Friday, April 21, 2006

Can He Possibly Grow More Incohrent, Part Two

Apparently Mr. Ross is confused about semi-Pelagianism and what the confessions say about the freedom of the will as well as what I wrote to him last time. Either that, or his interlocutors in the past are correct, he sees what he wants to see.

He now says that those who affirm this doctrine are “semi-Pelagian.” Can he possibly grow any more incoherent and inaccurate? As we shall see, he offers us a diatribe about the freedom of will in the confessions that doesn't touch on what the confessions actually mean, and consequently he doesn’t deal with the subject at hand then expends his energy indulging in the word-concept fallacy and then further denies Spurgeon affirmed that regeneration precedes faith, even though Spurgeon plainly said “Faith is the very first effect of regeneration.” His original article on the BFM alleges that it does not teach that regeneration precedes faith. Instead of dealing with anything I actually wrote about that, he goes fishing for red herrings to discuss the NHC’s use of “free agency.”

>I read Hybrid Calvinist Gene Bridges' comments, and he seems seriously
>deficient in his concept regarding the New Hampshire Confession.
>>Gene tries desperately to prove that he was "born again" before he ever
>believed the Gospel and thereby believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. And he
>trys to>decipher this peculiar doctrine from even Baptist Confessions of Faith,
>such as>the NHC.


No, sir, I simply interpret the NHC on its own terms in its own context. The NHC is a recapitulation of Calvinistic doctrine as expressed at that time. We see what that context was in statements like:

Daniel Marshall:
"We believe that all those who were chosen in Christ, will be effectually called, regenerated, converted, sanctified, and supported by the spirit and power of God, so that they shall persevere in grace and not one of them be finally lost." Marshall, Article 6, Confession of the Georgia Association)

Notice where he places regeneration in his order of salvation. One is called, regenerated, converted, sanctified, and caused to persevere. (Marshall, Article 6, Confession of the Georgia Association)

A.H. Strong says that regeneration is the efficient cause of conversion and names the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit upon the sinner's heart as the efficient cause (Theology, 625)
>He starts out by trying to prove an idea which he evidently found "hiding
>between the lines," having to do with the "freedom of the will."

As we shall see, Mr. Ross has simply looked for statements of “free will,” without considering the difference between “free agency” in the NHC and “free will” in a Free Will Baptist Confession. They are not the same thing. The NHC goes out of its way to choose a particular term and avoid others. Ross has committed a classic example of the word/concept fallacy.

>For example, he says –

>It is worth noting that at that time Arminian Baptist confessions always
>contained statements about the freedom of the will. The New Hampshire
>Confession goes out of its way to exclude this statement, which is the first clue as
>to >the intent of the author.
>
>The fact is, the New Hampshire Confession of Faith plainly refers to the
>"free agency of man" in Article 9, which in effect comprehends the "free
>will of >man."


Here is what it says:

We believe that Election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners;46 that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end.


Mr. Ross, “free will” in an Arminian confession is not called “free agency.” Are you or are you not familiar with "what is meant by "free will" in a standard Arminian confession and "free agency" in a Calvinist Confession after the time of the New Connection. Free Will Baptists are called "Free Will" Baptists largely because they included statements about "free will" in their confessions after that point, when they adopted the FWB moniker. Ergo, by choosing the term “free agency,” and not “power of choice, free will, etc.” which were all in common use in Arminian confessions of that century, having reference to libertarian free will, Calvinists were using the term “free agency” in order to avoid confusion.

Regeneration preceding faith has nothing do with the freedom of the will in a libertarian sense. and this position quite comfortable acknowledging that it is
consistent with the free agency of man.
Calvinists have generally referred to “free agency” when discussing this issue and not “free will” when discussing this issue. The latter refers to libertarian free will, the Arminian doctrine. The former refers to what we call compatibilism. Monergism is not inconsistent with free agency since (a) man’s free agency, left on its own will not choose Christ, which is the reason regeneration must occur prior to repentance and faith in its logical order, and (b) God does not believe for us, and (c) free will is generally the preferred term of libertarians to refer to their definition of free will.

See here: http://lgm.bluedisk.org/rice_sovereign.html

There is no variance here with this:

Chapter 9: Of Free Will
1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.
( Matthew 17:12; James 1:14; Deuteronomy 30:19 )

2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it.
( Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 3:6 )

3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
( Romans 5:6; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:1, 5; Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44 )

4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
( Colossians 1:13; John 8:36; Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23 )

5. This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only.
( Ephesians 4:13 )

In point of fact, Article 9 of the NHC is stating simply that unconditional election does not destroy free agency. Grace Does not Destroy Free Agency.

Also: The Arminian objects again, that our doctrine represents man as dragged reluctating into a state of grace, like an angry wild beast into a cage; whereas, freedom of will, and hearty concurrence are essential elements of all service acceptable to God. The answer is, that the sinner's will is the very subject of this invincible grace. God so renews it that it neither can resist, nor longer wishes to resist. But this objection virtually reappears in the next part of the question. (Dabney, Grace Does not Destroy Free Agency).

Put another way, 3. CERTAINTY IS CONSISTENT WITH FREE AGENCY
Nor does it follow from the absolute certainty of a person's acts that he could not have acted otherwise. He could have acted otherwise if he had chosen to have done so. Oftentimes a man has power and opportunity to do that which it is absolutely certain he will not do, and to refrain from doing that which it is absolutely certain he will do. That is, no external influence determines his actions. Our acts are in accordance with the decrees, but not necessarily so we can do otherwise and often should. Judas and his accomplices were left to fulfill their purpose, and they did as their wicked inclinations prompted them. Hence Peter charged them with the crime, but he at the same time declared that they had acted according to the purpose of God, — "Him being: delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hands of lawless men did crucify and slay," Acts 2:23.
On other grounds also it may be shown that certainty is consistent with free agency. We are often absolutely certain how we will act under given conditions so far as we are free to act at all. A parent may be certain that he will rescue a child in distress, and that in doing so he will act freely. God is a free agent, yet it is certain that He will always do right. The holy angels and redeemed saints are free agents, yet it is certain that they will never sin; other- wise there would be no assurance of their remaining in heaven. On the other hand, it is certain that the Devil, the demons and fallen men will commit sin, although they are free agents. A father often knows how his son will act under given circumstances and by controlling these he determines beforehand the course of action which the son follows, yet the son acts freely. If he plans that the son shall be doctor, he gives him encouragement along that line, persuades him to read certain books, to attend certain schools, and so presents the outside inducements that his plan works out. In the same manner and to an infinitely greater extent God controls our actions so that they are certain although we act freely. His decree does not produce the event, but only renders its occurrence certain; and the same decree which determines the certainty of the action at the same time determines the freedom of the agent in the act. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination).

This is a far cry from the statements of Free Will Baptists, who stated that foreordination is incompatible with free agency. If the NHC was a confession that was meant to be a “mild Calvinism” or a move toward Arminian doctrine (which is the context of my original statement), one would expect it to contain an affirmation of free will, not “free agency,” for Free Will Baptist confessions at that time contained such explicit statements, in order to communicate the idea that Man has the ability to voluntarily choose to come to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith and, thereby, produce his own regeneration or new birth. Often they are and were coupled with statements about the atonement like this, all of which come from their confessions at or after that era:
The call of the Gospel is co-extensive with the atonement to all men, both by the word and strivings of the Spirit, so that salvation is rendered equally possible to all; and if any fail of eternal life, the fault is wholly his own.

or like this:

Who Can be Saved?--It is God's will that all be saved, but since man has the power of choice, God saves only those who repent of their sin and believe in the work of Christ on the cross. Those who refuse in this life to repent and believe have no later chance to be saved and thus condemn themselves to eternal damnation by their unbelief.
Perseverance--We believe that there are strong grounds to hope that the saved will persevere unto the end and be saved because of the power of divine grace pledged for their support. We believe that any saved person who has sinned (whether we call him a backslider or sinner), but has a desire to repent, may do so and be restored to God's favor and fellowship. Since man, however, continues to have free choice, it is possible because of temptations and the weakness of human flesh for him to fall into the practice of sin and to make shipwreck of his faith and be lost.
or
That human obligation is precisely in proportion to human ability

or
Election - We believe that God desires to let all people everywhere to be saved; but since man has the freedom to choose, God saves only those who repent of their sins and trust Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, permitting him to yield to the influence of the truth and the Spirit and live, or to resist them and perish; and that God desires the salvation of all men everywhere.
or
Election

God determines from the beginning to save all who would comply with the conditions of salvation. Hence by faith in Christ men become His elect.

Freedom of the Will

The human will is free and self-controlled, having power to yield to the influence of the truth and the Spirit, or to resist them and perish.

Salvation Free

God desires the salvation of all, the Gospel invites all, the Holy Spirit strives with all, and whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely.

Perseverance

All believers in Christ, who through grace persevere in holiness to the end of life, have promise of eternal salvation.


HE continues:
>Also, it would be rather unseemly for the NHC to "exclude" reference to the
>freedom of the will since the Philadelphia/London Confession has an entire
>chapter on "Free Will" (Chapter 9). Why would the NHC want to nullify the
>1689 >London & 1742 Philadephia Confessions on "free will"? It just doesn't add
>up,>does it?
Here we see the real problem with Mr. Ross...he indulges frequently in the word-concept fallacy. He is assuming that because the words are present, they must be affirming the same thing. I wrote that the NHC does not include an affirmation of the freedom of the will like those in the Arminian confessions of the day. I specifically stated:
It is worth noting that at that time Arminian Baptist confessions always contained statements about the freedom of the will. The New Hampshire Confession goes out of its way to exclude this statement, which is the first clue as to the intent of the author. Without such a statement, it is highly doubtful that its terminology should be interpreted in Arminian categories.


The above confessions are not Arminian confessions of that day but are Particular Baptist confessions from previous centuries that also antedate the New Connection Free WIll Baptists (the non-Socinian Free Willers) and are thus irrelevant in a certain respect.

We can chat about them, however. Note that those two confessions are almost exact. The question we need to ask here is “what does “free will” mean in those confessions, not “do they use the words?” There is no negation here, which is exactly the point I was making, Mr. Ross. Thank you for recognizing it. “Free Will” in those confessions expresses the concept that “Free Agency” does in the NHC, in contrast to the what General Baptist/Free Will Baptist confessions meant when using the term “Free will.” A FWB confession of that day would state

The human will is free and self-controlled, having power to yield to the influence of the truth and the Spirit, or to resist them and perish.
or have another similar statement. This is not in the NHC, nor is this what the NHC means by “free agency.”


Mr. Ross continues:
>Furthermore, the 1925, 1963, and 2000 Southern Baptist Convention
>statements >of faith all affirm the "free agency of man," and the Southern Seminary's
>Abstract of Principles affirms "the FREE WILL and responsibility of
>intelligent >creatures."

Correct, and, since those confessions are drawn from the NHC the terms in them should be interpreted in light of the NHC, not simply according to the minds of Mullins, Hobbs, and Rogers. How can one get a concept of libertarian freedom out of a document that disaffirms it? That’s the point, Mr. Ross. Simply pointing to the BFM’s and saying that none of them teaches that regeneration precedes faith is facile in light of the NHC and the fact that Calvinists of that century most certainly affirmed that regeneration precedes faith. The NHC is a muddled confession, but it nevertheless recapitulates the concepts of the previous confessions.
>If the NHC went out of its way to exclude free will, evidently James P.
>Boyce >of Southern Seminary thought free will should be "restored"!


The question we need to ask here is not whether or not the words “free will” were used in these and the Abstract, rather the question we need to ask is “what is meant by those terms?”

James A Boyce, once again informs us repeatedly in his Abstract of Theology that regeneration precedes faith, so it seems he affirmed that which you deny Mr. Ross.

Boyce in his Abstract tells us this about free agency:
3. God's action must, therefore, accord with the free agency of man. Free agency belongs to the nature of an intelligent moral creature. He must have freedom of choice, or he would not be responsible for his action. The very essence of responsibility consists in the power of contrary action, had one so pleased. God's providential action cannot, therefore, be such as to destroy man's freedom of will, or the power of this contrary choice.
But this does not forbid the use of inducements to any specific action, nor the placing of man in circumstances which would influence, or control his acts. Were these influences compulsory, so as to force to action against his will, the freedom of man would be destroyed, and with it responsibility. But, wherever they are only persuasive, so as to lead him to delight in, or to choose a specific course of action, through his own good pleasure, liberty is preserved, and man is accountable for his choice. The providential influences of God are of this nature only. Experience so teaches, and the Scriptures so declare. Man is conscious, at every moment, that his act was the outcome of his own good pleasure. We could have no stronger proof that God has providentially acted in accordance only with our nature, except the word of God himself. This testimony is added, when he not only ascribes our sinful acts to our own will, but declares that he holds man responsible, and will punish him for them.
4. God may, however, originate action in man, by producing some such change as is the result of the exercise of direct power. The man may be conscious of this fact, and may feel assured that this change is not due to himself. In other ways, also, God may directly introduce controlling influences which forcibly originate new purposes in man, and so direct his will, that it finds that which is pleasing to itself far different from the past. But this action of God is of the nature of creative acts, and not of providential. The Scripture so speaks of them, and it may be doubted whether they belong to the realm of providence. Thus the words "creation," and "creature," are constantly applied to those who are vitally connected with Christ, because of the new heart which God has given, and of their renewal in the image of God.
But whether these acts are to be regarded as creative only, or as providential also, it is evident that in them the restrictions, arising from his nature, as to creative acts, appear. The compulsion is towards holiness, not towards sin. The new heart is one fitted for God's service, and it loves him, and desires to obey his statutes. He could not change a heart of holiness to one of sin, without its own voluntary action, any more than he could create a sinful being. He cannot directly tempt to sin, any more than he could make a man with original sin. His own righteous and holy nature is the guaranty of this, and forbids that he should act otherwise.
5. We are thus led to perceive what is the method of God's providential action as to the sins of men, and what are his relations to them.
One question as to his connection with sin no man can answer, namely, why he has allowed its existence at all. We can have no doubt that he could have prevented it. He can do anything not contrary to his own nature; and in that nature can be found no necessity for its existence. We can, however, see many ends which he has had in view in allowing it in his universe. But with all this, with our present knowledge of his will, we are compelled to confess that we cannot tell why he saw that it was better to admit than to exclude it.
On the other hand, however, no reason can be justly given why he should not have done so when he so purposed. There is nothing in its existence which makes him its author or shows any unholy action on his part in its introduction. Nor is there any evidence of any lack of power to prevent its origination, nor of any want of benevolent love to his creatures in permitting it.
Of the origin of sin in the universe our information is very meagre. We have already seen this as to the fall of angels. That of man, to be hereafter considered, gives us little information beyond as few facts. But, even in these brief statements, we are taught explicitly that sin is not due to any creative act of God, but that it came into existence entirely under his providential government. The dealings of God with it, at present under that providence, show the truth of the above statements. The Scriptures and our own experience are the sources of our information. From these we learn:
(1.) That sin exists only in accordance with the purpose of God. Had he not seen fit, it could never have appeared in the universe. Its presence proceeds from no necessity of his nature, nor from any antagonistic power which he could not resist.
(2.) It cannot occur at any time nor in any form without his permission. While he does not actively originate it, he holds such absolute control over it that no single event in connection with it can take place without his permission.
(3.) It cannot attain any end, however naturally operative towards it, which he has not designed shall be attained.
(4.) It cannot go any further than the limits he has assigned.
(5.) Through it he works out his own righteous purpose, and not the sinful designs of those who are committing the sin which he thus overrules.
(6.) In any one act the ends of himself and the sinner may greatly differ.
(7.) Likewise the same act may be sinful in the sinner, and not sinful in God. This is due to the difference of relations borne to persons and things by God and man. God has supreme control over life and property. Man has not. God may take away life or property by the hand of the assassin or the thief. He only does what it is his right to do. But it is sin in the man through whom he acts, because he has not the right to either of these things.
(8.) The sinful actions of men may be sinful, either from the motives which prompt them, the ends in view, or the means by which they are accomplished. God may concur in such acts, from motives, with ends, and in the use of means which are altogether most holy.
(9.) The concurrence of God with the sinner is limited to the support of the natural faculties, in which support there is neither sin nor innocence; sin consisting not in their use, but in the intention with which they are used, and the object sought by that use.
(10.) The concurrence of God according to the regularity of general laws seems eminently desirable. If, whenever man acted virtuously, his powers of action were sustained, but not so when acting otherwise, there would be really no free agency in man, for he would not have the power of contrary choice and action. On the other hand; there would no longer be such regular action of the universe as seems necessary for the happiness and comfort of mankind. The action of nature would every day be suspended in thousands of instances, and confusion would exist.
As you can see, this is compatiblism, not libertarianism. The NHC affirms the former, not the latter. It does not contain a statement on the freedom of the will as defined in the Arminian confessions of the day, Mr. Ross.

