Feb 21, 2009

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?

1 comment:

The Seeking Disciple said...

I think you make your point very well. Good post.