Friday, March 31, 2006

Mark Dever for SBC President blog is no more


In February, the "born again before faith" Calvinists over at Flounders Ministries (yes, they really do believe what they are doing is a ministry) were all aglow when one of them suggested that they nominate "no baptism for children" Pastor Mark Dever for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

One Calvinist quickly started a Mark Dever for SBC President blog. However, it has disappeared into thin air. I'm not making this up, you can view some of the article titles here.

In a previous article, I noted Dever's aberrant church polity is wildly different from Southern Baptists. If the truth about Dever gets out, he couldn't get elected dogcatcher. Dever's electability is directly related to keeping his unscriptural practices from the SBC messengers, most of whom probably don't research candidates on the Internet.

Another current rumor is that Dever might get a Vice President nomination. Back in the old days the conservatives used to occasionally allow a "moderate" to take a VP spot to toss them a bone. Maybe the conservatives are now thinking of doing the same thing to the increasingly whiny "born again before faith" Calvinists.

Stay tuned.


Simon Sez: Calvinist blogs make him sick

Simon, from the Thinking Deeply blog, is under fire. He wrote a great article on Wrongly Dividing The Body of Christ that was an indictment of the methods used by The Founders, The Calvinist Gadfly, and other rabid Calvinist blogs. This came on the heels of another article, Lord of The Gadflys, an expose of Alan Kurschner's bizarre Calvinist blog.

Tom Ascol at Founders Ministries (yes, they really believe it's a real ministry), responded with a whiny article. Didn't you get the memo: The Founders can do no wrong.

Simon followed up with Apology, Observations, & Email. Simon said, "I publically apologize for implying that Tom or Founders personally attacks Arminians. I think that a lot of the people who visit that site personally attack Arminians, as evident from the thread you linked to. But Tom didn’t." No, but he's an enabler, and a big one. In my opinion, Simon did not need to apologize but you be the judge.

For the record, Simon once chastised me in a comment to my own article on Alan Kurschner. Simon was probably right, but I'm pretty hardheaded.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mark Dever vs. the SBC and Charles H. Spurgeon

Mark Dever is the head of 9 Marks ministries, which formerly was called the Center for Church Reform. He is a strong promoter of extreme Calvinism including the posting of Tom Schreiner's article on "regeneration before faith" on the 9 Marks website. I reviewed Schreiner's aberrant theology in a previous article.

Dever is co-hosting a "Together for the Gospel" seminar in Louisville in April 2006 with a "special guest," R. C. Sproul. Sproul is a Presbyterian and a leading promoter of the "regeneration before faith" heterodoxy. Dr. Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theology Seminary, is another co-host of the event, which is not surprising since Mohler has hired professors such as Schreiner who openly and blatantly teach views completely foreign to most Southern Baptist churches.

Dever strange and odd theology has led him to discourage the baptism of children. This is completely and utterly at odds with the polity of Southern Baptists churches and should be denounced by men of God everywhere. Jesus said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 19:14).

Southern Baptists should beware of Mark Dever and his strange and aberrant theology and church polity. I am also puzzled as to why Dr. Al Mohler continues to promote men such as Dever and Sproul.

Along with my remarks I am posting Brother Bob Ross' comments regarding Charles H. Spurgeon's view of children. Please read what he has to say.




Dear Charles:

I understand that a pastor named Mark Dever of Washington D. C. has been added to the Founders Ministries, and he is supposedly spearheading certain issues in an effort ostensibly to "reform" the church.

Among other "reforming" palabber, this gentleman is evidently so spiritually gifted that he knows at what age a youngster should be or should not be baptized -- which is never even discussed in Scripture.

I have not read anything by Dever on the "born again before faith" heterodoxy endorsed by some of the Founders, so I don't know if that is his personal view. However, this thing about not baptizing children who profess simple faith in the simple Gospel of Christ sounds a lot like one of the unholy fruits of Hybrid Calvinism, the aberrant theology on salvation which gives rise to other aberrant ideas.

Whereas the Founders often appropriate the name of C. H. Spurgeon as if they are of the same faith and order, CHS promoted both early child conversions and baptisms. He said that among his best members were those who were converted very young and were baptized and became members of the church.

So much for Spurgeon's being anything like unto certain of the Founders who do not appreciate child conversion and the baptizing of the young converts.

The idea that children are not really converted at young ages or should not be baptized at young ages is not only unSpurgeonic, but it certainly has no foundation in Scripture. -- Bob L. Ross

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Southern Baptist seminary professor affirms "regeneration before faith" heterodoxy

Dr. Tom Schreiner is a Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Dr. Schreiner strongly affirms the "born again before faith" heterodoxy which is neither Baptist nor biblical. In his article, Does regeneration necessarily precede conversion? (an alternative link is here), Schreiner answers with a resounding, "yes." He writes, "Regeneration means that one has been born again or born from above (John 3:3, 5, 7, 8)." He goes on to write, "God regenerates us and then we believe, and hence regeneration precedes our conversion." Thus, Schreiner's aberrant theology has people born again before exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or born again unbelievers!

Except for a few extreme Calvinist "Founders Ministry" types, Southern Baptists do not believe what Schreiner is teaching. The doctrine which Schreiner promotes was spawn, not from Baptists, but from pedobaptists as demonstrated by Bob Ross in his article, Regeneration in Relation to Faith in Calvinist Theology. The "born again before faith" view is neither biblical nor Baptist.

Does it matter what is taught at a Baptist seminary? You bet it does! The seminary produces the next generation of pastors for Southern Baptists churches. Schreiner's "born again before faith" theology makes him an extreme Calvinist. Read the article Why Are Calvinist Churches Usually So Small for an insightful analysis of churches with an extreme Calvinist view.

Southern Baptists pay Schreiner's salary. Why? More importantly, why did President Albert Mohler hire him? Has anyone asked him?


Sunday, March 19, 2006

The James White 'Born Again Before Faith' White Lightning Distillery

The below article is from Brother Bob Ross.


JAMES WHITE'S LATEST [03/19--2006]


James White -- on his website March 19, 2006 -- said,

Let it be known I believe and profess the confessional statement quoted above; let it be known I object to not a word in Spurgeon's exposition. If you encounter someone confused by others about my views, correct them. If you encounter one who claims to know my heart better than I do and who refuses to accept this confession of faith, dismiss him as the addled ranter he is. There is no reasoning with those who will not listen and who profess personal infallibility on matters about which they are completely ignorant or, worse, dishonest.
>> [Emphasis supplied by Bob Ross]

Dear Charles:

On James' "The Exegeeter's" website today, he quotes from the London Confession of Faith and has a clip from one of C. H. Spurgeon's sermons ("Jan. 5th, 1868"). He gives no reference to where to find the Spurgeon quotation, which actually is in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 57, Sermon # 3275 A KIND OF FIRSTFRUITS, pages 530-532).

We don't mind helping James a little bit every now and then about Spurgeon, for he seems to be rather lax in that area. Most likely, James scanned the quotation from the CD-ROM, which does not have the original page numbers.

But that is not the most significant thing about the part of the sermon which James chose to quote. Where he stopped his quotation from Spurgeon is rather significant when we consider what Spurgeon says, viewed in the context of the Pedobaptist "Hybrid Calvinist" denial that the WORD of God is an instrument used in producing the NEW BIRTH.

Notice where James stops. Spurgeon goes on to say the following:

And what is this Word? What is it that usually brings men to BE BEGOTTEN UNTO A NEW LIFE? The Word, the especial QUICKENING WORD, is the preaching of the doctrine of the cross" (page 532, Vol. 57).

Spurgeon goes on to say,
It is telling him that ?God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;? this it is which brings the heart to God, to peace, to life, to safety."  . . .

Oh! then, if you have been QUICKENED BY THE WORD, tell out the Word. If the GOSPEL HAS BROUGHT YOU TO SALVATION, tell that gospel out.

Whisper into every sinner?s ear the fact that Christ died for sinners. Make it known wherever your influence can reach, that whosoever believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ hath everlasting life (pages 532, 533).

