Apr 6, 2009

Akin on the Ordo Salutis

Dr. Danny Akin, according to Tom Ascol of the Founders organization, see here, will be guest speaker at the annual Founders breakfast this June in Louisville. I have a suggestion for Dr. Akin and Dr. Ascol. Why not have Dr. Akin talk about how conversion and regeneration are virtually the same, how they are concurrent, and how, if logical priority is to be given to one, it must be to conversion, not to regeneration?

Here is what was written by Prof. Kenneth Keathley in chapter 12 of the book edited by Dr. Akin, which no doubt is the view of Dr. Akin. (emphasis mine).

"However, the Holy Spirit uses means, and the instruments he employs to achieve regeneration are the gospel (James 1: 18, 21; I Pet. 1: 23) and the messengers who share it (I Cor. 4: 15). If the gospel is not available, the saving, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is also absent. This disturbing truth gives urgency to the missionary mandate of the Great Commission."


"Are those who believe in turn born again, or does a person believe because he has been regenerated? Which happens first? And if they occur simltaneously, which one is the logical cause of the other? Evangelicals agree that a saved person is both converted and regenerated, but there is wide disagreement as to which occurs first, either chronologically or logically. There are good arguments for either position, but the biblical texts seem to come down on the side of conversion resulting in regneration.

Regeneration is instantaneous; it is not a process drawn out over a period of time. An expectant mother may experience a protracted labor, but there will finally come a point when the child is delivered. Similarly, those who come to Christ often go through the great spiritual travail of the Holy Spirit's conviction (John 16: 8). The process of wrestling with God is not the new birth, but rather regeneration is the outcome of the effectual calling of God.

Certain Reformed and Presbyterian churches teach that regeneration precedes conversion chronologically and a number of covenant theologians connect regeneration with infant baptism. W. G. T. Shedd for example, is careful not to attribute regenerating power to the rite of baptism, but he does consider baptism to be a sign that the infant has been regenerated."

However, as we have seen, the Scriptures point to the Word of God, not baptism, as the means by which the Holy Spirit imparts the new birth. In addition, Shedd's association of baptism with circumcision is not supported by the New Testament. Rather, the teaching of Scripture is that regeneration is concurrent, or coincident, with conversion. This means that conversion and regeneration, as events, occur at the same time. For example, John states that those who "receive him" are also those have been "born of God" (John 1: 12-13).

Among those who agree that the two aspects of salvation are simultaneous, there is debate as to which is logically prior. Many Reformed and covenant theologians reject Shedd's argument for chronological priority but still contend for the logical priority of regeneration. Conversion is the willing response to the to the gospel call, but how does one who is totally depraved and dead in sins turn to God? The inability of a lost person to respond to the gospel seems to necessitate that something must happen to the person to make him receptive, and regeneration is seen to be that transforming event. Even those who do not hold to this position acknowledge its logical appeal. (741-42)

However, there are three strong biblical arguments for understanding conversion to precede the new birth. First, the many appeals in the Bible calling sinners to respond to the gospel imply that conversion results in regeneration. The Scriptures are presented as the seed the Spirit of God uses to bring about new life (I Peter 1: 23; James 1: 18, 21; I John 3: 9). That the Word of God is the Spirit's instrumental means indicates that faith leads to regeneration. Second, the Bible presents conversion as the condition to salvation, not the result of being saved (John 1: 12; 3: 16, 18, 24, 36, 40; Acts 2: 38; Rom. 3: 22, 26; 4:3,5; 5:1). The apostles repeatedly promise their hearers that, if they will repent and believe, then they will be saved (Acts 2: 38; 16: 30-31). the Apostle John put special emphasis on the necessity of the new birth, but he presented faith as the condition to becoming a child of God (John 1: 12-13) and to receiving eternal life ("by believing you may have life in his name," John 20: 31)."

"In order for a person to answer the gospel call, there indeed must be a special work of the Holy Spirit, but we conclude that this enablement is not regeneration but the inward call of the Spirit. The convicting work of the Holy Spirit and the effectual call that accompanies the preaching of the gospel enable a sinner to believe. The order that seems to be the testimony of Scripture is that those who are converted are born again." (pg. 743)

A Theology for the Church By Daniel L. Akin, David P. Nelson, Peter R. Schemm, Jr.

Published by B&H Publishing Group, 2007

See here

I hope Dr. Akin can help Dr. Ascol see the truth on this important issue!


Bruce Oyen said...

This was very good, Stephen! The evidence given cannot be questioned. You made a good suggestion about Dr. Akin helping Dr. Ascol.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

I corrected my remarks to say that the chapter was not written by Dr. Akin himself but by Prof. Keathley. I assume it is the view of Dr. Akin since he was editor of the work.

Thanks for your comments.

God bless