Thursday, September 11, 2008

Search Engine 101 for Mr. Garrett

Apparently, Stephen Garrett, one of Bob Ross' acolytes has problems using search engines.

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

James White has addressed the latter. I shall now address the former.

Mr. Garrett, writes:

Charles and Bob have done plenty of writing and "exegeting" scriptures that disprove Hyperism.

Good for you! I, of course, am no hyper-Calvinist. So, how does exegeting texts that refute hyperism affect anything I have stated?

Has Gene commented each time in refutation?
No, do I need to do so? There is a vast literature on the subject. Further, Charles simply isn't on my radar, not now, and not in 2 years. The only reason you are on my radar now is because you have chosen to be a follower of this blog. Are you, I wonder, following this blog in order to stir up more strife? If so, it won't work. I would rather spend my time on issues other than those I was addressing two years ago. Indeed, I have little time to deal with people online who are more concerned about being Baptist than being Christian. I've stated before that such a way of thinking is just as poisonous to Baptists and the wider Church in general as is harping on the doctrines of grace 24/7, or the scope of the atonement, etc. can be. I am Baptist and I am Reformed, but I am not obsessed with either one. I will defend my sacramentology and soteriology when I feel it is necessary, but I will not get involved in the crypto-Landmarkism that is creeping into Baptist life once again. Anybody who knows me knows how I feel about that.

That said, I have addressed Mr. Ross and Charles, according to the dashboard from which I compose articles for this blog, no less than 10 times, eleven times, if we include Sam Hughley's guest blog, and that is just from this blog alone . I have also addressed him at the Strange Baptist Fire blog.

Because Mr. Ross, like Charles, has proven himself to be unteachable, incorrigible, and uncorrectable, I have long since relegated him to the status of the factious man of Titus 3. If Mr. Garrett had bothered to check the archives of this blog, he would know that. Ergo, until the other day, and related to a completely different subject, I haven't felt the need to address Ross in about 2 years. I also know, and Mr. Garrett may not, of others who have tried to deal privately with Mr. Ross over the past few years, but to no avail. They have received largely the same sort of treatment from him as have Dr. White and myself. Sorry, but I don't have time for that. If the local churches to which Charles and Ross belong will not discipline them or if they have made the attempt and been ignored for all I know, then there isn't anything more I can do. There is no presbytery to which I can make an appeal, and, since I live several states from either of these men, I have no desire to appeal to their associations, particularly since the answer is likely, in this age, to be "these churches are autonomous, so we can't help you."

This is a good place to pause for a moment and make a wider point. Awhile back in talking about the Crypto-Amyraldians on the internet who delight in little more than posting about the scope of the atonement I noted that if these people really believed what they believed, in their case about the scope of the atonement, then they needed to demonstrate it by rolling up their sleeves and interacting, as we do regularly here, with the Romanists, the Orthodox, the atheists, the Mormons, etc. Instead, when we go to their blogs, we find little else but constant harping on us or the scope of the atonement. If you really believe what you believe, demonstrate it. The same goes for Charles, Mr. Garrett, and Mr. Ross. If you three really believe what you believe about soteriology, then get off your high horse about Founders, James White, myself, and others who differ with you and demonstrate what you believe by interacting with the atheist, the Orthodox, the Romanist, etc. on your blogs. Dare I say, you won't find that at the Flyswatter or the BaptistGadly. Instead, what you find are endless, pointless, and largely ignored by us (for reasons explained above) posts that do little but seek to stir up strife. Occasionally, they'll interact with an Arminian (to their credit), but I don't see them doing what Dr. White and his team do or we do here. In other words, it's time for them to demonstrate they can do more than criticize their brothers. If they can't - or won't - then we have no reason to conclude that they want to do nothing more than stir up strife - something the crypto-Amyraldians are not guilty of doing, I might add.

Indeed, Mr. Ross continues to spew the same material repetitively as if nobody has answered him. Often, he moves from one topic (the relationship between regeneration and faith) to another (Paedobaptism), as if one necessarily entails the other or if belief in one entails affirmation of the other.

Speaking of lies, let's see what Mr. Garrett has cooked up:

He quotes me as follows:

"Regeneration is distinct from salvation in that it leads directly to conversion, which leads to justification leading to the others."

He then comments:
Is this so? Is this not a bunch of nonsense? Does it not deny that regeneration = salvation? Not only does the "ordo polutis" of Gene create the monstrosity of a "regenerated unbeliever," but also a "regenerated yet condemned" unbeliever! What kind of "regeneration" is it that does not convert, save, or justify?
How did what I wrote lead to the concept of a "regenerated unbeliever?" Mr. Garrett, a graduate I see Wingate University, apparently needs to retake English 101 with either Dr. Little-Sweat or Dr. Christopher, if they are still teaching, for he suffers from a case of reading incomprehension.

Is regeneration the same as "salvation?" No, "salvation" is a much wider concept. It can include "regeneration," it may include others concepts. In context, I am, of course referring to Charles' (and others') continued misuse of theological terminology. To refer to "regeneration" as if it is the same thing as "salvation" is simply sloppy.

Did I say anything about regeneration not leading to conversion, and directly so? NO. That's exactly the opposite of what I wrote. I said it leads directly to conversion, and then justification, and "others" (eg. other aspects of "salvation").

