Instantaneous or Progressive Regeneration?

July 31, 2012


By Bob Hadley, Pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Chancellor of Atlantic Coast Bible College and Seminary.


Monergism.com refers to statements made by R.C. Sproul in an excerpt from his book, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit. Sproul makes the following statements concerning regeneration in salvific process.

One of the most dramatic moments in my life for the shaping of my theology took place in a seminary classroom. One of my professors went to the blackboard and wrote these words in bold letters: “Regeneration Precedes Faith”

In this scheme of things, the initiative falls with us. To be sure, God had sent Jesus to die on the cross before I ever heard the gospel. But once God had done these things external to me, I thought the initiative for appropriating salvation was my job.

These words were a shock to my system. I had entered seminary believing that the key work of man to effect rebirth was faith. I thought that we first had to believe in Christ in order to be born again. I use the words in order here for a reason. I was thinking in terms of steps that must be taken in a certain sequence. I had put faith at the beginning. The order looked something like this:

“Faith – rebirth -justification.”

I hadn’t thought that matter through very carefully. Nor had I listened carefully to Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. I assumed that even though I was a sinner, a person born of the flesh and living in the flesh, I still had a little island of righteousness, a tiny deposit of spiritual power left within my soul to enable me to respond to the Gospel on my own.

A monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person. The prefix mono means one. The word erg refers to a unit of work. Words like energy are built upon this root. A synergistic work is one that involves cooperation between two or more persons or things. The prefix syn – means “together with.” I labor this distinction for a reason. At issue was this: Is regeneration a monergistic work of God or a synergistic work that requires cooperation between man and God? When my professor wrote “Regeneration precedes faith” on the blackboard, he was clearly siding with the monergistic answer. After a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step is the work of God and of God alone.

These giants of Christian history derived their view from Holy Scripture. The key phrase in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is this: “…even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved)” (Eph. 2:5). Here Paul locates the time when regeneration occurs. It takes place ‘when we were dead.’ With one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation all attempts to give the initiative in regeneration to man are smashed. Again, dead men do not cooperate with grace. Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith.

This says nothing different from what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Unless a man is born again first, he cannot possibly see or enter the kingdom of God. If we believe that faith precedes regeneration, then we set our thinking and therefore ourselves in direct opposition not only to giants of Christian history but also to the teaching of Paul and of our Lord Himself.

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/sproul01.html

According to Sproul’s understanding of the salvific process, the unregenerate man is dead in his trespasses and sin and as a result, he is totally incapable of responding by faith to God and as Sproul notes, “there is no possibility of faith.” Sproul also indicates the point at which regeneration takes place is instantaneous; while the lost person is in a depraved state, dead in his sin and totally depraved, he is infused with “one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation” which is according to Sproul the irresistible initiative in regeneration that brings about repentance and saving faith and justification is accomplished.

Now with respect to this “one thunderbolt of revelation” or irresistible grace or effectual calling, regeneration would have to be instantaneous or otherwise it would have to be by default progressive and that would mean that at some point an individual would no longer be depraved or unable to begin the process of responding to God. So given the instantaneousness of regeneration or the absence of regeneration, one would have to understand that for the Calvinist, the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate is useless. Sharing one’s testimony with the unregenerate is a waste of time because they are not even effective much less effectual because of the totally depraved state of the unregenerate individual. Since God’s efficacious calling is solely what brings about regeneration, preaching and teaching and witnessing prior to regeneration have no bearing on one’s repentance and saving faith and justification. Regeneration occurs at God’s sole command and conversion is automatically the result.

This must be understood. The preaching and teaching of the Word of God to the unregenerate cannot be made the means God uses to accomplish the end; unless one is willing to relegate the role of regeneration to a progressive one. This would be tantamount to accepting a picture of prevenient grace followed by or leading to irresistible grace.  For if regeneration is progressive, then what you have is a form of prevenient grace with an irresistible conclusion and then the question comes into play, what determines when and how prevenient grace becomes irresistible. To counter this possibility is the work of effectual calling in the regeneration process. Effectual calling cannot be progressive but rather must be instantaneous or else it could not be considered effectual.

Given this fact, regeneration as defined and presented by Calvinism does not line up with the Scriptures because the Scriptures are clear, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17 NKJV) It is clear in the Scripture that the preaching of the gospel is what brings about conversion. Nowhere in the Scripture is it even hinted that regeneration or an efficacious calling is what effectuates conversion. Consider the following passages of Scripture:

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,

Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”   17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:14-17 NKJV)

25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith —  27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. (Rom 16:25-27 NKJV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”  (Rom 1:16-17 NKJV)

Even as Paul speaks about the power of the gospel to save those who believe, it is the power of the spoken Word that brings new life; not God’s effectual calling. The gospel has no appeal whatsoever to the person who has not been regenerated. Dead people cannot hear spoken words. This is the foundation to total depravity. It is simple. According to the Calvinist platform, effectual calling and regeneration bring about conversion, not the preaching of the cross or the gospel.

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Cor 1:18-25 NKJV

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:14-16 NKJV)

22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

(Luke 7:22-23 NKJV)

Jesus says it plainly here; blessed are those who hear this message being preached to them and are not offended because of Me. It is the power of the spoken Word that has the power to touch men’s hearts and change their lives! This is the real emphasis of John chapter 1 where Jesus is

Identified as the incarnate Word, Who “was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1-5 NKJV) The Word that spoke the world into existence and breathed life into Adam is the same Word that can breathe spiritual life into our sin hardened hearts and make us whole again.

6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. (Acts 15:6-10 NKJV)

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”   12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  (Rom 10:8-13 NKJV)

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Cor 15:1-11 NKJV)

It is crystal clear; the Bible does not speak of nor even support a salvific possibility of God regenerating an individual outside of the work of the Word of God and its proclamation. It is the proclamation of the gospel that causes lost men to see their sin and their need of a Savior and to hear God’s promise to save those who believe. Calvinism errantly seeks to establish new birth as the sole result of God’s predestined will and subsequent effectual calling, which is not contingent at all upon the proclamation of the gospel because prior to that effectual calling, the gospel has no effect at all on the lost, unregenerate person.

Now this brings up another point. Monergism posits God and God alone in the salvific process. The Calvinist will contend that God and God alone regenerates the lost person and that person repents and is saved. Man plays no part in the process whatsoever. So when it comes to believing, it is God plus nothing (any response from the individual prior to regeneration) that brings about conversion. Why is it then that the Calvinist will argue that it is God plus man that is responsible to bring the message to the unregenerate man? Why would monergism not apply in the sharing of the gospel as it does in the receiving of the gospel?  If God does not need man’s participation in receiving the gospel, why does He need man’s participation in the sharing of the gospel? The truth is, it is not necessary for that sharing has no effect unless and until God makes the unregenerate able to hear and understand and then gives him the ability to respond to that message.

Calvinism which posits salvation by regeneration or effectual calling simply is not supported by the Scriptures and needs to be once and for all put to rest.

Dr. Bob Hadley
Pastor Westside Baptist Church
Daytona Beach, FL

Chancellor, Atlantic Coast Bible College and Seminary

Bob blogs at www.sbcissues.com and at www.transformedtheology.com

 

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Jeremy Crowder

Wow Pastor Bob hits it out of the ball park to me here. We have to hear the word of God in order to repent and obtain salvation. People to me want to add mystery when God made it so easy to understand that all we have to do is accept his word. Praise God that someone told me about Jesus Christ and told me that all I had to do to be saved was accept the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, confess my sins, and turn and follow him. The Holy Spirit does the rest we only have to respond and let God have control.

    Bill Mac

    “We have to hear the word of God in order to repent and obtain salvation. ”

    Calvinists agree with you.

      Bob Hadley

      Bill…

      “We have to hear the word of God in order to repent and obtain salvation.” Calvinists agree with you…

      No they don’t!

      The unregenerate MUST be regenerated before the Word of God tcan or will have any effect. That is the foundational basis for calvinism. That position is fundamentally flawed.

      ><>”

        Chris Roberts

        Bob,

        Afraid you’re wrong. Calvinists do believe the preaching of the Word is necessary. Here, I’ll prove it:

        Bob, I’m a Calvinist, and I believe the preaching and hearing of the Word is necessary for salvation.

        You might think we are inconsistent to believe this (though you would be wrong), but it is ridiculous to say we do not believe something when here we are telling you we do believe it.

        Bob Hadley

        Chris,

        I really expected MORE from you but it is what it is. My article has NOTHING to do with what you “say you believe” but everything to do with the issue that what you say you believe is either inconsistent with what calvinism actually teaches, which is REALLY what this article is about as opposed to what you say… because it is futle to argue about what ANYONE says because you all say it differently. I did not make that mistake in this article.

        I am simply saying TD/TI combined with effectual calling which ARE calvinist tenets taken together do not allow for any effectual workings of the gospel PRIOR TO REGENERATION… that is the basis for calvinism!

        So, given that FACT, it is not fair to then claim the preaching of the gospel as the means of regeneration or effectual calling since that person’s heart is stone cold and cannot nor will not be able to receive the gospel… UNTIL he is regenerated. Where am I missing the boat on THIS argument?

        ><>”

          Chris Roberts

          Bob,

          Please note that I was responding to your comment, not your article. Bill said that Calvinists agree that preaching of the word is necessary for salvation. You said we do not agree. I said we clearly do agree. The rest of your comment doesn’t really apply to that particular discussion.

          Bob Hadley

          Chris,

          Ok… sorry I missed that… I thought since my comment was in response to my article my comment was in order… so I am assuming you are not interested in commenting on the article?

          I would be interested in your comment on the following statement…

          So, given that FACT, it is not fair to then claim the preaching of the gospel as the means of regeneration or effectual calling since that person’s heart is stone cold and cannot nor will not be able to receive the gospel… UNTIL he is regenerated. Where am I missing the boat on THIS argument?

          ><>”

Adam Embry

Bob,

I’m having a difficult time seeing where you conclude that the Reformed tradition believes that preaching the Word is not the means God uses when the Westminster Confession and Second London state that it is.

WCF: Effectual Call – “All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ: enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.”

WCF: Faith – “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts; and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word: by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.”

1689: Effectual call – “Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.”

1689: Faith – “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened.”

I agree with your statements, “the Bible does not speak of nor even support a salvific possibility of God regenerating an individual outside of the work of the Word of God and its proclamation. It is the proclamation of the gospel that causes lost men to see their sin and their need of a Savior and to hear God’s promise to save those who believe.” I assume what you mean is that special revelation, not general revelation, is the means God uses. So, it seems as if the WCF & 1689 would agree with your words, here, as well, noting that they state that the Word is the means through which God calls sinners.

It may be you do not like Reformed doctrine, but these two confessions do state that preaching the Word is the means God uses to awake dead men.

Concerning Sproul, by doing a quick Google search (I only have his book, the Holiness of God), I found that he, too, believes that the Word is the means God uses to bring regeneration. The article is entitled, “By the Word,” and is on the Ligonier website. Commenting on the WCF’s statement on faith, Sproul wrote, “This statement points to Scripture as the means by which the Lord usually works to bring us to faith. . . . God promised to use preaching to call His people, so we must not neglect the opportunities to foster occasions where non-believers hear the Gospel. The hearing of the Gospel therefore serves this twofold purpose: to call His people to trust in the risen Savior and to strengthen the faith of those who already believe.” It seems as if Sproul realizes that God uses the Word to bring faith.

Unfortunately, I am confused as to why you state, “Calvinism which posits salvation by regeneration or effectual calling simply is not supported by the Scriptures and needs to be once and for all put to rest.”

Blessings,
Adam

Adam Embry

Bob,

By the way, I’m sure you know that the classic scriptural defense of preaching to dead men is Ezekiel 37:4-5, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath [spirit] to enter you, and you shall live.”

Adam

    Bob Hadley

    Adam,

    Good morning. You completely missed the point of my article. I fully understand that calvinists believe Preaching the Word is the means God uses in regeneration.

    My point is that this is inconsistent with the tenets of total deprative and inability because the preaching falls on dead and deaf ears until God regenerates that individual. Apart from regeneration, the preaching of the gospel is ineffectual. That is the primary principle of calvinism. It is the basis for regeneration being essential for repentance and saving faith in the first place as God “calls the unregenerate to life” and he THEN repents and is saved.

    It is as if the gospel takes hold after regeneration and not before.

    Since we BOTH agree that the Scriptures are clear that the gospel IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION, my simple contention is that it cannot be effectual calling as calvinists posit because the gospel has NO effect on the individual UNTIL he has been regenerated.

    Now… some will say… but the gospel is the means God uses to regenerate. If the dead unregenerate person cannot respond UNTIL regeneration, it is not possible to claim preaching as the means to accomplish regeneration and that is the fundamental problem I am attempting to establish in this article.

    ><>”

      Adam Embry

      Bob,

      Thanks for clarifying your intention in the article. Upon reading it, I, too, like other commenters, had the idea that you were saying that Calvinists do not believe preaching the Word of God is necessary. Obviously, I don’t believe that.

      Adam

Bill Mac

I understand the scriptural support for regeneration preceding faith, and I also understand the scriptural support for the opposing view. What I don’t understand is your leaps of logic.

I don’t follow why regeneration cannot be progressive, although I don’t have a particular stand on whether it is instantaneous or progressive, or even both. I’d rather not tell God how He has to regenerate someone.

You seem to be mixing faith and regeneration at points in your post. You say that preaching cannot be the means by which the sinner is regenerated. Well perhaps you are right. But as someone points out, the scripture doesn’t say regeneration comes by hearing, it says faith comes by hearing, and they aren’t the same thing.

The bottom line is that Calvinists and non-Calvinists preach to a room of people. We do so by desire and command. We both don’t know the results of that preaching, other than at least the planting of seeds. But we both know that God may be moving in the hearts of the hearers. If so, the seeds will yield fruit. We have a different understanding of what that “moving” is.

Bill Mac

Anyone who understands the 5 solas of the reformation (even if they don’t agree with them) will understand that Calvinists don’t posit salvation by regeneration. Salvation is by faith alone.

    Bob Hadley

    Bill,

    My comment to Adam will help clarify my position. We were writing at the same time. My logic is really not as complex as it may seem. I relate regeneration to effectual calling. It is God’s effectual call that regenerates the lost person in the calvinist system. Simply put, that call cannot be progressive. Calvinists themselves are clear on this point. What God decrees by necessity comes to pass. That is the basis for effectual call in the first place.

    It is either true or it is not that the gospel has NO EFFECT on the unregenerated or the whole concept of total depravity and inability crashes. That is MY POINT. If total depravity is true, which I do not acccept, and if regeneration which is the result of God’s effectual call is true THEN it is effectual calling and not the preaching of the gospel that regenerates… regeneration gives the preaching of the gospel in the new heart of flesh its effectiveness in the calvinist system.

    I do not believe that to be consistent with the Scripture and therefore the tenets of calvinism fail.

    ><>”

      Bill Mac

      I for one do not believe it is the preaching of the Gospel that regenerates, although as Chris said, it may be coincidental with preaching. Regeneration enables faith. Faith comes when it knows what it is being faithful to. That is the necessity of preaching.

        Bob Hadley

        Bill Mac,

        So are you saying that the preaching of the gospel is more for sanctification than it is conversion? That is what I contend calvinism basically teaches.

        ><>”

          Bill Mac

          No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that faith requires an object. Preaching supplies that object (yes, I know Christ is not an object but you know what I mean). Faith is in response to the Gospel. The Gospel is a message, delivered by preaching.

          Bob Hadley

          OK…

          Is faith available before or after regeneration takes place?

          Can faith be demonstrated at the preaching of God’s word apart from efficacious calling? Can the non-elect exercise faith?

          You say that faith is in response to the gospel… delivered by preaching… for the record that is exactly what i believe is the case BUT…

          Calvinism as a system denies that possibility … now I am not saying that calvinists deny it… but calvinism does… because effectual calling or regeneration and not the gospel are what brings a person to repentance and faith…

          ><>”

            Bill Mac

            “Can the non-elect exercise faith?”

            Saving faith? No. Do non-Calvinists think that they can?

          Bob Hadley

          Paul,

          Very good point and one that I will begin using… “If that is so, the word is not what produces the faith and scripture teaches faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

          For the calvinist, faith comes as result of regeneration AND for most, faith is a direct gift of God NOT a response to the Word of God which is really the foundational premise of my article.

          For the calvinist, effectual calling produces regeneration and regeneration brings about repentance and saving faith that effectuates justification. My point is that it is God and God alone that does this and the gospel is NOT what makes the difference UNTIL God FIRST changes someone’s heart.

          This is WHAT Calvinists teach and preach and now all of a sudden it is NOT what they teach!

          ><>”

        Paul Thomas

        [quote]Bill Mac says:
        July 31, 2012 at 7:15 am

        I for one do not believe it is the preaching of the Gospel that regenerates, although as Chris said, it may be coincidental with preaching. Regeneration enables faith. Faith comes when it knows what it is being faithful to. That is the necessity of preaching.[/quote]

        This is why it is hard to understand and pinpoint what Calvinist believe. They say one thing and the next time word it differently as to make it sound like they said something different. Are you not saying that regeneration comes before faith and it the reason that one can believe. If that is so, the word is not what produces the faith and scripture teaches faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. You seem to argue one point and then change it to say it in another way. Whoever heard of being born again before you ever exercise faith?

          Bill Mac

          “This is why it is hard to understand and pinpoint what Calvinist believe. ”

          Paul: That’s because we’re people. Regardless of what people think, we don’t all read from the same playbook. We don’t take marching orders from Calvinist popes. Some of us have never read the WCF or the Institutes. I haven’t.

          Do all non-Calvinists believe in lockstep? Of course they don’t.

          “Whoever heard of being born again before you ever exercise faith?”

          Most Calvinists, as far as I know.

    Daniel Wilcox

    Bill Mac,

    You say,
    “Calvinists don’t posit salvation by regeneration. Salvation is by faith alone.”

    Your statement may be your view of your own Calvinism, but it isn’t the view of Calvinism as traditionally stated in TULIP and by Calvin himself.
    #1 Webster : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
    b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
    a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to Godster Definition of faith: ”

    T denies we humans are capable of responding in “faith ” because are “dead.”
    Correct?
    U emphasizes that only some humans were foreordained to salvation (faith) before the universe began. The rest of us are according to Calvin “foreordained to damnation. A mild Calvinist recently contradicted Calvin, and told me that all of us who aren’t foreordained to salvation aren’t foreordained so, but only “passed over”! Of course, if God before time began “passed over us” it comes to the same thing. We can’t be saved:-(
    L God sent Jesus to die effectually only for U.
    I God regenerates by making dead people (the elect come to life) live.
    ETC.

    So it is clearly not faith responding to God’s love which saves, but rather unconditional election operating by L and I which makes dead people who
    then AFTER they are regenerated, then have faith (which God gives to them, and NOT to others.

    So very clearly “faith” in Calvinism has NOTHING to do with salvation. Faith is something God gives to a person after U,I, and L.

    I realize you disagree with all non-Calvinists.

    But why can’t you see what TULIP Calvinism and Calvin clearly teaches?
    Even mild Calvinists believe that salvation is by regeneration, not by faith. Faith is an after effect for Calvinists.

    Thanks for the dialog,

      Bill Mac

      “Even mild Calvinists believe that salvation is by regeneration, not by faith. ”

      Please find one living Calvinist willing to come on here and agree with the above statement. Just one.

        Bill Mac

        Just one. Still waiting.

          Daniel Wilcox

          Bill Mac,

          All Calvinists in history claim that regeneration comes before repentance and faith. That is what Calvinism is, is it not? The idea of Unconditional Election? Human inability?

          The only Calvinists who think election is conditional
          and that humans have the God-given ability to accept God’s love or reject would be, I guess, 1-point Calvinists.

          Before I had read church history or been told by TULIP Calvinists that humans are born incapable,
          we Baptists sometimes were termed “Calvinists” because we believed in “eternal security.”

          Eternal security was a huge concern of my father who was a Baptist minister. I recall I, also, was a strong proponent of “eternal security” when I was a youth pastor at a Baptist church years ago.

          But neither my father nor anyone in our churches believed in theological determinism, certainly not unconditional election or limited atonement.

          We were strong proponents of “whosoever,” meaning any human ever created.

          The Good News is presented, the Holy Spirit woos, and each person then responds in repentance or rejects God.

          Can you think of one Calvinist writer who thinks
          repentance and faith precede regeneration, one Calvinist who doesn’t subscribe to Unconditional Election.

          As I mentioned, before, I can’t think of one.

          I haven’t read all modern Calvinists but have read many of the long books of many of the major names, and I’ve read some from past centuries including, of course, R.L. Dabney and Spurgeon.

          But I am open to hear of any titles that offer a counter view (seriously).

          Thanks for the dialog,
          Daniel Wilcox

          Daniel Wilcox

          Good late evening Bill Mac,

          Sorry to be so late in posting (my other post) but I just got to a Starbucks.

          As for living Calvinists, all the ones I’ve met personally have been hard theological determinists who thought regeneration preceded repentance and faith.

          I’ve not known many mild Calvinists, though as I already said, I’ve read Geisler and suppose he might be an example, but he definitely doesn’t subscribe to theological determinism. He doesn’t think regeneration precedes repentance and faith.

          Would you disagree? I’ve only read about 3 maybe 4 of his books including Chosen But Free.

          I am down helping my elderly parents and have no Internet access.

          They’ve gone to bed, and so here I am at a Barnes and Noble/Starbucks (thank God for Starbucks;-)

          Thanks for the dialog,
          Daniel Wilcox

            Bill Mac

            Daniel:

            Peter Lumpkins had a few posts on Calvinists who evidently did not hold to regeneration preceding faith, but I agree it is most likely a minority view.

            Bill Mac

            Daniel: What I was challenging was not the assertion that Calvinists believe regeneration precedes faith, but that we believe in salvation by regeneration, rather than salvation by faith.

            Yes, it is true that we believe (or most) that regeneration is a necessary antecedent to salvation by faith, but so is preaching. And we don’t believe in salvation by preaching.

Chris

This is silly. Most Calvinists believe that the Word of God preached or spoken is the means or occasion through which the Holy Spirit regenerates and grants the totally depraved sinner faith and repentance. Bob must know this. If not, he has no business writing a blog post on Calvinism.

    Bob Hadley

    Chris,

    My I suggest another cup of coffee before you actually re-read and consider the points I made in the article that I believe does have merit.

    ><>”

Bill Mac

Bob: Once again, this article has the same flaw that many of the previous articles have suffered from. Non-Calvinists telling Calvinists what they believe. And then when we come on here and say no, you haven’t got it quite right, you stick your fingers in your ears and say YES I DO!!!

We understand you don’t like Calvinism. We understand you don’t like the influence that Calvinism has in the SBC. But you aren’t going to “put it to rest”.

It was my understanding that the “discussion” that has been called for in the SBC was not a discussion on how non-Calvinists can out-debate Calvinists, or vice-versa. It was (I think) how we move forward in cooperation despite our differences. Some here, Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike, seem to be willing to give that a try. You don’t.

I’ll make the same statement I’ve made in the last several articles: Instead of telling us what we believe, why not ask us?

    Luther

    Yes. Another article from another non-Calvinist telling Calvinists what they believe and we retort “No we don’t. You don’t understand Calvinism.” Nothing has changed.

      Daniel Wilcox

      Luther,

      What Calvinist is there who thinks faith precedes regeneration?

      I can’t think of one.

      Maybe Norm Geisler who call himself a “moderate Calvinist.”
      But he doesn’t subscribe to TULIP. At least when I read his book years ago called Chosen But Free, it seemed he thinks humans respond in faith to God’s love and then are regenerated.

      Every name of every Calvinist that I can remember studying all
      claimed regeneration precedes faith.

      Thanks for the dialog,
      Daniel Wilcox

        Luther

        I agree that regeneration precedes faith. That is what Calvinism teaches. But it also teaches that the means God uses to bring people to faith is God’s Word.

          Bob Hadley

          Luther,

          You wrote, “I agree that regeneration precedes faith. That is what Calvinism teaches. But it also teaches that the means God uses to bring people to faith is God’s Word.”

          I am NOT trying to be adversarial I am just seeking to dialogue and talk out some of these nuances… here is the point of my article.

          Your comment really frames my article very well. If regeneration does precede faith, which is a calvinist principle because apart from regeneration the gospel falls on deaf and dead ears and a dead mind that cannot respond positively,

          THEN my point is regeneration and effectual calling are what initiates the salvific process and NOT the preaching of the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is ONLY effectual to the person who has been regenerated.

          I do not see why this contention is incorrect.. give ALL that I have read about calvinism and all I have read FROM calvinists. It is calvinism 101.

          Now, my contention that this is unscriptural is what it is but my argument is dead on.

          Any thoughts there?

          ><>”

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Spurgeon at one point thought it dubious at best. For whatever that’s worth.

        Bill Mac

        I don’t think regeneration preceding faith is a universal Calvinist belief. Some believe the reverse, I think some believe regeneration, repentance and faith and essentially simultaneous. I have heard some say that regeneration precedes faith logically but not necessarily temporally.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      No. It is another article where non-Calvinists tell Calvinists exactly what they believe in a way and light that Calvinists don’t like it to be told.

      Big difference.

      The “you don’t understand Calvinism” line is pathetic. It isn’t all that complicated to understand.

        Bill Mac

        Jonathan: And yet Calvinists keep coming and saying, personally, “I don’t believe that” and it seems to make no difference. Are we all lying?

        Luther

        Johnathan,
        We offer out an Olive Leaf calling it misunderstanding. If it has not been misunderstanding of Calvinism all this time, then the continual, purposeful misrepresentation of Calvinism is getting pathetic.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          There is no misrepresentation at all. Only pathetic protests.

            Bill Mac

            Jonathan: I might be wrong, but I don’t think I personally have ever played the “you don’t understand Calvinism” card.

            But I would like to know if you think we are lying about what we believe, since many of us on here have, when we read “Calvinists believe *********) responded with “no we don’t.”

            There are only two options, are there not? Either we truly don’t believe **********, or we are lying. I don’t mind being called a liar all that much, as long as people don’t pussyfoot around.

            I believe regeneration precedes faith, so a vigorous discussion about whether that is true or not is a good thing. But when I read “Calvinists believe in salvation by regeneration, not salvation by faith” then I do raise an objection, because that isn’t what I believe. Am I wrong (to raise the objection)? Is it a pathetic protest?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Tissue?

            Bill Mac

            Ah. Another reasoned response.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Come on now. I was being polite. :)

            If a Calvinist believes that regeneration precedes faith, then the Calvinist believes that God imparts life to the unregenerate in order for them to repent and have faith.

            Hence, Calvinists believe God grants life not only distinctly apart from faith, but apart from Christ Himself.

            It is an insufficiently Christ-centric to be Biblical (and the other typical complaints that it reduces Calvary to mere theater, etc.)…and given the absolute lack that of Scriptural warrant in addition to this, it is a completely useless theological inference imposed from without by the Calvinist system. Hence, we can dismiss it as being totally without merit.

            In any case, we can say Calvinists believe in salvation by regeneration as a result of the belief that regeneration precedes faith.

            It is what it is. Now, you may not like all this, but that couldn’t possibly matter.

            We assert that we do not believe we save ourselves, but when has that mattered to Calvinists?

            Is this the case though? Can this be said of us in a similar way?

            Not at all.

            God has decided to save. Furthermore, in His sovereignty, God has decided to save all those who repent and believe.

            Hence, God does all the saving, and more to the point, God saves by the manner in which He has determined to save. Which is sending His One and Only Son, and everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

            So, it can not be said that Traditionalists and Arminians believe they save themselves, by responding to grace, exercising their will in repentance and belief, etc.

            You lose, I win, twas ever thus. ;)

            Or in even more immature language: nanny-nanny-boo-boo.

            Okay then… :D

            Bill Mac

            For the record: I have never said that non-Calvinists believe they save themselves. I know some Calvinists do say that but they are wrong. I suspect most SBC Calvinists came to Calvinism after they were saved, and I doubt that at any time they believed they saved themselves.

    Mary

    Here Bill Mac, you had some errors in your comment. I’ve fixed them for you based years of evidence to be found at blogs that you frequent such as SBC Voices.

    Once again, the same flaw that many of the previous articles by Calvinists across the internet have suffered from. Calvinists telling Traditionalists what they believe. And then when Trads come and try to say no, you haven’t got it quite right, Calvinists stick their fingers in their ears and say YES WE DO!!!

    We understand Calvinists don’t like Traditionalists. We understand you don’t like the influence that Traditonalism has in the SBC. But you aren’t going to “put it to rest”.

    It was my understanding that the “discussion” that has been called for in the SBC was not a discussion on how Calvinists can out-debate Traditionalists, or vice-versa. It was (I think) how we move forward in cooperation despite our differences. Some here, Calvinist and Traditionalists alike, seem to be willing to give that a try. You don’t.

    I’ll make the same statement I’ve made in the last several articles: Instead of telling Tradtionalists what we believe, why not ask us?

    You poor Calvinists, you cannot stand it that there is a Traditionalist blog getting attention. Only Calvinists can truly understand Calvinism and only Calvinists are allowed to explain what everybody else must believe if they are not Calvinists. All these years when a small number of Traditionalist would try to say “uhh no that’s not what we believe at all” are now to be ignored since the Calvinists think to play the victim now. It’s not so nice having someone tell you what you believe is it. Of course Calvinists feel it’s their right to dictate what everybody believes.

