George Bryson Responds to Calvinism and Endued Blogger Matthew Masiewicz

Posted: January 15, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Calvinism, Debates
Tags: , ,

You never know what will occur in the blogosphere. It is definitely encouraging when someone reads the blog and takes the time to offer some comments. Author George Bryosn responded to Matt’s blog, “4 Reasons Why I Dislike Hyper-Calvinism More than Arminianism“. Mr. Bryson has authored a couple books, that he mentions in his comments, on Calvinism from an Arminian perspective. I personally recall reading his “5 Points of Calvinism” booklet in my Calvary Chapel days and soon realized that  Calvary Chapel wasn’t as neutral as they claimed to be when my Calvinism would not suit my desires to pursue ministry in Calvary Chapel while I was attending Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa School of Ministry and interned at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I still wonder why they had us read Spurgeon, Bunyan, Lloyd-Jones, MacArthur, brought in Allistair Begg for a conference, if we students weren’t allowed to have any of their “Calvinistic” doctrine . Enough autobiography, here are Mr. Bryson’s kind feedback:

Dear Matthew

I appreciate the respectful tone in which you point out the differences between hyper-Calvinism and what some have referred to as hypo-Calvinism. This approach has shown to be more effective in generating light and less likely to produce heat. If you read either one of my books-The Five Points of Calvinism-Weighed and Found Wanting and The Dark Side of Calvinism you should have noticed that I do not confuse the two but clearly differentiate between them. Some mainstream Calvinists have chosen to use the views of the more extreme Calvinists to duck questions about what Calvin taught and historic and mainstream Calvinism teaches explicitly or implicitly. There is a reason Doug Wilson says that my representation of Calvinism is both fair and accurate. It is fair and accurate. The main reason that so many Calvinists take offense at my books (once they have read them) is that I have this nasty habit of quoting mainstream Calvinists and Calvin himself at length-to insure context. When I ask a Calvinist to point what it is I say that Sproul, Piper, MacArthur, White, Packer, Boice (etc) say that they do not agree with or that they do not agree that they said it, I am usually met with a blank stare. If you do not agree with what I say Calvinism teaches you do not agree with Calvinism. Both books are on line and free. Have a great day. In Christ, George

I’m sure Matt will have some sort of response. Stay tuned.

  1. george bryson says:

    Dear Rick

    For the sake of discussion that will allow me to make a point, let us say that Rick Hogaboam the Mormon or Rick Hogaboam the New Ager or Rick Hogaboam (fill in the blank) how would you respond? I am going to assume that you are not a polygamist and would protest if I said you were? Now on the Interenet it is easy to say something like this.

    Now I am not offended when someone says that I am an Arminian or that I hold to Arminian views on the doctrine of salvation. It would, however be dishonest of me to say that I do. It is also wrong of you to say that I am. I realize that you are probably doing this in ignorance-not knowing the difference between my views and those of Evangelical Arminians (i.e., folks that I have a lot of respect for).

    I realize that you have probably bought into the silly error that says that Evangelicals are either Arminians or Calvinists. If however, you believe you know enough about such matters to make comments such as this in a forum like this, you need to get your facts straight. If not, you have no reason to expect that you will not be identified with some view you do not agree with.

    I believe some things (many things) that both Arminians and Calvinists believe. However, when it comes to the distinctive views that distinguish them as Arminians and Calvinists, I do not. However, if you have read my book or the books of many others of my theological persuasion you will see what I believe what I believe versus what they believe .

    I do not think you would like it if you became known as Rick Hogaboam the7th Day Adventist. Maybe I am wrong a and you do not care if you are identified with whatever it is a detractor decides to call you. Before anyone accuses me of calling you what I am not calling you, I am only making an important point.

    If you desire that those who disagree with you not call you something you are not, then return the courtesy. It is not more complicated that this Otherwise, who knows, you may get the nick name of Rick Hogaboam the tritheist instead of something like Rick Hogaboam the trinitarian.

    Here is what you said that should be corrected:

    Mr. Bryson has authored a couple books, that he mentions in his comments, on Calvinism from an Arminian perspective.

