« Wine, the Bible and the Believer: Crossing the Threshold to the New Testament | Main | Wade Burleson: Advocate for Egalitarianism in the Southern Baptist Convention »

2008.02.25

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Chris Johnson

Thanks for getting this interview together....good content.

I am in agreement with you, ....that pastors should teach the doctrines of scripture with as much clarity as they can possibly muster, and not be so concerned whether someone labels it Calvinistic or Arminianistic. Pastors should work hard to get the Words of our Lord rightly divided regardless.

This was much better than "60 minutes"!

Blessings,
Chris

byroniac

Peter:

You did an excellent job with the interview and with the pictures.

However, I'm going to have to disagree with you on something. Using "h"ypercalvinist with a lower-case letter is not a helpful distinction. At best, you are inventing a term which is too easily confused with a historic term of the same spelling and almost the same capitalization. The original is also a categorical term, not a style of apologetics or debate.

I agree with you in the sense that it is possible there are those who are overly aggressive in defense of historic Calvinism to the point of being ungracious and forceful about it (which is quite ironic in light of God's Sovereign Grace). I have not met any of them, but my experience here is very limited, and I know others here on the board have (and probably you too as well).

But please don't use this term. Be more accurate, and eliminate confusion, by calling these people "ungracious" or "unkind" calvinists, and then explain what you mean, and give examples if appropriate. That I believe will be more helpful.

Scott Gordon

Peter,

As I stated at SBCToday, great job with this interview. As an "unhyper-" five point Calvinist who actually believes we are commissioned greatly to go into all the world with the good news of the gospel, I have no problems supporting a brother like DR. Cox for President of our Convention.

...AND, heads up. WE had to shut down the comment section of the post with Dr. Cox's interview over at SBCToday. SO...you might be expecting a few visitors, my brother!

Sola Gratia!

volfan007

there's already a good word for the kind of five point calvinists that dr. cox was talking about. it's "extreme calvinist." this was first coined by dr. danny akin of sebts. it fits. they're not hyper calvinists in the historic way of thinking. but, they are extreme calvinists.

and, byroniac, i have met many of them.

david

Tim Rogers

Brother Peter,

It is good that you took a picture of Dr. Cone helping that hippie in the hallway and in his office. Boy, does he have a heart of compassion? Especially for that hippies from the 60's.

:>)

Great interview!

Blessings,
Tim

byroniac

David,

No doubt.

Hopefully, God will bring most (or at least some) of them to their senses, and they will repent of being unkind and ungracious. I have been guilty in the past, and God had to show me how such words can genuinely wound other believers. I'd like to say I didn't learn it the hard way, but I can't.

Perhaps "extreme Calvinist" is acceptable, though I still cringe when I hear it. It can mean different things depending on the context in how it's used. I'm glad and appreciate that you're not calling all five-pointers "extreme."

I would just prefer the use of words such as "unkind" or "ungracious" or "unloving" or "forceful" that actually address the fault being referenced. I can't keep from thinking that would be more helpful. Unless of course, an actual heresy such as hypercalvinism is indeed in view.

peter lumpkins

All,

Thanks for the participation and good remarks concerning the interview.

Tim,

You're just jealous you don't have a head of hippie hair like that!

Byron,

I have had this discussion before, Byron. And, indeed it is a very helpful distinction. The term "hyper" is definitively not intrinsic to theological jargon.

In fact, "hyper" is used far more often in contexts consistent with aggression or "hyper" activity than it is with technical terms like "HyperCalvinism".

In addition, when today's Calvinists are "critiqued" popularly by both laymen and preachers as "hyperCalvinists", more times than not, the sense they are talking about is the hyper-aggression, not the theological position known as "HyperCalvinism".

If Calvinists cannot make that distinction or refuse to make it, then communication between Calvinist and NonCalvinist will continue to suffer.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

byroniac

Peter:

With all due respect, the problem is not with us Calvinists.

We have respectfully submitted that the use of such a term does not fit historical accuracy, and as I have attempted to point out, lacks precision in identifying the error(s) being addressed. The problem stems from insistently using this term inaccurately and inconsistently, which is in fact a violation of proper distinction. It has been previously defined in scholarly context with specific theological meanings, and redefining the term to suit personal tastes is simply unhelpful. Why not just say what you mean with the proper descriptive words?

