Feb 28, 2009

A Good Debate

I have read a good historical debate between Professor John Crawford, representing the Baptists, and John S. Sweeny of the "Disciples of Christ" (or "Campbellites") on this site - here.

According to the record, it was a "Debate on the Points of Difference in Faith and Practice Between the Two Religious Bodies Known as the Disciples of Christ and the Regular Baptists: Embracing the Subject of Calvinism and the Design of Baptism."

Feb 26, 2009

The Baptist Alexander Campbell

Early in Alexander Campbell's life, when he was both more Calvinistic and Baptistic, he held the correct view on water baptism.

He was first taught wrong on the subject, being a son of a Presbyterian Pedo-Baptist, and not believing in immersion of believers only. When he "saw the light" on this topic, he became a Baptist and was baptized by Elder Luce. At this time he did not believe that baptism was essential for pardon of sin or eternal salvation; And, what he said at this time, as demonstrated in his debate with McCalla, about that topic, is what Baptists believe, is what I believe. It is this position that I will uphold, the Lord willing, in my upcoming August debate on the place of baptism. It is my opponent, who will not agree with what Campbell stated in that debate. Yes, Campbell did go into error on water baptism, but it was away from the truth as he formerly expressed it in that debate.

Here is what Campbell said about baptism being "for remission of sins" when he was "sound" on that point.

"I did not exaggerate its (baptism) import (this he would do later! SG), as mr. M. would have it. Nor did I elevate it so as to displace hope and charity (as he did later, or as his followers do today? By their sending many believers to Hell from not being properly baptized - SG). These are graces, the fruits of true faith, and true baptism. I know it will be said that I have affirmed that baptism "saves us," that it "washes aivay sins." Well, Peter and Paul have said so before me. If it was not criminal in them to say so, it cannot be criminal in me. When Ananias said unto Paul, "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord," I suppose Paul believed him, and arose, was baptized, and washed away his sins. When he was baptized he must have believed that his sins were now washed away, in some sense, that they were not before. For if his sins had been already in every sense, washed away, Ananias' address would have led him into a mistaken, view of himself; both before, and after baptism. Now we confess that the blood of Jesus Christ alone cleanses us from all sins. Even this, however, is a metaphorical expression. The efficacy of his blood springs from his own dignity, and from the appointment of his Father. The blood of Christ, then, really cleanses us who believe from all sin. Behold the goodness of God in giving us a formal proof and token, of it, by ordaining a baptism expressly "for the remission of sins." The water of baptism, then, formally washes away our sins. The blood of Christ really washes away our sins. Paul's sins were really pardoned when he believed, yet he had no solemn pledge of the fact, no formal acquital, no formal purgation of his sins, until he washes them away in the water of baptism."

"To every believer therefore, baptism is a formal and personal remission, or purgation of sins. The believer never has his sins formally washed away or remitted until he is baptized. The water has no efficacy but whate God's appointment gives it, and he has made it sufficient' for this purpose. The value and importance of baptism appears from this view of it. It also accounts for baptism being called the Washing Of Regeneration. It shews us a good, and valid reason for the despatch with which this ordinance was administered in the primitive church.

I say, this view of baptism accounts for all these otherwise unaccountable circumstances. It was this view of baptism misapplied that originated infant baptism. The first errorists on this subject argued that if baptism was so necessary for the remission of sins, it should be administered to infants whom they represented as in great need of it on account of their "original sin." Affectionate parents, believing their children to be guilty of "original sin" were easily persuaded to have their infants baptized for the remission of "original sin," not for washing away sins actually committed; But of this again."

"Faith in Christ is necessary to forgiveness of sins, therefore baptism, without faith, is an unmeaning ceremony.

The intelligent and well instructed Christian, however, is baptized to obtain the formal remission of his sins."

"He appointed baptism to be, to every one that believed the record he has given of his Son, a formal pledge on his part of that believer's personal acquittal or pardon..." (pg. 135-37)


is by definition a ceremony. A ceremony involves what is formal. Baptism is a ritual, as the Lord's Supper is a ritual. It is part of a believer's protocol or convention. It is what he does once he becomes committed in heart to Christ, and is intended to formally express the fact, or confess it.

Being a ceremony, we do not mean to imply that it is a mere "empty ceremony" without any deep signification or lasting impression. It is not mere "pomp and circumstance."

Hardshells - Gideon's Few?

In the old Hardshell or "Old School" periodical "The Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," from 1841, I found the following interesting remark from a Hardshell, one that was "seconded" or given "amens" by the readers in the months that followed. I found the remark quite interesting as an historian and former minister of the "Primitive Baptist" denomination.

The author wrote:

"Now as one, and a poor sinner too, I fear that it may be with the Old Sch. Baptist, as it was with Gideon's army, even that there are yet too many in name. The church, of which I am an unworthy member, have been as yet quite particular in ascertaining the views of candidates for membership, especially upon the great doctrinal points. Would it not be well for all the churches to receive such and such only, as come in the unity of that faith, which was once delivered to the saints?" (page 312, May 1841, written by Martin Salmon in the "The Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor")

See here

Friends, this is an example of Hyper Calvinistic "elitism"! It manifests one of the leading traits of a cult. Cults see themselves as an "elect" or "special" group of Christians, highly favored above all. They have the "we be the only ones" attitude, one that says "Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou." (Isaiah 65: 5 KJV)

I have dealt with this Hardshell hyperist "spirit" and attitude in my book on the Hardshell Baptist Cult and in other writings. They sometimes see themselves as "the elect within the elect," or the "elect of the elect," or the "highly favored," the "very elect." Sometimes as represented not only by Gideon's army but also by the 144,000 of the Apocalypse.

This elitist attitude on the part of the original "Old School" Baptists caused them to separate themselves from most others, declaring themselves as the "simon pures" of Baptist faith and their former brethren as followers of "Antichrist" and members of "Babylon." In their ranting against their missionary brethren, they could be heard to say "we be Abraham's seed and were never..." or "we be the true Baptist seed and were never for missionary societies, theological schools, Sunday schools, protracted meetings, Bible distribution, benevolent work, etc."

These "Old School" and Hyper Calvinists are examples of what Adrian Rogers called "wine and cheese theologians."

There are some today among those in the "Reformed" camp theologically, and who are Hyper Calvinists in their view of "regeneration before faith" and apart from gospel means, and in other ways, who also manifest this same "holier than thou" and "elitist" attitude and I hate to see it. True Calvinists ought to be the humblest of all people and know not only "grace" theologically but experimentally.

What of "Gideon's army"? What great things did they do for the Lord? Did they take the gospel to one foreign country? Did they distribute one Bible and hand it out? Did they support one missionary?

Are their preachers now supported? Are they now educated? Are the Old School Baptists now prosperous?

