Friday, March 17, 2006

Bob Ross: Regeneration -- Calvinism

Southern Baptists should read this article by Bob Ross. He demonstrates that the Calvinism of Spurgeon and other historic Baptists is not the Calvinism of much of what comes from Founders Ministries and James White. Nor, I might add, is it the Calvinism of Steve Camp, another James White "wannabe."

Why do Founders Ministries keep trying to pass themselves off as a theological return to Spurgeon and "the founders" of the SBC? As Bob Ross proves, the "born-again before faith" theology is decidedly not the view of historic Calvinists nor is it the view of historic Calvinist confessions.

Bob shows where the "born-again before faith" view sprang from, and it is not from a biblical or Baptist well!

Charles
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REGENERATION -- CALVINISM

Dear Charles:

Here is an article which does not seem to be on the "Selected Writings of Bob Ross" website at
http://writingsofbobross.tripod.com/1toc1.html

It endeavors to present the proper concept of Regeneration as it is expressed in Calvinist confessions - regardless of whether or not the reader agrees with the view.

>>
NOTE: I have been requested by some Reformed Baptists to clarify my view on Regeneration in relation to faith. I wrote on this subject awhile back, and here is that article with some additional material added to the original. -- Bob L. Ross

REGENERATION IN RELATION TO FAITH IN CALVINIST THEOLOGY [05/04/2004]

What is the Confessional View?

In recent times, focus has once again put upon the subject of "Regeneration" in relation to Faith in Calvinist theology. Hopefully, it is a "positive" element that there has been a heightened interest in Calvinism to develop among Southern Baptists.

I know that a great deal of this interest has been due to the influence of C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), and we take particular delight in that since we have reprinted so many of his works and sermons. As far back as 1959, I put together a selection of Spurgeon's sermons and we published our first hardback book, Spurgeon's Sermons on Sovereignty. Later on, we reprinted his entire 63-volume sermon series, as well as many of his other works.

We rejoice to see so many of our Spurgeon publications in the seminary libraries and on the shelves of seminary professors and pastors. I once was in the office of Dr. Curtis Vaughan at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and as we were discussing details as to his writing a jacket article for one of Spurgeon's volumes in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series, he walked over to his book shelf, took down one of the MTP volumes, and said, "I would rather read one of Spurgeon's sermons than to hear any preacher living today."

On the subject of the new birth, Spurgeon made the following remarks in a sermon, A KIND OF FIRSTFRUITS, preached on January 5, 1868, sermon number 3275, on the text, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18).

Spurgeon:

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The instrumentality through which this singular change has been wrought in us is clearly stated, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”

Men are not usually saved without the immediate agency of the gospel. Some have said that the Spirit of God always works through the truth, and that the truth is sure to work conviction. The truth, however, is preached, and faithfully preached, to tens of thousands, to whom it conveys not a blessing at all, but is the savour of death unto death.

Others have said that the Spirit of God regenerates men apart from the Word of God but this is not told us in Scripture, and is not therefore to be received. But evermore the Word and the Spirit are put together. Scripture does not talk of the Word of God as a dead letter; it says, “The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword.”

On the other hand, Scripture does not speak of the Holy Spirit as though the Word would work apart from him, but the two are put together, and “ what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

My dear brethren and sisters, you who have been begotten again unto a lively hope, was it not through the hearing of the Word, or the reading of it, or the remembrance of some hallowed text which you had almost forgotten? You know it was.

Good McCheyne used to say, “Depend on it, it is God’s Word that saves souls, and not our comment upon God’s Word;” and so I believe it is. It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

And what is this Word? What is it that usually brings men to be begotten unto a new life? The Word, the especial quickening Word, is the preaching of the doctrine of the cross. . . .

Oh! then, if you have been quickened by the Word, tell out the Word. If the gospel has brought you to salvation, tell that gospel out.
>>

Spurgeon was here affirming the view on regeneration by the Holy Spirit's use of the Gospel which was set forth in the old Calvinist Confessions, and as taught by the Puritans such as Stephen Charnock and Thomas Watson, and Spurgeon's own predecessor, Dr. John Gill.