Moreover, the BFM on regeneration, like the NHC says: The article on regeneration reads as follows:
"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."


Did you get that? Regeneration is a change of heart to which the sinner responds in repentance and faith. The Agent is the Holy Spirit. The sinner responds to regeneration and believes and repents. It is accompanied by conviction of sin. This means, Mr. Ross, that the BFM and the NHC affirm that regeneration precedes faith. How can faith and repentance be prior to regeneration in this confessional statement, when it rather clearly says otherwise?

Boyce studied under Charles Hodge, one of those Princetonians you can’t stand. He and his son taught this:

Free-will is a question of great interest. I do not assert, nor is it necessary that I should, what are the essential elements of free agency. Men may differ about that. But we know we have a conscience, and that a person is not a mere machine — for that a machine cannot have an obligation, cannot be subject to command, is certainly proved; but that a person is subject to command, is subject to obligations of conscience, is a matter of universal consciousness. This is very true, more so than any fact of science. The most certain things in the world are not the things you can prove. You say, “I have proved this, and therefore I believe it to be true.” The fact that you have got to prove things shows that there is doubt, for it is only doubtful things you have to prove. The things which you cannot prove are the eternal verities.
How do you prove things? You prove things by deducing the unknown from the known, the uncertain from the certain, by referring particulars to general laws — that is, you prove through a medium. But how do you prove the medium? Now, logic is a great thing. How does logic work? Of course, step by step. You know that in logic you cannot separate the links; if you get hold of one end of the chain, you keep following it up. But what is the force of the chain? You have got a chain of logic hanging down, and you climb up that chain link by link; but what supports the chain at the other end? Logic is like a ladder — by means of it you go up step by step. But how are you going to prove that the bottom of it is all right? The ladder rests on the ground; but what supports the ground? You prove this by that; but what proves that? You must have a starting-point, an ultimate fact, and these ultimate principles are the most sure, because if the ground is not steady the ladder is not steady; the ground must be more steady than the ladder. The things which you start from, which are the means of bringing us results, are more sure than other things which are proved by them. You and I know that we are free. You and I know that we are responsible. You and I have that assurance of knowledge which is before all science.
This matter of free-will underlies everything. If you bring it to question, it is infinitely more than Calvinism. I believe in Calvinism, and I say free-will stands before Calvinism. Everything is gone if free-will is gone; the moral system is gone if free-will is gone; you cannot escape, except by materialism on the one hand or pantheism on the other. Hold hard, therefore, to the doctrine of free-will. What is it? I say to my class, but I do not know whether it will do to say it here, “I have my will, but my will is not free; it is myself that is free.” Now it makes a difference whether you have freedom of will or the freedom of man in willing. I am conscious that my will is free. But am I free when I will? That is what I mean to indicate. Consciousness tells me that I am free, therefore I am responsible. Then I have this freedom. It is not an abstract quality, it is not an abstract faculty; it has a whole meaning, it is the I that is free; the reason is free, as free as the consciousness. It is the I that is free, and has got a will; it is the I that is free, and has got a character.
Now, so understanding this freedom of the I, not of the will, but of the whole soul, what is freedom? I say it is just this, as far as I know anything about it, that it is just the self-originating, self-directing I, and that is the whole that it is. Let me illustrate. Suppose I should put upon your table, or you should see resting there, with nothing to interfere with it, a ball of something. It is a ball of yarn. Now suppose you begin to see the yarn moving; you would be sure to say, “Some one is moving it.” It is yarn; nothing is more certain than that the thing cannot move itself; if it moves, it moves by reason of some life connected with it, and you settle that question right off. You look again, and you say, “It is not a ball of yarn; it is a mouse.” The thing started itself; it could not move unless it had life from within that is self-originating motion. Now, has the mouse free-will? No, because the mouse has not reason and conscience; therefore I would amend my definition. The mouse has self-originated action, the mouse has self-electing action; but it has not reason and conscience. I say it is self-originated, self-elected action, with the illumination of reason and conscience, that makes free-will.
You are sitting in a summer-house; you see something darting about. What is it? It is nothing but a speck of dust. That is not self-directed action; it is governed by the wind. Suppose that you look and see that it is motion directed from within, that this darting and stopping is self-moved. Why, that is not governed by the wind; it is governed by instinct, which is not reason or conscience. Suppose that you or I at sea should observe a great ship at a distance just carried about. We look at it; we take our glasses, and you say, “It has no life about it,” It is moved by the current; and you say that it is an abandoned thing that is carried about and swept along by controlling circumstances and outside causes. But instead of this object floating about, suppose we see a steamship. The steam is on, the wheels are revolving, the action that you see is controlled from within; and you have there self-originated action — the action comes from within the ship. A gale is blowing, and the waves are dashing against the vessel; but you see the royal mail steamship fully manned and equipped; the forces are all at work, and there is a man at the helm; and there you have free-will in its highest form — self-originated force, self-directed force, under the lead of reason and conscience: that I believe to be free-will.
Now, the second question is the influence of character on the will. A great many seem to think free-will a simple matter. I believe it is the greatest mystery of the world. Man has a fixed character which determines all in a certain track, and yet that man is free; whereas, you say a man to be free ought to be perfectly uninfluenced. Suppose I bring up before you to-day in illustration a child. It has no past, no history. It can do what it pleases, of course; and if I say to it, “Will you do this?” it replies, “I will.” The child does just what any one wishes it to do. Now, take a man of education and of character, a man of principle, a man of convictions, a man of purpose, a man of fixed habits, and you cannot make him do this or that. What he does is already determined by the character of the man, habits which have been crystallized into character. The child is unformed — he can do anything; but the character of the man is fixed, and he cannot do what is against his conscience, and he cannot do what is improper in his mind or view. It is uncertain what the child will do, hut it is very certain what the man will do. Now, I ask you, Which is the more free? Is it the child or the man? Is the child free, or is the father free who can stand up in the most trying times, determined from within by the forces of his character and by the good habits of his life? You take a man — take a father and compare him with God: concede the father to be a man of high character, such as General Grant, and sanctified by the Spirit of God, firm as a rock. Yet, after all, the strongest human being may be tempted, may be overcome by seduction. But when you look up at Jehovah, whose character is not uncertain, whose character is eternal, who cannot do that which is foolish and who cannot do that which is wrong, which is the more free? Is Jehovah freer than man? Is the man freer than the child? Therefore, I hold that a man is free just in proportion to his convictions, just in proportion to his capability of determining his action from experience, just from his fixedness and crystallization of character. A man is free in proportion to the direction and development of his character. A holy character is the highest form of freedom.
I believe a sinful character leaves man responsible; for the sinner is just as free as the saint, the devil is just as free as Gabriel. Now, what is freedom? It is self-originated, self-directed action under the law of reason and conscience. But the devil has all that, just as much as Gabriel; the sinful man has all that, just as much as the saint. The difference is here. I have the power of willing as I prefer, but I have no power of creating a holy character for myself. If I have a holy character, my character coincides with my views, my judgment, my reason, my conscience, and my spontaneous affections; they all go in one direction. But if I am a sinner I have no right-directing heart. Reason says go one way, conscience says go the same way, the affections and the dispositions say go another way; and therefore the sinner, according to the language of the Bible, although really free and morally responsible, is in bondage to corruption; the impulses of his heart are in the wrong direction.
Apply that to the fourfold state of man. There are only four states, and there have been only two human beings who occupied all the four states — namely, Adam and Eve. There is the state of innocency, the state of sin, the state of grace, and the state of glory.
Now, we know what it is to be sinners; but can we cease to be sinners, and can we obey the law of holiness? We know what it is to be Christians through divine grace. How was it with Adam? Adam was created, according to the Bible, with a perfectly holy nature, without sin; and yet he was able to sin, and he was able to do right. You have not had that experience. No one but Adam ever had that experience or ever can have it.
If you will read the ninth chapter of our Confession of Faith, on the “Freedom of the Will,” you will find it one of the most wonderful treatises you have ever seen.
You are familiar with the fact that theologians always escape from difficulties by using the word “mystery,” and that the mystery of mysteries is the origin of sin. The great mystery is a theological one. How is it possible that a God of infinite holiness, of infinite compassion, of infinite knowledge, of infinite power, ever allows sin to exist? Why, sin is the very thing he hates. This is an absolutely insoluble mystery. How did sin begin? Why did God permit it? If we are all free, if we are created by God, and there is nothing which exists which God did not create except himself, how did sin come? That is an insoluble mystery. St. Augustine attempted to account for it, and I believe his suggestion is the very nearest to it possible. It is that sin in its origin is not a positive entity, but it is a defect.
Take this for an illustration: Suppose you have a fiddle that has been out of tune: you hang it up on the wall, and a year after you come back and take it down, and the fiddle is all in tune. You know that the fiddle must have been put in tune; it could not have got into tune spontaneously. But suppose your fiddle is perfectly in tune when you hang it up, and you go away, and when you return you find that it is out of tune. It does not follow that somebody did it. You do not say that somebody did it, but that it got out of tune. Now, in the case of Adam I have no doubt sin began in that way — not as sin, but it began to be through inattention, it began to be through defect in love, through defect in faith; it was an omission, and it was thus through a rift in the lute, through a crack here and another there, with a want of harmony. And with this want of harmony came the awful discord that has sent the world into a bedlam, and made a division between God and man. Adam sinned, and then we got into the condition with which we are familiar, with a will to sin, and with a power only to sin. And then, through the cross, we are lifted into a condition of grace, in which we have power to obey; and the power grows stronger and stronger, and the disposition and desire to sin grow weaker and weaker. That is before us. Thank God we shall come at last to the stature of perfect manhood in Christ Jesus, when the character, amplified and regenerated, shall come to its full divine crystalline beauty; and then we shall partake of the divine nature, and have a perfect freedom of will, as free as Adam, yet certain as God.

There is no variance between Boyce, Dagg, Mell, Broadus, Williams, and Manly Sr. or Jr. on any of these issues.

Gene appears to hold -- as I have noted elsewhere -- a semi-Pelagian view,
>apparently affirming that the "dead" sinner must be "born again" in order
>to >have the "ability" to believe.


Yes Triablogue readers, you read that correct. Bob L. Ross believes that I and James White and the folks at Founders are semi-Pelagians. Has he ever written anything more absurd?

First of all, if we’re Semi-Pelagians, we are in good company:

A. I refer readers to my section on James Boyce in my last article. He states:

Conversion
I. This is the result of regeneration. The new heart is prepared to turn to God and does actually so turn. Without regeneration, the sinfulness of man keeps him away from God, causes him to set his affections upon self and his own pleasure, and to find gratification in things which are opposed to God and holiness. The regenerated heart has new affections and desires and is, therefore, fitted to seek after God and holiness.

NOTE. A man in one sense maybe called converted as soon as he has truly turned to God and is also seeking to know and do his will. This is that amount of conversion which is so nearly contemporaneous with regeneration as to be liable to be supposed to exist at the same moment with it, and which indeed in a being capable of thought on such subjects must be its immediate effect.
But what the Scriptures and common language comprise in this word is repentance and trust in God's saving power, and, in connection with Christian knowledge, trust in Jesus Christ as a Saviour. The attainment of the fullness of such conversion is by the gradual appreciation of truth, resulting not only from regeneration, and knowledge, but from spiritual illumination of the mind.
V. The relation of regeneration to conversion will, therefore, appear to be one of invariable antecedence.
Wherever the appropriate truth is at the time present its relation is almost that of producing cause, for the prepared heart at once receives the truth. Hence, as this is so generally the case, they have been usually regarded as contemporaneous and by some even as identical. But that regeneration is the invariable antecedent is seen,
1. From the fact that the heart is the soil in which the seed, the word of God, is sown, and that seed only brings forth fruit in the good soil. The heart is made good soil by regeneration.
2. Regeneration (as in infants) may exist without faith and repentance, but the latter cannot exist without the former. Therefore, regeneration precedes.
3. Logically the enabling act of God must, in a creature, precede the act of the creature thus enabled. But this logical antecedence involves actual antecedence, or the best conceptions of our mind deceive us and are not reliable. For this logical antecedence exists only because the mind observes plainly a perceived dependence of the existence of the one on the other. But such dependence demands, if not causal, at least antecedent existence. Here it is only antecedent.
VI. There is not only antecedence, but in some cases an appreciable interval.
1. This is true even of conversion regarded as a mere turning to God. Between it and regeneration must intervene in some cases some period of time until the knowledge of God's existence and nature is given, before the heart turns, or even is turned towards that God.
(1.) This must be true of all infants and of all persons otherwise incapable of responsibility, as for example idiots.
(2.) There is no reason why it should not be true of some heathen. The missionaries of the cross have been sought by men, who knew nothing of Christianity, but whose hearts, unsatisfied with the religion of their fathers, were restlessly seeking for what their soul was crying out.
2. It is still more manifestly true of full Christian conversion.
(1.) The Scriptures teach this in many examples of persons pious, holy, and fearing God, yet unacquainted with the full truth which secures union with Christ.
Ethiopian Eunuch: Acts 8:26-40.
Paul: Acts, chapter 9, 22 and 26. Galatians, chapters 1st and 2d.
Cornelius the Centurion: Acts 10:2.
Lydia: Acts 16:14.
(2.) The experience of ministers in all ages with persons seeking and attaining salvation confirms this idea. The attainment of conversion may be marked by stages. The sinner is at first totally indifferent. The word produces on him no effect. Then (1.) There is an evident willingness to give serious attention to the truth of God. God has opened the heart as he did that of Lydia. (2.) There is conviction of sin, sense of its vileness, and of its dangerous effects. (3.) The soul, oppressed by these, strives to do something by which to attain salvation, but finds all in vain. (4.) At last accepting the truth of God's word it rests in trust of a personal Saviour.
VII. The term conversion is not technically applied to any change, except that which follows upon regeneration, and consists in the Godward turning of one heretofore turned entirely away from God. The return of men who have backslidden, or fallen into grievous sin, is also called "a return to God," and such a return is possibly what is called "conversion" in Peter's case. Luke 22:32. But conversion is theologically used exclusively of the first act.


