Friday, May 23, 2008

Les Puryear: A Hybrid SBC President?


It appears that a Reformed Hybrid Calvinist Baptist pastor is running for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The following is from candidate Les Puryear's blog, and it is definitely a Hybrid Calvinist ("born again before believing") statement on the new birth:

God has to do a supernatural act in the heart of His elect that will overcome their natural inclination to reject Him. This supernatural act is called “regeneration” (John 3:3; 6:63-65; Eph 1:3-5; Acts 16:14b; 1 John 5:10, 20). I spoke of regeneration in a previous post and I won’t repeat it here. Once God has changed the heart of a man, then he has the ability to recognize the truth of the cross. Then he can understand spiritual things. His spiritual blinders have been removed by God and now he can respond to the call to come to Christ.

Les Puryear claims to accept the Baptist Faith & Message.

He also claims to be "Reformed."

His above statement is consistent with modern Reformed Hybrid Calvinism, but it is not consistent with the Baptist Faith & Message nor any other Baptist Confession of Faith. See Baptist Faith & Message vs. Pre-faith New Birth. In that article, it is shown that the BF&M says:

"In its broadest sense salvation INCLUDES regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."

If "salvation" includes "regeneration," and if there is "no salvation" apart from "personal faith" in Jesus Christ as Lord, then it follows that the BF&M affirms that there is no regeneration (new birth) apart from faith in Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, the "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinism "ordo polutis" contends that one is "born again before faith." See Regeneration - Calvinism.

As for what Puryear says in his article about "draw" in John 6:44, the "MEANS" by which men are drawn to Christ is presented in the BF&M as the WORD and SPIRIT. It does not present the Hardshell notion of "drawing" by the SPIRIT ALONE apart from the use of the Word as the means.

Regeneration is an "Effect," Not a Cause --

According to the BF&M, the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God, as the BF&M affirms in Article II-C:

"Through illumination He enables men to understand TRUTH. He exalts Christ. He convicts of sin, of righteousness, of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and EFFECTS REGENERATION."

This clearly indicates the pre-new birth influence of the Holy Spirit in bringing about regeneration or new birth does not within itself constitute the new birth, but leads to the "EFFECTING OF REGENERATION."

It should be noted that, according to the BF&M, "regeneration" is an "effect," not a "cause." It is "monergistically" effected by the two causes (combined) -- the instrumental cause is the Word and the efficient cause is the Spirit.

The sinner does not "cause" faith, but faith is caused by the Word and Spirit. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost" (1 Thess. 1:5).

So the sinner does not create faith, but it is created in him by means of the Word and Spirit. ("Reformed" theology reverses this: it contends that the sinner is "born again" before, without, and apart from faith, and afterwards the sinner believes. This is the view of "Hardshellism.")

David DeKlavon, Associate Dean, Associate Professor of New Testament, Boyce College:

"Scripture speaks often of this new birth. It is described as made effectual not only through the Word of God (Jas 1:18; 1 Pet 1:23), but also through the work of Christ on the cross (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3) and through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8; Titus 3:5)."

The London Baptist Confession of 1689, Article 14:

"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 . . ."

Les Puryear is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I wonder if he ever read what the late Dr. B. H. Carroll, Founder of SWTS, said about the New Birth:


"(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."

Page 287 of Volume 10, Part I on The Gospels, An Interpretation of the English Bible.

Dr. Carroll rightly said:

"If regeneration is completed without the use of means and before the subject is penitent or believing, then we have a child of God who is yet in his sins, impenitent, without faith, and hence without Christ, which is philosophically impossible. Morever, it is contrary to Scripture, as witness" James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:23, Gal. 3:26, Romans 10:17, John 3:9-18, John 1:12, 13 [all quoted by Carroll in the text of his book] (Ibid, page 286).

Do we therefore have a candidate for SBC president who holds to the "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinist view of the new birth, which Dr. Carroll says constitutes that which is "philosophically impossible"?

Dr. Carroll said:

"Thus considered, conviction, repentance, and faith are the CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS OF REGENERATION. . . . Sinner, it tells you what to do: Hear the word, repent, accept Christ.

"Yes, that is simple and easy. The Word of God is preached to men and they hear that Word and they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and whosever believeth in Him is born of God"
(Sermons, The Human Side of Regeneration, pages 177, 187).