Feb 23, 2009

More Historical Evidence

I have offered evidence in my book, "The Hardshell Baptist Cult," about how the predominant view of the first "anti-mission" Baptists on regeneration, new birth, and conversion, was one that had steps or stages to it, and one that made a distinction in "begetting" (seed planting) and "birth" (deliverance from the womb) of the children of God.

See here

And here

And here

I have also some articles showing how this two or three stage model of regeneration or new birth is also held to by many Presbyterians, of the past and present.

See here

And here

And here

I have shown how the Campbellites also developed their own paradigm, one that also made the begetting to be different from the birthing.

See here

And here

I have shown that this is an old view among Baptists, having a long tradition, although it has not always been uniformly believed and presented, there being variations on the paradigm. Samuel Richardson, a signer of the first London Baptist Confession in 1644, held to this view.

See here

I have also discovered an article from the old Hardshell periodical, "The Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," an article wherein the same views have been expressed, an article titled - "HOW CAN A MAN BE BORN WHEN HE IS OLD? John 3: 4."

This writer also makes a distinction between the "begetting" and the "birthing" of the children of God. The "begetting" is "regeneration" but the "birth" is "conversion," as many of his "Old School" brethren. He did not believe that all the "begotten" would also be "born," while other Hardshells believed all the elect would be both begotten and born, both regenerated and converted. This writer also makes two births from the words of Christ to Nicodemus, rather than one.

He wrote:

"Brother Jewett,—This question with its answer (though old) is yet new, and is profitable for doctrine, etc., unto the man of God, and unto this day it is as a light that shineth in a dark place. Our Lord taught Nicodemus, that except a man was born again, he could not see the kingdom of God; upon this, Nicodemus with surprise asked the above question, answering which, Jesus said, Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (i. e. born in a two fold sense.) That there are two senses in which Christians are born again, is evident from our Lord's answer to Nicodemus, and from many other passages of scripture. My object in this letter is to present my view of the nature of these two modes of brth, which the christian experiences before he enters into the kingdom of God, and which a man may experience, even when he is old. The first is the birth of the Spirit, (as noticed first by our Lord ver. 3. Except a man be born again, etc.;) this is the implanting of spiritual life into the soul,--the law of God written upon the fleshly table of the heart, which makes the creature a new creature,--furnishes him with new senses, and he becomes dead to his old ways, and his old hopes, as Paul says, 'when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.' Rom. 7;9. Having spiritual understanding, in his measure he is prepared to understand spiritual things, and beholding himself condemned by the law of God, he sees no way of salvation. Being burdened with guilt he dares not lift up his eyes to heaven, but smites on his breast, crying, "God be merciful to me sinner." This birth is called also a quickening, a passing from death unto life. See John 6: 63. 'It is the Spirit that quickeneth,' and I John 3;14, "We know, that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." I think it is evident from the effects of the change, that passing from death unto life is the same as the birth of the Spirit; for love of God is the effect, or evidence in both figures: Every one that loveth, is born of God. I John 4; 7. To be born of the Spirit, is to be prepared to receive spiritual instruction; passing from moral death to spiritual life is the same preparation; hence I cannot distinguish between these two figures as used in the scriptures. This change is termed, exclusively, the work of the Spirit, no instrument--no means are of any purpose in producing the birth of Spirit; but those who receive this change are called to it by the power of God, not according to their works; but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus, before the world began. 2 Tim. 1; 9. Born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man. John 1; 13. Surely no instrument can be of any use in the hand of God, in raising the dead; but life to the dead, must be communicated by the sovereign power of him who spake all things into existence, even so he quickeneth whom he will. John 5; 21. It is a prevailing idea that the Lord makes use of various means in effecting the birth of the Spirit. Reading the scriptures, hearing some affecting story, suffering afflictions, etc.; but most generally the preaching of the gospel, are said to be means in the hand of God in effecting this birth. To tell of the means used in the birth of the Spirit, would be telling whence it came; but the sword of the Spirit cuts off this idea at once. Thou canst not tell whence it cometh; so is every one that is born of the Spirit. John 3: 18 (John 3:8 SG). That the gospel is not a means of the Spirit is taught by the effect that it has upon the natural man; it is preached to the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness. I Cor. 1; 23. Also, it is said to be a savor of death unto death, instead of a means of raising the dead. 2 Cor. 2; 16 By this, I do not suppose we are to understand that a man's guilt is increased by hearing the gospel preached; but that it witnesses to his state by exciting his enmity--wherefore it is enited (sic) death unto death. But unto them that are called, (born of the Spirit) it is the power of God, and the wisdom of God, i.e. the gospel is unto (in the estimation of) them, the power of God, etc. Many think, and preach that a man is not born of the Spirit until he has experienced a season of godly sorrow for sin; and a hungering and thirting after righteousness, etc.; but these are signs of spiritual life, evidences that the soul is born of the Spirit, he has spiritual discernment, and is no more a natural, but a spiritual man: for the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. I Cor. 2; 14."

"I shall now proceed to write my views concerning the birth of water. And first, I have no idea that it has any reference to the ordinance of baptism; for baptism sets forth a death, burial & resurrection, but I think it is not termed a birth in the scriptures. But by the birth of water I understand the deliverance of the soul from his burden of sins-bringing the prisoner out of the gloomy prison house into the light and liberty of the children of the Kingdom of God, to a participation of the consolations of the saints of God. Christ formed in him the hope of glory. In effecing this birth, the Lord makes use of means, the gospel of Christ, which in many places in the bible is termed water, living water. This change, or deliverance of the soul is called a birth in different places in the scriptures. See Paul to the Gal. 4; 19. My little children of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you. Also I Cor. 4; 15. Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel; but he thanks God that he had baptized but few of them. Hence Paul's begetting them in Christ was not baptizing them; but a birth into the kingdom of God, through faith that was in Christ Jesus, which made them fit subjects for baptism. So the eunuch was begotten through the gospel by Philip, who afterward baptized him. For this end, Christ gave gifts unto men for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, etc. Acts 26; 18. Now it is evident that Paul's ministry was not to open the eyes of the natural man, for he is not blind, but sees, therefore his sin remains; he is whole and needs not a physician. He is not under the bondage, or power of Satan, but is free and willing subject of his kingdom; but the soul that is born of the Spirit is in bondage, a prisoner until liberated through the gospel, receives forgiveness of sins, etc., through faith in Christ Jesus."


One of the reasons why I reject this model of "regeneration" (begetting) and "birth" (deliverance) is seen in the above words wherein the Hardshell apologist states that the divine begetting and regeneration instantly brings one into bondage, to a sense of guilt and conviction of sin. The scriptures do not teach this. Rather, they teach that the removal of guilt from the conscience, by faith in the blood of Christ, and the joy that comes thereby, IS the very the experience of regeneration, new birth, or of the divine begetting.

