Some critics of Calvinism persist in referring to the doctrines of grace as “hyper-Calvinism.” But as that great philosopher Inigo Montoya once said, “You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.”
A helpful introduction to the word and its historical context is Iain Murray’s book, Spurgeon v. Hyper Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching.
Phil Johnson has a helpful primer on the subject, offering a fivefold definition:
The definition I am proposing outlines five varieties of hyper-Calvinism, listed here in a declining order, from the worst kind to a less extreme variety (which some might prefer to class as “ultra-high Calvinism”):
A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:
- Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear,
- OR Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner,
- OR Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal),
- OR Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,”
- OR Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.
All five varieties of hyper-Calvinism undermine evangelism or twist the gospel message.
You can read the whole thing.
For more on this subject, see Iain Murray’s book, Spurgeon v. Hyper Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching.
I agree with Johnson: Hyper-Calvinism undermines the gospel and should be opposed. But it should also not be used as a label against those who explicitly repudiate it.