Friday, September 23, 2011

Book Review: Predestined for Hell?

Biblical answers to questions about Hyper-Calvinism, Predestination and Election; The Theory of Calvinism exposed as a heresy.
By John R. Rice, 1958
Sword of the Lord Publishers
103 pages

My brother Kevin introduced me to this book. It sparked my interest, in part because I am fascinated by how quickly the so called, Young, Restless, and Reformed group is sweeping this country, and in part because I believe that the Calvinist/Arminian controversy has caused much confusion for many believers. I'm always looking for more clarity on the whole thing.

Let me first say that Rice does a great job explaining what he means by Calvinism. If the first two chapters dedicated to explaining what Calvinism is were published, it would make a tremendous little booklet. The term Calvinism is very muddied today. By it, some mean that they believe in salvation by grace alone and the believer is eternally secure. To that I give a hearty amen. But, by the word Calvinism, some mean that they believe in total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. And they believe these things to the most extreme that the terms can mean. This extreme, hyper-Calvinism is what Rice focuses on in this book.

Rice spends some time discussing the fact that Hyper-Calvinism uses terms that are non-, even anti-Biblical. The terms unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace are not used together in Scripture. Rice points out that the words grace and atonement are used to describe doctrines that are anything but irresistible and limited. Just as a quick reference-check: Titus 2:11 - "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men," and Hebrews 10:10 - "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

I appreciated Rice's commentary on chapter 9 of Romans. Rice goes a long way toward bringing some clarity to an oft-muddied pool. Rice points to the fact that Romans 9:10-18 does not speak of salvation, but rather, it speaks of Jacob being chosen over Esau to be the head of the nation of Israel and of Pharaoh being raised up to show God's power through him that God's name may be declared in all the earth. Hyper-Calvinism has done much to cloud the meaning of these verses.

I also enjoyed and felt that Rice's chapter on biblical predestination was, in my estimation, the strongest chapter in the book. In short, Rice delves into election and predestination being valid Bible doctrines that speak of believers. This quote from Spurgeon helps us understand what Rice is getting at: "the doctrine of election shuts no one out, though it shuts a great many in."

Not one person has ever been specifically created by God for the purpose of destroying them in Hell. Indeed, God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b). The sort of god that Hyper-Calvinism believes in is not the God of the Bible, and is exactly the reason that some unbelievers look at Christianity and exclaim, "Who would want to believe in a torturous, murdering God like that?!"

If you can get your hands on a copy of this little book, it will be well worth your while. Rice will at least help bring you some clarity in defining what Hyper-Calvinism is. And at the most, Rice will help you see the truth of Scripture, namely, that God is a loving, all-good God who has extended the gift of His grace to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." -Titus 2:12

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