      Bill Mac

      Mary: The adults are trying to have a discussion.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        And you want to bellyache about my responses to you?

        That’s quite some nerve to be so brazenly hypocritical…

rhutchin

The issue here is whether God must act to enable a person to believe. If God must act in some manner on the lost person such that a person cannot be saved outside this action by God (whatever that action is), then necessarily, God’s action decides the person’s fate. If God makes all people equally capable of hearing and responding to the gospel, then all will respond to the preaching of the gospel and all will be saved for equality allows no other outcome. If some respond to the preaching of gospel and some do not, then God has discriminated in His treatment of people – He has favored the elect to bring them to salvation while not so favoring the reprobate.

We do not forget that God knew the elect and the reprobate before He created the world and that this knowledge was not based on anything that He learned about them (through whatever means might be imagined). God choose whom He would save based only on His own counsel. Thus, when God acts to enable a person to come to salvation through the preaching of His word, He necessarily discriminates between the elect and the reprobate such that the elect come to salvation and the reprobate are prepared for judgment. If this were not so, then either all would be saved or all would be lost.

    Bob Hadley

    rhutchins,

    I agree with your statement: “The issue here is whether God must act to enable a person to believe. If God must act in some manner on the lost person such that a person cannot be saved outside this action by God (whatever that action is), then necessarily, God’s action decides the person’s fate.”

    My point is simple: according to calvinism it is God’s act that enables a person to believe and not the preaching of the gospel because the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate falls on deaf no… dead ears. THAT IS WHAT CALVINISM CONTENDS!

    Like it or not, according to calvinism, the gospel has power in sanctification and not conversion… because dead men cannot hear… their hearts are stone cold… to them the preaching of the cross is foolishness… once regenerated they can receive the power of the gospel… that is what calvinism teaches! I am not making this stuff up..

    What I am doing is pointing to the logical progression calvinism contends and simply saying it does not line up with what the Scripture teaches.

    Even your last statement supports my argument: “God choose whom He would save based only on His own counsel. Thus, when God acts to enable a person to come to salvation through the preaching of His word…”

    The clear implication of calvinism is that God chooses who does and does not believe not through the preaching of the gospel but by His effectual calling and THEN the gospel has power in the heart and life of THAT individual and NOT BEFORE. That is the basis of the argument presented in this article.

    ><>”

      rhutchin

      Given that you agree with my statement, I hear you to say that the preaching of the gospel is that unique action of God that brings a person to salvation, that makes a dead person alive, etc. Whereas the Calvinist distinguishes two unique actions, a quickening by God apart from the preaching of the gospel that then enables the hearing of the gospel, you give to the preaching of the gospel the power to quicken thereby enabling one to hear.

      There is still a problem. That is to account for different decisions by people – one to accept the gospel and one to reject it. Having rejected God as the source of that difference, you make individuals responsible. Somehow, two people hear the gospel preached and one responds one way and the other the opposite way. The trick is to identify that characteristic in people that produces such different results. The Calvinists have concluded that there is nothing in people to account for different responses to the gospel. The non-Calvinists appeal to free will but that is like the evolutionist appealing to paspermia to explain life on earth. It just cloaks the issue in new clothes. The difficulties of free will are not the subject here but it would be interesting to read about your take on free will in a later effort and see if you can take the issues head on.

        Bob Hadley

        rhutchin,

        OK… you wrote, “I hear you to say that the preaching of the gospel is that unique action of God that brings a person to salvation, that makes a dead person alive, etc.”

        I am really NOT making this point, although with a minor caveat that would be the point that I would move to, yes. I am principly dealing with your next statement:

        “Whereas the Calvinist distinguishes two unique actions, a quickening by God apart from the preaching of the gospel that then enables the hearing of the gospel,

        Actually, the quickening by God enables the gospel to have an effect on the regenerated individual, which is not the case for the unregenerated individual.

        “You give to the preaching of the gospel the power to quicken thereby enabling one to hear.”

        I am saying that the preaching of the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe as opposed to the calvinist tenet that says those who are regenerated to believe. For the calvinist, it is regeneration or effectual calling that precipitates repentance and saving faith NOT the power of the gospel because prior to regeneration, the preaching of the cross is foolishness… it has no ability to transform anyone unless and until God FIRST regenerates them.

        My argument is that the gospel CANNOT be the means by which regeneration is effectuated; it is God’s effectual call and NOT the proclamation of the gospel.

        ><>”

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

It is only the continuous litany of Calvinist double-talk that keeps reformed theology afloat by the nuancing and distortion of words and phrases. The following illustrates the complete and blasphemous sham of Calvinist evangelism.

More than 150,000 people die in this world each day. Some souls are saved from eternal damnation but most are not. The Calvinist believes, at the end of each day, not one of the lost could have been saved even if the level of Christian evangelism had been increased by a factor of one billion for the past 1900 years. Conversely, at the end of each day, not one of the saved could have been lost if the level of evangelism had long ago dropped to zero. Before the world was formed, the Calvinist believes God assigned each person to one of two mathematical sets; elect and non-elect. Nothing can move a single person from one set to the other. When the Calvinist evangelist addresses a throng, he is not praying that all will be saved. He merely wishes to be God’s instrument for helping the elect identify themselves prior to their unconditional regeneration.

This illustration summarizes the meaning of the 1689 Baptist Confession which reads:

“By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace. Others are left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice. Those angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and the number of them is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind who are predestinated to life, God chose before the foundation of the world was laid, in accordance with His eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will. God chose them in Christ for everlasting glory, solely out of His free grace and love, without anything in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him to choose.”

    mike white

    Dr. Bruce,

    You know when you apply someone else’s paradigm through your own lenses, it becomes distorted. Thus you distort C.

    C believes that God is sovereign and that no one and nothing can thwart His will. Thus if he wants someone saved, he will provide the Gospel to them.

    So your hypothetical situation is to be polite, a bunch of nonsense.
    You said:
    “The following illustrates the complete and blasphemous sham of Calvinist evangelism.

    More than 150,000 people die in this world each day. Some souls are saved from eternal damnation but most are not. The Calvinist believes, at the end of each day, not one of the lost could have been saved even if the level of Christian evangelism had been increased by a factor of one billion for the past 1900 years. Conversely, at the end of each day, not one of the saved could have been lost if the level of evangelism had long ago dropped to zero.”

    Now either your thinking is off, or you are purposefully cherry picking, you decide. C believes God SAVES. He saves WHEN and WHERE and WHOM. But he saves through the Gospel.

    Now what you call a sham, and I suppose you do so theoretically, as opposed to
    what really happens, is no sham at all. For C’s have gone on many missionary
    trips and through their ministries God has saved millions. Some sham.
    My small church alone. led by my C pastor and my C deacons has been to S. America and Africa twice each in the 4 years I have attended. One of the C deacons has gone on all the trips and helped others with their financing as well.

    my brother is the Lord Jesus,
    peace

      Norm Miller

      I’m not picking on you, Mike, but if you apply Calvin’s paradigm through your lens, does it become distorted?
      The act in itself doesn’t necessarily distort the view, does it? I don’t think so. Therefore I would have to reject your premise that applying another’s paradigm through my lens necessarily distorts it. If that were true, then applying Calvin’s paradigm through your lens would of necessity cause distortion, too. — Norm

        mike white

        I don’t apply Calvin’s paradigm through my lens. I have never really studied Calvin.
        And whether its distorted or not has nothing to do with necessity.
        But when you speak hatefully and falsely about your brother as Dr. Bruce, then something is distorted. So while you may see C thru your lens and not distort it, Dr. Bruce most certainly has.

    Bill Mac

    Dr. Bruce,

    Is it fair to say that you do not think cooperation is possible between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC? Your view seems to be that it is necessary for Calvinists to be removed from the SBC. Am I wrong?

mike white

Gosh Bob you sure generated a lot of heat (-:

Just above you said this;
“My point is simple: according to calvinism it is God’s act that enables a person to believe and not the preaching of the gospel because the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate falls on deaf no… dead ears. THAT IS WHAT CALVINISM CONTENDS! ”

I hope i can clear up some confusion here. Let us say, for the sake of the argument, that Calvinism does say that it is God who enables a person to believe.

Believe what Bob?

Believe on Who?

Calvinists say that men must believe the Gospel and believe in Jesus Christ.
How can they believe those things if they never hear of them?

Now i assume you were saved under a different system of theology than Calvinism.
Did you of your own free will accept the Gospel?
Was the power in the words you heard or in you who accepted them?

If it was in the words, then why don’t all who hear believe?
If it was in you, than here is how the argument plays out:

The C’s say they were saved by the power of God.
And you say you are saved by the power of you.

peace brother

    Norm Miller

    I read Bob’s post and I am pretty sure that Bob is saying that C’ism is inconsistent w/in itself, and not that he saved himself. — Norm

      mike white

      Norm,

      Of course Bob isn’t saying he saved himself. I didn’t ay he saved himself, i asked him if he was saved by the power of himself.

      But what about you, did the Gospel words save you, or did God save you, or did you by the power of yourself save you?

        Norm Miller

        Semanitics, Mike. Not much diff between being saved by me or the power of me. I was saved by God, and I was saved by the power of God — see? — Norm

    Bob Hadley

    Mike,

    Let us say, for the sake of the argument, that Calvinism does say that it is God who enables a person to believe.

    We do not have to assume the validity that statement; it is a clearly understood fundamental principle of calvinism. No ambiguity there…

    Believe WHAT… believe WHO? How bout believe ANYTHING! Because apart from effectual calling and regeneration the unregenerate has NO ability to believe anything related to the gospel apart from that which will condemn him.

    Actually I need to thank you for as you say, Let me clear some things up… you have said this better than I did… when you wrote,

    Calvinists say that men must believe the Gospel and believe in Jesus Christ.
    How can they believe those things if they never hear of them?

    That is EXACTLY MY POINT!

    Calvinists contend that because of TD/TI the unregenerate man does not hear or understand the gospel… they cannot or will not respond apart from regeneration… only THEN can they hear and respond!

    So, my point is that since they cannot believe those things that they cannot hear ( because they are totally depraved) it is regeneration that allows them to hear and therefore what they do not hear cannot be the means that God uses to regenerate them. Effectual calling is what calls them to repentance NOT the gospel and that conflicts with the Scripture and that is why I believe the whole concept presented in calvinism is in error.

    ><>”

      mike white

      Bob,

      God opening the ears of whom he is saying so that they know the veracity of the Gospel is how those with deaf ears hear. God opening the eyes of those blind to the Gospel is how they see the glory of God in Jesus.

      Those who remain deaf and blind to the truth of the Gospel can’t respond from the heart.

      You are making a false dichotomy by claiming that C’s saying the spoken Word cant be heard by dead men, so then who can be saved, when C’s say that God opens the ears when the Word is preached.

      Bob Hadley

      Mike,

      You are scratching an itch here… you write…. God opening the ears of whom he is saying so that they know the veracity of the Gospel is how those with deaf ears hear. God opening the eyes of those blind to the Gospel is how they see the glory of God in Jesus.

      What I am saying is that God’s opening of the ears or the eyes as you indicate CANNOT be by the gospel because as you yourself admit… Those who remain deaf and blind to the truth of the Gospel can’t respond from the heart.

      they cannot respond because their eyes or ears are not yet opened which is regeneration… and that which has no effect on the deaf and dead cannot be the means to open their eyes or ears… that is all I am saying.

      God speaks and the ears and eyes are opened… that is calvinism… the gospel is effective for those who have been regenerated. It is a simple concept to understand.

      Now… the fact that it does not square with scripture is another matter… but at least quit shooting at me because I am misrepresenting or not understanding what you say you believe.

      ><>”

Bob Williford

Bob
I agree with you. Certainly, however, Calvinists do believe in preaching to the lost community as the the Word commands all of us to do. BUT, the differences between us are vast and you have stated and contextually stated the case AGAINST the Calvinist point of view.

Preaching the Message to a lost community DOES ignite faith that is, indeed, an act of God which DOES precede the moment of salvation. Also, the Greek verbs that are used over and over again tell us that a person was saved at some point in time, is now being saved, and will be saved in eternity.

Your argument, as well as those who participated in the “Whosoever Will” text, is contextually stated throughout Holy Writ. This space is not large enough to contain all that contained in the ongoing dialogue, but those involved MUST NOT attempt to move toward ‘proof texting’ which is so rampant in the conversation at hand.

Well state, Bob…well stated.

Jesus is Lord

mike white

Certainly Bob W. no need to use the Bible though it is contextually stated all through Holy Writ.
I mean, we should just expect those C’s to listen to us tell them they are wrong and they should just get over it.

No need to use the whole Bible or write a book Bob, just give me a few examples.
thanks.

carl peterson

Bob,

“Since God’s efficacious calling is solely what brings about regeneration, preaching and teaching and witnessing prior to regeneration have no bearing on one’s repentance and saving faith and justification. Regeneration occurs at God’s sole command and conversion is automatically the result.”

No. the past is in some sense with us today. one can remember what one hears from before. So even though I might not be ready to accept the Word of God at one moment, I can remember what was preached to me and God can use it as an instrumental means to help my new birth. For instance sometimes I read a passage in scripture and study it but it does not really hit me right then. But maybe a week or year later God uses the knowledge of the scripture that I gained in the past to help me in a present situation. One example of this in my life is when my mother died. I leaned on what I had learned about the early church’s understand of Christ and salvation. I could not have learned it then but the knowledged helped when my mother died.

“This must be understood. The preaching and teaching of the Word of God to the unregenerate cannot be made the means God uses to accomplish the end; unless one is willing to relegate the role of regeneration to a progressive one. This would be tantamount to accepting a picture of prevenient grace followed by or leading to irresistible grace. ”

First I would say that those that support previent grace have in a sense the same problem. I guess they help solve it by saying God gives everyone this gift before birth. I am not sure exactly when supporters say it comes but I guess it must be before birth. But still grace comes from God without any external help such as scripture teachings or anything else.

Could God use scripture and preaching as an instrumental cause (Hope I am using that pharase correctly) even if regeneration is instantaneous. First God is the main cause. It is his work. When I was not reformed I was taught by many Baptist (non-reformed) leaders that when I witness it is not me who saves anyone. It is God. God uses me to help bring salvation to another. I witness but the Spirit is the one who convicts and saves. The person is rejecting the Holy Spirit and not me. Those were all phrases I heard often.

Why can’t scripture and preaching be used similiar in the regeneration process? It is God who regenerates and he does it at an instant but God can uses His word and the preachign of His word as an instrumental cause to bring about regeneration?

“For if regeneration is progressive, then what you have is a form of prevenient grace with an irresistible conclusion and then the question comes into play, what determines when and how prevenient grace becomes irresistible. To counter this possibility is the work of effectual calling in the regeneration process. Effectual calling cannot be progressive but rather must be instantaneous or else it could not be considered effectual.”

??

“Even as Paul speaks about the power of the gospel to save those who believe, it is the power of the spoken Word that brings new life; not God’s effectual calling. ”

Huh? It is hard to reply to this because it seems to confuse many things. Again God is who saves. Not even His wrod per se saves but the God of his word saves. God uses his wrod to bring about salvation of man. But it is always the Holy Spirit who convicts man using the word of God. Effectual calling is what the Holy Spirit does. He usees the word of God as a tool but it is alwys God who calls, regenerates, justifies, and saves. The word of God is the tool that brings men to God but God alone saves. So I do not see your point.

“Calvinism errantly seeks to establish new birth as the sole result of God’s predestined will and subsequent effectual calling, which is not contingent at all upon the proclamation of the gospel because prior to that effectual calling, the gospel has no effect at all on the lost, unregenerate person.”

I have already shown at leat one problem with this statement above. God can use things in the past. Man can remember past events and teaching. Also scripture an preaching can be an instrumental cause when God and his calling, regenration and saving work is the ultimate cause. Again I am not very good with Aristotelean categories of different types of causes. I hope you get what I am saying.

    Bob Hadley

    Carl,

    You said, “First I would say that those that support previent grace have in a sense the same problem.” Let me challenge you to be very careful in your statement here… understand that irresistible grace is prevenient grace… prevenient simply means it is required prior to conversion… now I understand that irresistible grace does not allow for rejection but it is still a form of prevenient grace…

    Note your next comment: “But still grace comes from God without any external help such as scripture teachings or anything else.” Actually this is what I contend calvinism ACTUALLY POSITS, which I am saying is Scripturally incorrect.

    You asked, Why can’t scripture and preaching be used similiar in the regeneration process? It is God who regenerates and he does it at an instant but God can uses His word and the preachign of His word as an instrumental cause to bring about regeneration?

    My answer to your first question would be that is exactly what God does. The answer to your second question is simple… according to the posits of TD/TI it is simply NOT possible…. and that is what I am arguing MUST cause one to step away from calvinism. It is NOT Scripturally consistent with the truth.

    I wrote… “Even as Paul speaks about the power of the gospel to save those who believe, it is the power of the spoken Word that brings new life; not God’s effectual calling. ”

    It is not the preaching that saves anyone… it is the gospel that God uses to save as opposed to the calvinist contention that God’s effectual calling is what precipitates conversion because the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate has no effect whatsoever… which is the basis of TD.

    I agree with YOUR statement… God can use things in the past. Man can remember past events and teaching. Also scripture an preaching can be an instrumental cause when God and his calling, regenration and saving work is the ultimate cause.

    My point is that the tenets of calvinism do not allow that position.

    ><>”

      mike white

      Bob.
      you said,
      “I wrote… “Even as Paul speaks about the power of the gospel to save those who believe, it is the power of the spoken Word that brings new life; not God’s effectual calling. ””

      I’m a guessing you mean more than that. Certainly you mean that the power of the spoken Word brings new life IF… [you add in the condition you have.]

      Since I doubt you believe everyone who hears the spoken Word gets new life.

      Now what most C’s believe is that the Holy Spirit brings faith to the hearer of the spoken Word and only these are saved. SOME C’s call that regeneration, others do not.

      The Holy Spirit bringing faith to the hearer is what effectual calling is about,

      from here;http://www.reformed.org/master/index.html?mainframe=/documents/fisher/q0031.html

      “QUESTION 31. What is effectual calling?
      ANSWER: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.”

      and on that same page:
      “Q. 3. How manifold is the divine calling?
      A. Twofold: outward, by the word; and inward, by the Spirit.”

      “Q. 4. What is the outward call by the word?
      A. It is the free and unlimited invitation given, in the dispensation of the gospel, to all the hearers of it, to receive Christ, and salvation with him, Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17.”

      “Q. 3. How manifold is the divine calling?
      A. Twofold: outward, by the word; and inward, by the Spirit.

      Q. 4. What is the outward call by the word?
      A. It is the free and unlimited invitation given, in the dispensation of the gospel, to all the hearers of it, to receive Christ, and salvation with him, Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17.”

      Why are you trying to divorce effectual call from the Gospel?

        mike white

        sorry about the repeat, here is what i, wanted to add:

        Q. 5. What is the inward call by the Spirit?

        A. It is the Spirit’s accompanying the outward call with power and efficacy upon the soul, John 6:45.

      Bob Hadley

      Sorry….

      This explanation of effectual call has no bearing on my position. It is fine to define what one means about anything but the truth is… however you define it… my simple statement on effectual calling and regeneration and the dynamics of their importance as posited by calvinism is clear and they are problematic when it comes to the Scripture’s use of the gospel where conversion is concerned.

      ><>”

holdon

I think the problem is well stated:

1. the dead can’t hear: so why preach to them.
2. the dead must be made alive by God first; but if they have life then, why would they still need the word preached, and salvific faith, etc.? As dead is dead; so alive is alive: no grey areas: no progression in “becoming alive”.

    Chris

    “the dead can’t hear: so why preach to them.”

    The Calvinist believes that the gospel is the occasion the Holy Spirit uses to quicken the dead to hear and believe. Calvinists believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation because the Holy Spirit works through it to quicken sinners. Bob believes that the gospel has the power to save apart from the Holy Spirit because the sinner has the ability to believe and the Word has the power to convince without needing the Spirit. Both the Calvinist and Bob agree that the gospel is necessary and the occasion or means of salvation. This whole conversation is stupid.

    Bob Hadley

    Chris,

    Once again, either maintain some level of intelligence in your retort or your charge of stupidity falls in the wrong direction.

    Let me try one more time to explain WHAT I am saying so that even you might possibly understand it…

    You wrote… so I am assuming you understand and agree with the following statement (yes I understand the ramifications of my assumption) “Calvinists believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation because the Holy Spirit works through it to quicken sinners.”

    As simply as I know to put this… how can the Holy Spirit use something that calvinists contend in total depravity and inability is not possible UNTIL one is regenerated?

    THAT is the essence of my argument. Period. I would appreciate your or ANYONE to address that simple comment. For without that foundation, calvinism fails in its inception.

    ><>”

      Chris

      The Holy Spirit is sovereign over dead sinners. He can and does use the gospel as the occasion by which he makes sinners alive. The Holy Spirit regenerates, but he does not do it apart from the occasion of the spoken or written word. Calvinists believe that the gospel is necessary because it is the only appointed means or occasion by which the Holy Spirit quickens sinners. You believe that the gospel is necessary because it is the only means or occasion by which sinners who already have the ability to believe will believe and be saved. Again, both believe that without the gospel no one will be saved and that it is only with the gospel that people will be saved. For the Calvinist, the person is saved through the gospel because the Holy Spirit has used that means or occasion to regenerate. The gospel doesn’t regenerate. The Holy Spirit does as the gospel is spoken or read. You believe the person is saved through the gospel because he has the ability and believes it when he hears it. Therefore, your following quote is inaccurate and does nothing to further the unity of Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Indeed, I think that it is exceedingly stupid.

      “given the instantaneousness of regeneration or the absence of regeneration, one would have to understand that for the Calvinist, the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate is useless. Sharing one’s testimony with the unregenerate is a waste of time because they are not even effective much less effectual because of the totally depraved state of the unregenerate individual.”

      Bob Hadley

      Chris,

      You are 100% correct when you stated, “the gospel is necessary because it is the only appointed means or occasion by which the Holy Spirit quickens sinners.”

      Here is the problem and the thrust of my argument; without and apart from regeneration the gospel is not effective because as calvinism contends, it falls on deaf, dead ears. So until regeneration takes place, it is not effectual and cannot be the means and that is precisely my point.

      For the record I am NOT saying the gospel regenerates. I am fully aware that the Holy Spirit does and I am in agreement that it is the gospel that He uses to convict and convert lost sinners. However, regeneration as defined by calvinism cannot be effectuated by the gospel for the consistent calvinist because of total depravity and inability and the essence of effectual call…

      Because of TD/TI the gospel has no effect on the person who is spiritually dead until he is regenerated which is the monergistic work of God that brings about repentance and saving faith which are effectuated by the gospel… but NOT regeneration.

      ><>”

      mike white

      3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

      C’s contend that God opens the blind eyes to see the truth of the Gospel. The rest continue to perish, blind to its truth.

      Patrick

      “Once again, either maintain some level of intelligence in your retort or your charge of stupidity falls in the wrong direction.

      Let me try one more time to explain WHAT I am saying so that even you might possibly understand it… ”

      It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone claiming to be a pastor be such a straight up a-hole to someone. Well done, Bob!

        Bob Hadley

        I don’t CLAIM to be a pastor and for the record, I guess you did not read the couple comments that I was responding to.

        Nice comment on your part.

        ><>”

          Patrick

          I read the comments you’re referring to….it still doesn’t change my opinion of you and how you conduct yourself.

        Bob Hadley

        I am a pastor.

        ><>”

Chris Roberts

Bob,

I commend you in this article for your focus on Scripture. Of all the posts offered thus far, this one may make the most use of Scripture. I disagree with your conclusions, but I appreciate that you have based your conclusions on the Bible. That said, I think you have misunderstood both Calvinism and the Bible on this issue.

Calvinists do not believe that salvation is a single, monolithic event. There is more than one aspect to being saved. Regeneration is the first step, but it is not the only step. Regeneration starts the process, but it is not the fullness of salvation. I think this point addresses a fundamental misunderstanding in your post: all of salvation is not accomplished in an individual when he is born again. By that point his salvation is a certainty (and was already certain because of God’s election), but there must still be the response of faith and the work of justification. Even beyond those, salvation includes the ongoing work of sanctification and the ultimate experience of glorification. The work of justification begins at regeneration, continues in my response of faith, and is completed when God justifies the believing sinner. Thus Paul says “we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28).

Part of what you say about Calvinism is correct. We are regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit through a sovereign work of God. Regeneration does not take place as a response to gospel preaching, though it may be connected with gospel preaching, but regeneration is not a work of preaching, it is a work of the Spirit.

I am surprised that in your discussion you never went to John 3:1-15, perhaps the most significant passage on the new birth. In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus he says that no one can see the kingdom (verse 3) or enter the kingdom (verse 5) unless he is born again. Jesus also separates physical and spiritual realities: the flesh cannot give birth to the things of the Spirit (verse 6). This is key to seeing where regeneration begins: the flesh only begets flesh and only produces works of the flesh. Thus Jesus says in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” The flesh is not a little help, the flesh is not a small facilitator, the flesh cannot be the source of believing – Jesus speaks in absolute terms: the flesh is of no help at all. None whatsoever. It contributes nothing to our being made alive – which means it contributes nothing to our regeneration. My mind, my heart, my spirit are not capable of responding to the gospel unless I am first made alive by the Spirit, a work the Spirit does in regeneration.

There is a degree of mystery to the Spirit’s work, a mystery affirmed by Jesus himself in John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Where will the Spirit blow? Where will he go next? Who will be born again by the Spirit, and why? Why did the Spirit blow his regenerating wind on this person, and who else will be born again? We do not know, God has not told us. This verse ought to leave non-Calvinists scratching their heads, since you believe you know why the Spirit works regeneration in someone’s life: the Spirit blew his wind my way because of my faith. But Jesus says the Spirit’s moving is a mystery.

In your post, your main focus was on the many passages which demonstrate there must be a response of faith which comes in response to the preaching of the Word. I agree completely, as should every Calvinist. We must believe. We must trust. We must have faith. We must believe in order to be saved.

What Calvinists recognize is that this belief, trust, and faith come not from ourselves but from God. This is demonstrated in multiple passages, including the infamous Ephesians 2:8-9. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated in Jesus’ words in John 10:25-28: “Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Don’t miss what Jesus is saying: (1) I spoke truth to you, but you did not believe. (2) My words and my works are a sufficient witness of who I am and the truth of what I say. You cannot claim ignorance as the cause of your disbelief. (3) You do not believe because you are not my sheep. (4) If you were my sheep, you would hear me and be known by me and you would follow me. (5) If you were my sheep and responded to my voice, I would give you eternal life.

In other words, what brings the believing is not natural human ability, since the flesh does not offer one iota of help to our salvation, but believing comes as a result of being God’s sheep. We usually put this the other way around: believe, so that you can be his sheep. Jesus says you are my sheep, therefore you believe. He does not hear speak of regeneration, per se, but he does make a distinction: if you are not my sheep, you will not believe. If you are my sheep first, then you will believe, then I will give you eternal life. The work begins with God, continues with God through us, and ends with God.

This picture becomes clearer when we also consider a passage like Philippians 2:12b-13: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Work out your salvation. But why would you ever will to work for your salvation? Why would you want to be saved? Where does this power, this desire comes from? It comes from God who is at work in you. And because God has begun this work in you, we are confident of your salvation, because of Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

God begins this work through regeneration, a gift given not in response to our belief but through the sovereign gift of God. Thus John 1:12-13 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Thus 1 Peter 1:3 says, “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope…” Thus Jesus says that the Spirit blows where he will, not where we will (John 3:8).

Calvinism, which affirms the Bible’s teaching of the Spirit’s initiating work of regeneration and continued work of giving and growing faith in us, proclaims the glorious good news of God’s grace to save sinners who were completely unable to desire, will, think, or act in any way toward salvation. This theology needs to be affirmed by all who love the truth of God’s Word.

    holdon

    “John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Where will the Spirit blow? Where will he go next? Who will be born again by the Spirit, and why? Why did the Spirit blow his regenerating wind on this person, and who else will be born again? We do not know, God has not told us. This verse ought to leave non-Calvinists scratching their heads, since you believe you know why the Spirit works regeneration in someone’s life: the Spirit blew his wind my way because of my faith. But Jesus says the Spirit’s moving is a mystery.”

    No this is not a mystery for non-Calvinists at all. Because the “you hear its voice” message is loud and clear. This verse has nothing to do who the Spirit regenerates: actually only those are born again, who hear its voice. In other words: the individual is in control of his destiny, not the Spirit.

      Chris Roberts

      “This verse has nothing to do who the Spirit regenerates: actually only those are born again, who hear its voice.”

      The “hear its sound” in verse 8 refers not to a general offer or call of the gospel that demands a response, but refers to us seeing the effect of the Spirit. Note the difference: the Spirit is working in places and we don’t know how or why, yet we hear the sound of him, we have evidence of his activity, we know he is at work.

      “In other words: the individual is in control of his destiny, not the Spirit.”

      And people wonder why we refer to some aspects of this belief as humanistic? We want to act as though we are masters of our destiny, as though our autonomy exceeds God’s sovereign authority.

        holdon

        “We want to act as though we are masters of our destiny, as though our autonomy exceeds God’s sovereign authority.”

