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2008.12.17

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wade burleson

Peter, no Southern disputes what you have written about B.H. Carrol. You could write an article about 19th Century Southern Baptist J.L. Dagg, considered the extraordinary theologian of his day, and find his Dr. Dagg's views on the atonement and regeneration are opposite of that of Carrol's.

Both men were Southern Baptist. Both men were evangelical. Both men were conservative, Bible-believing Christians.

The issue for 21st Century Southern Baptists is simply this: "Can Southern Baptists who disagree on tertiary issues of the faith cooperate in missions and evangelism?"

I know I can, but I see some Southern Baptists who are constantly trying to exclude other Southern Baptists over theological interpretations (tongues, atonement, regeneration, qualifications of the baptizer, closed communion, etc . . .). State your case. Don't denigrate those who disagree. And, be humble enough to admit you could be wrong.

To me, that is the key to continued cooperation in the SBC.

Bill

Peter: Can you clarify one thing? You clearly don't believe that regeneration precedes faith and that's fine. Most non-Calvinists don't. But in this post and one or two previous, you seem to be indicating that regeneration preceding faith is aberrant doctrine even within Calvinism. Is that your position? Thanks.

peter lumpkins

Wade,

Your very first words indicate a strange distance from what Founders Calvinists are actually saying: "Peter, no Southern disputes what you have written about B.H. Carrol." I do not know whether to laugh or ignore. Perhaps I'll just do both.

Nor is it clear, Wade, that Dagg's views--particularly on regeneration--"are opposite of that of Carrol's [sic]." Perhaps some excerpts from Dagg are forthcoming.

An obvious case can be made for Dagg's view of Limited Atonement, albeit Dagg undoubtedly would stand diametrically opposed to any view which suggested that God does not love the non-elect in any sense, a view Founders oddly would not dispute and from which they did not distance themselves when the issue of James White came up last month.

Moreover, you confess you "see some Southern Baptists who are constantly trying to exclude other Southern Baptists over theological interpretations (tongues, atonement, regeneration, qualifications of the baptizer, closed communion, etc . . .)." Wade, once again you fail to consider that by making such statements, you condemn yourself. No Southern Baptist blogger has more posts on the "heresy," "cult-like behavior," "moral legalism," or "Fundamentalism" of Southern Baptists than yours.

Finally, to suggest that, in this blog, I've "denigrate[d] those who disagree" remains an assertion without any offered basis. Of course, my exchange with you for over two years exactly matches such a suggestion, Wade.

With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Bill,

That's a fair question. Thanks. My view is that while popular Calvinists today--e.g. R.C. Sproul and perhaps J. MacArthur among others--and more particularly, Founders Calvinists, hold, as non-negotiable dogma, the doctrine you describe, such incorrigible advocacy has historically not been the undisputed view of Southern Baptist Calvinists.

The legendary B.H. Carroll stands as exemplar evidence toward this thesis. That's all.

With that, I am...

Peter

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Peter:

Here is what Dagg wrote on faith and regeneration.

"Faith is necessary to the Christian character; and must therefore precede regeneration, when this is understood in its widest sense. Even in the restricted sense, in which it denotes the beginning of the spiritual life, faith, in the sense in which James uses the term, may precede. But a faith which exists before the beginning of spiritual life, cannot be a living faith. Yet some have maintained that faith produces love. This opinion is of sufficient importance to demand a careful consideration." ("Manuel of Theology" _ Section IV - "Regeneration")

See here

I take Dagg to mean that when a man is born again he is at that moment possessed of a living faith, and that a man cannot be said to be regenerate who is still impenitent and unbelieving.

Also, here is the view of Wade Burleson.

"Before a man will ever repent of his sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he must be born again."

See here

So, I am not surprised that Wade would be opposed to what Carroll taught. Some of the 19th century Baptists did split up the new birth into two stages, the first they called the "begetting," that which was done by the Father without means, and the second, the "birth," that which is done by the means of the gospel and church (the mother). Thus, they could hold that one was "begotten," or one who had experienced the "first stage" of the birth process, but who was not yet born from the womb (conviction). I tend to think that some Missionary Baptist writers had sympathies for this view.

And, really, this is yet the teaching of men like White and the Flounders organization, essentially.

Which view promotes evangelism the most? Those who believe the gospel and faith are the means of regeneration, or those who deny it? Thus, the issue is NOT "tertiary."

Also, these brethren cannot deal with John 1: 12 and Galatians 3: 26 that put faith before regeneration.