Unfortunately, in some quarters today, the post-seventeenth century view of Pedobaptists such as Dr. W. G. T. Shedd and Louis Berkhof is being advocated, and this view denies the necessary use of the Word or Gospel in regeneration. We are concerned about this theory of "regeneration" inasmuch as we believe it has aberrant consequences.

The "pre-faith regeneration" theory as taught by Shedd and Berkhof, and as it is being popularized today in writings by Pedobaptist R. C. Sproul and Reformed Baptist James White, Pedobaptist Iain Murray, and some in the Founders movement among Southern Baptists, not only differs from our Calvinist creedal standards and the theology of the Puritans, but from Baptists such as John Gill, Alexander Booth, A. H. Strong, C. H. Spurgeon, and others.

This error on regeneration gave theoretical support to the anti-missionary, anti-means dogma of the Hardshells or Primitive Baptists in the 19th century onward. Error on this subject has also caused a great deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what really constitutes Confessional or historic Calvinism on regeneration or the new birth.

Some anti-Calvinist Pelagian free-will advocates of our time are targeting the theory of "pre-faith regeneration" of Shedd and Berkhof and other advocates as an Achilles Heel at which point to attack Calvinism -- as Dave Hunt has done in the debate with James White, and as Laurence Vance has done in his book, The Other Side of Calvinism. But I will show that this theory is not consistent with confessional Calvinism and therefore the objections by Hunt and Vance are not applicable to confessional Calvinism on regeneration.

It is regrettable that some on both the pro and con sides of differing points of view on this subject do not choose to confine themselves to the boundaries of the Confessional statements for what is to be understood as being the "orthodox" Calvinist view, regardless of whether it is viewed as valid or invalid. Some Calvinist writers who come to mind, sometimes use the term "regeneration" in a sense too broadly to be regarded as representative of the Confessional view. Likewise, some critics of Calvinism apparently prefer to criticize such less-than-confessional Calvinistic representations rather than focusing upon what is actually taught in the Confessions of Faith which are the ultimate standards on Calvinist views. The distorted view seems to be much easier to attack than the creedal view.

JOHN CALVIN himself identified "regeneration" with "repentance," and to Calvin repentance always embodied faith (Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, pages 512-515; Vol. 2, page 516). "Can true repentance exist without faith? By no means," said Calvin. And if repentance was understood by Calvin to be synonymous with "regeneration," then it follows that for Calvin regeneration did not exist before, without, or apart from faith.

There is no "regenerated unbeliever" or "regeneration before faith" in Calvin's point of view.

In his comment on 1 Corinthians 13:13, Calvin says, "In fine, it is by faith that we are born again, that we become the sons of God -- that we obtain eternal life, and that Christ dwells in us."

The Confessional standards of Calvinism, notably the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Confession, uphold the view of Calvin. While Calvin and the Confessions maintain that every "ounce" of the "efficient" power in regeneration is of the Holy Spirit, and that the Spirit takes the initiative in regeneration, they insist on the necessary use of "means" (the Word or Gospel) as integral to the regenerating actions of the Holy Spirit. In other words, they affirm that the Spirit necessarily uses "instrumentality" in bringing about the new birth. In these Calvinist standards, there is no new birth apart from the instrumentality of the Gospel, and there is no new birth by a "direct operation" before the Spirit has made the Gospel effectual to the creation of faith.

The Canons of Dort

The Canons of Dort (A. D. 1619), published in response to the "five points" of the Arminian Remonstrants, insist that "What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law could do, God performs by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word or ministry of reconciliation: which is the glad tidings concerning the Messiah, by MEANS whereof it hath pleased God to save such as believe, as well under the Old as under the New Testament" (III and IV Heads, Article VI, Schaff's Creeds of Christendom, Vol. III, pages 588, 589).

Article XI of the same section says that God "causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by His Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;" (Schaff, ibid, page 590).

And Article XVII unmistakably states: "As the almighty operation of God whereby He brings forth and supports this our natural life does not exclude but require the USE OF MEANS by which God, of His infinite mercy and goodness, has chosen to exert His influence, so also the aforementioned supernatural operation of God by which we are regenerated in no wise excludes or subverts the use of the GOSPEL, which the most wise God has ordained to be the SEED OF REGENERATION and food of the soul." (Schaff's Creeds of Christendom, Volume 3, page 592).