At Saturday, May 24, 2008 12:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Click here to read about Puryear's flirtation with Covenant Theology, and read in the comments section about his serious consideration some fifteen months ago about joining a PCA congregation

At Saturday, May 24, 2008 10:38:00 AM, Blogger Charles said...


Brother Peter Lumpkins quoted Puryear as saying:

"You see, personally, I am finding myself more and more amenable to Covenant Theology, including the practice of paedobaptism. I have taken the time to read several books about these beliefs and I find myself nodding my head in agreement with what I am reading. Where does that place me theologically? Right now, I'm not quite sure. I feel like I'm somewhere in a demilitarized zone between baptist and presbyterian."


At Saturday, May 24, 2008 12:37:00 PM, Blogger ide said...


"In the same commentary on the "Regeneration" Article from the Baptist Faith & Message, David DeKlavon also affirmed that regeneration and conversion occur simultaneously or at the same time:

"Taken together, regeneration and conversion are both foundational to the biblical teaching of salvation. God has graciously given us his spiritual life which we experience as we respond to him in repentance and faith (emphasis mine)."

Stated negatively, one does not experience spiritual life (regeneration or the new birth) apart from repentance and faith.


At Saturday, May 24, 2008 1:39:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


I respect the fact that Les is at least "up front" with his view on "regeneration."

Hybrids such as Tom Ascol seem to be rather timid about it:


At Saturday, May 24, 2008 1:44:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...



At Saturday, May 24, 2008 2:40:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


I received the following email from Brother Ian:

Dear Bob:

Les Puryear gave an explanation on Peter Lumpkin's blog concerning the meaning of his words that he is somewhere between a Baptist and a Presbyterian, and I quote in part:

I hold to a Reformed position regarding soteriology. I also believe in a regenerate membership, and the use of church discipline.
Until very recently, these have not been the majority views of most SBC churches. These positions have been more indicative of Presbyterian churches.

Huh? "Regenerate church membership" has been indicative of Presbyterian churches? He should read the Flyswatter.

With regards,

Thanks! If Puryear thinks the Pedos believe in "regenerate membership," does that mean he agrees with them when they say their "covenant children" were "regenerated" in infancy? If not, he certainly can't say that the Pedos believe in "regenerate church membership," for the majority of the Pedos were added to the church when they were unregenerate babies.

See this link:


At Saturday, May 24, 2008 2:59:00 PM, Blogger ide said...


In his explanation of what he meant when he said he was somewhere between a Baptist and Presyterian, Les Puryear said:

“I hold to a Reformed position regarding soteriology. I also believe in a regenerate membership, and the use of church discipline.

Until very recently, these have not been the majority views of most SBC churches. These positions have been more indicative of Presbyterian churches.”

This seems strange to me since regenerate church membership is not a tenet of Presbyterianism and, historically, Baptists have stood over against paedobaptistic churches on this issue. Whatever one thinks of absentee members on the church roles, can it be denied that these persons were admitted upon profession of faith in baptism which is the Baptist view of regenreate church membership? While some of these absentee members may turn out to be unregenerate, where is the proof that Baptist churches are knowingly baptizing unbelievers or the stats showing that all of them are unregenerate rather than attending other churches?

This comment by Puryear in The Christian Index interview may shed light on this explanation:

“I am probably the only SBC presidential candidate in history who has one and one-half years of personal thoughts published on a myriad of topics in public view,” Puryear declared. “If one reads my blog, I believe one will find that I am transparent in my views. Some have said I am too transparent. Perhaps so, but I have a high value of transparency.”

Transparency can come home to roost.


At Saturday, May 24, 2008 4:58:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


Hi Bob,

I read your blog and I agree with Spurgeon that faith and regeneration are simutaneous. I think a great example of faith and divine power working together simutaneously is the case we see in Scripture of the man with the withered arm Mt.12:10-13. He was told to stretch it out, and his faith, with Christ's power, worked together in perfect harmony. Maybe you could put that example in one of your blogs so that others can see this mysterious truth. (Or perhaps you already have wrote about it).

Thanks for mentioning this scriptural illustation of how the Word is accompanied by God's power.


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