Dave Hunt Refutes Calvinism. Calvinists Refute Dave Hunt.
Posted 2002 Updated 3/2007
A centuries old debate about the sovereignty of God versus human responsibility (or free will) is being renewed as the result of a new book by Dave Hunt and the response by a number of Calvinists. I'm concerned about possible divisiveness among many people I respect who will advocate differing views in this discussion.
Dave Hunt has been important in my own life. As I say on my links page:
"The Lord used Dave Hunt's ministry to rescue me first from "motivational training" and "human potential" deceptions, and then later from "Christian activism" and the "Coalition On Revival". It was through this ministry that I learned the importance of following the Lord Jesus, alone, and not "gurus"; and about comparing EVERYTHING to God's Word as the standard of Truth."
My own examination of these issues began in 1982. It was then I discovered that the newly ordained clergyman, who was leading the small fellowship we were attending, was secretly teaching some of the people that God did not know the future with a certainty and that God changes his mind. I had been a Christian about six years and was very ignorant of many of the historic controversies within Christian theology. I knew enough to realize that this was contrary to my understanding of what the Bible teaches about the foreknowledge and omniscience of God. Through this discovery I became aware of Charles Finney's "Moral Government" theology and a number of authors and teachers of Moral Government and their influence on several youth-oriented organizations. Much of the extreme version of these teachings taught the "limited foreknowledge" of God and an emphasis on Holiness that effectively taught a salvation by works. This movement was rooted in a hyper-Arminianism that was reacting to what it saw as the evils of Calvinism. Through my research in response to this Moral Government movement, I came to have a much deeper appreciation of the sovereignty of God and the doctrine of grace. I never had a desire to call myself a "Calvinist" but I was much more likely to emphasize sovereignty and grace than before.
To this day I am not interested in jumping on anyone's bandwagon. And I certainly don't want to be identified by a man's name, other than Jesus. I don't want to be a Calvinist or a Lutheran or an Arminian or dispensationalist or preterist, etc. It may sound naive or simplistic or reductionist, but I really want to just be a follower of Jesus who rightly divides the plain meaning of scripture. Theological bandwagons can easily become idolatrous crusades for zealots who now go to their movements' creeds and gurus for their standard of truth instead of God's Word.
I have never wanted to reduce the Word of God into trite phrases such as, "Once saved always saved" or "You can lose your salvation".
I am content to proclaim both Romans 9 and Romans 10:
"What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Romans 9:14-18
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13
I've had this conversation, about God's sovereignty and human responsibility, so many times with Christians over the years and I think I can recognize when someone is wrestling with the issues of God's Sovereignty and human responsibility in good faith, as opposed to someone who ends up in heresy in either the direction of hyper-Calvinism or hyper-Arminianism. I have seen some who as hyper-Calvinists turn humans into robots or who preach easy-believism, sloppy agape, anything goes. And I have also seen hyper-Arminians who teach that God doesn't know the future and a false gospel of works.
As the next chapter of this debate unfolds, time will tell if people are driven to the Word of God with a sincere desire for Truth or whether they just pick sides and parrot their gurus' words and party lines. I'm sure Satan would love to try to play both sides like he does with every worldly conflict. Below are excerpts of how this controversy is developing.
Dave Hunt, author, lecturer, and publisher of the Newsletter, "The Berean Call", has written several articles during the last two years refuting Calvinism. His next book is titled: What Love is This? - Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God. A description from the Berean Call website (http://www.thebereancall.org) reads:
"It is imperative that one's belief about God be true to the Scriptures, God's only written revelation concerning Himself, since our beliefs affect everything from how we relate to Him and what He expects of us, to where we will spend eternity. In this latest book by Dave Hunt, Calvinism is examined from the time of the Reformation to its rather aggressive resurgence today. Not all Calvinists hold to all the basic tenets of this theology, yet each point says something significant about the character of God and His gospel."
In the February 2001 issue of the "Berean Call" newsletter, Dave wrote:
"Luther wrote The Bondage of the Will to prove that the very idea of man’s free will is a fallacy and an illusion. In fact, Bondage is full of fallacies, both logical and biblical, which I point out in Sovereignty, Mercy, and Love [I think this title became "What Love is This?" - editor, procinwarn.com], my book in defense of God’s character, currently in process of publication. Calvin states no less dogmatically than Luther that foreknowledge leaves no room whatsoever for free will. Period. We are astonished that Calvin repeatedly makes fallacious, unbiblical statements; and doubly astounded that so many leading evangelicals continue to praise him for being so logical and such a great exegete. If God cannot know by His foreknowledge what every person will think and do by their free will, then He is not God. Moreover, the fact that God is able to allow man freedom of choice while still effecting His eternal purposes unhindered is all the more glorifying to His sovereign wisdom, power and foreknowledge."
[Rob's sites are no longer operating. I haven't been able to find a web presence for Rob's writings for a while now. Of course Calvinists are still refuting Dave Hunt. 3/30/07] Some of the response to Dave Hunt's writings can [no longer] be viewed at Rob Schläpfer's website, whatloveisthis.com which was created specifically to refute Hunt's book. Rob Schläpfer is a friendly brother with whom I have briefly corresponded. He is the founder of the Christian Counterculture Project (christiancounterculture.net). On one of Rob's websites he offers a free copy of James R. White's book, The Potter's Freedom, to anyone who sends in the cover of Dave Hunt's book! In a recent issue of his email newsletter, "The Discerning Reader", Rob writes:
"In the past few weeks we have gotten numerous email messages from people concerning our May Issue on "The Doctrines of Grace." While most have been extremely positive, a number of our subscribers are "alarmed" that we have a "Calvinist Slant." Others have warned us against publishing our pending review of Dave Hunt's new book, What Love Is This: Calvinism's Misunderstanding of God [sic] as it would represent a vicious "attack" on this humble servant of God. (See the upcoming issue of our Christian Counterculture newsletter.) We seem to be heading "carelessly into controversy" -- as one subscriber put it.
"With that in mind, I hope those of you with such concerns might indulge me a few moments of your time to clarify what we intend in our effort here. To that end, I have included (see below) my response to a particular email that came our way this evening. It is typical of the many we have received expressing "concern" -- although, much shorter.... (and kinder!)"
Later in the same email Rob continues:
"We are promoting "the doctrines of grace" during May because
"(1) The new James Boice book is a major title that we felt was important to promote at this time. In addition to providing an outstanding (and accurate) description of "Calvinism" , it does an excellent job speaking to much of the "ugliness" that goes on in Calvinist circles. [Our lead article in the Christian Counterculture newsletter on Calvinism did the same. "The Practical Implications of Calvinism" is a rebuke to arrogant, "Calvinism-centric" Reformed types who go on and on about these matters -- as if there were nothing more important.... we have no patience for that. We should be consumed with Christ -- not Calvin. (In fact, Calvin is a good example for us to follow here!)
"(2) Dave Hunt has released a book to "fight Calvinism" (his words, not mine) which is such a distortion of both Scripture and historic fact that we felt a "prophylactic" was in order. We fear this book is only going to stir up more "ugliness" in the Christian community, as people reading it imbibe Hunt's slanderous rhetoric and further divide the collective body of Christ. (We have launched a web site to show how he misrepresents Reformed Theology: whatloveisthis.com. "We report, you decide.")"