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#58924 Sun Apr 14, 2024 11:10 AM
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Tom Offline OP
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Is anyone familiar with the accusation that David Engelsma and his denomination are Hyper-Calvinists?

I am seeing warnings lately about him on Reformed boards.

Is there anything to this?

Tom

Tom #58926 Sun Apr 14, 2024 2:27 PM
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The Protestant Reformed Church has always been labelled as being "Hyper-Calvinist" due to the dispute between Herman Hoeksema &co. and the Christian Reformed Church in 1924. Two main issues which caused an exodus of some and the CRC, which formed a new denomination; The Protestant Reformed Church, were:
1. Common Grace
2. The "Free Offer of the Gospel"

1. Hoeksema &co. argued that the CRC held to heresy in their teaching called "Common Grace" in that they attributed 'grace' to everyone without exception which resulted in anyone/everyone able to do that which is 'good' before the eyes of God. My view is that the PRC was/is correct in rejecting the CRC's and others who agree with them on that doctrine... BUT they went too far and also reject God's benevolence upon all men and that the unregenerate can perform deeds which are "relatively good", i.e., others do benefit from those acts. My view has always been that all/every thought, word and deed of the unregenerate is sinful and worthy of condemnation by God, yet some 'relative good/benefit' can result in them. Not one of them is acceptable before God and they all will be used against them at the final judgment. And, God is 'benevolent' to all mankind yet being under the wrath of God and subject to damnation unless they are regenerated by the Spirit and united to Christ via repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The ONLY reason that an unregenerate individual does an act of kindness, etc. is due to God's restraint upon their total depravity which left unrestrained would result in unbridled wickedness.

2. The PRC's view on the "Free Offer of the Gospel" differs from the CRC's view which is very similar to the view held by the vast majority of contemporary churches/denominations. That view teaches that God desires; it is His will, that everyone without exception be saved. That view believes that God loves everyone without exception, that Jesus died for everyone without exception in one form or another, and that the Spirit works to bring everyone without exception to Christ. But likewise, I believe the PRC went too far and teaches that the Gospel is ONLY meant for the elect and not for sinners universally. My view is that the Gospel is to preached indiscriminately to all without exception but only the elect will heed its call due to the Spirit's first regenerating their spiritually dead soul. Secondly, God does not love everyone but only the elect yet as in #1, He is benevolent toward all and restrains the evil and hatred of God and all that is good in order to display His goodness and to accomplish His perfect plan to gather all the elect throughout the world before the coming of Christ. It is true that nowhere does the Bible teach that grace is "common" but rather specific and always salvific in nature, as is His love.

Now, do these two main views held by the PRC warrant the label, Hyper-Calvinist? Perhaps they do shrug The PRC does preach the Gospel, the true Gospel which is sadly missing in the vast majority of other churches and denominations, including in some who identify themselves as "Reformed". Methinks it would be remiss to totally condemn the PRC rather than take issue with some of the doctrines to which one disagrees. I have personally benefited from much that David Engelsma has written on many subjects as well as other authors from the PRC even though I disagree with how far they went in their objection to the heresy held by the CRC at the time and since they have gone waaaaaay down the road that leads to apostasy.


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Pilgrim

Thankyou that was helpful.

Would I be correct to say that the CRC holds to a form of “Common Grace” that is similar to Wesleyan “Prevenient Grace”, as opposed to what most in the Reformed Community such as RC Sproul meant by “Common Grace”, which is basically God’s benevolence to all of mankind, both saints and sinners?

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Originally Posted by Tom
Would I be correct to say that the CRC holds to a form of “Common Grace” that is similar to Wesleyan “Prevenient Grace”, as opposed to what most in the Reformed Community such as RC Sproul meant by “Common Grace”, which is basically God’s benevolence to all of mankind, both saints and sinners?
No. Basically, the CRC contradicts the doctrine of Total Depravity and believes that all men have a spark of light (goodness or the ability to do good). Wesley held to the depravity of man no less than Calvin but held that God gives all men a special 'ability' to believe on Christ despite their depravity and they thus must exercise their 'free will' to choose Christ. Thereafter, the Spirit completes the process by regenerating them. The CRC believes that God equally loves all men, albeit He has a "special love" for the elect, and desires/wills (wishes) that ALL men will be saved. If you go to the PRC website you can search for items that are of interest to you re: The Protestant Reformed Church. And/or you can visit their publishing division here Reformed Free Publishing Association and do a search on various topics. Here is one small statement the PRC has published on the matter of "Common Grace":

Originally Posted by PRCA
ERROR OF COMMON GRACE

The doctrine of common grace is a doctrine that was developed in the lat 1800's and early 1900's by Abraham Kuyper and eventually adopted by the Christian Reformed Church. This erroneous doctrine can be explained in three points.