I don't know if James has ever published the London Confession on Effectual Calling on his website or a quotation of this nature from C. H. Spurgeon. Anyhow, I applaud his quoting these sources, both of which refute the "pre-faith new birth" theory elsewhere promoted by James in his writings and in the debate with Dave Hunt. 

To my knowledge, this may be the first time the TRUTH on the new birth has been put on James's website. In his own "Statement of Faith," for example, he does not have any reference to the "Word" or "Gospel" being the instrumentality used by the Holy Spirit in the New Birth.

In view of these recent materials on James's website, are we now to expect a public recantation of James' past (?) "new birth before faith" doctrine?

I doubt it.

The "spirit" pervading James' comments after the materials he quoted does not indicate that James has really changed his mind about anything, or that he now stands for the "WORD AND SPIRIT" teaching of the Confession and of C. H. Spurgeon.

When James comes out and repudiates his "born again before faith" doctrine for which he has contended, we will know he is serious when he says he agrees with the London Confession and Spurgeon.

When Dr. John MacArthur came out in favor of the creedal doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of Christ, he plainly said that he had changed his thinking on the subject, and that he no longer taught his former view. He wrote and published a lengthy article, recanting the "incarnational sonship" view. It is now on the Internet. ><

Dr. MacArthur did the right thing, and he gained respect for his action. Will James White follow the good example of John MacArthur, and publish a recantation of the pedobaptist teaching on "pre-faith new birth"? -- Bob L.

The odd logic of James White

Wonder of Wonders! "Dr." James White has released a statement on what he believes about regeneration. He says,
If you encounter someone confused by others about my views, correct them. If you encounter one who claims to know my heart better than I do and who refuses to accept this confession of faith, dismiss him as the addled ranter he is. There is no reasoning with those who will not listen and who profess personal infallibility on matters about which they are completely ignorant or, worse, dishonest.

The problem with White is that he has no understanding of the law of noncontradiction which states, "one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time." Logic has never been a close companion of James White when it comes to regeneration.

In his statement, James grabs onto Spurgeon and a traditional Calvinist confession. However, James' published writings conflict with his new statement. In The Potter's Freedom (page 101), James says, "The Reformed assertion is that man cannot understand and embrace the gospel nor respond in faith and repentance toward Christ without God first freeing him from sin and giving him spiritual life (regeneration)."

There you have it. According to James White, regeneration must first occur before faith and repentance. Life (regeneration) occurs before faith which is exactly what the Catholic Church believes.

As Bob Ross has pointed out in various articles and on this blog, the view that regeneration occurs before faith is neither a biblical nor a Baptist position. James new statement on regeneration is at odds with his published remarks. Will James recant what he wrote in The Potter's Freedom? Or will he insist that the law of noncontradiction applies to everyone but him?

Stay tuned.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Calling out White, Sproul, Morgan, and "The Founders"

To The Calvinist Flyswatter readers:

In his comment below, Bob Ross calls out James White, R. C. Sproul, Scott Morgan, and any "Founders" brethren holding to the "regeneration before belief" view. Will they debate this issue? My prediction: Not a chance!

To Bob Ross:

Bob, I don't believe you'll hear as much as a squeak from any of them, especially "The Founders." They don't want their extreme Calvinism to be exposed to the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention, a Calvinism which is unlike that of Charles H. Spurgeon and the real founders of the SBC. A while back I posted comments on The Founders blog stating how "Dr." James White kept ignoring this issue only to have my comments deleted. The Founders will just keep floundering away trying to keep as many people in the dark as possible as to how they differ from confessional Calvinism.

The Founders claim to want to go back to the founders but as you have demonstrated, their "regeneration before belief" view is neither biblical nor Baptist.



Charles, I quoted the late Dr. B. H. CARROLL'S "syllogism," and I noticed that no one has ventured to dispute it.
Do you suppose it would furnish a good Proposition for a Debate with the HYBRID CALVINISTS who hold to the "pre-faith new birth"?

Wonder if James White, R. C. Sproul, Scott Morgan, and some of the Founders could perhaps pool their exegetical and theological brain-power to negate Dr. Carroll's syllogism in a Public Debate?

Dr. Carroll's view is summed up in the following syllogism, on page 287 of Volume 10, Part I on The Gospels, An Interpreation of the English Bible:

(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."

Perhaps you could start a new thread on this so as to give it very definite significance. -- Bob L. Ross

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bob Ross: Regeneration -- Calvinism

Southern Baptists should read this article by Bob Ross. He demonstrates that the Calvinism of Spurgeon and other historic Baptists is not the Calvinism of much of what comes from Founders Ministries and James White. Nor, I might add, is it the Calvinism of Steve Camp, another James White "wannabe."

Why do Founders Ministries keep trying to pass themselves off as a theological return to Spurgeon and "the founders" of the SBC? As Bob Ross proves, the "born-again before faith" theology is decidedly not the view of historic Calvinists nor is it the view of historic Calvinist confessions.

Bob shows where the "born-again before faith" view sprang from, and it is not from a biblical or Baptist well!



Dear Charles:

Here is an article which does not seem to be on the "Selected Writings of Bob Ross" website at

It endeavors to present the proper concept of Regeneration as it is expressed in Calvinist confessions - regardless of whether or not the reader agrees with the view.

NOTE: I have been requested by some Reformed Baptists to clarify my view on Regeneration in relation to faith. I wrote on this subject awhile back, and here is that article with some additional material added to the original. -- Bob L. Ross


What is the Confessional View?

In recent times, focus has once again put upon the subject of "Regeneration" in relation to Faith in Calvinist theology. Hopefully, it is a "positive" element that there has been a heightened interest in Calvinism to develop among Southern Baptists.

I know that a great deal of this interest has been due to the influence of C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), and we take particular delight in that since we have reprinted so many of his works and sermons. As far back as 1959, I put together a selection of Spurgeon's sermons and we published our first hardback book, Spurgeon's Sermons on Sovereignty. Later on, we reprinted his entire 63-volume sermon series, as well as many of his other works.

We rejoice to see so many of our Spurgeon publications in the seminary libraries and on the shelves of seminary professors and pastors. I once was in the office of Dr. Curtis Vaughan at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and as we were discussing details as to his writing a jacket article for one of Spurgeon's volumes in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series, he walked over to his book shelf, took down one of the MTP volumes, and said, "I would rather read one of Spurgeon's sermons than to hear any preacher living today."

On the subject of the new birth, Spurgeon made the following remarks in a sermon, A KIND OF FIRSTFRUITS, preached on January 5, 1868, sermon number 3275, on the text, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18).


The instrumentality through which this singular change has been wrought in us is clearly stated, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”

Men are not usually saved without the immediate agency of the gospel. Some have said that the Spirit of God always works through the truth, and that the truth is sure to work conviction. The truth, however, is preached, and faithfully preached, to tens of thousands, to whom it conveys not a blessing at all, but is the savour of death unto death.

Others have said that the Spirit of God regenerates men apart from the Word of God but this is not told us in Scripture, and is not therefore to be received. But evermore the Word and the Spirit are put together. Scripture does not talk of the Word of God as a dead letter; it says, “The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword.”

On the other hand, Scripture does not speak of the Holy Spirit as though the Word would work apart from him, but the two are put together, and “ what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

My dear brethren and sisters, you who have been begotten again unto a lively hope, was it not through the hearing of the Word, or the reading of it, or the remembrance of some hallowed text which you had almost forgotten? You know it was.

Good McCheyne used to say, “Depend on it, it is God’s Word that saves souls, and not our comment upon God’s Word;” and so I believe it is. It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

And what is this Word? What is it that usually brings men to be begotten unto a new life? The Word, the especial quickening Word, is the preaching of the doctrine of the cross. . . .

Oh! then, if you have been quickened by the Word, tell out the Word. If the gospel has brought you to salvation, tell that gospel out.

