I was annoyed by a blog post at a political blog called Political Pistachio written by Douglas Gibbs. He contends that Westboro Baptists are Calvinists. He writes:
They call themselves "Westboro Baptists," but these freaks are hardly anything remotely close to "Baptists." Phelps, and gang, are Calvinists. And they are so vile, that most Christian groups oppose Westboro’s theology and practice, believing it to be incompatible with traditional Christian teachings.
While if I were a Baptist I would not want to associate myself with that group either, and I agree that they are not Baptist. I also agree that what they teach is incompatible with Christian orthodoxy.
What they teach is not Calvinism.
Even if they claim they are Calvinists:
We adhere to the teachings of the Bible, preach against all form of sin (e.g., fornication, adultery [including divorce and remarriage], sodomy), and insist that the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace be taught and expounded publicly to all men. These doctrines of grace were well summed up by John Calvin in his 5 points of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. Although these doctrines are almost universally hated today, they were once loved and believed. Even though the Arminian lies that "God loves everyone" and "Jesus died for everyone" are being taught from nearly every pulpit in this generation, this hasn’t always been the case. If you are in a church that supposedly believes the Bible, and you are hearing these lies, then your church doesn’t teach what the Bible teaches. If you care about your never-dying soul, you will carefully read every word of this web site, along with the entire Bible.
I find it interesting that they do not offer any exposition of what they understand to be Calvinism, they had a link, but it was dead. Looking at their website, what they teach, and how they conduct themselves it is quite obvious they don’t understand Calvinism or the Bible… or grace for that matter.
What this church embraces is not the historical position of the doctrines of grace (the five points of Calvinism), but rather hyper-calvinism which Phil Johnson defines:
A fivefold definition: The definition I am proposing outlines five varieties of hyper-Calvinism, listed here in a declining order, from the worst kind to a less extreme variety (which some might prefer to class as "ultra-high Calvinism"):
A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:
- Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR
- Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
- Denies that the gospel makes any "offer" of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR
- Denies that there is such a thing as "common grace," OR
- Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.
All five varieties of hyper-Calvinism undermine evangelism or twist the gospel message.
This is error and contrary to what the Bible teaches and what Calvinists such as: Jonathan Edwards, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (a Baptist), William Carey (a Baptist), David Brainard, R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler (a Baptist), John Piper (a Baptist), and many others teach. Theopedia offers a good contrast:
Historic Calvinists regard repentance and faith as the means by which the great commandment to love God and love our neighbor finds fulfillment. This duty to love God and neighbor existed before the fall and Adam certainly enjoyed the ability to do so. Man’s love of God is therefore still obligatory, and the means through which it is to be realized, namely repentance and faith, are likewise obligatory. Man owes God his love and trust by the very fact that he is God’s rational creature. Adam had the ability to love and trust God before the Fall. Man is still responsible to love and trust God even though, because of the Fall and while in an unregenerate state, he has lost the moral ability to do so. Therefore, contrary to hyper-Calvinism, fallen man is indeed duty-bound to repent and believe in Christ for salvation.
So Douglas, instead of lumping this group in with Calvinists try doing a little research first. He also needs to recognize there are many Baptists who consider themselves Calvinists as well – the terms are not mutually exclusive. I would call them a cult before I would call them “Calvinists.” They may self-identify as Calvinists, but it isn’t what they really believe isn’t what John Calvin and others who came after him taught.
Historical Calvinism is the bedrock of traditional Christian teaching unless you reject the teachings from the Reformation.