If you continue to use this term, do not be surprised if other Calvinists at best politely ask you for clarification, or worse, view the use of such as pejorative or poisoning the well, which I do not take you at all to mean.

You are technically correct in your use of the "hyper" with a lowercase "h" as far as I can tell, but I still advise you not to use the term. Technical accuracy alone does not excuse the use of every dictionary word. For example, try haphazardly tossing out the word "niggardly" in public, and see how well that goes. With certain persons, it will not go well at all most likely.

I reluctantly accept Danny Akin's "extreme calvinists" with reservations. But I cannot accept hypercalvinist, no matter how well intentioned. Unless of course, you are referencing someone who is actually guilty of such.

volfan007

peter,

are you short? or, is dr. cox really tall?

david

byroniac

Peter:

I confess to being touchy about the use of such a term, which is also unnecessary and unhelpful. But I do not think I am being unreasonable in my main points that the use of the term "hypercalvinist" is unnecessary and counter-productive. If you wish to use the term, then of course no one can stop you. The choice to use it is yours, as are any potential consequences that might ensue. You do have a valid point in your critique of some elements in the pro-Calvinism movement in the SBC. And it is a point that Calvinists such as myself would do well to consider and react accordingly.

Joe Donahue

Peter,

Congratulations on a great interview. May your wildest dreams come true.

Joe

peter lumpkins

Joe,

Thanks...

David,

Short? I'm not short. Dr. Cox was standing on a box...

Byron,

Thank you for the words and your fine display as Christian gentleman. I only hope more of us learn our way through the hazardous path of provocative dialog as have you. Grace on us all.

Actually, I do not employ either term that much. My concern is Calvinists who refuse to note that, more times than not, when Baptists on a popular level--that is, out of halls of academia--offer criticisms toward modern Calvinists, describing them as 'hyper', they haven't a scintilla of intent in associating them with Brine, Skepp or possibly Gill's denial of the gospel to all or whether all have a duty to repent.

Rather, they are referring to the 'hyper' activity of Calvinists, in their view, ramrodding beliefs over their Churches, trying to make them into Calvinists. In that sense, they are employing "hypercalvinism" in a non-technical, informal nuance rather than a technical, formal sense.

Suppose, in conversation, the Calvinist objects to the NonCalvinist's portrayal of Calvinists as HyperCalvinists, that he accuses the NonCalvinist of theological ignorance, that he informs the NonCalvinist that if he knew history, he would not associate them with HyperCalvinism, and that unless the NonCalvinist can produce the evidence that somehow links modern Baptist Calvinists with denying the Gospel to all and that all possess a duty to repent and believe, that he should stop slandering them with something they do not believe.

Interestingly, what the Calvinist has just done is textbook "strawman" composition. For the NonCalvinist was not associating the modern Baptist Calvinist with historic HyperCalvinism at all. Rather, if the Calvinist had listened to the NonCalvinist's description of "hyperCalvinism", he would have understood that the NonCalvinist's concern was not the aberrant belief of the Calvinist per se; rather, the concern expressed was the aggressive behavior of the Calvinist.

For me, it is not about inventing a new term, defending the wrong use of a term, and certainly not "redefining" a term, though redefinition it not an illegitimate practice.

Rather it is about acknowledging the actual widespread use of a term that is not, when used in a nontechnical, informal manner, wrong at all.

More alarming for me, Byron, is that no matter the descriptor placed on the particular Calvinists that the NonCalvinist wish to critique, it will not work--from the Calvinists' perspective. Above, you yourself "reluctantly" concede "extreme Calvinists" as a viable term. Others would outright reject it. I was broadsided by one Calvinist here who objected to my use of "strong" Calvinist. The fact is, some want no descriptor at all. The problem is, to make such a broad category creates more communication barriers than it solves.

The first key in communication between two people is understanding how each other is using the terms he/she is using and proceed thusly. If this key remains unused, the dialog will deteriorate to fussing over words, not getting to the issues that divide.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

byroniac

Peter:

"The first key in communication between two people is understanding how each other is using the terms he/she is using and proceed thusly."