I also do not see how Paul makes a distinction, in the verses cited by the writer, between the begetting and the birthing.

I also do not believe that Christ is giving two requirements for entering the local church, but not for entering heaven, but believe the "kingdom of God" is speaking of the future eternal glories of the saints, and thus of what is necessary for entering heaven. I also do not believe that Jesus is alluding to two distinct births when he speak of being "born of water and the Spirit," but of one birth. I also believe that all who are "begotten" are "birthed" or "delivered." (See Isaiah 66: 8,9)

See here for the citation

Thus, I have found now numerous sources which show that many of the first generation Hardshells held to the view that the begetting was distinct from the birthing, that regeneration was without means, but the birthing was by means. Some of these believed that all the elect would be both begotten and born, both regenerated and converted, while others, like the above writer, did not.

I have shown that this was the view promoted by Elders Beebe and Trott of the "Signs of the Times" periodical, of Elder Wilson Thompson and William Conrad of Kentucky, and other first generation Hardshells. Elder Clark, who later, in 1854 started the famed Hardshell periodical "Zion's Advocate," supported Elder Jewett and the paper "The Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," from whence the above article was taken, writing to it frequently.

It is easy for me to see how the 2nd and 3rd generation Hardshells soon gave up this model of their forefathers, believing that the begetting and the birthing were the same, but believing that conversion and faith were not necessary for eternal salvation.

Feb 21, 2009

Beza on Faith

Beza wrote:

"In the same way as the soul produces its effects when it is naturally united to the body, so, when, by faith, Jesus Christ dwells in us in a spiritual manner, His power produces there and reveals there His graces. These are described in Scripture by the words 'regeneration' and 'sanctification', and they make us new creatures with regard to the qualities that we can have (John 3:3; Eph 4:21-24)."

Clearly Beza, surely a Calvinist if there ever was one, has this order, one in keeping with scripture - faith, union with Christ, regeneration and sanctification, new creatures in Christ.

He said further:

"This regeneration, that is to say, a new beginning and new creation, is divided into three parts. In the same way as the natural corruption, which holds our person captive, both soul and body, produces in us sins and death (Rom 7:13), so the power of Jesus Christ, flowing and entering into us with efficacy, as coming to take possession of us, produces in us three effects: the putting to death of sin, that is to say, of this natural corruption which Scripture cans the 'old man', his burial, and, finally, the resurrection of the new man. St. Paul, in particular, describes these things at length (Rom 6, and almost everywhere else; cf. 1 Pet 4:1-2)."

Clearly Beza puts the new creation or new birth, or spiritual resurrection, after the entrance of Christ into the heart by faith.

He continues:

"The resurrection of the new man, this man whose qualities and faculties are truly renewed, is the third effect of the same Jesus Christ living in us."

Again, Beza clearly puts the resurrection to spiritual life as the final effect of the power of Christ working as a cause. First there is faith, then union with Christ or Christ entering and indwelling, then the death of the old man and the resurrection or creation of the new man.

He says:

"Having put to death in our nature that which it had of corruption, He then gives to us a new power and remakes us. Thus, our understanding and our judgement, illuminated by the pure grace of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1: 18), and governed by the new power which we draw from Jesus Christ (Rom 8:14), begin to understand and to approve that which, previously, was folly to them (1 Cor. 2:14) and, abomination (Rom 8:7). And then, in the second place, the will is rectified to hate sin and embrace righteousness (Rom 6:6). Finally, all the faculties of the man begin to shun that which God has forbidden, and to follow all that he has commanded (Rom 7:22; Phil 2:13).

These are therefore the two effects that Jesus Christ produces in us. If we experience them, the conclusion is infallible: we have faith, and, consequently, as we have said, we have in us Jesus Christ living eternally." (Pages 24, 25)

See here

Spurgeon on "Reformers"

In Phil Johnson's weekly citation from Spurgeon, I found these words of Spurgeon quite interesting in light of all the "reform" movements and "reformers" that have been begun among Baptists, both historically and in the present. Does any of Spurgeon's words apply to today's leaders of the "Reformed Movement" being promoted by Tom Ascol and the Founders Movement?

Spurgeon said:

"We refuse to bear responsibilities which do not belong to us, for our real responsibilities are more than enough. Certain wise brethren are hot to reform their denomination. They ride out gallantly. Success be to the champions! They are generally wiser when they ride home again.

I confess great admiration for my Quixotic brethren, but I wish they had more to show for their valor. I fear that both church and world are beyond us; we must be content with smaller spheres. Even our own denomination must go its own way. We are only responsible so far as our power goes, and it will be wise to use that power for some object well within reach. For the rest, let us not worry and weary about things beyond our line."

See here

Good advice for today's aspiring "reformers"!

Camp's Inconsistency

In a recent blog posting by brother Steve Camp, a citation was given from an old work - "The Doctrine of Regeneration" by Isaac Ambrose - which I thought was a very good writing on regeneration and one which seemed to me to contradict the "pre-faith regeneration" or "born again before faith" error that Steve Camp and his friend, Dr. James White, uphold, promote, and contend is the very essence of "grace" and historic "Calvinism." In this posting I want to analyze some of the things said by both Camp and Ambrose. I will stop periodically to ask pertinent questions to the Hyperist and those who put regeneration before faith and make important points.

Camp wrote, in the introduction to the citations, these words:

"In the current raging debate among evangelicals on the nature of saving faith, justification, and imputation of the righteousness of Christ (His active and passive obedience), there is also some concern as to what constitutes the nature and means of regeneration. Isaac Ambrose gives tremendous clarity to this pressing issue. May the Lord use his words to stir your hearts in praise to Him."

After reading this introduction by Steve, I was stirred to read further! Important debate indeed! Weighty questions of momentous import!

He then cites these words of Ambrose (emphasis mine):

"Except a man be new born, he can never be saved" -JOHN 3:3. It is our Savior's speech, and he avers it with a double asseveration, " Verily, verily, I say unto thee." Again, GOD the Father thus counsels not only Nicodemus, but all the Jews of the old church, saying, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will you die, O house of Israel?" Ezek. 18:31."

