I always get nervous — better, agitated — when folks who do not belong to Reformed Protestant communions weigh in on Calvinism’s boundaries and definitions. It is a little like Canadians telling U.S. citizens about what the United States stand for — though, given our provincialism in the U.S. I often learn from Canadians, not so much with evangelicals.
Anyhoo, Justin Taylor linked to a post that alleges to spot the telling features of Hyper-Calvinism. I am less interested in the 5-point list than I am (all about me) in what Phil Johnson writes about denying common grace — a tell-tale sign of Hyper-Calvinism. Here is what he says but consider the thought experiment of using “providence” instead of “common grace”:
The idea of
common graceprovidence is implicit throughout Scripture. “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Ps. 145:9). “He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:18-19). “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44-45).
The distinction between
common graceprovidence and special grace closely parallels the distinction between the general call and the effectual call. Common graceprovidence is extended to everyone. It is God’s goodness to humanity in general whereby God graciously restrains the full expression of sin and mitigates sin’s destructive effects in human society. Common graceprovidence imposes moral constraints on people’s behavior, maintains a semblance of order in human affairs, enforces a sense of right and wrong through conscience and civil government, enables men and women to appreciate beauty and goodness, and imparts blessings of all kinds to elect and non-elect alike. God “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). That is common graceprovidence.
The doctrine of
common graceprovidence has a long history that goes all the way back to Calvin and even Augustine. But type-4 hyper-Calvinism denies the concept, insisting that God has no true goodwill toward the non-elect and therefore shows them no favor or “grace” of any kind.
Does this make (all about) me a Hyper-Calvinist? Or what exactly is gained by using a novel phrase for one that has a long tradition in Reformed confessions?