Caners vs. Calvinism (part 2)

I noticed this morning that there is a new entry on Ergun Caner’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 “reprobation” and (2) I quote, “If anyone believes that there is even the possibility of an infant (’non-elect’) going to hell, that would be clear hyper Calvinism.”

I don’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 mankind’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 “Hyper-Calvinism” in New Dictionary of Theology).

Thus, it’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 don’t believe in evangelism or in mankind’s responsibility to repent and believe the gospel.

I don’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 “hyper-Calvinist” epithet. Five-point Calvinism does not a hyper-Calvinist make.

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