Dr. David Allen @ the John 3:16 Conference

March 27, 2013

Does Regeneration Precede Faith?
*As this is a summary of Dr. Allen’s manuscript, some footnotes that would normally appear may have been omitted.

DavidAllen2

“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.”

Allen asked if the phrase denotes “mediate regeneration by means of the Word as many Calvinists affirm, or immediate regeneration, with no use of means, where only the Spirit acts directly and immediately, as other Calvinists affirm. Part of the confusion over this issue is a failure to carefully define terms,” he said.

After noting the importance of not misrepresenting Calvinists and their beliefs, Allen noted that most Calvinists say there are three things that must be distinguished regarding the regeneration before salvation process:

1) temporal vs. logical order
2) regeneration and conversion
3) initial regeneration from final regeneration

Regarding point 2, we have this citation from Allen’s notes regarding what the BFM says of the ordo salutis:

“Notice the BFM treats regeneration neither as prior to or subsequent from conversion. Rather, it treats regeneration and conversion as concomitant realities of the beginning of salvation. Separating salvation into (regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification), article IV of the Baptist Faith and Message treats regeneration and conversion as part of one event. Regeneration is ‘a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.’ What is the antecedent of ‘which’? Most likely it is ‘conviction of sin,’ the nearest phrase. Regeneration does not precede conversion and vice versa.”

Calvinists’ belief that regeneration precedes faith is largely based on their tenet that man is spiritually dead and thus is unable to exercise faith unless first regenerated by God.

Allen offered extensive exegetical evidence controverting this claim, but SBCToday offers the following verbiage from Allen’s notes, which he related almost verbatim at the Conference.

Allen said this in reference to Ephesians 2:1-10:

“Part of what is driving the ‘regeneration precedes faith’ issue is a flawed anthropology drawn partly from Ephesians 2. With respect to Ephesians 2:1-10, when Paul speaks of the unregenerate as being ‘dead in sins’ there is no question that ‘dead’ is being used metaphorically. In Scripture, ‘death’ is often used metaphorically to express alienation from God and ‘life’ is used to express union with God via salvation (See Aquinas and O’Brien in Ephesians, [Pillar Commentary]). This death is ‘on account of’ or ‘with respect to’ our sins (notice the nouns are in the dative and there is no preposition in the Greek text). Many Calvinists suggest that this passage either 1) overtly teaches human inability (usually moral inability) in the sense of ‘one cannot because they will not,’ affirming the Edwardsian distinction between natural and moral inability of sinners to respond to the gospel; or 2) implies human inability to respond to the gospel (John Eadie, Ephesians, 121, argued that ‘dead’ implies inability.). There are other biblical figures of speech used to connote depravity which do not indicate or imply total inability. Calvinists assume their definition of spiritual death is correct and then superimpose it on the word ‘dead’ in Ephesians 2. Notice in the broader context the separation motif in Ephesians (2:12, 13, 19, 4:18). Notice also the parallel passage in Colossians 2:12-13, where Paul affirms that even though people are spiritually dead, they can still exercise faith in God.”

Allen noted that spiritual death means primarily separation from God, not a total inability to respond to God. Calvinists make a significant linguistic mistake by pushing the metaphor “dead” beyond its legitimate metaphorical boundaries. This can be seen when Paul’s use of the metaphor of “dead” as used in Romans 6:1-14 is compared to Eph. 2.

Also from Allen’s notes:

“According to the Bible, the unsaved who are spiritually dead have the ability to:
Act in accordance with conscience (Gen. 3:7)
Hear God (Gen. 3:10-13)
Respond to God (Gen. 3:10-13)
Adam and Eve died spiritually when they ate the fruit.
But they were still capable of hearing from/responding to God. (Gen. 3:10-13).
Repent of sins (Luke 15:18-19)
The prodigal son, in a state of deadness (Luke 15:32),
still recognized his sin and returned to the father.
Seek God (John 3)
Fear God (Acts 10:2)
Pray to God (Acts 10:2)
Both Nicodemus and Cornelius were ‘seeking’ God before their regeneration.
But if they are dead in their sins, how can this be?
Know the truth about God (Rom. 1:18-20)
Perceive God’s invisible attributes (Rom. 1:18-20)
Again if they are spiritually dead in the sense of total inability, how can this be?

Some Calvinists point out that in Ephesians 2, the word “faith” does not occur until verse 8, but the first work of God, “make us alive,” is mentioned in verse 5. Hence regeneration precedes faith. Not so fast!

2 Problems:
1. Ask yourself, “Does the reference to faith in v. 8 follow the activity of v. 5? Does faith follow our seating in heavenly places in v. 6? Does faith follow our future glorification in v.7? Of course not.
2. Furthermore, one should take note of the perfect tense in v. 5 and its context. Paul is talking about a broader issue than regeneration. He is talking about salvation which includes regeneration and conversion. If regeneration is a part of salvation, and it is, and if faith precedes salvation, and it does, then faith also precedes regeneration. One simply cannot split hairs on this in Ephesians 2:1-10.

It is interesting what John Calvin himself said about this text: “[Paul] does not mean that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.”

The great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson pointed out that in the Greek of Ephesians 2:8-9, grace is God’s part and faith is our part. The antecedent of “this” is not “faith” or “grace,” but is the entire act of being saved by grace conditioned by faith on our part (Word Pictures).

1. The capacity of faith means one can do otherwise than believe.
2. No one can exercise saving faith on his own apart from enabling grace.
3. To accuse non-Calvinists of believing otherwise is a straw man.
4. The question is whether God sovereignly chose to create humanity with the ability to exercise faith and whether God restores that ability by enabling grace through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God apart from selective regeneration.

A “principal cause” is an efficient cause which produces an effect by virtue of its own power. An “instrumental” cause is an efficient cause which produces an effect by virtue of the power of another cause.

In salvation, grace is the principal cause and faith is the instrumental cause.

Consider this syllogism with respect to Ephesians 2:8-9:

1. “Through faith” is the instrumental cause of “made alive.”
2. Instrumental cause necessarily precedes its effect – “made alive.”
3. Faith precedes regeneration.

The only place an effect can precede its cause is on Star Trek.

Allen’s presentation used numerous scriptural and historical references controverting in a scholarly yet understandable way that regeneration does not precede faith. Whereas we struggled not to post his notes in their entirety, we leave you with these concluding remarks of Allen’s:

“Spurgeon said: ‘Arminianism marries Christ to a bride he did not choose.’ I say Calvinism marries Christ to a bride in a shotgun wedding where she did not have the choice to turn down his proposal” [with respect to regeneration and with respect to the faith that supposedly follows since no one who is regenerated can refuse to exercise faith in the Calvinist scheme].

As Ken Keathley pointed out: God’s call may not be irresistible, but it is unavoidable according to Acts 17:30-31. (“The Doctrine of Salvation,” A Theology for the Church)

CONCLUSION:

1. There is no Biblical text that connects faith and regeneration in a grammatical
structure that prescribes an order that supports regeneration preceding faith.
2. There is no statement in Scripture which precludes faith preceding regeneration.
3. There are many biblical texts connecting faith and regeneration that support faith
preceding regeneration.
4. There are texts that would seem to preclude the possibility of regeneration
preceding faith. (See Timothy Nichols’ Masters Thesis, “Dead Man’s Faith: Spiritual
Death, Faith, and Regeneration in Ephesians 2:1-10,” 2004)

Moderate Calvinist Bruce Demarest said: ‘Faith does not appear to be an effect of regeneration. Clear biblical texts suggest that the act of faith logically precedes regeneration. John 1:12-13 – receiving Christ in faith results in the new birth. John 7:37-39 – faith precedes the gift of the Spirit in regenerating power. 1 John 5:1. The notion that God regenerates prior to the sinner’s response of penitent faith (chronologically or logically) appears to be biblically unwarranted.’ (Bruce Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 264-65).