        Well, that’s not what this implies. But God in His sovereignty has decided to let man choose death or life (eternally).
        Or do you really think He throws people in the lake of fire not by their choice but by His choice only?

          mike white

          Law is one thing.
          Choice decides.
          We all chose sin and death.
          Grace is another thing.
          God chooses whom to save.

    Bob Hadley

    Chris,

    Thanks for the credit initially. Then you wrote, “Calvinists do not believe that salvation is a single, monolithic event. There is more than one aspect to being saved. Regeneration is the first step, but it is not the only step. Regeneration starts the process, but it is not the fullness of salvation. I think this point addresses a fundamental misunderstanding in your post: all of salvation is not accomplished in an individual when he is born again.”

    I think your comment represents a fundamental flaw in your comprehension of what I said. For this reason, I will commonly refer to conversion as opposed to salvation because i FULLY understand the difference in justification and sanctification… in fact I comment if not in the article itself certainly in this comment thread that for the calvinist the gospel is for the elect in sanctification as opposed to conversion and most certainly regeneration.

    The title itself really answers your criticism… in that I am speaking almost exclusively of regeneration which speaks to the initial aspects of the salvific experience, not the ongoing process as you indicate. So it is not me who is misunderstanding anything.

    Now…. you go on to support the thrust of the argument in the article when you say, “Part of what you say about Calvinism is correct. We are regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit through a sovereign work of God. Regeneration does not take place as a response to gospel preaching.”

    I can end my comments with respect to your comment right here. Given your own admission as I see it, justification is the result of God’s initiative in regeneration NOT the proclamation of the gospel and the Scriptures do not bear that distinction out. You will allude to the mystery of the gospel and I will admit that there are things about God’s provisions of salvation that none of us will never be able to fathom.

    However, the point of this article is we cannot contend for truth that is contradictory to what we do know is scriptural. The gospel, not effectual calling, not regeneration is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe… not all who are given the ability to believe. So as I see it, regeneration as posited by calvinism (not calvinists so I am not presuming to tell you or anyone else what YOU or they believe) cannot be by the power of the gospel, which you admit is correct, and therefore is not Scripturally based and should not form our theological framework.

    ><>”

      Chris Roberts

      Bob,

      Thanks for affirming that I was correct about your misunderstanding:

      “Given your own admission as I see it, justification is the result of God’s initiative in regeneration NOT the proclamation of the gospel and the Scriptures do not bear that distinction out.”

      As I noted, even justification is not a solitary event but one that begins with regeneration. As I said, “By that point his salvation is a certainty (and was already certain because of God’s election), but there must still be the response of faith and the work of justification.” – justification is not regeneration, justification follows regeneration.

      Now, I would appreciate it if you would consider my interaction with the statements of Scripture.

      Bob Hadley

      Chris,

      Nice try. The point that I was making, which apparently YOU missed was it was not me who is misunderstanding but YOU. Whatever.

      Look at what YOU continue to write… “As I noted, even justification is not a solitary event but one that begins with regeneration.”

      I am sorry to sound like a broken record but that is the point of my article… since the salvific process begins with regeneration all I am saying is that is when the gospel begins to have an effect in the life of an individual in the calvinistic model.

      Since TD/TI set the stage for that and calvinism claims that it is effectual calling that brings about regeneration, THEN the gospel is not the power of God unto salvation UNLESS AND UNTIL regeneration takes place.

      That creates a Scriptural impasse for me as I read the Bible.

      Your response to that?

      ><>”

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Well, that was quite long, so I shall not reply to all of it. Since you began with John 3 and built from there, I will simply address your foundation, and not wade into the subsequent proof-texting frenzy and faulty conclusions from them, unless you later ask me one by one to explain in piecemeal.

    John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    John 3:5 “Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

    So far, so good. These statements are explanations of what must be the case in order to see or enter the Kingdom of God.

    Where Calvinists err is thinking that these state HOW it is the case one becomes born again. This however, is not implied in these verses, and for good reasoning, because that would entail being born again to be born again and Jesus doesn’t reason in a circle.

    So do verses 3:6-8 help the Calvinist?

    John 3:6 “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

    Exactly. This, again, a statement of what IS the case, not how it comes to be the case. Jesus points this out in answering Nicodemus’ question in verse 4. This teaches us that being born again is NOT the same as the birth from the mother’s womb. One would think interpreting it as Jesus clearly means would be obvious…

    John 3:7 “Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again.”

    We shouldn’t be. As we are in the “flesh”, we can’t see or enter the Kingdom.

    John 3:8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    Does this verse teach a random regeneration process of the Holy Spirit? I think not. Because of the play on words, Calvinists assume that the Holy Spirit blows like the wind where it pleases and no one knows WHERE the Spirit is coming or going (and usually omit that bit about hearing the sound).

    Not only does this NOT square with Jesus’ teaching on the Spirit scattered throughout John 14-16 since those passages tell us EXACTLY where the Spirit blows, what He will do, etc., but this Calvinist interpretation doesn’t even square with what Jesus says right here before our eyes. It says “so it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit”…and NOT the Spirit Himself.

    Everyone born of the Spirit is like the wind. We don’t know where it comes or where it goes, but we hear the sound. The wind describes the BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE of the person being born again in contrast to being born from the womb. It says NOTHING whatever about the Spirit carrying about some random regeneration process blowing about from person to person and not other people. That Calvinist interpretation is EISEGESIS.

    So, does this teach regeneration precedes faith. Not at all. Does Jesus elaborate what HE actually means by all this?

    Yep.

    In verse 9, Nicodemus seeks clarification.

    In verses 10-13, Jesus offers clarification, and challenges Nicodemus as a teacher of the law and not knowing of these things. Jesus also questions him about belief.

    Jesus clearly teaches in these verses that being born again happens on earth, and since he isn’t grasping that even though he should as a teacher of the law, Jesus goes on to ask how Nicodemus could accept the things of heaven, where no one has ascended to except Jesus as the One who descended from there, while not grasping these things on Earth.

    So, to help poor Nicodemus out, Jesus refers to Torah to illustrate in verses 14-15. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.”

    This is Jesus’ own explanation of the passage, and HOW it will be the case one is born again.

    Now, if Calvinists insist Jesus was teaching regeneration precedes faith in this passage, then I suggest Calvinists are insisting that Jesus is a poor teacher, which is unacceptable. People didn’t get healed so they could look to the snake, they looked to the snake to be healed! Jesus certainly wasn’t confused by the illustration He Himself used to teach.

    Numbers 21:8 “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake image and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.’”

    Okay then.

    So, “everyone”, “everyone”, and “anyone” (verses 15-18) who believes will have eternal life, and thus be born again as well.

    No regeneration preceding faith here…

    Cheers!

      Bob Hadley

      Johnathan,

      Very well done.

      ><>”

      Chris Roberts

      “Does this verse teach a random regeneration process of the Holy Spirit?”

      Of course not. No one has ever suggested that. As for the sound, note my comments to holdon above.

      “The wind describes the BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE of the person being born again in contrast to being born from the womb. It says NOTHING whatever about the Spirit carrying about some random regeneration process blowing about from person to person and not other people.”

      Except Jesus says the wind blows where it wishes. He speaks of direction, of the location of the action. It does what it does wherever it wants.

      “In verses 10-13, Jesus offers clarification, and challenges Nicodemus as a teacher of the law and not knowing of these things. Jesus also questions him about belief.”

      See my comments to wingedfoot below.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        “Except Jesus says the wind blows where it wishes. He speaks of direction, of the location of the action. It does what it does wherever it wants.”

        Yes. Again, the play on words here is still tripping you up. The Experience people have of being born again is like the wind blowing where it wishes not knowing where it is coming or going, even though they hear the sound.

        I read your comment to holdon. Hearing the sound is seeing an effect? What a dubious stretch that is…Unfortunately, I think both you guys are off base on verse 8.

        Now, on the next windy day, go stand outside in it and feel the sensation. Being born again by the Spirit is a little like that. ;)

          holdon

          “I read your comment to holdon. Hearing the sound is seeing an effect? What a dubious stretch that is…Unfortunately, I think both you guys are off base on verse 8.

          Now, on the next windy day, go stand outside in it and feel the sensation. Being born again by the Spirit is a little like that. ”

          Strange. Where does it say here you can “see” the Spirit (or wind), or that this is about feeling the wind?
          I believe the application of this verse is that the Spirit is not bound to the channel of the OT perspective, but that it can also convey its message from elsewhere: via Jesus “the Son of Man who is in heaven”.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I can’t explain Chris’s point, but mine is right there in the text.

            Nicodemus asks essentially how can one experience another birth by entering his mother’s womb again.

            In contrast, Jesus responds that those born again by the Spirit experience something like the wind rather than entering a womb again (thank goodness for that!).

            In verse 6, Jesus sets up the contrast for us to understand verses 7-8. Nicodemus related a fleshly birth, and Jesus relates a Spirit birth.

            holdon

            “In contrast, Jesus responds that those born again by the Spirit experience something like the wind rather than entering a womb again (thank goodness for that!).”

            I think you’re reading something in there, that’s not there at all. It’s not about “experience”, but about a “new origin”: flesh engenders flesh; spirit engenders spirit. And this new life is generated by a conscious decision: “hear” and “voice”; “witness” and “receive”; “believe”.
            “Being born” in the NT is not only the moment of “leaving the womb”, but also and very much so, the “begetting” part. See 1 Pet. 1:23; James 1:18; Jn 1:13, which involves receiving the seed, i.e. conceiving.

            In verse 6, Jesus sets up the contrast for us to understand verses 7-8. Nicodemus related a fleshly birth, and Jesus relates a Spirit birth.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            My interpretation didn’t discount the origin issue, rather I went out of my way in my interpretation to account for it contra Chris’ interpretation.

            In all actuality, I am only reading what IS there.

            In THIS context, Jesus is clearly contrasting both origin AND process. Womb versus wind.

            Much of the rest you are saying is gratuitous to what the text says.

            I’m not discounting what you are saying about conversion, etc., I am just telling you what Jesus said is all.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            holdon, what we ought not do when interpreting texts contra Calvinists is bring our own theological baggage over every single word in the text to make it go our way to support an entire apparatus.

            Usually, the meaning is much simpler. And, we avoid gratuitous interpretations that hack the text up worse than Augustine does parables.

            holdon

            “In all actuality, I am only reading what IS there.”

            Well, seeing the wind/Spirit or feeling the wind/Spirit are not there. Sorry. Nothing about that side of “experience” really.

            And the rest of why I say about “being born again” makes perfect sense with the text which expresses the same thoughts as in Jn 3, Jam 1, 1 Pet 1. It all makes perfect sense: Conception (being born again or begetting) takes place by receiving the incorruptible Seed (the Word) administered by the Spirit. That is what Jesus says.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “Well, seeing the wind/Spirit or feeling the wind/Spirit are not there. Sorry. Nothing about that side of “experience” really. ”

            Where did I say any of this. You make the same error that Calvinists do regarding the word play. The wind = “so it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit”…not the Spirit itself.

            Fail.

            “And the rest of why I say about “being born again” makes perfect sense with the text which expresses the same thoughts as in Jn 3, Jam 1, 1 Pet 1. It all makes perfect sense: Conception (being born again or begetting) takes place by receiving the incorruptible Seed (the Word) administered by the Spirit.”

            I don’t disagree with any of this generally speaking on theology.

            “That is what Jesus says.”

            Just not here.

          holdon

          “Where did I say any of this.”

          Well here:
          “The wind describes the BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE of the person being born again in contrast to being born from the womb.”
          And here:
          “Now, on the next windy day, go stand outside in it and feel the sensation. Being born again by the Spirit is a little like that.”

          “You make the same error that Calvinists do regarding the word play. The wind = “so it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit”…not the Spirit itself.”

          Well, the “so it is with everyone”, clearly does not refer to the Spirit/wind itself blowing, because “Spirit/wind” is not “everyone”.
          The “so it is with everyone” refers to the *effect* of the Spirit resulting in being *born of* the Spirit. That is the Spirit is the originator of that new life, which comes about when its voice is heard. (not some fuzzy feeling of wind in you hair or whatever….)
          And this opens up the scene to all (Gentiles included), because it matters not where it came from (Jesus in this case was not another prophet under the law, but the Son who is in heaven, as Nicodemus also seemed to recognize), or where it goes next (the other sheep being brought in).

            Johnathan Pritchett

            What does what I wrote have to do with what you said I wrote about wind/Spirit and seeing and feeling?

            Nothing. I think you would have understood that given your next statement.

            “Well, the “so it is with everyone”, clearly does not refer to the Spirit/wind itself blowing, because “Spirit/wind” is not “everyone”.”

            Fail again. What is the first object of the preposition in the last sentence of verse 8? It is “Everyone”. It does not say “so it is with the Spirit.” It says “So IT is with (whom?) everyone…”

            What are you saying the “IT” is in this sentence?

            “The “so it is with everyone” refers to the *effect* of the Spirit resulting in being *born of* the Spirit.”

            Yes, the word effect, or the word experience. Distinction without a difference.

            In the verse, it it the effect/experience of being born by the Spirit is like the wind. Not simply the Spirit.

            Just as I have been saying all along.

            “That is the Spirit is the originator of that new life, which comes about when its voice is heard. (not some fuzzy feeling of wind in you hair or whatever….)”

            Of course the Spirit enacts the new life, which includes “hearing the voice of the Spirit/sound”. BUT, that isn’t the meaning of the ENTIRE verse though. The verse is a descriptive and an illustrative contrast with “entering the womb a second time”.

            But, as I noted, you already conceded my point above so I don’t know what you are on about.

            Of course, I was being facetious with Chris, but yes, being born again should make one feel “fuzzy” inside. ;)

            “And this opens up the scene to all (Gentiles included), because it matters not where it came from (Jesus in this case was not another prophet under the law, but the Son who is in heaven, as Nicodemus also seemed to recognize), or where it goes next (the other sheep being brought in).”

            I agree that Jesus opens up inclusion to the entire “world”, as that is the point of John 3:16.

            However, the bit about the wind blowing in all directions is a description of wind for the illustration of what it is being born again in Spirit versus Nicodemus talking about reentering the womb, which would just be another flesh birth.

            You are jumping all around various passages in John to read them back into verse 8 instead of seeing verse 8 as what follows directly from verses 1-7.

            That isn’t exegesis.

            What you are doing is homily or midrash or something. I do agree with what you are meaning to say on all that, but it is not quite the meaning of the text.

            Let us Go through it again:

            Verse 4: “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

            Being confused, Nicodemus is asking for a mechanism of this new birth.

            Verse 5: “Jesus answered, ‘I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

            Jesus here reiterates what must be the case to enter the Kingdom. No explanation here.

            Verse 6: “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

            Here, Jesus sets up a contrast of origins. This tells us that Nicodemus is misunderstanding new birth. What comes out of a mother’s womb is flesh, so doing that again would not be helpful because it is a flesh origin. What new birth requires is a Spirit origin.

            Verse 7: “Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again.”

            Jesus tells Nicodemus there is no need to be amazed about needing a new birth. Of course, sinners need a new birth. Of course, being born Jewish isn’t sufficient for eternal life. AND, of course, being born again has a different mechanism than reentering the mother’s womb. Why is this so?

            Verse 8: “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

            This is Jesus’ explanation of the mechanism (experience, effect, whatever). This is still a response to Nicodemus’ question in verse 4. The wind blows, it blows around mysteriously from and to as it pleases so to speak, you can hear the sound of the wind though not seeing it, and so on. These are descriptions of wind. That should be obvious.

            “So it is with everyone” means that whatever the wind is and does in the first sentence of the verse, so it is and does with the “everyone” in the second sentence, and not JUST the Spirit. Which is why confusing the wordplay causes errors.

            If Jesus ONLY meant “The Spirit blows where it pleases…”(by the way, the Spirit ain’t an it, the Spirit is a He), then this passage would mean those born again by the Spirit blow where they please…That doesn’t work.

            Jesus is using a play on words. What we can not do is miss the use of the play on words here though. This verse is a response to Nicodemus’ question in verse 4. It describes the mechanism/experience/effect of those born again by the Spirit. THAT is like the wind.

            So, as exiting a womb is the experience of being born of flesh, the wind blowing about is the experience of everyone born of the Spirit. This verse is a description of Spirit birth, not a description of the Spirit Himself.

            holdon

            Johnathan,

            I rarely have seen a running around like you do. You can throw in as many “whatevers”, etc. as you like; it doesn’t mean exegesis at all.

            You clearly did not comprehend what I wrote.

            Nor do you comprehend what the blowing is about. You say: “However, the bit about the wind blowing in all directions is a description of wind for the illustration of what it is being born again in Spirit”.
            What do you mean with “what it is”? You’re so incredibly fuzzy, that it’s hard to follow you.

            ““So it is with everyone” means that whatever the wind is and does in the first sentence of the verse, so it is and does with the “everyone” in the second sentence”

            So, you’re saying here that the wind blows people around. Strange.

            In addition, this would mean that the Calvinist is right in saying it is solely the Spirit’s action: a one-sided regeneration.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “I rarely have seen a running around like you do. You can throw in as many “whatevers”, etc. as you like; it doesn’t mean exegesis at all.”

            All I’ve done is exegesis. Seems other agree. Plus, it has been CONSISTENT exegesis.

            “Nor do you comprehend what the blowing is about. You say: “However, the bit about the wind blowing in all directions is a description of wind for the illustration of what it is being born again in Spirit”.
            What do you mean with “what it is”? You’re so incredibly fuzzy, that it’s hard to follow you. ”

            No really hard at all. What I mean by “what it is” is what I said. That passage is a description of what it is to be born again in the Spirit.

            The analogy here in verse 8 is not wind and Spirit. The analogy here is of wind and being born again in the Spirit. I.E. Wind and he Spirit’s work, not the Spirit Himself.

            How many times and ways must I say it so you can get what everyone else seems to already understand me saying?

            “So, you’re saying here that the wind blows people around. Strange. ”

            Nope, you misunderstand again. I am saying that this is EXACTLY NOT what I am saying, but what would be required if the analogy is wind/Spirit rather than wind/work of the Spirit. precisely BECAUSE the wind/Spirit interpretation would require that since what the wind is, so it is with EVERYONE born in the Spirit.

            Sigh…Does that help?

            “In addition, this would mean that the Calvinist is right in saying it is solely the Spirit’s action: a one-sided regeneration.”

            What I think you really meant totally doesn’t follow from what I am and have been saying at all.

            But, to be sure, the Holy Spirit does 100% of the work of regeneration. We can’t “regenerate ourselves”. Don’t confuse repenting and believing unto salvation with the work the Spirit does in regeneration/new birth.

            I think you did confuse them (I hope so…but if not, tell me more about how you regenerate yourself), but I don’t think you meant to mean that, which is why I said, “What I think you really meant”

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I think you are still confusing the “what is the case” and “how it comes to be the case” distinctions I made earlier.

            Verse 8 is the “what is the case” in the sense of how the mechanism of the new birth happens in contradistinction to being born from a womb.

            “How it comes to be the case” that one can be born again via the mechanism described in verse 8 is in the reveal of verses 14-16 regarding belief in Jesus.

            Thus, when one believes in Jesus, he or she won’t perish, but have eternal life, and as a result be born again in a mechanism/experience of the Spirit’s work, an experience/mechanism that is like the wind rather than exiting a womb.

      Donald

      Johnathon,

      Good stuff. Truth!

        Dean

        Wow! The preceding posts should be printed and taught in all principles of interpretation classes. One man is simply reading exactly what the passage says, it is the born again person’s experience that is like the wind. A group who want it to mean something else make the Holy Spirit like the wind. One is true to text the other a system of belief! These posts are remarkably telling. No one can read JP’s post on this passage esp verse 8 and say he has not been anything but true to passage.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Thanks.

          Sadly, even holdon doesn’t get it (see our dialog above). He, like many others, insists the wind at the beginning of verse 8 IS simply the Spirit in this verse, and totally misses Jesus’ point here and butchers the word play.

          Because if what those who insist that is the case are correct, and the last sentence of the verse says “so it is with everyone”, then Jesus is saying those born of the Spirit blow where they please…

          That reading of the passage just doesn’t work at all, and completely misses the point Jesus is making in response to what Nicodemus asked about.

      Lydia

      “This however, is not implied in these verses, and for good reasoning, because that would entail being born again to be born again and Jesus doesn’t reason in a circle. ”

      Thank you!!! Exactly

      “Does this verse teach a random regeneration process of the Holy Spirit? I think not. Because of the play on words, Calvinists assume that the Holy Spirit blows like the wind where it pleases and no one knows WHERE the Spirit is coming or going (and usually omit that bit about hearing the sound). ”

      You cannot imagine my surprise to have heard a former Jehovah Witness explain how they translate that passage and it is very similar to what you negate above.

      And very good on this is not a “HOW” but a “What is”. That really helps focus everyone.

Stephen Garrett

Dear Bob:

I am a Calvinist who decries other Calvinists who say that regeneration precedes faith (conversion). I have written lengthly critiques of Sproul’s writings in support of his view. See these pages

Sproul’s Errors

http://baptistgadfly.blogspot.com/2009/02/sprouls.html

Sproul on Regeneration

http://baptistgadfly.blogspot.com/2008/05/sproul-on-regeneration.html

You are correct that the regeneration before faith view eliminates the Gospel as a means, as even Shedd admits. That is why many have held to a three step model of the birth process similar to physical birth. First, there is regeneration (planting of the seed), then there is conviction of sin (time in the womb of darkness), and then there is salvation or conversion (deliverance from the womb). This was the view of the first Hardshells, and the old Regular Baptists, and of many Presbyterian Calvinists, and of Hendryx and monergism.com.

They believe that the first stage (regeneration) occurs without means, and is on the sub-conscious level. They acknowledge that the birth is effected by the means of the Gospel and by faith and repentance.

I have written extensively against this view in my Gadfly blog over the years.

When Paul said that he had begotten the Corinthian believers by the Gospel, in I Cor. 4: 15, he could only mean that he had begotten them only as they believed it.

I believe that regeneration is the new birth and not two different stages or events.

Blessings,

Stephen

    Bob Hadley

    Stephen,

    Thank you for your statement, “You are correct that the regeneration before faith view eliminates the Gospel as a means.”

    It clearly does. If the gospel is the means of regeneration THEN effectual calling is unessential and a totally depraved person cannot really be totally depraved or he would not need regeneration as posited by calvinists.

    Now to your original statement… “I am a Calvinist who decries other Calvinists who say that regeneration precedes faith (conversion).”

    Pray tell… how does the unregenerate who is TD/TI go from being dead to alive in your system? It would seem to me to be virtually impossible to be a calvinist and not subscribe to regeneration BEFORE repentance and saving faith… and saying that it is all simultaneous is not a valid argument here… I am familiar with that nuance…

    If repentance is impossible apart from effectual calling or regeneration which is at God’s sole discretion… THEN regeneration is required before repentance and saving faith… and justification.

    Do not have time to read your links… so a brief explanation here would be appreciated.

    ><>”

      Stephen Garrett

      Dear Bob:

      I am sorry that you do not have time to read what I have written for I look at the arguments closely.

      I have no problem with saying that faith precedes regeneration, but think it is more accurate to say that faith is begotten when life is begotten, that they are truly concurrent.

      A man is not regenerated before or without faith. But, a man does not have faith before or after regeneration. The spiritual life that is received has faith at its core.

      To be “spiritually minded” IS “life and peace.” (Rom. 8: 6) To say that being spiritually minded (believing) produced life or vise versa is missing the point. To be a believer “is life.” To be alive is to be a believer.

      Blessings,

      Stephen

        Bob Hadley

        Thx I think….

        You wrote… I have no problem with saying that faith precedes regeneration, but think it is more accurate to say that faith is begotten when life is begotten, that they are truly concurrent.

        Ok… so regeneration and faith take place at the same time and they are the result of God’s effectual calling… i maintain NOT the result of the gospel because until regeneration or as you put it, “when life is begotten” the gospel has no power at all on the unregenerated individual.

        You go on to say, “A man is not regenerated before or without faith. But, a man does not have faith before or after regeneration. The spiritual life that is received has faith at its core.”

        This statement does not make any sense to me… I think you probably meant to say something else…

        Thanks for commenting here though…

        ><>”

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Stephen, you have said three things that all can not be true. To sum up your three different contentions.

          1. Faith precedes regeneration.

          “I have no problem with saying that faith precedes regeneration”

          2. Faith and regeneration are concurrent.

          “faith is begotten when life is begotten, that they are truly concurrent”

          3. Regeneration either temporally or logically precedes faith. (wasn’t clear which you meant)

          “First, there is regeneration…”

          Well…Not only are all these incompatible with one another, but none of these options are explicitly taught in Scripture.

          To help you out though, while most natural readings of the various texts (but, by no means all) would give us “faith precedes regeneration” both logically and temporally, I think I could go for option 2 that they are concurrent (as a theological/philosophical inference more than an exegetical conclusion) in that while you are repenting and believing at conversion you are being born again. This does nothing to concede anything to Reformed soteriology though, since:

          1. This can easily be affirmed without T.U.L.I.P.

          2. There is no temporally or logically prior regeneration preceding faith.

          3. It requires no textual gymnastics to affirm from Scripture and has no Scripture outright opposing it as a mere philosophical/theological inference.

          I’m good either way. Faith preceding regeneration or their being concurrent.

          But regeneration preceding faith, either temporally or logically, is nowhere taught in Scripture, and can be refuted from Scripture. As I think you somewhat agree.

    Bob Hadley

    Stephen,

    I did take a minute and slip over to your first link… I see you dealt exclusively with the Sproul quotes that I had referenced… and that is really ALL they were because they were handy and I did not want anyone trying to charge that I was not representing calvinism correctly, which a number have done anyway.

    You wrote on your blog the following statement, “The biblical order is thus: effectual calling of the Spirit by means of the preached gospel, conviction of sin or realization of some truth, repentance and faith, then union with Christ, then justification and pardon, then regeneration (conversion) and sanctification.”

    The problem I have with your own statement is the very first part… “effectual calling of the Spirit by means of the preached gospel”

    I will ask YOU to define effectual calling or respond to my definition as I understand its use in calvinistic circles. Effectual calling would best be Scripturally illustrated by Jesus’ calling of Lazarus out of the tomb… God’s effectual calling means exactly what it says… the creation would also be the product of His effectual calling; what God wills and what God speaks by necessity comes to bear.

    So in your order presented, it is effectual calling that gives light to the gospel; otherwise even in your own system, the gospel is ineffectual to those who are not effectually called, correct? So my contention with WHAT you have written is that in the calvinist mindset with TD/TI as a foundation and the prescribed necessity FOR effectual calling, it is IMPOSSIBLE for the preaching of the gospel to be the means of effectual calling in your system or regeneration which is the direct result of effectual calling for the rest of the calvinists….

    The gospel is only effective to those who have been regenerated or effectually called… I for the life of me cannot understand WHY you guys are not willing to own this FACT?

    I know you do not like the conclusions I am suggesting but if they line up with the SCRIPTURE then what do you do… argue with me or change your theology?

    ><>”

Robert

Hello Bob,

Thank you Bob for a well articulated piece. As expected the determinists do not appreciate seeing their deterministic theology being openly exposed.

According to the deterministic view of depravity, a sinner is incapable of having a faith response to the gospel UNLESS REGENERATED FIRST. They will scream and holler about the nonbeliever being **dead** and like a physically dead person being incapable of doing anything (they sometimes use the analogy of Lazarus being called by Jesus to leave the tomb to make this point about the total inability of the nonbeliever). But they don’t seem to think through or even follow the logic of their own position.

If the person is dead in the sense they claim, then this person cannot understand the gospel and so cannot respond to it with faith. So how is this spiritually dead person enabled to DO ANYTHING (including have a faith response to gospel preaching) since according to the determinist they are dead and completely incapable of doing anything? The answer as Sproul makes clear in the portion that you cited is that regeneration enables the nonbeliever to have faith (or put simply: regeneration precedes faith). But actually regeneration according to the consistent Calvinist does not merely enable a faith response (i.e. make it possible), it necessitates a faith response. All who are regenerated will have faith according to the theological determinist. And only those so regenerated will have faith according to the theological determinist (because God only chooses to regenerate those preselected for salvation).

What you did so clearly in your article Bob was to call attention to this scheme and show that if it is accurate (i.e. if Sproul and others like him who openly teach regeneration precedes faith), then it is ***not*** preaching the gospel in itself that brings about faith (which is what the bible properly interpreted teaches).

But regeneration that brings about faith.

But some determinists seem to not be conversant with their own theology. So they argue it is not regeneration that brings about faith but preaching the gospel that does so.

In arguing in this way they are **consistent with the bible** (which teaches faith is brought about through the hearing and understanding and trust in God’s Word, e.g faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God) but **inconsistent with their own doctrine of depravity**.

If their conception of depravity is true, then the nonbeliever is dead and unable to understand the gospel until they are regenerated first (so preaching would have absolutely no effect on the nonbeliever until he is regenerated first). But if they are unable to understand the gospel prior to being regenerated, then it cannot be hearing and understanding the gospel in itself that leads to their faith response. Instead a person is regenerated first, which now allows them to understand and respond to the gospel, and this regeneration necessitates that they will then have a faith response.

