Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tom Nettles Relies on Theologian Who Rejected Regeneration Before Faith Theology

In the article, Brother Bob Ross provides another piece of evidence refuting the "born again before faith" theology held by James White, many of The Founders, and many professors at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Isn't it strange that Dr. Tom Nettles quotes Kerfoot when Kerfoot so clearly rejected the theology promoted by Nettles, Mark Dever, and many of The Founders?



Bob to Charles:

I came upon the following statement by Tom Nettles of Southern Seminary in an article at --

F. H. Kerfoot, a Southern Baptist theologian and pastor at the turn of the 20th Century, highlighted this doctrine when he wrote, "Nearly all Baptists believe what are usually termed the 'doctrines of grace': the absolute sovereignty and foreknowledge of God; His eternal and unchangeable purposes or decrees; that salvation in its beginning, continuance and completion, is God's free gift; that, in Christ, we are elected or chosen, personally or individually, from eternity, saved and called out from the world, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; ... Read Rom 8, 9, 10, 11; Acts 13:48; Eph 1:4-5; 2:1-10; 1 Peter 1:2-5; Jude 24; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5."

Is this another instance of a Founders' associate trying to identify with a well-known Baptist of the past, as if he held to Hybrid Calvinism? Is Nettles trying to imply a lot more than was actually taught by Kerfoot?

Being the student that he is, does Nettles probably know very well that F. H. Kerfoot (1847-1901), who succeeded James Boyce as Professor of Systematic Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, did not hold to the Hybrid Calvinism idea of "born again before faith" as held by at least some at SBTS?

Contrary to the "born again before faith" heresy, Kerfoot reasoned that if the New Birth actually took place before faith, "then one could be a regenerated person without repentance and faith. For repentance and faith are the elements of conversion. But one cannot be a saved person without these. How can one be regenerated, in point of time, BEFORE one has faith or repentance? Can a regenerated person be an unsaved person?" (Boyce's Abstract of Systematic Theology, revised by F. H. Kerfoot, page 348).

In his revision of J. P. Boyce's Systematic Theology, Kerfoot included the following, which conflicts with Hybrid Calvinism on "regeneration" (pages 329, 330). He shows that the convicting, awakening work of the Spirit in the lost soul before repentance and faith does not constitute "regeneration" or the New Birth:

"II. Nature of Conviction.
1. Not Regeneration.
Conviction is not regeneration. No one ever thinks of speaking of a soul under conviction of sin as a regenerated soul. As we have seen, a soul may experience conviction without ever being brought to regeneration. Some of the non-elect have been under terrible conviction of sin. We are apt to be misled here by our ideas of "death." Conviction is a certain sort of quickening, or making alive so to speak. And there is a tendency to think that when this is the case the souls is no longer dead, but alive, regenerated. But spiritual death is not, like bodily death, a state in which there can be no sort of feeling or activity. The Bible shows that in spiritual death there may be intense feeling and activity of certain kinds. At the judgment and in perdition those who are dead spiritually are keenly alive to suffering and convicted of sin. The same may be true of a soul here. The Spirit of God may do much work upon a soul and produce much movement in a soul before that soul is brought to regeneration. There may be intense conviction without regeneration.

2. Awakening to its true condition. A convicted soul is a soul awakened by the Spirit of God to a sense of its true condition. The eyes of the understanding are opened to appreciate the truths of God's Word, and to see its own lost condition; the conscience is quickened so that it experiences a sense of sin; the feelings are aroused; and the cry comes, "What must I do to be saved?"

3. Always antecedent to regeneration. This conviction of the souls is always antecedent to regeneration so far as adults are concerned. It may, as we have seen, stop short of regeneration. But regeneration never takes place without it.

Kerfoot goes on to affirm that in His work, he Spirit not only operates in preliminary conviction on the soul prior to regeneration, and He works "mediately through the Word," and he cites various other elements in God's providence which serve as "means of awakening, or of giving deeper conviction, or of enforcing the SCRIPTURE TRUTHS which LEAD TO regeneration and conversion" (pages 331-333).

Not only so, but Kerfoot specifically denied that there is any "chronological sequence" to "regeneration" and "conversion" (page 347). He simply refers to the Spirit's work as "regeneration" and the sinner's simultaneous repentance and faith as "conversion," without any "chronological" sequence involved.

Kerfoot argues that if there were a chronological order, "then one could be a regenerated person without repentance and faith. For repentance and faith are the elements of conversion. But one cannot be a saved person without these. How can one be regenerated, in point of time, before one has faith or repentance? Can a regenerated person be an unsaved person?" (page 348).

This conflicts with the Hybrid Calvinism theory of "born again before faith" or that "regeneration" is chronologically separate from conversion -- a heresy which is perhaps best illustrated by the consistent pedo-regenerationists such as Shedd, Berkhof, Sproul, Duncan, and Frame who have babies "regenerated" long before they supposedly come to repentance and faith in later years. -- Bob L. Ross


At Sunday, May 28, 2006 11:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Bob to Charles:

I might add that I have yet received no response to my inquiry which was sent to both Professor Tom Nettles and President R. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, first on April 23, 2006, and a second time on April 29, 2006.