The Westminster Confession

The Westminster Confession (1647) does not use the term "regeneration," but deals with the subject matter under the heads of "Effectual Calling" (Chapter X) and "Saving Faith" (Chapter XIV). This Confession conjoins the Word and Spirit in effectual calling:

"I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed 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." (Chapter X; Schaff, Vol. III, page 624).

In Chapter XIV on "Saving Faith," the Westminster states:

"I. 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." (Schaff, III, page 630).

Neither of these Confessions categorize any pre-faith work of the Holy Spirit as "regeneration," so those today who choose to broaden the term to cover the pre-faith work of the Spirit do not represent the view of the Confessions of Faith. They should not, therefore, be quoted by critics of Calvinism as "representative" of Calvinism, creating the impression that Calvinism teaches "regeneration" before, without, or apart from faith, which is the core of Hardshellism.

The work of the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God as His means, creates or brings about faith, and when that has been done, regeneration has taken place, according to the Calvinist Confessions.

Stephen Charnock on Regeneration

Perhaps the greatest work I have ever read on Regeneration is that of Stephen Charnock, the 17th century Puritan writer (1628-1680). I am grateful that his works are on the internet -- accessible for reference. His work on "The Word, the Instrument of Regeneration," is the clearest presentation I have ever read on this subject. I suggest you go to the above website and read the entire article by this great Puritan author, and he, better than I or anyone else I know, will reveal the truth concerning the use of "means" by the Holy Spirit in the new birth.

The Hardshell Baptists who arose in the 1800s object to "gospel regeneration" as if our view denies the efficacy of the Holy Spirit as the sole efficient cause of the New Birth. This is due to their separating the Holy Spirit from the use of means. But the confessional view is that means are empowered SOLELY by the Holy Spirit by whom they are made efficient to the creation of faith.

Stephen Charnock clarifies this in distinguishing between being born "OF" [ek] the Spirit but "BY" [dia] " WITH" or "THROUGH" the Word or Gospel.

Charnock noted the following:

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Doctrine. That the gospel is the instrument whereby God brings the soul forth in a new birth.

The Scripture does distinguish the efficient and instrumental cause by the prepositions "ek", or, "eks", and "dia". When we are said to be 'born of the Spirit,' it is, John 3:5, "ek pneumatos"; 1 John 3:9, 5:1, "ek Theou"; never "dia pneumatos", or "dia Theou:" but we are nowhere said to be born of the word, or begotten of the word, but "dia logou", by or with the word, 1 Peter 1:23; and "dia euangeliou", 1 Cor. 4:15, I have begotten you 'through the gospel.' The preposition "ek" or "eks", usually notes the efficient or material cause; "dia", the instrumental or means by which a thing is wrought.

Sin entered into the heart of Eve by the word of the devil, grace enters into the heart by the word of God; that entered by a word of error, this by a word of truth: 'Ye are clean through the word I have spoken to you, John 15:3, whereby our Saviour means the word outwardly preached by him, for it is the word spoken by him. Not that it had this efficacy of itself, but as an instrument of their sanctification, rendering them ready to every good work. . . . The gospel is this instrument.
>>

The PRE-FAITH REGENERATION theory propapated by W. G. T. Shedd (Dogmatic Theology) and Louis Berkhof (in his Systematic Theology) was apparently designed to accommodate the supposed regeneration of the infant children of believers to whom the supposed blessings of the "covenant" are allegedly vouchsafed. This theory reasoned that if infants are regenerated, then it must take place apart from the Gospel as an instrumentality, which infants are not capable of hearing.

I think that some Reformed Baptists of our time may have been influenced by the view of these Pedobaptist theologians and it has filtered through men such as R. C. Sproul and some other pedobaptist writers and sources.

Berkhof taught that "new life is often implanted in the hearts of children long before they are able to hear the call of the gospel," and that they may receive the "seed of regeneration long before they come to years of discretion," and therefore this rules out the Holy Spirit's use of the Gospel as a means (pages 471, 472).

This is a fine theory for Pedobaptists and their view of the early regeneration of infants born to believers, but it will not do for Baptists. Baptists have never adhered to this theory on early infant regeneration and we do not believe in regeneration apart from the Gospel.