And the determinists are quick to point out that they themselves believe in preaching the gospel and their confessions speak of the role of the gospel. And it is nice they believe that, but they are not consistent with their own conception of depravity (which they also affirm and you will find in their confessions). And this points out a major problem with most calvinists, they claim one thing when consistent with their professed deterministic theology, but they live another way in actual practice. There are various inconsistencies between their theology and how they actually live.

The same is true, for example, in their comments about free will. Their deterministic theology if true, wipes out us every having and making our own choices (i.e wipes out what is ordinarily meant by free will). And yet if you watch and listen to theological determinists in real life, they have and make their own choices just like everybody else. And they praise and blame other people for their good and bad choices just like everybody else.

Robert

CC

I feel like the “Parable of the Sower” should be considered in this discussion.

wingedfooted1

Blessings, Chris Roberts.

The reason I am not a calvinist is precisely because of the calvinistic interpretations of the verses you provided.

I have often wondered why calvinists use John 3 to support regeneration precedes faith when it actually rebukes it.

Our Lord says in John 3:5-8… “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

To that Nicodemus responds in verse 9…“How can this be?”

This is the equivalent of saying “how does this happen?”

Jesus responds in verse 10….“You are Israel’s teacher, and do you not understand these things?”

Jesus then says in verse 14…. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

To explain how this (the new birth) happens our Lord uses the example of the brazen serpent. That example is found in Numbers 21:6-9 (NIV)…..

“Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.”

Notice several things here. First, the Israelites were dying because of their sin, just as we are today. Second, the Israelites realized this and asked Moses to pray to God on their behalf. Third, our Lord said to Moses “ANYONE who is bitten CAN look at it and live”. Two things should be pointed out here. Those who were bitten still possessed the ability to look because our Lord said “ANYONE who is bitten CAN look at it and live”. In other words, their sinfulness DID NOT PROHIBIT them from looking. This alone disputes calvinism’s total inability. Second, the Israelite dying because of his sin had to look in order to live. To “look” at the bronze serpent upon the pole is the equivalent of “believing” in the Son upon the cross. And just as the dying Israelite had to look in order to live physically, the sinner today must believe if he wants to live spiritually. This is precisely why Jesus used the example of the bronze serpent to explain the mystery of being “born from above” to Nicodemus, and us today.

The word of God says “look and live”. Calvinism teaches “live and look”.

In response to your interpretation of John 10:25-28, our Lord already told us why these Jews rejected Him.

John 5:46-47 (NIV)….. “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

And, finally, regarding John 1:12-13…. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Galatians 3:26 (CEB)…. “You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Chris, to be “born of God” is the equivalent of being “a child of God”. The moment the sinner believes, he becomes a born again child of God. Calvinism would have us believe that we are “born of God” so we can become a “child of God” sometime later in our lives.

That isn’t scriptural.

    Chris Roberts

    wingedfooted1,

    You mention John 3:14 as though it explains why the Spirit regenerates who he regenerates, but two things:

    1. What do you do with verse 8?

    2. Verses 14-15 only comes after verses 9-13. Jesus is not answering the question “how can these things be”, rather he is addressing unbelief. He marvels that even Israel’s teacher cannot understand these things. In this he is noting an important truth: human beings are not capable of discerning that which has not been revealed and made known. Thus he adds in verse 13, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” No one has climbed to Heaven to discern spiritual truths; such truth has come down with Christ and is attainable only by the revelation he brings. Belief and faith are necessary for someone to be saved, yet such comes only through Christ and only once someone has been born again. The kingdom is found in Jesus, and no one can see the kingdom unless he is born again.

    Regarding the unbelief of the Jews, I can only repeat what I said: they do not believe because they are not his sheep. That’s not my theory, that’s what Jesus says.

    Regarding Galatians 3:26, yes, we are made children through faith, but where does that faith originate? How do we have faith? By the sovereign grace and gift of God. We become children by God’s will who has given us faith so that we might receive adoption. These verses work together to shout the same truth over and over: salvation belongs to our God.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      See my post above in the thread for comment on verse 8.

      I also agree and address that Jesus is addressing the unbelief in 9-13, but thankfully, Jesus offers comment to address it. He doesn’t exactly say that we can’t understand the things of heaven, he says Nicodemus DOESN’T understand when HE SHOULD.

      You are reading too much into the text to get something the text doesn’t even teach (regeneration preceding faith).

      Verse 13 adds nothing to your argument. Jesus is merely bringing Nicodemus to the point to understand the things of Earth Jesus thinks he should already understand as a teacher of the law to move him further. Which is why Jesus goes to Torah to help poor Nicodemus out.

      So when you say, “yet such comes only through Christ and only once someone has been born again” is misleading and misreading the passage because you are assuming that which you have yet to prove (regeneration/born again precedes faith) when Jesus is teaching in this passage the very opposite. You keep ignoring Jesus’ own explanation in verses 14-15.

      As I illustrated in my other post, you are confusing “what is the case” verses with “how it comes to be the case” verses regarding “born again” and “belief” and how Jesus teaches on BOTH in the passage.

        Donald

        “You are reading too much into the text to get something the text doesn’t even teach (regeneration preceding faith).”

        The problem for Chris Roberts is Hermeneutics. I had a huge A-HAH moment back in Dr. Akins Hermeneutics class reading Dr. Moises Silva on “The Case for Calvinistic Hermeneutics”. He teaches that as part of the ‘hermeneutical spiral’, the direction of biblical interpretation to theology is never only one way. There is a constant interaction between theology and interpretation. He declares that theology must inform exegesis.

        It is exactly this (whether admitted to or not) that drives the Calvinist to misinterpret the text to support her theology. Until we understand this, we will constantly be frustrated when trying to discuss the text with Calvinist.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Yep. And I hate to be mean, but it is also worth mentioning that Dr. Moises Silva is one of the worst exegetes on the planet. Not all that great at theology either.

          His editing on the Baker Commentary series is woefully inconsistent as well. Ironically, for a predominately Reformed commentary series, the two best exegetes in the series (whether one agrees with some, all, or none of their conclusions) is either Arminian (Grant Osbourne) or a woman (Karen Jobes). The rest is varying degrees between good and meh…

          :)

      wingedfooted1

      Chris,

      You said… “Jesus is not answering the question ‘how can these things be’, rather he is addressing unbelief.”

      However, Nicodemus’ question is in regards to the new birth.

      “How can a man be born when he is old?”

      Nicodemus is specifically asking what one must do to be “born again”. This is the question that our Lord answers using the bronze serpent.

      Chris, what I find unsettling, but not surprising, is instead of interacting with the episode of the bronze serpent from Numbers 21:6-9, you chose to fall back on your calvinistic understanding of regeneration (the impartation of spiritual life) precedes faith. Jesus’ use of the bronze serpent was a clear description of what one must do to obtain spiritual life (or the new birth).

      Again, the word of God says “look and live”. Calvinism insists one must live (via regeneration) so one can look.

      In regards to John 10:25-28, these unbelieving Jews were not His sheep. However, John 5:46-47 explains why.

      You said…. “Regarding Galatians 3:26, yes, we are made children through faith, but where does that faith originate? How do we have faith?”

      Romans 10:17… “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

      Chris, you still danced around the issue. Calvinism teaches that the sinner must be “born of God” (regenerated) so that they can become a “child of God” (thru faith). Again, that isn’t scriptural.

      God bless.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        If we plead that the sky is blue, take Chris out side to see for himself, he shall still insist that the sky is green.

        Remember that responses should not be aimed at convincing someone of something they will disagree with on spec regardless of what you say. Rather, it is for the primary benefit of the observers of the dialog to see the contrast.

        He will not convince you the sky is green, you will not convince him the sky is blue.

          wingedfooted1

          Jonathan,

          I agree to a point. The discussion is for the benefit of the observer who is not committed to one theological camp or another.

          Still, it never ceases to amaze me how so many folks accept this notion of “regeneration precedes faith” when there is not one biblical example to support it. NOT ONE. Throughout the entire gospel of John there are examples of people coming to faith in Christ. Each time, it is either because of something Jesus said (his words or teaching) or because of something Jesus did (a miracle). Never, NOT ONCE, does the author of the text, inspired by the Holy Spirit, even hint that the sinner had previously been regenerated. This notion of “regeneration precedes faith” is something you would expect to find in the Book of Mormon. I know the calvinist means well, but come on. Read the bible.

          God bless.

JoeJ

After reading your article carefully, I’m unclear on what you were arguing, even on what you believe. First, it was unclear when you were quoting Calvinist belief and when you were critiquing it. Second, many terms were used with the assumption that their meaning was the same to everybody. A definition of terms is needed here, as it is in most religious discussions. Depravity. Regeneration. Conversion. Effectual call. Faith. Salvation. Rebirth. No clear statement or understanding of cause-and-effect among these events or processes (not just here but throughout this whole debate)

    Bob Hadley

    Do you want me to define words like first, second, assumption, clear understanding and oh yea, everybody mean too? After all, we might not be all talking about the same things there either right?

    I think the terms as I used them in their respective context are well enough defined to get the gist of the statements. If not, try Wikipedia or an online dictionary.

    ><>”

    Daniel Wilcox

    Hi Joel,

    Please go back and read the last couple weeks of articles and comments. Noncalvinists have very clearly defined unusual words, and often defined words using Calvinists’ own words.
    And, of course, assumed that most words mean what Webster’s dictionary normally explain them to mean.

    Bod Hadley very clearly explained each of his points.

    What specific question do you have on one of his specific points?

    Thanks for the dialog,
    Daniel Wilcox

Luther

Bob Hadley writes, “Given this fact, regeneration as defined and presented by Calvinism does not line up with the Scriptures….”

Really? It lines up with the Bible explanation of regneration in John 1:13 quite well: “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Your will did NOT bring about your regeneration. Period! That is what the text teaches. But is not faith an act of the will? It certainly is. But your will did not bring about you being born again. Thus, your faith did not bring about you being born again. Only by twisting this text of Scripture can you say that your faith (your act of the will) brought about your regeneration.

    Bob Hadley

    Luther,

    First of all, your rebuttal of my statement is like comparing apples to oranges since your example has nothing to do with the context of my statement.

    The contextual setting of my comment is that given the tenets of TD/TI and effectual calling as presented by calvinism, the preaching of the gospel is not what brings about regeneration and THAT is the basis for my conclusion that “given this fact, regeneration as defined and presented by Calvinism does not line up with the Scriptures….”

    Why don’t you comment on that…. don’t just pull a sentence out of thin air and make some comment on that as if you are making some significant contribution to this thread?

    ><>”

      Luther

      Honestly Bob, because your “statement” says that Calvinism’s teaching on “regeneration” does not line up with Scripture, but you fail to interact with the Scriptures teaching on “Regeneration”.

        Bob Hadley

        No. I failed to comment on your take on a verse that you interpret as being in support of regeneration, which is not a position that I take.

        Sorry. Unless you are going to actually comment on the thrust of my comments, this will be the last response from me to you.

        ><>”

Chris Roberts

Just a note that I’ll come back and read comments, but I’ll not likely post more on this discussion.

    Bob Hadley

    Chris…

    Here is a question I have for you or anyone that wants to answer it.

    Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to anyone who has not been regenerated?

    Your response please to that?

    ><>”

      Chris Roberts

      Bob,

      Yes, the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes – but not in the gospel itself, but rather in what the gospel contains. The gospel itself is simply news (hence “good news”). Thus Paul says the gospel is the power of God “for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith”.

      It is worth connecting this to another passage which speaks of the power of God: 1 Corinthians. There, 1 Cor 1:18 says “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” This time, Paul says “word of the cross” rather than “the gospel”, though he means the same thing. This good news, this word of the cross, this work of Christ in which his righteousness is given to us is the power of God for salvation. His righteousness is what saves foul sinners – that is the power Paul has in mind. His righteousness is the power against sin. But it is a power we receive by faith when we are justified and covered with the righteousness of Christ.

      On that faith, belief, 1 Corinthians 1 says something peculiar in verse 27: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…” Jews and Greeks who love signs and wisdom run up against the gospel, which makes no sense to them. Instead, salvation comes to the weak and lowly, not because of some intrinsic characteristic within them but because God chose them. He chooses those whom he will save. He opens our hearts to believe. He justifies us. And because of this, I can never say, “I chose God” all I can say is “thanks be to God, he chose to save me.”

      Bob Hadley

      Chris,

      I did not ask IF the gospel was the power of God to everyone WHO BELIEVES… that is black ink on white paper.

      I asked “Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to anyone who has not been regenerated?”

      So… can we try this ONE MORE TIME.

      ><>”

        Bob Hadley

        M.R.

        Very very good point. BUT… the calvinist cannot say that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for the non-elect; which is by necessity the one regenerated.

        So. the point to my article stands as i see it. it is effectual calling or regeneration that brings about conversion and not the gospel for the consistent calvinist. since that is unscriptural, my contention is that calvinism ought to be abandoned.

        ><>”

          M. R. Williams

          Bro. Hadley:

          I can’t speak for any other Calvinist on this list. By some Calvinist’s standards, I’m not a very good one! :-) But because I do believe in election, that’s how I get labeled.

          Anyway, I think a lot of Calvinists would say God calls by the gospel. That’s what I believe. I don’t believe there is an effectual call apart from the preaching of the Gospel.

          As for the regeneration before faith issue – I do not accept this idea that men are regenerated and then somewhere down the road they believe. If regeneration preceeds saving faith, it’s so quick I don’t think they can be distinguished in the heart of the believing sinner.

          Here is a verse I have never heard a “regeneration before faith” Calvinist address. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (Acts 11:18) Sounds like there is some sort of repentance going on before the sinner actually has “life.”

          Thanks for letting me write something.
          Michael

            Don Johnson

            Michael,

            Yes, repentance and faith precede the giving of life (regeneration). Acts 11:18 is one of several verses that show that truth.

        mike white

        Regeneration is a process that ends in an event.
        Like birth. So we are born again.
        Like farming. So the seed is planted and if the soil is made good, fruit happens.

        So salvation happens when a person is born again, or the Gospel seed bears fruit. But the process of regeneration, of God saving, starts earlier. it ends with faith and justification and new birth. It ends in confession and submission.

      M. R. Williams

      I think the answer to that is “no,” no matter which side you take.

      Respectfully,
      Michael

M. R. Williams

Bro. Hadley:

I was wondering, what do you say regeneration is? I think I understand what you are saying about WHEN it happens. But in regeneration, what exactly DOES happen?

Respectfully,
Michael

Stephen Garrett

Dear Bob:

Placing regeneration prior to faith also has the problem of putting regeneration prior to justification, which is a serious issue. Regeneration follows justification.

Blessings,

Stephen

    Bob Hadley

    Stephen,

    Remember… I am NOT the calvinist here…

    I do NOT believe regeneration precedes repentance or faith; personally I believe regeneration takes place when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the repentant person’s heart… now as to whether or not justification takes place at the indwelling or just before… I am not sure but once either of those takes place that person belongs to the Lord forever! I will not argue on that one either way.

    ><>”

    mike white

    Regeneration is done at the same time one is justified.

wingedfooted1

Stephen,

You said “Regeneration follows justification.”

This is a very astute observation on your part. There are many non-calvinists that miss that point completely as well.

Romans 8:10 (NIV)….
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Romans 8:10 (NLT)…
And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.

Romans 8:10 (amplified)…
But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].

The scriptures make it abundantly clear that we are granted spiritual life (regeneration) because of His righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own. Since we can’t take credit for our righteousness, we can’t take credit for the new birth (regeneration).

Salvation is of the LORD.

I agree completely with the calvinist that the new birth (being born form above) is solely a divine act of God. I just disagree with them when it occurs.

God bless.

    mike white

    Justification is there when one is born again. When you have faith in your heart, you are justified. You are reborn. One doesn’t follow the other.

Luther

Why don’t we look at what Calvinists actually believe about Regeneration? Take this for example from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, taken from his chapter on Regeneration:

We may define regeneration as follows: Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. This is sometimes called “being born again” (using language from John 3:3-8).

Regeneration Is Totally a Work of God

In some of the elements of the application of redemption that we discuss in subsequent chapters, we play an active part (this is true, for example, of conversion, sanctification and perseverance). But in the work of regeneration we play no active role at all. It is instead totally a work of God. We see this, for example, when John talks about those to whom Christ gave power to become children of God—they “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Here John specifies that children of God are those who are “born…of God” and our human will (“the will of man”) does not bring about this kind of birth.

The fact that we are passive in regeneration is also evident when Scripture refers to it as being “born” or being “born again” (cf. James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:3-8). We did not choose to be made physically alive and we did not choose to be born—it is something that happened to us; similarly, these analogies in Scripture suggest that we are entirely passive in regeneration.

This sovereign work of God in regeneration was also predicted in the prophecy of Ezekiel. Through him God promised a time in the future when he would give new spiritual life to his people:

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezek. 36:26-27)

….Scripture indicates that regeneration must come before we can respond to effective calling with saving faith. Therefore we can say that regeneration comes before the result of effective calling (our faith). But it is more difficult to specify the exact relationship in time between regeneration and the human proclamation of the gospel through which God works in effective calling. At least two passages suggest that God regenerates us at the same time as he speaks to us in effective calling: Peter says, “You have been born anew not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…. That word is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23, 25). And James says, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth” (James 1:18 NIV). As the gospel comes to us, God speaks through it to summon us to himself (effective calling) and to give us new spiritual life (regeneration) so that we are enabled to respond in faith. Effective calling is thus God the Father speaking powerfully to us and regeneration is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit working powerfully in us to make us alive. These two things must have happened simultaneously as Peter was preaching the gospel to the household of Cornelius, for while he was still preaching “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44).

….Because regeneration is a work of God within us in which he gives us new life it is right to conclude that it is an instantaneous event. It happens only once. At one moment we are spiritually dead, and then at the next moment we have new spiritual life from God. Nevertheless, we do not always know exactly when this instantaneous change occurs. Especially for children growing up in a Christian home, or for people who attend an evangelical church or Bible study over a period of time and grow gradually in their understanding of the gospel, there may not be a dramatic crisis with a radical change of behavior from “hardened sinner” to “holy saint,” but there will be an instantaneous change nonetheless, when God through the Holy Spirit, in an unseen, invisible way, awakens spiritual life within. The change will become evident over time in patterns of behavior and desires that are pleasing to God.

In other cases (in fact, probably most cases when adults become Christians) regeneration takes place at a clearly recognizable time at which the person realizes that previously he or she was separated from God and spiritually dead, but immediately afterward there was clearly new spiritual life within. The results can usually be seen at once—a heartfelt trusting in Christ for salvation, an assurance of sins forgiven, a desire to read the Bible and pray (and a sense that these are meaningful spiritual activities), a delight in worship, a desire for Christian fellowship, a sincere desire to be obedient to God’s Word in Scripture, and a desire to tell others about Christ. People may say something like this: “I don’t know exactly what happened, but before that moment I did not trust in Christ for salvation. I was still wondering and questioning in my mind. But after that moment I realized that I did trust in Christ and he was my Savior. Something happened in my heart.” Yet even in these cases we are not quite sure exactly what has happened in our hearts. It is just as Jesus said with respect to the wind—we hear its sound and we see the result, but we cannot actually see the wind itself. So it is with the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

In This Sense of “Regeneration,” It Comes Before Saving Faith

Using the verses quoted above, we have defined regeneration to be the act of God awakening spiritual life within us, bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life. On this definition, it is natural to understand that regeneration comes before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith. However, when we say that it comes “before” saving faith, it is important to remember that they usually come so close together that it will ordinarily seem to us that they are happening at the same time. As God addresses the effective call of the gospel to us, he regenerates us and we respond in faith and repentance to this call. So from our perspective it is hard to tell any difference in time, especially because regeneration is a spiritual work that we cannot perceive with our eyes or even understand with our minds.

Yet there are several passages that tell us that this secret, hidden work of God in our spirits does in fact come before we respond to God in saving faith (though often it may be only seconds before we respond). When talking about regeneration with Nicodemus, Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Now we enter the kingdom of God when we become Christians at conversion. But Jesus says that we have to be born “of the Spirit” before we can do that. Our inability to come to Christ on our own, without an initial work of God within us, is also emphasized when Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), and “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65). This inward act of regeneration is described beautifully when Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). First the Lord opened her heart, then she was able to give heed to Paul’s preaching and to respond in faith.

    wingedfooted1

    Luther,

    Nice sermon.

    You quoted the following… “Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. This is sometimes called ‘being born again’”.

    I agree completely.

    However, then you said…. “Scripture indicates that regeneration must come before we can respond to effective calling with saving faith..”

    Wrong. Calvinism indicated that regeneration must come before we can respond in saving faith.

    As stated above, the sinner must be justified (made right with God) first he is to obtain spiritual life.

    Again, for your benefit, Romans 8:10…..
    And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life (why?) BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN MADE RIGHT WITH GOD.

    Calvinism teaches, as you have just confirmed, that one has to have spiritual life (regenerated) so they can be made right with God.

    Now consider Romans 4:5….
    But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

    Notice here that God justifies, or declares righteous, the ungodly (or the wicked). The ungodly, or wicked, are not those “born of God”, but they are the unregenerate. Now, remember the Calvinistic order is…..

    Regeneration….Faith….Justification.

    Now reading that sequence backwards, systematically, would tell us that the only one who is justified is the one who has faith (in Christ), and only those who have faith (in Christ) are the regenerate, or those “born of God”.

    Seems simple enough.

    However, Romans 4:5 states that God justifies the ungodly, not the regenerate (unless of course the Calvinist wants to equate the wicked with those born from above). And who could the ungodly, or wicked, be but the unregenerate? For Calvinism to be true, the verse would have to read…

    “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the regenerate, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

    Hope this helps.

      mike white

      Regeneration can not precede faith or justification. But neither can one be in a justified state unless they are right with God. Thus justification comes by faith and faith comes by regeneration. Once i was a sinner, then God granted me faith, justification, and new life. Once i was a sinner [against God] [an enemy of God] [ungodly] but God saved me.
      How did He save me?
      Through the Gospel preached, He opened my eyes to His glory in the face of Jesus: faith. And since i believed in my heart, i was also justified. Thus at that instant, I was no longer His enemy, no longer sin stained, no longer against God, no longer considered by Him as ungodly…ergo i was born again in spirit.

        Don Johnson

        Mike,

        First you state regeneration can not precede faith, and then you state faith comes by regeneration. Which one is true?

    Don Johnson

    Luther,

    This inward act of regeneration is described beautifully when Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). First the Lord opened her heart, then she was able to give heed to Paul’s preaching and to respond in faith.

    According to Calvinism’s “total inability” how is it that Lydia was able to worship God before she was regenerated? Remember it wasn’t Lydia who said she worshiped God. It was the Holy Spirit thru Luke who told us she worshiped God.

    holdon

    “These two things must have happened simultaneously as Peter was preaching the gospel to the household of Cornelius, for while he was still preaching “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44).”

    Yet, the salvation was not by the Holy Spirit but by the words spoken to them:
    Acts 11: 13 “who is surnamed Peter, who shall speak words to thee whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house.”

    And the Holy Spirit came after they believed:
    v 15 “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them even as upon us also at the beginning….. If then God has given them the same gift as also to us when we had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who indeed was I to be able to forbid God?

      mike white

      Holdon,

      you said,
      “And the Holy Spirit came after they believed:”

      No proof there. Just your assumption. Peter was not trying to establish an exact correlation as to timing. He witnessed the Spirit on them, not when they believed. he knew they believed by what he witnessed. The words, ‘the same’ refer to the same Holy Spirit coming upon them, not the same timing.

    holdon

    “The fact that we are passive in regeneration is also evident when Scripture refers to it as being “born” or being “born again” (cf. James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:3-8). We did not choose to be made physically alive and we did not choose to be born—it is something that happened to us; similarly, these analogies in Scripture suggest that we are entirely passive in regeneration.”

    All these verses (James 1; 1 Pet 1 and Jn 3) make mention of the Word as seed or hearing it from the Spirit (Jn 3) and connect that with “begetting” that is conception. So, Jn 1:12 and 13 make mention of actively accepting and “begetting” (conception) by the will of God. It takes two to conceive….. the new life.

      wingedfooted1

      Brother Holdon,

      You said “It takes two to conceive…the new life.”

      I understand where you are coming from, but I think we err when we suggest that the new birth is a joint venture. We are not “born again” because we believe. However, we are “born again” after we believe. The difference is subtle, but huge.

      Please consider Romans 8:10 (amplified) as stated previously.

      “But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].”

      The scriptures make it abundantly clear that we are granted spiritual life (regeneration) because of His righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own. Since we contribute nothing to our righteousness, we can’t contribute anything towards the new birth (regeneration).

      Salvation is completely and totally of the LORD.

      Now that is not to say we play a part in our conversion (both faith and repentance). God teaches and we listen and learn (John 6:45). But it is God, and God alone, who both justifies (makes righteous) and saves (regenerates) the believer.

      God bless.

        Luther

        Good thoughts, wingedfooted1.

        holdon

        “I understand where you are coming from, but I think we err when we suggest that the new birth is a joint venture. We are not “born again” because we believe. However, we are “born again” after we believe. The difference is subtle, but huge.”

        “You must be born anew”. So what to do?
        Jesus says:
        1. Hear the Spirits voice.
        2. We speak
        3. We bear witness (but you don’t receive it)
        3. If I have said the earthly things, and you don’t believe

        So, like your example of teaching: it takes 2. Teach and learn; speak and hear; witness and receive; said things and believe. It is synergy where God does the working part.

          mike white

          Since he says God does the working part, how come holdon disagrees with the passive part of man?

          wingedfooted1

          Holdon,

          You said “So, like your example of teaching: it takes two”.

          Regarding conversion (both faith and repentance) that is true. God teaches and we listen and learn.

          But the new birth is solely a divine act of God. It is not, as you put it, synergistic.

          Consider carefully Romans 8:10…

          “And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.”

          Yes, we believe. But it is God, and God alone, who justifies (makes righteous). And it is God, and God alone, who saves (regenerates).

          We do play a part in our conversion (both faith and repentance), but salvation (justification and regeneration) is of the Lord.

          God bless.

            holdon

            “But the new birth is solely a divine act of God. It is not, as you put it, synergistic.”

            Well I think it is. See 1 Pet 1:23; James 1:19; John 1:12 and 13. Please pay careful attention to the word “born” or “begotten”. You can see it has this double meaning (“leaving the womb” and “conception”) in Mat 1:20 and other verses.

            As to Rom 8:10, I don’t see the bearing of this on the “new birth” as it treats of life in the Spirit (that is obviously after the new birth).

Shawn

Hello Bob,

It has been a while since we interacted, but I thought I would chime in on this one. Before I do, let me thank you again for the time you invest in this sphere of influence. Though we often do not agree, I am thankful for the thoughtfulness you display here, and I am thankful that this dialogue is going on in our convention.

To start, let me respond to the question you threw out above: “Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to anyone who has not been regenerated?” MY RESPONSE: The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16), and those who believe are those God has chosen from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thess 2:13). I know from past posts that definitions of regeneration can vary, and since you did not provide your definition of the term, I will simply say that there is some definite work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner’s life that precipitates their necessary expression of repentance and faith unto salvation.

That brings me to the question at hand. Without rehashing a significant degree of theological wrangling, I would like to dig into a core issue raised in what you have written here. Romans 3 makes it clear that there is none who seeks for God, none who does good, not even one. (Rom 3:11-12) 1 Cor 2:14 says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (NAS) If I understand you correctly, you contend that it is the preaching of the gospel itself that awakens men to salvation. You said, “It is the power of the spoken Word that has the power to touch men’s hearts and change their lives!” A few paragraphs before that, you said “It is clear in the Scripture that the preaching of the gospel is what brings about conversion.” Yet 1 Cor 2:14 says that the gospel itself is foolishness to the natural man and he cannot understand it. Thus, your view either seems to contradict Scripture, or you believe (as I do) that there is some work of the Spirit that accompanies the preaching of the gospel and you simply failed to express that clearly in your article. Could you clarify your stance on this question?

Thank you, brother.

    wingedfooted1

    Brother Shawn,

    Hope all is well with you.

    I understand that the question was directed to Bob and I am sure he will chime in. But here are my thoughts. Regarding 1 Corinthians 2, Paul here is discussing “the deep things of God” (verse 2:10) and not the gospel which even Paul states a child can understand (2 Timothy 3:15). Paul here is even making a distinction between “the mature” in Christ (verse 2:6).

    I am not a “fan” of commentaries, but here is what the Net Bible says regarding 1 Corinthians 2…

    “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.”

    I am guessing you will disagree, but that is my two cents worth.

    God bless you.

      mike white

      So according to you [by way of the commentary] you believe one can only be a believer if the Holy Spirit does His ministry in them?

      Shawn

      Hello Wingedfooted1,

      I hope you are well, brother. As for the first paragraph of your response, I clearly disagree. From the beginning of chapter 2, it is clear that Paul is discussing the preaching of the gospel and the contrast between those who believe and those who disbelieve.

      As for the NetBible quote, unless I’m missing something, I agree with it.

        wingedfooted1

        Brother Shawn,

        The discussion has moved on from the gospel (verses 1 thru 5), and has now turned to taking on the mind of Christ. Paul speaks of imparting wisdom among the mature in Christ (verse 6), and these are “the deep things of God”, not the gospel. However, these Corinthians were still regarded as “infants in Christ”. They were still on milk and not ready for solid food.

