Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monergism & regeneration


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White whine again


I noticed that James White, "The Great
has stoked up his "White Lightnin" still again, and his Arizona desert brew is about the same 100-proof whine as usual.

He is again whinning for someone to debate him. Well, it has been over two years now and the Pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinism promoter has never shown any interest in debating a Creedal Calvinist . . . namely, myself. He is willing to debate with the "easy pick'ns" types -- Mormons, Homosexuals, Atheists, Roman Catholics, Arminians, Muslims, etc. etc., but he easily finds convenient "reasons" for having no interest in putting his Hybrid Calvinism in the ring with a Creedal Calvinist.

He is now nit-picking the "Non-Calvinist" "John 3:16" conference in his ongoing effort of trying to make a name for himself with the "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinists as a scholar, debater, churchman, "exegeeter," video performer, and general all-round "defender of the faith" of the Hybrids.

He'll never make it or get very far cloistered on YouTube, wearing colorful hats, walling his eyes around and frowning, and making occasional "jokes."

We more or less "nailed his hide to the wall" awhile back, and he tends to avoid us like the plague. In fact, he has put out severe "warnings" against us in the effort to protect the brethren from our many wrongs.

Check out some of our articles on the inimitable James at --

Selected Writings of Bob Ross

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




























Karaoke --
Tune of "White Lightnin'" by George Jones

Well, out in Phoenix Arizona,
In his exe-geetin' mode,
James peck'd pedo dogma
In his 'puterized still,
He brew'd White Lightnin'
On the laptop's screen,
Then he'd send it all over
To whosoever will.

Mighty, mighty pleazin',
James' exe-geetin';
Whshhhooosh . . .
White lightnin'!


Well the Hunt men, Caner men,
Flyswatter, too, Searchin' the blog
Where James exe-geet'd his brew;
They were look'n, try'n to hook'm,
But James just kept a-peck'n --
Whshhhooosh . . .
White lightnin'!

Well Steve took note that James called his brew
"Monergism" 'stead of Pedobaptist dew;
He read a few lines and right away he knew,
As his lips curl'd a smile his eyes lit-up too,
Thoughts started flashin' and his keyboard
Started splashin' . . .
Shhhooosh . . .
White lightnin'!


Well the Hunt men, Caner men,
Flyswatter, too, Searchin' the blogs
Where James exe-geet'd his brew;
They were look'n, try'n to hook'm,
But James just kept a-peck'n --
Whshhhooosh . . .
White lightnin'!

Well a Caner-slicker came and he said "I'm tuff,
I think I wanna trash James' awful stuff;"
He took one read'n and he fell right down
And I heard a moanin' as he hit Liberty's ground --

Mighty, mighty pleazin', James' ex-geetin' --
Whshhhooosh . . .
White lightnin'!


Well the Hunt men, Caner men,
Flyswatter, too, Searchin' the blogs
Where James exe-geet'd his brew;
They were look'n, try'n to hook'm,
But James just kept a-peck'n --

Whshhhooosh . . .
White lightnin'!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why your next pastor should be a Calvinist


Tom Nettles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Board member of the Flounders, has an item on the Flounders' website entitlted, "Why Your Next Pastor Should Be a Calvinist."

I first met Tom when he was on the Faculty at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis when I was a guest speaker there in the early 1980s. I have known him ever since and we have exchanged a number of emails in time past. He doesn't contact me any more, evidently due to my disagreement with him over a number of issues related to what he calls "Calvinism."

It is not my purpose to critique Tom's article, but rather to indicate what one might possibly expect if his next pastor is a "Calvinist" according to the modern Pedobaptist "Reformed" version of "Calvinism" represented by the Flounders and Dr. Tom Nettles.

1. If your church has been engaged in aggressive evangelistic efforts, you might expect those efforts to be discouraged and to go into the decline.

2. If your church has used a public invitation to invite sinners to believe and confess Christ as Saviour, you can expect this to at first be minimized, then eventually ceased to be practiced altogether.

3. If your church has been accepting the professions of faith on the part of children and baptizing them, you can expect that to decline as well, probably cease.

4. If your church has been providing Gospel tracts which the new pastor considers to be "Arminian," you can expect not to see them made available anymore for use.

5. You can expect to probably see a number of tracts, booklets and books provided which promote the Pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinist version of "Calvinism."

6. As progress is made in the "reformation" to Hybrid Calvinism, you might expect a "conference" to be held which will major on "the doctrines of grace" according to the Hybrid Calvinist version. Dr. Nettles might even be one of the speakers.

7. You can expect your pastor to perhaps urge the church to become an affiliate of the Flounders as a "Founders Friendly" associate.

8. You can expect your pastor to discountenance certain nomenclature which he brands as "Arminian," such as "accept Christ," "receive Christ," "decision," "the sinner's prayer," "open your heart to Jesus," etc.

9. As your church grows "deeper" in the "grace" of Hybrid Calvinism, you can expect your pastor to refer disparagingly of evangelists and evangelism ("easy believism" and "decisional regeneration," he might call it), D. L. Moody, Charles Finney, Billy Graham, and any others who have had multitudes of professions in their ministries.

10. You can expect your pastor will preach on the "New Birth," and explain to the congregation how "regeneration" must "precede faith."

11. You can expect your pastor to promote the books authored by Hybrid Calvinists, especially the Pedobaptist writers published by the Banner of Truth.

12. You can expect your pastor to encourage adopting the "elder system" of the Pedobaptists.

13. You can expect that any new members added to the church will most likely be proselytes who have "come into the doctrines of grace" after having been originally converted under "Arminian" ministries.

14. Eventually, after the initial enthusiasm and
infatuation for Hybrid Calvinism has settled down, you may see your church begin to decline, and even develope splits and splinters.

15. Then, after perhaps a few years, your church may have dwindled down to a precious few, and stand on the brink of shutting down.

Now, I am not saying this is an absolute pattern, but I have been around "Calvinists" of the "Reformed" DNA for many years, and I have known most of the so-called "revivals" of "Calvinism" and their prominent leaders, and what I have described is from my observation in many, many cases. In our own area, for instance, I could probably cite from six to ten churches which have more or less followed this route and have shut down.

So . . . if you want to risk following Tom's advice and call a "Calvinist" pastor, just remember what "the old man" told you on this blog in November, 2008.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Whine, whine, whine


I have noticed that the "Reformed" or self-professed "Calvinist" camp has once again had a break-out of whinningitis.

It just seems that one can't say anything contrary about the "Calvinist" brethren without offending their delicate sensibilities. They remind me a lot of Alexander Campbell who always seemed to be "misrepresented" by the Baptists who critiqued him. The Baptists just couldn't seem to "get it right" when they wrote or spoke about Campbell and his teachings, and he was always complaining of "misrepresentation."