There is no scripture anywhere that directly says regeneration precedes faith. That is a theological deduction that some Calvinists make that is driven more by their system than it is by Scripture. The Scripture says things like ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved,’ as Paul said to the Philippian jailor in Acts 16.

Note the difference on this issue between two of our earliest Calvinist Southern Baptist theologians:

JAMES P. BOYCE: Regeneration precedes faith. Logically the enabling act of God must, in a creature, precede the act of the creature thus enabled. But this logical antecedence involves actual antecedence, or the best conceptions of our mind deceive us and are not reliable. For this logical antecedence exists only because the mind observes plainly a perceived dependence of the existence of the one on the other. But such dependence demands, if not causal, at least antecedent existence. Here it is only antecedent. . . . There is not only antecedence, but in some cases an appreciable interval. This must be true of all infants. There is no reason why it should not be true of some heathen. (Boyce, Abstract, 381).

JOHN L. DAGG: Faith is necessary to the Christian character; and must therefore precede regeneration, when this is understood in its widest sense. Even in the restricted sense, in which it denotes the beginning of the spiritual life, faith, in the sense in which James [2:17] uses the term, may precede. But a faith which exists before the beginning of spiritual life, cannot be a living faith. (Dagg, Manual of Theology, 277-ff.)

Here Boyce articulates both a logical and temporal antecedence to regeneration, whereas Dagg, at the very most, articulates something of a simultaneous understanding of faith and regeneration.

I’ll give Methodist Thomas Oden the final word: “God’s love and grace are the originating causes of salvation. The atoning death of Christ is the meritorious cause. The Spirit of God is the efficient cause. The Word of God is the instrumental cause. Faith is the conditional cause. The glory of God is the final cause. (Thomas Oden, Life in the Spirit, 3:118)

Soli Deo Gloria!”

 

 

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Preach Blackman Preach

I’ve used the “drowning man”, saved by the lifeguard he didn’t know analogy in a previous post and consider it fitting here. Now, when it comes to regeneration before “repentance” and “faith” toward God through Jesus Christ we wouldn’t think of the man above as being “baptized” in water so to speak before the lifeguard “saved” him from physical death. Rather the water in this “homely” illustration is actually “sin” in this discussion. Listen, the unconverted must, and I repeat must, be brought to the reality that HE DESPERATELY DESIRES TO BE SAVED FROM SIN RATHER TO CONTINUE TO LIVE THEREIN. This is genuine “repentance”, a change of mind if you please. As someone has said, “before God changes the heart we must first have a change of mind toward sin. Repentance deals exclusively with sin and unbelief. Listen this is why the sinner is condemned with the world is due to sin and unbelief. The hell deserving, lake of fire doomed sinner cannot receive Christ until sin is dealt with extensively by the Holy Spirit in light of the word of God. Now “faith” on the other hand deals with righteousness. Man believes in his heart “unto” righteousness as it is written. The other is getting “The horse before the cart”.

The Spirit of Truth will not regenerate with the word of God until the “Convict’ is “convinced” of the “crime” of all ages against God who Alone is Holy and the “crime of all ages” against God is sin and unbelief.

    sbcissues

    Preach…

    I owe you a word of thanks… I used your illustration last Sunday on the rich man who lifted up his eyes in hell… it was the close to the message and was a very powerful ending ending I might add… thank you sir!

      Preach Blackman Preach

      Thank you Brother for those kind words.

    Max

    “The Spirit of Truth will not regenerate with the word of God until …”

    Brother Preach, in my study of Scripture, I find it necessary for the “Word of Truth” to connect with the “Spirit of Truth” in order for “Revealed Truth” to prevail. The problem with the current SBC chicken or egg debate is that too many smart folks are hanging their version of “truth” on intellect rather than revelation. If we focus on the teachings and traditions of mere men and their complex theological systems, we will miss the simple truth of what comes first in the born again experience. Keep preachin’ Preach!

      sbcissues

      Sweet…. I find it necessary for the “Word of Truth” to connect with the “Spirit of Truth” in order for “Revealed Truth” to prevail.

      I might use that someday as well!

        Max

        Brother Bob – What I have been given, I freely give to you. Preach it! Jesus builds His church on revelation knowledge … not the teachings and traditions of old dead men, but spiritual life breathed by a living Lord through His Word and His Spirit. He has risen!!

      Preach BlackMan Preach

      Excellent observation, keep “Preach” in your prayers. Thanks for the encouragement.

rhutchin

It is not just the Calvinists, but the Arminians, who concluded that God must extend grace before the person could act in faith. Arminians called it enabling grace while Calvinists called it irresistible (saving) faith. Absent that extension of grace to the person, no person could act in faith and be saved. It is God’s extension of grace to the individual that Calvinists identify with being “quickened” in Ephesians 2.

Allen is correct when he says, “There is no scripture anywhere that directly says regeneration precedes faith. That is a theological deduction that some Calvinists make that is driven more by their system than it is by Scripture.” He should have noted that the term, “regeneration,” appears only once (Titus 3:5) with respect to salvation and here, only affirms that it is God who regenerates, to which all agree. The “system” that drives Calvinist theology is the contrast they see between the goodness of God and the depravity of people .

So, one’s view of regeneration depends, in part, on one’s view of the depravity of people. If that depravity is such that “regenerating” grace is required for a person to exercise faith in Christ (as Calvinists and Arminianins both concluded), then one goes in one direction. If, a person views depravity as debilitating but that it does not prevent the person exercising faith, only requiring God’s assistance in grace, then the person goes in another direction.

I found it interesting that Allen was careful not to get into the meat of this issue. It would have been nice if he had done so and actually contributed something substantive to either the understanding or the resolution of the issue.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    As Dr. Allen said, and the BF&M affirms, it is the grace in the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin when the Gospel is preached that precedes both faith and regeneration. Too often the Spirit’s work of conviction is either neglected, or improperly lumped in with regeneration. (John 16:7-11)

    Dr. Allen got into plenty of meat that demonstrates the position that “regeneration precedes faith” is just empty hat theologically and Biblically (and even philosophically, despite that being the avenue how Calvinists argue for it in their system).

    Calvinists have no more a negative view of humanity than anyone else. Both affirm man is absolutely and maximally helpless when it comes to anything. One view can not hold that it’s view posits a “more maximal” state of depravity, helplessness and sinfulness than another (as that is an absurdity).

    Simply saying the ability to respond (or reject) according to the non-Calvinist is less helpless and depraved than the Calvinist saying one has no ability to accept (if not offered) or resist (if offered) because of depravity is just straw and irrelevant.

    What humans can or can’t do in interacting with God says nothing as to whether or not their state is maximally helpless and depraved, and so you are barking up the wrong tree with this distinction if you make the issue about depravity, sin, and helplessness. This is because Calvinists have no “more maximal” state of depravity, helplessness and sinfulness posited of man than anyone else (it makes zero logical sense to say “more maximal”) and is simply a categorical error to conflate helplessness and depravity with the issue of ability or inability regarding receiving, responding, resisting, etc.