So, if I’m a semi-Pelagian, so was James A. Boyce, the man who wrote the Abstract to which Ross appeals.

Mr. Ross also didn’t bother to address the rest of what was written on Spurgeon or the LCBF2, so I’ll make it plain for him: Mr. Ross, the LCBF2 and Spurgeon both affirmed that conversion (faith and repentance) is/are the result of regeneration. Their relationship is such that regeneration is logically antecedent.

II. But mark, we are about to review THE ARMY THAT IMMEDIATELY PRECEDES SALVATION; and first, in the forefront of these, there marches one whose name we must pronounce with sacred awe. It is God, the Holy Spirit. Before anything can be done in our salvation, there must come that Third Person of the Sacred Trinity. Without him, faith, repentance, humility, love, are things quite impossible. Even the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot save until it has been applied to the heart by God the Holy Spirit. Before we notice the grand army, then, that immediately precedes Salvation, let us be cautious that we do not forget Him who is the leader of them all. The great King, Immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit: it is he that quickens the soul, or else it would lie dead for ever; it is he that makes it tender, or else it would never feel, it is he that imparts efficacy to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is he who breaks the heart, it is he who makes it whole: he, from first to last, is the great worker of Salvation in us just as Jesus Christ was the author of Salvation for us. (Sermon on Hebrews 6:9 New Park Street 3:598)

and

COMING to Christ” is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is used to
express those acts of the soul wherein leaving at once our self righteousness,
and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive his righteousness
to be our covering, and his blood to be our atonement. Coming to Christ, then,
embraces in it repentance, self-negation, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
and it sums within itself all those things which are the necessary attendants of
these great states of heart, such as the belief of the truth, earnestness of
prayer to God, the submission of the soul to the precepts of God’s gospel, and
all those things which accompany the dawn of salvation in the soul. Coming to
Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner’s salvation. He that cometh
not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may is yet in “the gall of
bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” Coming to Christ is the very first
effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once
discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge, and
believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and reposes in him (emphasis
mine). Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain that there is as
yet no quickening; where there is no quickening, the soul is dead in trespasses
and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Sermon 182,Human Inability).

and

"Faith is too celestial a grace," Spurgeon argued, "to spring up in human nature till it is renewed." ("Faith and Regeneration," Metropolitan Tabernacle, 17:133-144)

John L. Dagg took a most interesting position, for he discusses regeneration in a wide sense and a narrow sense. (FYI, this is *also* the position of the Presbyterians that Mr. Ross dislikes so much).

In the wider sense, he says that faith precedes regeneration. However, notice what he says. He does not say that this is saving faith.

The term regeneration is sometimes used in a comprehensive sense, as including the whole formation of the Christian character. At other times it is used for the first production of divine love in the heart. In the latter sense, the work is instantaneous. There is a moment known only to God, when the first holy affection exists in the soul. Truth may enter gradually, and may excite strong affections in the mind, and may for a time increase the hatred of God which naturally reigns in the heart. So Paul says, "Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence."[139] But, in his own time and manner, God, the Holy Spirit, makes the word effectual in producing a new affection in the soul: and, when the first movement of love to God exists, the first throb of spiritual life commences.
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[140] 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.
The power of faith over the actions, the conscience, and the affections of the heart, every one must admit. Confidence place in a treacherous man, has often led to a course of action ruinous in its effects on the condition and character. A belief in false principles of morality blinds the conscience, and causes it to approve the wrong, and condemn the right. We may love or hate an individual, under a mistaken view of his character; and our affection towards him may be completely changed, by a better acquaintance with him. Now, it may be asked, does not dislike of God proceed from a wrong view of his character, and will not a true knowledge of him infallibly produce love?
That hatred of God, and a wrong view of his character, accompany each other, no one can deny; but which of these produces the other, ought not to be assumed without investigation. We readily judge well concerning those whom we love, and ill concerning those whom we dislike. Men's interests pervert their judgments. In a deliberative assembly, parties are formed, according to the interests of individuals; and man take sides according to the circumstances which influence the heart. In these cases, the affections control the faith. The affections and faith mutually influence each other, and if either be wrong, the other cannot be perfectly right. The enmity to God which rules in the hearts of unregenerate men, renders their view of this character incorrect. A perfectly correct view cannot co-exist with enmity to him: and yet it does not follow that love to him may be produced, by giving right views of his character.
Some have maintained the opinion that a revelation of God's love to us is sufficient to produce love to him. That it ought to do so, cannot be denied; and in a heart under no evil bias, it would produce this effect. We may rather say, that a heart in which no evil bias exists, will love God, on receiving a revelation of his general character, without waiting for evidence of special favor. If our love to God proceeds from a belief that he loves us in particular, it is merely a modification of self-love. Such love has no moral excellence in it; for "sinners love those that love them."[141] Some have supposed, that the faith of devils differs from the faith of Christians in the circumstance, that it sees in God no manifestation of love towards them, and therefore can produce no love in their hearts towards God. But this opinion regards the faith which distinguishes the people of God, and purifies their hearts, as possessing no moral excellence in its nature. The circumstances in which it is exercised, do not make its nature better. If it may consist with perfect hatred to God, it cannot have moral excellence in itself, or tend to produce moral purity.
However, he goes on and discusses the relationship between regeneration and saving faith:

First, he discusses regeneration in the narrow sense:

Various forms of expression are employed in the Scriptures, to denote the change of heart; and they signify it with various shades of meaning.. It is taking away the heart of stone, and giving a heart of flesh;[122] giving a new heart;[123] putting the law in the heart;[124] quickening or making alive;[125] a resurrection from the dead; an illumination;[126] a conversion, or turning back to God.[127] So great is the change produced, that the subject of it is called a new creature,[128] as if proceeding, like Adam, directly from the creating hand of God; and he is said to be renewed,[129] as being restored to the image of God, in which man was originally formed. With reference to the mode in which the descendants of Adam come into the world, the change is denominated regeneration;[130] and the subjects of it are said to be born again.[131]
The change is moral. 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.[132] 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."[133]
The mode in which the Holy Spirit effects this change, is beyond our investigation. All God's ways are unsearchable; and we might as well attempt to explain how he created the world, as how he new-creates the soul. With reference to this subject, the Saviour said, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."[134] We know, from the Holy Scriptures, that God employs his truth in the regeneration of the soul. "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth."[135] Love to God necessarily implies knowledge of God, and this knowledge it is the province of truth to impart. But knowledge is not always connected with love. The devils know, but do not love; and wicked men delight not to retain the knowledge of God,[136] because their knowledge of him is not connected with love. The mere presentation of the truth to the mind, is not all that is needed, in producing love to God in the heart. What accompanying influence the Holy Spirit uses, to render the word effectual, we cannot explain: but Paul refers to it, when he says, "Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost."[137]--"but in the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power."[138]
Then he discusses the wider sense, which I noted in my first quote from him. Then, after this digression, he discusses the narrow sense, with respect to conversion itself. He writes:
An inspired writer has said, "We love him, because he first loved us:"[142] but these words do not teach, that our love to God originates in the conviction that we are the favorites of his love. The love of God towards us, operates both as an efficient, and as a motive. 1. As an efficient cause. "For his great love where with he loved us,[143] when we were dead in sin, hath quickened us together with Christ." Here is an operation entirely distinct from that of mere motive. The dead body of Christ in the grave, was quickened by the Spirit; and a like power quickens the dead soul. "We believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead."[144] Here faith itself is ascribed to this divine operation. All this operation proceeds from God's great love wherewith he hath loved us. It is plain, therefore, that this love operates as an efficient cause, before it operates as a motive to holiness. It cannot operate as a motive without faith; and faith is produced by its efficient power. After this efficiency has quickened the dead soul, the love of God towards us then operates. 2. As a motive. The goodness of God leads to repentance, and every attribute and act of God has a tendency to call forth the love of the heart, when in the right state. Nothing so effectually melts the heart, as a view of God's great love towards us, while we were yet sinners: and of Christ's love in giving himself for us: but many a heart has felt this melting influence, without having in view the personal benefit to be received from this love. Our love to God does not produce a disregard to our own happiness, but it rises above the consideration of it. It is, therefore, not a modification of self-love.
This divine operation, which is additional to the motive power of truth, proceeds from what has been called the direct influence of the Spirit. Truth, as contained in the Holy Scriptures, is a revelation from the Holy Spirit; and as men's words, whether spoken or written, have an influence on the minds of other men, so the words of the Holy Spirit have an influence on the minds of all who read the Bible, or hear the gospel preached. In this indirect way, the Holy Spirit operates on men's minds, as the author of a book operates on all who read his work. But this indirect influence is by means of truth as a motive power; and no mere motive, operating on the sinner's heart, can induce him to love God for his own sake. While self-love rules in the mind, all motives derive their power from their relation to the ruling principle; and cannot, therefore, establish a higher principle of action. This change, by which true love to God is produced, results from the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, accompanying his word, and making it effectual. It was this direct influence which rendered the word so effectual on the day of Pentecost,[145] which opened Lydia's heart,[146] so that she attended to the things that were spoken by Paul;--which gave the increase when Paul planted, and Apollos watered,[147]--and which has ever brought the word to the heart, in demonstration of the Spirit, and with power.[148]
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit's direct influence, is a fundamental truth of the gospel dispensation. That Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, and completed the great work for which he assumed our nature, is a truth that lies at the foundation of Christianity. The gospel reveals to us the Spirit as well as the Son. When about to leave the world, Jesus promised another comforter, who should dwell with his disciples for ever. The Holy Spirit, as God, had always been in the world: but he was now to be present by a peculiar manifestation and operation. This manifestation and operation attended the ministry of the Word on the day of Pentecost, and the gospel has always been the sword of the Spirit,[149] the instrument with which he operates in the fulfilment of his office for which he has come into the world, in answer to the prayer of Christ.
If, Mr. Ross, I was inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt, I would say that you think that we are affirming that we are speaking of regeneration in this wider sense when we say “regeneration precedes faith.” No, no, no, a thousand times No. We agree that regeneration produces Christian character, but we deny that this is required before one believes. Rather we affirm that the first effect of regeneration is faith and repentance and then the rest flows from it. (Dagg, Manual of Theology, Vol. 1, Bk.7.3.4)


However, given the rest of what you have said in your response and your continued charge of “heresy,” I am not inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt.

CHAPTER 10; OF EFFECTUAL CALLING

Paragraph 1. Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He is pleased in His appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call,1 by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ;2 enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God;
3 taking away their heart of stone, and giving to them a heart of flesh;4 renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ;5 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.6
1 Rom. 8:30, 11:7; Eph. 1:10,11; 2 Thess. 2:13,14
2 Eph. 2:1-6
3 Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:17,18
4 Ezek. 36:26
5 Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; Eph. 1:19
6 Ps. 110:3; Cant. 1:4

Paragraph 2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature,7 being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit;8 he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead. 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:8 8 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:5; John 5:25 9 Eph. 1:19, 20

This confession clearly states that when a man is effectually called, he is regenerated, raised to newness of life, and that enables him to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in the call of the gospel. Just to make this clear, it is stating that regeneration precedes faith!

The First London Confession is also quite clear:

V. All mankind being thus fallen, and become altogether dead in sins and trespasses, and subject to the eternal wrath of the great God by transgression; yet the elect, which God hath26 loved with an everlasting love, are27 redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves, neither by their own works, lest any man should boast himself, but wholly and only by God of28 his free grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that as it is written, He that rejoiceth, let him rejoice in the Lord.

Here is what it says about the relationship between faith and regeneration:

That Faith is the gift of God wrought in the hearts of the elect by the Spirit of God, whereby they come to see, know, and believe the truth of85 the Scriptures, and not only so, but the excellency of them above all other writings and things in the world, as they hold forth the glory of God in his attributes, the excellency of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power of the fullness of the Spirit in its workings and operations; and thereupon are enabled to cast the weight of their souls upon this truth thus believed. Those that have this precious faith wrought in them by the Spirit, can never finally nor totally fall away; and though many storms and floods do arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon, but shall be kept by the power of God to salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being formerly engraven upon the palms of God's hands. XXIV. That faith is ordinarily begot by the preaching of the Gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to88 any power or capacity in the creature, but it is wholly89 passive, being dead in sins and trespasses, doth believe, and is converted by no less power,90 than that which raised Christ from the dead.

Again, both of those confessions affirm that regeneration precedes faith

Andrew Fuller in Reply to Philanthropos and The Reality and Efficacy of Divine Grace discussed the query, “Whether our regeneration is prior to our coming to Christ.” Fuller, against General Baptist Dan Taylor, who affirms that it is the result of faith (just like Mr. Ross it seems), said that such an idea (regeneration is the result of faith) is “derogatory to the honor of the Holy Spirit, and contrary to the voice and tenor of the sacred Scriptures.” He says that faith must be ascribed to the operation of the Spirit in effectual calling and that all great instances of conversion in Scripture are the result of “some pecular outpourings of the Spirit of God,” and says that the Spirit produces certain and abiding results, which includes faith as its root. (Fuller, Works, Vol. 2, 463)

Richard Furman said that “regeneration is a change wrought in the soul, by the implanation of a Principle of Divine Life, with all its essential Qualities and Disposition.” However, the soul is passive in this act, and it takes regeneration to bring about conversion. In conversion men’s “faculties in their renewed state come into action and cause man actually to forsake sin and devote himself to the love and service of God,” (Furman, Conversion, 6)

John A. Broadus (distinguished professor of New Testament and successor to Boyce at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary): "
1. Q. What is meant by the word regeneration? A. Regeneration is God's causing a person to be born again. 9. Q. Does faith come before the new birth? A. No, it is the new heart that truly repents and believes" (taken from Broadus' A Catechism of Bible Teaching, reprinted in A Baptist Treasury, pp. 67-68).