Berkhof calls this act a "hyper-physical" operation of the Spirit apart from the use of means, and therefore apart from the Holy Spirit's creation of faith in the one regenerated. In effect, at the precise moment of regeneration, Berkhof has the monstrosity of a "regenerated unbeliever," which can hardly be justified from Scripture or the Confessions.

It is highly significant that Berkhof explains that his view differs from Luther, Calvin, the Canons of Dort and several seventeenth century writers (which would include Charnock) (page 466, 470, 476).

C. H. SPURGEON presents the view of Baptists and of the Confessions of Faith.

He says, "Where there is no faith, there has been no quickening of the Holy Spirit , for faith is of the very essence of spiritual life."

And whereas there is some pre-faith workings of the Holy Spirit, Spurgeon says one is "not saved" at this stage of the Spirit's operations. Notice --

MTP, Sermon #656 on PREVENIENT GRACE __
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Now let me show you how God’s grace does come to work on the human heart so as to make it good soil before the living seed is cast into it, so that before quickening grace really visits it the heart may be called a good heart, because it is prepared to receive that grace.

I think this takes place thus: first of all, before quickening grace comes, God often gives an attentive ear, and makes a man willing to listen to the Word. Not only does he like to listen to it, but he wants to know the meaning of it; there is a little excitement in his mind to know what the gospel tidings really are.   He is not saved as yet,  but it is always a hopeful sign when a man is willing to listen to the truth, and is anxious to understand it. This is one thing which prevenient grace does in making the soul good.

In Ezekiel’s vision, as you will recollect, before the breath came from the four winds the bones began to stir, and they came together bone to his bone. So, before the Spirit of God comes to a man in effectual calling, God’s grace often comes to make a stir in the man’s mind, so that he is no longer indifferent to the truth, but is anxious to understand what it means.
>>

Here is more from Spurgeon:

"For, first, without faith there is no capacity for communion with God at all. The things of God are spiritual and invisible—without faith we cannot recognize such things but must be dead to them. Faith is the eye which sees. But without that eye we are blind and can have no fellowship with God in those Sacred Truths which only faith can perceive. Faith is the hand of the soul, and without it, we have no grasp of eternal things. If I were to mention all the images by which faith is set forth, each one would help you to see that you must have faith in order to know God and enter into converse with Him.

It is only by faith that we can recognize God, approach Him, speak to Him, hear Him, feel His Presence and be delighted with His perfections. He that has not faith is toward God as one dead. And Jehovah is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

The communion of the living God goes not forth toward death and corruption. His fellowship is with those who have spiritual life, a life akin to His own. Where there is no faith, there has been no quickening of the Holy Spirit, for faith is of the very essence of spiritual life.

And so the man who has no faith can no more commune with the living God and give Him pleasure, than can a stick or a stone, a horse or an ox, hold converse with the human mind. (Faith Essential to Pleasing God, MTP, Sermon #2100, Vol. 35, 446).

As can be seen from Spurgeon's "Soul Winner" book, while all efficient power is attributed to the Holy Spirit, Spurgeon always has "means" involved as the Spirit's "instrumentality." So do I.

Spurgeon says, "Instruction by the gospel is the commencement of all real work upon men's minds" (page 17, Pilgrim edition).

"He works by means" (page 25), Spurgeon says, and "Paul compares himself both to a father and to a mother in the matter of the new birth" (page 25).

"Such mysterious power doth God infuse into the instrumentality which He ordains" (page 26), "we regard ourselves as used by the Holy Ghost . . . the marvels of regeneration which attend our ministry" (page 27), "He quicken(s) them by the gospel" (page 28), and "The production of faith is the very centre of the target at which you aim" (page 29). So wrote Spurgeon, and likewise what he preached.

So Spurgeon's view is that regeneration neither preceeds faith nor follows after faith -- rather, regeneration is the very creation of faith itself.

When one is made a believer of the Gospel of Christ by the efficient power of the Holy Spirit, he IS THEN born again -- not before, and not after faith, but at the same instant of faith in Christ, which faith has been created by instrumentality of the Gospel thru the power of the Holy Spirit, NOT by the power of the WILL OF MAN (John 1:12, 12).