Here it seems to me that Ambrose is correct to observe that the new birth is all the same as the making of a new heart and spirit; And, that the new birth is commanded of sinners. Thus, we can say, as we do about faith and repentance, that it is both a duty and a gracious gift. You only hear Hyper Calvinists ridicule as illogical any command the dead to live or do anything! They make a fool out of God telling Ezekiel to preach to the dead dry bones! God was telling the people - "regenerate your hearts!" or "be reborn!" He gave similar words through both Moses and Jeremiah wherein they said "circumcise your hearts to the Lord and take away the foreskins of your hearts." (Deuteronomy 10: 16, 30: 6: Jeremiah 4: 4 KJV)

Now, if the new birth be commanded of dead sinners, then it must be an act of obedience to the command of God to experience the new birth. Thus, the new birth, rather than excluding all acts of obedience to divine commands, actually includes them. Coming to life is an act of obedience for the Lord says to all dead alien sinners, in the gospel, "arise from the dead and Christ shall give you light." (Ephesians 5: 14 KJV) Further, if the new birth be an act of obedience to the divine command, brought about by the power of the Spirit and word of God, then it must of necessity involve a decision or choice. True, as all Calvinists aver, it is one that God is said to have caused, still the choice of the sinner, or his being "made willing," is an essential part of moral obedience and renovation. Yet, this is the thing that we hear brother Camp and the Hyper Calvinists decrying today! The dead can't decide, they say, so it is foolish to call upon them to do so! Yet, such words make a fool of God, of Moses and Jeremiah! Of course the dead have no power in themselves to obey! Of course no resurrected man can take credit for his having obeyed the command to live! Commands do not imply ability on the part of the ones commanded, however, and this is a lesson the Hyper Calvinists refuse to learn or remember.

Ambrose said further:

"And if the new birth be thus necessary, how should we labor to be born again? Now then, as you tender your souls, and desire heaven at your ends, endeavor to attain this one thing necessary. Lift up your hearts unto GOD, that you may be washed, justified, sanctified, in the name of the Lord JESUS; and that by the Spirit of GOD you may walk in new ways, talk with new tongues, as being new creatures, created unto good works. If you would thus wait on GOD in his way, I trust the Lord in mercy would remember you, and his Spirit would blow upon you, and then you would find and feel such a change within you, as that you would bless GOD for ever, that you were thus born again."

See here

Now, is it only I, or do you also, dear reader, not see how the statements made by Ambrose are diametrically opposite to the "born again before faith" error?

Vedder on being Baptist

H. C. Vedder, wrote:

"THUS far we have considered only the “Regular” Baptists in the United States. There are numerous other bodies that agree with these “Regular” Baptists in their fundamental doctrine of the constitution of the church and the nature of baptism. Any Christian body that practises believers’ baptism—meaning by “baptism” immersion, and by “believer” one who gives credible evidence of regeneration—is fundamentally Baptist, by whatever name it may be called, or whatever may be its oddities of doctrine or practice in other respects." (emphasis mine - SG)

See here

Piper on New Birth

My friend and brother in Christ, Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications, and of the Calvinist and Reformed Flyswatter blogs (see links at the end of this writing), has just written about John Piper and his views on regeneration (new birth) as expressed in his recently published book, "Finally Alive." Bob found some citations from Piper's new book on the internet and shared them with us.

In this posting I want to compare and examine what he has now written with what he has written in the past on the subject.

In his previous older writings, Dr. Piper wrote:

"What I want for all of us in this church, and what I pray that we will want for all our neighbors is to be "filled with all the fullness of God," which fullness is found in His Holy Spirit. But before a person can experience or even desire such fullness he must become a new kind of person. And the specific question I posed for my message this morning is, "What is the role of the Holy Spirit in that change?" The reason I am zeroing in on the image of "new birth" instead of one of the other Biblical images is that in John 3 the Spirit is so closely related to "new birth." The question for now is not, "What becomes of us in the new birth?" but, "Who brings this about?"

I find it quite revealing that Piper affirms that a desire to be saved, or to be a follower of Christ, is an evidence of regeneration. This is what I heard all the time while I was a Hardshell. They would say - "anyone who wants to be saved is already saved, even if they don't know it."

I have dealt with this unscriptural proposition in my book on the Hardshells. I have stated that such views on regeneration are what has led many Hardshells into Universalism and "No Hellism." One of the scriptures that refutes this notion is the utterance of the wicked prophet Baalim, who said - "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!" (Numbers 23: 10 KJV) According to Piper and the Hardshells, Baalim was born again because he expressed a "desire" to be saved! If a man desire to be a "new creature," then he is already one! Interesting too is the fact that Piper cites no scripture that upholds his view. There is no verse that says a simple desire to be saved, or to follow Christ, is proof of regeneration.

This is why also the Hardshells will assert that the "rich young ruler," though rejecting the offer of Christ to come and follow him after disposing of his assets, and though Christ indicated that such would "not enter into the kingdom of heaven," nevertheless was one of the elect, one born again (though he did not know it). And why? Because, they say, he was 1) A seeker and only the born again seek God, and 2) Christ is said to "love" him, and Christ only loves the elect.

Yet, the fact that he was a kind of "seeker" does not indicate that he was "born again" as the Hyper Calvinists assert. Did not Esau "seek" the birthright, yea, even "with tears"? And, did he not fail to "find" it? Was the "seeking" of Esau evidence of election and a regenerated heart?

"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." (Luke 13: 24 KJV)

Here are some like Esau who will "seek to enter" into the kingdom of God but will not be able. Is this "seeking" an evidence of regeneration?
It is said that "hell is paved with good intentions."

Piper wrote:

"The teaching that I want to try to persuade you is Biblical and therefore true and precious is that the new birth is the result of the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit preceding and enabling our first act of saving faith. We do not cause our new birth by an act of faith. Just the reverse: the cry of faith is the first sound that a newborn babe in Christ makes. Regeneration, as we sometimes call it, is all of God. We do not get God to do it by trusting Christ; we trust Christ because He has done it to us already."

I have lots of problems with several of Piper's statements in the above words.

First, he is insistent that the new birth precedes faith, and not only logically, but chronologically. He says that the new birth is only what "enables" the soul to believe. This I take to be an error as I demonstrated numerous times here in the Gadfly.

It eliminates faith as a "means" and if it eliminates faith as a means, then it likewise must eliminate gospel truth as a means. How is it consistent to say that the gospel is a means in the new birth but faith is not? If we say that the word of God is a means, then we cannot avoid also saying that faith is a means.

It also makes something other than faith to be that which "enables." In the scriptures, however, it is faith that is viewed as that which "enables." That which "enables" faith is not regeneration, but the drawing power of the Spirit and word of God. Faith is said to be a "fruit of the Spirit," not a "fruit of regeneration."

Why does Piper not see, using his own logic, how "enabling" is also necessary for regeneration itself? He says one must be regenerated before faith, for regeneration is a prior necessary condition for faith. But, why does he not say that one must experience a work of God (call it what you want) even before regeneration, a work that "enables" one to be regenerated?

Second, he misrepresents those who do not insist, as he, that the new birth precedes faith, by insinuating that they who put faith before regeneration also believe that they cause their own new birth by their own act of faith. He said - "We do not cause our new birth by an act of faith."