B. H. Carroll (founder and first president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas): "The true scriptural position [concerning regeneration] is this: There is, first of all, a direct influence of the Holy Spirit on the passive spirit of the sinner, quickening him or making him sensitive to the preaching of the Word. In this the sinner is passive. But he is not a subject of the new birth without contrition, repentance and faith. In exercising these he is active. Yet even his contrition is but a response to the Spirit's conviction, and the exercise of his repentance is but a response to the Spirit's conviction, and the exercise of his repentance and faith are but responses to the antecedent spiritual graces of repentance and faith." Carroll goes on to state that "repentance and faith are fruits of regeneration" (An Interpretation of the English Bible, Volume 4, p. 287).

Mr. Ross, are these men *also* heretics? Do they *not* represent Southern Baptists? Are they all “semi-Pelagians” too?


No, Mr. Ross, this is not semi-Pelagianism at all. This is why you are clearly confused.

You write:
> affirming that the "dead" sinner must be "born again" in order to
>have the "ability" to believe.

No, Mr. Ross, Semi-Pelagianism denies that a dead sinner must be born again in order to have the ability to believe they do NOT affirm that men must be born again in order to have the ability to believe.

Semi-Pelagianism maintains that the first steps towards the Christian life are ordinarily taken by the human will and that Grace supervened only later.
(Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. F.L. Cross, Oxford Univ. Press, rev. 1983, p.1258)

3. What are the three great systems of theology which have always continued to prevail in the church?

Since the revelation given in the Scriptures embraces a complete system of truth, every single department must sustain many obvious relations, logical and otherwise, to every other as the several parts of one whole. The imperfect development, and the defective or exaggerated conception of any one doctrine, must inevitably lead to confusion and error throughout the entire system. For example, Pelagian views as to man's estate by nature always tend to coalesce with Socinian views as to the Person and work of Christ. And Semipelagian views as to sin and grace are also irresistibly attracted by, and in turn attract Arminian views as to the divine attributes, the nature of the Atonement, and the work of the Spirit.

There are, in fact, as we might have anticipated, but two complete self-consistent systems of Christian theology possible.

1st. On the right hand, Augustinianism completed in Calvinism. 2nd. On the left hand, Pelagianism completed in Socinianism. And 3rd. Arminianism comes between these as the system of compromises and is developed Semipelagianism.

In the common usage of terms Socinianism is principally applied as the designation of those elements of the false system which relate to the Trinity of the Person of Christ; the terms Pelagianism and Semipelagianism are applied to the more extreme or the more moderate departures from the truth under the head of anthropology; and the term Arminianism is used to designate the less extreme errors concerned with the Department of soteriology. (Hodge, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism & Augustinianism.


And

According to semi-Pelagianism, man doesn’t have a complete capacity, but man and God could cooperate to a certain degree in this salvation effort: man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then completes the salvation process. (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semipelagianism )

And
Semi-Pelagianism essentially teaches that humanity is tainted by sin, but not the extent that we cannot cooperate with God's grace on our own. Semi-Pelagiaism is, in essence, partial depravity. (http://www.gotquestions.org/Pelagianism.html)
Since we affirm that men are dead in sin must be born again prior to believing precisely because they do not have the ability to believe, sir, we are certainly not Semi-Pelagian. In fact, Mr. Ross, if this is truly what you affirm, you are most certainly semi-Pelagian yourself.

>This corresponds with the Pelagian view that the lost sinner has "ability"
>to >believe in response to the command to do so

Once again, nothing could be further from the truth. How can one man be so confused? Pelagianism affirms the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I affirm, it does not correspond to it at all!

State in contrast the main distinguishing positions of the Augustinian and Pelagian systems.

1st. As to ORIGINAL SIN. 1 [1 Historical Presentation of Augustinianism and Pelagianism, by G. F. Wiggers, D.D., Translated by Rev. Ralph Emerson, pp. 268-270.]
Augustinianism. By the sin of Adam, in whom all men together sinned, sin and all the other positive punishments of Adam's sin came into the world. By it human nature has been both physically and morally corrupted. Every man brings into the world with him a nature already so corrupt, that it can do nothing but sin. The propagation of this quality of his nature is by concupiscence.

Pelagianism. By his transgression, Adam injured only himself, not his posterity. In respect to his moral nature, every man is born in precisely the same condition in which Adam was created. There is therefore no original sin.
2nd. As to FREE WILL.
Augustinianism. By Adam's transgression the Freedom of the human Will has been entirely lost. In his present corrupt state man can will and do only evil.

Pelagianism. Man's will is free. Every man has the power to will and to do good as well as the opposite. Hence it depends upon himself whether he be good or evil.
3rd. As to GRACE.
Augustinianism. If nevertheless man in his present state, wills and does good, it is merely the work of grace. It is an inward, secret, and wonderful operation of God upon man. It s a preceding as well as an accompanying work. By preceding grace, man attains faith, by which he comes to an insight of good, and by which power is given him to will the good. He needs cooperating grace for the performance of every individual good act. As man can do nothing without grace, so he can do nothing against it. It is irresistible. And as man by nature has no merit at all, no respect at all can be had to man's moral disposition, in imparting grace, but God acts according to his own free will.

Pelagianism. Although by free will, which is a gift of God, man has the capacity of willing and doing good without God's special aid, yet for the easier performance of it, God revealed the law; for the easier performance, the instruction and example of Christ aid him; and for the easier performance, even the supernatural operations of grace are imparted to him. Grace, in the most limited sense (gracious influence) is given to those' only who deserve it by the faithful employment of their own powers. But man can resist it.
4th. As to PREDESTINATION AND REDEMPTION.
Augustinianism. From eternity, God made a free and unconditional decree to save a few 2 [2 The doctrine of Augustine does not by any means involve the conclusion that the elect are ' few ' or ' a small number.'] from the mass that was corrupted and subjected to damnation. To those whom he predestinated to this salvation, he gives the requisite means for the purpose. But on the rest, who do not belong to this small number of the elect, the merited ruin falls. Christ came into the world and died for the elect only.

Pelagianism. God's decree of election and reprobation is founded on prescience. Those of whom God foresaw that they would keep his commands, he predestinated to salvation; the others to damnation. Christ's redemption is general. But those only need his atoning death who have actually sinned. All, however, by his instruction and example, may be led to higher perfection and virtue. (Hodge, ibid).
See also here: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/pelagiannatural.html

In 411, Paulinus of Milan came up with a list of six heretical points in the Pelagian message. (1) Adam was created mortal and would have died whether he had sinned or not; (2) the sin of Adam injured himself alone, not the whole human race; (3) newborn children are in the same state in which Adam was before his fall; (4) neither by the death and sin of Adam does the whole human race die, nor will it rise because of the resurrection of Christ; (5) the law as well as the gospel offers entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven; and (6) even before the coming of Christ, there were men wholly without sin. 2 Further, Pelagius and his followers denied unconditional predestination. (Horton, ibid).


Mr. Ross, please provide me with a source that says that semi-Pelagianism affirms that man has completely lost the ability to respond to believe in Christ and is unable to contribute spiritual good to his salvation. Each and every definition of Pelagianism states exactly the opposite, and semi-Pelagianism in the standard references affirms that men can, from a state of nature, cooperate with the Holy Spirit. It appears that, since you deny that regeneration precedes faith that you are the one who believes this. You say that it takes an effectual call, but deny that regeneration is involved, what then is the state of man when he believes in Christ and repents? Is he in a state of nature or not? If so, then how can man, dead in sin, believe and repent if the effectual call is not regenerative?


Both these views conflict with
>Creedal Calvinism.
Amen, but not by the definitions you made up, for those definitions agree with confessional Calvinism. You are correct, these two views do not agree with Calvinism, but you have misstated them.

If believing regeneration precedes faith conflicts with creedal Calvinism, Mr. Ross would surely be able to find us noted Calvinist theologians other than himself that affirm this objection. Where do Boyce, Dagg, Strong, or Dabney, for example interact to contradict this view?

>
>The Creedal pr Confessional Calvinist view -- as I have demonstrated
>several >times - is that the sinner is "DEAD in sins," and faith is necessarily
>produced by the power of the Spirit's using the means of the Word of God to
>produce or create faith in the "passive" and "DEAD" sinner, which constitutes the
>New Birth.

Gene and the Pelagians >have faith being something which is not a creation, but the UNBELIEVING >sinner >has the "ability" to do for himself.


a. Mr. Ross earlier said that semi-Pelagians denied man has this ability in themselves and affirmed men must be born again to do them. Now he contradicts his own statements.

b. Where, Mr. Ross, have we said this? On the contrary, I wrote to you:
Regeneration is attended by the Word of God and gospel truth in all those not dying in infancy. It is monergistic. It precedes faith. It is attended by sorrow for sin, repentance, and faith, but these are its effects, not its efficient cause. Regeneration, the actual raising of the soul to life, is itself an act of the Holy Spirit alone, not the merely hearing, studying, or preaching of the Word of God. The hearing of the Word or reading of the Word, etc. all accompany regeneration in all but the limiting cases, but the act itself in any and all cases is the agency of God alone, as it is the infusion of new life into the soul, a divine act only He can do, akin to raising the dead to life. The theologians you cite are simply parsing the difference between the immediate Agent of regeneration, the Spirit, and His internal working in the heart of man and the accompanying mediate external agents, namely the gospel and any other means (prayer, circumstances, etc. that will apply that truth). James Boyce himself contradicts your objection to what is said of infants. If, gentlemen, asserting that regeneration precedes faith and infant regeneration for salvation is alien to Southern Baptist theology or to Particular Baptist theology in general in your view, then you have successfully excised Spurgeon, Boyce, and all the founders of the Convention, of the last all of whom held to the Philadelphia Confession. James White and the interlocutors you have had on your blog are quite correct, you are very confused men.


I had even pointed you to Owen on this: The Holy Ghost is the immediate author and cause of this work of regeneration. See here: http://www.the-highway.com/regeneration_Owen.html

“That the Holy Spirit doth make use ot it regeneration or conversion of all that are
adult, and that either immediately in and by the preaching of it, or by some
other application of light and truth unto the mind derived from the Word; for by
the reasons, motives, and persuasive arguments which the Word affords, are our
minds affected, and our souls wrought upon our conversion unto God, whence it
becomes our reasonable obedience


Mr. Ross, we have consistently stated that it is THE HOLY SPIRIT that regenerates men, NOT men themselves.
You have now lied about your brethren. You stand in open violation of the 9th commandment. I call you publicly to repent. As of now, I publicly affirm that you are a factious man (Titus 3:10) and call upon others to call you to repent and treat you like a factious man if you fail to do so. This stands now as my 2nd effort in accordance with Titus 3.>

We have used the case of Ezekiel's Dry Bones in chapter 37 to illustrate
>how >this New Birth is accomplished in conjunction with the preaching of the
>Word >of God.
>
>Does Gene think the dead, dry bones were "alive" when there was "a noise
>and >a shaking, and the bones came together" -- BEFORE there was "breath" in
>them?


A. As I have pointed out to you repeatedly, the denial of means in the writers you cite applies to infant salvation and the salvation of idiots and over one or two limiting cases that are speculative.

B. I do not deny this, and I never have, but the question you must answer is “how can dead men” breathe? You’re the one stating that men believe PRIOR TO regeneration. We affirm the logical priority of regeneration for the very reason you cite.

>Does Gene have any evidence that the preliminary workings by the Holy
>Spirit >in the dead sinner is the New Birth -- BEFORE the sinner has received the
>Divinely created gift of faith by the Spirit's use of the means of the Word
>to >produce this faith in the sinner?


I believe, Mr. Ross, I exegeted 1 John 5:1 for you and you ignored it. Likewise, I point you to all the other Baptists I have quote above.

Why should I produce any Scriptural proof again before you interact with what I have already provided in that respect? For that matter, why do you ask me to provide it when you have failed to do so throughout this article? That smacks of special pleading on your part.

>NEW HAMPSHIRE & PHILADELPHIA CONFESSIONS
>Versus the "Born Again Before Faith" Heresy


To be quite frank, Mr. Ross the only “heresy” here would be the position that regeneration is the fruit of faith. To begin with, the majority position throughout church history has been that regeneration precedes faith if you include all the statements made about regeneration in church history over the past 200o years, so the position that regeneration occurs after faith is the real heresy by that standard.
>
>Gene Bridges comments on the New Hampshire Confession of Faith as follows:
>
>Thomas J. Nettles [Southern Seminary Professor] writes, "Many have
>interpreted the contents of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith as an
>attempt to >modify the strong Calvinism of earlier days into something more palatable
>to the >tastes of nineteenth-century churches. It is true that it not as detailed
>or as >lengthy as the Philadelphia Confession, but it is also true that the
>substance >of its doctrine remains unchanged."
> >>
>
>If Nettles is correct, then the Philadelphia Confession is where we must go
>for the substance of doctrine on Free Will and the New Birth.
This does not follow at all, since he does not state that the NHC is a genetically parallel document. They are merely stating the same concepts, but he is not stating that the PCF is the parent document. in the same way that the NHC is the parent of the BFM. The question here is not one of genetic parallel, rather of substance of doctrine...concepts not words.
>
>And in the Philadelphia Confession we find that it does not teach that
>sinners are (1) "born again before faith," nor (2) are they saved by the
>efforts of >free will -- so neither does the NHC teach these ideas.
>
>In the PCF, Effectual Calling is "by His Word and Spirit," not by a "direct
>operation" of the Spirit apart from the Word or Gospel, such as taught by
>Hardshell Baptists and Hybrid Calvinists such as Gene Bridges, James White,
>Dr. Tom >Schreiner, etc. (Chapter 10).


Once again, Bob Ross conflates what Hardshell Baptists believe and what we affirm. He is simply lying to make his point. As I stated, he is a factious man. In my last article, I provided him with ample evidence to the contrary and stated exactly what we believe. If we are “Hardshell Baptists” then so was James A. Boyce. The careful reader will notice Mr. Ross has failed to interact with any of what Dr. Boyce wrote.

