Hyper-Calvinism & the Call of the Gospel.Revised Edition. By David J. Engelsma. Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1994. 216 pp. Paper, $13.95.
The author, a committed Calvinist, on the one hand rejects that hyper-Calvinist view that God is not calling everyone to believe in Christ and be born again. However, on the other hand he also rejects the view that God wants all to be saved. In Engelsma’s view, God wants all to hear, but He doesn’t desire all to be saved (e.g., p. 67).
Unlimited atonement is rejected, of course, by Engelsma (pp. 61-65).
Engelsma says that hyper-Calvinism is in a sense antinomian! He writes: “Hyper-Calvinism is antinomianism with reference to the preaching of the gospel, especially the imperative of the gospel, and with reference to the duty of men so addressed…The gospel is to be preached only to the elect, and only they are to be called to faith” (p. 204).
He labels both Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism as heresies! He speaks of the need to “check the wildfire spread of the freewill cancer” (p. 193) and “the Arminian heresy” (p. 194). Yet he also warns that “a Reformed church must guard against the subtle inroads of the hyper-Calvinist heresy with all vigilance” (p. 205).
Amazingly the author chides hyper-Calvinists for being afraid of preaching the simple message of John 3:16! Note these biting words: “The spirit of hyper-Calvinism is embarrassment and hesitation, that is fear…over declaring the promise ‘Whosoever believes shall not perish, but have everlasting life.’ This language is not suspect. It is not the language of Arminian ‘free-willism.’ It is pure, sound, biblical language” (p. 208).
Scripture, Reformed writers from the past and present, and the Reformed confessions are the basis for Engelsma’s defense of his position.
This book is an opportunity to listen to a committed five-point Calvinist speaking to other five-point Calvinists about what he considers to be an extreme form of Calvinism on the one hand, and the free-will positions of Arminians, on the other. It is a fascinating book. I think it is well worth reading and having.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society