Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa (Oct. 2009)
Dave Huntís book, What Love is This? Calvinismís Misrepresentation of God, has elicited a great deal of positive as well as negative criticism. Calvinism is a highly controversial subject, but precisely for this reason it is important to investigate both sides of the matter objectively.† Because of the very nature of this debate not one of the Calvinists agrees with Dave Hunt. In the following article, Phil Johnson fiercely criticises him, and even adds that he could not even find one reason to comment positively on the book:
[2003-03-06-PJ Calvinism on Trial (Dave Hunt Critique) Conference Seminar]
Phil Johnson tried his best to defend Calvinism. Since Dave Hunt, apart from his own motivated viewpoint on eternal security, rejects fundamental Calvinism without reservation, Philís rejection of Hunt is equally radical. But Phil does not even nearly offer enough facts to justify the deceptive tenets of Calvinism.
It is an irrefutable fact that hyper-Calvinism does not represent the good news of the gospel. Their view on Godís sovereignty, i.e. that He decided before the foundation of the world who would be saved and who not, forms the basis of the doctrine of predestination and completely nullifies manís free will and the responsibilities that one has in terms of the gospel. Dave Hunt rendered a tremendous service to Christianity when he exposed this deception. It is unfair to allege that he did so in a subjective, harsh and judgmental way since he bases all his conclusions upon facts. Phil was compelled to acknowledge that Hunt offers his arguments in a highly scholarly and persuasive manner (objectively, together with citing of many sources), though he regards the sources as biased.
It should be kept in mind that Hunt is unmasking a false theological construct, and for that reason he confines himself to hyper-Calvinism, i.e. Calvinism in its ďrawĒ form. From his review it is evident that Calvin strongly relied on Augustine as church father, something which the Roman Catholics also do. Shouldnít it be enough cause for concern that Calvinists and Catholics adhere to and follow the same church father?
Consider the condition Calvinistic churches have lapsed into. The gospel had virtually become extinct in the Anglican Church in England by the time John Wesley appeared on the scene and started his revival campaign. The same can be said about Reformed churches in the Netherlands and elsewhere. The fact that there were a few evangelical Calvinists, e.g. Whitefield and Spurgeon, can in no way be offered as justification for Calvinistic theology in its entirety. They were not hyper-Calvinists!
It could have been profitable if Dave Hunt would have said a bit more on these evangelical Calvinists, namely that they were not five point-Calvinists since they only partially subscribed to a limited number of Calvinís basic statements. During the Reformation some of the evangelical Christians who long ago had turned their backs upon the Vatican, joined Calvinistic and Lutheran churches merely because they had broken ties with the Catholics. Many others, e.g. the Anabaptists, did not join the reformed churches because they disagreed with the doctrine of Calvin and other reformers.
Calvinists such as Spurgeon deviated from hyper-Calvinism in many respects, but without rejecting Calvinistic theology as a whole. Calvinists catch at a blade of straw when trying to justify their theology in terms of a few evangelical preachers in their midst. If Spurgeon had lived in the time of Calvin he would probably have been executed as a heretic. He made an appeal to peopleís free will to make a choice for Christ, and also emphasised that if they did not take the step they would be lost due to their own neglect. That is not Calvinism! After confession of their faith the converts were also baptised by Spurgeon by immersion.† Calvin branded many people as heretics because of such practices and banned or persecuted them. It is, therefore, on very limited and doubtful grounds that Spurgeon regarded himself to be a true Calvinist.
One could even go further than Dave Hunt in refuting hyper-Calvinism. On the fifth principle of Calvinism, i.e. eternal security (once-saved-always-saved) Dave actually agrees with the Calvinists, although he gives other reasons for doing so. He also believes that a Christian cannot backslide to the extent of losing his salvation. But the whole Bible expresses itself against this wrong view. Eternal security is only in Christ, and as long as we abide in Him we can be sure of it. But if we donít abide in Him we forfeit our salvation (cf. John 15:4-6).
It is obvious that Dave Hunt disregards the rule of free will in this context. According to the Bible Christians can indeed make wrong decisions, in some cases even towards their own ruin. Timothy was warned against this mistake and encouraged to persevere in his faith and a holy life (1 Tim. 1:19; cf. Heb. 3:6,14). Behold the lamentable condition which churches have lapsed into where members are told that they can never lose their salvation no matter what they do!
Fortunately we donít need Calvin, Augustine or any other church father in our lives and theological convictions. The Lord Jesus, His Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are more than enough.
In the following article a more comprehensive critique of Calvinism, discussing also the position of evangelical believers within Calvinism, is offered: