An overview of the "Born Again Before Faith" debateIn a recent email, Brother Bob Ross gave an overview of the "born again before faith" debate. I am reprinting his email for readers of The Calvinist Flyswatter. Baptists everywhere should thank Brother Bob for exposing this heresy which threatens to wreck the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, which self-describes itself as the "flagship" Southern Baptist seminary, has professors who are leading proponents of the "born again before faith" heresy, a view which Southern Baptists by and large reject and which is not supported in any of the major historic Baptist confessions of faith.
Southern Seminary is so enamored with the false doctrine that a person is born again before he believes in Jesus that they have invited one of the chief "born again before faith" apostles, Dr. R. C. Sproul, a baby-baptizing Presbyterian, as a guest lecturer at the seminary. No surprise, Dr. Sproul has also lectured for The Flounders. What heresies will Sproul put forth during his lecture at Southern? Stay tuned.
REPLY TO LONGTIME READER ON CALVINISM [04/11--2006]
LONGTIME FRIEND AND READER RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT CALVINISM AND THE SBC [04/11--2006]
In a message dated 4/11/2006 10:29:03 AM Central Daylight Time, a brother from Kansas writes:
Thank you. I’ve printed all three [i.e. Baptist Confessions] and will start reading. I don’t know why I have such a sudden interest in Calvinism and how it applies to me being a Southern Baptist. It seems that we have within our convention Calvinists ranging from 2 points to all 5 points. Guess I better start reading. Thanks again.
Let me briefly explain the situation. There has been a renewed interest in the SBC on Calvinism for several years now, but the type that has been emerging in some quarters is the post-17th century "Presbyterian" and "Reformed" type. This type actually is not the same on some things as the Westminster Confession, the Puritans of the 1600s, our Baptist Confessions of 1644 and 1689, and most of our Baptist scholars of the past, including John Gill, Abraham Booth, Andrew Fuller, C. H. Spurgeon, A. H. Strong, James P. Boyce, B. H. Carroll, John L. Dagg, and others.
The post-17th century variety of Calvinism is represented by theologians such as W. G. T. Shedd, Charles and A. A. Hodge, other Princeton men, and Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof and modern pedobaptist R. C. Sproul.
The particular point of primary concern is on REGENERATION, the New Birth, or as the Confession refers to it, "Effectual Calling."
The pre-17th century Calvinists such as Stephen Charnock and Thomas Watson taught that Effectual Calling was by BOTH the "Word" and the "Spirit."
The latter view teaches that regeneration is by a "direct operation" of the Spirit apart from the Word's being involved as an "instrumentality," and that one is therefore "born again" prior to faith.
The former view is that one is not born again until God-given faith is experienced. (1 John 5:4, 5:1; Romans 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2 Thess. 2:13, 14).
The "Reformed" advocates point to the case of the supposed regeneration of the infant offspring of believers as proof of this theory of regeneration before and without faith -- these babies born to believers are supposedly regenerated (born again) in infancy before they are capable of faith, which it is assumed will come later on as they mature.
They likewise teach that in the case of adults, regeneration is by the same type of "direct operation," with the Word's not being an "instrumentality" and with faith supposedly coming AFTER one is born again. One is "born again" in order to subsequently believe, according to this theory..
I am afraid that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville has at least one or more Faculty members who are advocating the post-17th century variety of Calvinism on the subject of regeneration, the new birth, or effectual calling. We also have reason to believe that the "Founders Ministries" within the SBC is shot-through with this same theory.
We are opposing this post-17th century theory on THE CALVINIST FLYSWATTER at the following URL: >>http://calvinistflyswatter.blogspot.com/<< It is our hope that by agitating this issue, many will come back to the old Calvinism of our Confessions and repudiate the post-17th century pedobaptist variety.
I am taking some "hits" from several brethren who evidently favor the "hybrid" view, but if I am indeed standing for the truth on this, the current attacks upon me will be meaningless in the long run.
I suggest you print out my article -- "Bob Ross: Regeneration - Calvinism" -- at the following URL -- >>http://calvinistflyswatter.blogspot.com/2006/03/bob-ross-regeneration-calv_114261719496018943.html<<
This article will acquaint you with the particulars involved. I hope this will help you in your understanding of what constitutes "Confessional Calvinism" in contrast to the theory of the pedo-regenerationists which I sometimes refer to as "Hybrid Calvinists," the theory being a mixture of (1) the Confessional view on the Spirit as the sole efficient cause and (2) the Hardshell or Shedd/Berkhof view of "no means" used as an instrumentality in the "direct operation."
Right or wrong, I have stood against the "Hybrid" theory since the 1950s, have written against it over the years, taught against it when we had the Texas College of Theology in Pasadena, and have written several email articles against it the past few years.
When they bury me, if you place material which advocates this view on my grave, if I don't get up and refute it, you will know I am indeed dead!
May God Bless You!
Bob L. Ross, 3 John 2