Feb 12, 2009

Future Postings

In the last chapter on "Hardshell Proof Texts" I dealt with two leading passages offered by Hardshells and other Hyper Calvinists dealing with the doctrine of "total depravity" wherein the passages are supposed to teach, by implication, the idea that sinners are "born again before faith," or are regenerated and saved apart from the gospel and faith in it. I showed how those passages did not prove that men were born again before their conversion, or before their union with Christ by faith in the Christ of the gospel. I showed rather that they demonstrated that the essential element of the "life" of Christ, spiritual and eternal life, is not some "metaphysical" or nondescript entity, nor an empty "hollow log" experience, but is a penitent faith, or a believing and penitent heart. I showed how it was biblically impossible to separate "faith" and "repentance" from the definition of spiritual "life" or from the "new heart" promised in regeneration and conversion.

In upcoming posts in this series I will be addressing another couple of passages dealing with "total depravity" and see if they teach the idea that regeneration or the new birth is distinct from conversion, or whether such experience occurs apart from the gospel and from faith. Specifically I will look at what is meant, and what is to be inferred by, the bible's description of sinners being "dead" and how this relates to issues of Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism.

Then, I will look at instances of Hardshell soteriology and regeneration theory in the Book of Acts and will look at the examples and descriptions of regeneration and conversion given therein. I will also look at a few pertinent passages from the Acts.

Besides the discussion, from the Book of Acts, relative to the relationship of faith to regeneration, and of the gospel being a means of the same, or the 'ordo salutis,' there is the added discussion of how the apostles, elders, individual Christians, and churches, whether individually or collectively, carried out the commands of the "Great Commission." I have already covered this topic in a lengthy series - "Hardshells & The Great Commission" (I have intentions of adding one other chapter in the near future), and have plans to have an entire series titled "Hardshells and Missions," where such passages will be addressed, together with much historical material on the topic.

Upcoming Chapters in the "Proof Texts" series.

1. Chapter 87 - Spiritual Death
2. Chapter 88 - Conversions in Acts I
3. Chapter 89 - Conversions in Acts II
4. Chapter 90 - Romans 2: 13-15
5. Chapter 91 - Hebrews 8: 11
6. Chapter 92 - Revelation 5: 9, 10
7. Chapter 93 - II Timothy 1: 10
8. Chapter 94 - Ezekiel 36: 26

The conversions that will be focused upon, in the Book of Acts, are these:

1. Pentecostal penitents and audience
2. Cornelius
3. Lydia
4. Philippian jailer
5. Saul
6. Athenian pagans

Passages in Acts that will be looked at closely, are these:

1. Acts 13: 48
2. Acts 26: 16-18

Thus far in this series I have examined several passages of scripture that Hardshells regularly use in defense of their "born again before faith" heresy. The careful reader no doubt has observed that all these passages, thus far, are from the writings of the apostle John, particularly from the gospel of John, excepting the last chapter, and the next, wherein the leading passages on "total depravity" are addressed.

Are there not any writings from the other gospels that support Hyper Calvinism's idea of what constitutes "regeneration" or the "new birth"? That show that the divine "begetting" precedes faith?

Oddly, there are no major passages cited by Hardshell apologists, and by others who promote Hyperism on the new birth, from Matthew, Mark, or Luke. No major "proof texts" are cited from these gospels or from the parables, with the exception of the parable of the Sower and the Seed.

I have already looked at that parable in Chapter 35 and refuted their argumentation thereon, one that affirmed that the "honest and good heart" was equal to a "regenerated heart," thus putting the making of the good heart prior to the reception of the seed (gospel).

Other than this parable and proof, from a non-Johanine book, the Hardshells offer little proof of their aberrant views of the new birth from the gospels.

In Hardshellism, nearly all the parables and words of Christ, as recorded in the non-Johanine gospels, only talk about "conversion," or final salvation.

If one thinks of Hardshellism in context of the parables, he is struck with the question - "where is 'regeneration' in these parables?"

If they all, or nearly all, talk about "conversion," what is distinct and separate from "regeneration," then one can see why the Hardshell apologist rarely offer sany proof texts from the non Johanine gospels, or from the parables, to prove his "regeneration apart from faith" view.

For instance where is the experience of "regeneration" in the parable of the "Prodigal Son"? Is it when he "comes to himself" or when he "returns" to his Father's house and begs forgiveness?

In the Parable of the Wedding feast prepared by the king for his son, wherein the servants were sent out to "bid" people to the wedding, does this parable deal at all with regeneration? Not to the Hardshell.

Most Hardshells interpret the parables as instructions in ecclesiology, or what pertains to the fortunes of the visible or militant church (which they, being Landmarkers, believe exist in a visible chain of churches since the apostles, and which they, the "Primitive Baptists," are the only remaining link), and in an Amillenial manner, dealing with the "cutting off of the Jews" and with the "Old Covenant's" abolition, and with the inauguration of the New Covenant, and with the bringing in of the church to replace Israel, and thus not with anything that pertains to the experience of being initially saved, born again, or regenerated.

Those who are not Hardshells, however, see initial salvation and regeneration spoken of quite frequently in the non Johanine gospels, and in the parables, for they do not divorce "conversion" from "regeneration."

The error of the Hardshells is in failing to see that "regeneration," as well as "conversion," is variously described in the gospel parables.

The descriptions of the saving experience, in the gospels and parables, are nearly always ones that are "evangelical," and this is the reason why Hardshells see very few allusions or references to regeneration in the gospels and parables. They do not believe that evangelical faith has anything to do with being initially saved, or born again. Therefore, anything in the parables and teachings of Christ that imply an activity of the will, on the part of the sinner being saved, and that imply a cognitive understanding and a conscious faith, or what is called a "conversion" experience, cannot, according to Hardshell enthymemes, be talking about regeneration, or what is necessary for eternal salvation, but must be talking about conversion, and what is only necessary for a time salvation. According to Hardshellism an elect person must be regenerated to go to Heaven, but he does not have to be "converted."

After I complete the series on "Hardshell Proof Texts," I plan to add the additional chapter on "Hardshells & The Great Commission," then begin the series on "Hardshells and Missions."

Future series will include these:

1. Hardshells & Missions
2. Hardshell Hermeneutics
3. Paradigm Problems
4. Evolution in Doctrine
5. Rise of the Hardshells
6. Hardshells & Predestination
7. Perseverance or Preservation?
8. Hardshell Landmarkism
9. Hardshell Founding Fathers
10. Hardshell Slayers
11. Hardshell Divisions
12. Hardshells & Christian Education
13. Hardshells & Benevolent Work
14. Bradley & The Liberal Movement
15. Assorted Writings

In addition to these planned writings, I am still actively involved in my other books and in historical research on the Primitive Baptist denomination and on the history of Hyper Calvinism among the Baptists, especially the Southern Baptists.

I have some material to post soon on some of the historical battles between the anti-missionaries and the missionaries among the Baptists.


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