So today, one can't say or write anything about James White, Tom Ascol, the Flounders, or some other "Reformed" sources and not have it categorized as "misrepresentation." Somewhere they seem to be able to find something which was wrong with what was said.

And so, they break-out with a bad case of whinningitis ever so often, especially if they are critiqued by someone who does not agree with their Pedobaptist "Reformed" version of "Calvinism." If one looks at the comments on some of the blogs, the number of posts seems to indicate that whining is a mutual affliction on the part of the supporting whinnies.

It is getting so bad that they seem to be developing a persecution complex. They are being "persecuted" for their "defense of the faith."

They are now frequently resorting to disparaging appellatives such as "anti-Calvinists" to brand anyone who critiques their Pedobaptist Reformed Hybrid Calvinism. The #1 Whinner-in-Chief seems to be James White with Tom Ascol running a close second. If anyone has ever differed with either one of these fellows and not misrepresented him, I have yet to see his name. They churn such whine that it must generate a lot of empathy from their "Calvinist" brotherhood.

The inimitable "churchman, evangelist, preacher, theologian, apologist," James the Great Exegeeter, complains: "I must admit, I am sick and tired of those who seem utterly intent upon promoting a narrow agenda, one-string banjo players who seem to have little else to do in life but to pluck their very limited number of notes."

Tom, the Bridge to Nowhere designer and the promoter of mailing Pedobaptist DVDs to educate Florida pastors in PedoCalvinism, bemoans the "mischaracterizations, inaccuracies and false accusations that permeate" those who disagree with Pedobaptist "Reformed" version of Calvinism.

They remind me a lot of the attitude of the fellow who was in a mental institution. When he was asked why he and the other inmates were in the place, he said, "They are all crazy. I'm the only one in here in his right mind."

Note: In Charles' absence, comments may be sent to my email address for posting:

Happy Thanksgiving, Charles!


Just wanted to post a message to you, Charles, and hope you are somewhere in the world where you can see it -- HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Your contributions on the Flyswatter are greatly missed, both by me and others who have contacted me by email. I know you must have a good reason for being gone for so long, and I hope it is not something like a health problem or some other undesirable hindrance.

Like the kid cried out in the movie, "Shane" --

"Charles! . . . . Charles!! . . . Come back!!!

-- Bob, Numbers 24:24-26

Yarnell & Ascol on Communion


We have several times indicated on this blog the infatuation by the Flounders, founded by Ernest Reisinger and now headed by Tom Ascol, with the Pedobaptist "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinist Presbyterians who have forsaken the Westminster Confession of Faith on "Effectual Calling."

Now, Dr. Malcolm Yarnell has collared Flounders' Frontman, Tom Ascol, with a question in regard to the Lord's Supper, or Communion.

Are the Flounders also so attuned with the Pedobaptist Hybrids to the extent that they would invite them to commune at the Lord's Supper?

If Ascol has yet made a clear and distinct reply to Yarnell, I have somehow failed to see it on the Flounders' blog where Yarnell and Ascol have been exchanging comments.

The following seems to summarize what I have seen thus far on the Flounders' blog:

Yarnell to Ascol: Does your church have in its belief and/or practice the offering of communion to a Presbyterian? -- 9:27 AM, November 27, 2008

Ascol to Yarnell: Those whose profession of regenerate church membership is only theoretical and who yet set themselves up as defenders of Baptist distinctives have forsaken any moral authority to be taken seriously. -- 10:01 AM, November 27, 2008

It seems that Ascol does not think he should take Yarnell's question "seriously."

When I read Ascol's comment, I wondered if perhaps his own words appropriately might be applied to Ascol who has been so outspoken on "regenerate church membership"?

Would he offer communion to the "unregenerate," or does he agree with the Pedobaptists on "the regeneration of covenant children in infancy?"

If Ascol or any other Baptist invites a faithful Presbyterian of the modern "Reformed" category to the Lord's Supper, here is what is apparently endorsed:

1. The faithful Presbyterian holds that he (or she) was "regenerated" in infancy, either before physical birth, or shortly after birth, or at the time of infant baptism, or shortly after infant baptism.

2. The faithful Presbyterian, consequently, holds that "regeneration" takes place before the infant believes on Jesus Christ as Saviour.

3. The faithful Presbyterian was received into church membership in infancy, following his baptism.

4. The faithful Presbyterian holds that his membership in the Presbyterian church predates any confession of faith in Christ.

Now, these are matters which are altogether apart from any differences Baptists might have in regard to the "mode of baptism" -- whether by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. This issue here is simply "regeneration."

If the Presbyterian does not hold to the specifications I have cited above, then he is not faithful to the doctrine and practice of his church.

If he does hold to them, then for a Baptist to invite this Presbyterian to the Lord's Supper apparently constitutes a tacit endorsement of infant regeneration and infant church membership.

If Ascol insists on a very tight ship on "regenerate church membership," would it be consistent to tacitly endorse the "Reformed" heresies of infant "regeneration" and "church membership" by inviting them to communion?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

James White -- "High" or "Stiff"?

JAMES "The Great Exegeeter" WHITE?

Breaking News! At long last, we may have
acceptable terms to apply to James White's "Calvinism."

There is a lot of palabber (and palaver, too) on some blogs about "Calvinism," "Hyper Calvinism," "Uber Calvinism," etc. etc. It's all very amusing how there seems to be what Phil Johnson describes as different "hues" of Calvinism. One size does not seem to fit all.

A couple of the most amusing comments I've read are (1) Phil's reference to his own "hue" as "middle" Calvinism between the "high" and "low" Calvinists, and (2) James White's reference to his "hue" as a "stiffer form" of Calvinism. Phil refers to James' Calvinism as being of a "higher" sort than Phil's.

There's been a big fuss lately about James' being called a "hyper" Calvinist. Some are saying that he is hyper, while James is denying it, and Phil is supporting James' denial. But very recently Phil has said that James is "a higher sort of Calvinist than I," and since James did not squawk I suppose it may be acceptable for James to be called a "high" Calvinist -- or even a "stiff" Calvinist.

Phil says:

"I often find myself standing in the middle, urging low Calvinists not to be so quick to label their high brethren 'hyper,' and likewise urging high Calvinists not to be so quick to dismiss their low brethren as crypto-Arminians. From my position, it is absolutely clear that there are many different hues of Calvinism; we are not a monolithic community."

It appears that the "definition" of "Calvinism" in this period is rather subjective -- every man describes it according to that which is right in his own eyes.

So then, what really constitutes "hyper" Calvinism? Is it simply "theory" as opposed to "practice"?

