Does Regeneration Precede Faith?
*As this is a summary of Dr. Allen's manuscript, some footnotes that would normally appear may have been omitted.
“Most Calvinists believe that regeneration precedes faith,” said David Allen at the March 21-22 John 3.16 Conference held at North Metro First Baptist Church outside Atlanta, Ga.
Allen cited Boettner, Pink, Sproul and Piper to support his statement, but he later cited other Calvinists who hold a different position, or are ambivalent on the issue – even Calvin himself in his commentary on Eph. 2.
Many Calvinists base their view of regeneration preceding faith on their view of total depravity as equivalent to total inability and on interpretations of verses including John 1:12-13; 3:1-16; Eph. 2:1-10, e.g.
“The phrase ‘regeneration precedes faith’ is fraught with ambiguity,” Allen said, asking “what is meant by the words regeneration, faith, and precede, and whether precede means to precede logically or temporally.”
by Norm Miller
Between catnaps last Sunday (March 24), I watched the NCAA and NASCAR. Every time I’d awaken, I’d change the channel. I must take only catnaps, as my wife will commandeer the remote if I snore for too long.
I had kept fairly close tabs on the NASCAR race at Fontana, Calif., and was aware that Kyle Busch had dominated. But at race’s end, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were banging it out for first place. They epitomized the saying, “Rubbin’ is racin’.”
Last lap. The 11 and 22 cars were swappin’ paint and race positions. I was sure one of them would be number 33 when they were through.
Who would win?
“This is currently the burning question in Southern Baptist life: ‘For whose sins did Jesus die?’”
Dr. Jerry Vines -- organizer of the John 3.16 Conference held at North Metro First Baptist Church March 21-22 – was the conference’s initial plenary speaker.
“I want to attempt to answer the question biblically.… I want to know -- what does the Bible say? To be sure I am interested in what Christian history has to say. I want to know what theologians have to say. But, ultimately, what does our inerrant Bible say? For Bible believing people, this will settle the matter. Jesus said, ‘Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.’(John 5:39).”
Vines said the question was “no small, minor, or secondary question,” and noted it is answered in two prominent ways: 1) Jesus died for the sins of the elect only (limited atonement or particular redemption); or, 2) Jesus died for the sins of all humanity (universal atonement).
“The correct answer to this question is crucial,” Vines said. “The answer impacts missions and evangelism, our church life, our preaching and how we live our life.”
Salvation in the eyes of the local church
Dr. Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College -- addressed issues surrounding varying understandings of salvation within SBC churches, particularly in the discussion of Calvinism. He stated that the understanding of salvation impacts the local church and its effectiveness in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Because of the many differences that create what Caner referred to as “quiet revolutions” in churches today, it is necessary for the leaders of these churches to be clear about their theological beliefs. This prevents theological confusion in the congregation and solidifies the church’s ability to accomplish its purpose.
Caner stated four areas of theological transparency for the church: biblical exposition or hermeneutics, theological issues, church polity or ecclesiology, and evangelism/discipleship. Within these categories he cited theologians, gave general definitions, and prescribed questions to be asked by pastoral search committees of their candidates.