        God bless

    Bob Hadley

    Thx Shawn,

    I am not able to be here 24-7… so I am just now seeing your response, in reference to your comment below.

    Like Chris, I am going to say that you intentionally did not answer my question but restated it in a way that someone reading your response would have to make up their own minds as to what you are saying. I am not in favor of that kind of approach to avoiding a question that you know is problematic if you just answer it straight up… BUT in your defense you did give me an answer…

    you wrote, MY RESPONSE: The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16), and those who believe are those God has chosen from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. I am particularly interested in your choice of sanctification here… and you completely skipped over justification… because my post does not deal at all with sanctification other than to say that the gospel for the calvinist deals in sanctification since it is not effectual until the lost person is first regenerated.

    So… I am reading you to agree with the statement… that the gospel is NOT the power of God unto salvation for anyone who is not regenerated. I hate to say this, but a simple yes or no would really suffice…..

    Now… to your response to my article… ok… I get it… you believe the Bible establishes TD/TI… ok… I am familiar with that argument…

    Then you quote me… If I understand you correctly, you contend that it is the preaching of the gospel itself that awakens men to salvation. You said, “It is the power of the spoken Word that has the power to touch men’s hearts and change their lives!” A few paragraphs before that, you said “It is clear in the Scripture that the preaching of the gospel is what brings about conversion.”

    Obviously you know that I am NOT saying that the gospel proclamation is what brings about new life; it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual that brings about conviction and reconciliation for those who believe the Word and repent and exercise faith in God’s promises and provisions.

    The point of the article is that given TD/TI and effectual calling… regeneration is a monergistic work of God and God alone and it is God’s decretive will and His efficacious calling that brings about conversion and not the proclamation of the gospel… because prior to regeneration the preaching of the gospel is foolishness to the unregenerate!

    That is the fundamental basis of calvinism and you guys keep ignoring what seems to me to be a very simple argument…

    You are really bringing trying to bring up an argument that I am not making while you ignore the argument that I am making…. at least as I see it.

    ><>”

      mike white

      Since most C’s believe that only those regenerated will and can believe, why would most of them not answer “yes’ to your question?

      But what about C’s who believe that only those God brings to faith will believe the Gospel?

      That ‘whosoever will’ will only be those whom God has opened the heart of?

      And like me, who believe that regeneration ends in the event of faith/justification/new birth?

    Robert

    Hello Shawn,

    You bring up a good point that I want to discuss:

    “That brings me to the question at hand. Without rehashing a significant degree of theological wrangling, I would like to dig into a core issue raised in what you have written here. Romans 3 makes it clear that there is none who seeks for God, none who does good, not even one. (Rom 3:11-12) 1 Cor 2:14 says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (NAS) If I understand you correctly, you contend that it is the preaching of the gospel itself that awakens men to salvation. You said, “It is the power of the spoken Word that has the power to touch men’s hearts and change their lives!” A few paragraphs before that, you said “It is clear in the Scripture that the preaching of the gospel is what brings about conversion.” Yet 1 Cor 2:14 says that the gospel itself is foolishness to the natural man and he cannot understand it. Thus, your view either seems to contradict Scripture, or you believe (as I do) that there is some work of the Spirit that accompanies the preaching of the gospel and you simply failed to express that clearly in your article. Could you clarify your stance on this question?”

    I also believe that “there is some work of the Spirit that accompanies the preaching of the gospel”. I believe this for two major reasons. First I believe that the Spirit normally works through the Word. Secondly, I do a lot of evangelism and so I have seen what I would call the preconversion work of the Spirit in action many, many times. I also do follow up with people (both those who end up becoming Christians and those who reject the message). When you discuss these things with people you will find that people talk about how they started becoming more open to spiritual things, understanding spirtual things better, becoming aware that they were sinners who were separated from God due to their sin, becoming aware of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, that they needed to turn away from sin, that they needed to believe and trust that they could only be saved through Jesus and what Jesus had done, that their religious efforts could not save them, etc. etc. etc. This openness they speak of, this experience of having things revealed to them and about them is also closely connected with people sharing the Word with them.

    Now it appears that some who have little experience in evangelism, merely quote scriptures without sufficiently taking into account this preconversion work of the Holy Spirit in people. I say they do not take this into account sufficiently because they make these absolute, unqualified statements about nonbelievers (usually quoting Romans 3 or 1 Cor. 2:14, etc.): concluding that under no circumstances can they ever understand spiritual things while not yet a Christian (unless they are regenerated first). But these statements in Romans 3 and 1 Cor. 2:14, etc. are speaking to nonbelievers in their natural condition APART FROM OR NOT HAVING EXPERIENCED THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT. Yes it is absolutely true that the nonbeliever who has not experienced the work of the Spirit does not understand spiritual things, rebels against God, considers the cross foolish, etc.

    To make my point let’s designate the natural condition of nonbelievers in which they have not experienced the work of the Spirit as condition 1. Another condition (call it condition 3) is when the sinner having experienced the work of the Spirit chooses to trust the Lord for salvation. They have transitioned from condition 1 (nonbeliever in their natural state) to condition 3 (unbeliever who has just become a believer). What many seem to leave out is conditon 2. Condition 2 refers to nonbelievers who have or are experiencing the work of the Spirit, but they are not yet saved. They are different from the nonbeliever in condition 1 because they do have some understanding of spiritual things, they have experienced the work of the Spirit. And yet they have not yet chosen to trust in the Lord, so they are not in condition 3. They are in the transitional condition between conditions 1 and 3. It seems to me that some make these absolute statements about nonbelievers based upon certain proof texts that apply to condition 1 but not to nonbelievers in condition 2. And my observation is that nonbelievers can be in this condition 2 for varying lengths of time.

    Some hear a gospel message (experience the work of the Spirit) and choose to believe within moments. So they do not experience condition 2 very long (it seems almost as if they go straight from condition 1 to condition 3). Others experience the work of the Spirit and may be in condition 2 for hours, days, months and even years. And not all who experience condition 2 all become believers. Some never become believers.We can also look at our own converson experiences and see condition 2. Some of us were extremely anti-Christianty while in condition 1. But then the Spirit began to work and we became more open, began to understand things more and better. But we did not immediately become Christians. It may have involved multiple gospel presentations, multiple Christians who witnessed to us. We were not yet believers and in condition 3. But we were also not in condition 1 either.

    As a non-calvinist non-determinist, I believe this work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response (because some experience this work of the Spirit yet never end up becoming believers). At the same time if we do not experience this work of the Spirit, we remain in condition 1 where there is no hope for us to be saved. As I believe that the Spirit usually works through the Word, there is a close connection between our experience of hearing the gospel, being witnessed to, and being in condition 2. I would also maintain that the preconversion work of the Spirit that occurs in condition 2 is not regeneration (again not all who experience condition 2 become believers). The biblical texts (properly interpreted) suggest that faith precedes (but does not cause) regeneration.

    Our faith does not cause regeneration to occur, and yet God chooses to regenerate those who have faith in Him alone to save them. I also do not believe that regeneration causes faith. Instead it is the Spirit working through the Word that enables faith. As the nonbeliever is hearing the word and in condition 2 the Spirit is revealing things to them. They then are enabled to have faith, though it is not necessitated, they can still choose to reject God (which is seen in some who are in condition 2 for weeks or months and yet they remain unbelievers).

    Robert

      Shawn

      Hello Robert,

      Thank you for the time and effort that went into this post. As someone who does cold-call evangelism, street preaching, and community event evangelism, I can agree with your categorization of three types of people. Regarding persons in category #2, I would even say that those who do not finally believe are represented in Hebrews 6 — Similar to Judas, they have experienced and “tasted” some of the things of God, but they ultimately do not believe. Where we would differ is in this: those whom God elects will finally be brought to category #3 by the effectual work of His Spirit. They are His sheep and they will not be lost.

      John 6:39-40
      39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
      40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
      (NAS)

      John 10:26-29
      26 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.
      27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
      28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.
      29 “My Father, who has given {them} to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch {them} out of the Father’s hand.
      (NAS)

Job

Bob:

Why use a Presbyterian? Were there not a multitude of Calvinist Baptist theologians and authors to use? That you are referencing Sproul and not Spurgeon is enough to make me wonder about your intentions. And the fact that this is frequently done – by that I mean ignoring 400 years of Calvinist Baptist history and its theological distinctives – by the traditional movement also makes me wonder about it as well.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    There is no issue here on that. LBC 1689 is a copycat clone of Westminster except on things like the ordinances.

    There is enough in common in regards to soteriology between Presbyterians and Baptist Calvinists that there is no significant difference in engaging a Presbyterian or Baptist Calvinist for the purpose of a post such as this.

    As such, the choice of Sproul is irrelevant and speaks nothing to the intentions you wish to project.

    Please demonstrate a significant soteriological difference between Sproul and a guy like Schreiner, Ware, Mohler, etc. on these issues and maybe you’ll have an extremely minor, though still irrelevant, point.

      Luther

      I would agree with you Traditionalist that we Calvinists have great unity among us (great unity among Presbyterians and Baptists) except on lessor issues such as baptism.

    Bob Hadley

    Thx Johnathan….

    I agree. I simply quoted Sproul because he happened to be someone I was reading as I was thinking about this subject… but if there is some point that I am making about TD/TI that you think is in error, please share that with me. If you think I am missing the boat on effectual call or regeneration, then by all means share that as well. I believe I have been simple enough in my presentation that Sproul, Mohler, and even YOU ought to be able to follow my reasoning if you wanted to do so.

    And as for quoting Spurgeon as opposed to Sproul is not any reflection on my intentions… Sproul is still alive and is a tad more contemporary that Spurgeon who is commonly misinterpreted in my opinion! So I do not quote him very often at all.

    ><>”

      Johnathan Pritchett

      In light of having nothing of value to contribute to the actual discussion, Job went fishing for something trivial and meaningless and still came up empty.

      Pay no mind to this kind of stuff Bob…it was just a cheap stunt that went nowhere.

Don Johnson

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Ezekiel 36:25-27

Ezekiel 36 is a passage Calvinists often use to show regeneration precedes faith. However, the passage is one of several that does in fact show faith precedes regeneration.

Even though Ezekiel 36 is a yet to be fulfilled prophecy, it’s order of salvation is consistent with New Testament salvation.

While it is true verses 26-27 do speak of regeneration, Calvinists for some reason forget to mention vs. 25. Please note the people are first cleansed and then given a new heart and new spirit. I can’t speak for Calvinists, but non-Calvinists believe a person must have faith before he can be cleansed of sin. Because faith precedes cleansing and cleansing precedes the giving of a new heart, the only logical conclusion is faith precedes regeneration.

    Shawn

    Dear Don,
    You do have a penchant for adding to the text. . . Verse 25 says nothing about faith (nor does verse 24, or 23, or 22, etc — In fact, the whole passage is singularly on what God will do to save men), but you still feel free to insert your theological presupposition even though it is unfounded in the text.

      Don Johnson

      Shawn,

      Yes, I did infer faith into the text. Maybe you could give some other examples of people being cleansed without first having faith. I’ll gladly print a retraction if you supply some. I also noticed you have previously used this text in support of Calvinism. Care to share why you do?

        mike white

        Don,
        I interpret faith there as well. What we agree!!!
        (-:
        But alas, we disagree as well. You add sequence that is assumed: cleansing then new heart and new spirit given.

        The reality is that the new heart and spirit given is the cleansing. Or what, does He clean our old heart and spirit THEN give us a new one?

          Don Johnson

          Mike,

          I agree completely, the cleansing is part of the regeneration process. My question though, does faith come become one is cleansed or after?

Donald

Dr. Hadley,

Excellent article.

I admit that I have not read every word of the responses above, but I do not believe that anyone has actually answered your questions nor responded to the actual point of your article. It must be frustrating, but it is a kind of affirmation.

Keep up the fight!

    Shawn

    I answered his question — still waiting for a reply. Thanks!

      Donald

      “I answered his question”

      I guess you did give him an answer, but after reading it I am not sure if it was yes or no.

      Why not a clear simple answer? Then perhaps follow up with the spin…

Darrel

“Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to anyone who has not been regenerated?”
No it is not, Bob Hadley, as you know full well that it is not. What gives you the right to mutilate the Word of God to make your idea of how the Holy Spirit saves someone to seem right in the eyes of all who read your words? How dare you purposefully misquote Scripture in order to support a lie?

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16.

“Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48.

Do you seriously believe that you, Bob, had the faith innately within yourself to believe the Gospel and that somehow your “free-will” escaped the pronouncement of death upon it and the whole human race when Adam sinned? Really? If it was by your assistance/cooperation with the Holy Spirit that you came to know Christ (that is the definition of synergism) it opens the door wide for all manor of wicked boasting before the Lord. I can hear it now: “I accepted Jesus the first time I heard the Gospel” while another replies “Not me, we were in negotiations for weeks before I decided to make Jesus my Savior, mind you I have not made Him my Lord just yet, the jury is still out on that one and I may hold out ’til I get to heaven”. This is what happens when the Golden Calf of the “Free-Will” of man is elevated to a position higher than that of the only Sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ. So you think it was by an act of your “free-will” that settled the eternal fate of your soul? If it were determined by such an act, then you and all who hold to this heresy have no need of grace. So I guess that what you are trusting to get you to heaven is an act of you will and not the finished work of Christ on the Cross. Since those who truly are regenerated were done so by faith, through grace and that not of themselves—whereby all boasting is eliminated. Wow, what a deep hole you have dug yourself into. Now would be a good time to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Bob Hadley

    My My… what an attitude…

    “Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to anyone who has not been regenerated?”

    No it is not, Bob Hadley, as you know full well that it is not. What gives you the right to mutilate the Word of God to make your idea of how the Holy Spirit saves someone to seem right in the eyes of all who read your words? How dare you purposefully misquote Scripture in order to support a lie?

    First of all, I was not quoting Scripture, I was asking a question which is perfectly acceptable to do… and as for your own rendering of Romans 1;16 you will say that those who believe are those that God elected to believe or regenerated to believe… so as I see it, your coloring of the scripture is actually worse than my question… my question is a yes or no question… your interpretation is what it is.

    Now… as to my personal testimony and your errant running wild over it… is simply beyond any comment from me except to simply reiterate your final statement….

    “Wow, what a deep hole you have dug yourself into. Now would be a good time to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    ><>”

    Luther

    That was quote over the top and unnecessarily harsh Darrel…. though I do tend to agree with your “the Golden Calf of the “Free-Will” of man” comment.

Mark

Hi Bob,

A few questions, please.

“Since God’s efficacious calling is solely what brings about regeneration, preaching and teaching and witnessing prior to regeneration have no bearing on one’s repentance and saving faith and justification.”

Bob, what does God’s efficacious calling look like? How does God issue an efficacious call?

“Given this fact, regeneration as defined and presented by Calvinism does not line up with the Scriptures because the Scriptures are clear, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17 NKJV) It is clear in the Scripture that the preaching of the gospel is what brings about conversion.”

Are you saying that faith equals conversion? I thought you did not believe the faith was a gift, but you quote Scripture that faith comes by hearing which shows that faith does not come from within a person. You last sentence seems to confuse faith and conversion, unless you are saying that one does not have to have faith to be converted, but merely hear the gospel.

“Calvinism errantly seeks to establish new birth as the sole result of God’s predestined will and subsequent effectual calling, which is not contingent at all upon the proclamation of the gospel because prior to that effectual calling, the gospel has no effect at all on the lost, unregenerate person.”

Can you show a Calvinist or Calvinist confession that states that the new birth is “not contingent at all upon the proclamation of the gospel?”

“The Calvinist will contend that God and God alone regenerates the lost person and that person repents and is saved. Man plays no part in the process whatsoever. “

If it is not God alone Who regenerates, what part did you do in your regeneration?

    Bob Hadley

    Mark,

    Did you read my article or are you cherry picking comments in the thread?

    Bob, what does God’s efficacious calling look like? How does God issue an efficacious call? You are the calvinist, not me. I am presenting the arguments I have had presented to me over the last 18 months or so… instead of you trying to be so cute here… why dont you interact with what I actually say in the article and show where my argument is in error… instead of playing cat and mouse with me defining this and that. as I have said a number of times already… the concepts I use are fairly elementary and commonly employed… so the context is clear enough for a discussion.

    As far as your comment with respect to my position on faith, I am arguing that the preaching of the gospel as opposed to effectual calling is what the Holy Spirit uses to bring about new birth… context context… please.

    As for the reference to monergism, I am once again arguing what I believe to be the inconsistencies calvinism presents in TD/TI and effectual calling in a monergistic framework and that alone precludes the work of the gospel in the process… so the fact that calvinists argue that the gospel is necessary… I am saying given the tenets, effectual calling and regeneration bring about regeneration and faith and not the proclamation of the gospel…

    the gospel is only applicable to the person who has been regenerated….

    i ask you to answer this question I asked earlier…

    Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to those who are not regenerated?

    ><>”

      Mark

      Bob,

      Cherry picking? Cat and mouse? How pastoral of you. :)

      I was interacting with what you said as evidenced by the quotes I provided of your words. You claim that you are showing Calvinist inconsistencies. Well, I am quoting you and asking questions where I see inconsistencies in your argument.

      So, yes, let’s not play cat and mouse and please answer my questions that come directly from your words.

      My answer to your question is: yes, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for the unregenerate. You are attempting a false dichotomy with this question as if Calvinists can’t answer in the affirmative.

        Bob Hadley

        The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for the unregenerate?

        Ok as a calvinist, what is the good news for the unregenerate?

        Depart from Me for I never knew you?

        ><>”

          Mark

          Sorry, Bob, but I asked questions of you based on your own words. So, I am not going to play your “cat and mouse game” as you put it.

            Donald

            “Sorry, Bob, but I asked questions of you based on your own words. So, I am not going to play your “cat and mouse game””

            Mark,
            If you check your last paragraph before Bob’s last reply, you’ll see that he was asking you a question based on your own words. What gives?

          Bob Hadley

          Donald,

          These guys do not appear to want to own their own words because there is no reasonable response to the thrust of my argument and article. there isn’t and that is WHY I wrote it.

          The clear truth is, given the calvinist position on TD/TI and the necessity of regeneration or effectual calling, whichever they want to pick, the gospel is only effectual on the person who is regenerated; that is calvinism 101.

          I am saying that the Bible is clear that the gospel, not effectual calling is what produces faith and that faith brings about regeneration. So… given that, what is it that a calvinist CAN SAY?

          ><>”

            mike white

            I always thought that the Spirit used the Gospel to effectually call the unregenerate to new life.
            But since all who hear the Gospel do not get new life, then the Spirit doesn’t effectually call ALL who hear the Gospel, not all the unregenerate to new life.

    Robert

    Mark asks:

    “If it is not God alone Who regenerates, what part did you do in your regeneration?”

    This is not a fair question, because it presupposes only two possible options (either God alone regenerates so calvinism must be true OR if non-calvinism is true then we play some part in our own regeneration, thus this false dilemma presupposes the non-calvinist believes that we are in some way involved in our “own regeneration”).

    We can better understand a third but unmentioned possibility if we see the two common errors first.

    One common error is the belief that regeneration precedes and brings about saving faith (usually simply referred to as regeneration precedes faith). This is the error that Bob is dealing with in his article here. So of course determinists have come to try to defend their error.

    Another eror made by proponents of this regeneration precedes faith view, is to believe that if their view is rejected the other person must believe that their faith causes or brings about regeneration (i.e. the faith causes regeneration error). This is also an error as the scripture is absolutely clear that God alone regenerates people.

    Here is another analogous situation regarding another aspect of salvation that may illustrate the problem well.

    The bible teaches all believers will be glorified/resurrected. If we believe and we are Christians God will raise us up at the end. And none of us believes that we raise ourselves up or anything we do has a part in our being raised up on the last day. Our faith is not the cause of our resurrection. There is no part that we play in our future glorification/ressurection. Rather, God in his plan of salvation chooses to raise/glorifly those who trust Him.

    Likewise a third option that Mark’s question intentionally ignores, is that while faith precedes regeneration, our faith neither causes or nor brings about regeneration.

    Instead God alone chooses to regenerate those who trust Him.

    In the third option our faith does not cause regeneration, so to ask as Mark does “what part did you do in our regeneration” is an irrational question. I didn’t do any part in my regeneration since God alone does it. Just as I won’t do any part in my glorification since God alone does it. With both regeneration and glorification God alone does it and he chooses to do it only in the life of believers.

    Mark’s question would appear to be equally nonsensical if we asked it in regards to glorification: “If it is not God alone Who glorifies/resurrects people, what part will you do in your glorification/resurrection?”

    We need to keep in mind that when it comes to the salvation process, some things God alone does. And he chooses to do these things in the lives of those who trust Him alone for their salvation.

    Robert

      Mark

      Robert,

      Have you read how Bob is attempting to show that Calvinist belief is inconsistent how those beliefs are carried out? If so, you should have caught on to the fairness of my question on regeneration.

      I was asking Bob based on his own grounds; those which he posited the assertion. Bob made an absolute assertion about Calvinism and regeneration so I asked him a clarifying question in return.

      My question was neither unfair nor irrational, but it sought to challenge Bob on his own grounds.

Jordan

I taught a high school class on logic a few years back. What I wouldn’t have done to have had an article like this that incorporates every fallacy in the book so well! Beyond that, thank you for choosing one aspect of Reformed soteriology, misrepresenting it, and then using that misrepresentation as your “Aha, I finally found your Achilles Heel, you naughty Calvinists!” moment of glory, while ignoring a plethora of Reformed orthodoxy and orthopraxy (not to mention solid use of Scripture) that makes your article out to be the nonsensical blabbering it is. Brilliant.

    Bob Hadley

    I taught a high school class… I will be nice… that sure opened up a number of renegade responses. :)

    Beyond that, thank you for choosing one aspect of Reformed soteriology, misrepresenting it, and then using that misrepresentation as your “Aha, I finally found your Achilles Heel, you naughty Calvinists!”

    Uh Duh… excuse me but regeneration only deals with one aspect of reformed soteriology… another renegade response… orthopraxy ??? OK… right living based on wrong theology… I get that.

    The nonsensical blabbering it is… brilliant?

    Here is the deal Jordan. I will try to simplify things for ya. Maybe that will help delineate between the blabbering and the brilliance.

    #1…Calvinism posits Total Depravity and Inability saying clearly that man is dead in his trespass and sin and is a slave to his sinful nature and can only sin. He has the ability to choose but only as his nature will allow him to do so.

    #2…Because this is true, man MUST be regenerated or “born again” so that he can repent and exercise faith and be justified.

    My article basically asserts that SINCE the gospel has NO effect on the unregenerate person, it cannot be the means God uses to regenerate him and that is why calvinists have the concept of the effectual call… Lazarus come forth… or in this case… ELECT PERSON come forth.

    Apart FROM that effectual call, the gospel HAS NO EFFECT at all or no good news… unless of course one considers depart from Me for I never knew you to be good news… I guess that is good news to all the elect who are not going to have to spend eternity with the poor souls who got what they deserved…

    yes… I know that is a cheap shot but I have actually heard some of that argument made and it is sickening to me personally… so I took the liberty to mention it it since I am babbling.

    I said in my original article, “Given this fact, regeneration as defined and presented by Calvinism does not line up with the Scriptures because the Scriptures are clear, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17 NKJV)

    I continue, “It is clear in the Scripture that the preaching of the gospel is what brings about conversion. Nowhere in the Scripture is it even hinted that regeneration or an efficacious calling is what effectuates conversion.”

    Now, this sentence could have been better worded, but the meaning would have still been the same given its context. It is clear in the Scripture that the preaching of the gospel is the means that brings about regeneration or conversion, not effectual call.

    What is really interesting as I am babbling away here… it this…

    The real irony in the difference in calvinism and the non-calvinist position all hinges on “the spoken Word.”

    I believe the effectual spoken Word is the Scripture itself… calvinists believe there must be another spoken word BEFORE the Word of God can be effective.

    I am simply saying that this does not seem Scripturally sound and if it is Scripturally errant, then some changes are in order.

    ><>”

      mike white

      Bob said,
      “My article basically asserts that SINCE the gospel has NO effect on the unregenerate person, it cannot be the means God uses to regenerate him and that is why calvinists have the concept of the effectual call… Lazarus come forth… or in this case… ELECT PERSON come forth.”

      C’s say that God uses the Gospel to effectually call the elect.
      Here is Scripture:
      2 Cor 4
      3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

      Now the Gospel is veiled to those perishing thus it has no power to deliver them as long as it is veiled. As long as the perishing are blind to its truth, they can not see the way to God.

      But God opens the eyes of some of the blinded so that can see the glory of God in the face of Jesus and be saved.

        Bob Hadley

        Mike,

        I understand WHAT calvinists say; my problem is with what calvinism actually says. The text you quote does not really support your position as well as you indicate that it does. I will agree that it can be a support but does not demand the calvinist interpretation. Let me explain.

        First of all, I personally think that it is interesting that the devil blinds the eyes of those who are unbelievers for IF TD/TI were true as calvinism posits, I am wondering why there is this reference to the devil in the first place… but that is a thought for another day.

        Now the translation that you use that says, “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” is poorly done. The KJV accurately translate the Greek… “lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Glorious definitely refers to gospel and the idea in “lest the light” is very different from to keep them” ie lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine on them is a reference to the effects of the gospel that Paul proclaimed.

        That is basically what he says in verse 5… this light of the glorious gospel that WE PROCLAIM is not about us but about Jesus Christ for He is Lord. He is the Light of the world. He is the Light that shines into the darkness.

        Now, Paul goes on to say this Light that we proclaim, which is Jesus, God has shone in our hearts to do what…
        give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

        Now the question is this… at least as I see it. Does this passage say that God illuminates people’s hearts so that they can receive the Light which is Jesus? No it does not. God illuminates our hearts with the LIGHT… there is a BIG difference and that Light Paul says IS THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL that he proclaims to people who are in the dark and are interestingly enough unbelievers.

        Soo… it is the proclamation of the gospel that brings this light into the hearts and lives of individuals as God effects regeneration as people hear and believe.

        ><>”

abclay

Maybe alot of confusion can be solved if Calvinists state what the purpose of the Gospel is. Let me give it a shot.

Obviously, God could save anyway He wanted but He chose to regenerate the lost upon hearing the gospel message because in its simplistic, foolish message, God is the only one who gets glorified.

“Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world —what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence. But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.”

The “foolish” Gospel is preached, people hear it, are regenerated by God and given faith to believe, exercise this faith (by their own free will) and believe the message and are saved. Experientially, I would say all this happens simultaneously. The great thing is, God is glorified in their salvation.

just my .02. Sorry for the long quote, but I didn’t want anything to be taken out of context.

    Bob Hadley

    abclay.

    You said, “Obviously, God could save anyway He wanted but He chose to regenerate the lost upon hearing the gospel message because in its simplistic, foolish message, God is the only one who gets glorified.”

    I have no issue with WHAT this statement says. I am arguing that this is inconsistent with calvinism… even though that is what they will say. I do not know which side you fall on this issue… so I am commenting on what you have said…

    You continue, The “foolish” Gospel is preached, people hear it, are regenerated by God and given faith to believe, exercise this faith (by their own free will) and believe the message and are saved. Experientially, I would say all this happens simultaneously. The great thing is, God is glorified in their salvation.

    Here is a problem. People hear the gospel (dead and totally depraved and unable to respond unless God FIRST regenerates them… calvinism 101)

    people hear it.. what people? the unregenerated or regenerated?

    ok… people hear it and are regenerated by God and are given faith and they believe.

    No. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Scriptures, the preaching of the gospel… not the Word of effectual calling)

    Sorry. This is NOT the purpose of the gospel according to calvinism.

    My point is simple. The gospel is only effective for the elect. It is not effective until regeneration takes place in the totally depraved individual as posited by calvinism.

    For that reason, I am saying calvinism is errant and ought to be abandoned.

    I ask this question again:

    Paul declares that “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe… ”

    I am saying that calvinists claim that “the gospel is the power of God unto those who are regenerated that THEN believe”

    for in reality according to calvinism,

    The gospel is NOT the power of God unto salvation for those who have NOT FIRST been regenerated.

    If this statement is errant, please explain to me how or why it is so.

    May God bless us all as we seek to know Him and all the benefits of His great salvation!

    ><>”

      mike white

      Bob,
      Not all C’s believe regeneration precedes faith.
      But this verse:
      Paul declares that “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe… ”

      That verse does not have to be read sequentially. One does not have to read it as if God delivers power AFTER one believes.

      Rather salvation is there WHEN one believes. And in fact salvation comes with belief. As does regeneration which is basically the same as salvation.

      abclay

      Bob,

      You are hanging your argument on a verse that No Calvinist has a problem with.

      The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe…..

      You say that, for the Calvinist, this verse must read, “The Gospel is the power of God unto REGENERATION…..

      I agree with this, as only those who are born again (or regenerated) will be saved.

      Based on your argument, One doesn’t need to BELIEVE (or have faith) in order to be saved because Paul didn’t mention -believing- in this verse.

      I appreciate the grace that you have shown in your responses that I have read in this thread.

      I pray that your Inquisition of Calvinists in the SBC is loosing steam and nearing its end as the truth of Calvinism is coming to light and people are able to see for themselves that it isn’t the ‘boogeyman’ that it is made out to be but simply a God exalting and man humbling belief system in congruence with the biblical text.