Why cannot God, however, cause both our faith and our birth? Really, this kind of statement denies the gospel is a means in the new birth. Does God cause our new birth by the gospel? How by the gospel if not by the gospel being preached and believed?

Why restrict God and say he cannot first create faith that produces regeneration? Why affirm that omnipotence cannot cause faith that causes regeneration?

Piper says that sinners "trust Christ because He has done it to us already." Friends, no Hardshell or Hyperist could have stated it better. Once one accepts this proposition, then he has denied the gospel is a means in the new birth. If one can only trust Christ after he has been born again, then the gospel cannot be a means in the birth. Besides this, the scriptures put faith before regeneration and salvation in numerous places. Was the Philippian jailor "already" a "born again" soul when he cried out "what must I do to be saved?"

Piper wrote:

"We must be born again, born of the Spirit, before we can approve of God's word and trust Christ. Faith is not the means or the cause of the new birth, it is the result, the fruit of new birth."

Again, if this is so, how is the gospel a means in the new birth? Such statements, if true, make the gospel useless in regeneration.

Piper wrote:

"The new birth is not a result of our decision or our act of will. It precedes and enables the heart's decision to trust Christ."

Does the new birth not include a change of the mind and the will, then? Is not the transformation of the thinking an essential part of being born again to new life? Is trusting in Christ not the chief characteristic of the life that is given?

Piper wrote:

"The natural man cannot submit himself to God until a supernatural work of grace is done in his life, called "new birth" in John 3 and the "drawing of God" in John 6."

True, a naturally depraved man cannot submit to God until! But, until when? Until God first regenerates? No! Rather, until God acts to draw by the word! Certainly God must move and act before the sinner moves and acts. Very few deny this.

Further, the drawing of John 6 is not regeneration, as I have shown in numerous writings, but the "coming" to Christ, or believing on him, is regeneration. Why does Piper want to affirm that a man is regenerated before he comes to Christ? How can a man be regenerated who has not come to Christ, who is not joined to him?

Piper wrote:

"But someone may say, "You can't equate the new birth with this drawing by God because God draws all men to Christ." My answer is, "Yes, there is a drawing of all men in the sense that the enticing revelation of God in nature or in the gospel goes out to all men beckoning them to repent. But that is not the sort of drawing Jesus has in mind here."

This is not the only reason for refusing to equate the "drawing" with the "new birth." It includes the reasons I have given also. What is the purpose of the drawing? Is it not to bring them to Christ and to life and salvation? How can one be said to be "drawn" to a location until he reaches that location? Until he reaches that location, he may be in the process of being drawn, but he is not drawn until the end has been reached.

Piper wrote:

"...the new birth is the result of the free and sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, preceding and enabling our first act of saving faith. We do not bring about the new birth by faith. On the contrary, the Spirit must first create a new person who then, according to his new and spiritual nature, has the desire to believe in Christ."

Again, the same argument applies to Piper's argument as it did to Dr. Grudem's. Piper's argument defines the "new birth" in such a way as to exclude faith and trust in Christ. How could a man be said to have spiritual "life" who has an unbelieving heart? Is that all that regeneration does is give the ability to believe, rather than creating faith itself? Piper says that it is regeneration alone that enables one to "please God," yet the Bible teaches that it takes faith, as well as spiritual life, to be able to "please God." (See Heb. 11: 6)

Piper wrote:

"Finally, I love this doctrine because it gives to you who are not yet born again strong encouragement to close in with Christ."

What does he mean by this? What counsel is he giving to the unregenerate? What does "close in with Christ" mean? Is this regeneration? What does Piper tell the unregenerate? How do they "close in with Christ"? Is it not by joining oneself to him by faith?

Piper wrote:

"You do not need any other witness of the Spirit's work within you than the desire you feel to come to God. If there is one spark of longing in you to trust Christ, it is of God and you may take heart that He is at work in you to draw you to the Son. He has not left you to yourself. Go forward with Him. Confirm His work by your faith. Make your calling and election sure: cleave to Jesus and He will never let you go.

And so I commend to you all this blessed work of the Holy Spirit. And I urge that none of you take any credit for your new birth, nor for your faith. It is all of God."

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Conversion

See here

Again, I repeat, this is the kind of stuff you will hear from the Hardshell preachers. The simple desire to come to Christ is a proof of regeneration! One does not have to come to Christ, to be assured of regeneration, but only has to have a desire to come to him!

This is why most Hardshells teach that Nicodemus was already born again before he came to Jesus "by night." His "coming" to Christ, weak and timid as it was, yet was enough to show he had some small faint "spark" of a "desire" to come, and this was enough to show he was not spiritually dead. But, Christ addressed Nicodemus as one lost, for he said to him specifically - "YOU must be born again."

Also, Piper again wants to misrepresent those who place faith before regeneration by insinuating that such Christians do not give credit to God for their regeneration! But, this is not so for those who credit God with the creating of their faith that brings new life, justification, and cleansing of spirit.

Piper, in his new book, wrote the following:

"...the Spirit of God supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith. The new spiritual life that we receive in the new birth is not separate from union with Jesus, and it is not separate from faith...he gives us new life by uniting us to Christ."

I find the above words different from the previous citations. Has Piper changed, for the better, in his views and expressions on this topic? In the above he has a different "ordo salutis" than he expressed in the previous citations which reflect his earlier position, before his new book. His "order" now, as shown in the above words, is faith, union with Christ, and then regeneration. But, in his earlier works he has regeneration, union with Christ, and then faith. In this later work he clearly has new life by faith! His later work expresses the truth.

Piper wrote:

"Our first experience of this is the faith in Jesus that this life brings. There is no separation of time here. When we are born again, we believe. And when we believe, we know we have been born again. When there is fire, there is heat. When there is new birth, there is faith."

Instead of saying that faith is the first experience of the new birth life, why does he not say that new life is the first experience of faith? Also, instead of saying only that "when we are born again, we believe," why does he not say also - "when we believe, we are born again"?


"He called us from darkness to light and from death to life through the gospel and gave us eyes to see and ears to hear. He made the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ shine in our hearts through the gospel."

If we are "called to life" in Christ "through the gospel," how can this be if it is not believed? Why does not life through the gospel not mean life through faith in the gospel, as Abraham Booth pointed out? When this gospel shines in the soul, does it not at the same time produce both faith and life?

Piper wrote:

"...there is no life without faith in Jesus. Therefore, we should never separate the new birth from faith in Jesus. From God’s side, we are united to Christ in the new birth. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. From our side, we experience this union by faith in Jesus."

"There is not life without faith in Jesus"! Why has he not just been saying that all along? Why does he not keep it that simple instead of fogging the understanding by the "hair-splitting" schemes that oppose that simple statement? Also, again Piper gets the "ordo" correct in this last statement, but it is different from his ones written in earlier times. Here he puts faith first, then union with Christ, and then new life. This is the scriptural order and he would do well to stick with it and get away from his Hyperism.