    Finally Rick-I will not say you are writing on this blog from “antinomian perspective” if you do not say I am writing from an “Arminian perspective”. Have a great day

    • Mr. Bryson,

      You assume a whole lot more about me than I did about you. Perplexed by the irony of it. I simply said that you argue against Calvinism from an Arminian perspective. I realize there are gradations and nuances within both camps, but it was a general term to reference the school of thought that guides your arguments. Are they not the same arguments of Arminius? Is your view of election not the same as Arminius, and Shank, and on and on? I also don’t believe that Arminianism is heresy, so your analogy of calling me a mormon, etc, simply don’t equate.

      You wrote all this to take issue with a very brief statement and yet you make many claims about me that are simply ignorant. If I have wrongly associated you with Arminianism, at least a rational person could understand why I would make that claim, however my indiscretion, if there be one, is far exceeded by some of your comments in both of your extended comments:

      First off, I don’t “buy into the silly error that Evangelicals are either Armininan or Calvinist”. There are gradations of Calvinism just in the Reformed confessions themselves. Most Evangelicals haven’t even engaged this issue and are functionally within certain aspects of both camps, such as yourself. Most Evangelicals have grown up in churches with some statement of faith that fit on a single sheet of paper. Most Evangelicals have grown up thinking catechism is a bad word. My point being that the vast majority of Evangelicals have not been trained to read Scripture within a systematic framework. Some see this as good, others see it as bad. Most Christians have a working knowledge of Scriptures that seem to indicate that God can frustrate the plan of the wicked, turn the king’s heart wherever he should so choose to accomplish His purposes, etc, and at the same time believe that we are all culpable before just God for all of our actions. Most people don’t try to resolve how these truths work together…content with leaving them as they are. Just so you know, we have many non-Calvinists (in the full sense) in our Church. I am not a full-Calvinist with reference to every jot and tittle in his Institutes, nor is our Church…for one, we are Baptists and I could go on and on. Even in a more redacted form, known as the 5 points, we have people in our Church that vary on the issue. I am okay with that. I know 0 point (though rare) to 7 point (John Piper, adds Creation and Consummation as bookends). I am familiar with even 4 1/2 pointers like R.T. Kendall who believes that the scope of the atonement itself was for everyone, however believes that the benefits are restricted in Christ mediatorial office in whom He chooses to apply the benefits.

      Anyhow, you said you assumed too much about my understanding of the differences that exist on this issue, and I won’t go into detail for the sake of proving that I perhaps know more of which I speak than you are willing to give me credit for. It did sound like you were patronizing me, “you look like a nice guy…I assumed too much”. Forgive me if I am wrong in taking that as some veiled attempt to lighten your criticism.

      I know of people who don’t mind being called Calvinists, even though they might take issue with a point or two. Randy Alcorn, for example, is a 4 point Calvinist. He doesn’t wish for people to drop the adjectival “Calvinist” altogether. Now people might say that they aren’t Calvinist or Arminian, like Calvary Chapel does, but they clearly fit within one camp more than the other. Just so you know, I attended Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and attended the school of ministry there, not the Bible College, but the SOM with Carl Westurland, etc. I lasted one semester. I was not yet a Calvinist, but my inquiries into certain areas of theology were seen as more of a threat. I love the fact that CC folks intuitively love Spurgeon, Llyod-Jones, Alistair Begg, and have met some that love John Piper. They love the Calvinism, not thinking it Calvinism because they have no systematic eyelense in which to make sense of it. Once someone does connect the dots and says, “this is Calvinism” or “Spurgeon is a Calvinist and I think I am one too”, then one has crossed a line that is not allowed in CC. I was even told by someone I will leave unnamed that Spurgeon himself wouldn’t be welcomed in CC.

      I love CC and experienced much emotional pain and disillusionment when I realized I was not accepted. I have no axe to grind with CC, but just consider so sad that a fellowship of Churches that claims neutrality of this issue was anything but neutral. I am also of the conviction that your statement of faith should serve as the litmus test for doctrinal adherence. CC’s statement of faith at the times was but a page long and didn’t speak to the issue.

