What Love Is This? Non-Fiction Review : 2002/06/24
What Love Is This?: Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God
by Dave Hunt
Sisters: Loyal Publishing, 2002, 436 pp., $14.00 paper.
More reviews forNote: Over a year ago, I wrote a rather scathing review while fired up over the serious flaws in this book. Then my new Arminian friend Mac Swift took me to task and gave me a good "fisking" (with lengthy discussions attached) at his website. In light of his reproof, I've rewritten the review to reflect my assertions in a tone less strident. That's not to say Mac will like it, but hopefully it's an improvement.
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Tim LaHaye, bestselling coauthor of the Left Behind
series: "This may well be the most important book written in the 21st century..."
Dr. LaHaye, what absurdity is this? I'm fully cognizant that the 21st century is but an infant, and I assume that you meant "the most important book written" thus far, rather than predicting that this garbled tome will rule for ten decades. Your full endorsement on the first page refers to "the false God of Augustinianism and Calvinism," leaving no doubt as to your alliance with Hunt; I fear that you haven't studied the issues carefully enough to avoid being left behind on this topic.
1 Peter 3:15 commands "gentleness and respect" for individuals in our apologetic, even as we "demolish arguments and pretensions" (2 Cor 10:5) that they espouse. While I attack Hunt's false assertions, I have no desire to impugn the character of the man himself. He's a Christian brother who means well, but sadly blundered in releasing this flawed book, despite the attempts of many to correct him prior to publication. Support from leaders like Dr. LaHaye has only encouraged him in this misguided assault.
What Love Is This? Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God
is a bizarre diatribe. Hunt asserts that "great care has been taken not to misunderstand Calvinism or to misjudge its proponents."
He then consistently distorts the doctrines of Calvinism, creating straw men which he burns at the stake with little difficulty. The misrepresentations in the book make it difficult to review--it's a challenge not to become so infuriated that one simply hurls it into the trash and walks away. Originally I was going to address each of the dozens of notations I had made, but I decided that others have done an excellent job already (see 
Despite Hunt's busy ministry schedule, he somehow became an expert in a few short months. Incredulity rears its skeptical head.
Let us begin our review with a cursory examination of Calvinism. I actually prefer the term "Reformed," since I don't follow the man John Calvin, and don't agree with everything he taught. In a nutshell, Reformed doctrine emphasizes the sovereignty of God in all things, including salvation. He is "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). The Reformed view is known as monergism
(God working alone), in contrast to synergism
(God's work plus some sort of contribution from man). (
How can Hunt retain any credibility when he cites Newton as an opponent of Calvinist doctrine? James White has thoroughly documented Hunt's misrepresentation of Charles Spurgeon, perhaps the most noted Calvinist preacher of all time.
Hunt states, "It is questionable whether Calvin himself believed in limited atonement. Certainly Spurgeon rejected it as heresy."
Earlier, Hunt claimed that Spurgeon rejected Limited Atonement in "unequivocal language."
What did Spurgeon actually teach? The following quote is from an 1858 sermon called 
That should put to rest any lingering claims to credibility by Dave Hunt. Spurgeon wasn't done, however. He seemed to anticipate attacks by those of Hunt's ilk. We continue with the same sermon:
Now, beloved, when you hear any one laughing or jeering at a limited atonement, you may tell him this. General atonement is like a great wide bridge with only half an arch; it does not go across the stream: it only professes to go half way; it does not secure the salvation of anybody. Now, I had rather put my foot upon a bridge as narrow as Hungerford, which went all the way across, than on a bridge that was as wide as the world, if it did not go all the way across the stream.
So, whether you agree with Hunt's theology or Spurgeon's, there can be no doubt that Hunt has no right whatsoever to claim an alliance with Spurgeon against Calvinism in general, or limited atonement in particular.
Hunt delights in making forceful assertions based on his inability to comprehend what Calvinism teaches. For example, he's convinced that Calvinists can not be motivated to earnestly preach the gospel. After mentioning great Calvinist preachers and missionaries such as George Whitefield, Adoniram Judson and William Carey, he states: "Certainly, however, the zeal of such men and women in bringing the gospel to the world could not be because of their Calvinism but only in spite of it."
Are Calvinists allowed to make their case? Of course not.