If a man were regenerated BEFORE faith, at the point of regeneration he would be a "regenerated (born again) unbeliever."

If he were regenerated AFTER faith, at the point of faith he would be an unregenerated believer.


Neither of these is consistent with Scripture (1 John 5:12). Both ideas are spiritual non-existants.

The pre-faith regeneration view is admitted by both Shedd and Berkhof to be a different view on regeneration than taught in former years by the Puritans and as set forth in the Westminster Confession (See Shedd, Vol. 2, page 402; Berkhof, pages 470, 476). It certainly conflicts with our Baptist Confessions, all of which affirm the necessary use of the Word as an instrumentality in the Holy Spirit's bringing forth faith and the New Birth.

"If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate" (Warrant of Faith, #531, page 532).

15 Comments:

At Friday, March 17, 2006 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

I had to repost this article and upon doing so I lost the original comments. Sorry, it was not intentional.

Comments are welcome!

 
At Friday, March 17, 2006 8:27:00 PM, Blogger David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, Charles!

For some reason, I end up back here again. :) I guess God wants you and I to be friends.

I think you and Mr. Ross misunderstand the point of Reformed people (including Charles Spurgeon) are making regarding regeneration.

I will readily affirm what Spurgeon said. God uses His Gospel when He regenerates someone. No one is regenerated by the Holy Spirit who has not heard the Gospel.

I would readily agree that regeneration creates faith. That is, when God regenerates someone, faith and repentence come with it.

The only point in my saying or any other Reformed person saying that regeneration precedes faith is not what Mr. Ross has said.

In no way are we trying to suggest that there are a bunch of born again non-believers walking around. Regeneration and faith are nearly simultaneous when they happen. When God creates a new heart in someone they *immediately* respond with faith and repentance; the aforementioned are fruit of regeneration.

Faith and repentance are under the umbrella of grace, and to say that they precede regeneration is to suggest that man has these things of himself and that they are really not gifts of God. Jesus's description of how someone is born again in John three would suggest this to some extent (that is, that faith doesn't cause regeneration, but that it happens when God wills it to happen).

Anyway, I hope that helps. There are those who are much more eloquent than myself who could address this in a finer fashion, but I do hope and pray that this would glorify my Jesus all the same.

SDG,
David Hewitt

 
At Friday, March 17, 2006 9:08:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

DAVID HEWITT said:

"In no way are we trying to suggest that there are a bunch of born again non-believers walking around."

Thanks, David, for commenting. Have you read Pedobaptists, Shedd and Berkhof? Both teach that there are indeed "non-believers" who are actually both walking and crawling around, for they teach that BABIES born to believing parents are regenerated, and it was accomplished WITHOUT the use of the Word of God as the instrumental means.

They also deny that the Word is the instrumental MEANS in the regeneration of adults, and that the WORD is the instrument used in the act of regeneration.

That led to the "ordo salutis" device whereby it is taught that "regeneration precedes faith," that must one first be born again, then he susequently hears the Word and believes.

Read Shedd and Berkhof, and I think you will see that this is the case. -- Bob L. Ross

 
At Friday, March 17, 2006 9:55:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

DAVID said:
"Jesus's description of how someone is born again in John three would suggest this to some extent (that is, that faith doesn't cause regeneration, but that it happens when God wills it to happen)."

In your comments, David, you have said no more nor less than what I have read in ALL the "hybrid Calvinist" writers. They all teach that regeneration is an act that is accomplished WITHOUT the WORD of God as the instrument in the act itself, thus no faith is actually created IN regeneration, but faith is SUBSEQUENT to the act itself.

Now, you mentioned John 3. I want you to consider that the one and only ILLUSTRATION whcih Jesus used of being BORN AGAIN is the case of the serpent-bitten Israelites "looking" at the brazen serpent.

Do you think they were healed (1) BEFORE they looked, (2) AFTER they looked, or (3) IN THE VERY INSTANT they looked?

As for the FAITH of the born again person, my understanding of the view of creedal Calvinism is that faith is CREATED, or PRODUCED, by the use of the WORD of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power of man's flesh (as you have alleged). We are said to be BEGOTTEN by or through the WORD as the instrument of the Holy Spirit, and that is not post-regeneration, but IT IS REGENERATION. The producing of faith by the Word and Spirit CONSTITUTES REGENERATION.