      Mr. Bryson, I appreciate your ministry in CC and do pray for the continued growth of the Kingdom through the efforts of CC here and abroad. You are my brother. We disagree on things, but in no way am I lumping you as a heretic or questioning your doctrinal knowledge or IQ. I appreciate your thoughts and feedback and pray you blessings in Christ, and that His Kingdom might grow through the labors of your hands.

      In Christ,
      Pastor Rick Hogaboam
      Pastor, Sovereign Grace Fellowship on Nampa (ID)

  2. george bryson says:

    Hey Rick

    I read the who is the Rick Hogaboam section and you seem like a very nice guy. I may have assumed too much when I assumed that Calvinists know some of the other views (such as the view I hold to) on what the Bible says about how men are saved.

    For example, I believe in all five solas of the Reformation but none of the five points of Calvinism. I believe that once a person is saved (i.e., when and only when he trusts in Christ for salvation). I believe in the that once a believer trusts in Christ for salvation he not only becomes a child of God, receives eternal life, and will always be saved and cannot be lost again. I believe that there is a biblical doctrine of election but not the view held by Calvinists or Arminians. The truth is that many mainstream Evangelicals believe what I believe who cannot accurately be considered Calvinists or Arminians. Have a great day.

  3. george bryson says:

    Hey Rick

    I do not think I made the kind of assumption about you that you suggest. See the second not referencing you. Rather I simply responded to what you said. Your response only justifies my response. No, the arguments for my views are not the same as the Arminian arguments. No, I do not subscribe to the Arminian view of election. On a different matter, do you know of any Reformed or Calvinist churches that will accept non Calvinist pastors and teachers in teaching and leading roles? Just curious because I hear this all the time but I have never found one. I hear that it is wrong to reject the teachings and the teacher that is Reformed in a non-Reformed church, but it is not wrong for a Reformed or Calvinist church or association of churches to expel pastors and teachers who do not believe in or who teach against Calvinism? It gets a little confusing at times. One might even think that there is a double standard. What would you do if one of your ministry partners started teaching a non-Reformed doctrine of salvation and damnation. Would you accept or reject him? Just curious. By the way, no flattery intended but I like the attitude and they respectful way in which people seem to communicate with one another on this site. In Christ, George

  4. george bryson says:

    “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” (John Calvin).

    As you are aware, not all Reformed or Calvinist websites are “equal”. Some who claim to be Calvinists do not agree with what Calvin said when he said that some people were create for eternal damnation. What about those on this web

    “created for” “eternal damnation”

    • Mr. Bryson, I would need to write a book in response to that question. Let’s just say that GOD is sovereign, that He chose to create the world as we now know it, fully aware of everything that would come to pass (including the knowledge of those who would reject Him and suffer His wrath) and yet He still chose to create as He did. I do not believe there are limitations on God’s involvement with creation. There are times where He chooses to be passive (though it is according to His will, and His agency is less involved) and times when His agency is interventionist in nature. He can frustrate the kings, raises up leaders, pulls down leaders, is able to kill (Annanias and Sapphira) whenever and whoever He pleases.

      Since I believe that God was not constrained and bound to create the world as we know it, and that He freely chose to create the world as we know it, then people being damned is well within His providential counsel. I believe that He could have created a world with no hell, He could have destroyed the Serpent before creation of the world, He could have given Adam no prohibitions, He could have done a lot of things. Such speculation isn’t helpful when we think in constant hypotheticals, but it does show us that God either created freely, or in constrained fashion, or He really didn’t know what was to come to pass and is either voluntarily bound from seeing the future (open theism) or necessarily bound from seeing free acts in the future (process theology). Even non-Calvinists who assert God’s exhaustive foreknowledge, if they believe God was free to create otherwise while hypothetically looking at different outcomes, still must deal with the fact that God created with the knowledge that some would suffer damnation and chose not to create otherwise.

