Hyper-Calvinism & Ephesians 2:8

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Alexander, Aug 16, 2017.

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  1. Alexander

    Alexander Puritan Board Freshman

    I saw another puritan board member who would be considered a hyper-Calvinist because he believes we are saved by Christ alone. He does not believe our faith saves us but that we simply experience salvation in time upon faith. It's simply experimental. He posted this...

    "1. Salvation is by grace alone.

    2. Salvation is through faith alone.

    3. Salvation is in Christ alone.

    4. Salvation, in its entirety, (even the faith by which it is experienced) is the gift of God.

    5. This salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is accomplished entirely without works of any kind on the part of the one who is saved."​

    Don Fortner wrote that in regards to Ephesians 2:8

    My question is... how can a hyper-Calvinist understand Ephesians 2:8 in a way that doesn't make it seem like faith is a condition for being eternally saved?
  2. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    The Westminster Standards do a great job of parsing out the correct understanding of faith and its role in justification, which is an inseparable part of that golden chain of redemption God's foreknowledge & election, Calling, Justification, and Glorification. Of course it is Christ alone Who saves us, in his doing, dying, and rising again, and His righteousness is taken hold of us by his gifting us faith, which we most certainly do exercise, but as a gift, and as an empty and alone instrument. God provides the salvation and the means to that salvation, none of which we may take credit for, but certainly which we willingly and truly exercise by His grace.

    Westminster Larger Catechism:

    70. What is justification?
    A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

    Rom. 3:22, 24-25; Rom. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:19, 21; Rom. 3:22, 24-25, 27-28; Titus 3:5, 7; Eph. 1:7; Rom. 5:17-19; Rom. 4:6-8; Acts 10:43; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9.

    Back to TopRom. 5:8-10, 19; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 10:10; Matt. 20:28; Dan. 9:24, 26; Isa. 53:4-6; Isa. 53:10-12; Heb. 7:22; Rom. 8:32; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:24-25; Eph. 2:8; Eph. 1:7.

    Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
    A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner, by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

    Heb. 10:39; 2 Cor. 4:13; Eph. 1:17-19; Rom. 10:14, 17; Acts 2:37; Acts 16:30; John 16:8-9; Rom. 5:6; Eph. 2:1; Acts 4:12; Eph. 1:13; John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Acts 10:43; Phil. 3:9; Acts 15:11.

    Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
    A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

    Gal. 3:11; Rom. 3:28; Rom. 4:5; Rom. 10:10; John 1:12; Phil. 3:9; Gal. 2:16.​
  3. Alexander

    Alexander Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey brother, I'm just curious... how does this answer my question because I really need help understanding.
  4. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    I cannot answer for a hyper-Calvinist. I am simply affirming the correct understanding of the necessity of faith in the salvation of sinners. Without faith, there is no salvation.
  5. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    I don't see anything that Don wrote that I have any issue with. Looks like he holds to the Sola's. Probably shouldn't have named him; didn't need to. My 2 cents on that one.

    This is not as easily explained as any of us would like. The other thread on PB on the ordo is dealing with such an issue.
    For example, it is not Christ's faith infused; it is our faith-it has to be. Christ doesn't repent for us either! So, if we are given, via grace, faith and repentance, what does that exactly mean?

    As it says in the catechsim Q78, 'being convinced of his sin' and 'assenteth to the truth'. Can this happen with a man who has no idea of what sin is, who Christ is and what he did, etc.? Can a baby assent to truth and if so, what is he assenting to?

    So yea, faith is a 'gift', but what is this idea of faith and how is it defined? is it an empty faith-is it ours or does Christ infuse encrypted information into our dna that is not yet real? If it is real, what does this initial stage of faith look like in real time? Consider the infant in the womb. if that infant is given faith, is it again, empty or just a thing, or is the faith based on any assent?

    This is difficult stuff.
  6. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    Faith is a condition for being eternally saved, but it's a condition that is met by God's sovereign grace working through his Spirit in the sinner.