As subjects of the new birth, we perhaps think that WE are doing the believing -- and indeed WE ARE -- but why? It is because of the WORD being applied to us by the power of the SPIRIT -- not because we have willed it in the power of our own flesh. (John 1:12, 13).

Compare this to Ezekiel's dry bones in chapter 37. The dead dry bones responded to the WORD because of the power of God upon that Word (Isa. 55:10, 11). "Dead" sinners likewise respond to the WORD because of the power of God upon that Word.

Creedal Calvinism is that no one is ever born again before and without faith, and no one is born again after or on account of man's generating faith -- but the creedal view is that one is born again AT faith which is produced in a man by the WORD AND SPIRIT. That is what I understand is that creedal Calvinism teaches.

When one separates EITHER (1) the WORD as the instrumental cause, or (2) the SPIRIT as the efficient cause, from the VERY ACT of regeneration in the creation of faith, he has departed from creedal Calvinism, in my opinion.

And this is what I perceive is done by the Pedobaptists such as Berkhof, Shedd, Sproul, the Baptist, James White, and some in the Founders Ministries. -- Bob L. Ross.

 
At Monday, March 20, 2006 6:44:00 AM, Blogger David B. Hewitt said...

Mr. Ross:

Thanks for taking the time to respond to what I said; I wasn't looking for it, but I appreciate it anyway.

I am in no way saying that the Holy Spirit brings about regeneration apart from the Word of God. In fact, I said just the opposite:

"I will readily affirm what Spurgeon said. God uses His Gospel when He regenerates someone. No one is regenerated by the Holy Spirit who has not heard the Gospel."

I would suspect that RC Sproul, James White, the Founders and others would agree completely with that.

No one is regenerated who has never heard the Gospel. It just doesn't happen. God works through His Gospel to save people, and the Bible makes it very clear (Romans 1:16, 10:17).

You said:

"Now, you mentioned John 3. I want you to consider that the one and only ILLUSTRATION whcih Jesus used of being BORN AGAIN is the case of the serpent-bitten Israelites "looking" at the brazen serpent."

That doesn't appear to be the case. Jesus follows his statement about being born again with the reference to how the Spirit works. The wind in verses is the illustration of how the Spirit works in causing someone to be born again:

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."

So then, the illustration that Jesus uses appears to be the wind, and not the serpent. He uses the serpent to talk about BELIEF, and not about being born again. When someone is born again, they immediately believe in Christ. It won't be apart from God using His Gospel either, as I said above.

When speaking of regeneration coming before faith (and thus regeneration creating faith), if there is any temporal difference between the two it is so small that it is not distinguishable. In fact, many describe the priority of regeneration as one of logical priority rather than temporal priority (as James White does).

I've not read Shedd and Berkhoff. If they do in fact indicate that babies are somehow born again because they get "baptized" then I don't need to tead them to know I disagree with them; such a belief is clearly opposed to Scripture.

In any case, I hope that clarifies what I've been trying to say.

Glory to God Alone!

David Hewitt

 
At Monday, March 20, 2006 8:49:00 AM, Blogger Charles said...

Hello, David Hewitt!

No one is regenerated who has never heard the Gospel. It just doesn't happen.

Including John the Baptist, right?

Charles

 
At Monday, March 20, 2006 10:06:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

SHEDD, BERKHOF, AND INFANTS

David Hewitt said,

"I've not read Shedd and Berkhoff. If they do in fact indicate that babies are somehow born again because they get0 'baptized' then I don't need to tead them to know I disagree with them; such a belief is clearly opposed to Scripture."

It is obvious that you have not read either Shedd or Berkhof, otherwise I think you would know that they DO NOT teach that babies are "born again because they get 'baptized.'"

Neither Shedd nor Berkhof teaches that.

Shedd, for instance, states that the regeneration of babies -- which are born to believing parents -- "may be PRIOR to baptism, or IN the act itself, or SUBSEQUENT to it" (Sys. Theology, Vol. 2, page 575), but --

He denies that ANY "means" are used in regeneration itself. It is solely by a direct act of the Spirit.

Dr. Shedd says that "regeneration is a DIRECT OPERATION" and "is not effected by the use of MEANS" (pages 506, 507).