Piper wrote:

"Faith–the key to victory. Because faith is the way we experience being born of God."

Well, why did he not say that all along and avoid all the needed hair-splitting that confuses and divides brethren?

Piper wrote:

"In the new birth, the Holy Spirit supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith. For Jesus is life."

Again, this is different from his former writings! I am glad that Piper is becoming more scriptural and baptistic on this point!

Piper wrote:

"...faith is the way we experience being born of God. So we summed the entire message last week like this: In the new birth, the Holy Spirit supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith."

Like Bob Ross said, this is historic creedal Calvinism. It is the view of the original reformers and of our great historic particular Baptist leaders. Will the Hypers in the SBC say "amen" to the above words of Piper? Can we all agree on his words? Words which do not put life before faith?

For the citations from Piper,

See here

And here

Feb 19, 2009

Dr. Grudem's Errors II

Dr. Grudem wrote:

"The idea that regeneration comes before saving faith is not always understood by evangelicals today. Sometimes people will even say something like, "If you believe in Christ as your Savior, then (after you believe) you will be born again." But Scripture itself never says anything like that. The new birth is viewed by Scripture as something that God does within us in order to enable us to believe...if we are to use language that closely conforms to the actual wording of Scripture, it would be better to restrict the word "regeneration" to the instantaneous, initial work of God in which he imparts spiritual life to us."

See here

"But Scripture itself never says anything like that"? Is that so? Are we reading the same Bible? Maybe Dr. Grudem needs to recall these verses?

"...purified their hearts by faith." (Acts 15: 9 NIV)
"...sanctified by faith..." (Acts 26: 18 NIV

is this "sanctification" and "purifying of the heart" not regeneration or the new birth? Why teach a system that says sinners are purified and sanctified after faith (or 'by faith') but are regenerated before faith? How is that scriptural, or how does that simplify things?

"...live by faith..." (Romans 1: 17; II Corinthians 5:7 NIV)

Why is this not true of receiving "life" initially? Why say that we live by faith but then say that we don't initially receive life by faith? Again, how is it scriptural to make such distinctions? How is this "rightly dividing the word of truth"? Are we "alive by faith"?

"...righteousness from God comes through faith..." (Romans 3: 22; 4: 13 NIV)

Why teach an order that insists that righteousness and justification, with pardon and cleansing, come after faith, but also insists that regeneration comes before faith? Does "righteousness" not come with "regeneration" and new birth? What "accompanies" it?

"...justified by faith..." (Romans 3: 28, 5: 1, etc.)

Dr. Grudem and his "Reformed" Hyperist brethren say they believe such verses and that they do put "justification" after faith, but they say, "regeneration" must precede faith, and so regeneration must precede justification. It would help Dr. Grudem and his fellow Hyper Calvinists to simply come up with some plain passages of scripture that say such things. Where does Paul insist that regeneration must precede faith, but adoption, purification of heart, and sanctification of spirit, and justification, all must come after faith? Paul not only taught justification, salvation, sanctification, cleansing, sealing, adoption (son placing), and becoming the children of God, as all being by faith, but he also taught that being regenerated, born or begotten, or coming to life spiritually, was also "by faith."

"...access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." (Romans 5: 2 NIV)

"...stand by faith..." (Romans 11: 20 NIV)

Why can't "this grace" include regeneration? Why must Dr. Grudem and the Hyperist insist that "this grace" must exclude regeneration? These words tell us that faith is the vehicle, instrument, means, key or door, into the state of salvation. But, if faith comes after regeneration, or after entrance into the grace of regeneration, then Paul's statement is false.

"...by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." (Galatians 3: 14, 22 NIV)

What is this "promise of the Spirit" if it is not regeneration? Does a man not "receive the Spirit" when he is born again and regenerated? Are these things not equated in scripture? If so, then the statement that we "receive the Spirit by faith" is eqaul to the statement that we are "regenerated by faith." Does a man not receive the Spirit when he is regenerated? If so, then he receives it by faith, and thus it is proper and scriptural to say that sinners are regenerated by faith. Will Dr. Grudem tell us that a sinner receives the Spirit in regeneration but not by faith?

"You are all sons (children) of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3: 26 NIV)

How does one "become" a "child"? Is it not by a birth or an adoption? So, we are both born and adopted "by faith." This verse is plain on the "order" of things while all the proof that Dr. Grudem and the Hyperist can bring forth are their "logical deductions" from their misunderstanding of passages on "total depravity," but no plain statements affirming their "regeneration before faith" order.

"...saved through faith..." (Ephesians 2: 8 NIV)

Why does Grudem and the Hardshells say that this "salvation" is not regeneration? That it excludes being saved by new birth?

Why impose upon scripture a rule that says "salvation" comes after faith but regeneration comes before it? Why separate regeneration from salvation? Besides, in the passage above, is the main aspect of "salvation," being discussed, not the "quickening"?

"...Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..." (Ephesians 3: 17 NIV)

Why is regeneration not all the same as Christ "dwelling in" the "heart"? Does not union with Christ occur by faith? Does not union with Christ precede regeneration?

"...raised with him through your faith..." (Colossians 2: 12 NIV)

Why is "raised with him" not a reference to regeneration? And, if it is a description of regeneration, they it is declared to be "through faith."

"...through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6: 12 NIV)

Is the new birth not "what has been promised"? Surely it is! If so, then regeneration is "through faith." Dr. Grudem and the Hyperists must exclude the new birth from the words "what has been promised."

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons (children) of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1: 12 KJV)

Why is this "becoming the children of God" not a reference to regeneration? Surely it is! But, if cannot be regeneration if Grudem is right, for he says regeneration occurs and is complete before Christ is received and trusted in.

"While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." (John 12: 36 KJV)

"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20: 31 KJV)

These words are not any less plain than the others. Receiving spiritual life, or regeneration and new birth, or becoming "children" of God and light, is the result of faith.

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10: 43 KJV)

Why is regeneration disconnected from pardon of sin by those who insist that regeneration comes before faith but that pardon comes after faith?

Grudem and the Hyper Calvinists must read the text thusly - "Whosoever is regenerated by him shall believe on him, and whosever believes on him shall receive the remission of sins."

"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (Ephesians 1: 13 KJV)

Why is this "sealing" not regeneration? Why make it something different? If it is regeneration, or a component of it, then is it not put after faith?

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3: 19)

Why is being "converted" not signify "regeneration"? Why read the text as teaching this order - regeneration, repentance, conversion, pardon?

To do so would restrict the command to only those who are regenerated, which is exactly what the Hardshells, acknowledged Hyper Calvinists, do! They do not believe in commanding any known unregenerate person to repent and be converted in order to pardon!