>
>According to the PCF, in the Effectual Call of lost, unsaved, "DEAD" elect
>sinners, the Spirit uses the Word for "enlightening their minds spiritually
>and >SAVINGLY to UNDERSTAND the things of God . . . effectually drawing them to
>Jesus Christ, yet so they come most freely, being made willing by His
>grace"
>(Chapter 10, paragraph 1).

>This is neither "born again before faith,"' nor salvation by free will. It
>is >the true "monergism" of salvation by the grace of God thru the Spirit's use
>of the Word to create faith in the dead sinner and put him into Christ as a
>"new creation."
Amen! Apparently, you are unfamiliar with the concept of regeneration itself. This is exactly what we mean when we say regeneration precedes faith. For this same chapter states:

Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his graceThey believe AS A RESULT OF the Holy Spirit taking out their heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh. This is a description of regeneration. In fact, it is the same description that the very theologians you cite give. There is no variance here between them and this confession. I, however, am not surprised you believe there is, since you think semi-Pelagianism and Pelagianism affirm the bondage of the will.

>Also, on SAVING FAITH, Chapter 14 of the PCF, saving faith is said to be
>"ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word," and by this means of the
>Word >"the elect are enabled to BELIEVE TO THE SAVING OF THEIR SOULS," and this
>is >described as being "the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts."
>
>There is not a pinch of "born again before faith" teaching in the
>Philadelphia Confession of Faith, nor of salvation by free will.
>
>If the PCF teaches that the elect "believe to the saving of their souls,"
>it >clearly does not teach that the elect are "born again" before they believe.
>
>Thus, if TOM NETTLES is correct, the "doctrine remains unchanged" from the
>PCF to the New Hampshire Confession, and so neither Confession teaches that
>the >elect are "born again before faith" nor by free will.
First of all, if the PCF teaches this in the way you cite, then please do explain:
3. Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word
Did you omit this on purpose because it didn’t fit with the rest of what you said, Mr. Ross?
Second, I refer you, ONCE AGAIN, here:

God's call is made effectual by the Word and the Spirit. It is important to see that the Word and the Spirit are here conjoined as two vital factors of regeneration. The Holy Spirit is not working apart from the Word or against the Word, but with the Word. Nor is the Word working alone without the presence and power of the Spirit.
The call referred to in effectual calling is not the outward call of the gospel that can be heard by anyone within range of the preaching. The call referred to here is the inward call, the call that penetrates to and pierces the heart, quickening it to spiritual life. Hearing the gospel enlightens the mind, yet it does not awaken the soul until the Holy Spirit illuminates it and regenerates it. This move from ear to soul is made by the Holy Spirit. This move is what accompanies God's purpose of applying the benefits of Christ' work to the elect. (Sproul, Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology, p.190 -91, 2000 edition).

Even Berkoff who you say denies the role of the Word of God states:

While we distinguish two aspects of the calling of God, this calling is really one. The internal call is really the external call made effective by the operation of the Holy Spirit. It always comes to the sinner through the Word of God, savingly applied by the operation of the Holy Spirit, I Cor. 1:23, 24. (http://www.ccel.org/pipeline/1-html/5-berkhof-summery/Berkhof%2019.htm )


Owen:
“That the Holy Spirit doth make use ot it regeneration or conversion of all that are
adult, and that either immediately in and by the preaching of it, or by some
other application of light and truth unto the mind derived from the Word; for by
the reasons, motives, and persuasive arguments which the Word affords, are our
minds affected, and our souls wrought upon our conversion unto God, whence it
becomes our reasonable obedience
(Owen)

THIS, Mr. Ross is what we affirm. Do you ever pay attention? Apparently not, since I know professors at seminaries and elders of churches have discussed this with you at length to no avail.

Another portion of the PCF dealing with the portions you cited, Mr. Ross tells us that it discussing a particular group, so it makes the same differentiations I and those I have cited make between infants and adults:

1, Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having sometime lived in the state of nature, and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life.

3. This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.


--This accounts for 10.3 and its statement on infant regeneration. The LCBF2 differentiates between the regeneration of infants (10.3) and those otherwise called.
Let’s look at this:

1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened.
Notice the word “ordinarily.”

Why mention this? Because the confession is teaching that the Spirit of God ordinarily uses the Word of God, except in certain limiting cases, namely 10.3.

Wayne Grudem (ST, 704-705)notes this same thing:

Using the verses quoted above, we have defined regeneration to be the act of God awakening spiritual life within us, bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life. On this definition it is natural to understand that regeneration comes from before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that goves us the spiritual ability to believe.


(Note, this is the work of GOD, Mr. Ross, not man from a state of nature as you have said we affirm...I again urge you to repent of your misrepresentation of what we have been saying to you).
However, when we say it comes “before” saving faith it is important to remember that they usually come so close together that it will ordinarily seem to us that they are happening at the same time.
However in discussing infants (ibid, 500) , he also states

“Yet is is possible for God to bring regeneration (that is new spiritual life) to an infant even before he or she is born. This was true of John the Baptist...This regeneration is probably also followed at once by a nascent, intuitive awareness of God and trust in Him at an extremely early age, but this is something we cannot understand.

We must however affirm very clearly that this is not the usual way for God to save people. Salvation usually occurs when someone hears and understands the gospel and the places trust in Christ. But in unusual cases like John the Baptist, God brought salvation before this understanding. And this leads us to conclude that it certainly is possible that God would also do this where he knows the infant will die before hearing the gospel.


This, Mr. Ross, exactly agrees with what I told you in my last article when I wrote:
Regeneration is attended by the Word of God and gospel truth in all those not dying in infancy. It agrees with James Boyce and all the other theologians I cited in my previous article as well. How can you say that this is a denial of means when I specifically told you my position on means? Such a statement of what I believe by you is an error at best, dishonest at worst. Since this is a repeated error and you refuse correction, I must regrettably conclude you are being dishonest.

>LANDMARKISM?
>
>GENE BRIDGES said . . .
> >>You can take the Arminian out of the Landmark Baptist, but you can’t
>take >the Landmark Baptist out of that particular Calvinist. He certainly argues
>like >one.>>
>
>I suppose Gene is either "behind the times" considerably, or else he is
>just >clowning around.
>
>I left Landmarkism in 1964, and wrote a book, OLD LANDMARKISM AND THE
>BAPTISTS, refuting the Landmark theories of J. R. Graves. Note this
>website: > >>http://members.aol.com/pilgrimpub/writings.htm#_ROSS_10<< >
>To my knowledge, I am the only person who was once a Landmarker who wrote a
>book in refutation of it.


No, Mr. Ross, I am not clowning around. Once again, you commit the word/concept fallacy. As I pointed out, you argue like a Landmarkist. In other words, you see what you want to see and misquote, misunderstand, and misrepresent what others say in the process. In my experience, this is typical Landmark methodology with respect to argumentation. It shows up in the way you refer to Presbyterians with contempt (as Paedobaptists) in particular. This is very clearly a Landmark tactic and is even more clearly you way of poisoning the well. Then you draw an association between them and myself and the Hardshells. This allows you to poison the well even further. I also understand you are now in the habit of sending letters to your interlocutors churches accusing them of heresy. I have also been on the receiving end of your endless strings of emails, about two months ago. This is, dare I say, the mark of a factious man who argues like a Landmarkist. Since you use these perjoratives in your own work, I am merely answering you according to your own terms of engagement.

No, Mr. Ross you are most certainly not the only former Landmarker who has written a book in refutation of it. In fact, the standard academic book against Baptist successionism is written by a former Landmarker, not by you.

>Gene is not only deficient in his knowledge regarding Confessions of Faith,
>he is deficient in his knowledge about me -- if he thinks I am a
>Landmarker. Is >"deficiency" a mark of those who were "born again before faith," or what?


I do not need to resort to ad hominem argumentation to make my point (which you do repeatedly). I have not misrepresented anything you have said. I fear you cannot say the same. I’m not the one that has defined “semi-Pelagianism” to include an affirmation that men must be born again prior to faith and Pelagianism in the same manner, so don’t accuse me of deficiency, when you have been shown to be completely in error on such basic definitions.

To
>what can Gene attribute his distorted ideas about me and Landmarkism?


I said you argue like one, not that you are one. Again, you misrepresent what I said, proving my point for me and distort what I said in the process. Mr. Ross is now mirror-reading, imputing his own standards to me, then chastising me for failing to measure up. This is classic projection.

We have expounded CREEDAL CALVINISTM, which is that DEAD sinners that are
>PASSIVE are born again solely by the efficient power of the Holy Spirit in
>His >use of the Gospel or Word of God to create faith in these DEAD sinners, who
>believe to the SAVING OF THEIR SOULS -- and that by no power whatsoever
>provided >by the sinner.
>
>How one gets "synergism" out of that is as great a mystery as how one could
>believe that a sinner could conceivably be "born again before faith."

Sir, have you not said that affirming that God does this is “heresy?’ Have you not affirmed that men believe prior to regeneration? This is synergism by definition.

I point you yet again to my exegesis of 1 John 5:1 which you ignored...along with my analysis of Shedd, the Hodges, Boyce, and Sproul, which you also ignored. You wrote a massive article that did not interact with anything I actually wrote to you. Instead you lifted a few a contextual quotes.

And the PROBLEM which Gene and all Hybrid Calvinists have is this: NONE of
>these Confessions teach that the elect are "born again before faith."


As I have shown above, they teach exactly the opposite. Can Mr. Ross find us a single Baptist Calvinist who affirms the PCF or LCBF1 or 2 who does not agree that regeneration precedes faith or raises his objection to others in the Reformed community other than himself? I have produced Dagg, Boyce, Broadus, Fuller, Spurgeon, Owen, and now Keach and who wrote the Catechism that explains the LCBF, and Knollys:

Keach states (
Gospel Mysteries Unveiled
, 2: 392-93):
“God is the efficient or great agent in regeneration.” He further states: Conversion, he stated, involves a “two-fold act”:
(1) Passive, which is the act of God’s Spirit, by which he infuseth a vital principle, and gracious habits, or divine qualities in the soul: in this act the creature is wholly passive. Christ . . . infuses life in the dead soul, as he did to dead Lazarus. (2) Active, whereby through the power of that grace, the sinner being quickened, is capacitated to believe, and return to God: being acted, we act; for the Holy Spirit . . . so moves the soul, and the soul acts, and moves towards God. . . . First the sinner’s heart is turned, and then the sinner returneth, then, and not till then: if Christ sought us not first, and found us not first, and took not us up first by his arms and shoulders of divine power, we should never seek, find, nor return to him.”


This is exactly what we affirm when we state that regeneration precedes faith!

With regard to gospel instrumentality in regeneration, there is evidence that at least some of the early leaders of the Particular Baptists held Calvinist Presbyterian religious views. Hansard Knollys expressed his support for this tenet in an exposition of the work of the ministry, to preach the gospel, in relation to God's sovereignty in regeneration. He declared,
"I say then when they (ministers) have done this, they must leave the issue to the Lord, who onely (sic) makes this ministry powerful to whom he pleaseth, giving them repentance...enabling them to believe in him unto remission of sins and everlasting life. And surely God hath appointed the Ministry, especially for this end, that by means thereof he might worke faith in all those whom he hath ordained unto eternal life."
Knollys demonstrated a position which balanced gospel agency and election in a sermon titled The World that Now is, and the World that is to Come. He stated,
"If the sinner be willing to open the door of his heart, Christ will come in by his holy Spirit and He will communicate of his Grace to his soul. Not that you can do those things of your selves; I have told you, without Christ you can do nothing, John 15.5. But it is your duty to do them and it is the Free Grace of God, to work in you to will and to do, according to his good pleasure, Phil. 2.12,13. That he so working in you, you may work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."


You, Mr. Ross, have assumed that the concept of immediate regeneration taught by the Primitives/Hardshells is the same as that taught by us. It is not.

We and our modern Presbyterian brethren affirm, as our forefathers did, that the ordinary means of regeneration is the Holy Spirit, through the instrumentality of the gospel. We affirm that this is a logical order. There are limiting cases in the cases of those dying in infancy or others. In those limiting cases, those so regenerated come immediately to faith, or, if those in hard to reach lands are included (as Boyce did in his Abstract, which I quoted in my previous article), they are all assured to hear the gospel and repent and believe as soon as they hear the gospel. There is no such thing as a regenerated infant who does not immediately convert when his or her faculties are able and they hear the gospel, and the other case listed in Boyce isn’t something on which you find widespread agreement. Most of us, including myself, would say that those in such lands are under the preemptive judgment of God and unregenerate until God sends them the gospel anyway.

The Hardshells do not mean this when the speak of immediate regeneration apart from means.

They call this spiritual regeneration. The belief is that the lost elect person is immediately regenerated by the the Holy Spirit without (completely apart) from any other instrumental means. Then, conversion is said to be gospel conversion, that is the previously regenerated child of God providentially hears the gospel message and because of the previous regeneration they repent and believe.

Contrast this with statements like this from those against whom you rail:

" God's call is made effectual by the Word and the Spirit. It is important to see that the Word and the Spirit are here conjoined as two vital factors of regeneration. The Holy Spirit is not working apart from the Word or against the Word, but with the Word. Nor is the Word working alone without the presence and power of the Spirit.
The call referred to in effectual calling is not the outward call of the gospel that can be heard by anyone within range of the preaching. The call referred to here is the inward call, the call that penetrates to and pierces the heart, quickening it to spiritual life. Hearing the gospel enlightens the mind, yet it does not awaken the soul until the Holy Spirit illuminates it and regenerates it. This move from ear to soul is made by the Holy Spirit. This move is what accompanies God's purpose of applying the benefits of Christ' work to the elect. (Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology, p.190 -91, 2000 edition).


These are clearly not the same things. It is simply dishonest for you to pretend they are. You’re the Don Quixote of Calvinists, lifting what others say from their context to tilt at your windmills.

>In fact, I will give you $500 if you find the word "regeneration" or
>"precedes" in that Article 10! In fact, I will give you $1000 if you can
>find >"regeneration precedes faith" in ANY of these Confessions: 1644, 1689, 1742
>PCF, 1925, >1963, 2000, or the Abstract of Principles of Southern Seminary!


Notice that Mr. Ross wants me to find a WORD. I did not say that the word is used. I said the concept is used. As we have seen, Mr. Ross is quite adept at the word/concept fallacy.

The Abstract reads:
Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone.

Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things.

X. Faith.

Saving faith is the belief, on God's authority, of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.
The explanation for all this is in Boyce’s Abstract of Theology. :

Perhaps I should just produce that whole section for Mr. Ross. After he reads it, it will be interesting to watch him explain how he can say that the writer of the Abstract of Principles denies that regeneration is antecedent to faith, when he plainly states otherwise:

CHAPTER XXXII
REGENERATION AND CONVERSION.