Spurgeon was here affirming the view on regeneration by the Holy Spirit's use of the Gospel which was set forth in the old Calvinist Confessions, and as taught by the Puritans such as Stephen Charnock and Thomas Watson, and Spurgeon's own predecessor, Dr. John Gill.

Unfortunately, in some quarters today, the post-seventeenth century view of Pedobaptists such as Dr. W. G. T. Shedd and Louis Berkhof is being advocated, and this view denies the necessary use of the Word or Gospel in regeneration. We are concerned about this theory of "regeneration" inasmuch as we believe it has aberrant consequences.

The "pre-faith regeneration" theory as taught by Shedd and Berkhof, and as it is being popularized today in writings by Pedobaptist R. C. Sproul and Reformed Baptist James White, Pedobaptist Iain Murray, and some in the Founders movement among Southern Baptists, not only differs from our Calvinist creedal standards and the theology of the Puritans, but from Baptists such as John Gill, Alexander Booth, A. H. Strong, C. H. Spurgeon, and others.

This error on regeneration gave theoretical support to the anti-missionary, anti-means dogma of the Hardshells or Primitive Baptists in the 19th century onward. Error on this subject has also caused a great deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what really constitutes Confessional or historic Calvinism on regeneration or the new birth.

Some anti-Calvinist Pelagian free-will advocates of our time are targeting the theory of "pre-faith regeneration" of Shedd and Berkhof and other advocates as an Achilles Heel at which point to attack Calvinism -- as Dave Hunt has done in the debate with James White, and as Laurence Vance has done in his book, The Other Side of Calvinism. But I will show that this theory is not consistent with confessional Calvinism and therefore the objections by Hunt and Vance are not applicable to confessional Calvinism on regeneration.

It is regrettable that some on both the pro and con sides of differing points of view on this subject do not choose to confine themselves to the boundaries of the Confessional statements for what is to be understood as being the "orthodox" Calvinist view, regardless of whether it is viewed as valid or invalid. Some Calvinist writers who come to mind, sometimes use the term "regeneration" in a sense too broadly to be regarded as representative of the Confessional view. Likewise, some critics of Calvinism apparently prefer to criticize such less-than-confessional Calvinistic representations rather than focusing upon what is actually taught in the Confessions of Faith which are the ultimate standards on Calvinist views. The distorted view seems to be much easier to attack than the creedal view.

JOHN CALVIN himself identified "regeneration" with "repentance," and to Calvin repentance always embodied faith (Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, pages 512-515; Vol. 2, page 516). "Can true repentance exist without faith? By no means," said Calvin. And if repentance was understood by Calvin to be synonymous with "regeneration," then it follows that for Calvin regeneration did not exist before, without, or apart from faith.

There is no "regenerated unbeliever" or "regeneration before faith" in Calvin's point of view.

In his comment on 1 Corinthians 13:13, Calvin says, "In fine, it is by faith that we are born again, that we become the sons of God -- that we obtain eternal life, and that Christ dwells in us."

The Confessional standards of Calvinism, notably the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Confession, uphold the view of Calvin. While Calvin and the Confessions maintain that every "ounce" of the "efficient" power in regeneration is of the Holy Spirit, and that the Spirit takes the initiative in regeneration, they insist on the necessary use of "means" (the Word or Gospel) as integral to the regenerating actions of the Holy Spirit. In other words, they affirm that the Spirit necessarily uses "instrumentality" in bringing about the new birth. In these Calvinist standards, there is no new birth apart from the instrumentality of the Gospel, and there is no new birth by a "direct operation" before the Spirit has made the Gospel effectual to the creation of faith.

The Canons of Dort

The Canons of Dort (A. D. 1619), published in response to the "five points" of the Arminian Remonstrants, insist that "What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law could do, God performs by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word or ministry of reconciliation: which is the glad tidings concerning the Messiah, by MEANS whereof it hath pleased God to save such as believe, as well under the Old as under the New Testament" (III and IV Heads, Article VI, Schaff's Creeds of Christendom, Vol. III, pages 588, 589).

Article XI of the same section says that God "causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by His Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;" (Schaff, ibid, page 590).

And Article XVII unmistakably states: "As the almighty operation of God whereby He brings forth and supports this our natural life does not exclude but require the USE OF MEANS by which God, of His infinite mercy and goodness, has chosen to exert His influence, so also the aforementioned supernatural operation of God by which we are regenerated in no wise excludes or subverts the use of the GOSPEL, which the most wise God has ordained to be the SEED OF REGENERATION and food of the soul." (Schaff's Creeds of Christendom, Volume 3, page 592).

The Westminster Confession

The Westminster Confession (1647) does not use the term "regeneration," but deals with the subject matter under the heads of "Effectual Calling" (Chapter X) and "Saving Faith" (Chapter XIV). This Confession conjoins the Word and Spirit in effectual calling:

"I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His WORD AND SPIRIT, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace." (Chapter X; Schaff, Vol. III, page 624).

In Chapter XIV on "Saving Faith," the Westminster states:

"I. 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, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened." (Schaff, III, page 630).

Neither of these Confessions categorize any pre-faith work of the Holy Spirit as "regeneration," so those today who choose to broaden the term to cover the pre-faith work of the Spirit do not represent the view of the Confessions of Faith. They should not, therefore, be quoted by critics of Calvinism as "representative" of Calvinism, creating the impression that Calvinism teaches "regeneration" before, without, or apart from faith, which is the core of Hardshellism.

The work of the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God as His means, creates or brings about faith, and when that has been done, regeneration has taken place, according to the Calvinist Confessions.

Stephen Charnock on Regeneration

Perhaps the greatest work I have ever read on Regeneration is that of Stephen Charnock, the 17th century Puritan writer (1628-1680). I am grateful that his works are on the internet -- accessible for reference. His work on "The Word, the Instrument of Regeneration," is the clearest presentation I have ever read on this subject. I suggest you go to the above website and read the entire article by this great Puritan author, and he, better than I or anyone else I know, will reveal the truth concerning the use of "means" by the Holy Spirit in the new birth.

The Hardshell Baptists who arose in the 1800s object to "gospel regeneration" as if our view denies the efficacy of the Holy Spirit as the sole efficient cause of the New Birth. This is due to their separating the Holy Spirit from the use of means. But the confessional view is that means are empowered SOLELY by the Holy Spirit by whom they are made efficient to the creation of faith.

Stephen Charnock clarifies this in distinguishing between being born "OF" [ek] the Spirit but "BY" [dia] " WITH" or "THROUGH" the Word or Gospel.

Charnock noted the following:

Doctrine. That the gospel is the instrument whereby God brings the soul forth in a new birth.

The Scripture does distinguish the efficient and instrumental cause by the prepositions "ek", or, "eks", and "dia". When we are said to be 'born of the Spirit,' it is, John 3:5, "ek pneumatos"; 1 John 3:9, 5:1, "ek Theou"; never "dia pneumatos", or "dia Theou:" but we are nowhere said to be born of the word, or begotten of the word, but "dia logou", by or with the word, 1 Peter 1:23; and "dia euangeliou", 1 Cor. 4:15, I have begotten you 'through the gospel.' The preposition "ek" or "eks", usually notes the efficient or material cause; "dia", the instrumental or means by which a thing is wrought.

Sin entered into the heart of Eve by the word of the devil, grace enters into the heart by the word of God; that entered by a word of error, this by a word of truth: 'Ye are clean through the word I have spoken to you, John 15:3, whereby our Saviour means the word outwardly preached by him, for it is the word spoken by him. Not that it had this efficacy of itself, but as an instrument of their sanctification, rendering them ready to every good work. . . . The gospel is this instrument.

The PRE-FAITH REGENERATION theory propapated by W. G. T. Shedd (Dogmatic Theology) and Louis Berkhof (in his Systematic Theology) was apparently designed to accommodate the supposed regeneration of the infant children of believers to whom the supposed blessings of the "covenant" are allegedly vouchsafed. This theory reasoned that if infants are regenerated, then it must take place apart from the Gospel as an instrumentality, which infants are not capable of hearing.

