It saddens me to have to write a post like this but I feel it’s necessary to defend the position of Calvinism vs. Hyper Calvinism. Unfortunately, most people think of Hyper Calvinism when they hear the word “Calvinist or Calvinism”.
In a nutshell I should define the terms before proceeding.
Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. Calvinists affirm the five points of Calvinism which can be summarized by the acronym TULIP. T stands for total depravity, U for unconditional election, L for limited atonement, I for irresistible grace, and P for perseverance of the saints.
Hyper Calvinism: Curt Daniel defines Hyper Calvinism as “that school of supralapsarian Five Point Calvinism which so stresses the sovereignty of God by overemphasizing the secret [will of God] over the revealed will [of God] and eternity over time, that it minimizes the responsibility of Man, notably with respect to the denial of the word ‘offer’ in relation to the preaching of the Gospel of a finished and limited atonement, thus undermining the universal duty of sinners to believe savingly with assurance that the Lord Jesus Christ died for them.” Daniel goes on to suggest that the real difference between “High” and “Hyper-” Calvinism is the word “offer”.
“The charges leveled against Reformed theology, of which hyper-Calvinism is actually guilty, received a definitive response at the international Synod of Dort (1618–1619), along with the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms.” (Reformed Theology vs Hyper Calvinism by Michael Horton)
In layman’s terms, a Hyper Calvinist believes that it doesn’t matter what we do, that there is no free will (compatible or otherwise). They believe that our very thoughts and actions are entirely predetermined and there is no emphasis on grace from person to person. A Hyper Calvinist believes that God is the author of sin, that the Gospel and grace is not for everyone and that election is a license to sin (antinomianism/carnal Christian).
These are incredibly misleading and dangerous to believe, as Hyper Calvinism is recognized heresy among those in the Reformed community. When we dispel what Calvinism is not, we can begin to learn and understand what Calvinism truly is. What is important to know is that Calvinism has a rich history and those who affirm it’s theology have made great strides in the discipleship of Christians everywhere. It would be utterly foolish to dismiss the great works and momentum Reformed theology has provided to what we understand regarding the scriptures and the history of the church.