderate-Calvinists make us out to be. If you get to know us and our teachings, you will find yourself among friends who are growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jared Smith

[1] High and Hyper Calvinism are two labels representing the same set of teachings. Those who subscribe to the teachings identify as High-Calvinists, whereas Hyper-Calvinism is the label used by those who oppose the teachings. I do not mind which label is used to identify the teachings, so long as the labels accurately represent the teachings, which sadly, is not usually the case.