If one says he believes in preaching the Gospel to every man, yet he does not preach it to any, is that "hyperism"?

If one says he believes the death of Christ is sufficient to save every man who believes, yet he does not seek to get any one to believe, is he a hyper?

If one says he believes the invitation to believe on Christ is universal, yet he does not invite any one to believe, is that "hyperism"?

"They'll do it every time" #2


I knew it would be forthcoming. From the time I first saw the announcement about the "John 3:16" Conference, I just knew it would most likely inspire all the mouth-watering Hybrids to come out of the woodwork whining, whimpering, and complaining. Hybrid reaction to the Conference was about as predictable as a Timmy Brister Twitter.

Flounders Tom Ascol and Timmy Brister of the "Tom and Tim Blogs & Twitters Production Co. Inc." have jumped on the "John 3:16ers" with both feet, and are now indulging themselves once again in their favorite Internet pasttime -- critiquing those twisted minds who differ with them on the Pedobaptist "Reformed" version of "Calvinism."

Never mind Brister's stats about how many lost souls are living all around Ascol's Cape Coral church. Never mind the stats about the multitude of suicides that have taken place in their vicinity. Never mind that after all these years they have never engaged in evangelism to the extent of establishing a single church. Never mind that they can recite the "5 points" forward and backward while standing on their heads but evidently have yet to "recover the gospel" so as to become an authentic evangelistic church.

Never mind all those things. First things first. And that means the "defense of the doctrines of grace" (aka Pedobaptist "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinism).

Let the neighbors perish without hearing the Gospel . . . let Floridians go to Hell without even being given a Gospel tract by Ascol or Brister . . . let lost sinners within their reach fin for themselves -- the "defense" of Hybrid Calvinism must take precedence.

They know what will "draw a crowd" to their blogs -- whine, whimper, and complain about fellows like Steve Lemke, Malcolm Yarnell, Johnny Hunt, Jerry Vines, etc. etc. If they didn't have something on that order to gripe about, what would they do? . . . Twitter? . . . put up a new blog? . . . sponsor a conference?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"They'll do it every time"


The old newspaper cartoon, "They'll do it every time," is no longer published, but the cartoonist could have apropriately utilized the Flounders (aka "Founders Ministries") as a suitable topic for cartoons.

We have cited several instances on this blog of Flounders' "Tomfoolery" and "Timerity" which have certainly been worthy of cartoonery. The latest item of note is put forth in the Flounders' Headmaster's recent blog of November 24, 2008:

Tom Ascol introduces an article, saying --

". . . what I mean by 'Calvinism' is exactly what the great Southern Baptist statesman, John Broadus, meant . . ."

The Flounders are always trying to adorn themselves by vainly referring to the names of great Baptists of the past, and here again is a good illustration of how "They'll do it every time."

The "Calvinism" of John A. Broadus is about as much like the Hybrid Calvinism of Tom Ascol as the modern Pedobaptist "Reformed" theology is like that of John Calvin.

For example, Tom Ascol opposes public invitations to unsaved sinners to accept Christ, whereas John A. Broadus taught his students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to give invitations (On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, page 375). Yet today, anti-invitationism is maintained at SBTS.

Broadus made a profession of faith during a revival meeting in 1843, was baptized and joined the church the same day (Life and Letters of John A. Broadus, pages 33, 34). Such things are unheard of in Flounders' churches. In fact, they discourage this type of evangelism and immediate baptism. In fact, Brister has recently embellished the "antism" of Paul Washer, who says he "hates" such evangelism.

Broadus also believed in personal soul-winning, even during the church service, and he was instrumental in winning his first soul to Christ in this way.


In a meeting a few months after John's conversion, the preacher urged all Christians at 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.'"


You most likely would not find that type of soul-winning in Tom Ascol's church or any other Flounders' church known to me.

In a letter dated September 12, 1863, while John Broadus was serving as chaplain with the Army of Northern Virginia, he wrote:

"Yesterday morning I went to Blue Run and preached to Col. (John Thompson) Brown's Battery. Much interest there. Dr. J. R. Bagby, our former student, has been holding prayer meetings, and several have professed conversion. Many wept during the sermon, and not at allusions to home, but to their sins, and God's great mercy. . . . Gilmer is dreadfully opposed to inviting men forward to prayer, etc., though Lacy, Hoge, and most of the Presbyterians, do it just like the rest of us." (Life and Letters of John A. Broadus, pages 207-8).

J. William Jones, historian of the great revival in the Army of Northern Virginia, is quoted by Robertson regarding one particular preaching experience by Broadus, a sermon based on Proverbs 3:17, delivered to some 5,000 men, including much of the Confederate high command:

"At the close of the service they came by the hundreds to ask an interest in the prayers of God's people, or to profess a new-found faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, . . ." (Ibid, p. 209).

You probably won't find Tom Ascol or Timmy Brister doing that at their Florida church. Their "Calvinism" is quite different from Dr. Broadus when it comes to winning souls to Christ. That is perhaps why Ascol and his church have never established another church -- they are evidently so hobbled by their Hybrid Calvinist doctrine on "regeneration" that making proselytes from and "reforming" alleged Arminians is apparently more appealing to them than winning the unsaved "elect."

Both Broadus and James P. Boyce were supporters of of D. L. Moody and his evangelism. What a contrast between the true Founders and the current Flounders.

We carried the following item awhile back:

One of the letters Broadus wrote to W. D. Powell says this of D. L. Moody:

"Louisville, Feb. 26, 1895: I am glad to hear about your proposed Missionary Conference, and to learn that our honored friends, Mr. Moody and Mr. [Ira] Sankey are expected to attend. I have never heard Mr. Moody speak without gaining fresh and wholesome impulses in the right direction. He is one of THE MOST USEFUL AND JUSTLY HONORED CHRISTIAN MEN OF THE AGE, and I shall be exceedingly glad if he can give you his help" (Life and Letters of John A. Broadus, pages 428, 429).

John A. Broadus, like C. H. Spurgeon, was a personal friend of Moody's, dined at Moody's home in Northfield, Massachusetts, and preached for Moody's Northfield Conferences. These items are brought out in A. T. Robertson's "Life and Letters of John A. Broadus."

These are but a few of the differences between Tom Ascol and his "Calvinism" and John A. Broadus. It a fake and a fraud for Ascol to try to cloak his "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinism with the name of John A. Broadus.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Simple gospel, easy to believe?


Despite what we often read and hear from the "Reformed" brethren of the "ultrafine doctrine," the Gospel is not difficult to understand nor hard to believe. The Lord is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and nothing is difficult or hard for Him.

Jesus compared being saved or born again to the simple act of looking to the brazen serpent and thereby being healed (John 3:14-16). Young Charles Spurgeon found it was simply a matter of "looking unto Jesus" to have everlasting life.