    Those are different issues artificially lumped together by Calvinists with no philosophical, theological or Biblical warrant, so to say that a “regenerating grace” prior to faith is necessary because of some state of man’s helplessness or depravity is “more maximal” than some other view doesn’t follow since both views already posit a maximally helpless and depraved state of man, and so it is superfluous conjecture (and even a philosophical error of category).

    More to the point, it posits that regeneration must precede conviction, repentance, and faith, which is nonsense and thus posits that God grants life and thus justification apart from Christ and His shed blood and is therefore unBiblical rubbish (See Romans 3:21-31, Hebrews chapters 7-10).

    That is the bottom line for me anyway. There is no life apart from Christ, according to Scripture. Ephesians 2:5 says we are “quickened” together with Christ, not apart from Him. “Regeneration precedes faith” is insufficiently Christ-centric.

    It is no strawman when non-Calvinists accuse Calvinists of making regeneration the ground of life rather than Christ Himself, because that is exactly what many Calvinists essentially posit, thus making Christ another means rather the ground.

    sbcissues

    rhutchin

    You wrote the following:

    So, one’s view of regeneration depends, in part, on one’s view of the depravity of people. If that depravity is such that “regenerating” grace is required for a person to exercise faith in Christ (as Calvinists and Arminianins both concluded), then one goes in one direction. If, a person views depravity as debilitating but that it does not prevent the person exercising faith, only requiring God’s assistance in grace, then the person goes in another direction.

    I think you are correct in your assessment of one’s response when one assumes total depravity equates itself with total inability as you indicate with the agreement of both arminians and calvinists. I think your second illustration of “debilitating depravity” is off quite a bit. There is a difference in one believing man takes a step toward God and God responding (which is how I see all forms of Pelagianism… which is what you seem to hint at without actually saying it) and God taking the first step toward sinful man and him responding to God initiative of conviction and revelation and reconciliation. This is not a form of Pelagianism although there is this notion that anything that is outside the realm of TD/TI MUST be pelagian… which I believe is simply incorrect.

    I also have a problem with the total depravity/inability argument being tied to the “sin nature” argument that man must make choices related to his sin nature. The problem with that argument is that there is a difference in one’s created nature and one’s resultant nature. A dog cannot do anything contrary to his nature because God gave him that nature. Our sin nature is one that God did not create in us nor give to us. As I see it, our sin nature is the result of our being born outside the Garden of Eden… and our falling short of the Glory of God because of our position relative to God’s intended purpose in our creation.

    In addressing the issue of our created nature, God created man in His Own image; I do not believe sin destroys God’s created characteristics in us. Given that premise, I believe man has the innate ability and responsibility to be what we were created to be… united with our Creator… in constant contact with God… and that is the miracle of the incarnation and the resurrection for Jesus said it is imperative for Me to go away so that the Holy Spirit might come to do what… to convict the world of their sin, righteousness and judgement. (John 16:7-10)

    Additionally, the problem I have with the issue of regeneration preceding repentance and faith as posited with the TD/TI crowd… is this; I do not believe regeneration is possible Scripturally apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit… If regeneration precedes repentance even logically as Dr. Allen points out that some calvinists maintain that still has the Holy Spirit taking up residence in an unrepentant heart and for me that is a discussion ender. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost sinner; He draws the sinner to the table of grace at the marriage supper… but the response of believing in Christ and repentance from one’s sin is man’s response to come to the table of God’s grace and THEN the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the heart of the unregenerate that THAT indwelling bring about new birth or regeneration.

      sbcissues

      PS instead of resultant nature I think I prefer acquired nature… which is the same thing but the latter is easier to follow for me.

Alan Davis

Norm,

The list that Dr Allen has I see as Scripturally God caused that God causes one to seek Him by the work of His Spirit. Given that, the following conclusion Dr Allen makes concerning Dagg’s view,” Dagg, at the very least, articulates something of a simultaneous understanding of faith and regeneration.” I would be one that takes a view similar to this.

Two questions; 1. Where, online, can I get a written transcript of the addresses of the 3:16 conference 2. Did you know that the response portion of the Dr Vines post shows 70 responses in number but when clicked on shows only 46 responses?

Thanks,
Alan Davis

    Alan Davis

    I now can see the 70 responses on Dr Vines post. Sorry for the trouble Norm.

    Alan davis

    Norm Miller

    Adam: Thx for your inquiry. SBCT is currently working to procure all the MSSs. for publication as an e-book that will be available here. — Norm

JB

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    Norm Miller

    JB:
    Plz included the scripture references if/when you cite the Bible. Thx. — Norm

      Johnathan Pritchett

      John 6:44

      Just thought I would help out Norm. I can’t speak for JB, but this verse is often cited in these discussions because, obviously, non-Calvinists have never read or considered it before (sarcasm).

      ;)

        volfan007

        Johnathan,

        lol

        David

        John Wylie

        John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

          John Wylie

          Regeneration and drawing is not the same.

volfan007

Dr. Allen,

Thank you for such a clear, enlightening treatment on these issues and Scriptures. Really, really good.

David

Bob Cleveland

How about 1 Corinthians 2:14, which indicates the natural man cannot perceive/receive the things of the Spirit? Doesn’t something have to happen to his nature, to enable him to perceive the things of the Spirit?

    wingedfooted1

    Bob,

    Regarding 1 Corinthians 2, here is a commentary from the NetBible…..

    “The natural man is any person who does not possess the Holy Spirit, namely, unbelievers. Every human being is a natural man until he or she trusts Christ and receives the Spirit. Paul called this person a natural man because he or she is only natural. He has no supernatural Person indwelling him, and his viewpoints and ideas are only what are natural. He cannot accept all that God has revealed because he does not possess the indwelling Spirit of God. The natural person can, of course, understand the gospel and experience salvation but only because the Holy Spirit illuminates his or her understanding. Paul did not mean that an unbeliever is incapable of understanding Scripture. However an unbeliever rejects and does not accept all that God wants him or her to have. One of these things is eternal life through faith in His Son. It is as though God is speaking in a language that the unbeliever does not understand; he or she fails to respond properly. He or she needs an interpreter. That is a ministry that only the Holy Spirit can perform.”

    God bless

    sbcissues

    Hey Bob,

    I agree with WF1… Paul is specifically speaking of the wisdom available to the child of God v6 those who are mature….

    1 Co 2:9-11
    9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
    10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
    11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

    This statement is not speaking to the salvific issue of being able to respond to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in conversion… but rather the sanctification process for the one that has the Holy Spirit living in his heart.

      wingedfooted1

      Bob,

      Exactly right.

      And I have encountered both calvinists and arminians who abuse this text in support of their augustinian notion of total depravity.

      God bless

Mary S.

I believe it is a mistake for Dr. Allen to speak of spiritual death as metaphorically. Spiritual death is taught not only in Ephesians 2. It is taught from the very beginning of Scripture. God said to Adam: “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in THE DAY that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) Satan aruged against what God taught saying ““You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5)

If you are going to say spiritual death is merely metaphorically, than Satan was right and God was wrong! They did not die that day. But if we are going to believe God, then Adam and Eve indeed died the very day they ate that fruit! They died spiritually, which is why we must be born again. God worked in us the same power which raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19-20). We needed spiritual resurrection from the dead (Eph. 2:1, 5).