1. God as a favorable attitude toward all sinners, showing favor and grace to all his creatures in general.
2. God, by the Holy Spirit, without renewing the heart of man, restrains the impeding breaking out of sin so that human life in society remains possible.
3. Those sinners who are unbelievers are capable of doing civil good by the influence and grace of God, without God renewing the heart of those unbelieving sinners.

The RFPA refutes this erroneous doctrine, instead proclaiming the undisputable doctrine of sovereign particular grace. Grace is the attribute of God whereby first he loves himself and desires his own glory, which is then shown in his speech and actions toward his people. Grace is never general or common. Rather, God grants his sovereign, particular grace only to his elect according to his own sovereign will. God's grace is revealed as undeserved favor in the salvation of his people, so that they may become like him and find favor with him. Grace is never conditioned by faith, but is always sovereign, powerful, irresistible, and effective to the salvation of God's people in Christ. (Romans 8:28-29, Ephesians 1:3-14). Read more about sovereign particular grace here.

Read more about the distinctive Reformed view of the error of sovereign grace in this excerpt from the fourth chapter of For Thy Truth's Sake by Herman Hanko.

When Herman Hoeksema attempted to find one doctrine which, more than other, defined the beginning of the PRC (Protestant Reformed Churches), he found it in the truth of the particular grace of God. That issue stood out clearly in 1925 when the PRC began. It remains a distinguishing mark of the churches today. Those who teach that grace is not particular, but common, believe that God's grace is shown to all men. The PRC believe that Scripture and the Reformed Confessions teach that God's grace is for His people only and that the wicked never receive so much as an ounce of grace...

This very name "common grace" indicates that those who hold to this view believe that the grace of God is "common" or general, that is, that grace is for all men. God shows His grace to all men without exception. This is what the CRC approved as official doctrine when it adopted the three points of common grace.

Because of the grace of God in God's favor and blessing, God is favorable disposed to all men. He looks with kindness and good will upon all men without distinction. He is favorable disposed to every one. His face smiles with pleasure towards all men. But, because God's attributes are all one, the attribute of grace includes man other attributes, which the defenders of common grace used at random and as being synonymous with grace. They spoke of God's benevolence and kindness, of God's love and mercy, of God's goodness and loving kindness - all in the same breath, as it were. All these attributes of God are shown to all men without distinction (according to the doctrine of common grace)...

The blessings of God upon all men are of various kinds, according to those who held these views. They include the good things in the creation, rain, sunshine, plentiful harvests, prosperity, health, a good family, and all such things as are pleasant and to be desired in this world...

More explicitly, common grace was connected with God's work of salvation in the well-meant offer of the gospel, of which the first point made mention. In fact, the first point appealed to the well-meant offer of the gospel as an evidence of God's favor and grace toward all men.

The point is important enough to take special note of. The well-meant offer of the gospel means that God desires and intends to save all who hear the gospel. That desire of God is God's common grace, or general attitude of favor to all. But common grace itself cannot save. Nevertheless, though it cannot save, it is indicative of God's intent to save all who hear...

The position which the PRC took with respect to the gifts of God was sometimes misinterpreted by the defenders of common grace. No one among those who denied common grace ever so much as hinted that the gifts of God to men were bad gifts, as some defenders of common grace claimed. Everyone agreed that God gives men only good gifts. Not only does Scripture teach this, but various passages even emphasize this. Psalm 73, it was pointed out, clearly states, in the complaint of Asaph, that the wicked have more of these earthly things, which common grace called blessings, than God's people. God never gives bad gifts. When God gives the wicked the things of His creation, He gives good gifts because he is the overflowing fountain of all good and because "ever good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)


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Pilgrim #58929 Sun Apr 14, 2024 11:44 PM
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Pilgrim

Thankyou, I am glad I asked that follow-up question.

It seems pretty clear that the ‘Common Grace’ found in most Reformed circles, such as what we hear from people like RC Sproul and Reformed Baptists like Voddie Baucham and Tom Ascol is not the same as the CRC teaches.

Which to me; could be a little confusing for those new to Reformed Theology.

Tom

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yep Such things can be confusing to new and old alike. Why? One of the big reasons is that heresy always uses familiar terms but redefines them without making it known to others. Remember, a counterfeit looks, feels, tastes and sounds like the real thing. The goal is to confuse and thus create easy "prey". Satan is not stupid. wink


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Tom #58932 Mon Apr 15, 2024 11:41 AM
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I noticed you mentioned Abraham Kuyper as influencing the CRC.