At the outset of a discussion of these two subjects we are met by the question, whether they are not one and the same thing. They are unquestionably so intimately associated that it is difficult to separate them and point out the distinctions between them. The Scriptures connect the two under the one idea of the new birth, and teach that not only is regeneration an absolute essential in each conversion, but that in every intelligent responsible soul conversion invariably accompanies regeneration. It is not strange, therefore, that they are often confounded. Yet, after all, the Scriptures also teach that regeneration is the work of God, changing the heart of man by his sovereign will, while conversion is the act of man turning towards God with the new inclination thus given to his heart.

Regeneration

I. It is best first to collect together the various terms and expressions in which this whole matter is taught.

1. Forms of the verb gennao, which means "to beget."

John 1:13; 3:3, 4 (two places), 5, 6, 7, 8; 1 Cor. 4:15; Philemon 10; 1 John 2:29; 3:9 (two places); 4:7; 5:1 (three places); 5:4, 18 (two places).
2. Compound forms of gennao.

1 Pet. 1:23. "Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth."

Titus 3:5. "He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost."

3. The word apekuesen is used in James 1:18, and means to bring forth or bear young, and there evidently means to bring to the condition of sonship.

4. Ktisis and ktizo, which mean creation and create, are found
in 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10, 15; 4:24.
5. Sunezoopoiesen, he quickened together with (Christ). Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13.

In addition to the above uses of single words are the following passages which speak of the word of God as an effective instrument, but not as a creative power. These, however, do not connect this instrument with either regeneration or conversion necessarily; but speaks of it (a) as a means of partaking of the divine nature, 2 Pet. 1:4; (b) as a means of purifying, John 15:3; (c) as a means of Christian defense, Eph. 6:17; and (d) as an instrument of powerful conviction and destruction of the wicked, Heb. 4:12.

II. From the Scriptural teaching we see that the whole work of Regeneration and Conversion is included under the one term regeneration.

It is true that but few of the passages refer to anything save the work of God; yet these few sufficiently teach the use of the word in regeneration to lead us not to reject, as a part of it, that result of God's act which, in connection with the word, leads to the full union of its subject with Christ through repentance and faith.

The passages in connection with Paul as God's instrument, 1 Cor. 4:15, and Philemon 10, would not be conclusive, but they are made so by others.

However much James 1:18 suggests a different aspect of the work, namely, the bringing forth that which has been begotten, still it so nearly connects that idea with the begetting as to create doubt if the whole work may not be virtually involved.

But 1 Pet. 1:23, by the use of the compound of gennao, shows that all the work of the Spirit, including both the new heart and the leading of it to conscious faith, is properly to be spoken of by the same term as a mere change of heart.
The whole work is thus spoken of, however, because God is operative from the beginning to the end, but this does not prove that he does not operate differently in one part from what he does in the other.


III. The Scripture teaching is that God operates immediately upon the heart to produce the required change, by which it is fitted to receive the truth, and mediately through the word in its reception of that truth.


1. He operates immediately upon the heart to prepare the way for the truth. This is evident
(1.) From the description given of man's spiritual condition.
(a) As spiritually dead. Eph. 2:1.
(b) As blind. Eph. 4:18.
(c) As slaves to sin. John 8:34; Rom. 6:17, 19.
(d) As needing deliverance from the powers of darkness. Col. 1:13.
(e) As incapable of knowing or discerning the things of the Spirit. 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:18.
(f) As incapable of changing himself. Jer. 13:23.
(g) As defiled in conscience. Tit. 1:15.
These passages show man in a condition from which he must be rescued even to understand and appreciate the truth of God.

(2.) The Scripture attributes the birth to the will of God exclusively, thus showing that in some aspect it is not to be regarded as due to the reception of the truth. John 1:13.
[For sections (3), (4), (5) and (6), see Hodge's Outlines, p. 451.]
(3.) The influence of the Spirit is distinguished from that of the word. John 6:45, 64, 65; 1 Cor. 2:12-15; 1 Thess. 1:5, 6.
(4.) A divine influence is declared to be necessary for the reception of the truth. Ps. 119:18; Acts 16:14; Eph. 1:17-20.
(5.) Such an internal operation on the heart is attributed to God. Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21; Phil. 2:13; 2 Thess. 1:11; Heb. 13:21.
(6.) The nature of this influence is evidently different from that effected by the truth. Eph. 1:19; 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:25.
(7.) This influence is spoken of as a preparation of the heart for the truth; which, therefore, must be distinct from the truth or its reception. Luke 8:8, 15; Acts 16:14.

This preparation of the heart comes from God. 1 Chron. 29:18, 19; Ps. 119:18; Prov. 16:1; Acts 16:14; Rom. 9:23.

2. The Spirit acts mediately through the word.

(1.) He inspired that word and sends it forth for the accomplishment of the ends designed. John 14:16; 2 Tim. 3:16.

(2.) He aids the ministry and others in making it known. 1 Cor. 4:7; 2 Thess. 3:1.
To the extent that these are his agents he uses the word.

(3.) The instrument thus used is in itself effective as truth. Heb. 4:12. Therefore, Christians are commanded in their spiritual warfare to take the word of God as the sword of the Spirit. Eph. 6:17. It is, however, made especially so to the heart prepared for it by his illuminating influences, which reveal its beauties and its suitableness, and by the aid of the memory which recalls, and the conscience which applies, and the affections which lay hold upon it. 2 Tim. 3:15, 16, 17.

(4.) Christians are, therefore, said to be "brought forth, (James 1:18), by the word of truth," because that is the seed sown in the prepared ground through which they are led by repentance and faith to union with Christ and sonship of God.

(5.) Since this use of the Scriptures is due to their own fitness to present motives to action, the Spirit of God is not limited to this word alone but uses such other truth, and such events of life as may be effective towards the contemplated end.

Thus any events in God's providence, as afflictions, or dangers, or personal sins, or the conversion of others, or aught else that may lead to seeking God, are used as a means of awakening, or of giving deeper conviction, or of enforcing the Scripture truths which lead to conversion.

(6.) This is especially true of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper duly set forth before mankind. So far as these ordinances are fitted to convey truth, or to impress duty, they are instrumental in regeneration.

(7.) But neither of them regenerates or confers regeneration.

(a) This is not done by the Lord's Supper. It has been argued from John 6:51-58, where Christ promises eternal life to those who shall eat his flesh and drink his blood, and denies it to all who shall not. The language used refers to spiritual participation in his salvation. It is similar to the promise to the woman at Sychar that "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4:14. It is argued that Christ must have meant partaking of his real body, because he did not correct the Jews who, because they so understood him, rejected him. But, John 8:51-53, he did not correct a similar mistake which led to a similar result when he said in verse 51, "If a man keep my word he shall never see death."

(b) Even more distinctly is this true of Baptism. Spiritual effects are spoken of in connection with this ordinance. Thus we have "the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Titus 3:5. We have Paul exhorted by Ananias, Acts 22:16, "arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins," and the language of Christ, John 3:5, "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." The first of these has reference to the cleansing influence of regeneration by the Spirit in like manner as his renewing, which is spoken of in the immediate context and has no reference to baptism. That the last refers to baptism is at least doubtful; but admitting that it does, which is doubtless true of the second, we have here outward baptism, only as symbolizing an inward change and not producing it. The following reasons plainly show that neither of these ordinances has regenerating power.

(1.) That ordinances can only be signs of grace and cannot confer it.

(2.) They may convey truth symbolically, and only such truth is fitted to affect the mind. But nothing symbolized by these two can confer regeneration upon those receiving them.

(3.) They are appointed to be used only by those who have been regenerated. Baptism is an act of obedience, symbolizing the death of believers to sin, and resurrection to new life, and setting forth their union with Christ in his death and burial. The Lord's Supper is to be partaken of by those already, as Christian believers, united together in church fellowship.

(4.) That this was the use of Baptism is evident from the practice of the Apostolic Christians. Acts 2:41. The baptized had received his word. This followed repentance and preceded baptism. The addition to the text in Acts 8:37 could not have taken place had it not been for the universal prevalence of the idea that faith necessarily precedes baptism. Paul before his baptism had received the Lord Jesus and his eyes had been opened and the Holy Ghost given. Acts 9:18. Cornelius and his house also received the Holy Ghost and spake with tongues before their baptism. Acts 10:44-48. The Jailer at Philippi manifestly believed before he was baptized. Baptism without antecedent faith was treated as invalid in certain disciples at Ephesus. Acts 19:1-5.

(5.) That this was also true of the Lord's Supper is shown by the fact that it was partaken of only by churches, and the members of churches are everywhere spoken of and treated as converted persons; also by the further fact that it was a memorial service ("in remembrance of me") and a memorial implies previous knowledge of the persons and facts remembered. But only such a knowledge and remembrance could be blessed, as involved faith in Jesus. 1 Cor. 11:28, 29.

(6.) The Spirit does not make truth effective by giving it additional force to that which it has naturally, but by so affecting the mind that the man is prepared to receive it with its own due force. Thus he changes the mind, illuminates the mind, helps it appreciate and lay hold of truth. Only thus does he make truth effectual. Therefore, the outward washing or partaking can have no effect to renew, or regenerate the heart, which must itself have been prepared, before it can even appropriate the truths conveyed by these ordinances.
The above statements are only intended to meet the views of Romanists and such others as claim regenerating influence of sacraments, and not those of such as make Baptism only a condition of pardon. The latter claim that regeneration is through the word only and are met by the proofs that the Spirit acts independently of the word.

Conversion

I. This is the result of regeneration. The new heart is prepared to turn to God and does actually so turn. Without regeneration, the sinfulness of man keeps him away from God, causes him to set his affections upon self and his own pleasure, and to find gratification in things which are opposed to God and holiness. The regenerated heart has new affections and desires and is, therefore, fitted to seek after God and holiness.

II. It is both the act of God and of man co-operating with him.

1. It is the act of God. It is thus described in the Scriptures.
1 Kings 18:37. "Thou hast turned their heart back again."
Ps. 80:3. "Turn us again, O God; and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved."
Ps. 85:4. "Turn us, O God of our salvation."
Song of Sol. 1:4. "Draw me; we will run after thee."
Jer. 30:21. "I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me."
Jer. 31:18. "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned."
Ezek. 36:27. "And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."
John 6:44. "No man can come to me, except the Father which sent me draw him."

2. It is the act of the regenerated heart actively co-operating in thus turning.
Deut. 4:30. "Thou shalt return to the Lord thy God."
Prov. 1:23. "Turn you at my reproof."
Hosea 12:6. "Therefore turn thou to thy God."
Isaiah 55:7. "Let him return unto the Lord."
Joel 2:13. "Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God."
Acts 11:21. "A great number that believed turned unto the Lord."

III. The question naturally arises what is the nature of conversion. In reply it may be said that it consists:

1. Not in mere outward reformation.

2. Not in return from backsliding.

3. But in the turning of the heart to God and holiness. It is a turning of the thoughts, desires and affections of the heart from sinful and carnal lusts and pleasures toward holy things, and God, and Christ, and salvation. It is a turning from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God. [See Gill's Divinity 2:132-4.] It consists "in a man's turning actively to God under the influence of divine grace." [Gill 2:135]

IV. This conversion comprises:
1. A knowledge of the true God, and acceptance of him as such.
2. Knowledge of personal sin, guilt and condemnation.
3. Sorrow for sin and desire to escape condemnation.
4. Determination to turn away from sin and seek God.
5. Conviction of personal need of help in so doing.
6. Knowledge of Christ as a Saviour from sin.
7. Personal trust in Christ and his salvation.

NOTE. A man in one sense maybe called converted as soon as he has truly turned to God and is also seeking to know and do his will. This is that amount of conversion which is so nearly contemporaneous with regeneration as to be liable to be supposed to exist at the same moment with it, and which indeed in a being capable of thought on such subjects must be its immediate effect.

But what the Scriptures and common language comprise in this word is repentance and trust in God's saving power, and, in connection with Christian knowledge, trust in Jesus Christ as a Saviour. The attainment of the fullness of such conversion is by the gradual appreciation of truth, resulting not only from regeneration, and knowledge, but from spiritual illumination of the mind.

V. The relation of regeneration to conversion will, therefore, appear to be one of invariable antecedence.

Wherever the appropriate truth is at the time present its relation is almost that of producing cause, for the prepared heart at once receives the truth. Hence, as this is so generally the case, they have been usually regarded as contemporaneous and by some even as identical. But that regeneration is the invariable antecedent is seen,


1. From the fact that the heart is the soil in which the seed, the word of God, is sown, and that seed only brings forth fruit in the good soil. The heart is made good soil by regeneration.

2. Regeneration (as in infants) may exist without faith and repentance, but the latter cannot exist without the former. Therefore, regeneration precedes.

3. Logically the enabling act of God must, in a creature, precede the act of the creature thus enabled. But this logical antecedence involves actual antecedence, or the best conceptions of our mind deceive us and are not reliable. For this logical antecedence exists only because the mind observes plainly a perceived dependence of the existence of the one on the other. But such dependence demands, if not causal, at least antecedent existence. Here it is only antecedent.
VI. There is not only antecedence, but in some cases an appreciable interval.
1. This is true even of conversion regarded as a mere turning to God. Between it and regeneration must intervene in some cases some period of time until the knowledge of God's existence and nature is given, before the heart turns, or even is turned towards that God.

(1.) This must be true of all infants and of all persons otherwise incapable of responsibility, as for example idiots.

(2.) There is no reason why it should not be true of some heathen. The missionaries of the cross have been sought by men, who knew nothing of Christianity, but whose hearts, unsatisfied with the religion of their fathers, were restlessly seeking for what their soul was crying out.

2. It is still more manifestly true of full Christian conversion.
(1.) The Scriptures teach this in many examples of persons pious, holy, and fearing God, yet unacquainted with the full truth which secures union with Christ.
Ethiopian Eunuch: Acts 8:26-40.
Paul: Acts, chapter 9, 22 and 26. Galatians, chapters 1st and 2d.
Cornelius the Centurion: Acts 10:2.
Lydia: Acts 16:14.

(2.) The experience of ministers in all ages with persons seeking and attaining salvation confirms this idea. The attainment of conversion may be marked by stages. The sinner is at first totally indifferent. The word produces on him no effect. Then

(1.) There is an evident willingness to give serious attention to the truth of God. God has opened the heart as he did that of Lydia. (2.) There is conviction of sin, sense of its vileness, and of its dangerous effects. (3.) The soul, oppressed by these, strives to do something by which to attain salvation, but finds all in vain. (4.) At last accepting the truth of God's word it rests in trust of a personal Saviour.