      Bob Hadley

      ab,

      You said… You say that, for the Calvinist, this verse must read, “The Gospel is the power of God unto REGENERATION…..

      That is NOT what I said. I said calvinists contend “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those who are regenerated FIRST…
      You really acknowledge this when you said, “I agree with this, as only those who are born again (or regenerated) will be saved.”

      My point really is this… since it is effectual calling or regeneration is essential because of the calvinist tenets of TD/TI… THEN because that is true… regeneration is a perquisite to the effectuation of the gospel because apart from regeneration the gospel HAS NO POWER TO DO ANYTHING for the unregenerate.

      I am simply arguing that this cannot be true and because the Scripture says otherwise, calvinism ought to be abandoned.

      ><>”

Scott

I want to highly recommend you guys listening to the teaching ministry of Southern Baptist Dr. Roy Hargrave of Riverbend Community Church in Ormond Beach, Fla at http://www.graceworx.com or his church website at http://www.riverbendchurch.com. Listen to him teach his series on the doctrines of grace and regeneration precedes faith. As a Southern Baptist I’m thankful for the ministry of RC Sproul, Sinclair Ferguson, Derek Thomas, and Michael Horton. Though I’m not with them on some church doctrine but God is using them by teaching the Word correctly on the order of salvation.

    Bob Hadley

    Scott,

    Tell Dr. Hargrave I said “hello.” For the record, Dr. Hargrave has done a wonderful job as pastor of Riverbend Community Church. He preaches with conviction and according to the dictates of his heart and as he understands the Word of God. He does not mince words about what he believes and I have a mountain of respect for him. I disagree with him in his theological position but I respect him for standing on WHAT he believes and how he proclaims his convictions.

    His people love him and I love him.

    ><>”

Shawn

Good Morning, Bob,

I hope you are well brother. I see you have excelled again at authoring material that generates lots of comments. I am thankful for the (mostly) cordial exchange that takes place here. For the few lapses in Christian love that have come from my fellow Calvinists, I apologize. I pray regularly for God to keep me humble in these arenas (a pursuit in which I have sometimes failed), and I pray that for all my brothers and sisters in Christ (Calvinists and Traditionalists) as well.

Regarding your earlier question: “Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to anyone who has not been regenerated?” I answered it the way I answered it because of the intention with which you asked it. I could be wrong, but you seem to interpret Romans 1:16 to mean that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to anyone and everyone (period). But what the verse says is that it is the power of God for salvation to everyone WHO BELIEVES. You then went on to pick apart my statement: “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16), and those who believe are those God has chosen from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” You took me to task for bringing in the issue of sanctification. However, I didn’t bring it in. The Bible did. the latter part of my statement is an exact quote from 2 Thess 2:13 in the NAS.

Regarding my request to clarify, I appreciate your answer: “it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual that brings about conviction and reconciliation for those who believe the Word and repent and exercise faith in God’s promises and provisions.” I basically agree (though I would want to more firmly place the work of the Spirit prior to conviction, repentance, faith, and reconciliation). I am guessing where we would disagree is that you believe the Holy Spirit works on everyone who hears the gospel in the same way, making all who hear able to come to salvation, but effecting the salvation of none. (Please correct me if I am wrong in that summary of your view). The difficulty I have with this view is that it is a leap of logic necessitated by your system. I see no text of Scripture that supports a blanket, uniform work of the Holy Spirit or an application of grace that makes all men (who hear the gospel) savable without accomplishing their salvation. If such texts exist, I would appreciate it if you could bring them to my attention.

Getting back to issue of your article, I like Sproul, but ultimately he doesn’t represent Baptists, and therefore not all Baptist Calvinists. His central thesis is that regeneration precedes faith. He obviously uses language like “one thunderbolt of revelation” which is very striking language, but can you really extrapolate from that language that He is absolutely stating that regeneration is instantaneous? He is writing of how regeneration precedes faith, not on the nature of regeneration itself.

From there, you make an incredible leap of logic that is a misrepresentation of the Calvinist’s view. You say, “So given the instantaneousness of regeneration or the absence of regeneration, one would have to understand that for the Calvinist, the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate is useless. Sharing one’s testimony with the unregenerate is a waste of time because they are not even effective much less effectual because of the totally depraved state of the unregenerate individual. Since God’s efficacious calling is solely what brings about regeneration, preaching and teaching and witnessing prior to regeneration have no bearing on one’s repentance and saving faith and justification. Regeneration occurs at God’s sole command and conversion is automatically the result. This must be understood. The preaching and teaching of the Word of God to the unregenerate cannot be made the means God uses to accomplish the end; unless one is willing to relegate the role of regeneration to a progressive one.”

I don’t believe Sproul would say any of that, and no Calvinist I know would hold that position either. Many, many Calvinists have clearly articulated to you that God ordains the means by which He brings about the salvation of His people as well as the ends. As the gospel is proclaimed, He can make it instantaneous, or He can bring a person more gradually (As He did with Saul over a period of a few days). If you want to split hairs on the “progressive” view, go ahead. The Calvinists is simply going to say that no matter how long it takes, it is God enabling the sinner and making Him willing to believe in Christ. When you say, “For if regeneration is progressive, then what you have is a form of prevenient grace with an irresistible conclusion and then the question comes into play, what determines when and how prevenient grace becomes irresistible?” you create a dilemma that does not exist. If God intends to save a person, His grace will not ultimately be resisted.

To close, I would like to challenge your statement, “Nowhere in the Scripture is it even hinted that regeneration or an efficacious calling is what effectuates conversion.” If this is true, then please explain the following verses:

Rom 8:30
30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Rom 9:23-24
23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

1 Cor 1:9
9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

II Th 2:13-14
13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
14 And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Tim 1:8-9
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,

1 Pet 2:9
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 Pet 5:10
10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Those passages don’t describe how conversion happens. Not quite sure how all those passages relate to what Bob is saying here. It is another “what is the case” versus “how it comes to be the case” issue again that comes up over and over again.

    You are also confusing conversion with vocation with many of those passages regarding “call/called/calling”. Thus again, they aren’t relevant to what Bob is saying.

    The word “call” doesn’t even mean “summon” in every one of these texts. Sometimes it means “names/designates”, as it does in those Romans passages.

    Given the above, the distinctions between general and effectual are a misguided and manufactured set of categories, and there is no Biblical reason to accept these categories regarding “call/called/calling” when there are better Biblical categories more reflective of the texts. The burden is on those who assert “general/effectual” distinctions to prove it, not on those who reject them to defend dismissing them, even in regards to “effecting conversion”. One can’t insert the notion of “effectually” in every verse before where the word called is and thing they have made some Biblical point that is not at all relevant to the issues, especially the ones Bob is addressing.

    The only verse here that comes close to speaking on conversion proper is 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

    However, this is far, far away as well since on closer inspection isn’t talking about conversion or soteriology proper, so it too adds no help.

    The salvation here is not soteriological salvation, but salvation in the sense of deliverance (see use of soteria in Philippians 1:19 for an example). This is the only time soteria is used in 2 Thessalonians, and as a proof-text, verses 2:13-14 may seem like a soteriological verse about “how it comes to be the case” one is “saved” saved, but the context does not bear this out, and if the context of the chapter and book (and 1 Thessalonians as well) don’t make this “type of salvation described here” distinction clear enough, certainly verse 2:15 alone should.

    As Calvinist George Gunn writes in his paper regarding exegeting 2 Thessalonians:

    “The Apostle Paul had just referred to the followers of the man of lawlessness who will be subject to the judgment of God associated with that time of tribulation. In such a context, might it not be that Paul was actually expressing his thanks that, in contrast to the followers of the man of lawlessness, God had chosen to deliver the church from the judgments of the Day of the Lord?”

    and

    “In light of these findings, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 may be paraphrased as follows: ‘We ought to thank God always for you, brothers, beloved by the Lord, because God chose you, a firstfruit of the European mission, for deliverance by means of the rapture from the judgments that shall befall those who follow the man of lawlessness in the Tribulation Period. God made this choice by setting you who believe the truth apart from those who will believe the antichrist’s lie.’”

    Now, I personally don’t agree with all of his pre-trib dispensational conclusions, but I definitely agree with him on the usage of “soteria” here in this passage and the deliverance context from what is coming, rather than soteriology proper understanding of this verse. There are many of us confused when this verse gets proofed for soteriological purposes. Comes with lacking proper exegetical skills I guess.

    In any case, none of these verses address what Bob was talking about in regards to calling not equaling effectuating conversion.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Another reason for 2 Thessalonians 2:13-1 not being an example of “conversion” is that sanctification doesn’t precede either conversion or belief. In this passage, they are both spoken of being concurrent, and so it is not descriptive of asoteriological conversion.

      Hence, it is saying, that by virtue of the Gospel they have been called to this deliverance THROUGH those things from that which is coming so THEREFORE (adding v15) they should stand firm and hold to the traditions they were taught (and probably relax a bit like the chicken little crowd of the church today needs to instead of expecting the sky to fall….LOL).

    Bob Hadley

    Passages of Scripture…

    To close, I would like to challenge your statement, “Nowhere in the Scripture is it even hinted that regeneration or an efficacious calling is what effectuates conversion.” If this is true, then please explain the following verses:

    Rom 8:30
    30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

    What is interesting to me in this passage is the tense of the words… especially “these He glorified.”The tense of the verbs is all the same… now it is obvious that we are not glorified yet and ironically Paul points that out earlier in the same chapter… vv23-24. I believe Paul is speaking about the heroes of the faith who endured patiently and those are the ones he is referring to in this passage. Couple of comments in advance… I know I am interpreting the passage but so will you to justify the verb usage here for the common retort is “Paul says what he does because the present reality of glory is locked in the mind of God and therefore is justified in this passage.” That is an interpretation so mine is as valid as the other… and given Paul’s direct remark to the contrary in the same dialogue, I maintain my interpretation is actually stronger… but that is me.

    Rom 9:23-24
    23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
    24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

    No real relevance here… God’s plan all along was to bring salvation to the world… to the gentiles… I am teaching on Galatians and Paul makes reference to Abraham’s faith and the fact that the promise was made to Abram BEFORE he was circumcised so really the promise was to a gentile before it was ever to the Jews! Gal 3;16

    1 Cor 1:9
    9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Again no relevance… everyone who is saved is called unto fellowship with His Son…

    II Th 2:13-14
    13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
    14 And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    This is fitting for a calvinist position but equally for the non as well. God has chosen you… Paul is addressing those who have believed… it does not address the conditions that brought them to believe… interesting is the “calling you through our gospel” which actually supports my contention that it is the gospel that calls people to repentance and not regeneration but… that has been hashed out enough.

    1 Pet 2:9
    9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

    Notice WHO this is that is writing and to WHOM is he writing. First of all this is Peter, not Paul… who is identified as an apostle to the circumcised… (Gal 2:7)

    So.. when he writes you are a chosen race etc… he is speaking to those Jews who have been displaced etc… but even if this is not the case, there is no indication of regeneration or effectual calling expressed here that I can see.

    1 Pet 5:10
    10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

    Once again… no regeneration or effectual call here either.

    ><>”

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Interesting take on Romans 8:29-30.

      Here’s my take on it.

      Of course, we do render aorist as simple past tense even though it is “kinds of action” rather than “time of action”.

      Of course, I too don’t see “before the foundation of the world” anywhere in this passage myself. One must look to Ephesians for that.

      The only “time” referent in the passage that I see is in verse 8:18.

      “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.”

      So, when we get to verse 29 where it says “For those He foreknew…”, we naturally have to ask of “knew beforehand”, knew whom/what before when? (Regardless of how one understands “foreknew” as either information or intimacy…for the record, I lean towards the latter like Calvinists do, but for different reasons in the text rather than speculative ones outside the text…see more below)

      Now, as a matter of philosophy, I understand God has foreknown the “those” logically prior to the creation of the temporal universe as a matter of omniscient content.

      However, exegetically, I don’t see Paul talking about that here. Since the last verb in the sequence of verse 30 is “glorified” as you pointed out. Hence let us look at verses 8:18 and 8:30 side by side.

      8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.”

      8:30 “And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.”

      We can see here that Paul is writing from a “future perspective” looking back on to the past AFTER they have been glorified recounting what God has done, having been ramping up to that future glory starting at verse 18.

      The content of the chapter bears this out.

      First, God can only “intimately know” (if we understand foreknow this way) existing people…not ideas of “will be existing people”, so we can rule out “eternity’s past” readings of 8:29-30.

      Second, those God foreknew intimately had something “intimately foreknown” ABOUT them as well as being themselves “foreknown”. We can see this from the beginning of the chapter by its content. God “foreknew” those who:

      1. Those who have faith (from chapters 1-7) and thus no condemnation in Christ. 8:1

      2. Those are freed from the law of sin and death. 8:2

      3. Those with the law’s righteous requirement accomplished for them. 8:4

      4. Those who walk according to the Spirit. 8:4

      5. Those lives of the Spirit thinking about the Spirit. 8:5

      6. Those with the mindset of the Spirit with life and peace. 8:6

      7. Those in the Spirit with the Spirit of God living in them. 8:9

      8. Those with Christ in them. 8:10

      9. Those with the Spirit and life because of righteousness. 8:10

      10. Those in the Spirit who will have their mortal bodies brought to life. 8:11

      11. Those not obligated to live according to the flesh. 8:12

      12. Those who by the Spirit put to death deeds of the flesh. 8:13

      13. Those led by God’s Spirit. 8:14

      14. Those who are God’s sons. 8:14

      15. Those who received the Spirit of adoption. 8:15

      16. Those who cry out “Abba, Father”. 8:15

      17. Those with the Spirit testifying with their spirit that they are God’s children. 8:16

      18. Those who are God’s children. 8:17

      19. Those who are heirs of God. 8:17

      20. Those who are co-heirs with Christ. 8:17

      21. Those who suffer with Christ. 8:17

      22. Those who will be glorified with Christ. 8:17

      NOW verse 18… (see above) 18-27 leads up to the future retro perspective.

      23. Those who groan within themselves. 8: 23

      24. Those who eagerly await adoption and redemption of their bodies. 8:23

      25. Those who hope for what they do not yet see. 8:24-25

      26. Those who wait for it with persevering patience. 8:25

      27. Those with the Spirit joining in their weakness. 8:26

      28. Those who don’t know to pray as they should. 8:26

      29. Those for whom the Spirit intercedes. 8:26

      30. Those who have their hearts searched. 8:27

      31. Those who are saints for whom He intercedes. 8:27

      Then Paul makes the obvious statement of 8:28

      32. Those who work together with God to bring about the good. 8:28 (NOTE: God works with people, not things, see usage of sunergeo in Scripture and other Greek literature…like works together with like, such as persons and persons, things and things, but never person and things. i.e. people working together with God in 2 Cor. 6:1, faith working with works in James 2:22, people working with one another in 1 Cor. 16:16, Lord works with people in Mark 16:20, which while not original, still confirms how the word is used)

      33. Those who love God. 8:28

      34. Those called/named according to purpose. 8:28

      Now, people must exist for this “intimate content” to occur, so again, a pretemporal statement is immediately ruled out (except for the proof-texters who dismiss Romans 1:1-8:27 when talking about this passage).

      But what we see is what there is (8:1) what is going to be regardless of the present (8:18-24), and what will have been looking back when that glory came. (8:29-30).

      And then closes it with a beautiful expression of God’s love and care for His people.

      So, when the glory came (the future/retro perspective), it was those whom God knew by virtue of all that in 8:1-8:27, they were the ones who predestined to be like Jesus. They were the ones called/named, justified, and glorified. (obviously, made up of Jews and Gentiles, leading into chapters 9-11)

      This interpretation has many advantages.

      1. It doesn’t have to say anything about God foreknowing people who would have faith before the foundation of the world, since that isn’t from when Paul is speaking. Since people of that would be obviously who Paul was speaking of given chapters 1-7.

      2. The usage of foreknew as pretemporal musing that Calvinists insit upon Paul is ruled out completely, even though he certainly could have pointed us to that via writing “before the foundation of the world” since we know from Ephesians 1:4 he knows to write that phrase when he wants to go there…but didn’t do so here.

      3. It brings Paul’s usage of Foreknew here consistent with his usage in 11:2 (a looking back from the perspective from which the author is speaking…the future retro one in 8:29, and the present one in 11:2)

      4. It is how most of the pre-Augustine commentators took it (Ambrosiaster being an exception, who commented on the Latin, and took it as “foreseen faith” before creation..a fav of Arminians as you could imagine).

      5. It makes the most sense of glorified being there in the sequence of verse 30, and the most sense of how to take the aorist for the whole thing.

      6. It accounts for the “intimate knowing” that Calvinists usually insist upon with the word “foreknew”, but gives meat to it since it understands it in a way that makes sense with existing people to be known rather than just concepts of them in God’s mind. How does God search the hearts of concepts anyway? Something our Calvinist friends never answer or account for.

      7. It doesn’t disconnect 8:29-30 from the rest of the chapter and indeed, the whole book up to that point.

      8. It accounts well for the already/not yet tension way of speaking in Biblical writings in general, but especially Paul.

      Verse 18 ramps up to the future glory, and verses 29-30 close out with a looking backwards FROM PAST that future, so to speak. Then we have the great hymn that transitions into chapters 9-11.

      Anyway, since you had an interesting take on it, I thought I would share mine. :)

Bob Hadley

Shawn,

Appreciate the dialogue as well… I do prefer to be cordial; sometimes it is a little more difficult to do than others.

You wrote… Regarding your earlier question: “Is the gospel the power of God unto salvation to anyone who has not been regenerated?” I answered it the way I answered it because of the intention with which you asked it. I could be wrong, but you seem to interpret Romans 1:16 to mean that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to anyone and everyone (period).

That is completely incorrect. I understand most calvinists to agree with the passage with the following caveat… the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes… and the only ones who WILL believe are those who have been regenerated first.

So I asked, is the gospel the power of God unto salvation for those who have not been regenerated FIRST. This point really does solidify my position that it is regeneration and NOT the gospel that brings someone to life in Christ…. at least not initially. I realize the gospel is a factor for BOTH the calvinist and the non-calvinist.

BUT… because the unregenerate man cannot or will not respond to the gospel apart from effectual calling, which is a calvinist term… or regeneration which again is a calvinist posit, I am simply saying that the gospel CANNOT be the means God uses to effectually bring anyone to Christ, which is what most calvinists claim to stay in line with what the Scriptures actually say.

That is my problem. And, for the record, this argument has NOTHING to do with sanctification, period. No way, no how. I believe the consistent calivinst would have to say that the gospel is for the elect and is only effective in a person’s life AFTER they are regenerated or made alive in Christ… and that is where I believe the Scripture stands in direct opposition to the tenets of calvinism and that is why I believe it ought to be abandoned.

Now…. just for kicks lets address a couple other statements you make. You challenge my contention that regeneration or effectual calling cannot be progressive and must be instantaneous… you said, “The Calvinists is simply going to say that no matter how long it takes, it is God enabling the sinner and making Him willing to believe in Christ.”

My argument here is more philosophical where I am basically saying this is theologically impossible. I understand again this is what Calvinist are saying but I am pointing out that it is an inconsistent impossibility given the tenets that stand behind these statements.

Follow me for the sake of argument and I think you will see why I make these conclusions. Effectual calling CANNOT be progressive. That would in and of itself would be contradictory… to say that someone is regenerated or saved because it is God’s decretive will could be progressive or the result of a process… but not effectual calling! Effectual calling is Let there be Light… effectual calling is Lazarus come forth… effectual calling is Peace be still… when God speaks… things happen! Effectual calling cannot take place over a period of time. To attempt to say that effectual calling is progressive WHEN it comes to completion would mean that it was not effectual at some point and became effectual…

The same argument is true for regeneration. Regeneration corrects total depravity… an individual is DEAD… he is regenerated and now he is alive… well there is no almost alive… if something is dead and cannot respond then the concept of regeneration means that problem is solved and that cannot be a process… that is the point to the title of the article.

So given the instantaneousness of regeneration or effectual calling, it is impossible for the gospel to be the means that God uses to bring about regeneration. That argument is clearly disallowed by the tenets of calvinism… TD/TI do not allow the gospel proclamation until regeneration takes place… until one is alive he cannot respond to the gospel… it is in effectual… until regeneration takes place. That is calvinism 101.

So do you get my point?

Calvinists can SAY what they want and you can say what you want to line up with Scripture but if what you say to be consistent with Scripture is inconsistent with the tenets you espouse then something needs to be changed…

I believe calvinism to be clearly unscriptural on this basis. That once again is the essence of my argument. Thanks for the indulgence!

><>”

Shawn

Dear Bob,

Thank you again for taking the time to respond. I’m a native Floridian, I’m a UCF grad, and visit family in Central Florida quite often. I would be blessed to have the honor to meet you one day. You said, “I am simply saying that the gospel CANNOT be the means God uses to effectually bring anyone to Christ, which is what most calvinists claim to stay in line with what the Scriptures actually say.” Could you please site the name and work of any Calvinists who states this opinion as specifically as you do?

To counter your point, here is Wayne Grudem (one of the best examples of a Baptist Calvinist) sharing the exact opposite of what you posit in this article:

“We may define effective calling as follows: Effective calling is an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith. It is important that we not give the impression that people will be saved by the power of this call apart from their own willing response to the gospel (see chapter 35 on the personal faith and repentance that are necessary for conversion). Although it is true that effective calling awakens and brings forth a response from us, we must always insist that this response still has to be a voluntary, willing response in which the individual person puts his or her trust in Christ.”

This is why prayer is so important to effective evangelism. Unless God works in peoples’ hearts to make the proclamation of the gospel effective, there will be no genuine saving response. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

An example of the gospel call working effectively is seen in Paul’s first visit to Philippi. When Lydia heard the gospel message, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). In distinction from effective calling, which is entirely an act of God, we may talk about the gospel call in general which comes through human speech. This gospel call is offered to all people, even those who do not accept it. Sometimes this gospel call is referred to as external calling or general calling. By contrast, the effective calling of God that actually brings about a willing response from the person who hears it is sometimes called internal calling. The gospel call is general and external and often rejected, while the effective call is particular, internal, and always effective. However, this is not to diminish the importance of the gospel call—it is the means God has appointed through which effective calling will come. Without the gospel call, no one could respond and be saved! “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” (Rom. 10:14). Therefore it is important to understand exactly what the gospel call is.” (Which he goes on in chapter 33 to explain.)

(Shawn again, not Grudem) We see this exemplified in 1 Cor 1:22-24:
22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom;
23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,
24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (NAS)

Paul preaches Christ crucified to Jews and Gentiles alike, and they generally reject it (vs 23). This is the gospel call. BUT, (vs 24) to the Jews and Greeks who are effectually called through that message, they believe and know Christ as the power and wisdom of God.

On another note, I did not specifically say that effectual calling was progressive in my response, but I was not clear nor as concise as I should have been. Please forgive me for that. I said “As the gospel is proclaimed, He can make it instantaneous, or He can bring a person more gradually. . .” The “IT” I was referring to was the whole process of coming to salvation (notice I used the word “salvation” in my previous sentence). I agree with you that Effectual Calling is instantaneous. I also agree with you that regeneration, defined specifically as the new birth, is also instantaneous. I know this was quoted earlier, but I will quote Grudem again:

“Because regeneration is a work of God within us in which he gives us new life it is right to conclude that it is an instantaneous event. It happens only once. At one moment we are spiritually dead, and then at the next moment we have new spiritual life from God. Nevertheless, we do not always know exactly when this instantaneous change occurs. Especially for children growing up in a Christian home, or for people who attend an evangelical church or Bible study over a period of time and grow gradually in their understanding of the gospel, there may not be a dramatic crisis with a radical change of behavior from “hardened sinner” to “holy saint,” but there will be an instantaneous change nonetheless, when God through the Holy Spirit, in an unseen, invisible way, awakens spiritual life within. The change will become evident over time in patterns of behavior and desires that are pleasing to God. In other cases (in fact, probably most cases when adults become Christians) regeneration takes place at a clearly recognizable time at which the person realizes that previously he or she was separated from God and spiritually dead, but immediately afterward there was clearly new spiritual life within. The results can usually be seen at once—a heartfelt trusting in Christ for salvation, an assurance of sins forgiven, a desire to read the Bible and pray (and a sense that these are meaningful spiritual activities), a delight in worship, a desire for Christian fellowship, a sincere desire to be obedient to God’s Word in Scripture, and a desire to tell others about Christ.”

To clarify my (earlier) poorly worded response, in coming to salvation, a person may go through progressive exposure to gospel truth, struggle for a time under conviction of sin, and wrestle with the truth claims God sets before them, but effectual calling and regeneration are instantaneous events. What is incorrect is the leap of logic (or illogical leap) you make when you say “So given the instantaneousness of regeneration or effectual calling, it is impossible for the gospel to be the means that God uses to bring about regeneration.” That is a pure misrepresentation of the Calvinist’s position. This fact is exemplified in the first quote I gave you from Grudem. As he specifically stated, the gospel call “is the means God has appointed through which effective calling will come. Without the gospel call, no one could respond and be saved!” The Calvinist believes what Scripture teaches — that the Spirit works in conjunction with the Word to bring salvation (1 Thess 1:5). In the preaching of the Word, His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:3-4,16,27-28). I would be happy to locate and provide similar quotes from other Calvinists if you would like.

Back to my earlier response, did you ever come up with any verses that support the idea of a uniform work of the Holy Spirit that makes all men (who hear the gospel) savable without actually accomplishing their salvation? Also, you did not interact with the texts I supplied to refute your assertion that “Nowhere in the Scripture is it even hinted that regeneration or an efficacious calling is what effectuates conversion.”

1 Cor 1:9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (NAS)

Have a good Wednesday evening, brother.

Robert

Hello Mark,

“Have you read how Bob is attempting to show that Calvinist belief is inconsistent how those beliefs are carried out?”

Yes, don’t you think I read his initial article and the on-going thread???

Have you read my earlier post in the thread where I made some points and I commended Bob for his article?

“If so, you should have caught on to the fairness of my question on regeneration.”

The question was not fair because it is very similar to the fallacy of complex question (e.g. have you stopped beating your wife?). Your question presupposed something about the noncalvinist position which is neither true nor something Bob had said (i.e. that according to the noncalvinist we play some part in bringing about or causing our own regeneration).

“I was asking Bob based on his own grounds; those which he posited the assertion. Bob made an absolute assertion about Calvinism and regeneration so I asked him a clarifying question in return.
My question was neither unfair nor irrational, but it sought to challenge Bob on his own grounds.”

Mark you are missing something here.

Bob’s article was not a presentation of noncalvinist premises concerning regeneration (i.e. “his own grounds”).

Rather, he is pointing out a contradiction he has observed between **calvinistic** premises (your own calvinistic “grounds”).

The two contradictory premises are (1) the nature of depravity, and (2) the claim that preaching of the gospel is a means to actualizing regeneration. These two premises contradict one another because of the nature of depravity as conceived by determinists (i.e. in their conception of depravity the sinner who is not yet regenerated is spiritually dead which they take to mean he/she cannot understand the gospel until they are regenerated first).

If you cannot understand the gospel due to depravity, and must be regenerated first in order to be able to understand the gospel. Then how can preaching the gospel to such a person who is incapable of understanding it, be a means to actualize regeneration? It can’t.

And that is the contradiction between CALVINISTIC PREMISES that Bob is pointing out here.

He has presented it repeated, but the determinists here seem incapable (or more properly **unwilling**) to acknowledge this point.

The responses from determinists have varied sometimes being wild and emotional but none has dealt with the problem that Bob has brought out. One person even asserted that he had taught a logic class in high school (as if that gives him more authority in regards to logical thinking) and claimed that Bob was committing innumerable logical fallacies. This is not true at all. And it should be noted that this person making this claim did not point out any of these alledged logical fallacies.

Instead Bob has brought up a place where the determinists’ own premises (or to use your preferred term, “grounds”) ***contradict*** one another.

It is logically contradictory to argue that a person is incapable of understanding spiritual things (including the gospel) due to depravity AND at the same time argue that preaching the gospel is the means by which regeneration is accomplished.

I believe a major mistake being made by the determinists/calvinists is the assumption that God uses a means to bring about regeneration. You first have to assume that a means is used to effectuate regeneration before you claim that means is the preaching of the gospel. I don’t accept that assumption. I view regeneration as a miraculous (not requiring any means) and instantaneous (it happens very quickly in time) act by God. He does not need anything as a means to bring it about. Instead he simply chooses to regenerate whomever he wants to (and according to scripture he regenerates believers, those who trust Him alone for salvation).

To claim as some determinists are doing in this thread, that gospel preaching is the means to bring about regeneration goes against their conception of depravity (their own premises contradict each other). As long as the person is suffering from depravity and not yet regenerated, he/she will not understand any gospel preaching according to determinists/calvinists. And if he cannot understand the gospel (suffers from “inability” and so is **incapable** of understanding the gospel) until regenerated FIRST, then it is illogical to claim that gospel preaching is used by God to bring about regeneration.

Mark rather than attempting to attack Bob’s premises you ought to be showing how from your own premises that depravity and gospel preaching as a means to effectuating regeneration are compatible.

That is the issue, not Bob’s premises/”grounds”, but your own.

So far no determinist here has shown how these two calvinistic premises are compatible. That suggests that Bob’s original assertion remains true: there is a contradition between these two calvinistic premises/claims.