"God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life." (Acts 11: 18 NIV )

This passage puts "life" and regeneration after repentance. This passage is in agreement with the preceding verse, for it puts conversion after repentance. If "life" and "conversion" and "pardon" all follow repentance, then how can we consistently put "regeneration" before repentance?

"Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." (Isaiah 55: 3 KJV)

Again, is not the receiving of spiritual life, or regeneration, not put after hearing and coming, or after receiving Christ and believing on his name? Is he saying this to only the regenerated?

Grudem said:

"The new birth is viewed by Scripture as something that God does within us in order to enable us to believe."

No, the scriptures say no such thing. Yes, they do teach that God works in us to believe to regeneration. Why do the Hyperists insist that God can only operate in their "order"? Why do they say that God cannot first give faith? A faith that instantly saves, regenerates, justifies, cleanses, sanctifies, and pardons?

Grudem said:

"If we are to use language that closely conforms to the actual wording of Scripture, it would be better to restrict the word "regeneration" to the instantaneous, initial work of God in which he imparts spiritual life to us."

That is simply not true! He ought to know better! In fact, many Hyper Calvinists who put regeneration before faith even acknowledge this fact! They admit that 1) The scriptures do not distinguish between regeneration and conversion, and 2) The first "Reformers" and the "Puritans" did not make any "technical" distinction.

Wrote by Dr. J. I. Packer in "Puritan Evangelism":

"The Puritans did not use “conversion” and “regeneration” as technical terms, and so there are slight variations in usage. Perhaps the majority treated the words as synonyms, each denoting the whole process whereby God brings the sinner to his first act of faith."

See here

In conclusion, it is obvious that the "born again before faith" error that is promoted by men like Wayne Grudem and James White, and those of the Founders Association, is not scriptural and creates all kinds of confusion for Bible students, and is detrimental to fervent evangelism of the lost.

Feb 18, 2009

Old Hardshell Publication

I have been studying the history of the "Primitive" or "Hardshell" Baptists for many years and I am always discovering something new historically about this group. I have recently discovered the existence of a number of old Hardshell or "Old School" periodicals of the early 19th century, ones that I never heard of till recently. One such paper is the "Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor" edited by Daniel E. Jewett and published from New York. This periodical seems to have been started in the mid 1830's and contains articles from several historic figures in the "anti-mission movement."

You can check out this old periodical at this web site:


I have also discovered the writings of a person who led the "Regular Baptist" charge against the Campbellites, and Alexander Campbell himself, publishing pamphlets against him in Pittsburgh, and also published writings against the same things the Hardshells were decrying, such as mission cooperation, seminaries, etc. His name was Elder Lawrence Greatrake, a fellow member with the infamous Signey Rigdon of Mormon lore and fame. You can check out some of his writings at this web page:


Debate Announcement

I have agreed to hold the following two debates with John R. Gentry of the "Church of Christ" that meets in Greenville, Indiana, just north of the river from Louisville, Kentucky. The web site for the church that brother Gentry pastors is here.

Debate in Monroe, N.C. at the location of Emmanuel Theological Seminary and Crossroads Baptist Church on north Rocky River Road.

Thursday Night - August 13th, 2009

The Scriptures teach that water baptism is essential for the alien sinner to obtain the forgiveness of his past sins.

Affirm: Gentry
Deny: Garrett

Friday Night - August 14th, 2009

The Scriptures teach that the alien sinner is forgiven of his past sins by faith, before and without water baptism.

Affirm: Garrett
Deny: Gentry

Debate at the Church of Christ building in Greenville, Indiana

Thursday Night (7 PM) - August 20th, 2009

The Scriptures teach that a child of God, one saved by the blood of Christ, can so sin as to be eternally lost in hell.

Affirm: Gentry
Deny: Garrett

Friday Night - August 21st, 2009

The Scriptures teach that a child of God, one saved by the blood of Christ, cannot so sin as to be eternally lost in hell.

Affirm: Garrett
Deny: Gentry

The debate in Indiana is only tentative at this point and will be confirmed by the first of June. If it is not able to occur in 2009, then it will be rescheduled for August, 2010. Further information will be announced in early summer. Mark a spot on your calendar if you are able to come.

Feb 17, 2009

Dr. Grudem's Errors

I have previously discussed the errors of Dr. Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, relative to his Hyper Calvinism, and his promotion of the "born again before faith" heresy, and of his nonsensical "regeneration."

See here

See here

Here also

Here also

Wrote Dr. Grudem:

"Using the verses quoted above, we have defined regeneration to be the act of God awakening spiritual life within us, bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life. On this definition, it is natural to understand that regeneration comes before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith. However, when we say that it comes "before" saving faith, it is important to remember that they usually come so close together..." (Systematic Theology By Wayne A. Grudem - page 702)

See here

Error # 1 - Narrow Definition

Dr. Grudem errs in defining "regeneration" or the "new birth" to what is strictly an "act of God," to the "cause" alone, to the exclusion of the "effect," an error that Dr. Archibald Alexander, famous founder of the Princeton Seminary and school of Calvinism, pointed out.

Wrote Dr. Alexander:

"Sometimes regeneration is considered distinctly from the acts and exercises of the mind which proceed from it, but in the Holy Scriptures the cause and effect are included..."

"See here

And what is the "effect" of this "act of God"? Why the sinner himself is regenerated! Regeneration is something that sinners experience, not what God experiences. Regeneration is activity by definition. Coming to life is activity, and though caused by God's "act" in efficiently producing it, yet it is the activity of the dead sinner to actually "come to life."

Dr. Grudem's "definition" is not scriptural nor even sensical. It is this type of "definition" that makes the "drawing" of John 6:44 to be regeneration, rather than being the "cause" of regeneration. The "coming" to Christ, who is Life, is the sinner's "coming to life," or regeneration, and so the "drawing" cannot be the regeneration. They cannot both be "regeneration." In other words, if the "drawing" is regeneration, then the "coming" cannot be. Likewise, if the "coming" is regeneration, then the "drawing" cannot be. The "drawing" is the "cause" whereas the "coming" is the "effect," but if we, as Dr. Alexander said was the scriptural way, define "regeneration" as including the "effect," then a man is not regenerated till he has "come" to Christ, which is, in the chapter, equivalent to believing on and receiving Christ.