God bless,

Stephen

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Peter:

One other thing. The idea that men are born again before faith is "aberrant" Calvinism. One will search in vain to find Calvin believing this. He taught regeneration by faith, just as did John and Paul. (John 1: 12; Gal. 3: 26)

We are "begotten by the gospel." (I Cor. 4: 15) Let us ask Wade and the "born again before faith" brethren to tell us how the gospel can be a means in "begetting" unless it is believed? Will they tell us? Or, will they again refuse to engage us honestly on this point?

For the truth,

Stephen

Micah Burke
The idea that men are born again before faith is "aberrant" Calvinism. One will search in vain to find Calvin believing this. He taught regeneration by faith, just as did John and Paul...
"The will of the flesh and the will of man appear to me to mean the same thing; for I see no reason why flesh should be supposed to signify woman, as Augustine and many others explain it. On the contrary, the Evangelist repeats the same thing in a variety of words, in order to explain it more fully, and impress it more deeply on the minds of men. Though he refers directly to the Jews, who gloried in the flesh, yet from this passage a general doctrine may be obtained: that our being reckoned the sons of God does not belong to our nature, and does not proceed from us, but because God begat us willingly, (James 1:18,) that is, from undeserved love. Hence it follows, first, that faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration; for the Evangelist affirms that no man can believe, unless he be begotten of God; and therefore faith is a heavenly gift. It follows, secondly, that faith is not bare or cold knowledge, since no man can believe who has not been renewed by the Spirit of God. It may be thought that the Evangelist reverses the natural order by making regeneration to precede faith, whereas, on the contrary, it is an effect of faith, and therefore ought to be placed later. I reply, that both statements perfectly agree; because by faith we receive the incorruptible seed, (1 Peter 1:23,) by which we are born again to a new and divine life. And yet faith itself is a work of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in none but the children of God. So then, in various respects, faith is a part of our regeneration, and an entrance into the kingdom of God, that he may reckon us among his children. The illumination of our minds by the Holy Spirit belongs to our renewal, and thus faith flows from regeneration as from its source; but since it is by the same faith that we receive Christ, who sanctifies us by his Spirit, on that account it is said to be the beginning of our adoption.

Another solution, still more plain and easy, may be offered; for when the Lord breathes faith into us, he regenerates us by some method that is hidden and unknown to us; but after we have received faith, we perceive, by a lively feeling of conscience, not only the grace of adoption, but also newness of life and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. For since faith, as we have said, receives Christ, it puts us in possession, so to speak, of all his blessings. Thus so far as respects our sense, it is only after having believed — that we begin to be the sons of God. But if the inheritance of eternal life is the fruit of adoption, we see how the Evangelist ascribes the whole of our salvation to the grace of Christ alone; and, indeed, how closely soever men examine themselves, they will find nothing that is worthy of the children of God, except what Christ has bestowed on them." - John Calvin, Commentaries, John 1:13

"But this passage shows, that what Paul has hitherto meant by the Spirit, is not the mind or understanding (which is called the superior part of the soul by the advocates of freewill) but a celestial gift; for he shows that those are spiritual, not such as obey reason through their own will, but such as God rules by his Spirit. Nor are they yet said to be according to the Spirit, because they are filled with God’s Spirit, (which is now the case with none,) but because they have the Spirit dwelling in them, though they find some remains of the flesh still remaining in them: at the same time it cannot dwell in them without having the superiority; for it must be observed that man’s state is known by the power that bears rule in him." - John Calvin, Commentaries, Romans 8:9

"Now follows the second member of the sentence, the substance of which is, that God had delivered the Ephesians from the destruction to which they were formerly liable; but the words which he employs are different. God, who is rich in mercy, hath quickened you together with Christ. The meaning is, that, there is no other life than that which is breathed into us by Christ: so that we begin to live only when we are ingrafted into him, and enjoy the same life with himself. This enables us to see what the apostle formerly meant by death, for that death and this resurrection are brought into contrast. To be made partakers of the life of the Son of God, — to be quickened by one Spirit, is an inestimable privilege." - John Calvin, Commentaries, Eph 2:4

"Hence the Apostle declares that all they who really believe have been born of God; for faith is far above the reach of the human mind, so that we must be drawn to Christ by our heavenly Father; for not any of us can ascend to him by his own strength. And this is what the Apostle teaches us in his Gospel, when he says, that those who believe in the name of the only-begotten, were not born of blood nor of the flesh. (John 1:13.) And Paul says, that we are endued, not with the spirit of this world, but with the Spirit that is from God, that we may know the things given us by him. (1 Corinthians 2:12.) For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the mind conceived, the reward laid up for those who love God; but the Spirit alone penetrates into this mystery. And further, as Christ is given to us for sanctification, and brings with it the Spirit of regeneration, in short, as he unites us to his own body, it is also another reason why no one can have faith, except he is born of God." - John Calvin, Commentaries, 1 John 5:1