Point taken. And thank you for the excellent explanation. I'm not nearly as well read as you are, I admit.

However, my essential problems remain.

I have no problem acknowledging that the majority of its use in the SBC is in the non-technical, informal sense.

I also have no problem acknowledging that the term is often if not always used in the SBC to describe aggressive behavior on the part of certain Calvinists.

For me, the crux of the matter boils down to intent. What communication is intended by its use? And what is the motivation for it when the problem(s) can be described more accurately in other ways?

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I believe the origin of usage of this phrase in SBC life arose mainly out of theological ignorance. Most Baptists that I've met haven't a clue what Calvinism really is, or how it differs with hypercalvinism. Those that do, tend to use the term "HyperCalvinist" in its historical context with its original implications, not in the non-technical, informal sense you describe. And I cannot help but believe that if all those who use the term "hypercalvinist" in the informal sense (carelessly in my view, at best) knew the historical background behind it, the term would never have appeared in the contemporary context we now see it. I do not subscribe to the idea that this term should reflect popular usage merely because the majority of the SBC use it in this informal way.

And when someone knowingly continues to use this term despite knowledge of its historical definition, is it wrong to hold them accountable for any confusion or false accusations that might arise from it? I think not. If someone is scholarly enough to at least be aware of the theological definitions of the terms, and their contemporary misuse and intentional negative stereotyping, they would avoid the informal use of such a term even in their private conversations in the interests of fairness and objectivity. In short, it is because of the widespread ignorance and sometimes intentional abuse of the term that I feel makes Calvinist justified in criticizing it.

This is simple. If you truly want to avoid a communications breakdown, avoid using this term except in its proper historical context. Please.

I do not feel that this is too much to ask, and I'm sure many others feel the same way.

And one more thing. It is for the exact reasons of imprecision and abuse that descriptors in general cause communications to suffer between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. If there's one thing I wish non-Calvinists would do, is resist the initial urge to automatically label before the conversation even gets going sufficiently for the basic positions and concepts to be understood. Descriptors are supposed to reflect adequate understanding and concise identification of the what is being referenced, but too often they merely serve (in my experience) as stereotypes and "scarlet letters" which automatically put any desired conversation at a disadvantage, with one party already put on the defensive before any understanding has taken place. Basically a good hint is, when it takes a paragraph to explain your descriptor, best thing to do is just skip the descriptor and go straight to the paragraph.

William Marshall

Bro. Pete,

Would you say that the real problem with 'hypercalvinists' in the SBC (as you have defined them) has less to do with their theology per se and more to do with their attitudes and practice?

Enjoyed the interview,

wm

peterlumpkins

Byron,

I do not desire to stay here long. I'm hoping that others will perhaps raise some issues within the conversation/interview itself. That said, I'll dance another tune.

You wrote, Byron,

"I have no problem acknowledging that the majority of its use in the SBC is in the non-technical, informal sense...[nor] acknowledging that the term is often if not always used in the SBC to describe aggressive behavior on the part of certain Calvinists
.

How the above squares with your later entry, blew right past me:

"Most Baptists that I've met haven't a clue what Calvinism really is, or how it differs with hypercalvinism. Those that do, tend to use the term "HyperCalvinist" in its historical context with its original implications, not in the non-technical, informal sense you describe."

In the first quote you seem to concede precisely how I'm describing non-formal "hypercalvinism" here only to take it back in the second quote.

Unless, Byron, you can show that "hyper" (Greek huper, ‘over, beyond’) is a totally inappropriate term to employ when speaking of some Calvinists' behavior, not their belief, your point is moot. You can complain, charge others with misuse, etc. but it will not register. For, in their mind, they're simply saying that "hyper" Calvinists--whatever their theological beliefs--are overly jealous in their attempt to proselytize others to Calvinism. That is, they are acting in a "hyper" kind of way.

Continue to sing the song about a precise theological nuance known in technical, historical theology as "Hypercalvinism" and not recognize that many unstudied folk are unaware of that particular technicality but from experience are merely speaking about behavior more than belief. I'm alright with that.

