John Gill’s Relationship To Eighteenth-Century Hyper-Calvinism: (I) An Appraisal Of The Historical Case Against John Gill -- By: Jonny White

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 08:1 (Jan 2011)
Article: John Gill’s Relationship To Eighteenth-Century Hyper-Calvinism: (I) An Appraisal Of The Historical Case Against John Gill
Author: Jonny White


John Gill’s Relationship To Eighteenth-Century Hyper-Calvinism:
(I) An Appraisal Of The Historical Case Against John Gill

Jonny White

Jonny White, Ph.D., is Pastor of Redeeming Grace Church, Milton, FL, and is Dean of Ekklesia Theological Seminary. This article is an extract from the author’s dissertation A Theological and Historical Examination of John Gill’s Soteriology in Relation to Eighteenth-Century Hyper-Calvinism.

Was John Gill a Hyper-Calvinist? Gill’s relationship to Hyper-Calvinism is a much- debated issue for historical theology. Many historians confidently conclude he was indeed a Hyper-Calvinist. Some charge that he did not preach the gospel to unbelievers and that he was instrumental in the decline of membership in his church, as well as other churches. However, does an examination of Gill’s theology yield the conclusion that he was a Hyper-Calvinist? This is the first of a three-part series of articles demonstrating that a theological and historical examination of Gill’s soteriology argues against classifying him as a Hyper-Calvinist.1 Although Gill’s writings contain theological overlap and affinity with historical Hyper-Calvinism and Gill had close relationships with some classified as Hyper-Calvinists, both his theology and his practice make a strong case against labeling him in such a manner.2 While

taking into account doctrinal overlap with some aspects of historical Hyper-Calvinism, such overlap does not imply full-scale agreement with the position. Further, it is demonstrable that the very term “Hyper-Calvinism” is problematic in the eighteenth-century context.3

Background

John Gill (1697–1771) was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, on November 23, 1697.4 As a young boy Gill proved to be extremely intelligent, as evidenced by his reading through the Greek New Testament by ten years of age. Having accomplished this, he then began teaching himself Hebrew using only a grammar and lexicon. At about twelve years of age he was converted but waited to be baptized until he was nearly nineteen. Soon after his baptism he began to preach on a regular basis and eventually became pastor of one of the leading Particular Baptist churches in the city of London, the church founded by Benjamin Keach (1640–1704).

Gill soon began a writing career that would propel him into history as an influential theologian and biblical exegete, even receiving an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by the Universi...

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