Jul 26, 2009

3 Steps to Hyper Calvinism

Hardshellism is the purest form of Hyper Calvinism. What are the leading points of Hardshellism?

First, the Hardshells deny that one must be a believer in Christ to be saved.

Hardshells believe that most of the chosen and called never come to faith in Christ. They even see "evidences" of "regeneration" in the heathen.

The Hardshells believe that many pagans are born again children of God. They see the pagans religiousness and belief in deity or deities as "evidence" of the "new birth."

This view has no biblical support. It also has no historic Baptist support, at least prior to the 19th century.

How did Hardshellism and its brand of Hyper Calvinism come into being? What factors helped to create it?

I believe that Hardshell Hyperism began when some theologians, among Calvinistic Baptists and Presbyterians, began to believe that regeneration preceded faith and repentance, or conversion.

At the beginning of the 19th century, among Particular Baptists, Andrew Fuller represented the view that regeneration preceded faith and conversion. On the other hand, Abraham Booth represented the view that faith preceded, or was at least concurrent with, regeneration.

What followed this hybrid view of regeneration, represented by Andrew Fuller, was a theological "slippery slope."

Those who first promoted the idea that regeneration preceded faith and conversion, men like Andrew Fuller, did not believe that there were any regenerated unbelievers. He believed, like many of today's advocates of the same view, among Baptists, men like James White, Tom Ascol, and those calling themselves "Reformed," that regeneration preceded faith logically, although not chronologically. They affirmed that all the regenerated, at the very instant they are regenerated, do believe in Jesus, or are converted. They did not put any "interval of time" between being regenerated and being converted.

Sadly, however, some who imbibed the notion that regeneration precedes conversion (and therefore distinct from it), did in fact begin to advocate that an "interval of time" often does actually exist. Thus we have the first two steps of the road leading to Hardshellism, the most blatant form of Hyper Calvinism.

Step one is coming to believe that the experience of regeneration must logically precede (or be a completed action before) the experience of conversion. Step two is coming to believe that regeneration not only logically precedes faith and conversion, but also chronologically precedes it, an "interval of time" actually existing between regeneration and conversion.

Then, we have the final step. Those who have gone the previous two steps will finally insist that conversion is not only not necessary to being regenerated, but also not necessary for going to heaven, or being finally saved. This is Hardshellism.

Hardshells are they who have gone down to the bottom of the "slippery slope." You can be "regenerated" though not a convert to Christianity!

To stay away from the road leading to Hyper Calvinism, one needs to avoid these steps.

Closing Observation

At what point does the Hyper Calvinist deny the use of means in regeneration?


Dr. James Willingham said...

I think this understanding is ridiculous. Regeneration preceding conversion and being simultaneous with conversion have been a part of Baptist life for 400 yrs. Hardshellism describes thoe who refuse to bear witness, etc., but I know many in history and in life today who hold one or the other of the two positions and they are intnsely evangelistic. My ordaining pastor who had a Ph.D. from Bob Jones was a self-professed supralapsarian hyper-calvinist, and he was a soul winner, founder of the American race Track Chaplaincy, and the only minister named in Dr. R.G. Lee's will to preach his funeral.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Dr. W:

You are welcomt to your opinion. There is more to Hardshellism than you are willing to admit.



Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Dr. W:

Let me add a couple thoughts.

First, Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism has been around a long time among both Baptists and Presbyterians. I never denied this. In fact, I have stated it before myself.

What I have said is what Bogard and other Baptist historians have said. Such a view was always a minor view, among Particular Baptists, at least till the beginning of the 19th century.

Second, what some Hypers call "evangelism" I would call "proselyting."

I wonder if those who put regeneration before faith do their witnessing with the thought that the gospel is a means in regeneration?



Anonymous said...

Stephen, when you were a hardshell minister did you yourself embrace these three beliefs of hardshellism?

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear A:

Yes, I was a full Three Stepper.

It was when I saw that the scriptures taught regeneration by means of the truth, and therefore by means of faith, that I was rescued from Hyper Calvinism.