"No matter how the Calvinist tries to argue to the contrary, such a belief can only lessen the zeal a reasonable person might otherwise have to reach the lost with the gospel of God's grace in Christ."
Dave said it, that settles it. Case closed. An almost humorously simplistic approach to theology is evident when Hunt attacks TULIP head-on:
"Of the ten words making up the acronym TULIP, four (total, depravity, unconditional and irresistible) are not even found in the Bible and two (limited and perseverance) are each found only once."
Perhaps the distinction between descriptive terms and their meanings has eluded him. Perhaps he's forgotten that terms like "rapture" and "trinity" are not in the Bible, either.
My irritation increases when Hunt condescendingly attacks Calvinism with absurd arguments like this one:
(God cannot) use His sovereignty for evil. Cannot? Yes, cannot.
"Heresy!" cries the Calvinist. "God is infinite in power; there is nothing He can't do." Really? The very fact that He is infinite in power means He cannot fail…He cannot lie, cheat, steal, be mistaken, etc."
How can Dave Hunt deign to give us a lesson in logic after what we've seen in What Love is This?
Does he really think that Calvinists are obtuse enough to demand a God who is allowed to lie, cheat and steal? It's simply excruciating to read a book written on this level. I'm not always irritated, though; sometimes I'm merely puzzled:
"As a result of Christ's death having paid the full penalty, no one will spend eternity in the lake of fire because of his sins."
Perhaps I haven't studied soteriology enough, but this strikes me as a rather novel approach to the atonement. I have been under the apparently misguided notion that there is a direct correlation between sin and judgment, even in Arminian Christian doctrine.
Hunt perversely delights in attacking John Piper, a leading Reformed preacher some have called a modern-day Puritan. Piper's "...Desiring God
ignites a passion for God that would set the world ablaze if it were the norm and not the exception today,"
says noted thinker Os Guinness. Piper's The Justification of God
, his analysis of Romans 9 in the Greek, is a tour de force; Hunt hasn't been bothered to learn Greek. After years of study, Piper has written extensively on his favorite Reformed theologian, Jonathan Edwards; Hunt claims to have mastered Reformed theology in a few months. None of this is enough to dissuade Hunt from derisive slander.
After making comments like "we can't make any sense out of this nonsense,"
"Are we going mad?"
and "reason fails Piper once again,"
Hunt has had quite enough of John Piper:
We shake our heads in astonishment to read Piper's declaration that his aim in this book "is that the glorious Gospel of God's all-satisfying, omnipotent grace will be savored, studied and spread for the joy all peoples-in a never-ending legacy of Sovereign Joy." All peoples? Can he be serious?
Hunt's obnoxious condescension proves yet again that he has no idea what he's assaulting. Piper's statement is fully consistent with the view he espouses--Christ's blood "purchased men for God from every tribe, language, people and nation." (Revelation 5:9). Any dictionary could have told Dave that "peoples" is "a body of persons sharing a common religion, culture, language, or inherited condition of life."
If "all peoples" meant every individual person, universalism would result; rather, all people groups
will be represented in the kingdom, as Rev 5:9 makes clear. Hunt mocks that which he fails to grasp. Can anything be more pathetic in a book hailed as "essential for the serious student of God's Word"?
Note: After verbally agreeing to a debate, Hunt has been unwilling to meet James White's live debate challenge. White and Hunt have agreed to co-author a debate-style book for publication in early 2004, but hopefully a live debate will happen at some point, allowing everyone to see what happens when the doctrines of grace are presented accurately and Hunt's blatant distortions are challenged in cross-examination.
Dave Hunt, What Love Is This? Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God
, (Sisters: Loyal Publishing, 2002), front cover.
 Dividing Line webcast
, Feb 23, 2002.
 Hunt, What Love is This?, 241.
 Ibid., 19.
 Hunt, What Love is This?, 29.
 Ibid., 30.
 Ibid., 93.
 Ibid., 137.
 Ibid., 248.
 John Piper, Desiring God, (Sisters: Multnomah Books, 1996), back cover.
 Hunt, What Love is This?, 245.
 Ibid., 296.
 Ibid., 296.
 Ibid., 313.
 Excerpted from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation; further reproduction and distribution in accordance with the Copyright Law of the United States. All rights reserved.
 Hunt, What Love is This?, back cover.
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