      You can say all you want that a person’s damnation is wholly their choice, which I agree with in a nuanced fashion, but the mere fact that they even exist is according to God’s will, unless you’re a deist and deny to God the freedom over even who comes into existence. Anyhow, I don’t think that a person who asserts God’s exhaustive foreknowledge can conveniently pass off eternal wrath to Calvinists. This is why an increasing number of “Arminian” theologians have adopted a middle knowledge position, open theism, process theology, and some forms bordering on deism. You can’t avoid the very things you disagree with in Calvinism if you yourself believe that God forknew the rejection of many people who would suffer wrath…that he could have created otherwise a world in which there was no potential for sin (which will be realized in New Heavens and Earth); bot chose to create as He did, with suffering, evil, and wrath. It is what it is and I tremble before this Sovereign God, shut my lips against any accusation, “Why did you make me this way? Why did you crate the world as you did? etc etc etc”. Paul warns us from giving counsel to God or questions His providential wisdom in all things.

  5. george bryson says:


    The First Point

    The first side (the positive side) of the first point of Calvinism is that if you are one of those elected for salvation you will one day (in this life) inevitably be born again before the final judgment. When you are born again you will be given a new nature. As your old nature was an unbelieving nature so your new nature will be a believing nature. Here is how it unfolds. As a new born child of God you will (as a result of your new birth) believe in Jesus Christ. Because (and when) you believe in Jesus Christ you will be declared righteous and be guaranteed a place among the resurrection of the just-and at that time glorified for all eternity.

    The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the first point is that if you are not one of the elect, you will not and cannot born again. Here is how it unfolds. Because you are not born again and will forever be stuck with your unbelieving nature you will not and cannot believe in Jesus Christ. Because you cannot believe in Jesus Christ in your unregenerate condition, you will not be justified. If you are not justified you will eventually be raised with the unjust, and finally be sentenced to everlasting shame and torment. This to is according to God’s sovereign will and good pleasure.

    The Second Point

    The first side (the positive side) of the second point of Calvinism is that if God has chosen you for salvation He did so unconditionally. You do not have to believe to become chosen for salvation but you were chosen and created for salvation and so you believe as a result of being elected and created for salvation.

    The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the second point is that if God has not chosen you for salvation,-meaning He has chosen you for damnation-He did so unconditionally. You were chosen, decreed, and created for damnation. You cannot believe and are therefore damned for your unbelief because this is according to God’s sovereign will and for His glory and good pleasure.

    The Third Point

    The first side (the positive side) of the third point of Calvinism is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, Christ died for your sins so that the eternal decree for salvation would have an historical provision for salvation.

    The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the third point of Calvinism is that if you were not chosen and created for salvation-meaning you were chosen and created for damnation- Christ did not die for your sins because an eternal decree for damnation needs no historical provision for salvation.

    The Fourth Point

    The first side (the positive side) of the fourth doctrine is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, God will irresistibly draw or efficaciously call you (applying saving grace to your life and circumstance) to Himself, first giving you a new life, which in turn brings with it a new nature, which is a believing nature, resulting in your certain and immediate justification and eventual and everlasting glorification.

    The second side (the negative and doom and gloom side) of the fourth doctrine is that if you were not chosen and created for salvation-meaning that you were chosen and created for damnation-you will not be irresistibly drawn, efficaciously called, and no saving grace will be extended to you, which means you will not and cannot be born again, which in turn means you cannot have faith in Christ and thereby be justified in this life or ultimately glorified in the next life. Instead you will suffer the torments of the everlasting lake of fire in accordance with the sovereign will of God because this is according to His good pleasure.

    The Fifth Point

    The first side (the positive side) of the fifth point of Calvinism is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, the new nature you receive when you are born again, and the saving faith that comes with that new nature, and the justification that immediately follows faith insures that you will live (however imperfectly) a sanctified, holy, or righteous life in faith (practically speaking) for the most part, from the time of your regeneration until the time of your glorification. This perseverance in sanctification, holiness, or righteousness in faith, while not perfect is inevitable for the truly born again and will be to the end of this life for the elect. It is not as though the elect should not fail to persevere (for the most part) but they cannot do so. If therefore a person appeared to be a saint earlier in life, but failed to persevere in faith and righteousness until the end of life, it proves he was never a saint or never born again, never had faith in Christ, and never had a holy and righteous life in faith to persevere in.

