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The HyperCalvinism of the The Gospel Standard Articles

May 2, 2007

The Gospel Standard Articles.

XXIV We believe that the invitations of the Gospel, being spirit and life, are intended only for those who have been made by the blessed Spirit to feel their lost state as sinners and their need of Christ as their Saviour, and to repent of and forsake their sins. (Isa. 55:1, John 7:37, Prov. 28:13, Matt. 11:28-30, John 6:37.)

XXVI We deny duty faith and duty repentance – these terms signifying that it is every man’s duty spiritually and savingly to repent and believe (Gen. 6:5, Gen 8:21, Matt. 15:19, Jer. 17:9, John 6:44, John 6:65.) We deny also that there is any capability in man by nature to any spiritual good whatever. So that we reject the doctrine that men in a state of nature should be exhorted to believe in or turn to God of themselves. (John 12:39-40, Eph. 2:8, Rom. 8:7-8, 1 Cor. 4:7.)

XXIX While we believe that the gospel is to be preached in or proclaimed to all the world, as in Mark 16:15, we deny offers of grace; that is to say, that the gospel is to be offered indiscriminately to all. (2 Cor. 4:3-4.)

XXXIII Therefore, that for ministers in the present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them savingly to repent, believe, and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Ghost, is, on the one hand, to imply creature power, and, on the other, to deny the doctrine of special redemption.

XXXIV We believe that any such expressions as convey to the hearers the belief that they possess a certain power to flee to the Saviour, to close in with Christ, to receive Christ, while in an unregenerate state, so that unless they do thus close with Christ, etc., they shall perish, are untrue, and must, therefore, be rejected. And we further believe that we have no Scripture warrant to take the exhortations in the Old Testament intended for the Jews in national covenant with God, and apply them in a spiritual and saving sense to unregenerated men.

You can find all these articles here. And for what they are worth, you can also check out Wikipedia and Theopidia which both lists the articles as a source document for hypercalvinism.

The Gospel Standard Articles were original drafted in the 19thC by one branch of the Strict and Particular Baptists. This group actually still survives in England today. Their leading publication is the magazine Peace and Truth. Back in the ‘90s I had some correspondence with the editor of this magazine (even was a subscriber for a while) and with a one pastor who was part of this group. We had some phone conversations, letters, and it was all friendly.

What is interesting is that this denomination–if I can call it that, as I am not sure they would even like that term–claims its history from John Gill. For them, Gill is one of their ‘fathers’. Thus it always intrigues me when others, like American Reformed Baptists, try to exonerate Gill. I have stressed American, for most of the Reformed Baptists in the UK with whom I used to interact with, were clear on identifying Gill as a hypercalvinist. Many UK Reformed Baptists have had first hand experience with the debilitating effects of hypercalvinism. You will also find here Pink’s encounter with this group and their theology. Early Pink was actually a hypercalvinist. But slowly as he worked through the issues he came out of hypercalvinism.

So back to the articles. I want to draw the reader’s attention to the these key themes:

1) The invitations are only for those who feel their spiritual lostness. This is the classic hypercalvinist abuse of the sensible sinner idea.

2) It is not the duty of any sinner to savingly repent.

3) The gospel is preached to all.

4) There are no offers of grace.

Now, given what I have already posted directly from John Gill, what credible person could turn around and tell me, “No, no, David, Gill was not a hypercalvinist.” We have the quintessential statements from a recognised hypercalvinist denomination, and line by line these articles are identical with Gill’s theology. What is more, this group will even claim its historical identity right out of Gill.

And, to close one point. The Gospel Standard Articles clearly affirmed that the gospel is preached to all. Thus the attempts by so many–who have an agendum to relieve themselves of the charge of being hypercalvinists–that hypercalvinism denies the preaching of the gospel or evangelism is a strawman.

To sum up then, so far we have seen this. We have seen from the very founder of hypercalvinism, Joseph Hussey, to John Gill, down to the 19thC Gospel Standard Gospel Articles, a set of distinct “doctrines” or themes reaffirmed over and over again, in almost identical expressions. When one considers this, (I mean consider with honesty), it is more than apparent that there are objective criteria by which we can judge what is and is not hypercalvinism. The oft heard counter-claim that hypercalvinism cannot be defined, or its anyone more high in their Calvinism than you, is fairly specious at its very core.

What I hope to do next is post some more from Styles, a leading Baptist hypercalvinist from the 19thC, and work through some more of Nettles’ lopsided analysis of Gill and to present more of Gill himself.

Comments, challenges welcome.

David

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2014 10:23 am

    Would you care to read my books on the subject? Put David H J Gay into Amazon or Kindle and you will see several titles bearing on the subject.

    David

  2. January 6, 2014 10:57 am

    Hey David,

    Ive read 2 of you books, one carefully, the other perused.

    I even sent you an email a few years ago inviting you to discuss some of this with me. I never heard from you, which I just assumed either time, circumstance or spam filters were against me.

    The site you accessed is my sort of backup site which is an archive for my main C&C site and for the now defunct Theologyonline site. I am working on reposting some of the better items from theologyonline to the C&C site.

    My main website is here: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/

    Check out the tabs at the top of each public page, especially the main index tab: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

    I am a classic-moderate Calvinist of the Davenantian sort. I am more than willing to chat with you about the extent of the satisfaction and the reasons for limited satisfaction.

    Anyway, have a read at some of my research. If you then wish to talk further, I would be delighted.

    Thanks and take care,
    David

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