CB is right: Jesus clearly taught man’s inablity. No one can; no one is able to come to Christ unless God first draw him to Christ. (John 6:44) …same word is used for “to drag” in other places in the NT.

    wingedfooted1

    Mary S.,

    John 5:24-25……
    “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

    God bless

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I think the language of “metaphorically” is itself slippery, but Dr. Allen is essentially correct in what he assess it does and does not mean.

    Literally, or rather, “literally”, the post-Biblical phrase “spiritual death” would mean complete non-existence, which is obviously not what is meant by “dead” or “spiritual death”. .

    In any case, Dr. Allen is right that it means separation, and not a statement in regards to “ability” as it relates to RESPONDING. No one here is arguing for any ability in man to INITIALIZE, and we have to keep these things distinct and clear.

    To push the “metaphor”, which does reflect a literal state in reality of a particular kind, further than Paul’s intent leads to the unfortunate outcome to which I spelled out in response to rhutchin. Namely, that the 1 to 1 correspondence in the theological scheme would then have regeneration, not Christ, as the ground and source for life. This is as unfortunate as it is unacceptable given that it is not sufficiently Christ-centric.

    Norm Miller

    But Adam and Eve did die. Why must one posit they had to die on that very day? Couldn’t a future death be in view?

      Mary S.

      I don’t see how “in the day you eat” could mean 930 years later. But it would be nice to hear more definitely from a Hebrew scholar.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        As I responded below, all it means is that death becomes certain.

        I.e. For the day that you eat, dying you will die or you will surely/certainly die.

        It is an idiom that is expressing a way that renders certain an outcome. There are other examples of this idiom in other contexts with different words. See “visiting God will surely visit” in Genesis 50:24 for example…

        Even if you don’t know Hebrew, just simply look at the Hebrew online like at Studylight or something similar and see it for yourself how the dying/die or visiting/visit stuff lines up and do a bit of research on this manner of Hebrew expression.

        You seem to want to take the verse backwards and misread it at the same time. Your seeming interpretation would have the verse say “you will immediately die the day you eat…”

        This is NOT what it says, nor what it means, nor even what it implies.

        Rather, to give a paraphrase, what it means is this:

        “The day you eat, your death becomes a certain reality,”

          Johnathan Pritchett

          It is also worth noting that even the LXX tries to capture the idiom in both Genesis 2:17 and 50:24 as well.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          It is also worth noting that the visitation of God to deliver the Israelite people as mentioned in Genesis 50:24 also happened some YEARS after Joseph’s death. Many years passed between Genesis 50:24 and Exodus 12:31

          So don’t be too hard on Bro. Norm’s understanding from Scripture and Genesis 5:5’s 930 years later in regards to the meaning of the idiom and the interpretation.

        Norm Miller

        I know what you mean, Mary.
        Question: Did they die that day? No. So, in our search to find some literal meaning (to an idiom), some say, ‘Then they must have died spiritually.’ That is worth considering, no doubt. But then to plant one’s soteriology there on a supposition of what the text means is exceedingly problematic.
        What if God had said to Eve, ‘In the day you eat of it, you will experience pain in childbirth.’? We know this is a consequence of disobedience, as was working/earning bread by the sweat of our brow.
        I think the simplest reading is the best. Death, labor pains, manual labor, etc. are consequences of disobedience.
        While others run to different passages in Romans to try to prove spiritual death is in view in Gen. 2.17, perhaps we ought to go to 6.23, and see that, certainly, the wages of sin is death.
        Spiritual death: You noted that you took issue with Dr. Allen’s interp that spiritual death is metaphorical. Tell me, who dies spiritually? Anybody? Do we not also speak of death as separation from God? Is that really death?
        Interesting, isn’t it, that we say sin separates us from God?
        I’m not picking on you, Mary, but I think the Calvinist must hold to certain positions for the sake of the system and not for the sake of accurate exegesis.
        Further, I think Dr. Allen has shown exegetically/scripturally/historically that the Southern Baptist who holds to ‘inability’ is grasping at straws. At the very least, he has provided enough grist for the Calvinists’ mill that they should ultimately be baking and serving a different kind of bread. — Norm

          Mary S.

          Norm, I agree with you that death is seperation from God, but doesn’t that also imply spiritual death? He is Spirit. We are cut of from spiritual life until we come to faith in Christ.

          I guess I am pulling a lot of things together:
          1. That, it would seem by what God said, death came upon the human race at the moment Adam ate the fruit. (Gen. 2:17)
          2. That Jesus recognizes we are dead “the dead will hear” (Jn. 5:25)
          3. That Scripture teaches all of us at one time were dead (Col. 2:13; Eph. 2:1, 5).
          AND:
          4. The universal need all people have for New life (Jn. 3:3)

          And since it seems obvious that this death cannot mean mere physical death, universal spiritual death seems the logical conclusion.

          Thanks for the discussion.

            norm miller

            Mary:
            I am unable to define spiritual death even unto my own satisfaction, much less others’. My take on it, however, is that one’s spirit is not dead, but is oblivious to the things of God.
            Demon-possessed people do not have dead spirits. They are alive unto satan. Who ‘awakened’ them to follow satan?
            And, even if I capitulate to your position, we are still back to what happens when the Holy Spirit ‘quickens’ someone’s spirit?
            At my conversion, I became aware of significant sin and guilt. I readily acknowledge that God used the preaching of his word and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to show me my plight.
            I am reasonably certain that Trads and Cals are together at this point. What happens next is where we part company.
            Cals would say that at the point of the Holy Spirit convicting me, then I am bound for heaven because of effectual call. I could not choose any other response.
            But Trads would say I had a choice to respond to God’s convicting voice or reject his offer.
            This, of course, is why Cals insist I be so spiritually dead that there would be no way for me to exercise any part of my will. Thus, effectual call is strengthened if I was totally and completely spiritually dead.
            If ‘dead’ does not mean literally dead, then where we go from there must be supported by the whole of Scripture. For my money, Dr. Allen answered that issue. — Norm

            Norm Miller

            Also, Mary, if we truly (are/were) spiritually dead, then all of the biblical instances Dr. Allen cited of ungodly people hearing and responding to God are what? False? Inaccurate? Contrived? Nope, TRUE!
            And, BTW: where are the theologians of the SBC who would attempt to refute Dr. Allen? You noted earlier a desire for a Hebrew scholar to help w/regard to Gen 2.17. That would be good, for sure. But what about those from Louisville, that bastion of Calvinism? We have strong indications folks from there are reading our blog, but they dare not comment. I wonder why? — Norm

          sbcissues

          Mary,

          You are correct in everything you have said in response to Norm’s comment. It is not that I do not believe in Spiritual Death as you indicated in the comment earlier, it is that I do not see Spiritual death in the same way that many do… (not saying what YOU may or may not believe)

          I do not believe spiritual death renders anyone unable or incapable of responding to God’s initiative of redemption and reconciliation… I believe we are indeed dead spiritually because the penalty for our sin is death… BUT we are still created in the image of God and there is a void in our souls that only God can fill and we do have both the ability and responsibility to choose this day whom we will serve… and our choice with reference to what am i going to do with this man called Jesus has everything to do with God’s choice for my eternal destiny.

          As you said, “I am sad that anyone would argue against spiritual death…” I wanted you to know what part of the understanding of spiritual death I do not agree with.

sbcissues

Mary

The day that you eat of it you SHALL SURELY DIE.” They DID die. God did not say they would die THAT DAY… He said they WOULD DIE. This text does not indicate spiritual death and total inability as you suggest.

    Mary S.

    Sorry, but your interpretation does not line up with the wording of the text.