That is why I love Spurgeon so much -- he does not litter and clutter the simple Gospel and simple faith with a lot of the theoretical balderdash such as we read and hear from many in the "Reformed" camp.

Spurgeon tells a story about a simple fellow named "Jack" who was saved by simply believing. Jack was not so brilliant, and he would go around telling people he was saved, but many had doubts about simpleton Jack's being truly saved. He made it sound too "easy," and some would interrogate him on the "deeper" things.

Jack would simply reply to their questions -- "I'm a poor sinner,and nothing at all, but Jesus Christ is my all and all."

His critics and the doubters just could not shake Jack from his simple faith. Spurgeon took about two pages, telling about "poor Jack" and his testimony (Vol. 1, New Park Street Pulpit, pages 361-362).

Today, some of the "ultrafine doctrinal brethren" (as Spurgeon called them), put down simple faith as "easy believism," "decisional regeneration," etc., and they hold up a standard of salvation that amounts to little more than a form of salvation by works. But by God's grace, salvation is "easy," and the Gospel is "simple" -- despite what the brethren say and think.

Spurgeon said, "O simple faith, thou hast the key to the kingdom! Come, and welcome into my heart" (Vol. 38, MTP, page 201).

Spurgeon preached a sermon on John 1:12, 13, and he opened it by saying, "Everything here is simple; everything is sublime. Here is that simple gospel by which the most ignorant may be saved" (Vol. 38, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, THE SIMPLICITY

He said it was so simple that "children of three and four years of age have doubtless been capable of it; and there have been many persons, but very little removed from absolute idiocy, who have been able to believe; a doctrine which needs to be reasoned out may require a high degree of mental development, but the simple act of trusting requires nothing of the kind" (Vol. 12, MTP, page 19).

Now, the reason Spurgeon believed it was so simple is because he believed that the Word of God is powerful, and the Holy Spirit accompanies the Word, and that is what overcomes the resistance of human nature, and makes it easy to believe.

"This is a very simple matter," he said, "One grain of faith is worth more than than a diamond the size of the world . . . Salvation is a very simple business. God help us to look at it simply, and practically, and to receive Christ, and believe on his name! . . . I go over and over and over with this, and never get one jot further, because I find that this medicine cures all soul sicknesses, while human quackery cures none. Christ alone is the one remedy for sin-sick souls. I can sympathize with Luther when he said, 'I have preached justification by faith so often, and I feel sometimes that you are so slow to receive it, that I could almost take the Bible, and bang it about your heads!" (Vol. 38, MTP, page 268, 269, 272).

Spurgeon told of a woman who heard him preach but would not believe. She wanted him to pray for her to be saved.

Spurgeon said, "No, I will not pray for you . . . I set before you Christ crucified, and I beg you to believe in him. If you will not believe in him, you will be lost; and I shall not pray God to make any different way of salvation for you. You deserve to be lost if you will not believe in Christ."

The immediate result was that the woman exclaimed, "Oh, I see now! I do look to Christ, and trust him"(Vol. 38, MTP, page 388).

It's all so simple, isn't it? Yet, it seems our Flounders brethren, after all these years, are still trying to "recover the gospel."

When will they learn that the Gospel is simple, and believing it is so easy?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brister -- lack of education?


One might assume that a graduate of a Baptist Theological Seminary would have been at least duly instructed in the most elementary elements of Baptist doctrine such as found in simple catechisms.

However, recent Southern Seminary graduate Timmy Brister, now working with Flounder Tom Ascol as assistant pastor at the church in Florida, seems to have missed instruction about what Baptists -- even those in Sunday School -- know and believe as to Baptist doctrine.

Would you believe it? -- Brister is quoting the Baptist Faith and Message on the new birth, nevertheless says-- "It is clear that (1) regeneration is the work of God brought about by the Holy Spirit that (2) leads one to repentance and faith in Jesus. Therefore, (3) repentance and faith are grace gifts, not an inherent ability within man."

Brister is obviously a product of the type of "Calvinism" taught at Southern Seminary, having a distorted view of "regeneration" which has been promoted by Pedobaptist Reformed writers who have forsaken the Westminster Confession of Faith on Effectual Calling.

The following are excerpts from the BF&M, and a person does not really need to attend a seminary to understand what Baptists believe about repentance and faith in relation to the new birth, in contrast to Brister's remark. No Baptist affirms an "inherent ability within man" is the source of repentance and faith, but every Baptist worthy of the name believes that repentance and faith are necessary constituents in the new birth, and that the new birth is not complete without them.

The Baptist Faith & Message:

"II. God . . . C. God the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to UNDERSTAND truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the MOMENT of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. . . . .

IV. Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation INCLUDES regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby BELIEVERS BECOME new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour. . .

V. God's Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends ALL THE MEANS in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility."


Nothing in this BF&M indicates that Southern Baptists endorse the Pedobaptist Reformed and Hardshell Baptist theory of "born again before faith."

It is plain that the BF&M statement has "regeneration" as "part of salvation," and it says that "There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."

Therefore, there is "no regeneration" apart from faith, according to the statement of faith.

According to the BF&M, the Holy Spirit in His preliminary influences in the sinner, using His "sword," the Word of God, as His operational intrumentality, brings about conviction of sin, which leads to a change of heart which responds in repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Once that has been accomplished by the power of the Word and Spirit, a sinner has been born again.

When we put this BF&M statement side-by-side with the Pedo-regeneration theory of Shedd, Berkhof, and Sproul, THERE IS NO COMPARISON! These Pedobaptists have BABIES REGENERATED by a "direct operation" of the Spirit without the use of Truth as a "Means," and before the babies are even capable of "understanding" and "believing" in Christ.

The Pedos likewise claim that adults are regenerated the same way -- by a "direct operation" without the necessary use of Truth as the "Means" and before the sinner "understands" and "believes" the Gospel.

Brister -- reflecting the view of the Flounders -- holds to the Pedo-regenerationist theory, not the view in the BF&M and therefore not the Southern Baptist doctrine! Brister, like Tom Ascol, is a "Bapbyterian."

It appears that there are some in the SBC such as the Flounders and some teachers at SBTS who are in effect aspiring to make the Convention a "Hardshell Baptist" organization, and if the BF&M means what the likes of Brister and the Flounders allege, the SBC statement would indeed be affirming the Hardshell and Pedo-regenerationist teaching that "Regeneration precedes faith."

By "regeneration" they mean the NEW BIRTH itself, and their idea is that one is BORN AGAIN BEFORE FAITH is created by the Holy Spirit's blessing on the Word of God as the means of bringing the sinner to faith.

