Nov 10, 2008

Lemke on Ordo Salutis

Although I disagree with Dr. Lemke in his opposition to certain points in the Calvinian system, yet I cannot disagree with him when he attacks the "born again before faith" error. I do believe in "irresistable grace" and "effectual calling," but I do not believe the "born again before faith" error is a natural part of it.

Here are some notes that were taken by "live bloggers" at the recent John 3: 16 conference where Dr. Lemke talked about the 4th point in Calvinism and the "born again before faith" error. (emphasis mine)

"Irresistible grace reverses the biblical order of salvation. (This is the most serious.)

a. Which comes first, regeneration or faith? R.C. Sproul quoted to demonstrate the Reformed view that regeneration precedes faith."

Here Lemke erroneously connects the "born again before faith" error with the historic doctrine of "irresistable grace." For instance, Calvin did not believe in the "born again before faith" error but he believed in "irresistable grace."

Yes, many "modern" day "hybrid" "reformed" advocates do teach the error, but it has never been an integral element of the 4th point in the Calvinian system.

Lemke is then reported to have said:

"Jesus words in John 3 concerning the serpent lifted in the wilderness and those looking to the serpent living, proves that John 5:40, coming to Christ precedes having life. John 11:25, the believing precedes the living.

b. Which comes first the Spirit’s regeneration or is regeneration commensurate with justification?

c. What comes first repentance and faith or regeneration? John 20:31, the believing precedes the life [other texts cited].

3. Irresistible grace weakens missions and evangelism

Who can argue against this? The scriptures are plain. At the moment a person believes, that very moment he is born again. God creates faith and repentance when he creates life.

I have said many times that one can find this "order" in many passages. Yes, there are a few that put the birth before the faith, but this only shows that there is no strict "ordo salutis."

Lemke then propounds some questions.

1. What does it mean that regeneration is logically prior to faith? (Can one be regenerated days before one is saved?)

2. Is it possible to be elect, but not be saved?

3. Does God have a secret will by which He doesn’t really love everyone?
Of course one is "elect" before he is "saved," for one is "chosen TO salvation," not "chosen FROM salvation."

Yes, God loves everyone, but he does not love all equally, nor with an "everlasting love." This kind of love is reserved for God's wife, or his elect.

See here for the blog notes cited above.

Another "live blogger" at the conference took these notes.

"James White - No power in heaven or earth can stop God from doing even without our permission."

Well, I certainly do agree with brother White on this point. I have often used the experience of "conviction of sin" to help bring this point home to my Arminian brothers. I ask them - "does God have to get the sinner's permission before he can CONVICT him of sin?" Does he not do this work irresistably and effectually, at least to some extent?

Lemke is then reported to have said:

"Jesus would have never suggested that it’s harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom if He were a Calvinist."

That is just not logical. First, from our human perspective this is true. Many things are said in scripture from the creature's perspective, not from the Creator's. Besides, it could simply be a statement that affirms that God exerts greater power in the salvation of some sinners than he does in others. When something is "harder," so to speak, for God, it only is meant to say that it takes more of God's power to bring about the effect. Besides, it is clear that the "hardness" is on the part of the sinner, not on the part of God. It is easier for some sinners to be saved than for others, for they have less resistance. But, how does this deny "irresistable grace"?

Lemke then is said to bring up "Saul on Damascus," and to affirm that "Saul struggled and resisted."

"Lemke thinks," wrote the blogger, "the Holy Spirit had been working on Saul a while."

Certainly there were common operations of the Spirit upon the mind, heart, and conscience of Saul prior to his conversion. But, all this was simply "preparatory" work, the work of the law upon him. Saying this does not in any way deny effectual calling.

Lemke then is supposed to have said that "irresistable grace reverses the logical chain of salvation as presented in Scripture."

But, it does not. Only the Hyper Calvinists, who put the birth before the faith, do so.

This blogger also mentions how Lemke attacked the "Achilles heel" of the Hybrids by asking - "Which comes first regeneration or faith?"

The blogger then says that "Lemke quoted Sproul that we are born again to believe" and began to show how it was against the scriptures.

He listed these passages with his remarks on them.

- John 5:24, John 5:40 - Come first and then have life.
- John 6:51 - Must eat first. John 6:54 - Eating, drinking first then life.
- John 11:25 - Believe then live.
- John 20:31 - Written so we may believe in Christ and have life. Belief then life.
- 1 John 5:1 - Who believes is born of God.

See here for this blogger's write up.

Again, the scriptures Lemke cites against the "Achilles heel" of Hyper Calvinism are damaging to it.

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