    Spiritual death is clearly taught in Scripture. I’m saddened that anyone would argue against it.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      The statement “dying you will die” or “surely die” is a reflection of an idiom that expresses the certainty of the outcome.

      Preach Blackman Preach

      Sister Mary,

      We can interprete the verse by Adam and Eve’s response to their outright rebellion against the Lord God and disobedience to His known will. Something happened to the both of them after Adam ate of the tree. Their eyes were “open” to “themselves’. They decided to “cover’ “themselves”. They “hid”, as it were “themselves” at the voice of the Lord God in the garden in the cool of the day. Whatever happen, now, it was “all” about “them”! When Adam was hard pressed for the truth we learn he had come down with a serious case of the “I” trouble. Both the man and woman were guilty, ashame and sorrow arose in their very soul and the penalty of their sin was more death. Why? Because Adam and his wife were twice dead upon consuming from the forbidden tree and their soul was darken. They were lost in spiritual darkness. As Dr. J Vernon McGee put it some years ago, the chances of them finding their own way out would be right up there with a blind man, in a dark room, feeling around for a black cat, thats not even there.

      They were dead in trespasses and in sins.This was the immediate consequence for Adam’s offense. Their eyes were open, their hearts blacken, their understanding darken, their minds were blind. The Lord God would have to pursue them, He would have to seek and save them that were lost from that time to the end of the age.

      Genesis is the seed bed of what God had done in creation and what man did in the garden and thanks be to God for what He would do in the future. Thank God for verse 3:15. Thank God for what He did “before” the foundation of the world. HALLELUJAH!

      Now, this death, that is, dead in trespasses and dead in sins, is liken unto physical death, which never means annhilation but they were now “sinners” scheduled to die physically in the future and face certain judgement.

Shawn

Mary Is Correct in Her Position/Interpretation. They died spiritually the moment they sinned, and they would later die physically as a result of God’s curse upon sin.

Rom 8:6-8
6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is NOT EVEN ABLE to do so
8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.(NAS)

Of all the things Dr. Allen said, I think he is most correct in noting that we must be very careful to define our terms and to clearly elucidate the theological details of our positions. I have not read/heard his entire address, but at least in what is given here, he fails to define “seek” or reconcile his many examples of unbelievers “seeking” God with verses like Romans 3:11. It is also amazing to me how the Trads like to reinterpret the word “dead” until it doesn’t mean “all the way dead” anymore (Insert reference to Miracle Max in “The Princess Bride”), and yet they scream and jump up and down when Cals use similar means to interpret the word “all.” To add to that discussion, I would also ask us all to consider the metaphor of being “born again” — a process in which the one being born contributes absolutely nothing to the process and whose will has absolutely no part in the outcome.

    sbcissues

    Shawn,

    The point I believe Paul is making in Romans 8 is that apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, NOTHING we do is able to please God nor is the unregenerate subject to the Law where obedience is concerned; for I think ALL would agree that ALL are subject to the Law… because judgment is according to the Law… so it is obedience to the Law that Paul is speaking too, which the mind set on the flesh cannot do because the flesh cannot please God.

    This passage no more substantiates a total inability position than Mary’s statement. You CAN read that into both passages but you cannot read TI OUT of either text.

      wingedfooted1

      Bob,

      Again, you are correct here. Romans 8:6-8 is referring to the law of works. No one is capable of pleasing God by keeping the written code perfectly.

      “Because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

        Johnathan Pritchett

        E X A C T L Y

        People seem to forget context in proof-texting frenzies.

        Law in Romans, is Sinai, and Paul makes a distinction between the Spirit verses the letter throughout from Romans 2:27-28 onward.

        To say nothing about the fact that Romans, FAR, FAR, FAR from being about “the individual standing before God”, or “individual salvation” or some such nonsense via Luther’s existential crisis as the guiding hermeneutic, Romans is ACTUALLY about a “de-ethnicized salvation”. so to speak.

        The point in Romans 8 follows from Romans 7, which talks about the person in the flesh, or more in context, the Jew in the flesh, the rhetorical “I” (certainly not a passage about Paul or Christian experience of whatever is tossed about by poor exegetes) can not stick to the letter and obey it at all. (NOTE 7:6 and the Spirit/letter distinction).

        The thing is, in Romans 8, those whose lives who are of the Spirit CAN keep the law and please God, whether Jew or Gentile, as that is the implication that follows from 8:8.

        What ANY OF THAT has to do with an inability to respond to the Gospel in repentance and faith is totally beyond me, and beyond Paul’s meaning of the law here and in Romans in general.

        I hear James White use this as a proof-text for no free will or whatever, and includes “repentance and faith” in what Paul means here by law, which is a total eisegitical pish-posh of an interpretation… and an ASTOUNDING BLUNDER given the following passage:

        Romans 3:21-22
        “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.”

        A big whoops on the James White-ish Calvinists.

        A P A R T F R O M T H E L A W …(though they bear witness)

        Hmm…How can law here mean to include the proclamation to repent and believe (see Romans 10 on that, lol) if what is proclaimed is “apart from the law” which Paul has already established, along with already establishing the Spirit/letter distinction, prior to this passage?

        Oh yeah, it can’t.

        Seems like the James White-ish Calvinists missed the point of what Paul is actually talking about.

        The idea of any “total inability to respond to the Gospel one way or the other” is a concept totally absent from Romans 8:7-8.

        Calvinists always scream about “exegesis” while at the same time demonstrating an abject failure to actually do any when engaged in their proof-texting frenzies…

        Romans 3:11:
        “no one understands; no one seeks God”

        This is from Psalms, which of course, is hyperbolic. The catena opens with this statement in v.3:9:

        “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,”

        “both Jews and Gentiles…”

        This does not mean no one ever has, nor currently is, nor will ever seek God. People obviously seek God if God prompts them to seek Him.

        Paul’s point is that Jews just as much as Gentiles, DON’T seek God, and uses the Jews own Scripture against them to include them as no better than the Gentiles.

        This is not something Dr. Allen needs to square, it is something Shawn needs to square with the examples that Dr. Allen offered. I square it in that God prompts the seeking of Him in people, such as with a vision as happened to Cornelius, though of course there are other means God uses that are less dramatic.

        As for this statement:

        “To add to that discussion, I would also ask us all to consider the metaphor of being “born again” — a process in which the one being born contributes absolutely nothing to the process and whose will has absolutely no part in the outcome.”

        I and Bro. Bob have both exegeted John 3 at considerable length both here and elsewhere, so no need to rehash that, Shawn can look it up.

        In any case, we do nothing in the mechanism of being “born again”, but that is something that is a part of salvation (and not IS salvation, per se), which is the result from repenting and believing. God does that work, and no one has ever said otherwise.

        Responding to the Gospel in repentance and faith does NOT mean:

        We save ourselves
        We give ourselves THE new birth or regenerate ourselves
        We designate (call) ourselves
        We justify ourselves
        We monergistically sanctify ourselves
        We transport our own spirits to Christ’s presence upon our physical death ourselves
        We resurrect ourselves
        We glorify ourselves
        We sustain our eternal life in the new heavens and earth ourselves

        As such, whenever I hear some idiotic comment from a Calvinist (and yes, it is idiotic of the Calvinist) in saying that our repenting and believing in response to the Gospel amounts to “saving ourselves” (which Shawn seems to be on the edge of crying out but isn’t out of some remarkable and even commendable restraint) needs to go back to Children’s Church and start their theological education from scratch for saying something as stupid and nonsensical as that when speaking of an alternative soteriology than their own (in which I hope Shawn isn’t over that edge and my charity isn’t unwarranted).

