John Gill and Hyper-Calvinism (?)

One oft-repeated charge against the great theologian, John Gill, has been that is a “hyper-Calvinist.” Leading the way amongst the crowd of folks levying such a charge would seem to be Dr. Curt Daniel, whose 900 page doctoral thesis was titled “Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill.” I was pleased to see that at least one person has found the time to provide a detailed review of the thesis (link). It seems to me that the most valuable part of the book review is found in a few short paragraphs:

By failing to make this fundamental distinction, Daniel labels all who deny the “offer” as hyper-Calvinists, regardless what specific doctrine of the offer they have in mind. The result is that those whose rejection of the “offer” consists of a denial of universal love dependent on the will of the sinner are tarred with Daniel’s broad brush of hyper-Calvinism, even though they preach to all and call all to believe in Jesus Christ.

The second fault is gross. Daniel argues that genuine Calvinism is the doctrine of a saving love of God and a death of Jesus Christ for all without exception. On this basis, the proper “offer” is, in fact, the “bold declaration” to all who hear the gospel, “God loves you, Christ died for you, and now God pleads with you to believe so that you may be saved” (p. 459). Accompanying this offer is “a sufficient common grace” that enables all to accept the offer, if only they will (pp. 161, 162).

It is Daniel’s basic thesis that hyper-Calvinism began to develop when, after Calvin, the Reformed faith adopted limited atonement. This jeopardized the offer. What is necessary for the warding off of hyper-Calvinism is the embrace of universal atonement. This involves repudiating the decree of reprobation.

This is the remedy for hyper-Calvinism! This exotic mixture of Arminianism and Amyraldianism, Daniel calls, with a kind of fetching modesty, “Low Calvinism.” It is, indeed, low – very low. It is abased and debased “Calvinism.” The glory of salvation in this gospel belongs to the sinner. Using his “sufficient common grace” rightly, he not only saves himself by accepting the offer but also makes the death of Christ atoning and the love of God successful.

Nevertheless, I encourage the reader to check out the entirety of the book review for himself.

Undoubtedly, Gill made errors – but to label Gill a Hyper-Calvinist is really quite imbalanced and inappropriate. I submit as evidence this commentary by John Gill on Matthew 11:28:

Mat 11:28 – Come unto me,…. Christ having signified, that the knowledge of God, and the mysteries of grace, are only to be come at through him; and that he has all things relating to the peace, comfort, happiness, and salvation of men in his hands, kindly invites and encourages souls to come unto him for the same: by which is meant, not a local coming, or a coming to hear him preach; for so his hearers, to whom he more immediately directed his speech, were come already; and many of them did, as multitudes may, and do, in this sense, come to Christ, who never knew him, nor receive any spiritual benefit by him: nor is it a bare coming under the ordinances of Christ, submission to baptism, or an attendance at the Lord’s supper, the latter of which was not yet instituted; and both may be performed by men, who are not yet come to Christ: but it is to be understood of believing in Christ, the going of the soul to him, in the exercise of grace on him, of desire after him, love to him, faith and hope in him: believing in Christ, and coming to him, are terms synonymous, Joh_6:35. Those who come to Christ aright, come as sinners, to a full, suitable, able, and willing Saviour; venture their souls upon him, and trust in him for righteousness, life, and salvation, which they are encouraged to do, by this kind invitation; which shows his willingness to save, and his readiness to give relief to distressed minds. The persons invited, are not “all” the individuals of mankind, but with a restriction,

all ye that labour, and are heavy laden; meaning, not these who are labouring in the service of sin and Satan, are laden with iniquity, and insensible of it: these are not weary of sin, nor burdened with it; not do they want or desire any rest for their souls; but such who groan, being burdened with the guilt of sin upon their consciences, and are pressed down with the unsupportable yoke of the law, and the load of human traditions; and have been labouring till they are weary, in order to obtain peace of conscience, and rest for their souls, by the observance of these things, but in vain. These are encouraged to come to him, lay down their burdens at his feet, look to, and lay hold by faith on his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; when they should enjoy that true spiritual consolation, which could never be attained to by the works of the law.

And I will give you rest; spiritual rest here, peace of conscience, ease of mind, tranquillity of soul, through an application of pardoning grace, a view of free justification by the righteousness of Christ, and full atonement of sin by his sacrifice; and eternal rest hereafter, in Abraham’s bosom, in the arms of Jesus, in perfect and uninterrupted communion with Father, Son, and Spirit. The Jews say (y), that מנוחת תורה, “the law is rest”; and so explain Gen_49:15 of it: but a truly sensible sinner enjoys no rest, but in Christ; it is like Noah’s dove, which could find no rest for the soles of its feet, until it returned to the ark; and they themselves expect perfect rest in the days of the Messiah, and call his world מנוחה, rest (z).

