Thursday, May 29, 2008

What constitutes "Hybrid" Calvinism?


From time-to-time, we have a "new arrival" to The Calvinist Flyswatter who is not familiar with what I prefer to call "Hybrid" Calvinism.

In a nutshell, I am referring to the teaching that "regeneration precedes faith," or "born again before faith."

This idea apparently was a post-seventeenth century development which arose among the Pedobaptist theologians as a means to explain how their "covenant children" were "regenerated" as babies. That is, they were supposedly "born again" as babies before they ever became believers, which believing supposedly came later in life.

Hybrid Calvinism is a mixture of (1) Creedal Calvinism on the efficient cause (Holy Spirit) in the New Birth, and (2) the non-creedal idea that the "means" of the Word in creating faith is not an inherent necessary element in the New Birth. It is the "Hardshell" view of regeneration by a "Direct Operation of the Spirit apart from Means." It is the "Spirit alone" theory.

This theory eventually became part of the "ordo salutis" and its beginning is traced by some to Francis Turretin.

W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2, pages 492-494:
The divines of the seventeenth century very generally do not distinguish between regeneration and conversion, but employ the two as synonyms. Owen does this continually: On the Spirit, III. v. And Charnocke likewise: Attributes, Practical Atheism. The Westminster does not use the term regeneration. In stead of it, it employs the term vocation, or effectual calling. This comprises the entire work of the Holy Spirit in the application of redemption. . . .

But this wide use of the term regeneration led to confusion of ideas and views. As there are two distinct words in the language, regeneration and conversion, there are also two distinct notions denoted by them. Consequently, there arose gradually a stricter use of the term regeneration, and its discrimination from conversion. Turrettin (XV. iv. 13) defines two kinds of conversion, as the term was employed in his day. . . . After thus defining, Turrettin remarks that the first kind of conversion is better denominated 'regeneration,' because it has reference to the new birth by which man is renewed in the image of his Maker; and the second kind of conversion is better denominated 'conversion,' because it includes the operation and agency of man himself. . . . We shall adopt this distinction between regeneration and conversion. . . . Regeneration is a cause; conversion is an effect."

J. I. Packer :

Many seventeenth century Reformed theologians equated regeneration with effectual calling and conversion with regeneration . . . LATER REFORMED THEOLOGY has defined regeneration more narrowly, as the implanting of the "seed" from which faith and repentance spring (I John 3:9) in the course of effectual calling.

Louis Berkhof also acknowledged that the theory had post-Creedal development:

"It is true that some Reformed authors have occasionally used the term 'regeneration' as including even sanctification, but that was in the days when the ORDO SALUTIS was not as fully developed as it is today" (Systematic Theology, page 468).

These are well-known "Reformed" Pedobaptist sources, and they are telling us that the "ordo salutis" of modern Reformed theology, which puts "regeneration" prior to faith, is in fact a hybrid development which arose "later" than the seventeenth century divines (Puritans) who regarded regeneration and conversion as synonymous.

Contrary to Shedd's idea that "regeneration is a cause," we hold that regeneration is an "effect" -- that is, regeneration is the New Birth, and the New Birth is an effect of the Holy Spirit's using the Word of God to bring an unconverted person to union with Christ by faith in Christ.

So we contend that no one is born again until he has faith "monergistically" effected in him by the Word and Spirit of God -- as is plainly taught in our Baptist Confession of Faith, and is known as "Effectual Calling." (1689 London Baptist Confession, Article 10).

That is why I say I am a "Creedal Calvinist" on the New Birth as opposed to the modern "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinism of the Pedobaptist "ordo salutis" variety. While I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit works in a lost person before he becomes a believer, this does not constitute the New Birth or regeneration.

As Dr. B. H. Carroll has said, "regeneration cannot be complete without faith." [An Interpretation of the English Bible, Volume 10, pages 293, 294].


At Thursday, May 29, 2008 8:16:00 PM, Blogger Stephen Garrett said...

Well written! Amen! Here, here!

God bless



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