While some few in the past may have broadly used the term "regeneration" to include the pre-faith influences of the Holy Spirit, it is obvious that they never intended to affirm that one is "born again" before faith, but that the initial internal influence of the Holy Spirit was at the most only a preparatory and necessary influence to the creation of the faith which is a constituent element of the new birth (1 John 5:4).

All evangelical Christians -- Arminians or Calvinists alike -- teach that there are pre-faith influences of the Holy Spirit who blesses both the Word and any other Providential "means" to create conviction, concern, and a change of heart and mind in the lost sinner. However, the "Hardshell" Baptists and the Pedo-regenerationists are the only professing Christians to my knowledge who actually teach that such pre-faith influences are evidences that the sinner has already been "born again before faith."

Southern Baptists are correct in opposing this theory as a move away from the Gospel. The theory has proven to have a deadening and even killing effect, and in many cases even tends toward other elements of theological heterodoxy. It is a heresy which helped to split the Baptists in the 1800s and became the theological foundation of anti-missionism and anti-evangelistic activity by a segment of the Baptist denomination.

Creedal Calvinists and less-than-Calvinists alike should take a united stand against this view. This theory is not as great a threat to the numerical life of Pedobaptist churches inasmuch as the vast majority of the Pedobaptist members are baptized as babies and enrolled as church members. But with Baptists, this theory tends to discourage and stifle strong evangelistic efforts, appeals to the lost to come to Christ, and public or open confession of Christ as Saviour, as commanded in Scripture.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Easily offended Hybrids


It has been rather amusing lately to read some of the piffle by the Flounders-types who are obviously rather easily offended by any who do not welcome them with a "Hail fellow well met."

On Peter Lumpkins' blog, there have been complaints posted by some which alleged that some Hybrid Calvinists such as the Flounders and Pedobaptist R. C. Sproul's Ligonier company were not permitted to secure space to exhibit their products at the John 3:16 Conference at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia.

Also, on Flounder Timmy Brister's blog he is reporting that Pastor Voddie Baucham is evidently whining about some Southern Baptists who have an "anti-Calvinist" attitude toward him.

This is all very amusing and paradoxical to me. It reminds me of how Alexander Campbell and the Campbellites reacted to the Baptists in the 19th century when Baptists began to declare non-fellowship for Campbell and his so-called "reformation" movement among Baptists.

Baucham says he is "fire-breathing" Calvinist, and he affiliates with, and speaks for, the Flounders, and he evidently endorses the Pedobaptist Reformed and Hardshell Baptist heresy of "regeneration before faith." Why does Baucham gripe when Southern Baptists don't welcome him with open arms?

As for the Flounders, they have declared the SBC to be an "unregenerate denomination," and they have sought to "reform" Southern Baptist pastors in Florida by sending them a Pedobaptist DVD which teaches the Pedobaptist heresy of "regeneration before faith."

Might as well let the Hardshell Baptists who teach "born again before faith" secure space to exhibit their products as to let the Flounders exhibit. Might as well let the Campbellites exhibit as to let Sproul's Ligonier company which advocates the Pedobaptist heresy about "baby regeneration."

I would think that any Bible-believing Baptist church or conference would -- and should -- refuse to allow any group to exhibit their products if they taught the heresies of "born again before faith" and/or the alleged "regeneration of babies" such as taught by the Pedobaptist Reformed parties.

It's a free country, and those who hold to the Pedobaptist Reformed heresies are free to use whatever means they wish to spread their propaganda, but it does not seem "cricket" to expect Baptists to accommodate them at Baptist-sponsored meetings.

Monday, November 17, 2008

John 1:12 distorted


There is now a rather peculiar interpretaton of John 1:12 recently posted on the Internet which tries to "explain away" the obvious meaning of the passage. It is very much like the peculiar twist of "exegeet'n" done by James White in his attempt to teach that one is "born again before faith."

The title of the article by Jim Elliff is "Getting John 1:12 Right: Should You Invite Jesus Into Your Heart?"

Jim Elliff says on his website that he is in "close alliance with the Founders Ministries," and it seems that most of Jim's ministry has been in "Founders friendly" churches. He is in print endorsing the "regeneration" theory of Louis Berkhof, the theologian promoted by the Pedobaptist Iain Murray, one of the chief advocates of the "born again before and without faith" phantasmagoria.

Jim is also the author of an article on the Flounders' website, "Southern Baptists, an Unregenerate Denomination." He also has written against public invitations, and promotes an anti-altar call item which lists what the writer calls "dangers." Jim is obviously a veritable "seer" when it comes to discerning the spiritual state of professing Christians.

Jim's article on John 1:12 seems to be designed to set aside the use of John 1:12 in soul-winning, witnessing efforts by those who like to use the verse to urge lost sinners to "receive," "accept," or "believe" on Christ for salvation. His view conflicts with the likes of John Gill (Commentary, page 743) and C. H. Spurgeon (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 12, Year 1866, sermon #669).

Both Gill and Spurgeon equate "receiving" Christ with "believing" on Christ.

As for "opening one's heart" to receive Christ, Spurgeon prefaces his sermon by saying --

"There is an act on the sinner’s part by which, being constrained by Divine Grace, he opens his heart to the admission of Jesus Christ and Jesus enters in and dwells in the heart, and reigns and rules there. To a gracious readiness of heart to entertain the Friend who knocks at the door, we are brought by God the Holy Spirit, and then He sups with us and we with Him" (page 13).

Dr. Gill says --

"Ver. 12. But as many as received him,.... This is explained, in the latter part of the text, by believing in his name; for faith is a receiving him as the word, and Son of God, as the Messiah, Saviour, and Redeemer; . . . even to them that believe in his name; that is, in himself, in Christ, the word: the phrase is explanative of the former part of the verse . . ."

So, according to Gill and Spurgeon, "receiving" Christ is the same as "believing" on Christ.

Why Hybrid Calvinists oppose efforts to get sinners to receive (believe on) Christ is possibly due to their thinking that this might lead to the "non-elect's" making a false profession. Yet the Gospel is to be preached to "every creature," and all are commanded to believe on Christ. There is no commission to try to "sort out" the "elect" from the "non-elect."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Edwards' view of new birth


I recently noted a comment by Timmy Brister -- the Southern Seminary recruit drafted as the assistant to Flounders' leader, Tom Ascol -- wherein Twittering Timmy says of Jonathan Edwards:

"I'm convinced that Jonathan Edwards says more in one paragraph than most contemporary authors say in an entire book."

We have cited Edwards in the past on the matter of regeneration, and since Brister thinks so highly of Edwards, we wish to again call attention to his view which is in conflict with the Flounders and other "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinists.