I decided to look into Kuyper on that aspect and seeing I have access to some of his writing. I wanted to see what he had to say on it.
As I was reading, it seemed to me that Kuyper is more like Sproul (i.e. not salvation related) than the CRC, if I understand him. The following is from a section of his writing. From Abraham Kuyper Collected Works of Public Theology.

Quote
WHY THE TERM “COMMON” GRACE?
Before continuing, we need to insert at this point a brief response to an entirely different question repeatedly addressed to us, one that seems to require clarification. Why is it, people have asked us more than once by letter, that you always speak about “common,” and not about “universal,” favor or grace?
The answer to this question is simple: our fathers spoke of “gratia communis,” and in our language the word communis means not “universal” but “common.” In Latin the word does mean “universal,” equivalent to universalis, from which we get our word universal. We are not contesting the fact that both of these concepts often mean practically the same thing, but nevertheless a distinction does exist between them that we would do well not to neglect. That distinction consists in this, that universal refers to something that is found everywhere, something that is valid everywhere, and by the nature of the case is applicable to everyone. Whereas by contrast, the word communis or common refers to something that is shared in common among a particular group.
Here we have that group known as humanity, our human race, and this divine favor is shared in common among this group. The word universal views the persons or things to which it refers as existing on their own, apart from any connection or relationship, and it expresses that the same feature is valid for or is found with each of these members. Legal prescriptions are universal, since they apply to all individual objects without distinction. A theorem is universal, in that it is valid in every given situation. A preamble is universal, because it does not descend into particularities but is limited to what applies to all the particularities.
By contrast, people speak of a communis opinio, something we call a “common judgment,” because that opinion has arisen within a particular group and has gained common currency among that group. In this manner people used to speak of a “commonwealth” to describe a group in which everyone together pursued their life’s happiness. In the same way we speak about “by common consent,” referring to something agreed upon within a particular group. The phrase “common purse” refers to sharing costs within a particular group. A “common pasture” means the pasture in which all the farmers belonging to a particular group are allowed to have their animals graze. To “provide common access” is to bring an issue within reach of the circle in which our language is understood. Here, then, when talking not about something belonging to everyone by nature, but about a good given from someone to the group known as humanity, our fathers spoke very correctly not about “gratia universalis” but about “gratia communis.” “Universal favor” was a phrase preferred by their opponents. Given our intention to discuss this doctrine thoroughly, we had to investigate which title would be most proper, and at that point we thought we needed to adopt the title, Common Grace.
True enough, the word common may not be used as much any longer, but from the phrases mentioned above, it seems evident that our language today retains an understanding of the word common in the sense we have explained. If this is so, then it enhances language when in connection with such discussions that involve very refined distinctions, we resuscitate moribund expressions. One would have no right to do this if this meaning of the word common had fallen entirely into disuse. But that is not the case here, as a glance in the most authoritative dictionary will confirm. Though we would not think to malign someone who chooses differently, we firmly think we have sound reasons for preferring the phrase common grace or “common favor.”
We will continue using the word grace [gratie] in the sense of favor, despite the fact that in popular usage, grace [genade] is identified so exclusively as saving grace. The word grace [or reprieve] is still the word used universally to describe a stay of execution. And since our expanded argument is discussing precisely that grace which stays the execution of Genesis 2:17, the phrase common grace seemed not improperly to express the very character of our topic.
Undoubtedly it would have been better to place this explanation at the beginning of our discussion, but at that point it seemed unnecessary for us to explain our choice of title. Now, however, since objections have arisen, we thought we should insert our added explanation here.

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Kuyper was a "mixed bag"... he had some good and some bad. One of the most infamous views he held was "Sphere Sovereignty" which you read a decent polemic against the whole idea here: Sphere Sovereignty and its lack of Scriptural basis, It is also my view that his view on "Common Grace" was flawed ex facie (on its face) since he admitted that 'grace' was salvific in nature but then said it can be seen as being "common", i.e., owned by everyone albeit in less than a saving reality. This he tried to justify by using the additional term, "favor", i.e., God sheds his favor on everyone. But again, God's favor has the biblical meaning of being accepted by God which also belongs to the category of salvation. Neither'grace' nor 'favor' are synonyms of beneficence which the Bible describes is how the LORD deals with humanity in general. Making the rain fall on the just and unjust is not the same as saying God's 'favor' is upon all men. Scripture is perspicuous in stating that the wrath of God rests upon all men, even the elect and that the majority of fallen mankind is destined to eternal punishment. Such declarative statements such as "Jacob have I loved but Esau have have I hated", having been God's will from eternity surely eliminate any possible idea that all men are in God's favor or are loved by God and given grace. Grace is NOT common but specific and given only to those who are predestined to eternal life due to they being united to the Lord Christ due to the sovereign work of the Spirit and preserved to the end at which time they are glorified and will live on the new earth worshipping God and Christ.


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