        In other news, Bro. Bob has been hitting home run after home run!

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Heck, Trads don’t even believe we can repent and believe all by ourselves.

          So, I am unsure of what all the fuss is about.

          We just reject “irresistable grace”, since that is both a misnomer and a categorical error.

          Shawn

          Jonathan, this forum is meant to be a place where brothers in Christ can discuss theology. With every interaction, I am learning from good men, and I am thankful for that opportunity even when I disagree with them. You, on the other hand, are rude and belittling in your responses. Please demonstrate the Spirit of Christ, brother.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            What was rude or belittling in my responses? I even optimistically commended you (unless it wasn’t warranted), and made general statements about a sort of brand of Calvinists. Are you saying that shoe fits?

            I guess it is much easier to make it about me than the content of my post…

            In any case, I don’t think the Spirit of Christ is opposed to challenge/riposte, polemic, and edgy rhetoric…unless you read a different Bible than the rest of us.

            I don’t fall for any “wounded” routine. Sorry brother. Thicken up.

      Shawn

      Dear sbcissues,

      Perhaps you could clarify your interpretation of Romans 8:6-8. Submission to God consists of being subject to His law. The man whose mind is set on the flesh is the spiritually dead man, and the spiritually dead man is in no way able to bring himself into submission to God’s law or please God in any way. That pretty clearly spells out total inability. As I presume you will disagree, could you please point me to a commentary where your position is more clearly delineated.

      There’s one of the struggles I have with how your position is presented. On the one hand, the Trads all seem to agree that some sort of ministry/intervention of the Holy Spirit is required to convict men of sin and point them to Christ, and that this happens concurrent with or through the preaching of the gospel to all men. The explicit implication of this position is that man is unable to turn to God apart from some work of the Spirit. Yet you then turn around and deny that man is unable. So let me ask the question to you bluntly: Is some movement/ministry/intervention of the Holy Spirit NECESSARY to soften the sinful man’s heart, enabling him to choose Christ?

        Transformed Theology

        Shawn,

        You wrote: The man whose mind is set on the flesh is the spiritually dead man, and the spiritually dead man is in no way able to bring himself into submission to God’s law or please God in any way.

        Obviously I have no problem with man being ddepraved or even spiritually dead, so with that being said your statement is fine. No one is able to bring himself into submission to God’s Law or ain any way please Him; until the Holy Spirit takes up residence in that person’s heart. It is then and only then that the things you have pointed out are even possible.

        Now that does not necessitate a Total inability position. I maintain a person can and MUST make a choice concerning repentance and believing in Christ. What I do not believe is that the Bible teaches a man MUST BE BORN AGAIN to believe and repent which is what this article addresses.

        Now… lets look at the following statement you made:
        The explicit implication of this position is that man is unable to turn to God apart from some work of the Spirit. Yet you then turn around and deny that man is unable.

        There is a difference in one’s being able to respond to God’s initiative of conversion through the convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual who has been exposed to the gospel…. and one being able to be obedient to the Law on his own apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

        So… that ought to be an answer to your last question: Is some movement/ministry/intervention of the Holy Spirit NECESSARY to soften the sinful man’s heart, enabling him to choose Christ?

        May I point out that there is a profound difference in saying that the work of the Holy Spirit is necessary and essential to one’s conversion and enabling him to choose Christ and saying that God does it all by Himself. God enables a man to choose Christ; God does not make that choice for him.

        sbcissues

        I sent a reply earlier but does not seem to have posted.

        You wrote, “The man whose mind is set on the flesh is the spiritually dead man, and the spiritually dead man is in no way able to bring himself into submission to God’s law or please God in any way.”

        I do not have a problem with this statement. However, it is not possible to get total inability from this text. You can read it into the text but you cannot get it out of the text. That is problematic for me.

        You state again, “The explicit implication of this position is that man is unable to turn to God apart from some work of the Spirit.” I agree with this statement as well. You will say that the work of the Spirit is regeneration that God has to bring the “dead man” to life so that he CAN respond to God.

        I believe the work of the Holy Spirit is to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; (Jn 16:8-9 NKJV) I do not believe a person can be saved apart from the hearing of the Word of God and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. So like you I believe that salvation is a work of God alone and it is man’s response to God’s initiative to reconcile the lost to Him.

        I think the last statement should answer your final question.

          Mary S.

          Good response sbci

        Preach BlackMan Preach

        When the apostle Paul rehearsed his Damascus road experience before Agrippa, the Lord Jesus declared the following to him. In Acts 26:16, that He would make him a minister and a witness. 17.) deliver him from the Jews and Gentiles. Now verse 18 is the charge given to the apostle by Christ’s authority, in the power of the Holy Spirit, using the word of God, in the chosen man of God to reach the lost.

        Now this is the process which must take place in every sinner before regeneration transpires. Verse 18, 1.) to open their eyes 2.) to turn them from darkness to light. Listen closely to the next charge, 3.) turn them from the power of Satan unto God that they may receieve forgiveness of sins and so forth. Everything beyond forgiveness of sins speak of an inheritance, which must be preceded by adoption. In Luke 24: 46 Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47.) and that “repentance” and remission of sins should be preached in His name among “ALL NATIONS”, beginning at Jerusalem.

        The Spirit of Truth takes the things of Christ and shows them unto us in His New Testament Church as He does to the sinner in order to experience genuine salvation.

    Norm Miller

    Shawn: How do you know Mary’s interp is correct? Plz exegete the Genesis passage to show authorial intent that spiritual death is in view.
    If you cannot demonstrate this exegetically, then plz don’t make the assertion.
    Note that Dr. Allen also said that exegesis trumps theology. If one employs accurate exegesis first, then biblical theology follows. But if theology precedes exegesis, then one has the proof texts to start a cult. — Norm

Alan Davis

Norm,

Dr Vines post is showing 69 responses and then when clicking on it it only shows 46? I tried on another computor and the same thing.

Alan

Wayne

@Shawn, concerning “all”: Who is “all” referred to in this verse?

Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

JB

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”

Ephesians 2:1-5

    Norm Miller

    Your point? — Norm

    wingedfooted1

    “….made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”

    Here’s an observation…..

    Ephesians 2:8…

    “For by grace you have been saved (made alive together with Christ) through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

    O how simple.

wingedfooted1

Romans 7:8-11…..
But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, SIN IS DEAD. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life AND I DIED. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually BROUGHT DEATH. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment PUT ME TO DEATH.

2 Corinthians 3:6-10….
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; FOR THE LETTER KILLS, but the Spirit gives life.

Can someone please tell me how something can kill someone who is already dead?!?

JB

Norm,

My point? My clear reading is that this passage tell us that we are dead and that God has to make us alive.

wf1,

Exactly, God made us alive through faith, and that faith came from God.

    John Wylie

    So if God makes us alive through faith than obviously faith must come and then regeneration.

Wayne

John 5:25 says: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.. Jesus demonstrated this awesome power when he called out to a stinking dead corpse because that dead man heard and obeyed. The word “regeneration” literally means to “generate again” or “produce again”.In this case “new life”.otherwise known as “born again”. But there is no new life until one hears His Word and believes..See John 5:24. Spiritually, I was once a dead man once too, but just as Lazarus heard the awesome, mighty, powerful, majestic Voice of Psalm 29, I did too.

    sbcissues

    Wayne..