What I cannot expect others to accept is me demanding that they stop employing words but in only one sense alone--the sense I recognize, the sense acceptable to me and nothing more.

Now if I refuse to employ a word in my communication in a less than "orthodox" way, that's o.k. I can do so. But if I do not recognize that others are not bound to my single nuance, communication is lost. The only thing I'll get is frustration in attempting to dialog.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

peter

William,

Sorry to not get back sooner. Yes I think most of the difficulties within the SBC with Calvinism is due to Calvinists themselves. I realize I'm leaving myself as an open target here.

But going back all the way in starting this Blog, one of the main reasons--perhaps even the chief one--was I sensed a much too vigorous insistence coming from many Founders Calvinists that the faith once for all given to the saints for which Jude insisted we must contend was not the gospel per se. Rather it was 5 Point Calvinism. Some of the conversations about a year and a half ago I had with Founders' Calvinists bear it out.

Now, once I suggest it is more aggressive behavior of many Calvinists that is broadly labeled "hyper" calvinism in the SBC at large than theological belief, it would be less than honest to suggest I possess no reservations about 5P Calvinism as a theological system. I most certainly do.

All I am attributing to the little "h"yper at this time, however, is that most in popular circles only mean hyper as in "hyper" aggressive proselytizing to Calvinism.

Grace, William. Always an honor to have you log on.

With that, I am...

Peter

byroniac

Peter:

OK. Here's what I've discovered so far.

You will (possibly) continue to use the term "h"ypercalvinist.

I will continue to reject it.

I've stated my reasons why.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why this issue should be settled on the basis of the lowest common denominator of popular usage completely divorced from historical context. That continues to escape me. I assumed (always a bad thing to do, apparently) that if one were using a word incorrectly, one should both accept and appreciate correction offered in the form of constructive criticism, not resort to the "everybody does it" defense. That would never work for me in any of my classes I took.

Why insist on using a term which is emotionally loaded, useless for the purposes of enhancing dialog, and rejected by many of those it references on far superior grounds than the reasons employing its use?

Peter, you are intelligent, an excellent writer, and you are held accountable for your words. Having said that, I appreciate you and the content you write very much. I hope someday to get to meet you, not to argue, but to share as brothers in the Lord.

William Marshall

Bro. Pete,

Thanks for the response. I think it is important to distinguish between people's theological system and their actions and attitudes. Of course in a perfect world, our actions and attitudes would always follow our convictions, but that is not the world in which we live. Thus I realize that calvinists have been over zealous at times and need to be corrected. With Byroniac, I have been guilty here as well.

It would be helpful if our leaders(especially our president) could lead the way in understanding the distinction between a person's action and a person's theology. Granted, this is not a primary concern of the president, but it could be helpful in encouraging dialog between calvinists and noncalvinists. I am not certain that using the term 'hypercalvinist' is helpful in this regard. It seems to only make the discussion more difficult (as Byroniac has argued).

Anyway, if Dr. Cox is elected, I pray he will help the convention in this regard. For what its worth (and probably not that much), it seems that the real issue in the SBC is not calvinism, or alcohol, or private prayer languages. Rather, the real issue is learning how to be unified around the essentials, while lovingly disagreeing on secondary matters. I think this could greatly benefit the continuing discussions in the SBC and I hope the next president will help us here.

Thanks again for the interview and response.

wm

byroniac

Also, Peter, if the Greek means "over, beyond" and the object modified is "Calvinism" which is a system of beliefs, then those you are defining as "hyper-Calvinists" are not guilty, technically. That's another reservation I have with the use of the term. Perhaps I'm splitting hairs here, though.

byroniac

Peter:

That people are using the term in the way you mention I do indeed acknowledge, as in my first quote, without excusing or endorsing it, or retracting my previous acknowledgment.

byroniac

However, the fault is mine for not capitalizing "Hyper-Calvinism" properly and reducing any potential confusion.

peter lumpkins

Byron,

Thanks for your second, third and fourth response :^) If I wanted you to suffer and had the power to enforce it, I'd make you go through the over two hundred posts here, not to mention the few thousand comments I've written at SBCT alone, and count the times I've even employed the term hyperCalvinism in any form. My confidence is, this one thread constitutes at least 8 of 10 times I've ever used it.