I think that some Reformed Baptists of our time may have been influenced by the view of these Pedobaptist theologians and it has filtered through men such as R. C. Sproul and some other pedobaptist writers and sources.

Berkhof taught that "new life is often implanted in the hearts of children long before they are able to hear the call of the gospel," and that they may receive the "seed of regeneration long before they come to years of discretion," and therefore this rules out the Holy Spirit's use of the Gospel as a means (pages 471, 472).

This is a fine theory for Pedobaptists and their view of the early regeneration of infants born to believers, but it will not do for Baptists. Baptists have never adhered to this theory on early infant regeneration and we do not believe in regeneration apart from the Gospel.

Berkhof calls this act a "hyper-physical" operation of the Spirit apart from the use of means, and therefore apart from the Holy Spirit's creation of faith in the one regenerated. In effect, at the precise moment of regeneration, Berkhof has the monstrosity of a "regenerated unbeliever," which can hardly be justified from Scripture or the Confessions.

It is highly significant that Berkhof explains that his view differs from Luther, Calvin, the Canons of Dort and several seventeenth century writers (which would include Charnock) (page 466, 470, 476).

C. H. SPURGEON presents the view of Baptists and of the Confessions of Faith.

He says, "Where there is no faith, there has been no quickening of the Holy Spirit , for faith is of the very essence of spiritual life."

And whereas there is some pre-faith workings of the Holy Spirit, Spurgeon says one is "not saved" at this stage of the Spirit's operations. Notice --

MTP, Sermon #656 on PREVENIENT GRACE __
Now let me show you how God’s grace does come to work on the human heart so as to make it good soil before the living seed is cast into it, so that before quickening grace really visits it the heart may be called a good heart, because it is prepared to receive that grace.

I think this takes place thus: first of all, before quickening grace comes, God often gives an attentive ear, and makes a man willing to listen to the Word. Not only does he like to listen to it, but he wants to know the meaning of it; there is a little excitement in his mind to know what the gospel tidings really are.   He is not saved as yet,  but it is always a hopeful sign when a man is willing to listen to the truth, and is anxious to understand it. This is one thing which prevenient grace does in making the soul good.

In Ezekiel’s vision, as you will recollect, before the breath came from the four winds the bones began to stir, and they came together bone to his bone. So, before the Spirit of God comes to a man in effectual calling, God’s grace often comes to make a stir in the man’s mind, so that he is no longer indifferent to the truth, but is anxious to understand what it means.

Here is more from Spurgeon:

"For, first, without faith there is no capacity for communion with God at all. The things of God are spiritual and invisible—without faith we cannot recognize such things but must be dead to them. Faith is the eye which sees. But without that eye we are blind and can have no fellowship with God in those Sacred Truths which only faith can perceive. Faith is the hand of the soul, and without it, we have no grasp of eternal things. If I were to mention all the images by which faith is set forth, each one would help you to see that you must have faith in order to know God and enter into converse with Him.

It is only by faith that we can recognize God, approach Him, speak to Him, hear Him, feel His Presence and be delighted with His perfections. He that has not faith is toward God as one dead. And Jehovah is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

The communion of the living God goes not forth toward death and corruption. His fellowship is with those who have spiritual life, a life akin to His own. Where there is no faith, there has been no quickening of the Holy Spirit, for faith is of the very essence of spiritual life.

And so the man who has no faith can no more commune with the living God and give Him pleasure, than can a stick or a stone, a horse or an ox, hold converse with the human mind. (Faith Essential to Pleasing God, MTP, Sermon #2100, Vol. 35, 446).

As can be seen from Spurgeon's "Soul Winner" book, while all efficient power is attributed to the Holy Spirit, Spurgeon always has "means" involved as the Spirit's "instrumentality." So do I.

Spurgeon says, "Instruction by the gospel is the commencement of all real work upon men's minds" (page 17, Pilgrim edition).

"He works by means" (page 25), Spurgeon says, and "Paul compares himself both to a father and to a mother in the matter of the new birth" (page 25).

"Such mysterious power doth God infuse into the instrumentality which He ordains" (page 26), "we regard ourselves as used by the Holy Ghost . . . the marvels of regeneration which attend our ministry" (page 27), "He quicken(s) them by the gospel" (page 28), and "The production of faith is the very centre of the target at which you aim" (page 29). So wrote Spurgeon, and likewise what he preached.

So Spurgeon's view is that regeneration neither preceeds faith nor follows after faith -- rather, regeneration is the very creation of faith itself.

When one is made a believer of the Gospel of Christ by the efficient power of the Holy Spirit, he IS THEN born again -- not before, and not after faith, but at the same instant of faith in Christ, which faith has been created by instrumentality of the Gospel thru the power of the Holy Spirit, NOT by the power of the WILL OF MAN (John 1:12, 12).

If a man were regenerated BEFORE faith, at the point of regeneration he would be a "regenerated (born again) unbeliever."

If he were regenerated AFTER faith, at the point of faith he would be an unregenerated believer.

Neither of these is consistent with Scripture (1 John 5:12). Both ideas are spiritual non-existants.

The pre-faith regeneration view is admitted by both Shedd and Berkhof to be a different view on regeneration than taught in former years by the Puritans and as set forth in the Westminster Confession (See Shedd, Vol. 2, page 402; Berkhof, pages 470, 476). It certainly conflicts with our Baptist Confessions, all of which affirm the necessary use of the Word as an instrumentality in the Holy Spirit's bringing forth faith and the New Birth.

"If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate" (Warrant of Faith, #531, page 532).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bob Ross: Spurgeon Misrepresented by Murray

Below is from Brother Bob Ross.





Dear Charles:

[This is one which I thought I sent a day or so ago, but I think I miss-fired].

The following has to do with a "fly" which was actually hatched in the 1800s during Spurgeon final years. He did his best to swat that fly in his day, and some would have thought that he killed it. But lo, this old walleyed and crosseyed fly was somehow given a resurrection by Pedobaptist-Calvinist Iain Murray and the Banner of Truth.

Here is an email I sent to my friend, Erroll Hulse of England, about this obnoxious fly:

Dear Brother Hulse:

I have been reading in your book, An Introduction to the Baptists, and on page 38 you say Spurgeon believed the "doctrines of grace" was the only basis for the adequate union of churches. I must differ with this interpretation of Spurgeon, in the light of what Spurgeon wrote in regard to the Baptist Union and the Down Grade. I thought you might be interested in my refutation of Bro. Iain Murray on his thesis in this regard. -- Bob L. Ross


When Mr. Iain Murray of The Banner of Truth published his book, The Forgotten Spurgeon, we wrote a brief notice in our book review column of The Christian Pilgrim. Concerning the "Down Grade Controversy," we said that Mr. Murray's "strong dedication to the Calvinist system" was the occasion for "an endeavor to relate Calvinism to the Down Grade controversy," and we noted that "Spurgeon emphatically denied this when a similar charge was made during the controversy itself" (May 1968, page 13).

While Mr. Murray acknowledges that Spurgeon denied this charge, nevertheless Murray digs up a lot of the same groundless materials published against Spurgeon in the 1880s by his enemies, publishes them, and expresses his agreement with those who made that unjust allegation.

Murray astonishly wrote, "In this they were right. Spurgeon's theology consistently governed his total outlook."

Instead of giving emphasis to what Spurgeon HIMSELF wrote in refuting this charge, Murray uses his gift of manipulative writing to resurrect the very same allegation and gives credence to the charge.

This was one of the reasons why we put together all of the pertinent materials from Spurgeon on the Down Grade and published the book entitled, The Down Grade Controversy, allowing Spurgeon to speak for himself. With this book in hand, one need not be misled by the craft of Mr. Murray who was evidently attempting to strike a blow for Calvinism as a system.

Since it has been speculated by some that the Down Grade controversy may have had some bearing upon hastening Spurgeon's early demise at age 57, it would cast the enemies of Calvinism in a bad light, as if Spurgeon was somewhat of a "martyr" for Calvinism as system.