Micah Burke

"Faith is necessary to the Christian character; and must therefore precede regeneration, when this is understood in its widest sense.... But a faith which exists before the beginning of spiritual life, cannot be a living faith. Yet some have maintained that faith produces love. This opinion is of sufficient importance to demand a careful consideration." - Dagg

Dagg even discusses, in the article Garrett links to the different "kinds" of regeneration and even the ongoing nature of God's work in the life of the elect. The fact of the matter is that some foks simply will read whomever they want however they want regardless of what the author actually said.

RazorsKiss

Nice, Micah!

They seem to raise a stronger objection on the basis of a passage in Peter: “God does not will that any should perish but that he should receive all to repentance” [2 Peter 3:9 p.]. But the solution of the difficulty occurs immediately in the second phrase, because the will to receive to repentance can only be understood in the sense generally taught. Conversion is obviously in God’s hand: when he promises that he will give a certain few a heart of flesh but leave the rest with a heart of stone [Ezekiel 36:26], let him be asked whether he wills to convert all. It is indeed true that unless he were ready to receive those who call upon his mercy, this statement would be out of place: “Be converted to me… and I shall be converted to you” [Zechariah 1:8]. But I assert that no mortal man approaches God unless God anticipates him. And, if repentance had been man’s to choose, Paul would not have said: “In case God may grant them repentance” [2 Timothy 2:25]. Indeed, unless the same God who urges all to repentance with his own voice also drew the elect to himself by the secret moving of his spirit, Jeremiah would not have said: “Convert me, O Lord, and I will be converted… For when thou didst convert me, I repented” [Jeremiah 31:18-19, cf. Vg.].

Calvin Institutes, 3.24.16.

RazorsKiss

That regeneration, repentance and faith are all the sole gifts of God has been the Reformed stance throughout. God has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and compassion on whom He will have compassion. He puts the heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone. He is the one who raises dry bones - and behold - they were very dry. The Scriptures are replete with this concept. I find it absolutely amazing that there is this attempt to keep this incredible work of God somehow in man's hands - even a little. I truly do. You don't make the work of God more palatable by assigning some of it to unregenerate men. Salvation is the Lord's.

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Micah:

Why did you not highlight these words from your citation of Calvin (Commentary on John 1)?

It may be thought that the Evangelist reverses the natural order by making regeneration to precede faith, whereas, on the contrary, it is an effect of faith, and therefore ought to be placed later. I reply, that both statements perfectly agree; because by faith we receive the incorruptible seed, (1 Peter 1:23,) by which we are born again to a new and divine life. And yet faith itself is a work of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in none but the children of God. So then, in various respects, faith is a part of our regeneration..."

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


See here

Also, did you notice how Calvin says that the verses in he is commenting on seem to go against other scripture? He believed the scriptures put faith before birth.

Blessings,

Stephen

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Razorskiss:

Did Calvin, because he put faith as the means of regeneration, do as you charge? Did he deny that faith was a gift? Do I as a 5 pt. Calvinist? No! God gives faith to the dead sinner at the same time he gives him life. That is what Calvin taught.

Did he believe, because he made faith integral to regeneration, put salvation or regeneration into the hands of men? Why do you charge such consequences on people? Ones that are not even logical deductions?

Blessings,

Stephen

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Micah:

Dagg did not teach that regeneration was complete without faith.

Blessings,

Stephen

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Micah:

You could have highlighted these comments from Calvin also.

"...when the Lord breathes faith into us, he regenerates us..."

Thanks for that citation! It shows that Calvinism, originally, with Calvin and the other Reformers, was not "aberrant."

For the truth,

Stephen

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Micah:

One final thought before my going to bed.

You said - "some foks simply will read whomever they want however they want regardless of what the author actually said."

And you don't think you have done this with Dagg?

In his name,

Stephen

johnMark

Stephen,

Have you read what Curt Daniel has said on this topic? He holds to regeneration preceding faith and says that most Calvinists do too. Are all of these folks holding to "aberrant" theology?

Mark

peter lumpkins

All,

I appreciate your participation. It appears this little post scraped against some flintrock. Perhaps another swipe of Carroll is in order.

Grace all. With that, I am...

Peter

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear John Mark:

What has that got to do with anything? I think I know as much about Hyper Calvinism as does Curt. I was a Hyper Hardshell.