The interesting thing is, after the conversation I had with Dr. Cox was over and I was packing up my stuff, he asked how I thought the dialog we had went. The one thing I mentioned to him that I thought would raise some questions would be his terminology about "hyper" Calvinists. I said "Even though I think you certainly made the context clear in the way you were using the term (as a hyper-aggressive attitude and behavior) there is a tendency on behalf of Calvinists to look right past that and talk about the theological HyperCalvinism of Brine and Gill."

In the end, I am not arguing for the term. Rather, I am denying anyone the final right to proclaim only one possible legitimate use of a term. That is not to say every word in a particular language is rubbery enough to make it into anything one wishes it to be. If so, no communication would be possible.

Nonetheless, usage of a word must be considered. This is exegesis 101, Byron. You know this. How many times have I heard my Calvinist brothers say "'All' does not mean 'all' in 'all' contexts?"

Nor do I find it uninteresting that, were the language rule you continue to demand about "hyper"Calvinism, the rule forced on the Apostle John, that the Logos doctrine of John 1 would be nothing but Alexandrian philosophy.

Why? Because, given your rule of language usage, John could not employ "Logos" in any other sense than it was actually employed; and surely he could not legitimately "coin" an entirely new way of using the term "Logos". That would be going against the only, possible definition or usage of the term, of course.

Context, gentlemen, must ever be sought to see precisely how a term is used. As I said, to simply deny another's use because you don't care for the use or you disagree with the way the term is used will only get you talking about words themselves, not the ideas the words represent. In short, you'll be constantly arguing about nothing, really.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

Byroniac

Peter:

I assure you that will not be necessary. My personal opinion continues that if you have used the term at all outside of its historical context, then you have used it too much. Tracking how many times this occurs is a statistic that I do not record and am not interested in.

Let's not broaden the scope to encompass the entire English language, or bring in Biblical hermeneutics or the inspiration of the Scriptures. My focus has been and remains on the term under discussion. My position requires no more than this.

I also do not deny that many words and/or definitions have come into our language by way of popular usage. Whether they should or not in each case is a different story. Perhaps we are in the process of my opinion being overruled by the wishes of the majority and eventually the definition of HyperCalvinism will come to embrace this additional concept. But it has not, yet. And I still protest this from becoming so.

Instead of rehashing everything I have written, which you have not answered satisfactorily, I'll only reiterate that the words "Calvinism" and "HyperCalvinism" are in reference to belief systems and not patterns of behavior, and even the Greek you cited as best as I can tell does not challenge this idea. So those who continue to use this term, do so incorrectly in my view, for whatever reason.

So, Peter, use the term if you must. I bear you no ill will, nor do I wish to be disrespectful to you. And the conversation need not stop or bog down at that point. But since the term adds no value to whatever discussion is at hand, it can be happily (or otherwise) ignored at that point.

Grace to you as well.
Byron.

Byroniac

Peter:

I meant to qualify that as, "...since the term [outside its historical context] adds no value..."

I'm not surprised that you have ever used the term, or use it according to your own definition of it.

What surprises me is that so few have protested it in the incorrect forms, but perhaps this is not worth the effort I have expended in this matter.

peterlumpkins

Byron,

To ignore the word, Byron, you surely have expended an unusual amount of cyber ink to talk of it.

And, know whether or not my answers were satisfactorily offered, I'll let others judge. Know, also, Byron, that suggesting I wanted to "broaden the scope to encompass the entire English language" stands a bit skewed, does it not? If you can produce evidence for that, I'd be very much willing to hear it.

What I do plead guilty to is mentioning John's baptizing "Logos", a highly charged, philosophically loaded term into Christian Revelation. Given your premise on how terms--technical terms--are not to be used, except in their original, historical way ("hyper" Calvinism, for example) the only thing I can think of which counts against me inquiring about how it fits your forged view is, from your perspective, you feel it doesn't count. I'm unsure about how that's supposed to rule it out, however.