If babies were indeed regenerated "by" the act of baptism, then baptism would then be a "means," but Dr. Shedd held that there are NO MEANS used in regeneration -- NOT EVEN THE WORD OF GOD (page 501). So baptism is NOT A "MEANS," according to Shedd.

He says regeneration is "independent of the WORD itself" and says this is "proved by the fact that it is exerted in the case of infants WITHOUT any employment of the TRUTH" (page 501).

Thus -- Dr. Shedd taught that babies born to believers are regenerated without means (the Word or anything else), and consequently babies have NO FAITH, NO LOVE FOR CHRIST, and NO REPENTANCE at regeneration.

Shedd takes this same idea of "NO MEANS USED in regeneration" and applies it to the case of adult regeneration without means (pages 500-509). They, too, according to Shedd, are regenerated by a "DIRECT OPERATION" APART FROM THE USE OF MEANS (THE WORD).

At the point of the supposed "direct operation," there is NO FAITH, NO LOVE FOR CHRIST, NO REPENTANCE -- just as in the case of infants.

All of these graces are SUBSEQUENT to regeneration, in both INFANTS and ADULTS, according to Shedd.

As for Berkhof, he is a disciple of the Shedd view, and often quotes Shedd on the matter. -- Bob L. Ross

 
At Monday, March 20, 2006 10:11:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

CHARLES SAID,
"Hello, David Hewitt!

No one is regenerated who has never heard the Gospel. It just doesn't happen.

Including John the Baptist, right?"

Charles, would you believe that Pedobaptist JOHN ROBBINS affirmed that some BABIES are indeed even "regenerated" BEFORE birth, and he used John the Baptist to "prove" it? -- Bob L. Ross

 
At Tuesday, March 21, 2006 4:05:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Brother Bob Ross said,

Charles, would you believe that Pedobaptist JOHN ROBBINS affirmed that some BABIES are indeed even "regenerated" BEFORE birth, and he used John the Baptist to "prove" it? --

Yes, I've heard it from the pedos for a long time. Notice David never answered me? His theological FLY got SWATTED. What's David, James White, The Founders, R. C. Sproul, half the faculty of Louisville's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary such as Tom Schreiner, and John Robbins going to do with all those born again unbelievers walking around?

David came to the right place.

Charles

 
At Wednesday, March 22, 2006 3:18:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

SOUTHWESTERN vs SOUTHERN?

Charles said,

>>
Yes, I've heard it from the pedos for a long time. Notice David never answered me? His theological FLY got SWATTED. What's David, James White, The Founders, R. C. Sproul, half the faculty of Louisville's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary such as Tom Schreiner, and John Robbins going to do with all those born again unbelievers walking around?
>>

BOB ROSS' COMMENTS:

Charles, I am so thankful that a non-hybrid is President of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, for this will hopefully be a stronghold against the Pedo palabber that one is "born again before faith" which is promoted by some theo-metaphysicians who are given to the dissecting of the inner secret work of the Holy Spirit in the New Birth (John 3:8).

Hopefully, Dr. Paige Patterson at Southwestern will maintain Dr. B. H. CARROLL'S IMPECCABLE SYLLOGISM:

>
(1) Every one born of God has the right be called a child of God.

(2) But no one has the right until he believes in Jesus.

(3) Therefore the new birth is not completed without faith."
>
-- Bob L. Ross

 
At Wednesday, March 29, 2006 2:45:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

ANY REGENERATED UNBELIEVERS WALKING AROUND?

Dear Charles:

One of the posts has said --
>>In no way are we trying to suggest that there are a bunch of born again non-believers walking around.>>

While that may the case with the Hybrid Calvinists among the Baptists who hold the "born again before faith" idea: however, the Founders will often have some speakers on their programs who do evidently believe there are some "regenerated unbelievers" walking around.

R. C. Sproul, J. Ligon Duncan, and Iain Murray are some of the Pedo-regenerationists who believe that infants born to a believing parent(s)are "born again" in early infancy, and their baptism is a sign and seal of that supposed covenant blessing. These would be "walking around" or yet "crawling around" regenerated, but without faith.