VII. The term conversion is not technically applied to any change, except that which follows upon regeneration, and consists in the Godward turning of one heretofore turned entirely away from God. The return of men who have backslidden, or fallen into grievous sin, is also called "a return to God," and such a return is possibly what is called "conversion" in Peter's case. Luke 22:32. But conversion is theologically used exclusively of the first act.


For the record, Mr. Ross, I am in a 1644/6 Confession church. I know quite well what it teaches and we all agree it teaches regeneration precedes faith.

I won’t take your money Mr. Ross, since I don’t do this for money. However, why don’t you tell me how you can deny that the Abstract of Principles of SBTS denies regeneration precedes faith when the writer of it, Dr. James A. Boyce repeated says that very thing. Is he contradicting the very statement of faith he drafted? WIll you honestly make that argument?

So, Mr. Ross is now in the position of saying that the Abstract of Principles states one thing, while its very author who also founded the seminary and taught there, stated:


The relation of regeneration to conversion will, therefore, appear to be one of invariable antecedence.


Wherever the appropriate truth is at the time present its relation is almost that of producing cause, for the prepared heart at once receives the truth. Hence, as this is so generally the case, they have been usually regarded as contemporaneous and by some even as identical. But that regeneration is the invariable antecedent is seen,

1. From the fact that the heart is the soil in which the seed, the word of God, is sown, and that seed only brings forth fruit in the good soil. The heart is made good soil by regeneration.

2. Regeneration (as in infants) may exist without faith and repentance, but the latter cannot exist without the former. Therefore, regeneration precedes.

3. Logically the enabling act of God must, in a creature, precede the act of the creature thus enabled. But this logical antecedence involves actual antecedence, or the best conceptions of our mind deceive us and are not reliable. For this logical antecedence exists only because the mind observes plainly a perceived dependence of the existence of the one on the other. But such dependence demands, if not causal, at least antecedent existence. Here it is only antecedent.


VI. There is not only antecedence, but in some cases an appreciable interval.

1. This is true even of conversion regarded as a mere turning to God. Between it and regeneration must intervene in some cases some period of time until the knowledge of God's existence and nature is given, before the heart turns, or even is turned towards that God.

(1.) This must be true of all infants and of all persons otherwise incapable of responsibility, as for example idiots.

(2.) There is no reason why it should not be true of some heathen. The missionaries of the cross have been sought by men, who knew nothing of Christianity, but whose hearts, unsatisfied with the religion of their fathers, were restlessly seeking for what their soul was crying out.

>The Article plainly teaches that Effecual Calling is "by His WORD AND
>SPIRIT >. . . ENLIGHTENING their minds SPRITUALLY AND SAVINGLY
>to UNDERSTAND the things of God . . . and effectually drawing them TO JESUS
>CHRIST."
>
>Does that sound like "born again before faith"? They are "enlightened
>savingly" and are drawn to Jesus Christ, but are WITHOUT FAITH? A
>"regeneration" >which is completed BEFORE faith in Jesus Christ is experienced?
>
>In other words, A REGENERATED UNBELIEVER! A "BORN AGAIN" UNBELIEVER


Once again you mis-state what you were told. O factious man, how many times do we have to say this before you listen?

Regeneration, except in cases of those dying in infancy or in certain limiting cases (as expounded by the very theologians you cite below), occurs logically, BUT NOT TEMPORALLY, prior to faith. Faith and repentance are the very first responses in the individual. NOWHERE, have we said that regeneration occurs absent of faith. Faith and repentance are the first, immediate effects of it! When folks you criticize have said this, they define what they mean: infant salvation, and Shedd says that when one who is regenerated does not die in infancy he believes as soon as his faculties are able and he hears the gospel. This is a limiting case for which there is varied agreement and disagreement. Is Boyce unclear on this?

A man in one sense maybe called converted as
soon as he has truly turned to God and is also seeking to know and do his
will. This is that amount of conversion which is so nearly contemporaneous
with regeneration as to be liable to be supposed to exist at the same moment
with it, and which indeed in a being capable of thought on such subjects
must be its immediate effect.

But what the Scriptures and common language comprise in this
word is repentance and trust in God's saving power, and, in connection with
Christian knowledge, trust in Jesus Christ as a Saviour. The attainment
of the fullness of such conversion is by the gradual appreciation of truth,
resulting not only from regeneration, and knowledge, but from spiritual
illumination of the mind.

V. The relation of regeneration to conversion will, therefore, appear to
be one of invariable antecedence.


>like the Pedo-regenerationists, Shedd, Berkhof, and Sproul, whose babies
>are >"regenerated" before they are even capable of understanding and believing?

Notice that Mr. Ross failed to discuss anything I said about this.

I wrote AT LENGTH to explain this to him, but he, factious man that he is, has refused to listen. In each of these men, they are discussing (a) primarily those who die in infancy or (b) particular limiting cases. Each and everyone of them says that the means used for chidren of competency and adults is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in conjunction!

In fact this is what Berkoff says (again):

. Regeneration. Divine calling and regeneration stand in the closest possible relation to each other. With respect to regeneration several points deserve consideration:

a. Its nature. The word 'regeneration' is not always used in the same sense. Our Confession uses it in a broad sense, as including even conversion. At present it has a more restricted meaning. In the most restricted sense it denotes that act of God by which the principle of the new life is implanted in man, and the governing disposition of the soul is made holy. In a slightly more comprehensive sense it designates, in addition to the preceding, the new birth or the first manifestation of the new life. It is a fundamental change in the principle of life and the governing disposition of the soul, and therefore affects the whole man, I Cor. 2:14; II Cor. 4:6; Phil. 2:13; I Pet. 1:8. It is completed in a moment of time, and is not a gradual process like sanctification. Through it we pass from death into life, I John 3:14. It is a secret and inscrutable work of God that is never directly perceived by man, but can be known only by its effects.

b. Its author. God is the author of regeneration. Scripture represents it as the work of the Holy Spirit, John 1:13; Acts 16:14; John 3:5, 8. Over against the Arminians we maintain that it is exclusively the work of the Spirit of God, and not in part the work of man. There is no co-operation of God and man in the work of regeneration, as there is in the work of conversion. Moreover, it should be said that regeneration in the most restricted sense of the word, that is, as the implanting of the new life, is a direct and immediate work of the Holy Spirit. It is a creative work in which for that very reason the word of the gospel cannot very well be used as an instrument. It may be said that Jas. 1:18 and I Pet. 1:23 prove that the word of preaching is used as an instrument in regeneration, but these passages refer to regeneration in a broader sense, as including the new birth. In that more inclusive sense regeneration is undoubtedly wrought through the instrumentality of the Word.

Its necessity and place in the order of salvation. Scripture leaves no doubt as to the absolute necessity of regeneration, but asserts this in the clearest terms, John 3:3, 5, 7; I Cor. 2:14; Gal. 6:15. This follows from the fact that we are by nature dead in trespasses and sin, and must be endowed with new spiritual 1ife, in order to enjoy the divine favor and communion with God. The question is often raised which of the two is first, calling or regeneration. In answer to this it may be said that in the case of adults external calling usually precedes or coincides with regeneration in the restricted sense. Regeneration, as the implanting of the new life, precedes internal calling, and internal calling precedes regeneration in the broader sense, or the new birth. We find the greater part of this order indicated in the record of the conversion of Lydia, Acts 16:14, "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, heard us (external call): whose heart the Lord opened (regeneration in the restricted sense) to give heed to the things which were spoken by Paul (internal call)."


This, Mr. Ross is almost exactly what John L. Dagg wrote in the quote earlier cited above. He most assuredly affirmed the Charleston Confession.

In fact, Shedd, at the end of the text you like to cite, points his readers to the WLC 67, which clearly states (again):

Question 67: What is effectual calling?

Answer: Effectual calling is the work of God's almighty
power and grace, whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and
from nothing in them moving him thereunto) he does, in his accepted time, invite
and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his Word and Spirit; savingly
enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as
they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able
freely to Answer: his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and
conveyed therein.

This has nothing to do with an origin infant baptism (obviously a cliam derivative of Ross' Landmark background), nor does it have anything to do with a rejection of means that accompany regeneration. In fact, this is one long discussion of the instrumentality that leads to regeneration. However, the actual act of regeneration itself is up to the sovereign Spirit and God’s elective purposes, not any amount of prayer or study in and of themselves. Without the Spirit’s sovereign work, these are only preparations. This is what Shedd means when he speaks of regeneration apart from means in all but infants and idiots.

Let us now watch Bob Ross commit the word / concept fallacy.

To review for his benefit: The disputant will equate the mere occurrence of a word with a whole doctrine associated with the word or looks for particular words as proof of his arguments. For example, a Romanist will conflate “church” with Roman Catholic church or compare and contrast Paul’s doctrine of justification with James’ doctrine of justification. But the mere fact that James uses the word “justification” doesn’t mean that he even has a doctrine of justification. That would depend, not on the occurrence of the word, in isolation, but on a larger argument.

> >>Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration.<< >
>BOB:
>
>Did Spurgeon mean by this that "regeneration" had taken place before
>"coming >to Christ," and there was no faith created by the Word and Spirit involved
>in >the "coming"? Of course not! That is Gene's vain delusion!

Of course, I never stated otherwise, Mr. Ross.

>If regeneration
>is >"effected" by the Word and Spirit, what is the "effect" but "coming to
>Christ"? Regeneration never has the "effect" of a "born again before faith"
>montrosity!

Notice that Bob denies that Spurgeon taught that regeneration precedes faith, but Spurgeon said exactly that in the very words he quotes! “Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration.” He says this, but Mr. Ross doesn’t deal with it. Factious man! I have actually covered this already. Dr. Dagg differentiates between regeneration in the narrow sense (preceding conversion) and the wider sense (encompassing conversion and its wider effects).

I also pointed out in my previous article what those Mr. Ross claims disaffirmed instrumentality have written on this including this:

Question 67: What is effectual calling?
Answer: Effectual calling is the work of God's almighty
power and grace, whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and
from nothing in them moving him thereunto) he does, in his accepted time, invite
and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his Word and Spirit; savingly
enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as
they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able
freely to Answer: his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and
conveyed therein.

and

“Truth may accompany or attend the work of the Spirit, but it has no cooperation
in the production of the effect. It may attend it, as the application of the
clay attended the miracle of restoring sight to the blind man; or as Naaman’s
bathing in the Jordan attended the healing of his leprosy. It is, however, to be
remembered that the word “regeneration” (or its equivalents) is used, sometimes
in a limited, and sometimes in a comprehensive sense. The translation of the
soul from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, is a great
event. It involves a varied and comprehensive experience. There is much that
usually precedes and attends the work of regeneration in the limited sense of
the word and there is much that of necessity and (in the case of adults)
immediately succeeds it. In all that thus precedes and follows, the truth has an
important, in some case, an essential part in the work. In most cases conviction
of the truth and of sin, a sense of shame, or remorse, of sorrow, and of
anxiety, and longing desires after peace and security, precede the work of
regeneration, and faith, joy,hope, gratitude, zeal, and other exercises follow
it, in a greater or lesser degree. In all these states and acts, in everything,
in short, which falls within the sphere of consciousness, the truth acts an
essential part. The states and acts are the efffects of the truth attended by
the power or the demonstration of the Spirit. But regeneration itself, the
infusion of new life into the soul, is the immediate work of the Spirit.
There
is no place for the use of means any more than in the act of creation or in
working of a miracle...So the truth attends the work of regeneration, but is not
the means by which it is effected.
(Charles Hodge, ST, 684-85)
and

. Hodge further says he agrees with Owen. He writes,
“...hence he says that in the work of conversion there is both a physical and
moral influence exerted by the Spirit. Speaking of moral suasion, he says, “That
the Holy Spirit doth make use ot it regeneration or conversion of all that are
adult, and that either immediately in and by the preaching of it, or by some
other application of light and truth unto the mind derived from the Word; for by
the reasons, motives, and persuasive arguments which the Word affords, are our
minds affected, and our souls wrought upon our conversion unto God, whence it
becomes our reasonable obedience. And there are none ordinarily converted, but
they are able to give some account by what considerations they were prevailed on
thereunto....But , we say that the whole work, or the whole, or the whole of the
work of the Holy Ghost in our conversion, doth not consist herein; but there is
a real, physical work, whereby He infuseth a gracious principle of spiritual
life into all that are effectually converted, and really regenerated, and
without which there is no deliverance from the state of sin and death which we
have described
(ST.1, 686-87)

and

The Scripture teaching is that God operates immediately upon the heart to
produce the required change, by which it is fitted to receive the truth, and
mediately through the word in its reception of that truth. (Boyce, ibid).
So, from the outset, Boyce, just like the Princetonians, differentiates between the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit on the heart and the mediate work of the Spirit through the Word of God.


Spurgeon: >>No sooner is the soul quickened<< >
>BOB:
>
>Did Spurgeon here say, "No sooner is the soul regenerated or born again"?
>Of course not! That is Gene's delusion! The Word quickens in many ways
>BEFORE >faith is experienced. Did you ever hear of "conviction" by the quickening
>Word, Gene?


As a matter of fact, yes...and the reason for this conviction is that regeneration occurs prior to faith, which is part of coming to Christ, which is the first effect of regeneration, which he unpacks as “quickening.” As I previously explained to you:

1. A knowledge of the true God, and acceptance of him as such.
2. Knowledge of personal sin, guilt and condemnation.
3. Sorrow for sin and desire to escape condemnation.
4. Determination to turn away from sin and seek God.
5. Conviction of personal need of help in so doing.
6. Knowledge of Christ as a Saviour from
sin.
7. Personal trust in Christ and his salvation.

Because as Boyce said, the relationship between regeneration and faith is such that regeneration is logically antecedent.

Did Spurgeon say this was "regeneration" or that the sinner had already
>been >"born again"? Of course not! That is Gene's delusion!


The only one deluded here is Bob L. Ross, who ignores Spurgeon’s own definition of “coming to Christ.” in this very sermon as we shall see in a moment.

>Spurgeon is simply >referring to the preliminary quickening work bu the Spirit's using His
>Sword, the >Word, in the lost, dead sinner's heart and soul -- similar to the movement
>among Ezekiel's dry bones BEFORE they came to life, and like Saul of
>Tarsus' >"kicking against the prices" of the Word of God.


Regeneration, sir is defined as: taking away their heart of stone, and giving to them a heart of flesh;4 renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ;5 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace. It is used in a narrow sense and a wider sense. Alternatively, regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone.

Regeneration ==quickening (enlightening, causing understanding) etc. It a work of God’s grace. Faith (coming to Christ) is the result of it. This the entire point of this section of the sermon Mr. Ross! Whatever words you choose to use to describe it, regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit in raising the dead sinner to life. It is the immediate cause of faith and repentance. As such it is antecedent to faith and repentance. What is so hard to understand about this?