In a nutshell, Byron, I have only one thought that's been at work in this entire exchange and it's very simple:

I am denying anyone the final right to proclaim only one possible legitimate use of a term in any living language.

That's it. That's all I'm saying.

On the other hand, it seems you are arguing that that is not at all the case--at least, it's not the case with HyperCalvinism. Indeed, however well other words may be legitimately employed in various contexts, "Hyper"Calvinism cannot.

For me, that is the simple crux of this entire exchange. I leave it to the readers to decide.

With that, I am...

Peter

Byroniac

Peter:

OK. Unless you qualify the scope of your simple idea, please refrain from teaching, consulting dictionaries and encyclopedias, and interpreting legal documents. Otherwise, you will be inconsistent at best. It is also best to not subscribe to verbal authority of any kind.

I too, have a simple idea of my own throughout this entire exchange. And that is, what is the motivation and intended purpose behind the incorrect usage of a term when accurate definitions and explanations for its employment exist? Perhaps this will never be answered here to my satisfaction.

Yes, let the readers decide.

Timotheos

What Peter is trying to say, Byroniac, is simply that it all depends on how "hyper" is hyper - sorta like this:

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the--if he--if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."

There, now - doesn't that help? ;^O

Of course, I'm just funnin'...

peterlumpkins

Dear Timotheos,

Ya'll are so funny. And I was trying to have a legitimate conversation. No wait! "Legitimate" is a legal term. I cannot use that.

I was trying to have a solid conversation. Dad gum it! "Solid" is a scientific term of Physics. Nope, it's out.

I was attempting to have a healthy conversation. Is "healthy" necessarily a medical term? Better not.

I was trying to have a dynamite conversation. No! Can't use "dynamite"!

I was trying to have a passionate conversation. Uh, Oh. I can't use "passionate" because the primary meaning, according to Cambridge dictionary is, "very powerful feeling...of sexual attraction".

I give up...I quit. You guys definitely win.

With that, I am...

Peter

Timotheos

Sorry, Peter - sometimes I think I'm so funny. It's pathetic, ain't it?

Peace out.

Byroniac

Peter:

I am sorry we could not come to an agreement. And though I still do not agree with you, I must admit you do an excellent job defending your point of view. I did not win the argument, but it was not for lack of effort!

However, the tone in some of my comments was wrong, as I allowed myself to become angry and did not politely disagree with you like I should have. You have responded better than I have in this certainly. And you gave me quite a bit to chew on.

Now if God would just zap you and show you I'm right, or that you're wrong, or both, I would be happy. :)

selahV

Peter: regarding "the likeableness" of Dr. Cox: I felt like I could sit and have a cup of coffee and discuss any issue I wanted with him. He was more than likeable, he was approachable. You need to post a sermon of his.

Let's hear what his flock gets to hear. selahV

Benji Ramsaur

...what I've identified elsewhere "gayPeterism" with a little "g" to distinguish it from GayPeterism with a capital "G"--that aggressively focuses on transforming Churches typically and historically NonCalvinist into "happy" Churches.


Benji Ramsaur

Peter,

Thank you for doing this interview.

I agree that he does have a spirit about him that puts one at ease.

I would assume that he is a good pastor/husband/father.

However, I believe that the next President of the SBC needs to be a responsible man.

I would assume that for the extreme most part, Dr. Cox is a responsible man.

However, in the interview he did not make the "subtle" distinction that you made between capital H HyperCalvinism and small h hypercalvinism [a distinction you seem to assume everyone will pick up on].

Therefore, this seems to be a case of irresponsibility and thus something I hope SB's will take note of in their decision as to who should be the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Grace to you Peter

Benji

P.S. Don't worry about me going around the blogosphere calling you [g]ay Peter. I want to stay as far away from falsely destroying your reputation [and thus possibly bring great pain to your family and church as well] as I can.

Reader

You can go to www.northmetro.net and click "Pastor's Page" or "multimedia" to hear Dr. Cox's sermons.

Strider

Thankyou SelahV! After reading the comment stream I had forgotten who had been interviewed until you mentioned Dr. Cox.

The comments to this entry are closed.