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In Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, Iain Murray draws four lessons from that conflict:

1.  “Genuine evangelical Christianity is never of an exclusive spirit.  Any view of the truth which undermines catholicity has gone astray from Scripture.”  Spurgeon disagreed with hyper-Calvinists who “made faith in election a part of saving faith and thus either denied the Christianity of all professed Christians who did not so believe or at least treated such profession with much suspicion.”

2.  Spurgeon “wanted to see both divine sovereignty and human responsibility upheld, but when it came to gospel preaching he believed that there needed to be a greater concentration upon responsibility.  The tendency of Hyper-Calvinism was to make sinners want to understand theology before they could believe in Christ.”

3.  “This controversy directs us to our need for profound humility before God.  It reminds us forcefully of questions about which we can only say, ‘Behold, God is great, and we know him not’ (Job 36:26).”  “It is to be feared that sharp contentions between Christians on these issues have too often arisen from a wrong confidence in our powers of reasoning and our assumed ability to draw logical inferences.”  Spurgeon saw “how a system which sought to attribute all to the grace of God had itself too much confidence in the powers of reason.”

4.  “The final conclusion has to be that when Calvinism ceases to be evangelistic, when it becomes more concerned with theory than with the salvation of men and women, when acceptance of doctrines seems to become more important than acceptance of Christ, then it is a system going to seed and it will invariably lose its attractive power.”

Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism (Edinburgh, 1995), pages 110-122.  Italics added.


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2 thoughts on “Spurgeon versus Hyper-Calvinism”

  1. According to Goodreads, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism was the least popular book I read last year. Maybe so, but I loved it. Having grown in Hyper-Calvinist churches, I could relate to Spurgeon’s fight. He offered many quotable quotes.

  2. Russ Davis says:

    The great irony of the “calvinism” moniker is that I know no “calvinists” Calvin himself would have claimed as his true followers! The term itself is a violation of and rebellion against the apostolic authority of 1 Corinthians 1. Also, the accurate use of the term of so-called “Hyper-Calvinism” has become quite confused by deranged synergists who largely use it as a swear word for monergists they dislike. It’s a measure of how seriously one takes Biblical authority the speed and degree with which one embraces the spiritual and Biblical laziness of using mere men’s names as code for certain doctrinal disSTINKtives that often don’t pass the smell (stink) test. I’m amazed at the “calvinists” who reject paedo-baptism (I myself am still Biblically pondering the whole baptism issue vs the usual unhelpful facile treatments of the matter that don’t address 1. Jesus not baptizing, John 4 and 2. the thief on the cross, Luke 23:39ff, ironically omitting Jesus, the very Word of God himself in ostensibly Christian baptism, as when Galatians 3 is ignored in failing necessarily to include the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation as grace and Gospel) and lazily slap sinfully truncated TULIP around so blind as to fail to see the horrid damage done to coherent Christological theology. Pastor Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church (www.capitolhillbaptist.org) has been tremendously helpful to me in making a way through the wilderness of the gap between vibrant Biblical monergism vs erring popular, ignorant views of monergism or synergism that only add fuel, but no light, to the flesh’s fire fight darkness. God save us from ourselves. Soli Deo gloria!

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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