Whatever may be produced from sources which were critical of Spurgeon, and regardless of the spin which they put forth in discrediting Spurgeon's motives in the Down Grade, the historical fact remains that Spurgeon himself pointedly DENIED THAT CALVINISM had anything to do with his stand during this time.

In none of the major articles on the Down Grade did Spurgeon involve the matter of Calvinism, but he focused upon the core doctrines of the Bible, the basic fundamentals, which are shared by all theological systems which accept the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures.

Here are excerpts from Spurgeon which demonstrate the facts from his own perspective:

The Sword and the Trowel, April 1887, pages 195, 196:
We care far more for the central evangelical truths than we do for Calvinism as a system; but we believe that Calvinism has in it a conservative force which helps to hold men to the vital truth, and therefore we are sorry to see any quitting it who have once accepted it. Those who hold the eternal verities of salvation, and yet do not see all that we believe and embrace, are by no means the objects of our opposition: warfare is with men who are giving up the atoning sacrifice, denying the inspiration of Holy Scripture, and casting slurs upon justification by faith. The present struggle is NOT A DEBATE upon the question of Calvinism or Arminianism, but of the truth of God versus the inventions of men. ALL WHO BELIEVE THE GOSPEL should unite against that "modern thought" which is its deadly enemy.

The Sword and the Trowel, August 1887, pages 397-400:
Read those newspapers which represent the Broad School of Dissent, and ask yourself, How much farther could they go? What doctrine remains to be abandoned? What other truth to be the object of contempt? A new religion has been initiated . . . The Atonement is scouted, the inspiration of Scripture is derided, the Holy Spirit is degraded into an influence, the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth, and yet these enemies of our faith expect us to call them brethren, and maintain a confederacy with them! . . . Too many ministers are toying with the deadly cobra of "another gospel," in the form of "modern thought" . . . The case is mournful. Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. . . . Germany was made unbelieving by her preachers, and England is following in her track. . . . We fear it is hopeless ever to form a society which can keep out men base enough to profess one thing and believe another; but it might be possible to make an informal alliance among all who hold the Christianity of their fathers.

The Sword and the Trowel, December 1887:
Certain antagonists have tried to represent the Down Grade controversy as a revival of the old feud between Calvinists and Arminians. IT IS NOTHING OF THE KIND. Many evangelical ARMINIANS are as earnestly ON OUR SIDE as men can be. We do not conceal our own Calvinism in the least; but this conflict is for truths which are common to all believers. This is no battle over words, but it deals with the eternal verities--those foundation truths which belong not exclusively to this party or to that. It is of no use attempting to drag this red herring across our path: we can argue other points and maintain Christian harmony at the same time: but with those who treat the Bible as waste paper, and regard the death of Christ as no substitution, we have no desire for fellowship. We have come out in earnest protest, and feel great content of conscience in having done so.

The Sword and the Trowel, February 1888, page 82:
I would like all Christendom to know that all I asked of the Union is that it be formed on a Scriptural basis; and that I never sought to intrude upon it any Calvinistic or other personal creed, but only that form of belief which has been accepted for many years by the Evangelical Alliance, which includes members of well-nigh ALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES.

The Sword and the Trowel, October 1888, page 563:
We are represented as wishing to force upon the churches a narrow CREED. Nothing was further from our mind. We do not consider that the demand for agreement to vital truths COMMON TO ALL Christians can be looked upon as a piece of sectarian bigotry. Here is a man, who is himself a Calvinist, who does not ask that a Union should draw up a Calvinistic creed, but only begs for one which will let the whole world know that brethren are associated as Christians, and that those who do not agree to the first principles of our faith will be intruders. Is this narrowness?

The material we collected on the Down Grade for publication as a small book came from Spurgeon's (1) magazine, (2) his sermons, and (3) his autobiography. In none of these did Spurgeon ever indicate that Calvinism was involved in the Down Grade.

The only involvement of "Calvinism" was in the vain attempt by Spurgeon's ENEMIES to inject it into the controversy as a means of diverting attention from the central truths which were involved, and perhaps as a red herring to create prejudice in evangelical non-Calvinists so as to hinder their giving Spurgeon their encouragement and support.

We regret that Mr. Murray joined hands with the enemies of Spurgeon and picked up their cudgel in attempting to hammer the misrepresentation that the basis of Spurgeon's opposition to the Down Grade in the Baptist Union was Calvinism. -- Bob L. Ross

For all of the information we collected on the Down Grade Controversy, go to the Spurgeon Archive website.

Mr. Hulse did not bother to dispute the facts in my email.

Mr. Murray's zeal to promote Calvinism as a system has often been the occasion for his crafty misrepresentation C. H. Spurgeon. While much of his writing about Spurgeon is worthwhile, he is very much inclined to make Spurgeon into something which he was not. In one case, I even found misinformation in his book on "Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism" (page 128) about the views of the late Dr. John Gill (1697-1771). Of course, I let him know that this was not appreciated. -- Bob L. Ross

Bob Ross: "Railing on Apostle James?"

Below is from Brother Bob Ross.



James White said, "I have refused to argue with the man. He did a great work many decades ago in printing Spurgeon's materials, and for that past work I have simply said, Lord bless you, Bob, and left him to rail if he chooses to do so. There is no arguing with someone who says, Well, you say you believe that, but you really don't." 2/24/06

Brother James has yet to properly exegete what I have written on the "pre-faith regeneration" notion, so he confuses my critiques of his doctrinal teaching on regeneration with "railing."

Instead of exegeting what I wrote a few years againt the idea of "incarnational sonship," James thought I was "attacking" John MacArthur.

It seems that James and the Kentucky Wonder, the Monk, have a few things in common -- their mental machinery seems to operate somewhat the same way. -- Bob Ross

Bob Ross: Monkey Business


Dear Charles:

I don't know if you saw my writings over a year ago when I reviewed the anti-invitation articles by the Kenucky wonder who calls himself the "Internet Monk," but I noticed that he is still "monkeying" around and has recently referred to me on Matt Gumm's blog.

Yet despite his deprecation of invitations, the Monk has confessed that he has the "invitation system" to thank, for he said in his articles that he, his wife, and his children made their professions of faith in Christ in "an invitational context."

And, as if to salve over his past approval of invitations, he said that "nearly every evangelical Christian" he knows responded to an altar call at the outset of their faith journey.

He went on to explain that he later "met the Calvinists" and he was "ruined." He mentions Iain Murray's anti-invitation booklet, and goes on to embellish the names of a few notable Pedobaptist theologians who teach the "pre-faith regeneration" theory. He arrived at the conclusion that invitations had "corrupted evangelical Christianity," and it appears that he may be trying to demonstrate the reality of that corruption by furnishing himself as Exhibit A.

I did three lengthy rebuttals of the Monk's monktrosities on invitations, and among other things in my first rebuttal I noted the following:

>>Bob: I notice that all of those named are PEDOBAPTISTS. Pedobaptists teach that they received regeneration in infancy, thus would have no use for invitations. Once again, this demonstrates that a great influence upon those who oppose invitations are the Pedobaptists. Spurgeon was opposed to their "invitations" to baptize babies.<<

The Monk threw one of his hissy fits (for which he has become well-known, and he will probably throw another one after reading this)and he whined about how I was "harassing" him. He strongly disapproved of my critiquing his writings, so I referred him to the "fair use" portion of the Copyright law and reminded him that we still were under U. S. law.

I am glad to see that the Monk is evidently still smarting from the stripes of over a year ago. -- Bob L. Ross

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bob Ross: Founders Foundered?

In another thread Brother Bob Ross has posted a comment, Founders Foundered. Bob says, "I think some of the Founders brethren are not being very candid about the views of some former Baptists ..."

You can read Bob's comment here.

Bob has several other comments, all worth reading, here.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Steve Camp: Even a Broken Clock ...

Who would have thought it? Steve Camp finally writes something slightly insightful. I don't see Clooney showing up at Willow Creek anytime soon but who knows?