I wonder when, in fact, Sproul, Duncan, and Murray became "believers" in fulfillment of their regeneration in infancy --if they were presumed to have been "born again" as infants? Any one know if any of them has ever made a first-time public profession of faith? -- Bob L. Ross

 
At Monday, April 03, 2006 12:40:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

NAME ERROR CORRECTION:

Charles, there is an error in the following statement in the "Regeneration -- Calvinism" article.

It should read ABRAHAM BOOTH instead of "Alexander Booth."

I think this may have occurred when I was intending to list ALEXANDER CARSON along with ABRAHAM BOOTH, and I inadvertantly left out "Carson" and "Abraham."

>>
The "pre-faith regeneration" theory as taught by Shedd and Berkhof, and as it is being popularized today in writings by Pedobaptist R. C. Sproul and Reformed Baptist James White, Pedobaptist Iain Murray, and some in the Founders movement among Southern Baptists, not only differs from our Calvinist creedal standards and the theology of the Puritans, but from Baptists such as John Gill, Alexander [CORRECTION: should be Abraham] Booth, A. H. Strong, C. H. Spurgeon, and others.
>>

-- Bob Ross

 
At Thursday, April 20, 2006 10:29:00 PM, Blogger David B. Hewitt said...

Gentlemen,

I find it interesting that you said my "theological fly got swatted" because I didn't respond in a while. I apologize for giving that impression. I ended up getting involved in a few other things, so I didn't get back here. Please forgive my negligence.

In any case, John the Baptist DID hear at least some of the Gospel -- what could be heard from the Old Testament. That's how Timothy got saved, as Paul records for us:

2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

What could Paul be referring to if not the Old Testament Scriptures? I would strongly suspect this to have been John the Baptist's case as well in a similar way.

Secondly, I really don't understand what all of the hype is that you two keep putting forward about Regeneration preceding faith. You cited confessions here and there, but not a one of them stated that it didn't. As I've said before, I firmly believe that at the moment of regeneration a person repents and places faith in Jesus Christ. You don't get people walking around regenerated but not believers. The new birth precedes faith in the sense I stated I believe and NOT in the latter sense I mentioned. SPURGEON believed this -- yes, and he says it VERY clearly:

“COMING to Christ” is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is used to express those acts of the soul wherein leaving at once our self righteousness, and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive his righteousness to be our covering, and his blood to be our atonement. Coming to Christ, then, embraces in it repentance, self-negation, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it sums within itself all those things which are the necessary attendants of these great states of heart, such as the belief of the truth, earnestness of prayer to God, the submission of the soul to the precepts of God’s gospel, and all those things which accompany the dawn of salvation in the soul. Coming to Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner’s salvation. He that cometh not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may is yet in “the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and reposes in him (emphasis mine). Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain that there is as yet no quickening; where there is no quickening, the soul is dead in trespasses and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

How can it be said any better, or how could we say that Spurgeon believed anything else? I agree completely -- coming to Christ is the "very first effect of Regeneration."

Let's take it as that....and could we leave the topic? :) (here's to hoping!)

SDG,
Dave Hewitt

 
At Wednesday, May 03, 2006 10:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man. -C.H. Spurgeon
http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0979.htm

Of course we need the gospel to believe ...and in casting forth the seed of the gospel, the Holy Spirit must germinate the seed, so to speak, for it to have any use. You seem to believe that an unspiritual man can think spiritual thoughts. Spurgeon preached regeneration precedes faith through and through.

Can a natural man believe without any work of the Holy Spirit?

 
At Thursday, June 15, 2006 10:27:00 AM, Anonymous Harold Holmyard said...

John the Baptist being filled with the Spirit in his mother's womb is not an example of being born again. Being born again places one in the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5), but John the Baptist was not in the kingdom of God:

Matt. 11:11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

John the Baptist was not born of the Spirit because the Spirit had not yet been given (John 7:39). Coming to faith is not being born again, since OT believers came to faith and were not born of the Spirit into the eternal kingdom of God (John the Baptist being an example of this fact).

It is a mistake to separate the new birth from the indwelling of the Spirit, since it is by the indwelling Spirit that we belong to Christ and are God's sons (Romans 8:9, 15). John 1:12-13 shows that people had faith in Christ before they received the new birth.

 

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