Error # 2 - Metaphysical "Life"

The Hyper Calvinist has a very narrow definition of what is spiritual "life." The kind of "life" and "regeneration" they describe is best described by Alexander Campbell, who battled such definitions of the Hyper Calvinists in his day, as being a "metaphysical regeneration," or "metaphysical life." It is what cannot be adequately described, being nondescript. If one questions the Hyper Calvinist on what change constitutes the new birth, you will not get anything but a metaphysical description that will clear up nothing, or make nothing plain. Their favorite way to describe the experience is by the use of the word "deposit." The one who is "regenerated" has "life" suddenly "planted" or "deposited" within the "soul" or "spirit" or "heart" of the sinner. What is this "deposit"? How is this "deposit" received by the sinner? What are its causes and effects? What is the soul or heart? Does it include the mind and the understanding?

How can "regeneration" and "new birth" be defined if one affirms that many of the elect are "regenerated in infancy"? Must it not then be something totally separate from conversion, and its constituents, namely faith and repentance? Yea, from the conscious mind itself? If such a "regeneration" involves no change in the "thinking" (false beliefs), nor any change in the affections or will of the sinner, then has it not been made impossible to "define" what is "regeneration"? Has it not been made, by the Hyper Calvinist, into some invisible change in the substance of the soul that no one can understand, make intelligible, or give a clear definition to? Let them come forward and give us a definition of "regeneration" and spiritual "life" that is understandable, and in keeping with the scriptures, which do not distinguish between the "cause" and the "effect" and between "regeneration" and "conversion."

What kind of "definition" is it, especially by a learned "doctor" of theology, to say that "regeneration" is "coming to life" and vice versa? All he is saying is that these two terms denote virtually the same thing. But, given this "definition" of the two terms, has he really "defined" what is the experience of regeneration or the constituent elements or characteristics of the "life" of Christ?

Grudem says "regeneration" is coming to "life" from the "dead." Then, he says that this proves that regeneration must precede faith! Huh? How can it prove such if regeneration and coming to faith are essentially the same experience? In such a case, Grudem would have us believe that "regeneration precedes regeneration" or "faith precedes faith," which are examples of reductio ad absurdum.

Noice how Grudem's "definition" of "regeneration" and of spiritual "life" excludes faith and repentance as essential elements of it! If he believed that faith and repentance were essential elements of spiritual "life" in Christ, then he would not think of saying "regeneration BEFORE faith."

This "deposit" is stated to be the giving or implanting of either "life" or "ability." But, is that not a "metaphysical" definition that explains nothing of the experience? Is receiving new birth like receiving a "virus"?

You see this type of "metaphysical" gobbledygook, and "Greek" speculation and theorizing, this theological "hair-splitting," carried on by these religious "metaphysicians" and "doctors of divinity," such as Grudem, that really say nothing concrete or comphehensible about the experience of the new birth. Their "definitions" besides being grossly unscriptural, are really nothing but smoke and wind, without substance. Thus you can often hear these metaphysicians justify their infant and metaphysical "regeneration" argue thusly - "if infants can experience degeneration, then they can experience regeneration." And, if one accepts their "logic," then one will end up narrowing down the definition of both words, degeneration and regeneration, like the words "life" and "death," so that they become unconscious experiences, that make no immediate visible impact, like the receiving of a virus or other germ (seed). Thus, as "degeneration" (spiritual death) is narrowly defined, in order to include infants and embeciles, and even heathens, to mean "principles of corruption," like a leavening agent, then likewise "regeneration" (spiritual life) is narrowly defined to mean "principles of incorruption" or holiness. Thus, an infant can have both the "principles of corruption" (degenerate nature) and the "principles of holiness" (regenerate nature), and if such be the case, then both terms must be defined purely "metaphysically." I use "metaphysical" in the sense of what is "highly abstract, subtle, or abstruse."

But, interestingly, "regeneration," in scripture, is compared to what we call "germination." When a seed is "planted," and the conditions are right, then "germination" will take place, and this is also termed "coming to life" or a resurrection, in the scriptures.

But, if we define "regeneration" as "giving ability," then regeneration must precede germination, which would make it to precede itself.

Besides, the descriptions of the unregenerate, are generally descriptions of non-infant sinners, involving their thinking, feeling, and course of conduct. So too with the descriptions of the regenerate.

Besides, who said that it must be true that if infants can be said to be "degenerate" that they must be also able to be called "regenerate"? Who said that they must be exact in this respect?

Is "regeneration" the "giving of ability" to "come to life"? Is it the "giving of ability" to be born again? Does it take "ability" to be born again? If "regeneration" is the "giving of ability" to believe, then is "degeneration" the mere "giving of ability" to disbelieve?

Error # 3 - Circular Reasoning

Grudem said:

"It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith."

Why does Grudem not apply his own logic to the context of "the spiritual ability to respond to God in regeneration"? Does Grudem's "definition" of "regeneration" exclude ANY "response" in the dead sinner? Is not "coming to life" a "response" of the dead?

This kind of "logic" creates what is called in logic, a "circle" with no escape, seen in "circular fallacies" such as in "circular reasoning" or "begging the question." Here is an example in the context of our discussion of the term "giving ability to."

...ability to be regenerated, then regeneration, then ability to believe and repent, then faith and repentance, then ability to do good works and be justified and adopted, then ability to persevere and be finally saved, then ability to live above sin, then ability to be happy forever...

You see the circular nature of this kind of reasoning.

I re-emphasize how Grudem's "ability to respond" must include regeneration, if we define "regeneration" as also being a kind of "response"; And, that this kind of definition involves one in absurdities and contradictory statements. Also, if Grudem's logic proved anything, it would "prove too much" for it would prove that, logically speaking, not even God can regenerate, unless he first "give ability" to be regenerated, and thus keep one keeps "backing up" regeneration to a point where it becomes, by definition, a "bunch of nothing."

Error # 4 - Doublespeak

Grudem said:

"...when we say that it comes "before" saving faith, it is important to remember that they usually come so close together..."

Many of those who promote the "born again before faith" error will ofen say that they believe that regeneration only "logically" precedes faith, although not "chronologically." I have numerous writings here in this blog against this kind of "doublespeak." This is humorous and ironic because 1) They are thus admitting that, logically speaking, they create a "regenerated unbeliever," the thing they decry being a just consequence of their doctrinal position, and 2) They insist that getting the "logical order" correct is tremendously important, although only logically important, though not practically, and 3) They are taking the means of the gospel out of the regeneration equation.

Grudem does what few Hyper Calvinists are willing to do openly. He avows that the experience of regeneration and conversion (coming to faith) does not always occur simultaneously! He says that they "usually" go together, not always! Thus, his definition of "regeneration" and spiritual "life" is purely metaphysical and creates a literal, and not just a logical or hypothetical, "regenerated unbeliever."

I have also pointed out in previous reviews of Grudem's audio internet sermon on "regeneration" how he put a gap in time between "regeneration" and "coming to faith."

In summation, I affirm that Grudem is a Hyper Calvinist in that he denies the instrumentality of the gospel in regeneration, and creates the unbiblical character of a "born again unbeliever."