(y) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 39. 3. (z) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 150. 2.


11 Responses to “John Gill and Hyper-Calvinism (?)”

  1. natamllc Says:

    From the review:"….consists of a denial of universal love dependent on the will of the sinner…."God saves sinners. Sinners cannot save sinners."….Accompanying this offer is "a sufficient common grace" that enables all to accept the offer, if only they will…."Can someone point me to a Scriptural basis for "common grace"? I can point you to a Scriptural basis for "common Salvation" which requires His Faith to receive and after the "law" says, thou shalt not covet!Jud 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Rom 7:7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." Rom 7:8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. Rom 7:9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. "…. is the embrace of universal atonement. This involves repudiating the decree of reprobation." The Scripture cannot be broken no matter how a human interprets it!Now a comment about Matthew 11:28.My question is "how would one know to come to Him"?Granted Jesus is the One saying this:::>Mat 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Consider Who is "revealing" Who to the one Who Jesus beckons them to "come to Him"?If the Father does not reveal the Son to the heart of the sinner, the sinner would not "know" Who He is to "Come to Him".God the Father knows His own and reveals the Son to them. The Son then reveals the Father to them!

  2. Turretinfan Says:

    N wrote: “Can someone point me to a Scriptural basis for “common grace”?”The term itself is not found in Scripture. Most people understand it to mean that God gives blessings (such as money, health, life, and so forth) both to his elect as well as to the reprobate.Some people object to the term “common grace” because they want to reserve the term “grace” to refer to the saving grace of God.-TurretinFan

  3. Tartanarmy Says:

    Thanks for this post brother! Looking forward to you being on the Dividing line! Don’t forget to mention if it can be brought into the conversation, that David Ponter once wrote that Owen’s work on the “death of death” was only good for lining the bird cage with…I and others will never forget that statement.Mark

  4. Tartanarmy Says:

    By the way..I have written a response to some comments and usage of sources David Ponter had used, and Tony Byrne was sharing on his blog.I responded below.

  5. Gordan Says:

    Thanks for posting this, for two reasons this morning:1. I have heard the charge against Gill in several places, and it has disturbed me greatly as I have benefited from his commentaries for years and haven’t picked up on any Hyper tendencies. I thought maybe I just hadn’t read enough Gill to know.2. Gill’s elucidation of this particular Gospel preaching has been like a man blowing on dormant coals until they break forth once again in full flame. Such it is with my soul. Praise God for His grace, a grace that actually SAVES!

  6. Turretinfan Says:

    Tartanarmy,By the way, a person unfamiliar with these guys would be surprised to hear them complain about your quoting their words and then turn around and (while using some crude language) hotlink your graphic (link).-TurretinFan

  7. Tim Bertolet Says:

    Turretinfan,Have you read any of Tom Nettles’ work? For example in By His Grace and For His Glory he argues that Gill is not a hyper-Calvinist. Chapter 12 of The Baptists Vol. 1. He deals with the issue of hyper-Calvinism. In By His Grace Nettles concludes: “The nomenclature of hyper-Calvinist in speaking of Gill must be questioned seriously in light of his clear, perceptive zeal for the gospel, his earnestness of desire for the salvation of his hearers, his statements regarding the perpetuity of the law as exhibited in the gospel, and his belief concerning the blameworthiness of rejecting the gospel message and all it contains. And perhaps, rather than imputing blame upon Gill for the leanness of the times, he should be credited with preserving the gospel purity, which eventuated in the efforts to use means for the conversion of the heathen.”

  8. Turretinfan Says:

    Tim, Thanks for that additional resource. I am not familiar with Nettles’ work.-TurretinFan

  9. Tartanarmy Says:

    Tartanarmy,By the way, a person unfamiliar with these guys would be surprised to hear them complain about your quoting their words and then turn around and (while using some crude language) hotlink your graphic (link).———————————-Amazing! How sad are these people?Anyway, what’s wrong with pirates? Pirates are cool!!Ponter is a joke and Byrne has no credibility left!Thanks for pointing me to that link.I am sure the guy who does the cartoons for Dr White has nothing to worry about from me!Mark

  10. natamllc Says:

    TF,so you will be on the Dividing Line?Will you wear a burka? :)

  11. Turretinfan Says:

    ha – very funnyBut, naturally, no.It’s just my voice that will appear on the show, after all, not my face.-TurretinFan

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