Edwards did not hold the Hybrid Calvinist view on regeneration, which is obvious from these remarks from his sermon, A Divine and Supernatural Light, etc.

"It is not intended that the natural faculties are not made use of in it. The natural faculties are the subject of this light: and they are the subject in such a manner, that they are not merely passive, but active in it; the acts and exercises of man's understanding are concerned and made use of in it. God, in letting in this light into the soul, deals with man according to his nature, or as a rational creature; and makes use of his human faculties."

Edwards continues under this same heading:

"It is not intended that outward means have no concern in this affair. As I have observed already, it is not in this affair, as it is in inspiration, where new truths are suggested: for here is by this light only given a due apprehension of the same truths that are revealed in the word of God; and therefore it is not given without the word. The gospel is made use of in this affair: this light is the "light of the glorious gospel of Christ", 2 Cor. 4:4. The gospel is as a glass by which this light is conveyed to us, 1 Cor. 13:12. 'Now we see through a glass.' . . . Indeed a person cannot have spiritual light without the word."

Edwards indeed has more truth in those few words than any Hybrid Calvinist writer (such as R. C. Sproul or James White) has in any book which teaches the fantasy that "regeneration precedes faith."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Carroll on repentance and faith


In certain reports about the "John 3:16" Conference in early November at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia, Dr. Steve Lemke has been cited as teaching that "repentance and faith precede regeneration" [via Flounder Timmy Brister's blog].

The critics who have made this citation are obviously of the Hybrid Calvinist camp, teaching that one is "born again" before, apart from, and without repentance and faith -- which allegedly take place later on after the alleged "new birth."

Dr. Lemke attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, founded by the late B. H. Carroll, and Dr. Carroll was very clear on these subjects, and Dr. Lemke apparently follows in the theological tradition of Carroll on repentance and faith.

With Dr. Carroll, repentance and faith are constituent elements of regeneration, and regeneration is not complete without them. Here are a few of Dr. Carroll's comments:

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

Look at those verses cited by Dr. Carroll, and consider --

If regeneration is merely the giving of "ability" or "life" (as some allege) to the unbelieving sinner, then the regenerated but unbelieving sinner has not been begotten by the Word of Truth (James 1:18).

If regeneration is merely the giving of "ability" or "life" to the unbelieving sinner, then the regenerated but unbelieving sinner is not born again by Word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

If regeneration is merely the giving of "ability" or "life" to the unbelieving sinner, then the regenerated but unbelieving sinner is not a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

If regeneration is merely the giving of "ability" or "life" to the unbelieving sinner, then the regenerated but unbelieving sinner has not experienced faith which comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

If regeneration is merely the giving of "ability" or "life" to the unbelieving sinner, then the regenerated but unbelieving sinner has not received eternal or everlasting life (John 3:9-18).

If regeneration is merely the giving of "ability" or "life" to the unbelieving sinner, then the regenerated but unbelieving sinner has not received Christ, has not believed on His name, has not become a son of God, and has not been born of God (John 1:12, 13).

In the light of these passages which contradict the idea that regeneration is merely the giving of "ability" or "life," we believe Dr. Carroll is absolutely correct when he says:

"Therefore the new birth is NOT COMPLETED WITHOUT FAITH." (Page 287 of Volume 10, Part I on The Gospels, An Interpretation of the English Bible).

Whatever work in the unbelieving sinner which the Holy Spirit does, or whatever He gives, prior to His own efficient production of repentance and faith in Christ by the instrumentality of the Word of God, it does not constitute regeneration or the New Birth, according to Dr. Carroll.

We have often noted Dr. Carroll's "syllogism" on this subject, and we once again call attention to it for the benefit of those who have not seen it:


"(1) Every one born of God has the right be called a child of God.

(2) But no one has the right until he believes in Jesus.

(3) Therefore the new birth is NOT COMPLETED WITHOUT FAITH."

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

Dr. Carroll said:

"Thus considered, conviction, repentance, and faith are the CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS OF REGENERATION. . . .

"Sinner, it tells you what to do: Hear the word, repent, accept Christ."

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

It seems to me that Dr. Lemke -- contrary to Tom Ascol of the Flounders, who also attended Southwestern -- reflects the same view on repentance, faith, and the new birth as was taught by the Founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Carroll.

It would be difficult to find a "born again" sinner who has not repented and believed, if repentance and faith are the necessary "constitutent elements" of regeneration.

Relation of Regeneration to Justification

While recalling what Dr. Carroll taught, it might be of interest to note again what he said about the relation of regeneration and justification:

"When we accept Jesus by faith as he is offered in the gospel, we at once and forever enter into justification, redemption of soul, and adoption into God's family, and are regenerated.

"We are no longer aliens and enemies, but children and friends of God. . . . The ground of the justification is the expiation of Christ. The means by which we receive the justification is the Holy Spirit's part of regeneration which is called cleansing. Regeneration consists of two elements, at least – cleansing and renewing. But the very moment that one believes in Christ the Holy Spirit applies the blood of Christ to his heart and he is cleansed from the defilement of sin. At the same time the Holy Spirit does another thing. He renews the mind. He changes that carnal mind which is enmity toward God."[An Interpretation of the English Bible, Volume 14, pages 126, 127].

"Justification comes in touch with regeneration at that point where the Spirit of God by the application of the blood of Christ, cleanses the soul. When the man accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his Teacher, Sacrifice, Priest, and King, and trusts in him for salvation, then God in heaven justifies the man, or declares an acquittal of him, through his faith in the blood, but the blood is applied in the cleansing part of regeneration, so that we see again from this relation between regeneration and justification how it is that regeneration cannot be complete without faith.[An Interpretation of the English Bible, Volume 10, pages 293, 294].

It is obvious that the Flounders, headed by Tom Ascol, are in conflict with the Founder of Southwestern.

Help for gospel "recoverers"


While C. H. Spurgeon was a Calvinist and believed that a proper view of theoretical Calvinism was agreeable with the Gospel, he evidently recognized that an emphasis upon Calvinism as a theological system was not necessarily the sine qua non with respect to the practical preaching of the Gospel. In other words, one can preach the Gospel without being a theoretical Calvinist. Spurgeon knew this from his own conversion experience which took place in a Primitive Methodist Chapel when a layman brought a brief message from Isaiah 45:22.


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.

The fact is, that while the doctrines of election, final perseverance, and so on, go to make up a complete ministry, and are invaluable in their place, yet the soul and marrow of the gospel is not there, but is to be found in the great fact that "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit," and so on.

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.

The apostle tells us in the Corinthians that first of all he delivered unto us as soul saving truth, "how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures."

