Monday, February 25, 2008

Bunyan vindicated


Bob to Charles:

That blog (to which you referred in your email) quoted John Bunyan as saying "believing is the consequence of the new birth."

But the blog fails to include material from Bunyan which would reveal what Bunyan taught about how the "believing" is wrought, and how the new birth is wrought. This would, of course, conflict with Hybrid Calvinism's "born again before faith" theology, so the blogger somehow chose not to represent Bunyan on that.

I suppose that all professing Calvinists and others who accept the Westminster Confession, the 1689 London Confession, and the 1742 Philadelphia Confession could agree that believing is the "consequence" of the new birth, for according to the old confessions, "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" (Chapter XIV, Of Saving Faith).

The same confessions teach that effecual calling is "by His Word and Spirit . . . enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God" (Chapter X, Of Effectual Calling).

This is the historic creedal view, and if we understand Bunyan rightly, this is what he held.

Also, Baptists who accept the older Baptist confession -- the 1644 London Confession -- would agree that "Faith is ordinarily wrought by the preaching of the Gospel, or Word of Christ," and this "Faith is the gift of God, wrought in the hearts of the elect by the Spirit of God; by which faith they come to know and believe the truth of the Scriptures"
(Articles XXIV, XXII).

Below is some material from Bunyan which shows that he obviously held the creedal view that the new birth is wrought by the Spirit thru the Word preached, by which work "believing" is produced in the soul. Believing is therefore referred to by Bunyan as the "consequence" of the Spirit's use of the Word preached in bringing about that believing. The believer is "born to faith" in that the Spirit blesses the Word to bring about the "birth" of believing.

I do not find any evidence in Bunyan's writings that he taught the phantasmagorical "born again before, without, and apart faith" notion advocated by Hybrid Calvinists and Hardshell Baptists, whereby the elect are supposedly "born again" by a supposed "direct operation" of the Spirit before, without, and apart from the use of the Word as the instrumentality in the new birth.



And whereas you ask me, 'What is that which worketh faith? And where is it, within or without?'

I answer, That which worketh saving faith, is the holy Spirit of God, which is renewed through the hearing of the word, preached by the Apostles or ministers of Jesus Christ: Now the Spirit when it doth work, it entereth into the soul, and as I said before, doth enable the soul to believe, and lay hold on the merits of the Son of Mary, Jesus Christ. For saith he, when he is come, he shall glorify me, for he shall take of mine, and shew it unto you (John 16:14).

Bob's comment: This obviously means, according to Bunyan, that in the new birth the "means" are BOTH the Spirit and the Word, not the Spirit only. He "worketh" in the soul by means of the Word in order for the soul to "believe." This is not the "direct operation," "no means," "no instrumentality" idea which is advocated by Hybrid Calvinists who follow Shedd, Berkhof, etc.

. . . . .

As to the latter part of your query, I answer; The new birth is wrought through hearing of the word preached. And yet not by conscience, nor by the obedience to the law, or dictates of nature; but by the Spirit coming into the soul, and shewing its lost condition without the obedience of the Son of Mary, the Son of God; and his freeness and willingness to communicate, or give himself, and all his things unto it; which being done, the man is thereupon given up to God, and is become a new creature.

Bob: Notice that Bunyan's view on the "new birth" -- becoming a "new creature" -- is that it is "wrought through hearing of the word preached," and this is how the Spirit "shews" things to the soul to thereby bring about "believing" in the soul.



Ans. 1. Although the soul that in truth receiveth Christ, receiveth him wholly, and entirely as Christ, and not as chopt, and pulled in pieces: yet I distinguish between the act of faith, which layeth hold of Christ for my justification from the curse before God, and the consequences of that act, which are to engage me to newness of life. And indeed, as it is impossible for a man to be a new man, before he be justified in the sight of God; so it is also as impossible, but that when faith hath once laid hold on Christ for life, it should also follow Christ by love.

Again, notice that Bunyan says "truth" is involved the soul's "receiving Christ." It is the "act of faith" which "layeth hold of Christ," according to Bunyan. He does not consider a man to be a "new man" BEFORE justification, but it is "when faith hath once laid hold on Christ" that he has "life."

The quotation on the blog is typical Hybrid Calvinist piecemeal misrepresentation.

For further comment about the Confessional view, see my article on this blog, Regeneration -- Calvinism


At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 9:14:00 AM, Blogger My Daily Bread said...


I have cited Bunyan a few times in my on-going book on "The Hardshell Baptist Cult" at

and have shown that he believed in means in regeneration and that "coming to Christ" (regeneration) was all the same as "believing" on Christ, as did all the first Old Baptists.

Bunyan believed in giving fervent invitations to the lost.

"The gospel must be preached to sinners, as they are sinners, without distinction of elect and reprobate...but the Gospel is to be tendered to men as they are sinners and personally under the curse of God for sin; wherefore to proffer grace to the elect because they are elect, it is the proffer grace and mercy to them not considering them as sinners…Thus you see the gospel is to be tendered to all in general, as well to the reprobate as to the elect, to sinners as sinners: and so are they to receive it and close with the tenders thereof."

(Reprobation Asserted - Chapter 9 - Treasury of Bunyan, p. 709-710 Baker House)

God bless and keep up the good work!

Stephen Garrett


Post a Comment

<< Home