How could he possibly know what "most" Calvinists believed on this? Also, are we talking about now or throughout history?

I am more concerned about what John, Paul, and Peter taught about our topic than what "most" Calvinists believed.

For the truth,

Stephen

Micah Burke

Stephen,

Firstly you must acknowledge your error, for you stated:

" The idea that men are born again before faith is "aberrant" Calvinism. One will search in vain to find Calvin believing this. He taught regeneration by faith, just as did John and Paul."

Calvin specifically states: "...faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration; for the Evangelist affirms that no man can believe, unless he be begotten of God; and therefore faith is a heavenly gift." Thus your statement is in error.

What the Reformed believe, Mr. Garrett, is that regeneration certain precedes faith, but is not absent of it. That is, faith is not the cause of regeneration but "is the fruit" of it, as Calvin states. Your other citations only express this understanding but do not some how contradict the rest of Calvin's writing.

"...when the Lord breathes faith into us, he regenerates us..."

Again, Reformed theology does not believe that regeneration is absent of faith, that is, that regeneration can occur without faith occurring, but Reformed theology insists (as Calvin does) that "faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration."

When we talk about regeneration we are talking about, as Calvin puts it, "God, who is rich in mercy, hath quickened you together with Christ. The meaning is, that, there is no other life than that which is breathed into us by Christ: so that we begin to live only when we are ingrafted into him, and enjoy the same life with himself." To make it even more succinct, regeneration is resurrection to life from spiritual death. Becoming born again is not something a person can do of their own desire any more than they chose the date of their first birth.

Dagg did not teach that regeneration was complete without faith.... And you don't think you have done this with Dagg?

No Calvinist believes that "faith is complete without regeneration" but rather, that faith is the necessary product thereof. But what Dagg actually believed isn't up for debate, for in the same passage he states:

The body is unchanged; and the identity of the mind is not destroyed. The individual is conscious of being the same person that he was before; but a new direction is given to the active powers of the mind, and new affections are brought into exercise. The love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. No love to God had previously existed there; for the carnal heart is enmity against God. Love is the fulfilling of the law, the principle of all holy obedience; and when love is produced in the heart, the law of God is written there. As a new principle of action, inciting to a new mode of life, it renders the man a new creature. The production of love in the heart by the Holy Spirit, is the regeneration, or the new birth; for "he that loveth, is born of God."

Dagg writes of man's state prior:

"They are said to be without strength, captives, in bondage, asleep, dead, &c. The act by which they are delivered from the natural state, is called regeneration, quickening or giving life, renewing, resurrection, translation, creation; and it is directly ascribed to the power of God, the power that called light out of darkness, and raised up Christ from the dead." J. L. Dagg, D.D., Manual of Theology, 3, IV, 2 - Subheading "Men are unable to free themselves from depravity."

Dagg was a Calvinist, through-and-through:

"As distinguished from the external call the internal is always unresisted. In the process of conversion, the Holy Spirit is violently resisted; but his resistance is directed against the outward means. The internal grace softens and subdues the heart, and brings it into peaceful subjection to the gospel of Christ.

The internal grace, which renders the outward call effectual, is the grace of regeneration. Hence regeneration, considered as the work of the Holy Spirit, is the same as effectual calling; considered as the change of the sinner's heart, it is the effect of this calling. The calling is effectual, because it produces regeneration in the subject on whom it operates." - Dagg, 4, 3

I am more concerned about what John, Paul, and Peter taught about our topic than what "most" Calvinists believed.

It seems that you make a point to counter Calvinists at all times and places with these easily dismissed claims that someone or other believed that regeneration was a result of faith. No matter how many quotes I and others post, no how many times we prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, it seems that you and others like you will continue to hold your position. Thus my posting of these are not to convince you, but to prove to others who read this that you're in error and denial.

Dr. James Willingham

Sirs: Regeneration and conversion are so identified by John Gill, White of the Philadelphia Assn in a circular letter on the Holy Spirit, J.P. Boyce, et. al.. No one has a perfect understanding of the doctrine so why not agree to live and let live as we do on eschatology? The problem with proving anything lies in our analytic methodology, the so-called scientific method. It simply is not big enough to allow for apparently contradictory ideas. I discovered that little fact nearly 40 years ago in American Intellectual History while trying to write a thesis in the field on "The Baptists & Ministerial Qualifications." A science educator in 2006 was flabbergasted that I knew of the problem. GENTLEMEN, IT IS YOUR METHODOLOGY OF INTERPRETATION. Have fun.

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