Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Watson vs. Hybrid Calvinism


Timmy Brister, a recent recruit by the Founders' leader, Tom Ascol, is now encouraging his blog patrons to read Thomas Watson. Great!

We are happy to see Timmy taking a liking to Watson; perhaps it will be a means to influence Timmy to renounce the Hybrid Calvinist "born again before faith" idea promoted by the Founders, Ascol, Tom Nettles, and others of the "Reformed" camp.

Watson, like his fellow-minister Stephen Charnock, represents the Creedal view on the new birth which was held before the subsequent Reformed "ordo salutis" came along to claim that "regeneration precedes faith."

Thomas Watson (died 1686) was co-pastor with Stephen Charnock (1628-1680) at Bishopsgate Street, London. Both were prolific writers, and are my favorites of the Puritan period. C. H. Spurgeon republished and used Watson's Body of Divinity at the Pastors College, and said it was "one of the most precious of the peerless works of the Puritans; and those best acquainted with it prize it most. . . . There is a happy union of sound doctrine, heart-searching experience and practical wisdom throughout all his works, and his Body of Divinity is, beyond all the rest, useful to the student and the minister." (From a Brief Memoir of Thomas Watson by C. H. Spurgeon).

Like Stephen Charnock, Watson held the Confessional view on the matter of Effectual Calling, as stated in the Presbyterians' Westminster Confession and the Canons of Dort, emphasizing both (1) the use of the Gospel or Word as the instrumental means and (2) the necessary attending efficient power of the Holy Spirit in "working faith in us" (page 149). Watson did not the teach that effectual calling is by the "Spirit alone."

These are views you will not usually find properly represented by either anti-Calvinists or by Hybrid Calvinists. While Watson's work on this subject is not as lengthy as Charnock's, in less space Watson presents the same basic teaching as Charnock -- namely, regeneration (effectual calling) is by BOTH the Word and the Spirit.

Since Watson's work is online, I will not quote extensively from it, but will give just enough of it that you may have a taste of what is available, both in book form and on the Internet.

On Effectual Calling, Thomas Watson, pages 153, 154 of his Body of Divinity:


A: It is a gracious work of the Spirit, whereby he causes us to embrace Christ freely, as he is offered to us in the gospel. In this verse is the golden chain of salvation, made up of four links, of which one is vocation. 'Them he also called. Calling is nova creatio, 'a new creation, the first resurrection. . . .

What are the means of this effectual call? . . .

There are two means of our effectual call:

(1) The 'preaching of the word,' which is the sounding of God's silver trumpet in mens ears. God speaks not by an oracle, he calls by his ministers. Samuel thought it had been the voice of Eli only that called him; but it was God's voice. I Sam 3: 6. So, perhaps, you think it is only the minister that speaks to you in the word, but it is God himself who speaks. Therefore Christ is said to speak to us from heaven. Heb 12: 25. How does he speak but by his ministers? as a king speaks by his ambassadors. Know, that in every sermon preached, God calls to you; and to refuse the message we bring, is to refuse God himself.

(2) The other means of our effectual call is the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of the word is the pipe or organ; the Spirit of God blowing in it, effectually changes men's hearts.

'While Peter spake, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word of God.' Acts 10: 44. Ministers knock at the door of men's hearts, the Spirit comes with a key and opens the door. 'A certain woman named Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened. Acts 16:I4.

This clearly affirms the Creedal view on Effectual Calling and just as clearly contradicts the Hybrid Calvinist view that the Spirit alone, without the instrumentality of the Word, causes "regeneration before faith."

We hope Timmy Brister will read Watson for himself and dismiss the Hybrid Calvinist error of "pre-faith regeneration."


At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:56:00 AM, Blogger Rick said...

Then there are those of us who feel the "born-again" philosophy is overblown despite the cherry picked scripture.

We really should stand back and look at the big picture rather than trying to compartmentalize facets of the bible. Holding fast to a half dozen tenets while ignoring the rest bespeaks a weak mind.

I saw a bumper sticker on a car last year which stated: "I was born okay the first time".

I know that is anathama to many Fundies but there are more Christians who look in askance at the "born again" criteria than those who just say "Okay, if that's what one of the verses says I'll buy into it".

At Friday, March 14, 2008 12:15:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


Rick said...
We really should stand back and look at the big picture rather than trying to compartmentalize facets of the bible. Holding fast to a half dozen tenets while ignoring the rest bespeaks a weak mind.

This reminds me of a young man who was described by C. H. Spurgeon as unfortunately having such a large head that his lower body was always "wobbling" and even falling down due to the weight at the top.

As I recall, Spurgeon used this to illustrate the point that "top heaveniness" on certain doctrines, such as Hybrid Calvinism, creates a "wobbling" theological imbalance.

Such imbalance is very prominent on the "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinist web sites and blogs of this age.


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