In that inquiry, I asked about the reported invitation by Dr. Nettles to noted Hardshell Primitive Baptist preacher, Lasserre Bradley, Jr., to visit the campus of Southern Seminary and what, if any, were the doctrinal implications of such an invitation and visit.

Inviting Bradley, who for half a century has been an outspoken enemy of the historic missionary Baptist view on the necessity of the Gospel in the New Birth, to the Seminary might compare with inviting the author of the Da Vinci Code to the Seminary. In fact, of the two, Bradley is probably the most dangerous to the cause of missionary Baptists.

At Monday, May 29, 2006 9:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or maybe inviting Joel Olsten, Robert Shular, Benny Hinn, Tim LaHaye, Bob Ross and Charles ? to campus.....
Absolutely nothing wrong with invitations to gentlemen such as Bradley (if your are telling the truth about this).
Again what makes you the one to determine who is qualified for anything Christian - don't answer that, your egos will make you sin! Oh, well that has already been determined.

At Monday, May 29, 2006 12:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


anonymous said...

Absolutely nothing wrong with invitations to gentlemen such as Bradley (if your are telling the truth about this).

Bob's reply:

"If"? What do you mean "if"? We have simply reported to Nettles and Mohler what Bradley HIMSELF has said, and they will not either verify or deny the report that he was invited to SBTS.

As for there being "nothing wrong" with inviting Hardshell Bradley, that's the same thing James White said after he preached for the Hardshells and how Scott Morgan probably feels by fellowshipping with the Hardshells.

Hybrid Calvinists see "nothing wrong" with the Hardshells, for they share the Hardshell view of "born again before faith."

At Tuesday, May 30, 2006 10:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you think that maybe they agree to disagree with various views and still find that as Christians we are to look at the whole and if we are truly brothers in Christ that some room must be made regardless of differences. We Calvinist still make room and respect many who disagree with us. You come across more like you are Church of Christ instead of a part of the true Church of Christ. You probably don't receive a response do to the fact you simply don't qualify as one who determines these matters. Bob you truly need to get a life. By the way don't turn this on me with those I spoke of because each deny more than profess and each are more anti-biblical than biblical in their views.

At Tuesday, May 30, 2006 11:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was revisiting Dr. Tom Nettles book, By His Grace and For His Glory, and read the section wherein Brother Nettles presents his arguments against public invitations.

It reminded me of how much of a contrast there is between Dr. Nettles' view on this matter and the view of one of the Seminary's founders, Dr. John A. Broadus.

In his famous book, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, which I used years ago when I was teaching young preachers, Dr. Broadus has this comment on the topic of invitations in his discussion of the "Conduct of Public Worship:"

"In many churches it is customary to follow every sermon with an 'invitation' hymn, during which any who desire to MAKE A PUBLIC PROFESSION OF FAITH or to become members of the church are INVITED to present themselves by COMING TO THE FRONT" (page 375, 1943 edition by Broadman Press).

Dr. Broadus himself was evidently converted under similar circumstances where invitations were used (Life and Letters of John A. Broadus by A. T. Robertson, pages 33-35). I would not be surprised if Nettles himself was converted under similar circumstances.

The following is reported by Dr. Robertson about how young John won his first soul to the Lord during what was obviously a time of public invitation following a sermon:

In a meeting a few months after John's conversion, the preacher urged all Christiansat the close of the service to move about and talk to the unconverted. John looked anxiously around to see if there was anybody present he could talk to about his soul's salvation. He had never done anything of the kind before. Finally he saw a man not very bright, named Sandy. He thought he might venture to speak to him at any rate; and Sandy was converted. John soon went away to teach school. Whenever he came back Sandy would run across the street to meet him and say; "Howdy, John? thankee, John. Howdy, John? thankee, John." Doctor Broadus often told of this first effort of his at soul-winning and would add: "And if ever I reach the heavenly home and walk the golden streets, I know the first person to meet me will be Sandy, coming and saying again: 'Howdy, John? thankee, John.'"

Could you ever imagine, Charles, an instance wherein Dr. Nettles, Dr. Schreiner, Dr. Mohler, Scott Morgan, Gene Bridges, R. C. Sproul, James White, or an adversary to public invitations would follow the example of young John Broadus and "move about and talk to the unconverted" at the close of a sermon?

At Tuesday, May 30, 2006 7:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

We Calvinist still make room and respect many who disagree with us. You come across more like you are Church of Christ instead of a part of the true Church of Christ.

You claim you have "respect" for those who disagree, then you immediately allege that I "come across" like a Campbellite. That seems to be double-talk.

I rather think you are disturbed by the Flyswatter's swatting of the Hybrid Calvinists' heresies, and that accounts for our being the object of your disfavor.

At Wednesday, May 31, 2006 11:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the looks of it the swatter its being swatted because the responses are not coming. No it isn't double-talk, Bob, I believe that would be your department. I personally find this site funny and full of ignorant holes in a mix of beliefs that do not jell but are jello!

At Friday, June 09, 2006 10:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, several of us at SBTS were talking about your good work today. We're not all Reformed. You have many supporters here.

Keep it coming!


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