Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Hyper" or "Hypo"?

"HYPER" or "HYPO"?

I have noticed some recent Internet material which has to do with the matter of whether or not James White is a "Hyper Calvinist."

On this blog, although I have had occasion to critique James for some of his malarkey, I don't recall ever dealing with whether he qualifies by someone's measuring rod as being "Hyper Calvinist."

Actually, in my understanding of James' writings, he readily falls into the category of what I call a HYBRID CALVINIST. [See "What Constitutes Hybrid Calvinism"]

We all know, I assume, that a hybrid is something which is developed subsequent to the original. The theology James holds on "regeneration" (new birth) is a subsequent development off of the original sources of Calvinism, and it generally flies under the moniker of "ordo salutis" in those writers who allege that "regeneration precedes faith" (which being interpreted means that a person is born again, saved, pardoned, all before he believes in Jesus Christ.)

Hybrid Calvinism was apparently formulated by Francis Turretin (1623-1687) -- at least that evidently was the understanding of W. G. T. Shedd who said he adopted Turretin's "distinction" between "regeneration" and "conversion" (Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2, pages 492-494). Louis Berkhof follows
Shedd's view, R. C. Sproul follows Berkhof, and James White follows Sproul.

It is a rather strange thing about Hyper Calvinism -- you just can't seem to find any one today who will admit to being a Hyper Calvinist. A Hyper Calvinist seems to be more difficult to discover than the "needle in the haystack."

Iain Murray wrote a book on the subject, highly recommended by the Founders yet Murray confesses that he found "no evidence" of Hyper-Calvinism "recovering strength" in this day and age (Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, page xiv).

So it seems that Hyper Calvinism is generally relegated by modern professed Calvinists to another time, another place -- a theological relic of the 18th and 19th centuries. I think I read where even Tom Ascol said he knew of no hypers in the Southern Baptist Convention.

While there are allegedly no hypers to be found, there are Hybrids ("regeneration precedes faith") aplenty -- plenty of those who teach that the "elect" get born again before they ever believe in Jesus Christ. These "elect" are said to receive "life" before they receive the Son Who in Scripture is said to be our Life. They pass from death to life before they ever believe. Some of the Pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinists even say that their offspring get "regenerated" before they are born (per John Frame, for example), while others say their infants receive regeneration shortly after birth.

Representative of some "Reformed Baptists," James White says, "divine birth precedes and is the grounds of both faith in Christ as well as good works" (The Potter's Freedom, page 288. Also, see pages 84, 101, 286-288).

Whether or not one views James or anyone else as "Hyper" Calvinist depends, I suppose, upon whose definition one accepts about Hyper Calvinism. The opposite of "hyper" is "hypo" [below], so if Hybrid Calvinism is less than, or below, original Calvinism, then James, as a Hybrid Calvinist, might appropriately also be called a "Hypo Calvinist."

Either term -- Hybrid or Hypo -- would seem to fit James just as snug as those hats he sometimes wears.


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