Dec 2, 2008

Grudem on Regeneration

I just listened to a sermon by Dr. Wayne Grudem on the subject of "regeneration" and wish to look at what he had to say about faith and its relation to "regeneration."

He, as will be seen from the following citations from that sermon, took the "reformed" or "Hardshell" view on the subject, teaching that "regeneration" or the "new birth" occurred before one came to believe and repent.

His sermon sought to uphold the "born again before faith" view, a view that is appropriately styled "hyper-Calvinism," and is certainly not the historic teaching of the Baptist confessions and leading standard bearers, nor of the leading lights of the Calvinistic PedoBaptists, men such as Edwards. This has been clearly shown here in this blog and over at the Calvinistflyswatter blog.

One thing that struck me while listening to Dr. Grudem's sermon, was his comments on James 1: 18. He seemed clearly to intimate, from those comments, that he held to the "three stage model of the new birth," a view I have posted many writings upon here.

Hear his sermon here

Well, all this being said, let me begin my critique.

First, Grudem says "some verses indicate that regeneration comes to us through the power of the word of God and that's connected with effectual calling. I talked about last week in some instances the gospel explanation goes out but in some people's hearts it finds a response because God makes it powerful and brings forth a response. Now regeneration then is a further explanation of how that comes about.

James 1: 18 - "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." I am going to unpack that verse. "Of his own will he," that is, God our Father, "he brought us..." How "brought us forth"? "Brought us forth"! That means "brought us out." Its language that would be used of physical birth to bring forth from mother's womb.

So, "he brought us forth" means he gave us new life. Again, its this image of being born again. So, how did he do it? He brought us forth by the word of truth, that is, the gospel proclamation, awakened that spiritual life and God gave us new birth through it. 1st Peter talks in the same way. The power of the word of God. I Peter 1: 23-25, "you have been born again." How?"

see here

Notice how Grudem, like the Old Hardshells and Regular Baptists, in the Kuyperian tradition, divide up the experience of birth into begetting, which is immediate, directly by the Spirit apart from means, and into the "birthing" or "delivery" (deliverance or salvation) which is mediate, indirectly through the Spirit and through means. The preacher then becomes simply a "midwife" to "bring to 'full birth'" but not in any sense a means in the "regeneration," or in the "begetting."

"Dr. Grudem is a theologian known for his Systematic Theology, published by Zondervan in 1994, and in which Grudem advances the heresy that people are regenerated before they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He writes," says Charles of the Calvinistflyswatter blog, on page 500,

"Yet it certainly is possible for God to bring regeneration (that is, new spiritual life) to an infant even before he or she is born. This was true of John the Baptist, for the angel Gabriel, before John was born said, "He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15). We might say that John the Baptist was "born again" before he was born!" (Charles)

see here

This is a correct presentation of Wayne Grudem's Hybrid Calvinism, as he expounds it on pages 699-704 of his book. It is the same semi-Pelagianism which I analyzed in my Hardshell series in Article #6.

The view of Grudem and semi-Pelagianism is that "ability" is born of God in the sinner, not faith (1 John 5:4).
According to this theory, faith is therefore not the "gift" of God, but is a subsequent act by the "able" sinner who has already been "born again." For all practical purposes, the sinner is already saved and theoretically could do without believing. Faith in Christ adds nothing for his spiritual state, according to this theory.

"But "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" is the Gospel command addressed to the DEAD sinner, and the Spirit's power (Romans 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:5; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23) accompanies God's Word and produces faith in Christ, which constitutes the "life" of the New Birth (1 John 5:12).

Life is in the Son, and faith puts one into the Son. When faith in the Son is "born" or "begotten" in the sinner, then the sinner has been "born of God" (1 John 5:4, 1). This is the Creedal view in contrast to the Hybrid Calvinism view." (Charles)
see here

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