Facts about Christ Jesus, and the promise of life through him, these are the faith of the gospel. . . . The gospel which is to be vehemently declared is this:-- "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."

So long as London is reeking with sin, and millions are going down to hell, let us leave others to prophesy, let us go with anxious hearts to seek after souls, and see if we cannot by the Spirit's power win sinners from going down into the pit.

You will, doubtless, have observed that this summary of the gospel is very simple. Whenever you meet with teaching which is cloudy and complicated, you may generally conclude that it is not the gospel of your salvation, for the truth of Christ is so plain that he who runs may read, and the wayfaring man though a fool need not err therein.

Perhaps some of you have been thinking that conversion and salvation are dark and mysterious things, and that you have to pass through many singular operations and feelings in order to be saved. Now, beloved, the whole of our faith lies in a nutshell. He that believeth in Jesus Christ the incarnate God, is saved.

These few truths if grasped by the mind, received and trusted in by the heart, will save you. It is at the cross that salvation must be found. . . .

Bind it about your heart, and defy the hosts of Rome or hell to unloose its folds. Wrap it about your loins in death, and hold it as a standard in both your hands in life. 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.

[Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 13, Year 1867, #786, excerpts from pages 706-708].

In the Flounders stated "purpose" of "reforming" by means of the "promotion of the Doctrines of Grace" it would appear that they perhaps have gone astray from what Spurgeon is saying -- namely, that one can preach a Calvinistic system of doctrine, yet fail to preach the Gospel and win souls.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ascol on gospel "recovery"


"From its inception 26 years ago, Founders Ministries has been concerned about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to see the Gospel recovered and proclaimed far and wide." -- Tom Ascol, Founders blog.

It is remarkable that Ascol makes this statement in the light of the fact that his church in Cape Coral, Florida has not established a single church during these 26 years, according to his assistant, Timmy Brister, who says:

"Beginning in September 2008, Grace Baptist Church began their new church planting vision by setting their sights on East Lee County for their first church plant. This area of 65,000 people is over 90% unchurched with a growing diversity of Latin American and African American population. Our vision is to plant a multi-ethnic, bi-lingual church that is both confessional and missional."

According to Brister's stats, there are 58,500 people in that area "unchurched." And what is Brister doing about it? I noticed on his website today that he is off on an 18 mile bike ride.

And what is Ascol doing about it? He is planning to attend another conference he calls the "CA Summit."

I just can't resist the doubt that Ascol and Brister's "paper" committal to proclaiming the gospel "far and wide" really means anything in actual practice.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Recovery" of what gospel?


On his blog, Flounder Timmy Brister says:

"If there is one group of Baptists who have argued for a recovery and focus on the gospel, it is the Calvinists in the SBC."

When a Flounder such as Timmy talks about "recovery" of the gospel, he is in fact referring to the Hybrid Calvinist Flounders' version of the "doctrines of grace," including the heresy of "regeneration before faith" borrowed from the Pedobaptists.

I have, for better or for worse, been an eyewitness of this "movement" since the Flounders' version originally was hatched in the 1960s with Ernest Reisinger and the "Grace Conference" in Carlisle, Pennsylvania which I attended. If you follow the trail from that point on, you will see what type of "recovery" has been acomplished over the years. It is a virtual "trail of tears." There has been virtually no evangelism, no soul-winning, no churches established (except splits), no churches flourishing.

As Iain Murray has put it --

In the Preface of his 1995 book, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, Murray says:

In the 1960s it seemed to many of us that Spurgeon's continuing significance had to do with his witness to the free-grace convictions of the Reformers and Puritans over against the shallow and non-doctrinal evangelicalism of our day. Thirty years later that witness remains relevant and yet it is apparent that the recovery of doctrinal Christianity is not necessarily our chief need today.


The revival of DOCTRINE has scarcely been matched by a revival of EVANGELISM.

While not accepting the tenets of Hyper-Calvinism it may well be that we have not been sufficiently alert to the danger of allowing a supposed consistency in doctrine to OVERRIDE THE BIBLICAL PRIORITY OF ZEAL FOR CHRIST AND SOULS OF MEN.

Doctrine without usefulness is no prize. As Spurgeon says, 'You may look down with contempt on some who do not know so much as you, and yet they may have twice your holiness and be doing more service to God.'

"Arminianism" is not the Flounders' problem. They have little to nothing to fear from the likes of Steve Lemke, Jerry Vines, Johnny Hunt, Malcolm Yarnell, the John 3:16 Conference or any other "Arminian" or "Non-Calvinist." What they should realize is that the Hybrid Calvinist camp can say --

"We have met the enemy and it is US."

"Hyper" or "Hypo"?

"HYPER" or "HYPO"?

I have noticed some recent Internet material which has to do with the matter of whether or not James White is a "Hyper Calvinist."

On this blog, although I have had occasion to critique James for some of his malarkey, I don't recall ever dealing with whether he qualifies by someone's measuring rod as being "Hyper Calvinist."

Actually, in my understanding of James' writings, he readily falls into the category of what I call a HYBRID CALVINIST. [See "What Constitutes Hybrid Calvinism"]

We all know, I assume, that a hybrid is something which is developed subsequent to the original. The theology James holds on "regeneration" (new birth) is a subsequent development off of the original sources of Calvinism, and it generally flies under the moniker of "ordo salutis" in those writers who allege that "regeneration precedes faith" (which being interpreted means that a person is born again, saved, pardoned, all before he believes in Jesus Christ.)

Hybrid Calvinism was apparently formulated by Francis Turretin (1623-1687) -- at least that evidently was the understanding of W. G. T. Shedd who said he adopted Turretin's "distinction" between "regeneration" and "conversion" (Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2, pages 492-494). Louis Berkhof follows
Shedd's view, R. C. Sproul follows Berkhof, and James White follows Sproul.

It is a rather strange thing about Hyper Calvinism -- you just can't seem to find any one today who will admit to being a Hyper Calvinist. A Hyper Calvinist seems to be more difficult to discover than the "needle in the haystack."

Iain Murray wrote a book on the subject, highly recommended by the Founders yet Murray confesses that he found "no evidence" of Hyper-Calvinism "recovering strength" in this day and age (Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, page xiv).

So it seems that Hyper Calvinism is generally relegated by modern professed Calvinists to another time, another place -- a theological relic of the 18th and 19th centuries. I think I read where even Tom Ascol said he knew of no hypers in the Southern Baptist Convention.

While there are allegedly no hypers to be found, there are Hybrids ("regeneration precedes faith") aplenty -- plenty of those who teach that the "elect" get born again before they ever believe in Jesus Christ. These "elect" are said to receive "life" before they receive the Son Who in Scripture is said to be our Life. They pass from death to life before they ever believe. Some of the Pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinists even say that their offspring get "regenerated" before they are born (per John Frame, for example), while others say their infants receive regeneration shortly after birth.

