Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monergism & regeneration


I lifted the above words off of the Flounders' blog, but you can find similar terminology in most all of the so-called "Reformed" blogs, websites, and theological writings which deal with the New Birth.

The term simply refers to God's efficient power as the source of whatever is done. But just as the Pedobaptist "Reformed" sources have their own peculiar ideas about the "mode" and "subjects" of baptism, they likewise have a rather peculiar conception of "monergism."

Unfortunately, it seems that most of those who use the term in our time are simply repeating what they have read on the Internet or in materials by writers such as James White, R. C. Sproul, and similar Hybrid Calvinists.

In the modern "Reformed" circles, especially on the Internet, "monergism" is perhaps universally used in reference to the Hybrid Calvinist phantasmagoria that regeneration or the New Birth is accomplished by a "direct operation" of the Holy Spirit which allegedly
"PRECEDES" and is enacted WITHOUT the use of the instrumentality of the Gospel or Word of God as the means in the "begetting" of the lost sinner -- often referred to as "regeneration precedes faith."

The fact is, however, God's efficient power is the source of everything that exists and of everything which is sustained in its existence -- including the New Birth -- but NEVER apart from instrumental means. God never "works" apart from some type of means by which His power functions and is channeled.

When we use the term "monergism" -- especially in regard to the New Birth -- it is important to emphasize that while ALL of the efficient power in the New Birth is of the Spirit, He does not work apart from instrumentality, and this instrument is the Word of His power.

Paul, for example, said he was "made all things to all men, that I might BY ALL MEANS save some" (1 Cor. 9:22). Paul taught that by his preaching sinners were "begotten through the Gospel" (1 Cor. 4:15).

The Lord does not simply reach out and give a New Birth to a person without the use of the instrumental means of His Word. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16); it is the means of calling men to Christ (2 Thess. 2:14). This Gospel comes not "in Word only," but in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:5) whose "Sword" is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17). It is the Spirit who quickens by means of the Word (John 6:63). He "draws" men, but not without instrumentality.

So far as we know, there has never been a soul who was born again apart from the instrumental means of the Word of God being blessed by the Holy Spirit.

God created this world by the instrumentality of His Word: "He spake, and it was done" (Psalm 33:9). The winds and the waters obey Him (Luke 8:25). And it is by, with, or through the Word that men are born again. It is not a "direct operation" apart from the instrumentality of the Word of God.

As the Puritan Stephen Charnock (1628-1680) says in his great work on this subject --
That the gospel is the instrument whereby God brings the soul forth in a new birth . . . The gospel is this instrument. . . . It is therefore a necessary instrument. . . . So according to the method God has set of men's actions, it is necessary that this regeneration should be by some word as an instrument, for God has given understanding and will to man. We cannot understand anything, or will anything, but what is proposed to us by some external object; as our eye can see nothing but what is without us, our hand take nothing but what is without us, so it is necessary that God by the word should set before us those things which our understandings may apprehend, and our wills embrace. . . . It is necessary the revelation of this gospel we have should be made. There is a necessity of some revelation, for no man can see that which is not visible, or hear that which has no sound, or know that which is not declared.
There is also a necessity of the revelation of this gospel, since faith is a great part of this work. How can any man believe that God is good in Christ, without knowing that he has so declared himself? Since the Spirit takes of Christ's, and shows it to us, there must be a revelation of Christ, and the goodness of God in Christ, before we can believe.

Though the manner of this revelation may be different, and the Spirit may renew in an extraordinary manner, yet this is the instrument whereby all spiritual begettings are wrought; the manner may be by visions, dreams, by reading or hearing, yet still it is the gospel which is revealed; the matter revealed is the same, though the formal revelation or manner may be different.

Paul's regeneration was by a vision, for at that vision of the light, and that voice of Christ, I suppose him to be renewed, because of that full resignation of his will to Christ, Acts ix. 6, yet the matter of the revelation was the same, that Christ was the Messiah, for so Paul understands it, in giving him the title of Lord. Though God may communicate himself without the written word to some that have it not, yet according to his appointment, not without a revelation of what is in that word.
>> (End of excerpt]

It is at this point that modern "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinism has departed from the 17th century Puritans such as Charnock, and even from the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Confession of Faith. It was this theory that became the foundation of anti-missionary "Hardshellism" (Primitive Baptist Church) in the 1800s.

By divorcing the Word from the Spirit as His instrumental means in regeneration, they have a theory which is somewhat similar to the theory of some who allege that there is "direct revelation" received from the Spirit apart from, or in addition to, the Word of God.


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