Steve's a typical Reformed kind of guy–enjoys taking cheap shots at SBC churches, holds to the "regeneration before faith" heresy, and thinks he’s God’s gift to the twenty-first century church. I've critiqued him in the past. But as they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Props to Steve!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bob Ross: Why Are Calvinist Churches Usually So Small?

Once again, Bob Ross nails it. After reading this article from Bob there can be no doubt that the Calvinism of C. H. Spurgeon is not the Calvinism of "Dr." James White, The Founders, Steve Camp, and most of the Reformed Baptists in America.

As a Calvinist himself and as the publisher of Spurgeon's sermons, Bob Ross is uniquely qualified to critique today's Calvinist movement. No wonder The Founders and "Dr."James White run from Bob like a scalded dog. They are terrified that their extreme Calvinism will be exposed, a Calvinism which is so unlike that of C. H. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers.


Sent: Wednesday, March 08, 2006 10:44 PM

I had a recent welcome visitor -- a Baptist pastor whom I have known for several years -- and during the course of our time of fellowship and conversation together, he asked me, "Why are Calvinist churches usually so small?"

I chuckled a bit at the question, and my immediate off-the-cuff answer was to facetiously say, "Well, some of them I have known across the years seem to be afraid that they are going to 'convert one of the non-elect,' or get a false profession from one of the non-elect, and so they are very concerned lest they get false professions of faith."

Some of them will not even give a public invitation for even "the elect" to walk the aisle and confess Christ as Savior -- apparently being afraid they might get a premature profession or appear to look like an "Arminian" using "high pressure" tactics. I have even known some to deprecate one of Spurgeon's favorite hymns, "Just As I Am."

Those type of Calvinist churches will probably always be small. If they really expect to guarantee a foolproof 100% born again church membership, they will probably never grow very much. I have never seen a foolproof method of having a 100% born again membership. Sure, it would be great, but remember Christ had a false professor among the disciples, and His parable of the sower does not indicate all professors will be for real (Luke 8)

Some seem to be afraid of "Arminianism" to the extent that they evidently think it is more important to war against it, and the effect is they leave the impression that they don't really believe what they claim to believe -- namely, the sovereignty of God. They act as if God may be in danger of losing his sovereignty, of being dethroned by the anti-teachings of the likes of Dave Hunt, Norman Geisler, Larry Vance, Joe Chambers, Peter Ruckman, or some other modern anti-Calvinist website or blog. Hence -- James the Exegete, the Monergists, The Reformed, and Sovereign Gracers to the rescue! Mount a blogsite, have a Sovereign Grace Conference, and blast them out of the water! Believe me, as long as Spurgeon is around, confessional Calvinism has nothing to fear from the likes of these "antis" and their peashooters. Hunt, Geisler, Vance, Ruckman and company will be six-feet-under R.I.P. tombstones and their writings will show up in somebody's yard sale while Spurgeon lives on to influence future generations.

Furthermore, some modern Calvinists appear to be so "straight and narrow" about having a proper theoretical or systematic theology that they can't seem to appreciate the simple truth wherever it is found. For example -- Andrew Fuller tells about being criticized by an 18th century strong-as-a-bear's-breath Calvinist for quoting John 3:16, as if it was "Arminian" to do so. Fuller replied that a Scripture was nonetheless true just because it was used by an Arminian. A lot of these types were actually converted under less-than-Calvinist preachers, even under Arminians, but now they seem rather reluctant to admit it. They can't seem to appreciate the simple Gospel when it happens to be preached by an "Arminian."

I'm not saying that "big is beter" or that "small is bad." I personally have received spiritual benefit from both the bigs and the smalls. I don't have any problem with either. I firmly believe there are Christians in both. I am simply saying that some Calvinist churches would probably be larger in number if they did not have such eccentricities which tend to make them rather unproductive in fulfilling the Lord's commission of preaching the Gospel and making disciples. They seem more evangelistic and interested in seeking to convert a Christian to Calvinism than to convert a sinner from his unsaved condition.

I think C. H. Spurgeon had to contront a significant amount of this same type of Calvinism
in his time. He remarked --

Methinks I see several ministers standing in the way. They are of such high doctrine that they dare not invite a sinner, and they therefore clog the gospel with so many conditions. They will have it that the sinner must feel a certain quantity of experience before he is invited to come, and so they put their sermons up and say, "You are not invited, you are a dead sinner, you must not come; you are not invited; you are a hardened rebel."

"Stand back," says Christ, "every one of you, though ye be my servants. Let him come, he is willing—stand not in his way." It is a sad thing that Christ's ministers should become the
devil's aiders and abettors, and yet sometimes they are, for when they are telling a sinner how much he must feel, and how much he must know before he comes to Christ, they are virtually rolling big stones in the path, and saying to the willing sinner, "Thou mayest not come."

In the name of Almighty God, stand back everything this morning that keeps the willing sinner from Christ. Away with you, away with you! Christ sprinkles his blood upon the way, and cries to you, "Vanish, begone! leave the road clear; let him come; stand not in his path; make straight before him his way, level the mountains and fill up the valleys; make straight through the wilderness a highway for him to come, to drink of this water of life freely. 'Let him come.'"
(New Park Street Pulpit, Volume 5, page 438)

Spurgeon also said --
I believe, most firmly, in the doctrines commonly called Calvinistic, and I hold them to be very fraught with comfort to God's people; but if any man shall say that the preaching of these is the whole of the preaching of the gospel, I am at issue with him.

Brethren, you may preach those doctrines as long as you like, and yet fail to preach the gospel; and I will go further, and affirm that some who have even denied those truths, to our great grief, have nevertheless been gospel preachers for all that, and God has saved souls by their ministry. . .

Preach Christ, young man, if you want to win souls. Preach all the doctrines, too, for the building up of believers, but still the main business is to preach Jesus who came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. . . This simple truth, that “Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save that which is lost,” and that “whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life,” must be your jewel, your treasure, your life. >>
[#786 — The Great Mystery of Godliness, MTP Vol 13, Year 1867, 1 Timothy 3:16]

"C. H. Spurgeon earnestly exhorted those who had accepted Christ as their Saviour to come forward amongst his people and avow their attachment to His person and name. Words of kindly encouragement and of loving persuasiveness, were addressed to the timid and retiring ones, who feared to avow themselves to be the Lord's lest they should fall back into sin and dishonor His name. This was followed by an appeal to those who had confessed the name of Jesus — an appeal of so stirring and searching a nature, that many must have felt constrained to say, 'Lord what wilt thou have me to do?' Prayer for more earnest living, abiding, practical godliness, followed this address." The Sword and The Trowel Magazine, 1865, page. 70 .

Spurgeon said in one of his New Park Street sermons --

I do not say to you, "Go home and seek God in prayer; I say come to Christ now at this very hour;" you will never be in a better state than you are now, for you were never in a worse state, and that is the fittest state in which to come to Christ. He that is very sick is just in the right state to have a doctor; he that is filthy and begrimed is just in the right state to be washed; he that is naked is just in the right state to be clothed. That is your case.

But you say, "I do not feel my need." Just so: your not feeling it proves you to have the greater need. You cannot trust your feelings, because you say, you have not any. Why, if God were to hear your prayers arid make you feel your need, you would begin to trust in your feelings, and would be led to say, "I trust Christ because I feel my need;" that would be just saying, "I trust myself." All these things are but Popery in disguise; all this preaching to sinners that they must feel this and feel that before they trust in Jesus, is just self-righteousness in another shape.

I know our Calvinistic brethren will not like this sermon—I cannot help that—for I do not hesitate to say, that Phariseeism is mixed with Hyper-Calvinism more than with any other sect in the world. And I do solemnly declare that this preaching to the prejudice and feelings of what they call sensible sinners, is nothing more than self-righteousness taking a most cunning and crafty shape, for it is telling the sinner that he must be something before he comes to Christ. Whereas the gospel is preached not to sensible sinners, or sinners with any other qualifying adjective, but to sinners as sinners, to sinners just as they are; it is not to sinners as repentant sinners, but to sinners as sinners, be their state what it may, and their feelings whatever they may.