Representative of some "Reformed Baptists," James White says, "divine birth precedes and is the grounds of both faith in Christ as well as good works" (The Potter's Freedom, page 288. Also, see pages 84, 101, 286-288).

Whether or not one views James or anyone else as "Hyper" Calvinist depends, I suppose, upon whose definition one accepts about Hyper Calvinism. The opposite of "hyper" is "hypo" [below], so if Hybrid Calvinism is less than, or below, original Calvinism, then James, as a Hybrid Calvinist, might appropriately also be called a "Hypo Calvinist."

Either term -- Hybrid or Hypo -- would seem to fit James just as snug as those hats he sometimes wears.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Planting or whinning?


From time-to-time, I go to the Flounders' blogs (Tom Ascol and Timmy Brister) to see how they are progressing in the proposed "first church plant" by Ascol's Cape Coral church which they announced in September.

I was raised for part of my life on a farm, and I am familiar with the usual procedure for planting crops and gardens. We didn't stand around leaning on our hoes and plows discussing peripheral matters or what's going on with our neighbors, but we worked the ground and did the planting.

It seems to me, from the materials on the Flounders' blogs and twitters that they are in effect "leaning on their hoes and plows." I have not read of any field work and any planting of the Gospel seed, and of course no reports of any souls won to Christ and baptized.

The Florida Flounders appear to be preoccupied with just about everything else but getting out into the field and doing the necessary work. They recently have been wasting time on the Internet whinning about the "John 3:16 Conference," Jerry Vines, Steve Lemke, etc. I've been around a long time and I have never seen a church established by those who appear to be more interested in whinning about "Arminians" than they are in winning lost souls to Christ.

Spurgeon on faith/new birth


C. H. Spurgeon said:

This new birth, this regeneration, is a great puzzle to many poor sinners. One asks, “How can I make myself a new creature in Christ?”

Of course, you can do nothing of the kind. This is a miracle; it is as much a work of God to make us children of light as it was to make light at the first.

Only God can work this miracle; but mark you this, there never was a soul yet that truly believed in Christ, but at the same time it underwent the change called the new birth or regeneration.

Christians have often been asked about which is first, faith or regeneration, belief in Christ or being born again.

I will tell you when you will answer me this question, -- When a wheel moves, which spoke moves first?

“Oh, they all start together!" say you.

So these other things all start together, whether it be the hub of the wheel, which is regeneration, or the spokes of the wheel, which are faith, and repentance, and hope, and love, and so on; when the wheel moves, it all moves at once.

If thou believest in Jesus Christ and him crucified, in the moment that thou believest, this great change of nature is effected in thee; for faith has in itself a singularly transforming power.

It is a fact in everyday experience that, when a man comes to believe in his master, he becomes at once a better servant. A person whom I disliked, because I suspected him, becomes at once pleasing to me as soon as I trust him.

So, faith towards God in itself produces a total change of mind in the man who has it. But, beside that, there goes with faith a divine energy which changes the heart of man.

(Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 41, page 235, Despised Light Withdrawn).

Spurgeon did indeed teach that there was a pre-faith work ("prevenient grace") done by the Word and Spirit in the sinner, but he did not call this the "new birth" or "regeneration," as if one is born again before he has experienced faith in Christ.

Spurgeon said the sinner is "not saved" by the preceding or prevenient work before he is brought to "decision," or faith (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 11, Year 1865, pages 596, 597).

We have given many instances in past articles which demonstrate Spurgeon's view, and here is just one of those which very well refutes the attempts by those who would try to make a Hybrid Calvinist out of Spurgeon:

Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 37, Year 1891, pages 560, 561, The Law's Failure and Fulfillment:

"When we believe in Christ we not only receive pardon, but we also receive renewal. I am told that the teaching of certain people, nowadays, is that the believer only gets pardon to begin with and a long time afterwards he gets the clean heart. But I say, on the authority of God’s Word, that no man is pardoned unless he has a clean heart! God gives the clean heart at the time He gives the pardon! You must never divide the renewing of the Holy Spirit from the pardon of sin. They go together and he that receives the pardon of sin receives a new birth — and is made a new creature in Christ Jesus then and there.

The work of regeneration and the act of faith which brings justification to the penitent sinner are SIMULTANEOUS and must, in the nature of the case, always be so."

Bridges still out


My attention was called to a comment by the lamentable Gene Bridges on the Pyromaniacs blog, and one need only read my refutations of Gene to understand why Hybrid Calvinist Bridges is still out and unsafe for theological navigation:

The Blunders of Gene Bridges

Gene M. Bridges falls down on "regeneration before faith"

More Blunders of Gene Bridges

Bridges was so "out" that he retreated to the point of advising his readers not to read the Flyswatter!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Founders vs. Dort?


I have noticed the use of the term "Dortian" by some critics of the Founders Ministries in reference to the "Calvinism" advocated by the Tom Ascol--led group. Actually, the type of "Reformed" theology held by the Founders and some others is post-Dort in its development. To use "Dortian" in reference to the Founders would imply that the Founders agree with the Canons of Dort, and this is clearly not the case.

While I have been an outspoken critic of the Founders, I do not understand that the Founders are representative of the views expressed in the Canons of Dort (1619) but advocate a post-Dort view on "regeneration" which alleges that "regeneration precedes faith."

If one is going to use a term for Founders' theology, I think it would be more appropriate to use "Turretinism" after Francis Turretin (1623-1687).

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).

It apparently, therefore, was a post-Dort development among Pedobaptist Calvinists, who did not ahdere to this view on regeneration, and was incorporated in an "ordo salutis" (order of salvation) which has regeneration preceding faith in Christ. This is the theory which has become prevalent among many post-17th century Reformed theologians, and is admittedly a departure from earlier Calvinists and the Puritans.

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 Charnock likewise: Attributes, Practical Atheism. The Westminster [Confession] 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:
"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).

The Founders' leadership has followed the "Turretinism" as advocated by Shedd and Berkhof. This view is also followed by Iain Murray, R. C. Sproul, Tom and Bill Ascol, James White, Tom Netlles and others who are known to advocate that "regeneration precedes faith," or a person is "born again before faith."

Berkhof is promoted by Iain Murray -- who is the virtual "godfather" of the Founders due to Murray's influence on Founders founder Ernest Reisinger -- as "expounding Christianity according to the historic Reformed position." (Banner of Truth 2002 catalog, page 19).

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

I do not understand the Founders and other modern Pedobaptist Reformed theologians to properly reflect the view of the Canons of Dort on regeneration, therefore are not "Dortian" in their view. See my article at --

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