I noticed this morning that there is a new entry on Ergun Canerâ€™s blog in which he defines hyper-Calvinism. I guess he felt compelled to define this term since he keeps referring to James White as a hyper-Calvinist. Caner defines a hyper-Calvinist as having two characteristics: (1) hyper-Calvinists believe in â€œreprobationâ€ and (2) I quote, â€œIf anyone believes that there is even the possibility of an infant (â€™non-electâ€™) going to hell, that would be clear hyper Calvinism.â€
I donâ€™t understand why Caner defines hyper-Calvinism this way. Historically, hyper-Calvinism has been marked by two characteristics: (1) a refusal to offer the gospel to all without distinction, and (2) a minimization of mankindâ€™s responsibility to repent and believe the gospel. This aberrant view is associated with Strict and Particular Baptists originating in England and with Dutch-American Reformed groups (see â€œHyper-Calvinismâ€ in New Dictionary of Theology).
Thus, itâ€™s a simple historical and factual error to identify Ascol and White as hyper-Calvinists. Yes, they are Calvinists, 5-pointers to boot. But holding to 5-point Calvinism does not mean that they donâ€™t believe in evangelism or in mankindâ€™s responsibility to repent and believe the gospel.
I donâ€™t know Tom Ascol or James White, nor do I know the brothers Caner. But as an outsider looking in at this conversation, I would hope that all parties would be really careful about throwing around the â€œhyper-Calvinistâ€ epithet. Five-point Calvinism does not a hyper-Calvinist make.