This is an excerpt from Sonny’s book, “High Calvinism: A Consistent Approach to Defend and Declare God’s Sovereignty.” To get a copy of this book, click here.
Moderate Calvinism is a theological anomaly that is pervading the culture. Not only is it vexing, it is also the bastardization of the Reformed faith that is precipitating gross compromise. And this detraction from the historic Reformed faith is not infinitesimal. On the contrary, this popular movement has led many supporters and even theological stalwarts down the unbridled path to apostasy.
Moderate Calvinism is fake Calvinism that is disguised in Reformed garb. What is a moderate Calvinist? A moderate Calvinist is an individual who posits: Arminians are brothers and sisters in Christ, Arminianism is not heresy, the five points of Calvinism [viz. “the doctrines of grace”] are merely adiaphora or a system of theology that Christians can either agree or disagree with and still be brothers. None of these enumerations are commensurate with the Bible, or with any of the Reformed confessions. In Scripture, Christians censured theological deviations, they did not defend it. This is why this fake Calvinism should be upbraided.
Several concerns exist with this backsliding position. Moderate Calvinists are gaining popularity for coalescing biblical vigor with compromise by adamantly defending the semi-pelagian lies of Arminianism, and peevishly accosting men that would dare unveil the heresies that exist in the essentials of Arminianism. Both of these aberrant notions are amalgamations of counterfeit Calvinism—the quintessential backsliding from the Reformed faith. No wonder there have been several appellations that have been ascribed to this compromising worldview such as moderate Calvinism, or Hypo-Calvinism.
In this essay, moderate Calvinism will be discussed further. And it will not be lauded as Christ-honoring, but rather loathed as fake Christianity disguised in Reformed garb.
I. Moderate Calvinism
Even though Arminianism is not found in the Bible, nor can it be attributed to saving anyone, not everyone will agree that it is heresy or even a Gospel issue. Moderate Calvinists, who profess to be Reformed, will relentlessly defend anti-Reformed men and the heresies they purport. They will pander to either friends or family members that may become offended over Calvinistic soteriology. And they will seek the approval of popular teachers or an ad populum as the criteria to determine how to classify Arminianism. Not only is this ignominious; it is also compromising and inconsistent. Several reasons exist why:
A. Radically inconsistent
First, moderate Calvinists will accuse consistent Calvinists of not witnessing to Arminians. They do this by ascribing the appellation of hyper Calvinist to them. This is ironic since moderate Calvinists consider Arminians their brothers—which negates their responsibility to witness to them. Because if Arminians are truly their “brothers,” moderate Calvinists would have no need to witness to them. Therefore, who’s really the hyper Calvinist? Instead of calling Arminians their brothers, moderate Calvinists should witness to them and refute their heresy. Instead, they choose to confront consistent Calvinists who do.
Second, moderate Calvinists are becoming known for lavishing and even bloviating about Reformed theology. But they will defend men that embrace anti-Reformed doctrine (Arminianism). This is inconsistent. Why would any predestinarian who affirms free and particular grace that saves, defend individuals who affirm cheap grace that has never saved anyone, nor will it ever? This is contradicting and compromising. Christ said: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30).
Third, moderate Calvinists will regard the doctrines of grace as the Gospel but will not call Arminianism heresy, despite the fact that Arminianism is the anti-thesis to the doctrines of grace. Instead, they will desperately rely on haphazard excuses to mitigate the implications of Arminianism so it sounds less heretical than it is, or they will simply call Arminianism inconsistent, erroneous, or heterodoxy. Mitigating Arminianism does not prove that Arminianism is merely an inconsequential opinion or a non-salvific issue that Christians should not divide over. All mitigating Arminianism proves is that moderate Calvinists are either ignorant about the Arminian false gospel, or they are just blatantly wicked for mitigating doctrine that is antithetical to the Gospel.
Fourth, moderate Calvinists will excessively cry that consistent Calvinists are unloving for anathematizing Arminianism as heresy, but see no problem with habitually decrying consistent Calvinists as cage-stage, neo-gnostic, and hyper Calvinists who do not agree with them. This is one of the ways that show how desperate and compromising moderate Calvinists are. This also proves what gospel moderate Calvinists really defend—the gospel they are most tolerant of—which is no gospel at all. Not to mention, it is ironic that moderates become more incensed with consistent Calvinists who relentlessly decry the false gospel of Arminianism, but do not seem offended by Arminians who propagate heresy that offends God. Again, this proves what gospel they treasure the most.
Moreover, moderate Calvinists will hold to the three forms of unity which consists of the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort, or even the Westminster Confession, yet, neither of these historic creeds purport Arminianism. All are diametrically opposed to the essential semi-Pelagianism of Arminianism! To absolve themselves of being accused of compromise, moderates will argue that the Canons of Dort is an anachronistic document that is not relevant to the present day. And that is because they don’t believe Arminianism is as heretical in the 21st century as it was during the time of Dort. Not only is this comical, it is also intentionally stupefying. The delusion of libertarianism, and universal atonement have and will always be the golden calf for Arminians that have never saved anyone, and never will.
Furthermore, moderate Calvinists who are self-described reformers, will borrow from Arminians to desperately justify their notions. For example, Arminians that despise Calvinism, may esteem writings from Spurgeon, without realizing that Spurgeon called Calvinism the Gospel. And moderate Calvinists will similarly do the same. Moderate Calvinists that lavish writings from John Owen and Augustus Toplady, will become incensed when they hear a consistent Calvinist call Arminianism heresy, without realizing that Owen and Toplady did as well. Even worse, Arminians that despise Calvinism will employ caricatures and inauspicious rhetoric towards Calvinists. Moderate Calvinists will do the same—by calling consistent Calvinists cage stage, hyper Calvinists, that are not gracious with the doctrines of grace.
Lastly, moderate Calvinists claim to be bold about the Gospel. However, they will spend more time attempting to refute consistent Calvinists who contend with Arminianism, than they do exposing the false gospel of Arminianism. Why is this an issue? A hypothetical illustration will explain: If a moderate Calvinist debated a consistent Calvinist about the validity of Arminianism being heresy, what gospel are they both defending? The consistent Calvinist would be defending the promiscuous and particular Gospel while the moderate would be defending a cheap grace, foul heresy that is powerless to save. The point to be made is that no matter how bold moderate Calvinists profess to be, they are blinded by their compromise to know that they are actually defenders of a false gospel that Paul warned about (cf. Gal. 1:8). This is what happens when compromising men defend Arminianism.