Oh, sinners, Mercy's door is wide open flung to you this morning; let not Satan push you back saying, "You are not fit;" You are not fit! that is to say, you have all the fitness Christ wants, and that is none at all. Come to him just as you are.
(New Park Street Pulpit, Year 1860, #336 — STRUGGLES OF CONSCIENCE, page 403).
-- Bob L. Ross

Thursday, March 09, 2006

SBC Journey: Anonymous Blogs

SBC Journey's Phillips Lynn has a word about anonymity on the blogosphere. Fascinating.

James White Preaches for Hardshell Baptists

"Dr." James White's extreme Calvinist beliefs continue to be critiqued by Bob Ross, the publisher of C. H. Spurgeon's sermons. You can read some of Bob's articles on his web site, Selected Writings of Bob Ross.

Bob recently wrote an article, WHITE PREACHED FOR HARDSHELLS, which I am reprinting.


Back in August of 2005, I happened upon something which indicated that James White was a speaker for a Primitive Baptist, or Hardshell Baptist Church.

Primitive Baptists, frequently referred to as "Hardshells," teach that the elect are born again before they believe. In other words, they teach that "regeneration precedes faith in Christ."

If James White is not advocating something akin to Hardshellism -- which teaches that men are born again before faith -- why would a Hardshell Baptist church invite him to speak?

Hardshells have always been known to be very restrictive about who occupies their pulpits, and they are known for their stringent opposition to the "Means Baptists," or those who teach that the confession view that the Gospel. or Word of God, is used by the Holy Spirit as the instrumental means in the New Birth.

I hope this speaking engagement by James White at a Hardshell church is not an indication of the direction in which James White is headed -- after the past example of Lassere Bradley Jr. of Cincinnati and some other young preachers who left the "Means Baptists" to align themselves with the Hardshell Baptist sect which teaches the non-creedal view of the New Birth, that "regeneration precedes faith."

Here is that information, from James White himself:

A Great Time at Ephesus Church in Georgia

Back from ministering in Georgia this weekend. Had a wonderful time with the elders and people of the Ephesus Progressive Primitive Baptist Church. They have a good bit of fun with their own name, actually, since "Progressive Primitive" sorta sounds like "tall short" or "fat skinny" or "happy sad" or some such pairing. But the folks were warm and encouraging and seemed to really enjoy the ministry. One of the elders even called me shortly after I landed back here in Phoenix (I did the "let's see the whole continent while we are at it" route, Savannah to Chicago; Chicago to Phoenix thing) to make sure I had arrived safely. Great bunch of folks! I look forward to visiting with them again.

The difference between the Old School Primitives and the Progressive Primitives is explained as follows by the Primitive Baptists:


About the year 1909 there arose a division among the Primitive Baptists, or Old School Baptists, concerning the use of musical instruments in the church and "protracted meetings." Any meeting that continued more than three days was considered a "protracted meeting." These two things were the main issues, but from all appearances preacher jealousy was the real cause of the division. Those abstaining from the use of musical instruments and declining to go beyond three days in a meeting named themselves "Old Liners" and branded those whom they opposed as "Progressive." Progressive Primitive Baptists do have Bible Study classes, Youth Fellowship meetings and musical instruments in their churches whereas the Old Line Baptists do not.

To my knowledge, Progressives still hold the same Primitive Baptist view that the New Birth takes place before faith, just as James White teaches.

These Primitive Baptists, or Hardshells, originally became a separate movement or denomination in the 1820s-1830s in opposition to the "innovations" in missionary methods adopted by the "Means Baptists" such as Luther Rice for the promotion of foreign missions. A theory of "pre-faith regeneration" was developed by men such as Gilbert Beebe and adopted as a theological basis for their opposition to the necessity of preaching the Gospel to the unregenerate. We have a series of articles in print on the history and heresies of the Hardshells.-- Bob L. Ross

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

York and Ascol on the Lord's Day

Hershael York is a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary which automatically makes him suspect in his theology. Most informed SBCers know by now that Southern has become more of a Reformed (or Deformed) seminary than a Baptist one. More on that later.

For now, York has a great article on the changes concerning the Lord's Day in Article 8 of The Baptist Faith & Message. If you're unaware of the change you might want to take a look.

Confessions of a Pastor: York and Ascol on the Lord's Day

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Challenge to Steve Camp

Steve Camp is a man who enjoys patting himself on the back. In a recent blog, Steve was fond of an email which called him "the Simon Cowel of evangelicalism." "I guess it fits," Steve said.

Steve is also fond of finding miniscule faults in others. In his blog, Steve made sure his readers noticed that he correctly spelled the word, Arminian. He then added, "Just pointing this out for Dr. Caner's benefit." Steve was referring to Dr. Caner's misspelling of the word in a recent published email. Steve, can you spell miniscule?

He also likes taking cheap shots. He took a cheap shot at the Southern Baptist Convention, calling it "the SBC (Salvation By Convenience)". Steve is not a Southern Baptist but he enjoys taking jabs at us.

Steve's self-laudatory and nit-picking behavior are not what prompted today's blog. Like most Calvinists, Steve is also wont to creating straw man arguments which are quickly followed by irrational statements.

Steve apparently believes that the SBC consists of churches which embrace Arminianism. This is not the case but since Steve is not a Southern Baptist I will assume he knows little about us. It is not clear if he is speaking of SBC churches or Arminianism but he describes a certain disagreeable theology as one which does not require godly living.

Once you have made a verbal profession of faith you are saved for eternity. If you bear fruit to that end in your life or no fruit (John 15:1-5) it really doesn't matter. Forget about the life being changed--your mere words are more than enough to "secure the deal."

Here is my challenge to Steve Camp: Can you name one Southern Baptist pastor who teaches this? I know of none.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

James White's Eisegesis of Matthew 23:37 (part 1 of 3)

James White’s interpretation of Matthew 23:37 is a masterpiece of eisegesis. Notice I said eisegesis, and not exegesis. What’s the difference? Wikipedia explains that "the word exegesis means ‘to draw the meaning out of’ a given text. Exegesis may be contrasted with eisegesis, which means to read one's own interpretation into a given text."

Matthew 23:37 declares with a clarion call the heartfelt desire of Jesus to save the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem, however, were not willing to come to Jesus. This verse annihilates the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace and unconditional election.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (NASB)

The verse is so simple even a child could understand it. Calvinists, however, are befuddled by it. In an attempt to squeeze it into his Calvinistic theology, James White on pages 136-139 of The Potter’s Freedom borrows from John Gill’s tired old argument. Online you can read Gill’s exposition of this passage which runs over fifteen hundred words or you can buy James White’s book and get a three page makeover. It’s all the same. All the arguments of modern Calvinists are the same, if you’ve heard them once you’ve heard them a hundred times.

Gill and White argue that "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" refers not to all of Jerusalem but only to the Jewish leaders. The children were not unwilling, only the leaders of Jerusalem were unwilling. Jesus is condemning the Jewish leaders and is not speaking to all of Jerusalem.

Their reasoning? White give four points. We will examine the first point today and look at the others at a later date.

White’s reason #1: "It is to the leaders that God sent prophets."

When I read this I almost fell out of my chair laughing! White says that God sent the prophets to the leaders, and not the people? The Bible says otherwise.

Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman. Ezekiel 33:2

Ezekiel was sent to all the people, not merely the leaders. The same was true of Jeremiah.

Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD'S house and said to all the people. Jeremiah 19:14

In Daniel’s prayer, he stated why God sent Judah into Babylonian captivity.

Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. Daniel 9:6

White should put away John Gill and read the Old Testament. He might learn something.

James White: Color him Old Testament handicapped.

Too hot for The Founders

Most Calvinists are not fond of open debate. They live for control. I recently found this out first hand when I tried to enter some comments on The Founders blog. On the topic "Whither Southern Baptists," I mentioned that James P. Boyce referred to himself as an "ultra pro-slavery man" and that it might not have been a good idea for Southern Seminary president Al Mohler to name his new undergraduate school after the self-described "ultra pro-slavery man." Apparently, discussion of a founder, James P. Boyce, was not welcomed by The Founders. My comments were deleted along with my response below to a guy named Garvis.

