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Tony Byrne

The term "strict" when applied to a Calvinist can mean more than one thing. It may mean one who holds to a closed communion. It may mean someone who, as you say, is a "strong convictional Calvinist."

I had a brief interaction with Dr. Michael Haykin on Facebook and he was inclined to think Andrew Fuller held to a strictly limited atonement his whole life (with some modifications within that trajectory later) because he called himself a "strict Calvinist." I replied by noting that Benjamin Brook, in The Lives of the Puritans (vol. 3, p. 466), calls Thomas Lamb (a known and explicitly moderate Calvinist cited at the end in David Allen's chapter in Whosoever Will) a "strict Calvinist on the disputed points," and Brook showed familiarity with Lamb's work Absolute Freedom from Sin by Christ's Death for the World. The point is, historically, the modifying term "strict" has some flexibility and differences to it, and may reference other things than their atonement opinion. I am not sure if Dr. Haykin grasped my point at the time, but it weakens his claim that Fuller remained a high Calvinist (he certainly was earlier in life) because he called himself a "strict Calvinist."

Anyway, Harris may have other ideas in mind than the atonement, or it may be that he is not nuanced enough in his understanding of the debate, yet. I don't know, as I have no familiarity with either Harris or Jackson.

Anyway, I hope that helps.

Grace to you,

peter lumpkins


It is helpful. One could presume safely, it seems, that "strict" measures at least the quality of Calvinism if not the quantity (as in, how many petals of the TULIP one embraces). Hence, I suppose you could be a "strict" Calvinist in that sense :^)

With that, I am...

Tony Byrne

I agree, Peter, just as Thomas Lamb was by Brook's terminology :-)

A lot of these labels are more fluid than the contemporary church knows. By J. L. Dagg's description (a high Calvinist), I could be called a kind of "particular redemptionist" even though I am content to be called a "universal redemptionist." See Whosoever Will, page 62, footnote #2 for Allen's note on Dagg. One like myself can even be said to believe in W. G. T. Shedd's (a Reformed theologian) "unlimited atonement" while at the same time believing in R. L. Dabney's (another Reformed theologian) "limited atonement," since they're referencing different things by the term "atonement," but they agree with each other theoretically.

The same complication happens with the term "strict," but "strict Calvinist" is historically associated with those who believe in a closed communion, while "particularist" is mostly used for a high Calvinist view of the extent of Christ's death. Who knows what Harris has in mind. My guess is some generic idea of one who is self-consciously and strongly persuaded of the Calvinist system, properly considered.

peter lumpkins

G.W. Northrup proposes in his series of essays entitled "The Sovereignty of God" proposes "Three Calvinistic systems."

1) Supra-lapsarianism (he equates with hyper-Calvinism)
2) Strict Calvinism (he equates with infra-lapsarianism)
3) Moderate Calvinism which he maintains contra the first two.

He divides Moderate Calvinism into two types, both of which differ with Strict Calvinism in two points:

"(1) In affirming that the atonement is not limited, but universal in its design (which involves the question of the order of the decrees) 2) In claiming for man "natural ability" to comply with the conditions of salvation, though admitting his utter "moral inability" to do so. The chief point of difference between the two types of moderate Calvinism is, that the one affirms and the other denies that man is under condemnation antecedent to the age of moral responsibility" (pp.61-64).

Northrup includes in Strict Calvinism "the system of doctrines contained in the early Reformed creeds—especially in the Westminster Standards" and in such works as Turretin, Ridgeley, Cunningham, the Hodges, Shedd and Dabney.

With that, I am...


At the time the nomination was made, one of Jackson's congregants at North Phoenix Baptist Church was none other than James White. White defected to the Reformed Baptist denomination soon thereafter. Here is White's sister's description of the reasons for the family's departure from Jackson's church:

"In 1992 we left the Southern Baptist Church that my family had attended for many years. My brother, James had left two years earlier for a Reformed church. James had shared with our family the virtues of Reformed theology, as he saw them, and Richard and I quickly grew more Calvinist in our views. We found ourselves arguing with other members of our Baptist church about issues like predestination and free will. We came to have a very different perspective on life and evangelism. We also felt we needed to be somewhere where we would be deeper in the Word of God than we were as Southern Baptists."



Interesting that Jackson contributed the Forward to the book Calvinism: A Road to Nowhere (2010):


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