Robert

Shawn

Dear Robert,

Brother, I am amazed at what you are attempting to set forth in this argument:

“I believe a major mistake being made by the determinists/calvinists is the assumption that God uses a means to bring about regeneration. You first have to assume that a means is used to effectuate regeneration before you claim that means is the preaching of the gospel. I don’t accept that assumption. I view regeneration as a miraculous (not requiring any means) and instantaneous (it happens very quickly in time) act by God. He does not need anything as a means to bring it about. Instead he simply chooses to regenerate whomever he wants to (and according to scripture he regenerates believers, those who trust Him alone for salvation).”

You make no sense! There is always a “means” employed by God. Name one miracle where God did not use some “means.” Jesus healed with means — a word or a touch accompanied by the exertion of His divine will. God created by the means of His word and the accompanying act of His will; He said “Let there be. . .” and it became so. When God parted the Red Sea, He used Moses and Moses’ staff as His “means.” When people were saved in the Book of Acts, it was by “means” of the preaching of the gospel. To say that a miracle has no “means” is ludicrous! Your assumptions and conclusions are absolutely wrong.

Calvinists don’t have to “assume means”; the Scripture tells us what the “means” of salvation are. The “means” of regeneration is the active work of the Holy Spirit, and the “means” of effectual calling is the Spirit working through the preaching of the gospel. That’s the whole point of the role of the preacher in Romans 10. That’s the point of 1 Cor 1:22-24. That’s why Paul said He preached the gospel — FOR THE SAKE OF THOSE WHO ARE CHOSEN, that they also may obtain eternal life. (Notice they are “chosen” before they obtain eternal life!)
2 Tim 2:10
10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. (NAS)

I have great respect and appreciation for Bob, but as I said earlier, he is seeking to create a dilemma for the Calvinist where one does not exist. The preaching of the Word accompanied by the Power of the Spirit is the “means” by which God calls sinners out of death and into life.

But what do I know. . . I’m just a determinist. . .

Isa 46:9-10
9 “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; (NAS)

    Bob Hadley

    Shawn,

    Look at what you wrote in the following statement to Robert…

    Calvinists don’t have to “assume means”; the Scripture tells us what the “means” of salvation are. The “means” of regeneration is the active work of the Holy Spirit, and the “means” of effectual calling is the Spirit working through the preaching of the gospel. That’s the whole point of the role of the preacher in Romans 10. That’s the point of 1 Cor 1:22-24. That’s why Paul said He preached the gospel — FOR THE SAKE OF THOSE WHO ARE CHOSEN, that they also may obtain eternal life. (Notice they are “chosen” before they obtain eternal life!)

    Now… let me engage your own statement to illustrate what I believe is the fallacy of the salvific system posited by calvinism.

    You said… Calvinists don’t have to “assume means”; the Scripture tells us what the “means” of salvation are. The “means” of regeneration is the active work of the Holy Spirit, and the “means” of effectual calling is the Spirit working through the preaching of the gospel.

    I am sure you understand total depravity and inability… just consider WHAT TD teaches. The gospel has NO effect on the totally depraved person. That is why regeneration is essential in the first place. agreed?

    Now my point is that preaching the gospel cannot be the means to accomplish regeneration if regeneration is required for the individual to be able to respond TO the gospel! Regeneration and effectual calling are sort of inter-connected.

    This is my point. So since the preaching of the gospel IS Scriptural and since it cannot be the means to effect regeneration, then the suggestion that regeneration is necessary for conversion cannot be valid.

    Does that make ANY sense to you at all?

    ><>”

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Where in the world do you get determinism from Isaiah 46:9-10?

    We see what God has declared, that God’s purpose will be established, and that God will accomplish all His good pleasure.

    God is so wimpy in your opinion He has to create a strictly deterministic universe to accomplish His purposes when there is absolutely zero evidence in Scripture that the universe is strictly deterministic?

    How much you Calvinists belittle God’s majestic sovereignty over His creation, His wisdom, His omniscience, His power, and His purpose and pleasure makes me sad and even angry…

    All I see in Isaiah 46:9-10 is the One True God’s determination…

    BIG DIFFERENCE.

    Robert

    Shawn I really do not appreciate being mocked by you when you misrepresent my view attempting to make me appear to be nonsensical.

    You wrote:

    [[“Brother, I am amazed at what you are attempting to set forth in this argument:
    “I believe a major mistake being made by the determinists/calvinists is the assumption that God uses a means to bring about regeneration. You first have to assume that a means is used to effectuate regeneration before you claim that means is the preaching of the gospel. I don’t accept that assumption. I view regeneration as a miraculous (not requiring any means) and instantaneous (it happens very quickly in time) act by God. He does not need anything as a means to bring it about. Instead he simply chooses to regenerate whomever he wants to (and according to scripture he regenerates believers, those who trust Him alone for salvation).”
    You make no sense! There is always a “means” employed by God. Name one miracle where God did not use some “means.” Jesus healed with means — a word or a touch accompanied by the exertion of His divine will. God created by the means of His word and the accompanying act of His will; He said “Let there be. . .” and it became so. When God parted the Red Sea, He used Moses and Moses’ staff as His “means.” When people were saved in the Book of Acts, it was by “means” of the preaching of the gospel. To say that a miracle has no “means” is ludicrous! Your assumptions and conclusions are absolutely wrong.”]]

    First, of all I take the position that Regeneration is a miraculous and instantaneous act of God. This view has been held by many Christians and is not foolish at all. To mock THAT view is to mock the power of God. Second, I am quite aware that God can bring things about directly or by means of using things in the universe.

    You stated that my view makes no sense and that “There is always a ‘means’ employed by God.”

    I make a simple distinction that perhaps you do not make (i.e. that God may act directly employing no means or that God may act using means that are present in the universe to accomplish his will).

    When God created the world, he employed no means, he did not use anything that already existed to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish because he created the universe out of nothing, Ex nihilo, when there was nothing to use as a means by which to create the world.

    Consider the following example. Say someone has a major financial need and prays that God would help them financially. God the puts this on the mind of some people who go to the bank and make a withdrawel and then take the money to the person who prayed. I would consider this to be God using means to accomplish something. On the other hand, if God miraculously and instantly created gold bars and placed them on the door step of this person, I would consider that both miraculous and not using means. That is how I consider God doing regeneration (without any natural means, not using anything already in existence to accomplish what he wants to do). Since it is instantaneous and direct and involves no natural means I consider that a miracle.

    You went on to say:

    “Name one miracle where God did not use some “means.” Jesus healed with means — a word or a touch accompanied by the exertion of His divine will. God created by the means of His word and the accompanying act of His will; He said “Let there be. . .” and it became so. When God parted the Red Sea, He used Moses and Moses’ staff as His “means.” When people were saved in the Book of Acts, it was by “means” of the preaching of the gospel. To say that a miracle has no “means” is ludicrous! Your assumptions and conclusions are absolutely wrong.”

    If you study scripture you find that sometimes God uses means in connection with miracles and other times he does not. Example: in healing blind people. In one instance Jesus put clay on someone’s eyes and miraculously healed them. Do you really believe that Jesus needed that clay, that means to accomplish that miracle? On other occasions Jesus just healed blind people without clay. What this shows is that sometimes he did miracles with a means in connection to it, other times he did not. Jesus healed the servant of the Centurion without physically getting near or touching the servant.

    Now you fudge your bets by saying that some of these “means” include “a word . . .accompanied by the exertion of His divine will. God created by the means of His word and accompanying act of His will.”

    Well of course if you are going to define a miracle by God as involving “His Word” and “the exertion of His divine will”, then of course every miracle involves “means” so defined.

    But that is not what I mean by doing a miracle without means.

    I mean when God acts directly without making use of any thing outside of himself (no clay, no physical touch of the hand, etc. etc.). The fact that God/Jesus can heal a blind man when he puts clay on his eyes and also heal a blind man without putting clay on his eyes indicates the miracle does not occur by **means** of the clay but is a direct supernatural act by God.

    “To say that a miracle has no “means” is ludicrous! Your assumptions and conclusions are absolutely wrong.”

    Now note again, you stack the deck by including “His word and accompanying act of His will” in your definition. Of course every act by God includes His will, so by your definition every act by God involves means. But again, I was not suggesting that when God acts miraculously His will is not involved!!! THAT would be nonsensical. And that is why I don’t appreciate your post at all. You intentionally misrepresent and twist things and present thing so that my view is foolish. When it is not.

    “Calvinists don’t have to “assume means”; the Scripture tells us what the “means” of salvation are.”

    I never said that the process of salvation does not involve God using means (e.g. God uses preaching to get His Word into people’s minds so that they can trust Him for salvation).

    I was speaking ******specifically of****** REGENERATION.

    Which again I believe God accomplishes without any means (like putting those gold bars at that person’s door step).

    “The “means” of regeneration is the active work of the Holy Spirit, and the “means” of effectual calling is the Spirit working through the preaching of the gospel.”

    I think you are confusing conversion with regeneration here. Yes conversion involves “the active work of the Holy Spirit”. But regeneration requires no “means” as God does it directly and instantaneously and miraculously.
    You bring in “effectual calling”. I reject that concept as it is not found anywhere in scripture and scripture gives explicit examples of people rejecting the grace of God. Effectual calling is a determinist concept that determnists like yourself READ INTO scripture and flows from their theology not exegesis of the biblical texts.

    “ That’s the whole point of the role of the preacher in Romans 10. That’s the point of 1 Cor 1:22-24. That’s why Paul said He preached the gospel — FOR THE SAKE OF THOSE WHO ARE CHOSEN, that they also may obtain eternal life. (Notice they are “chosen” before they obtain eternal life!)
    2 Tim 2:10
    10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. (NAS)”

    Preaching is the means by which God gets His Word into people’s minds so that they can consider it, believe it, and act upon it. But preaching is not regeneration, though it is a means involved in the conversion of people.

    “I have great respect and appreciation for Bob, but as I said earlier, he is seeking to create a dilemma for the Calvinist where one does not exist.”

    Neither you nor any determinist has dealt with the problem brought up by Bob.

    You have all (so far) failed in dealing with this problem.

    “The preaching of the Word accompanied by the Power of the Spirit is the “means” by which God calls sinners out of death and into life.”

    Preaching is the means by which conversion occurs, it is not the means by which regeneration occurs. God needs no means to regenerate someone.
    “But what do I know. . . I’m just a determinist. . .
    Isa 46:9-10
    9 “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me,
    10 Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; (NAS)”

    God declaring what will occur in the future is not the same as God preplanning every event of the future.

    God foreknowing all future events is not the same as God desiring or intending for all of those events to occur exactly as they do.

    For example – God foreknows every act of abuse, including spousal abuse and child molestation (but he neither intends or desires any of them to occur). Try foising your determinist theology on victims of abuse. Tell them God preplanned these atrocities and desired for them to occur and made sure they occurred exactly as they did. See where that gets you.

    Robert

      Shawn

      Dear Robert, (and I hope Johnathan Pritchett too)

      After re-reading my response to you, Robert, I agree with your assessment — I was more vitriolic than I realized at the time. Please forgive me for being harsh and condescending. Please forgive me for not conveying respect and love to you as my brother in Christ. I still believe you are wrong, but I should have communicated my thoughts to you in a very different manner. To everyone, forgive me for failing to represent my Savior.

      You have written much, Robert, and I have only a little time to respond, so I will try to be brief. . .

      1. I too believe regeneration is a miraculous and instantaneous act of God. I was not criticizing this truth. I was speaking to your position that God uses no means to bring it about. Your distinction, “that God may act directly employing no means or that God may act using means that are present in the universe to accomplish his will” is a helpful clarification — I guess I would clarify this further by saying you are making a distinction between earthly means and divine means. I still contend that the means of regeneration are the Spirit and the Word. That’s what John 3 and Romans 10 state. In John 5:25, Jesus says, “An hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” In John 6:63, He says “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

      2. You state “Neither you nor any determinist has dealt with the problem brought up by Bob. You have all (so far) failed in dealing with this problem.” I have actually been dealing specifically with the issue raised by Bob, I have directly answered the issues he has raised, and I have been having a very cordial exchange with him. I welcome to read our exchange here.

      3. Regarding effectual calling, there is evidence all over the Bible for it. Consider 1 Cor 1:22-24
      22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom;
      23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,
      24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

      Do you see what Paul is saying? He preaches Christ to all men, and a great many of them reject his message and consider it foolishness. But those who are “called” embrace his message as being of Christ, who is the wisdom and power of God. Here are many other passages: John 6:44, Rom 8:30, Rom 9:23-24, 1 Cor 1:9, 2 Thess 2:13-14, 2 Tim 1:8-9, 1 Pet 2:9. Perhaps you could even give us your explanation of verse 24 in Romans 9?
      Rom 9:23-24
      23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
      24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

      4. Finally, for the record, Calvinists are compatiblists, not determinists. This position is the position of Scripture — that God is completely sovereign and directs ALL things according to the counsel of His will, yet man also exercises a will through which he makes real choices with real effects and consequences. We are responsible for all of our own sinful choices. Pritchett condemns this view as making God “wimpy” but that is actually what your view does — your view contends that God limits His sovereignty over His free moral creatures so as not to violate the expression of their will. He effectively makes Himself the handmaiden to human decisionism. In doing this, you all have made an idol of man’s will.

      How can God make a promise like Romans 8:28 if He has not determined how things will be? How much further do you get by telling victims of abuse “God didn’t intend this, and He had the power to stop it, He just didn’t.” How is your view of God more loving if you believe He has the power to stop abuse and simply won’t because he doesn’t want to violate the free moral choices of His creatures?

      But enough of such practical matters, let us go to Scripture. Regarding Isa 46:9-10, I understand what you want it to mean, but that is not what it says. DECLARING in verse 10 means that God says what the end will be from the beginning, not merely that He “knows” what the end will be from the beginning. To guard us from the type of interpretation you set forth, he even tells us what He means: “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” He is clearly speaking here of what He has done and will do, not just what He knows.

      How about the end of Genesis? In Chapter 50, Joseph’s brothers are afraid that Joseph will seek revenge against them now that their father is dead. Joseph says to them: “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, {but} God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Gen 50:19-20, NAS) His brothers meant evil against him, and they were culpable for their sins against him, but God meant what they did for good. God didn’t just know Joseph would be hated, beaten, sold into slavery, false accused, and left to rot in prison. God meant for Joseph to go through all of that suffering “in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

      What about what God says in Isaiah?
      Isa 45:6-7
      6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other,
      7 The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.

      At the beginning of the chapter, the Lord said a pagan king (Cyrus) would be His annointed servant, a full 200 years before this king would be born. Not only that, God was going to use him to crush and conquer other nations. How can God say this if He has to wait on Cyrus to make his own decisions?

      How about Peter’s Pentecost sermon:
      Acts 2:22-23
      22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–
      23 this {Man} delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put {Him} to death. (NAS)

      The religious leaders and the Romans and the other Jews who rejected Jesus were godless men, and they were culpable for their own sinful choices, but make no mistake — Jesus was murdered at their hands according to the predetermined (determined beforehand) plan and foreknowledge of God.

      We see it again in Acts 4:27-28
      27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
      28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur. (NAS)

      Notice that Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, by crucifying Christ, were doing whatever God’s hand and purpose predestined to occur. They were still culpable for their own sin, but God orchestrated everything that took place.

      These are but a few of many Scriptures that directly refute your position, Robert. I also know personally of the horror of abuse — I was a child who was abused by my own father. My mother and all my sibling were as well. And I can assure you, it is far more comforting to know that my God has a purpose He is completing in all things, even in my sufferings, than to think that He doesn’t intend my sufferings, has the power to stop them, but doesn’t because He does not want to interfere with men’s freedom of choice.

      I welcome you to offer me your exegesis of these Scriptures. Have a good evening.

        Robert

        Shawn begins with an apology:

        “After re-reading my response to you, Robert, I agree with your assessment — I was more vitriolic than I realized at the time. Please forgive me for being harsh and condescending. Please forgive me for not conveying respect and love to you as my brother in Christ. I still believe you are wrong, but I should have communicated my thoughts to you in a very different manner. To everyone, forgive me for failing to represent my Savior.”

        I have to take this apology with a big grain of salt as despite Shawn’s apology here, he then in the same post ***accuses me of idolatry*** (“your view contends that God limits His sovereignty over His free moral creatures so as not to violate the expression of their will. He effectively makes Himself the handmaiden to human decisionism. In doing this, you all have made an idol of man’s will.”). I don’t worship ‘”man’s will”. You will not find either me or any one else that I know who espouses the ordinary view of free will (that we sometimes have and make our own choices) WORSHIPPING FREE WILL!!!!! This false accusation and misrepresentation by determinists such as Shawn really gets old after a while.

        It should also be noted that in order to have the ability to worship the true God over and instead of false gods (i.e. to worship properly) one must have the ability to choose the true God over false gods (which means you have to have the ability to consider two different options and choose one over the other, in this case make a choice between false gods and the true God and you choose to worship only the true God; so in reality acceptable worship presupposes free will being properly exercised). Nor does my view make God “the handmaiden to human decisionism.” So Shawn gives with one hand but then takes away with the other.

        I am not going to deal with everything Shawn has said. And I am going to break up my response. And in particular I do not believe comment sections like this are the appropriate medium for presenting differing, in depth, exegesis of scripture. I used to deal with non-Christian cultists a lot and the really knowledgeable ones already knew what your intepretation would be and already had a prearranged way of attacking and questioning your standard Christian interpretation if you gave it as a response. I believe the same would be true here. So I will only make minimal comments about particular scriptures here.

        “3. Regarding effectual calling, there is evidence all over the Bible for it. . . .”

        None of these scrptures teach “effectual calling”, this is a concept read into the text by the determinist.

        Historically, prior to Augustine in the early centuries of the church no one found evidence for effectual calling all over the bible. Nor did anyone teach this concept prior to Augustine in the early church.

        “4. Finally, for the record, Calvinists are compatiblists, not determinists.”

        This is a mistake that I am frankly surprised to see so many determinists making here at SBC today. Anyone familiar with contemporary discussions of free will and determinism knows that compatibilism is a form of determinism (also referred to as “soft determinism”). I will repost something I said in another thread here:

        [[“In standard usage among both theologians and philosophers, a compatibilist with regard to free will ****is**** a determinist. Determinists are usually further distinguished as either “hard” determinists or “soft” determinists.

        Another name for soft determinist ***is*** compatibilist.

        “Compatibilist” and “soft determinist” are synonymous and interchangeable terms.

        Many calvinist scholars designate themselves as determinists/compatibilists. As I said in another thread to TR, “determinist” is not a pejorative term (Just as saying that someone is a “libertarian” is not a pejorative term.). These are merely commonly used terms to refer to people’s positions regarding free will.

        TR claimed that the term “determinism” itself is a pejorative term when applied to calvinists. He is completely mistaken in this claim because of the fact that **calvinists themselves** use the term ***in reference to themselves***.

        Many examples could be given to establish this point but I will present only one as it is crystal clear and authoritative. One of the most famous books on the subject of Calvinism, sovereignty, free will is the book PREDESTINATION & FREE WILL: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty & Human Freedom. John Feinberg presented the Calvinist position in that book.

        Look at what Feinberg says **of himself**:

        “Instead, like many other determinists, I claim that there is room for a genuine sense of free human action, even though such action is causally determined. . . .According to determinists such as myself, an action is free even if causally determined so long as the causes are nonconstraining. This view is often referred to as **soft determinism** or ** compatibilism**, for genuinely free human action is seen as **compatible** with nonconstraining sufficient conditions which include the will decisively in one way or another.” (p.24-25).

        Note Feinberg says twice of himself that he is a determinist. He has no problem with the term determinism being applied to himself. He also says that this form of determinism is also called **compatibilism** (in contrast Les said: “I am not a determinist. I am a compatibalist.”).

        Now Feinberg certainly would not be applying it to himself if he saw the term as pejorative or implying that his beliefs were heretical.

        The terms “compatibilist” and “libertarian” are NOT pejorative terms but instead are *****terms of common usage*****. Feinberg and numerous other Calvinist scholars view themselves as determinists/compatibilists and I believe they are both credible and accurate in this usage. So I will continue to use the term determinist when referring to calvinists.]]

        Continuing on about his opinion about “compatibilism/soft determinism Shawn writes:

        “This position is the position of Scripture”

        No, this position is the position of calvinists like Shawn, who are determinists. If we examine church history we find that the vast majority of Christians across all theological traditions were not compatibilists/determinists. They taught and believed in what is ordinarly meant by free will. There is also lots of evidence for this in the bible as well.

        “ — that God is completely sovereign and directs ALL things according to the counsel of His will, yet man also exercises a will through which he makes real choices with real effects and consequences. We are responsible for all of our own sinful choices.”

        This is a good statement of theological determinism. “God is completely sovereign” in determinist thinking means that God decides everything beforehand and then controls things in such a way to ensure that the predecided plan is actualized. And note the phrase “completely sovereign”. There are not **amounts of sovereignty** as if God could be less or more sovereign. I suggest that biblical sovereignty means that God does as He pleases in any and all situations. So either God does as He pleases in any and all situations or he does not. There are not amounts or degrees of sovereignty.

        Note that Shawn also says of man’s will: “yet man also exercises a will through which he makes real choices with real effects and consequences.”

        Now something has to be brought out to show the difference between the ordinary meaning of free will and the determinist/compatibilist meaning of free will. Most people hold to the ordinary meaning of free will, which means that at least sometimes we have and make our own choices. So say that Joe is talking to his wife about what restaurant they will go to for dinner tonight. If Joe ****has**** a choice he can choose to go to either the BBQ place or the Mexican restaurant (either choice is avaiable, either choice is accessible, the choice is up to him, the choice is not necessitated meaning he does not have to go to one or the other, and there are no antecedent factors that necessitate his choice). So according to this ordinary understanding of free will Joe both has a choice and then makes a choice.

        In contrast, if everything if predetermined however, as determinists allege, then while it is true that Joe MAKES A CHOICE, he ***never has*** any choices. Say that all is predecided by God and part of a total plan that God is actualizing as what we call history. If that is the case, then Joe may mistakenly believe that he could go to either restaurant. But in reality, if all is predetermined he HAS NO CHOICE, he has to go to the one restaurant that was predetermined for him. It is impossible that he do otherwise than what has already been predetermined for him. If the BBQ restaurant is the predetermined choice, then he has to make that choice (and vice versa if the Mexican restaurant is the predetermined choice). What needs to be noted is that while in a completely predetermined world Joe “makes real choices with real effects and consequences”: he just *****never has any choices****. Most people (including most Christians) believe that at least sometimes we not only make choices, we have choices as well.

        After asserting his deterministic beliefs Shawn then launches into an attack of those who hold the ordinary view of free will:

        “Pritchett condemns this view as making God “wimpy” but that is actually what your view does — your view contends that God limits His sovereignty over His free moral creatures so as not to violate the expression of their will. He effectively makes Himself the handmaiden to human decisionism. In doing this, you all have made an idol of man’s will.”

        Not only does Shawn accuse us of being idolaters if we hold the ordinary view of free will (the majority view among Christians across all theological traditions, which is not the deterministic view) he also speaks here of “your view contends that God limits His sovereignty over His free moral creatures so as not to violate the expression of their will.” Again, God is either sovereign as defined above or He is not, there are not amounts to His sovereignty. I think Shawn is confusing God’s power with his sovereignty here. God does not limit his sovereignty, he just is sovereign. On the other hand, God may or may not limit his power in a given situation.
        God does not exercise his full power on the earth at all times.

        If he did, we would all be wiped out, we could not handle it. He has to limit Himself or we would be just overwhelmed and destroyed. Perhaps some illustrations may make the point. Imagine that I want to interact with an ant that is on the ground before me. If I exercised full power while touching or interacting with the ant I would squash the ant and destroy it. If I touched it at all, I could not do so very hard, or I would cripple or kill the ant. Imagine a father playing with his young daughter. Say he is 6 ft. 4, weighs about 230 lbs, has been lifting weights and playing sports for years and is black belt level in the martial arts. And say she is 7 ½ years old and weighs about 70 lbs. And sometimes when they play they wrestle, she enjoys this physical interation with her father. Now does he go all out and apply his full power and skill and technique when wrestling with her? No, if he did he would severely hurt or even kill her. Now these are just analogies involving physical beings with limited power in the physical universe. But when we talk about God the difference in power is much, much greater. God has to limit the exercise of his power or we could not handle it. People who doubt that God ever limits his power just do not realize how powerful he is and how we are nothing compared to Him. The bible sometimes makes reference to this incredible difference (e.g. Isaiah speaks about how the nations are like a drop from a bucket, a speck of dust compared to God, Isaiah 40:15).

        Robert

          Robert

          Shawn asked:

          “How can God make a promise like Romans 8:28 if He has not determined how things will be?”

          Some observations about this text. It does not say nor promise that in the life of Christians they will only experience a succession of good things. That things will never go wrong, they will never suffer, never experience pain, etc. In fact Jesus said the opposite (“In the world you will have tribulation . . .”). Paul promised that those who live a godly life will be persecuted. Look at the lives of the apostles to see if they never suffered and only experienced a continuous rose garden. What does the text say? First of all, the text does not apply to all people (it only applies to those who love God). So the text does not promise that in the lives of everyone God will always work out things for the best. What does it say? It says that God works all things together for good to those who love him. Note it does not say all things **are** good. It does not say the believer never experiences pain or suffering. It does say that in all things God works to bring about good.

          Now Shawn asks how can this verse be true “if He has not determined how things will be?” Note also the verse does not say that God predetermined all things. It says that he works all things together for good. The apostle Paul in the same book, Romans (Romans 12:21), gives us a big hint as to how this works. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good. Paul does not say there is not evil, he does not say that everything is good. He says that you overcome evil with good. And that is exactly what God is doing all the time. He does not eliminate evil, he overcomes evil with good. And does everything have to be predetermined in order for God to overcome evil with good? No.

          In doing evangelism I run into professing atheists (I say professing because in their heart of hearts everybody knows there is a God, cf. Romans 1). And a very common argument they keep repeating goes like this. God has lots of power. And you claim that God is good and that he loves people. And if God exists he would use his power to prevent evils such as rape, murder, child molestation, etc. etc. from occurring. But he does not prevent them so either He really is not good and loving or he does not exist. Because if he existed and he really was good and loving he would prevent evil from happening! But there is so much evil and he is not preventing any of it so He must not exist!

          Now it is interesting and telling that determinists often present a nearly identical argument as the atheist with merely a different goal in mind (the atheist wants to use evil as a proof against God’s existence, the determinist wants to use evil as a proof against the ordinary view of free will held by the majority of people, both Christians and non-Christians).

          The determinist adds a few other twists to this argument from evil. One assumption of determinists is that since God has the power to prevent any of these evils from occurring, if God does not prevent it (though he had the power to prevent it from happening) that means he must want the evil to occur for some purpose. The thinking is that he could prevent it but does not, so he does not because he has some good purpose for it (and if he did not have a good purpose for it he would in fact prevent it). Note that both the atheist and the determinist frame the situation as being primarily about God’s ****power****. It should also be noted that atheists like to try to play off things about God against each other (e.g. God has the power to . . . and if he really is good and loving . . .).

          Something extremely important is being left out however.

          Shawn wrote:

          “How much further do you get by telling victims of abuse “God didn’t intend this, and He had the power to stop it, He just didn’t.” How is your view of God more loving if you believe He has the power to stop abuse and simply won’t because he doesn’t want to violate the free moral choices of His creatures?”

          He also reiterated this same argument at the end of his post when he wrote:

          “Robert. I also know personally of the horror of abuse — I was a child who was abused by my own father. My mother and all my sibling were as well. And I can assure you, it is far more comforting to know that my God has a purpose He is completing in all things, even in my sufferings, than to think that He doesn’t intend my sufferings, has the power to stop them, but doesn’t because He does not want to interfere with men’s freedom of choice.”

          Note he says here “your view of God”.

          Note how he, like the atheist frames it as an issue of God’s power: “And He had the power to stop it, He just didn’t. . . . if you believe He has the power to stop abuse and simply won’t.” (and “has the power to stop them, but doesn’t because He does not want to interfere with men’s freedom of choice.”).

          I find it both sad and interesting that theological determinists and atheists are making the same argument from God’s power and ***framing things as a matter of God’s power alone**** when it comes to evil.

          And note that Shawn then after framing things as an issue of God’s power (he has the power, he could prevent evil, but he chooses not to) tells us why according to “your view” , God does not exercise his power to prevent these evils: “because he doesn’t want to violate the free moral choices of His creatures”.

          First of all, Shawn is not talking about my view. I have never said here that God could prevent evils but does not do so because “he doesn’t want to interfere with men’s freedom of choice.”

          Second, if God is sovereign as I believe that He is (i.e. He does as He pleases in any and all situations) then if God wanted to not violate the free moral choices of His creatures, wouldn’t that be His prerogative? If He is God and does whatever He wants, and he wants to create humans with free will and not violate their free will, wouldn’t that be his prerogative?

          Third, let’s talk about my actual view rather than what Shawn thinks is my view. I believe the argument that God has the power to prevent all evils and if He is good and loving should prevent all evils is framed incorrectly. I also do not believe that the reason God does not prevent evil from occurring is because He values free will so much (so that he values preserving it more than he values helping people). It is framed as an issue of God’s power by atheists and determinists, when the issue is not about God’s power. The issue is God’s plan, God’s designs. God will not use His own power and go against His own designs, His own plans. God does not contradict Himself. If he plans something to be a certain way, he then does not later use His power to alter his own plan.