    Here is real problem as I see if for those who insist that regeneration must take place BEFORE they believe: the gospel has NO POWER TO SAVE the unregenerate UNTIL regeneration takes place and as you point out… that simply is not Scriptural.

    One MUST hear and believe BEFORE regeneration is possible. I also maintain that regeneration is not possible without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as I mentioned earlier in this thread… I do not believe the Scripture will allow the indwelling to take place PRIOR to believing and repenting which SHOULD put an end to this idea that REGENERATION MUST PRECEDE REPENTANCE AND SAVING FAITH.

Wayne

Absolutely, sbcissues
Regeneration is not what ‘enables’ a man to believe the gospel;; regeneration is what takes place the moment the dead man hears the voice of God and obeys.

The Bible says that the Comforter(the Holy Spirit) will convince the world of “sin, righteousness, and judgement”. Notice this: Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of RIGHTEOUSNESS, TEMPERANCE, and JUDGEMENT to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. Here we see that Feliix was heard
the Word of God and trembled as the Holy Spirit was convicting him, but he pushed it away. Clearly, grace is not irresistible.

JB

Johnathan said,

“As such, whenever I hear some idiotic comment from a Calvinist (and yes, it is idiotic of the Calvinist) in saying that our repenting and believing in response to the Gospel amounts to “saving ourselves” (which Shawn seems to be on the edge of crying out but isn’t out of some remarkable and even commendable restraint) needs to go back to Children’s Church and start their theological education from scratch for saying something as stupid and nonsensical as that when speaking of an alternative soteriology than their own (in which I hope Shawn isn’t over that edge and my charity isn’t unwarranted).”

And…

“I don’t fall for any “wounded” routine. Sorry brother. Thicken up.”

Norm, how is this not moderated? What would happen if a Calvinist claimed that a Trad’s statement was idiotic and stupid and that they needed to go back to children’s church to learn theology?

    Norm Miller

    JB:
    Would it have been better for Johnathan to have written thusly?:

    “As such, whenever I hear some [inane] comment from a Calvinist … saying that our repenting and believing in response to the Gospel amounts to ‘saving ourselves,’ [then that person needs to go back to square one and rethink their theological foundation and presuppositions instead of making such a] nonsensical [comment] as that when speaking of an alternative soteriology than their own…”
    And instead of: “I don’t fall for any ‘wounded’ routine. Sorry brother. Thicken up.”
    How about: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”?

    You would be mistaken, JB, to think I do not address such issues as you raise. — Norm

    Johnathan Pritchett

    JB,

    I never said Calvinism, nor Shawn was idiotic. I said a certain statement often made by some Calvinists is idiotic, and it is. I also pointed out that Shawn didn’t make that statement (even though it seemed like he might have been going that direction but didn’t).

    So why the fuss?

JB

Norm,

Why the sarcasm? I asked a serious question about insulting comments. Johnathan gets a pass on a lot of things that others would be moderated for…directly insulting other’s intelligence because they disagree with his theology.

    Norm Miller

    JB: No sarcasm intended. Sorry. I was trying to find a level of acceptance.
    Note that Johnathan called no one an idiot or stupid – only the comment made by Shawn.
    Note also that, all comments from anyone will not be liked by everyone, and that sometimes I leave such comments up.
    Note also that, others who have a habit of being negative, inconsiderate and mean-spirited, and who remain unrepentant after a warning or two — are indeed moderated, to start. Ultimately, they may be blacklisted.
    Finally note that you have impugned my judgement and motives, and also said that Johnathan directly insult others “because they disagree with his theology.”
    Do you purport to know Johnathan’s motivations in this regard?

    We all, myself included, could be more measured in some of our responses. We also ought to realize that our depravity will still show.

    For the record, and for the public to see: I will ask Johnathan to be more measured and considerate in his comments. — Norm

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Again, I never insulted anyone’s intelligence, but I made a statement about a kind of statement. Anyone who makes that sort of statement that I addressed ought to have their intelligence insulted because it is an idiotic statement, and I pointed out why.

    I get no pass around here, I just characterize my words in a way that is proper to polemic.

    You have attempted to distort what I actually said. However, what I said was not about either Calvinism nor Shawn.

    However, as for the “wounded” portion, yes, that is a card I don’t worry about when it gets played when there is no reason to play that card, and you too are playing it here. No one here has insulted you or Shawn, or your theology…

    So again, why all the fuss?

JB

Norm and Johnathan,

The only reason I bring this issue up is because I believe that the tone of a message can be almost as important as the message itself. I think that is what is meant by speaking the truth in love. Anyway, I’ll leave the matter alone. Thank you for both of your responses.

    Norm Miller

    That’s fine, John. I think you should not pass over the way you characterized Johnathan’s motives, however. And by pass over, I don’t mean I require you to do anything — or even expect you to.
    What I want you to see is that you assumed to know what J’s motivations were, and he hasn’t said word one about it.
    I am not trying to poke you in the eye, brother, but am trying to get you to see that we all are susceptible to the flesh.
    I do hope you will continue to read and comment here. Thank you. — Norm

JB

Norm,

I understand. I did not know Johnathan’s motives and I should not assume, I apologize. This is such a heated debate within the SBC and unfortunately we all make wrong assumptions about those who fall on the other side of the argument.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Think of when Arminians accuse you of believing God is the author of evil, or that is the necessary consequence you must accept from your Calvinism. Do you not think those statements are idiotic, especially when the person making it knows better than to insist you believe it when they know you don’t? If you see someone going down that road, would you not want to head that useless tangent off before it gets stated forthrightly and details everything?

    Same thing here.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Oops, I meant “derail” everything.

      Robert

      Johnathan I have to object to a statement that you made. You wrote:

      “Think of when Arminians accuse you of believing God is the author of evil, or that is the necessary consequence you must accept from your Calvinism. Do you not think those statements are idiotic, especially when the person making it knows better than to insist you believe it when they know you don’t?”

      I do not believe this is accurate.

      A Calvinist who posits that God preplans everything and then controls everything to ensure that everything comes to pass exactly as preplanned **does** make God the author of all sin and evil. This is true because if that scenario is correct then in fact God is the author of all events (whether good or evil). We sometimes use the analogy of the author of a story. The author of a story does not only conceive of the heroes in his story, he also conceives of the villains, and their thoughts and actions as well. It is completely arbitrary and also illogical to claim that the author of a story is only responsible for the heroes and the good things that happen in his story as he conceives it and desires it to be. He is responsible for every part of the story. Nothing happens in the story that he did not first conceive of, plan, and even desire to be part of the story.

      Likewise if a determinist claims that God predetermines all events (which must then include every sin and evil that takes place) and ensures they all take place exactly as preplanned, then God **is** the author of sin.

      This has been a longstanding problem that non-Calvinists have with Calvinism. No Calvinist attempt has ever successfully eliminated this problem. It keeps getting brought up by non-Calvinists (including Arminians) precisely because everybody understands the logic just fine. It is not “idiotic” to make this claim and the claim will keep being made by non-Calvinists who understand the logical implications of Calvinistic premises.

      Now Calvinists themselves will of course deny that God is the author of sin and will appeal to various unsuccessful evasions. The Calvinists who try to deny that God is the author of sin ***under their premises***, are not consistent with their own premises. And my observation is that there are many inconsistent Calvinists out there (i.e. they do not think, or act in line with their own premises. E.g. They deny the reality of free will as ordinarily understood but speak about having and making choices just like everybody else).