>Spurgeon: >>and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and
>reposes in him.<< >
>BOB:
>
>Did Spurgeon believe that the sinner is NOW born again! OF COURSE! For he
>has >been given faith by the Holy Spirit's using the Word of God to bring him to
>BELIEVING IN CHRIST!


Because, Mr. Ross, this is the effect of regeneration. This is all a description of what happens as a result of regeneration. For did he not say, “Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration.” is it not the very definition of “coming to Christ” to say the sinner “flies to Christ and reposes in Him?” This is, according to Spurgeon, the EFFECT of REGENERATION.

Mr. Ross, not only does Spurgeon say that Coming to Christ is the first effect of regeneration. In this same sermon, he defines “Coming to Christ” for us!

He said:
COMING to Christ” is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is used to
express those acts of the soul wherein leaving at once our self
righteousness, and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive
his righteousness to be our covering, and his blood to be our atonement.
Coming to Christ, then, embraces in it repentance, self-negation, and faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ,and it sums within itself all those things which are
the necessary attendants of these great states of heart, such as the belief
of the truth, earnestness of prayer to God, the submission of the soul to
the precepts of God’s gospel, and all those things which accompany the dawn
of salvation in the soul. Coming to Christ is just the one essential thing
for a sinner’s salvation. He that cometh not to Christ, do what he may, or
think what he may is yet in “the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of
iniquity.”

Notice, coming to Christ, says Spurgeon is comprised of those acts whereby we fly to Christ and receive His righteousness. It embraces repentance, self-negation, and faith in Christ. It includes all things that are necessary attendants of these states of heart.

All of these he says, comprise “coming to Christ,,” Mr. Ross, and “coming to Christ,” says Spurgeon is the very first EFFECT of regeneration. If B is the EFFECT of A, it is meaningless to not state that A does not cause B. If A causes B, then the relationship of A to B is logically antecedent. A precedes B. Regeneration therefore, precedes faith. Regeneration precedes coming to Christ according to Spurgeon, and coming to Christ includes repentance and faith according to him. Therefore, Spurgeon is affirming that regeneration precedes faith, just like Boyce, Broadus, Dagg, and all the others I have listed, and just like me, Dr. White, and the folks at Founders.


Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain that
>there is AS YET NO QUICKENING; where there is no quickening, the soul is
>dead in>trespasses and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into the kingdom of
>heaven.<<>before faith." You will find that the Spirit's work of regeneration is
>simultaneous with the act of man in believing. Hence, the creation of faith
>is>regeneration, for faith would not exist without the Lord's producing it by
>His Word andSpirit as the "means."


How is this any different than stating:

God's call is made effectual by the Word and the Spirit. It is important to see that the Word and the Spirit are here conjoined as two vital factors of regeneration. The Holy Spirit is not working apart from the Word or against the Word, but with the Word. Nor is the Word working alone without the presence and power of the Spirit.


The call referred to in effectual calling is not the outward call of the gospel that can be heard by anyone within range of the preaching. The call referred to here is the inward call, the call that penetrates to and pierces the heart, quickening it to spiritual life. Hearing the gospel enlightens the mind, yet it does not awaken the soul until the Holy Spirit illuminates it and regenerates it. This move from ear to soul is made by the Holy Spirit. This move is what accompanies God's purpose of applying the benefits of Christ' work to the elect.



>
>Open Heart for A Great Saviour, C. H. SPURGEON, #669 Metropolitan
>Tabernacle
>Pulpit, Volume 12, 1866:


At this point, Mr. Ross simply quotes from Sermon 669 in a vain attempt to deny that Spurgeon affirmed the logical priority of regeneration.

We find here not that Spurgeon denies the logical priority of regeneration, but he denies the TEMPORAL priority of regeneration, which we ALSO deny except in the limiting cases as previously discussed and which are in some of the three limiting cases, speculative. These, Mr. Ross, are not the same things at all. In fact, I have repeatedly stated that this is a question of LOGICAL, causal order and not TEMPORAL order.

In it, Spurgeon states:

Every man who trusts the Lord Jesus has been born again. The question was
>once argued in an assembly of Divines as to whether a person first had
>faith or >regeneration, and it was suggested that it was a question which must
>forever be >unanswerable. The process, if such it is, must be simultaneous—no sooner
>does >the Divine life come into the soul than it believes on Christ. You might as
>well ask whether in the human body there is first the circulation of the
>blood >or the heaving of the lungs—both are essential ingredients in life, and
>must >come at the same time.
>
>If I believe in Jesus Christ I need not ask any question as to whether I am
>regenerated, for no unregenerate person ever could believe in the Lord
>Jesus >Christ! And if regenerated I must BELIEVE in Jesus, for he who does not do
>so is >clearly dead in sin.

How does this contradict anything I have written on this? In fact, I quoted James A. Boyce in my last article:

NOTE. A man in one sense maybe called converted as
soon as he has truly turned to God and is also seeking to know and do his
will. This is that amount of conversion which is so nearly contemporaneous
with regeneration as to be liable to be supposed to exist at the same moment
with it, and which indeed in a being capable of thought on such subjects
must be its immediate effect.


But what the Scriptures and common language comprise in this
word is repentance and trust in God's saving power, and, in connection with
Christian knowledge, trust in Jesus Christ as a Saviour. The attainment
of the fullness of such conversion is by the gradual appreciation of truth,
resulting not only from regeneration, and knowledge, but from spiritual
illumination of the mind.

V. The relation of regeneration to conversion will, therefore, appear to
be one of invariable antecedence.


There is no disagreement here.

Yes it is true that every Calvinist believes that regeneration causes faith in Christ through the gospel, that is why we say it precedes faith…and, despite Mr. Ross’ statement to the contrary, so did Spurgeon.

>See, then, the FOLLY of persons talking about being regenerated who have no
>faith! It cannot be! It is IMPOSSIBLE! We can have no knowledge of such a
>thing >as regeneration which is not accompanied with some degree of mental motion
>and consciousness.
>
>Regeneration is not a thing which takes place upon matter—it is a thing
>of >spirit. The birth of the spirit must be the subject of consciousness, and
>though >a man may not be able to say that at such and such a moment he was
>regenerated, yet the act of faith is a consciousness of regeneration.
>
>The moment I believe in Jesus Christ my faith is an index to me of a work
>that has gone on within. And the secret work within, and the open act of
>faith >which God has joined together let no man put asunder.
>
>Those who believe not are unregenerate, though they may have been sprinkled
>by the best priest who ever had Episcopal hands laid on his head!
>
>If a man believes NOT he is unregenerate, whether baptized or not. But if
>he >believes, he is regenerate, though he may never have been baptized at all.
>Baptism may outwardly express regeneration after it has been received, and
>then >the symbol becomes valuable—but WITHOUT FAITH THERE CAN BE NO
>REGENERATION, >even though Baptism is administered a thousand times!. . . . .
>
>Now faith is the “tell-tale” of the human soul! Where there is faith
>there >is new life. Where there is NO FAITH there is no life. . .


Amen! Faith is proof of regeneration in all competent children and adults! Men are dead in sin, and must be made alive by the Spirit of God. This is the narrow sense of the term “regeneration.” This causes them to believe. This is a logical order. Why? Because without it, men are seen as responding to the gospel from a state of nature, not grace. Spurgeon here is denying the hyper-Calvinist doctrine which has men walking around for some time as regenerate adults who have not believed. This is not the same as stating that regeneration causes faith because they enjoy a causally antecedent relationship in which faith is the first result and the interval is so close as to be considered simultaneous, as I have repeated so many times to Mr. Ross that I have lost count.

This is not an affirmation that there are men regenerated in infancy walking around as adults who have not believed. This is not an affirmation of adults regenerated as adults who are regenerated apart from instrumentality. Event those that affirm infant regeneration have, as I have shown already, affirmed instrumentality for adults and competent children and noted that is, by far, God’s most ordinary method. They simply note that the physical, internal work of regeneration, quickening or whatever word you use to express the concept, is the act of a single Agent, Spirit of God, not, as Mr. Ross seems to think we believe, men arising from a state of nature. The external medium He uses is the Word of God, the gospel, and any other circumstances He might bring to bear on their souls. Only in cases of infants dying in infancy or special cases over which there is mere speculation, is this relationship said to be temporal. Causality is usually spelled out in a way that certainly includes either logical or temporal relations (or both). Even if the order is temporal, then this implies nothing about the interval itself. The meaning of “regeneration precedes faith” is akin to “the baby was born and began to cry” or “the tree bears fruit.”

What does Spurgeon say of infant salvation? This sermon does not deal with that subject, and those are the only limiting cases actually in question in the Presbyterians that Mr. Ross cites.

The rest of this “article” by Mr. Ross is simply a set of quotes by Spurgeon. None are of particular note, except his sermon on 1 John 5:4. It’s rather ironic, because in this sermon, Spurgeon says that faith is a proof of regeneration.

Likewise I exegeted 1 John 5:1, and Mr. Ross completely ignored that exegesis. In fact, one is struck by the lack of exegetical foundation in Mr. Ross’ article.

I refer readers back to my last article on this. Spurgeon’s entire premise in that sermon hangs on the context, and, in that context, John is teaching the causal priority of regeneration and faith.

Bob L. Ross is in my estimation a factious man. He goes out of his way to produce articles attacking others and misrepresenting what we write. I have purposefully written fifty pages of material here that essentially repeats itself multiple times just to drive this point home. He has taken to writing letters to elders of churches where some of his interlocutors reside. I also know he has received direct communication with a range of seminary professors, church elders, and others seeking to correct him. He refuses to listen.

His continued misrepresentation of the truth of what I and others believe stands as a testimony to this fact, and he should repent of this sin before it destroys his ministry and his credibility.

In the past week, I have received emails incredulous and sad that he has been doing this, ranging from “this is sad,” to “he doesn’t know what he is saying,” to “he is paranoid and delusional.” This should not be. These range from folks that are seminary students, to evangelists, to elders in churches. One of my own elders has read his latest rant and has noted that it is Mr. Ross, not I who seems to be the "Semi-Pelagian."

He quotes parts of what we write, but doesn’t actually interact with what we write. Instead, he lifts small bits out and makes much of them while ignoring the substance of what is being said. Where did he interact with the substance of my last article on BOyce, Shedd, Sproul, Owen, or any others?

He claims to know what he’s talking about, but consider that he believes we are semi-Pelagians/Pelagians and how he defines these terms. Is this the mark of a man who really understands these terms? Clearly it is not. He accuses us of denying instrumentality. I personally defy him to find a statement where I deny regeneration in competent persons apart from the instrumentality of the gospel. I defy him to show me where I have stated that the relationship is temporal. In fact, if I have denied the instrumentality of the Word of God in this, then I invite readers to show me where. The elders of my church read this blog and what I write. They have not complained to me.

I’ll make this easy for him: When I say “regeneration precedes faith,” I am simply stating that their relationship causal and logical, if it is temporal it implies nothing of the interval, and I would affirm it in the limiting case of John the Baptist, but, by the same token I’m not completely convinced of the classic text for that. The ordinary means (that for adults and children of competency in understanding) always is via the accompaniment of the Word of God and the calling to mind of other circumstances. I agree with Boyce on this, except in his third and possibly his second limiting case.

I have staked out no clear position on infant salvation, and where I have spoken to it, I agree that God must regenerate them in order for them to enter heaven when dying in infancy. If not, they would be doomed or there two ways to heaven and infants will be able to boast they entered by their own means.

He has accused us of teaching,
“Gene and the Pelagians >have faith being something which is not a creation, but the UNBELIEVING >sinner >has the "ability" to do for himself,”
all the while he states that Pelagians affirm the inability of man to come to Christ (exactly opposite the definition), and with me having repeatedly stating that regeneration is the work of God, not man and that believing is a result of the Holy Spirit’s activity, not men in a state of nature (exactly opposite of what I have said).

I said last time that Mr. Ross needs to consider that he agrees with Remonstrants, because Mr. Ross is seriously confused about what Calvinists believe about the ordu salutis. Even the 1689 teaches that regeneration precedes faith. In fact, in denying this, Mr. Ross is in direct variance with his own professed confession and in agreement with the Articles of Religion of the New Connexion, 1770 which says very plainly:

Article V. On Regeneration by the Holy Spirit. We believe, that, as the scriptures assure us, we are justified, made the children of God, purified and sanctified by faith:-that when a person comes to believe in Jesus (and not before) he is regenerated or renewed in his soul, by the spirit of God, through the instrumentality of the word, now believed and embraced; which renewal of his soul naturally produces holiness in heart and life: -that this holiness is the means of preparing us for the enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world; and of preserving in our souls a comfortable sense of our interest in the Lord, and of our title to glory; as well as to set a good example before men, and to recommend our blessed Redeemer's cause to the world.


I call on my fellow Reformed bloggers to call him to repentance and either begin addressing him yourselves or, if this fails, shun him in accordance with Titus 3:9 – 11. He is 70 years of age and an elder in his church. He knows better than to act in this manner. He has done us a great service by distributing Spurgeon’s work, but he has done us a disservice by these continued misrepresentations and unwarranted attacks.

4 comments:

  1. Gene and Steve,

    May I, as a fan of Triablogue, humbly request that you enlist Dr. Anderson once again to format this blog in such a way as to only display the first several paragraphs of the longer posts with the rest of the content under a "continue reading..." link.

    Good posts, Gene. We thank you for them. However, when I cut and pasted these two posts into Microsoft Word it gave me these properties:

    Pages: 93
    Paragraphs: 199
    Lines: 3,020
    Words: 30,938
    Characters: 146,618

    Yikes! This is tough to scroll through. It makes the site not very ergonomic to navigate through.

    Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amen to what David Gadbois said. Length by itself is not the issue. Some things require that many words to be said. But this IS a blog we are deciding to invest our time with. When the posts get routinely novella-length we start to think maybe this kind of investment of time would be better spent on that book over there on the shelf...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also agree with David as to the length. I found this post particularly difficult to follow. Gene writes of what Ross said Gene said and then Gene denies that's what he (Gene)said, but because of the length of each section of the post I found it difficult to follow what was being denied and who was asserting what.

    In print one can quickly skim back to keep the writer's chain of thought in mind, but this does not work (at least for me)on screen because I can't hold my place while skimming back over a much larger body of the content.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I will be brief and to the
    point:

    Bob Ross is one of the biggest and most tragic surprises of my 53 year ministry.


    I have concluded that he is
    severely paranoid,suffering
    from dementia, and (UGH!)
    argumentative to the point of total exasperation and
    complete frustration.


    I have extended to BR my sincere pity and prayers and will have no additional dealings with this sad, sad
    man.

    ReplyDelete