          Let’s use a non-disputed example to illustrate this point. God’s plan of salvation includes that people are justified through faith not works. If someone asked: “I know that you say that God’s plan of salvation is that people would be justified through faith, but does God have the power to change it so that later on, he will justify some people through works instead of faith?” This frames things incorrectly. It is not an issue of God’s power, it is an issue of God’s design or plan. It is making a mistake to ask whether God would use his power to change the plan of salvation from justification through faith to justification by works. I believe none of us here, would answer that question with: “Yes God has the power and so if He wanted to, he could change it from justification through faith to justification works.” Instead we would say something to the effect that it is not an issue of God’s power but of His plan. That he came up with this plan of salvation and that is how he will keep it. And in Him keeping it that way it is not an issue of him not having the power to change things, it is an issue of Him not using His own power to go against His own design. He makes the rules of the game but he also plays by the rules of the game which he set up.

          Now the same thing applies to God’s design plans for human beings. In creating us, He had a design plan in mind, a conception of how human persons would be (what their capacities would be, that they would have physical bodies, that they would have minds, what their bodies would be like, etc. etc.). Now if someone came up to you and asked: “Could God use his power at a later time to start making people with two brains and so much greater thinking capacity in order to solve problems better?” Of “Could God use his power at a later time to start making people with four arms so more physical actions could be done?”

          Would your answer back invoke God’s power?

          Or would you appeal to God’s design plan (i.e. God designed people to be a certain way, he is not going to go against or change his own design plan)?

          And wouldn’t we answer the issue is not God’s power but His design?

          Well the same thing applies to the human capacity to have and make our own choices (i.e. free will) which is just as much a part of God’s original design plan as having one brain and two arms. It is clear from Genesis that God designed us to be capable of having and making our own choices. God is not later going to use His power to ***contradict His own design plan*** (scripture says this is one of the things God cannot do: He cannot deny Himself, so He cannot go against His own plans and purposes).

          One of the reasons science properly practiced is so successful is that God created an extremely orderly and predictable world. We can predict the consequences of our actions because things are so orderly and kept orderly.

          Imagine if when someone was about to hit someone else with a hammer that the hammer suddenly turned into a feather? Or what if thoughts that are unacceptable are instantly eliminated? Or God takes control of people’s minds and bodies so that they don’t do certain things. We would have a whimsical Alice in Wonderland type world, not the rational and orderly world that we have.

          So the claim that God does not use his power to prevent all evils from occurring (assumes it is an issue of power) when in reality it is an issue of God’s design. He not only created human persons to be capable of making choices: he created them with the capacity to have a choice, deliberate about the choice using their minds and then make their own choice in a rational/orderly and predictable world. This is so obvious in both our own experience and in the bible that it almost does not need to be mentioned. And yet, determinists with their commitment to exhaustive determinism, deny that free will as ordinarily understood exists.

          And if their determinism is true, this would eliminate us from ever having choices. We would each simply be living out our predetermined scripts (with some being lucky and living out an elect person script and most others being unlucky and living out a reprobate person script).

          Since God created us with the capacity for having and making our own choices (i.e. free will). Then what is happening when someone commits evil?

          Is it the case that God had the power to prevent it, but just chose not to do so?

          Does this prove that He does not exist or that he is not good or does not love people???

          Or is it the case that God designed us to have free will and someone when committing evil is abusing this capacity?

          Should God ***contradict His own design plan*** for humans and prevent all evils from occurring?

          Or did God sovereignly decide that the human design plan would include free will?

          Robert

            Shawn

            Hello Robert,

            O where to begin. First of all, I cited Romans 8:28 with a question. I did not offer an interpretation of it. The one you offered was not my argument. No, God does not promise that everything will be easy and wonderful for those who love Him. What the verse does mean is that God will CAUSE all things (both things that we would consider good as well as those things we would consider evil) to work together for good for those who love Him. This truth is impossible if you place God in a position where He is always at the mercy of man’s free will. Our God is One who sovereignly orchestrates according to His good purpose. To contend otherwise places you beyond the bounds of orthodoxy.

            Second, you do what I have come to expect from so many who hold your position. You completely disregard any text that might threaten your theological house of cards. I cited numerous other verses with exegetical comment, but you ignored all of them in your reply. You shared a lot of opinion, a lot of experience, and a lot of personal philosophy, but no interaction with the Scriptures I brought to your attention. You prove your argument holds no biblical merit.

            Thirdly, you continue to characterize my view as that of a “determinist” even though I explained compatablism. Once again, you prove that you cannot intellectually interact with the Calvinist’s actual position. You must continue to misrepresent him because you like the easy target of the straw man.

            Finally, the crux of your closing argument is thoroughly unbiblical. You contend that God has set in place a certain design plan and that He has determined not to go against that plan. Many of the examples you cited are good, and prove that this is true, to a degree. But if your view is absolutely true, how do you explain miracles? When Christ healed someone, was He not intervening by His own sovereign power to change or undo what would normally happen within God’s design? In the beginning, did not God establish His design in the mind of Adam by telling him that he would die if he disobeyed God’s law? But then God intervened in His own design by sending Christ to save men from the curse of death through the cross of Jesus Christ. He provided the remedy for the sentence of death He imposed. The Bible is literally repleat with examples of God intervening in the affairs of men, working miracles superceding or undoing His design in creation, and sovereignly directing human events and choices to serve His ultimate purpose.

            What you say sounds reasonable and even appealing for those who worship at the pagan altar of absolute human freedom, but you have utterly abandoned the truth of Scripture. I beg you to surrender your faulty perspective to the corrective truth of His Word before you lead others further astray.

Shawn

Hey Bob,

I understand what you are saying, and I have provided the answer. Grudem also provided the answer. If it were just the word being preached, I would agree that the natural man has no ability to understand. But it is not just the word. It is the Word AND the Spirit. They work concurrently. The Word goes forth in preaching, and the Spirit operates on the depraved heart and uses the word to sound forth the effectual call to bring the dead man out of death to life. The raising of Lazurus is a living picture of this spirituall reality. How did Lazarus hear the voice of Christ calling him forth? He was dead! As Christ spoke, God made Him able to hear. There are a lot of things that all happen close together (regeneration, repentance, faith, justification, adoption, etc) and there is certainly mystery in how it all exactly comes about, but the bottom line is that the work of the Spirit with the Word makes us alive. Eph 2:5 says that even when we were dead in our tresspasses and sins, God made us alive together with Christ. Col 2:13 says the same. Scripture consistently puts God in the driver’s seat — He is the one who “made us alive.” In John 5:21, Jesus said, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will.” In John 5:25, Jesus says, “An hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” HE even says the DEAD WILL HEAR. In John 6:63, He says “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” The words of the gospel are spirit and life. That’s the answer.

That’s as plain as I can put it, brother. You posit a conflict that does not exist. The calvinist position stands as the one most consistent with Scripture. Could you now go back and answer the other questions I posed to you?

Thank you, Bob. May God bless your rest this evening so that you may be unhindered in the flesh as you proclaim His gospel tomorrow.

    Bob Hadley

    Hey Shawn,

    Well…. it looks like you are the sole brave one to continue the dialogue… and a very good one at that… at least from where I sit… I appreciate your spirit back abd forth.

    You wrote: “It is the Word AND the Spirit. They work concurrently. The Word goes forth in preaching, and the Spirit operates on the depraved heart and uses the word to sound forth the effectual call to bring the dead man out of death to life.”

    Here is my question. You indicate that the Word and Spirit work together concurrently. Does this happen prior to regeneration or after?

    When you say “God is in the driver’s seat; He is the One who made us alive?” What are you referring to here… regeneration or justification?

    For the sake of brevity, I will look forward to your answer.

    For the record, I do not claim to have all the answers. So, I am wanting to learn in this process and if I am misrepresenting anyone or anything I want to correct that. That is really one of two reasons I engage in this process in the first place. The other is that people reading may read what I write and make decisions for themselves as to where THEY need to stand and possible cause them to think beyond their normal comfort zone.

    I will look forward to meeting you on your next trip down to Florida, assuming we don’t meet in the rapture first!

    ><>”

Job

Bob (and Johnathan Pritchett):

No. I did not come up empty. I merely was too busy to respond immediately. The ” I simply quoted Sproul because he happened to be someone I was reading as I was thinking about this subject” explanation. If this is a forum for Baptists to dialogue, then let it be Baptist dialogue. Let Baptists speak for Baptists, not Presbyterians. I don’t have to answer your challenge, because it is not my responsibility to. It was your responsibility to put in the effort to find out what Baptists actually believe before dedicating an entire post that purported to claim what Baptists believe. Were this not a common thing – letting Presbyterians speak for Baptists instead of Baptists speak for Baptists – I would not have made mention of it. But since it is a common thing, and goes on with the tendency to ignore – and outright distort – history, it makes me wonder why it is so often being done.

Speaking of the historical follies: “LBC 1689 is a copycat clone of Westminster except on things like the ordinances.” Except that LBC 1689 was not the first Calvinistic Baptist Confession. LBC 1644 was. And LBC 1644 preceded Westminster. There were Calvinist Baptists before there were ever Presbyterians. Which is another reason why Presbyterians should not be called on to speak for Baptists.

This is my main point: the theological divide between Calvinist Baptists and non-Calvinist Baptists (whether General, free will, traditional, etc.) has existed for 400 years. Going back and forth over theology isn’t going to solve anything. There is nothing that is going to be said now that hasn’t been between the two camps in all this time. So the idea that after all this time a person is going to use a few scripture texts to say “Calvinism … is not supported by the Scriptures and needs to be once and for all put to rest” is simply amazing. It is as if after 400 years have gone by, this is the very first time that these arguments have been raised and these scriptures have been used to make them. As if no one has tried to prove Calvinism wrong before, or as if this current generation is somehow better equipped to do a better job of it. It is only good for A) preaching to the choir and B) giving people who love to debate a forum to do so.

It is impossible to conclusively disprove Calvinism or prove traditionalism. If either were possible, it would have been done long ago. That is why honestly dealing with and settling on an accurate version of Baptist and Southern Baptist history is the solution to dealing with this divide. Which means abandoning all of the ways that Calvinist Baptists always seem to “just happen” to get linked with Presbyterianism.

    Bob Hadley

    Ok…

    What about regeneration did I miss? Did I misrepresent TD/TI?

    Did I misrepresent effectual calling?

    As far as I am concerned, your concern about me introducing my article with quotes from Sproul are immaterial unless you can show that the ELEMENTARY concepts I used are in error and WHY.

    ><>”

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Copycat in the sense of the language of the 1689 confession. Compare all three of them side by side if you must…

Shawn

Good Afternoon Bob,

Sorry I am just getting back to our dialogue — its been a busy day. I’ve got a men’s retreat I’m preparing for this weekend. Let me go ahead and jump right to the questions you asked.

YOU ASKED “Here is my question. You indicate that the Word and Spirit work together concurrently. Does this happen prior to regeneration or after?”

I always hate it when guys in theological discussions wave the white flag of “divine mystery” too early, but I honestly believe that when we try to dissect the intricate details of how God operates on the human heart to bring about the new birth, we are theorizing about matters that God has not specifically explained to us in Scripture. Thus, I believe we do have to yield to divine mystery at some point in this particular discussion. The Spirit blows where it wishes (John 3:8). To get to the question, the Word and the Spirit together are the means of effecting regeneration, but it all happens quite close together. It goes back to what effectual calling is — the call of God that has the power to produce in the sinner what it commands of the sinner. To quote Grudem again, “This calling is rather a kind of “summons” from the King of the universe and it has such power that it brings about the response that it asks for in people’s hearts. It is an act of God that guarantees a response, because Paul specifies in Romans 8:30 that all who were “called” were also “justified.””

I go back again to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. He had the stone rolled away from the tomb. He prayed out loud to God the Father so the people would know that His Father hears Him. (John 11:41-42) Then, He simply said, “Lazarus, Come Forth!” As the words left His mouth, the divine force of the godhead made Lazarus alive, enabling him to hear and obey by coming forth from the tomb. The Spirit and the Word bring life. The Spirit and the Word work concurrently to regenerate the sinner.

YOU ASKED, “When you say “God is in the driver’s seat; He is the One who made us alive?” What are you referring to here… regeneration or justification?”

The answer is both, but like Grudem said in the quotes I provided earlier, conversion never takes place apart from the necessary expression of repentance and faith on the part of the sinner. Still, God is the One who causes the sinner to be born again or regenerated (John 3:5-6), and when we believe, He is the One who justifies us (Rom 3:23, 8:33) We are justified by faith, but He is the one who justifies.

1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

I pray for the Lord Jesus to come quickly, but I do hope I have the privilege of meeting you before the rapture! ; )

Bob Hadley

Shawn,

Here is the answer I would give to my question with respect to your statement: You wrote: “It is the Word AND the Spirit. They work concurrently. The Word goes forth in preaching, and the Spirit operates on the depraved heart and uses the word to sound forth the effectual call to bring the dead man out of death to life.”

Here is my question. You indicate that the Word and Spirit work together concurrently. Does this happen prior to regeneration or after?

Here is the deal… if a man is totally depraved according to RT the gospel has no effectual power over him BECAUSE he is dead. So in order for the the Word and the Spirit to work concurrently, regeneration HAS TO TAKE PLACE.

This is what RT posits. It is the basis of RT. It is calvinism 101.

So the gospel has NO EFFECT on the unregenerated individual. Since the gospel has no effect on the unregenerate individual AND because regeneration MUST take place BEFORE any sign of life can be seen, it is regeneration and not the gospel that gives the TD/TI individual life and THEN the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for that person.

While there may be mystery in the Scriptures where God’s salvific activity is concerned, there is NO mystery in the calvinist soteriological system.

><>”

Bob Hadley

Is Shawn the only one who cares to comment?

Either what I am saying has merit or it does not. If it doesn’t then help me understand WHY is error. Now… to simply say… Bob you don’t listen; you continually misrepresent what calvinists say… you know us better than we know ourselves…

I am speaking about calvinism… NOT calvinists… Where does what I have said here fail to be an accurate portrayal of what calvinism posits?

ANYONE AT ALL????

><>”

Shawn

Good Evening Bob,

I have thoroughly enjoyed our exchanges in this thread. Though I have not been dissuaded from my soteriological position, I have learned much about the other position that I did not know before (even though your position was my position when I was a much younger Christian).

Regarding your last comment, I don’t know what more I can say. In your original article, you said “It is crystal clear; the Bible does not speak of nor even support a salvific possibility of God regenerating an individual outside of the work of the Word of God and its proclamation.” I don’t know of a Calvinist who would disagree with this statement. I agree with it completely, and I have quoted another prominent Calvinist who has said the same.

On the other hand, you are completely wrong when you say, “According to the Calvinist platform, effectual calling and regeneration bring about conversion, not the preaching of the cross or the gospel.” As I have stated before, you are creating a dilemma where there is none. You are making a logical leap that is not justified. You are saying this must be the position of Calvinism, that this is Calvinism 101, but you are misrepresenting the Calvinist’s view. I even asked you to quote a single Calvinist who has stated this specific position, and you have not provided a single one. God calls and regenerates sinners through the proclamation of the gospel. At the risk of being repetitive, allow me to quote Grudem one more time:

GRUDEM: “What is the connection between effective calling and regeneration? As we will see later in this chapter, Scripture indicates that regeneration must come before we can respond to effective calling with saving faith. Therefore we can say that regeneration comes before the result of effective calling (our faith). But it is more difficult to specify the exact relationship in time between regeneration and the human proclamation of the gospel through which God works in effective calling. At least two passages suggest that God regenerates us at the same time as he speaks to us in effective calling: Peter says, “You have been born anew not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…. That word is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23, 25). And James says, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth” (James 1:18 NIV). As the gospel comes to us, God speaks through it to summon us to himself (effective calling) and to give us new spiritual life (regeneration) so that we are enabled to respond in faith. Effective calling is thus God the Father speaking powerfully to us and regeneration is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit working powerfully in us to make us alive. These two things must have happened simultaneously as Peter was preaching the gospel to the household of Cornelius, for while he was still preaching “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44).”

TO BE CLEAR, the Calvinist says God works through the human proclamation of the gospel to issue His effective calling. He regenerates in conjunction with the proclamation of His truth. So in response to the question you asked at the end of your last post, YES, WHAT YOU HAVE SAID IN YOUR ARTICLE FAILS TO BE AN ACCURATE PORTRAYAL OF THE CALVINIST POSITION.

(I didn’t use all caps to communicate anger, only emphasis — you know I respect and appreciate you as my brother.) I pray you have a good weekend, and especially a glorious Lord’s Day. As I have a ministry event this weekend, I cannot guarantee further timely responses. Look for me to contact you in the near future, my brother. I will keep you and your church in my prayers.

    Bob Hadley

    Shawn

    Here is the deal as I see it and I too appreciate the dialogue, I really do. You are going back to my original statements and saying… you said A… calvinists agree. You then say B, which NO calvinist will agree with.

    Based on this logic you THEN conclude, TO BE CLEAR, the Calvinist says God works through the human proclamation of the gospel to issue His effective calling. He regenerates in conjunction with the proclamation of His truth. So in response to the question you asked at the end of your last post, YES, WHAT YOU HAVE SAID IN YOUR ARTICLE FAILS TO BE AN ACCURATE PORTRAYAL OF THE CALVINIST POSITION.

    The problem with this is… you do not engage the argument that supports B…

    You simply say this is NOT WHAT CALVINISTS say… well I understand that is NOT WHAT CALVINISTS say because that would be unscriptural.

    My point however, is that the tenets of calvinist support B… THAT is my point that NO ONE IS WILLING TO ENGAGE… and that was the point of my final question…

    See my point?

    &gt:<>”

    Bob Hadley

    Just a poke for fun… you said, (even though your position was my position when I was a much younger Christian)

    I say it was not, for if you had MY position then you would not your position now!

    ok… cheap shot but still just joking… well sort of…

    :)

    ><>”

Shawn

Good Morning, Bob,

I went back and read your article this morning again just to be sure. You posit A in your article, which is a point that Calvinists would agree with. Then you make a leap of logic and say B must therefore be true. Then you go on to present B as the Calvinist position even though B is something no Calvinist would agree with. At the very least, you could have said, “No Calvinist would agree with this, but I believe it to be the logical outcome of their view.” But you didn’t even make that clear.

In all honesty, Bob, I understand what you are trying to say, but I do not see that you have proved your locigal step from A to B. If you would like to spell that out more so I can interact with it, I will, but I do not believe you have made your case. This is the kind of straw man that both sides like to construct so we can throw our spears and butress our own perspectives. Yes, Calvinists do it too.

For example, postulate A is that traditionalists believe regeneration follows faith. (You would whole-heartedly aagree with this). Therefore postulate B is that traditionalists do not believe in praying for the salvation of lost people. It seems like a perfectly rational conclusion to me — if you believe God does not have the right to in any way affect change in the sinner’s heart prior to faith, then why in the world would you ever pray for God to undertake any sort of initiating work to save anyone? It makes perfect sense, therefore it must be the case. Traditionalists don’t want to say this because it would make them sound unscriptural, but we all see the truth. Therefore this whole Traditionalist thing just needs to be laid to rest once and for all in the grave where it belongs!

That’s what you’ve done in this article, my brother. I agree with your postulate A, but I deny your postulate B, and I have given you ample Scriptural, Logical, and Authorial evidence to explain our case. Contrary to your contention, I have engaged every point you have made. But even in the face of all that, you are saying B must be the case; even though no (non-hyper)Calvinist has ever said anything remotely close to this, it must still be the case.

I’m sorry, brother, but you are just wrong. You are not rightly representing the Calvinist position, and until both sides can rightly represent the other side’s view, this dialogue is going to be stuck in an unproductive quagmire of unloving argument.

I appreciate and respect you, and I do believe you pray for the salvation of lost people, as we all should! Blessings!

Bob Hadley

OK… I will try this one more time…

Here is the answer I would give to my question with respect to your statement: You wrote: “It is the Word AND the Spirit. They work concurrently. The Word goes forth in preaching, and the Spirit operates on the depraved heart and uses the word to sound forth the effectual call to bring the dead man out of death to life.”

Here is my question. You indicate that the Word and Spirit work together concurrently. Does this happen prior to regeneration or after?

Here is the deal… if a man is totally depraved according to RT the gospel has no effectual power over him BECAUSE he is dead. So in order for the the Word and the Spirit to work concurrently, regeneration HAS TO TAKE PLACE.

This is what RT posits. It is the basis of RT. It is calvinism 101.

That is POINT A. I state the calvinist position that man is dead in his sin and a slave to his sinful nature and as such according to calvinists, he MUST be regenerated or made alive for the gospel to have any effect on him. That is Point A… which I am assuming you agree with.

Point B is as follows… (which is a conclusion based on the actual calvinist tenets expressed in point A) Please understand, I NEVER said this is WHAT calvinists believe… I am not misstating what calvinists believe. I am saying what calvinists say with respect to the gospel being the means of regeneration is by necessity inconsistent with the tenets established in Point A…

Point A establishes the FACT that the gospel has no effect on the unregenerate individual AND because regeneration MUST take place BEFORE any sign of life can be seen, Point B states that for the calvinist ” it is regeneration and not the gospel that gives the TD/TI individual life and THEN the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for that person.

Now… that is the point A defined and point B clarified….

No one has even attempted to show how my conclusion expressed in point B is incorrect. I guess I will have to do that as well!

><>”

Shawn

Hey Bob,

We do have a penchant for driving things into the ground, don’t we? Your clarifications are much appreciated, brother. I will once again interact directly with those.

YOU SAID, “Point B states that for the calvinist ” it is regeneration and not the gospel that gives the TD/TI individual life and THEN the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for that person.” And that therefore, “what calvinists say with respect to the gospel being the means of regeneration is by necessity inconsistent with the tenets established in Point A”

I did indeed speak to this already, but now I will attempt to make myself more clear. Effectual calling and regeneration are in many ways concurrent. Effectual calling is the summons of God to salvation that has the power to create what it commands. God’s ordained means of calling and regenerating is the Sprit and the Word. The Spirit works in the heart (concurrent with the Word being preached) to make the dead man alive so he will hear the call of God in the preaching of the Gospel, respond with repentance and faith, and then be justified, adopted, and sealed in the Spirit. So yes, the Spirit does the first work to make the man spiritually alive. As Grudem said, “Scripture indicates that regeneration must come before we can respond to effective calling with saving faith. Therefore we can say that regeneration comes before the result of effective calling (our faith). But it is more difficult to specify the exact relationship in time between regeneration and the human proclamation of the gospel through which God works in effective calling. At least two passages suggest that God regenerates us at the same time as he speaks to us in effective calling. . .”

You say (the Calvinist position requires) “#1” is that regeneration must come to the sinner first, and THEN “#2” that Regeneration is followed by the preaching of the gospel having affect on the sinner. What we actually say, and what is both logical and consistent with Scripture, is that God regenerates us as He speaks to us through the Spirit and the Word; that #2 is the concurrent means of #1. That is why your conclusion (“According to the Calvinist platform, effectual calling and regeneration bring about conversion, not the preaching of the cross or the gospel.”) and your subsequent assertion (that Calvinism logically makes the preaching of the gospel to the unregenerate unnecessary) is absolutely wrong. That is as clear as I can make it, my dear brother.

On another note, you never did answer my earlier question: In John 10:16, why does Jesus refer to certain men as His “sheep” before they have heard His voice and become part of His flock. How can He say with certainty that these “sheep” will hear His voice and join His flock?

Oh, and you do pray for the lost, don’t you? I mean, even though it is logically inconsistent with your theological position, you still pray for them . . . right?

(poking fun)

Have a great day!

Bob Hadley

Well… the divide in finally drawn closer and I am appreciative of that. We are actually closer to addressing the point of the article. I apologize for the nuances of words and understand that implication which is my part and inference which is the readers part can sometimes end up miles apart and that is what has happened in our case with the following statement:

That is why your conclusion (“According to the Calvinist platform, effectual calling and regeneration bring about conversion, not the preaching of the cross or the gospel.”)

I fully understand that the calvinist position is that conversion or justification takes place because of the gospel.

My point was and still is that in the salvific system calvinism posits, regeneration MUST take place for the gospel to have an effect; a person MUST come alive before the Word can or will bring about repentance and faith.

So… my point is that the Word cannot be the means of regeneration UNTIL regeneration has occurred. God’s efficacious Word MUST come so that the written Word can be received. This you agreed with, at least to some degree.

God must give the unregenerate person a heart of flesh in order for him to receive the spoken Word. So it is regeneration that brings about justification…

Now to further back up my contention… the preaching of the gospel is ineffectual apart from regeneration…. correct?

Now regeneration is effectual in that the person who is regenerated or effectually called to life by God Himself WILL repent and be saved, correct?

I mean it is impossible for anyone who is regenerated to NOT repent right?

It is also impossible for anyone who is NOT regenerated to repent right?

So… I stand on my original position that according to calvinism… regardless of what calvinists contend… according to the tenets that serve as a foundation for calvinist soteriology…

Regeneration and not the gospel is the first cause of salvation in the lost person as the regenerated person THEN responds to the gospel.

Appreciate the opportunity to dialogue. I am still surprised that you are the only one who cares enough to participate in the dialogue. I do not think I have been obnoxious or carelessly presenting a case without SOME merit?

I know I have seen endless dialogue for a lot less crucial topics, that is for sure! God bless you sir!

><>”

    Shawn

    Hey Bob,

    It has taken us a while to get here, but how sweet to deepen in our understanding and appreciation of one another. I basically agree with your summation. You have rightly represented the Calvinist’s view. I would still word it, “Regeneration is the first cause of salvation, and it happpens in the sinner concurrent with gospel preaching. THEN the sinner responds to the gospel.”

    You have been a true gentleman in our exchanges, and I hope I have shown you proper respect as well. I bid you well, my brother!

      Norm Miller

      Shawn: Thank you for your obvious Christian deportment. Your exemplary spirit is an encouragement to me. — Norm

        Robert

        Hello Norm,

        You wrote:

        “Shawn: Thank you for your obvious Christian deportment. Your exemplary spirit is an encouragement to me. — Norm”

        Norm have you not been reading this thread closely? Shawn is not engaging in an “obvious Christian deportment” nor has he shown an “exemplary spirit”.

        Twice in two separate posts he has attacked those who hold the ordinary understanding of free will (which is all-non-calvinists, all non-determinists, which includes most Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthdox, Independents, and most Southern Baptists) AS IDOLATERS.

        In one post he wrote:

        “your view contends that God limits His sovereignty over His free moral creatures so as not to violate the expression of their will. He effectively makes Himself the handmaiden to human decisionism. In doing this, you all have made an idol of man’s will.”[note the reference to “you all” which means his charge is not just against me personally but against all who hold the ordinary view of free will]

        Then in his latest post to me he reiterates this charge of me being an idolater:

        “What you say sounds reasonable and even appealing for those who worship at the pagan altar of absolute human freedom, but you have utterly abandoned the truth of Scripture. I beg you to surrender your faulty perspective to the corrective truth of His Word before you lead others further astray.”

        Notice some of the claims being made here by Shawn.

        He says that I (and others who hold the ordinary view of free will would be included as well): “worship at the pagan altar of absolute human freedom.” I and others who affirm the ordinary view of free will do not worship free will at some sort of pagan altar.

        He then says that “but you have utterly abandoned the truth of Scripture.”

        This is another serious and false charge to make against other believers (especially those in leadership). And again neither me nor other people in church leadership who espouse the ordinary view of free will HAVE UTTERLY ABANDONED SCRIPTURE.

        He then implies that I am a false teacher actively leading others astray:

        “I beg you to surrender your faulty perspective to the corrective truth of His Word before you lead others further astray.”

        Norm do you see these comments by Shawn as an “obvious Christian deportment” and an “exemplary spirit”?????

        Someone who engages in idolatry is an unsaved person.

        Christians do not engage in idolatry, they worship the one and only true God.

        Charging someone with worshipping something or someone else than the Lord is a serious charge to make.
        And from reading your posts in various threads here, Norm, you appear to hold the ordinary view of free will as well. That means that Shawn also views **you as an idolater**.

        I believe this is an utterly false and irresponsible charge to make against other believers simply because they hold a different view of free will and soteriology than you do.

        I disagree with theological determininsts/calvinists, I believe they are severely mistaken regarding free will, God’s sovereignty, unconditional election, irresistable grace, limited atonement (those who hold to covenant theology and baptize infants) etc. etc. But if they worship the true God and are in a saving and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I would not charge them with being idolaters/unsaved people.

        It is specifically due to false charges like this one regularly being made by determinists such as Shawn that theological determinism/calvinism is such a source of sin, division and confusion in the SBC. As long as determinists/calvinists are allowed to engage in these kinds of inappropriate attacks of non-determinists/non-calvinists (without being held responsible and urged to repent of their sinful comments), you are going to have major problems in the SBC with theological determinism. Frankly a person who makes these kinds of spurious and false charges against other Christians, definitely ought not be in church leadership of any kind.

        Robert

        PS- I am going to respond directly to Shawn’s latest post directed towards me at another time.

Excess Baggage Rates

I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Very well written!

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