      Robert

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Also JB, I apologize as well if my comments came out in a way I did not intend.

    Perhaps you don’t read much of what I write around here, but those who know me best would know I would never demean Calvinism itself. My current pastor (and best friend) is a Calvinist. I am fair to FAIR Calvinists here (though I meet edge with edge as well against those who come looking to slice), and when other non-soteriological issues arise, those who know me from the Calvinist side of things here know I also have much things in common with them and even side with them around here on the occasions when those issues come up (regenerate and properly maintained membership rolls, emphasis on church discipline, expository preaching, etc.), much to the chagrin of some of my fellow Traditionalists.

    However, I don’t like bad arguments and some of the nonsense we usually hear from Calvinists in these soteriological discussions, and my post with those edgier words was directed at that kind of stuff, and not to a particular person.

Matt

I’ll settle for the wording of the BF&M2K.

    Robert

    I did not get a chance to get into the earlier discussion in this thread concerning spiritual death and Genesis. I want to make some observations here.

    Mary S was mistaken when she claimed that Dr. Allen was claiming that spiritual death is metaphorical. That is not what he said. He said that the phrase “dead in sins” in Ephesians 2 was figurative language.

    Mary S. was not mistaken however in her claim that when Adam and Even sinned: they died spiritually.

    God said to them that in the day they ate from the fruit they would die. Some tried to argue that this was a figurative expression. I don’t agree. They died physically hundreds of years later, after they sinned. I do not believe it makes good sense of the language to suggest that “in the day that you eat you will die” refers to their physical deaths **hundreds of years later**. If we had Genesis alone you could make a case for this interpretation. But we also have other scriptures that indicate there is both: (1) physical death and (2) spiritual death. Jesus himself explicitly referred to both kinds of death in John 5. He spoke of some coming to life in his time (which must refer to spiritual death, the person then becoming spiritually alive or “born again”, but that same person while becoming spiritually alive would die physically later, Jesus says these persons were dead but would hear his voice and live) and some coming to life from the tombs (which must refer to a later physical resurrection from physical death).

    In Ephesians 2 as Dr. Allen correctly notes the phrase “dead in sins” refers to spiritual death. Paul characterizes a person’s conversion in Ephesians as going from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive (this is pictured in figurative language as rising from the dead). Paul also says in other places that not all believers will physically die (if they are alive when Jesus returns).

    It seems to me that it is best to take the death referred to in Genesis as **spiritual death**. They died spiritually (i.e. were separated from God) when they sinned (not 900 years later) in the garden. All human persons born into this world are born into this condition of being spiritually dead/separated from God. When an individual is converted, they enter into a personal and saving relationship with God. Saved persons may still die physically, but as saved persons they avoid the “second death” which is eternal separation from God. Only those who are “born again” or made spiritually alive/no longer spiritually dead, will avoid the “second death.” Nothing I am saying here is new or unique to me, but is held by many Christians as being true. I would even guess that it is the position of most Christians on this topic.

    Robert

      Mary S.

      Thanks, Robert, for your comments on Genesis that spiritual death took place when Adam and Eve sinned. It is nice to see that we are on something.

      Blessings brother.
      Mary S.

        Norm Miller

        Mary & Robert:
        No one here questions the calling/quickening of the Spirit. The divide comes immediately after that.
        So the efforts of some Cals to render us so spiritually dead that God gets all the credit is understandsble, but not believable.
        Plz consider these biblical citations from Dr. Allen’s essay regarding what so-called spiritually dead people can do, and then consider an anawer to his concluding question.

        Dr. Allen wrote:
        “According to the Bible, the unsaved who are spiritually dead have the ability to:
        Act in accordance with conscience (Gen. 3:7)
        Hear God (Gen. 3:10-13)
        Respond to God (Gen. 3:10-13)
        Adam and Eve died spiritually when they ate the fruit.
        But they were still capable of hearing from/responding to God. (Gen. 3:10-13).
        Repent of sins (Luke 15:18-19)
        The prodigal son, in a state of deadness (Luke 15:32),
        still recognized his sin and returned to the father.
        Seek God (John 3)
        Fear God (Acts 10:2)
        Pray to God (Acts 10:2)
        Both Nicodemus and Cornelius were ‘seeking’ God before their regeneration.
        But if they are dead in their sins, how can this be?
        Know the truth about God (Rom. 1:18-20)
        Perceive God’s invisible attributes (Rom. 1:18-20)
        Again if they are spiritually dead in the sense of total inability, how can this be?”

          Mary S.

          Norm, I appreciate what Johnathan Pritchett said above:

          “Heck, Trads don’t even believe we can repent and believe all by ourselves. So, I am unsure of what all the fuss is about.”

          I honestly think this is where, for the sake of unity in Christ, this is where Calvinists and Traditionalists should seek common ground:

          Both Cals and Trads believe God must do something within us first in order to enable us to come to faith in Christ. Why can’t we just leave it there and have unity? Cals are not trying to make God out to be a monster; and Trads are not trying to take credit for their own salvation. Yes, we come at salvation differently, but we at least agree that God is the one bringing us to Himself by His enablement. We at least agree God is the one doing the saving. So why can’t we promote what we agree and have the type of Christian unity, which Jesus says can cause the world to believe in Him? Our unity can be a powerful force in evangelism. But our disunity does damage.

          “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:2-21) -Jesus

            Norm Miller

            The problem with the Calvinists’ “enablement” is that it necessarily precludes volition. Is not this brand of enablement the first note in the song of the effectual call? — Norm

Robert

Hello Norm,

“No one here questions the calling/quickening of the Spirit. The divide comes immediately after that.”

I did not speak about “the calling/quickening of the Spirit” at all. I spoke about that there are two “deaths” that are important to keep in mind (i.e. “spiritual death” which occurred when Adam sinned, and “physical death” which occurs for all of us before Jesus returns).

“So the efforts of some Cals to render us so spiritually dead that God gets all the credit is understandable, but not believable.”

The problem is an extreme view of total depravity held by some calvinists. They take it too far when they take “spiritual death” as meaning the nonbeliever is like a physically dead corpse incapable of doing anything or understanding anything. This is both extreme and wrong.

The nonbeliever is quite active, actively sinning and living a lifestyle of disobedience to God. The Spirit comes along and begins revealing things to the sinner which the sinner is perfectly capable of understanding. If they were actually **dead** like a physical corpse they would not only not understand spiritual things they would not understand anything or do anything for that matter!

So some Calvinists have this mistaken view of what “spiritual death” entails. Spiritual death is primarily a relational concept meaning the sinner is separated from God, out of relationship with God, due to their sin.

“Plz consider these biblical citations from Dr. Allen’s essay regarding what so-called spiritually dead people can do, and then consider an anawer to his concluding question.”

You are “preaching to the choir” when it comes to what “spiritually dead people can do”. I don’t hold the Calvinist conception of total depravity in which the sinner is seen as being like a physically dead corpse.

I will not respond to your list of things the sinner can do as I have no problem with the list and again I do not affirm the Calvinist conception of depravity.

You ended with a question:

“Again if they are spiritually dead in the sense of total inability, how can this be?”

That may be a good question for a calvinist who holds the extreme view of depravity/inability, but that is not my view at all.

My question for you Norm is how did you get that out of my post?

I spoke about spiritual death and physical death and my view that spiritual death originated in the Garden when they sinned. I never said the nonbeliever is completely incapable of understanding anything like a physically dead corpse (that is Calvinism, that is error, that is not my view at all).

Robert

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