    What was shared in the OP above sure doesn't sound like hyper-Calvinism from where I'm sitting. That sounds like confessionally Reformed theology. Belgic Confession article 22: "Therefore, we rightly say with Paul that we are justified by faith apart from observing the law (Rom. 3:28). Meanwhile, strictly speaking, we do not mean that faith as such justifies us, for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ our righteousness..." Or Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 23, "Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, for only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God. I can receive this righteousness and make it my own by faith only."
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  7. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    Try as I might I just could not see how the statement could be construed as hyper-Calvinist.

    Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone.
    Salvation, in its entirety, including the faith by which it is experienced, is a gift of God.
    In justification Christs righteousness is imputed unto us, as the only possible satisfaction of God's perfect justice.
    This justification does not rest on any merit to be found in us, or any work we may do.

    That is what the Bible teaches and all who are true heirs of the reformation including our Lutheran friends believe.
  8. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior


    I would read Peter Toon's book on hyper Calvinism. David Gay also has a decent book on eternal justification (though his writing style is annoying).

    I applaud you in wanting to stay away from HC, but this may warrant some more study on their distinctions. John Gill who advocates eternal justification (and many argue he was HC, including myself) would be good source material for understanding the HC mindset.
  9. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    The late Rev. Dr. Peter Toon's helpful book on hyper-Calvinism may be at:
  10. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    How would you define Hyper Calvinism Alexander?
  11. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    Alexander, I had to read your post a couple of times to figure out what I think you are trying to ask. (In this quote I am going to change the highlighting from yours to mine to highlight what seems to be the premise of your question.)

    Before we start, what is your definition of a "hyper-Calvinist"? It means different things to different people. For example, the definition some people use would make Calvin a hyper-Calvinist.

    You highlighted this. Why? It is part of some phrases which became popular (and accurate)out of the Protestant Reformation.
    • "by faith alone" - sola fide
    • "by Christ alone" - solo Christo
    • "by Grace alone" - sola gratia
    But all of them of course are not so exclusionary as to stand outside of Scriptural meaning and explanation, and a filling in of the blanks.

    But I think the key to why people's responses so far are not answering your question has to do with your phrase "our faith". What do you mean by that? Is this an ability we are born with? Is it something given by God to all men and then it is the choice of each man to exercise it or not? Your explanation would help us to understand and answer your question.

    The relevant context of that one verse is:

    Eph. 2:4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.​

    The man you quoted included faith and now you claim he excludes it. I find that confusing. But I think I am following what it is you are asking.

    Before a man is saved he hears the Gospel preached. It contains both that he must flee from the wrath to come, and that he is told how to be saved. One of the verses he might be told is,

    Rom. 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.​

    There are things he must do. For me that remained my understanding for many, many years of my Christian belief. I believed from my perspective that is what went on in my conversion, which was the hardest "decision" I ever made in my whole life. Consider this viewpoint to be spiritual milk for when we are babes in Christ. As we become mature in Christ and move on to spiritual meat we start learning that every bit of salvation is a gift and work of God within us. This is how Scripture explains it to us from God's perspective.

    It depends on whether I am viewing my salvation experience from my own perspective and the amount of work I did, or whether I later look at Scripture and see from God's perspective that He did all the work in me.

    Phil. 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.​

    But it can take a lot of learning from Scripture to come to this understanding which is so foreign to us.
  12. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    The statements taken at their plain meaning are not controversial. Controversy enters into the discussion when Don Fortner is named, given his support of eternal justification and other views common to Hyper Calvinism. Hence, when he makes these statements, included are his presuppositions as to what he believes these statements mean.
  13. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm not reading any Hyper-Calvinism in the statement. And to build upon what another member posted. WLC 73 is essential for understanding this concept. The WLC is beyond neglected, and much to our hurt. I'm in Ascension Presbytery, rather an outpost of Old School in the PCA, and it's been years since I've heard any candidate answer my query "What part does faith play in our salvation?", or "How does faith save us?" I'm never looking for the whole LC73 answer. Only the word "Instrumentally".

    But the quote isn't hyper-calvinistic.
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