Charles said...
Garvis, hello!
is a prima fascia absurdity to disdain a person's entire contribution to Christian thought for the mere fact that he lived in a culture supporting a practice

Garvis, did I say we should disdain everything? I said we should not hold them up as model theologians if we want to reach people of color. You do want to reach people of color, don't you, Garvis? Much of the theological support for slavery came from Boyce, Mell, Furman and the rest. They not only accepted it, they promoted it. Thousands of Baptist young men in the civil war died thinking they were doing God's will thanks to preaching they heard in Baptist churches in the south which followed Boyce's and Mell's theology. The topic of this blog is "Whither Southern Baptists?" If we want to reach people of color it would be best not to promote an "ultra pro-slavery man." There is nothing red herring about it.

I appreciate your zeal for Bailey Smith's ministry

My what? This blog runs down Bailey Smith like he was a dog. As a former president of the SBC, isn't he deserving of respect? I've had my comments about Mark Dever deleted for saying nothing of the level than has been said about Bailey Smith. It
is acceptable to run down Bailey Smith but let someone ask valid questions about James White's academic credentials or the promotion of a self-described "ultra pro-slavery man" and out comes the delete button.

Another deleted comment had to do with the heavy censorship on the Founders Blog.

Charles said...
Tom or whoever at Founders blog:

Why are you censoring and deleting my posts? You deleted my posts regarding Mark Dever but you allow the responses to my posts by others to remain. Why? You have proven your worth as a Calvinist. John Calvin could not stand vigorous debate either and had his rivals killed. You guys don't kill you just hit the delete button. If you won't allow anyone to be critical of Mark Dever then quit using this blog to take cheap shots at godly men like Johnny Hunt and Bailey Smith. You remember your blogs on Smith, don't you? Either allow free debate or repent of allowing critical remarks about godly men like Hunt and Smith!

The Founders: Color them censors.

Friday, March 03, 2006

James White and Rossphobia

The blogosphere is abuzz about "Dr." James White's debate challenge to Dr. Ergun Caner. Caner has not accepted which has caused some Calvinists to question his courage. Caner is the dean of Liberty Seminary and is a converted Muslim who debates Muslims. Let me repeat that: Caner is a converted Muslim who debates Muslims. Whatever his reasons for not accepting White's debate challenge, a lack of courage is not one of them. Others have also refused White's challenges for good reasons.

In the meantime, "Dr." White, who loves to challenge others, has refused to take up a challenge from another Calvinist, Bob Ross. White seems to have a severe case of Rossphobia, or the fear of Bob Ross. In case you have not heard of Bob, he is the owner of Pilgrim Publications, the company that publishes all of Charles H. Spurgeon's sermons. Bob is an accomplished debater and on more than one occasion has debated those of the "Church of Christ" persuasion.

Bob Ross is a Calvinist but has some problems with James White's view of regeneration before faith. Ross has also taken on The Founders a time or two. He is also no fan of Dave Hunt; you might say he's an equal opportunity Calvinist. You can read some of Bob's articles on his web site,
Selected Writings of Bob Ross.

Bob recently wrote an article, WHITE SMOKE AGAIN, which I am reprinting here in full.

Subject: WHITE SMOKE AGAIN [02/25--2005]


Today is my birthday -- the 71st. One of my readers sent me some humorous stuff this morning -- I suppose it was for a Birthday Greeting (?).

It consisted of more confusing smoke signals from the Arizona Reservation of Big Chief Tangle-Tongue Exegete (James White), the foremost Tomahawker and Smoke-Stoker of the "We Were Born Again Before Faith" tribe of "Super-Sized" Hybrid Calvinists.

Chief James has a daily Smokesite called a Blog from which he often stokes confused theological smoke signals, and today's smoke signal involves yours truly, as follows:

>>And I guess there is some fellow named "Charles" running about every single blog he can find posting something about Bob Ross (go figure--have to feel sorry for someone who invests their lives in such pursuits). I just checked Steve Camp's blog and read some of "Charles'"comments. Evidently whoever he is he's upset that at some time, years and years ago, I defended John MacArthur against Bob Ross' less-than-fair attacks. That would explain why Ross has since then attacked me on the ordo salutis. Despite Ross' behavior, and his unwillingness to even accept my own profession based upon the LBCF, I have refused to argue with the man. He did a great work many decades ago in printing Spurgeon's materials, and for that past work I have simply said, "Lord bless you, Bob," and left him to rail if he chooses to do so. There is no arguing with someone who says, "Well, you say you believe that, but you really don't."


The situation with Chief James is, it seems that in his own noggin he is simply "never wrong" -- at least, not on anything of substance -- not even when he puts his foot into his mouth.

In the case of John MacArthur and the Sonship of Christ view, James scolded me right roundly for my critiquing of MacArthur's former "incarnational sonship" view, and when MacArthur later saw the error of his way and came out publicly for the Confessional view of Eternal Sonship for which we stood, it left poor James "in a pickle." He had "egg on his face."

Now, in retrospect, instead of simply acknowledging the error of his way, James tries to "explain away" the fact that he put his foot in his mouth in trying to defend MacArthur. Someday we hope he will be conscientious enough to simply say, "Sorry, Bob, I was wrong to say what I did," and James' mind about me will be much more at ease.

As for the idea that we have ever "attacked" Chief James, we have never attacked anything related to him but what we believe to be his confusing smoke signals, and we believe we have dispelled his smoke in various articles.

As for James' ongoing crusade in behalf of Hybrid Calvinism on the matter of the New Birth --

For the benefit of my own readers who may wish to refresh your mind about this Hybrid Calvinism -- which consists of a mixture of Hardshellism and Presbyterianism on the New Birth -- advocated by James White, I refer you to the following website for a few of my smoke-repelling articles about the Big Chief's Hybridism:

Selected Writings of Bob Ross

>><<>James White and the "pre-faith regeneration" Hybrid Calvinist heterodoxy:


Alan Kurschner: Mr. Ignorant

Alan Kurschner is a James White wannabe who knows about as much theology as my cat knows New Testament Greek. Alan's recent article, Dave Hunt Denies Original Sin, takes his ignorance to a new level.

Alan's proof that Dave Hunt has denied original sin is based on a statement Hunt made that babies do not go to hell. Hear me again: Dave Hunt said that dead babies do not go to hell.

For Alan, to maintain that all babies go to heaven is equal to denying the doctrine of original sin. Alan apparently believes at least some dead babies will go to hell and burn forever . What a lovely God he has.

The "babies in hell" view is preposterous. While John Calvin, and James White no doubt, would be proud of Alan, other Calvinists would be appalled. Al Mohler and Dan Akin wrote Why we Believe Young Children Who Die Go to Heaven which Alan should take the time to read.

Mohler and Akin wrote,
in James 4:17, the Bible says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." The Bible is clear that we are all born with a sin nature as a result of being in Adam (Roman 5:12). This is what is called the doctrine of original sin. However, the Scriptures make a distinction between original sin and actual sins. While all are guilty of original sin, moral responsibility and understanding is necessary for our being accountable for actual sins (Deuteronomy 1:30; Isaiah 7:16). It is to the one who knows to
do right and does not do it that sin is reckoned. Infants are incapable of such decisions.

But this is precisely what Dave Hunt said! Alan quoted Hunt as saying, "The fact is that they [babies] did not sin. They died as babies. It wouldn’t be just to condemn to hell. What are they going to suffer for in hell? What deeds have they done?"

NewFlash! Alan's next article: Al Mohler Denies Original Sin!

Alan Kruschner: Color him ignorant.

Introducing: The Calvinist Flyswatter

The Calvinist Flyswatter is now online! The Flyswatter will swat the theological errors of all those pesky Calvinist flies that are swarming the blogosphere.