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Joe Aguillard, President of Louisiana College, wrote an article from “The President’s Pen” in mid-January where he said, “My love for all Baptists including Calvinists, does not constitute our approval of its being advocated at Louisiana College.” This prompted a reply from me. Then, Aguillard clarified his comments in an interview with the Louisiana College newspaper. I hope to respond to some of his clarifications here.
In the interview, Aguillard claimed he was not coming against Calvinism in his original article, but Hyper-Calvinism. He says,
If you look at the link in my article you will see that it addresses hyper-Calvinism, and it is extreme. Louisiana College is not and never has been a hyper-Calvinist institution. I don’t believe our board of trustees will ever allow LC to be a hyper-Calvinist institution. That (link) specifically addresses that. Every faculty that I have interviewed including every religious studies professor has affirmed to me that they do not accept the label of Calvinist, every one of them. So that shouldn’t be an issue.
Aguillard is correct that in the link in his original post, Adrian Rogers references Hyper-Calvinism. Aguillard, however, did not say, “Hyper-Calvinism will not be advocated at Louisiana College,” he said, “My love for all Baptists including Calvinists, does not constitute our approval of its being advocated at Louisiana College.” Even in the block quote provided above from his interview, Aguillard uses the term “Hyper-Calvinist” and “Calvinist” interchangeably. I hope Aguillard, Louisiana College, and Louisiana Baptists know that all Calvinists are not Hyper-Calvinists. For example, William Carey and Charles Spurgeon both claimed to be Calvinists, yet they were very evangelistic. Carey is known as “The Father of the Modern Missions Movement” and Spurgeon is known as the great evangelistic ”Prince of Preachers.” There are many, many other Calvinists who could be referenced from Church History as evangelistic examples.
To help readers understand what a Hyper Calvinist is, consider Fred Phelps, the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church. He basically believes that God only loves the elect, and hates everyone else (He may even be a Hyper-Hyper-Calvinist). Hyper Calvinists do not believe the gospel should be offered to all, for it is blasphemous to require more of sinners than God does (duty faith). That’s not the type of Calvinism even John Calvin espoused, for he preached the gospel to all and trained missionaries and sent them to France to share the gospel with all, resulting in the salvation of millions (source). Furthermore, in over 12 years of serving in Southern Baptist churches in the South, I’ve only met one Hyper-Calvinist. He attended my church in Soddy Daisy, TN for one worship service, and left angry that I offered the gospel to everyone. My main question then is this, “Is Hyper-Calvinism such a great problem at Louisiana College that the President of the College has to take a public stand against it?” I have a hard time believing that Hyper-Calvinism is an issue at Louisiana College, for all Calvinists that I know in the Southern Baptist convention, including Al Mohler, the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Arguably the most popular 5-point Calvinist in the SBC), reject Hyper-Calvinism. Mohler believes Hyper-Calvinism is heresy. Consider these words he shared at the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006:
My purpose here is not to defend Calvinism, but as one who is appropriately called a Calvinist if you are looking for a place to place me in that scheme, I want to be very clear as I always am clear about my conviction. I am here also to tell you that there are dangers in any theological system. I believe in all five points of Calvinism, but I want to tell you that there is a heresy called Hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism denies the well-meant offer of the Gospel. That is to say the key issue is, can we, must we, do we share the Gospel with all persons, believing that if they profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ they will be saved? Yes we must. Anything less than that is not only ineffective, it is disobedient and it is heretical. Now Hyper-Calvinism is s small movement by definition. They do not reproduce very well, but where they are found they are to be defined as heretics (pg. 3-4; source).
One must wonder if Aguillard and Louisiana Baptists understand the difference between a 5-point Calvinist and a Hyper-Calvinist. I’m not a Hyper-Calvinist or even a 5-point Calvinist, but I know that a 5-point Calvinist is not necessarily a Hyper-Calvinist. Hyper-Calvinists violate the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and 5-point Calvinists do not. As evidenced by Al Mohler’s comment above, 5-point Calvinism is not Hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism is heresy; 5-point Calvinism is not. These two forms of Calvinism are not the same thing.
In conclusion, I have several questions for President Aguillard and Louisiana Southern Baptists: “Do you believe all 5-point Calvinists are Hyper-Calvinists?” If so, what do you do with the numerous evangelistic 5-point Calvinists in Church History and the numerous evangelistic 5-point Calvinist Southern Baptists in the SBC today (who offer the gospel to all)? Also, how does labeling all Southern Baptist 5-point Calvinists “Hyper-Calvinists” possibly encourage unity in the SBC? There is room for 5-point Calvinists in the SBC, and I hope there is room for 5-point Calvinists at Louisiana College.
On the other hand, if Aguillard and Louisiana Baptists are only coming against Hyper-Calvinists and not all 5-point Calvinists, I and every other Calvinistic Southern Baptist I know stand with you. Hyper-Calvinism is heresy and must be rejected. Hyper-Calvinists should not be allowed to teach at or serve at SBC entities. Amen!
*If you choose to comment on this article, please be kind. I don’t agree with President Aguillard, but he is still my brother in Christ. Let’s treat him like our brother and one another like brothers (and sisters) as well.