Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Antinomianism, Legalism, Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism

I noticed this quotation in Tim Keller's new book on preaching
Referring to legalism and antinomianism he says
“Both come from the belief that God does not really love us or will our joy, and from a failure to see that “both the law and the gospel are expressions of God’s grace.” For both the legalist and the antinomian, obedience to the law is simply the way to get things from God, not a way to get God, not a way to resemble, know, delight, and love him for his sake.” (p 55)
It reminded me of the way John MacLeod in Scottish Theology (recently republished by Banner of Truth) also sees two opposite errors having a surprisingly similar source. This time Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism.
In regard to the claims of God, each of these extremes worked from a common principle which they turned to opposite ends. The Hyper Calvinistic brethren held that there is no worldwide call to Christ sent out to all sinners to whom in the letter the Gospel comes, neither are all bidden to take Him as their Saviour. On the other hand, they maintained that Christ is held forth or offered as Saviour to those only whom God effectually calls. They reasoned that man, as a bankrupt in spiritual resources, cannot be called upon to do what is out of the compass of his power. He can neither repent nor believe. So it was out of place to call upon him to do what he cannot do.
In this, when we look into it, we find the common Arminian position that man’s responsibility is limited by his ability. The Arminian holds to the presence of a certain ability in those that are called; otherwise sinners could not be called upon to repent and believe the Gospel.
Each side takes up the principle from its own end. They fail together to recognise that the sinner is responsible for his spiritual impotence. It is the fruit of sin; and man’s sin does not destroy nor put out of court God’s right to ask for an obedience alike in service and repentance and faith that His sinful creatures have disabled themselves from yielding to Him. His title to make His demand is entirely and absolutely unimpaired. He claims but His own when He bids man, made in His likeness and for His glory, serve Him and be the doer of His will as He makes it known. When He calls upon him to repent He but asks what He is entitled to. When He bids the sinner who needs the Saviour receive Him, as His own, He is altogether within His rights in doing so. There is a glorious superiority to man’s reasonings shown by Him who bids the deaf to hear and the blind to look that they may see.


Karl Gilliham said...

Hello Gary,

Basically, Hyper Calvinism and Calvinism are the same when it comes to salvation. Both believe that Christ died only for the individuals who are the elect, and God regenerates the elect before faith, and the elect cannot resist the call, and will come to Christ. You both conclude that the individuals who are not the elect are left to their destruction. I understand that Hyper Calvinists and Calvinist have a different approach when it comes to evangelism, but if you think about it, they both agree that the good news is only good news for the elect (the elect by their understanding), and not good news for anyone else because they cannot be saved by the preaching of the gospel because it is not for them.

Mostyn Roberts said...

Hi Karl.
1. A problem for Arminianism that no-one can be saved by the preaching of the gospel, whether they hear it or not, unless God is at work in the preaching and in their heart. So as even most Arminians would admit, God has to be involved somewhere along the line; free will just is not enough. Calvinists are simply more consistent and more biblical in taking it back to source.
2. Hyper Calvinism is very different from Calvinism. Its basic problem is just as Gary says in his post - a limitation of human responsibility by the scope of its ability. Like Arminianism. The difference between it and Calvinism is much more, and different from, an approach to preaching the gospel. You might as well say Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are the same because both believe in the Trinity.
3. Arminianism is more limiting than Calvinism in terms of who will be saved. Not only is its gospel not saving in itself, because after all God , on its scheme, saves no-one; but what of all who do not hear? Surely a God who is loving enough to send his Son into the world to die for everyone should be loving enough to make sure everyone hears the gospel? But no - he apparently leaves it to his church to do its best to reach as many as possible. This is crushing for the church, and demeaning of God. Far better to own a God, as the Bible does, who plans salvation from beginning to end - including making sure that all he has elected to eternal life will hear.