    The second side (the negative and doom side) of the third point is that if you are not elect and created for salvation-meaning you are elect and chosen for damnation-you cannot be born again, have faith in Christ, live a holy or righteous life in faith for even one day, much less to the end of your life. Because God is sovereign and can do as He pleases with His creatures, God is free to mislead a person into thinking they are one of the elect, help them live much like the elect, but at the judgment reveal that they were convinced by God that they were one of the elect even though they were not. No matter how convinced someone is in thinking he is one of the elect, assurance of salvation and eternal life is impossible to secure. How could anyone know for certain that they will persevere to the end proving they were elect without actually having persevered to the end.
    After many years (actually decades) of studying the Calvinist doctrines of grace, I am convinced that the best refutation of the five points of Calvinism is an accurate and honest explanation of the five points of Calvinism. Unfortunately most new converts to Calvinism are not aware of the flip side to the five points of Calvinism early on. Those who introduce Calvinism to the non-Calvinist believe that the new believer is not ready for the meatier stuff of Reformed theology. That, they say, should come only later when they can handle it. They reason that the positive side of each point is like simple arithmetic. The negative side is more like algebra or some other more complicated, difficult and higher form of math.

    The truth is this; the negative side is not more difficult to understand for the new convert to Calvinism, it is more difficult to accept. The positive side seems more palatable whereas the negative side is difficult to swallow and some even choke on it. Full disclosure, early on and sometimes even later on, is a major hindrance to those committed to winning the non-Calvinist over to Calvinism. Admittedly, sometimes proponents of Calvinism do not lay it all out on the table because they themselves have not turned the coin over to see what is on the other side. Sometimes they ignore it. Sometimes they deny it. They are on the Reformed road and are trying to get others to join them. However, they have not gone very far and sometimes do not choose to go but a few blocks down the Reformed road. Some would like to believe that each of the five points of Calvinism are only five points of grace. It is too much (for them) to think that these five points also represent a very hard and harsh message of doom and gloom. In fact, John Piper happily concedes that:

    The “Doctrines of Grace” (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints) are the warp and woof of the biblical gospel cherished by so many saints for centuries. The “Doctrines of Grace” (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints) are the warp and woof of the biblical gospel cherished by so many saints for centuries.

    • George, thanks again for chiming in on my blog. I just want to say in short that you are not representing the “Confessionally Reformed” tradition fairly. You may have met some obnoxious “5 pointers” and I can almost guarantee you that most have not actually read Calvin’s Institutes, nor the Confessional tradition that emanated from him (Belgic Confession, Canons of Dordt, Heidelberg Catechism). Calvin, along with the confessions, are very pastoral and present the doctrines of Scripture in a clear, yet necessarily nuanced form with regards to some doctrines that transcend our full ability to comprehend. Here’s an example from the Belgic Confession (emphasis mine):

      Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence

      We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.
      Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.

      We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground^20 without the will of our Father.

      In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.

      George, on a personal note, I really wish you and CC would stop attacking Calvinism. I am meeting more and more former CC folks who have left because they were ostracized after claiming to like guys like John MacArthur, John Piper, and C.H. Spurgeon. It has gotten ridiculous out there. Do you seriously wish to continue to attack the Calvinistic understanding of God that MacArthur, Piper, Spurgeon, and the historical Church has held? Stop proclaiming that you are neutral on the Calvin-Arminian debate if you are going to continue to attack Calvinism and run very Godly pastors and “members” out of your churches and missions support because they share such convictions. I have met exCC folks who said that they would have remained in the fellowship with their Calvinisitic convictions if they weren’t attacked so vigorously. One gentleman told me that he was receiving correspondence from his CC friends about attending our church, whereas the concern was that we were heretical almost on the level of Mormonisn and JW. This is sad and I think you are partly responsible, unless of course you truly think we are borderline heretics, which means you should do everyone a service and tell all the CC bookstores to stop selling Tozer, MacArthur, Piper, Spurgeon, etc. My convictions are hardly any different from Spurgeon and yet his works are sold in most CC bookstores, whereas some CC members think that we as a church are almost heretical. Would you say the same about Spurgeon and his congregation? Consistency would definitely help, not only for your CC folks, but also for the church universal.

      Grace and Peace…Rick

  6. george bryson says:

    While what I say James White believes he actually believes I am not quoting James White in the above comments.

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