The One-Two Punch Of Weasel Words

weasle.jpg While Calvinism is easily defined, hyper-Calvinism is one of those weasel words people use, even among those who think of themselves as Reformed, to label anyone who doesn’t agree with them on the question of limited or particular atonement. Another favorite slur is to call someone a “rationalist” for rejecting the abandonment of logic when coming to the Scripture. Now, a “rationalist” has a very definite and historic meaning, as does “hyper-Calvinist,” but the connotations both words carry is why they’re commonly used as slurs. The other value of these names is that if you get hit with the first the second is never far behind.

Generally, someone is called a hyper-Calvinist if they deny that God desires the salvation of all men, even though these same folks (generally) agree that Christ’s death only atoned for just some men, i.e., those chosen by the Father and given to the Son. Consequently, those who maintain that God desires the salvation of those God has chosen not to save are confronted with a bit of a logical disconnect, but for many this disconnect becomes the mark of Christian piety and anyone who thinks otherwise is, you guess it, a “rationalist.”

I believe this interesting form of the abusive ad hominem most commonly stems from a desire to soften or curb, not just logic, but the extent of the atonement. It’s no secret that limited atonement, the Big L in the Five Points of Calvinism, is what most people find problematic. First, limited atonement is just not fair and doesn’t the Scriptures teach that God wants everyone to be saved? Well, doesn’t it? Besides, if Christ has come to save just some and not all, what will happen to evangelism and missions? What is surprising is that limited atonement is problematic even for those calling themselves Calvinists.

For example, in his book, Desiring God, John Piper recognizes the logical dissonance created by asserting God’s desire for the salvation of all yet atoned for only some. Unfortunately, Piper’s “solution” is to simply assert that we should “not allow some alien logic to force us to choose between these two teachings of Scripture.” Did you catch that? The answer to the question of how God can desire the salvation of all, yet only provide atonement for some is not to actually show how these supposed truths of Scripture cohere, but rather the answer, in the form of a veiled command, is to just believe that they do, shut up, and don’t ask any more questions. After all, who wants to be guilty of imposing an “alien logic” on the Scriptures? And, since Piper nowhere explains what this “alien logic” is or how it can be identified, isn’t the abandonment of logic in general better than being guilty of impugning the teaching of Scripture? For men like Piper “Scripture leads precisely to [the] paradoxical position” that God chooses select individuals unconditionally on the basis of the good pleasure of His will alone and yet at the same time desires the salvation of all.

The granddaddy of this type of thinking is Cornelius Van Til and his many followers who hold to a paradoxical (i.e., contradictory) view of Scripture in general and also maintain that God sincerely seeks the salvation of those whom He has from eternity determined not to save.

In a historical and related note, Herman Hoeksema in his book, The Clark – Van Til Controversy, writes:

“[The Van Tillians argue] the preacher must say that God sincerely seeks the salvation of the reprobate through the preaching of the Gospel. Dr. Clark answers: That is not true; the preacher may never say that in the name of God. And, in the light of Scripture, he should say: God seeks his own glory and justification in preparing the reprobate for their just damnation even through the preaching of the Gospel.”

It is for this reason that many calling themselves Reformed have slandered Clark calling him a “hyper-Calvinist.” Then, because of Clark’s unwillingness to surrender the truth of Scripture (which is evidenced the a logical and harmonious coherence of propositions and not by contradictions and antinomies), he was labeled a “rationalist” by these same critics. The one-two punch of weasel words.

The important thing is that these labels in minds of most men uncomfortable thinking for themselves, are sufficient to mark a man without any demonstration that a rejection of a universal desire for the salvation for all is beyond historic Calvinism (i.e., hyper-Calvinism), or even beyond the writings of Calvin himself, or that maintaining the coherence of Scripture is tantamount to “rationalism.”

It is precisely this kind of theological incoherence and general misology by the supposed defenders of the Reformed faith, men with power, prestige an influence, that explains, in large part, why there simply so few Calvinists around. After all, at least when it comes to the atonement, most those calling themselves Calvinists or Reformed are just inconsistent Arminians and rather than having an answer for the faith they claim is within them, the modern Reformed answer is to check your minds at the door or be dismissed as another “hyper-Calvinist rationalist.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Theology

2 Comments on “The One-Two Punch Of Weasel Words”

  1. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Sean,
    Or if they do not want to employ the two weasel words; “We must hold these two opposing views in proper tension without denying one or the other. We must be faithful to the Biblical data”, they will piously intone! What Bull! How can an irrational God be worthy of worship? Ironically, those who opposed the Bible in the past gave their reason for doing so as what they perceived to be its contradictions! But now those who claim to believe the Bible give their reason for doing so, as what they perceive as its contradictions!!! Huh??? This is satanic nonsense, right from “the pit”, undermining the scriptures, the very Word of God. As Gordon Clark said those many years ago, “God is not insane!, logic is necessary! ….”


  2. magma2 Says:

    FWIW, I starting writing a response when I came across this so I decided to use as another blog piece. Anyway, good points and you’ll see my response shortly 😉

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