In fact, I have been over this with Mr. Ross and his followers several times. I guess Mr. Garrett needs to have it spelled out one more time:

A. This is the current dominant expression. Regeneration defined in 2 ways/senses.

Narrow sense: The work of regeneration itself is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. This expresses the actual phenomenology of God Himself regenerating, God’s own work defined as resurrecting the lost soul to life.” He operates immediately upon the heart to prepare the way for the truth… 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. “(James Boyce, Abstract of Theology, Regeneration and Conversion).

Broad sense:
The entire process leading up to a saving profession of faith and even continuing on (as a person is considered to be regenerate). Thus, this broader view is, functionally, the first view (eg. the one held by Dr. Masters). This expresses the broader psychology of the person, the object of God’s regenerating work. This usage may encompass all that leads up to the actual moment of conversion, or it may include that which follows (the fruits of regeneration itself, e.g. a regenerated person is a regenerate person; we know he is regenerate because of the fruit his life shows). James Boyce, stated it this way, “The Spirit acts mediately through the word.” (ibid)

So, Regeneration, in its strictest sense, refers solely to the Holy Spirit’s work in the sub-conscious life of man: “by a creative word God generates the new life, changing the inner disposition of the soul, illuminating the mind, rousing the feelings, and renewing the will. In this act of God the ear is implanted that enables man to hear the call of God to the salvation of his soul.” Regeneration in its broadest sense refers to what occurs when the regenerated heart comes in contact with the gospel and the Holy Spirit effectively applies God’s word to the mind.

B. Order: External and effectual call-This encompasses instruction in the gospel, the means of grace, conviction, knowledge of the true God, personal sin, guilt and condemnation, sorrow for sin, and knowledge of Christ as Savior. (This expresses the broader psychology). The Holy Spirit then brings this person over into spiritual life (the immediate phenomenonlogy), then they believe, repent, and are justified, and begin living the Christian life (back to the broader psychology).

Robert Reymond even gives this order in his New Systematic Theology (771) in discussing the order of salvation: Two divine acts. 1. Effectual call, via (2) regeneration. The result is 2 human acts: (3) repentance and (4) faith.

When it is said that “regeneration precedes faith,” theologians articulating this view are referring to the narrow sense (the phenomenology of God’s sovereign agency), not the broader psychology and process. Thus, they tend to divide View 1 (Dr. Masters’ view) above up and express it in terms of: Calling (External and internal/effectual, inclusive of elements 1 to 6 above), Regeneration (God’s immediate agency), and Conversion (repentance and faith).

Diagramed it looks like this:

External and Internal (Effectual) Calling (encompasses instruction in the gospel/Word of God, the means of grace, conviction, knowledge of the true God, personal sin, guilt and condemnation, sorrow for sin, and knowledge of Christ as Savior.) (May or may not take a short or long time) This is underwritten by the Holy Spirit striving with the soul of the person, which is what makes the call “effectual.”*

-leads to-/by way of-

Regeneration (the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit and the individual’s passing from spiritual death to spiritual life)

-leads to—

Conversion (immediate Faith and Repentance) The analogy is that he is born, and like a baby cries and breathes so does he.

*Some like Berkhof state that the external call precedes regeneration, then the effectual call results and then follows conversion. John Murray makes regeneration the link between effectual call and conversion as diagrammed above. Either view falls well within this second view of the order.

In regeneration in the broader sense the implantation of the incorruptible seed, the changing of the heart, the drawing power of the triune God, and the external call of the gospel all come together and give birth to the converted soul, who believes, repents, and is justified.

In Presbyterianism and some Reformed Baptist theology you find that except in the case of elect infants, elect imbeciles, and John the Baptist (Lk. 1:41-44) regeneration always accompanies either the preached word, the written Word, or an intellectual knowledge of the gospel held in the mind received in the past. There are people who hear or read the gospel who immediately are regenerated and saved, and there are people who hear the gospel for years and know it intellectually but who are not saved until the Holy Spirit comes and opens their eyes spiritually.

C. Time factor:

(a)External and Effectual calling, as defined above: may take any amount of time, short or long on a case by case basis.

(b) With respect to the time of conversion itself: Regeneration itself in, the narrow sense, (the Spirit’s giving of New Life) is immediate and immediately followed by repentance and faith (conversion) such that (emphasis mine):

“The very first conscious exercise of the renewed soul is faith; as the first conscious act of a man born blind whose eyes have been opened is seeing.” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, 41).

REGENERATION is an act of God originating by a new creation a new spiritual life in the heart of the subject. The first and instant act of that new creature, consequent upon his regeneration, is FAITH, or a believing, trusting embrace of the person and work of Christ. Upon the exercise of faith by the regenerated subject, JUSTIFICATION is the instant act of God, on the ground of that perfect righteousness which the sinner’s faith has apprehended, declaring him to be free from all condemnation and to have a legal right to the relations and benefits secured by the covenant which Christ has fulfilled in his behalf. A.A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, Chapter 34, available here:


This is not a question of order in time, because regeneration and justification are gracious acts of God absolutely synchronous. The question is purely as to the true order of causation; Is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us that we may believe, or is it imputed to us because we believe? Is justification an analytic judgment, that the man is justified as a believer though a sinner, or is it a synthetic judgment, that this sinner is justified for Christ’s sake ? (A.A. Hodge, Ibid.)

“The immediate effect of the divine regeneration of the soul is that the sinner now abhors his sin that he once loved and trusts in Christ for his salvation.”(Boyce and Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace, 149)

When speaking of the order of salvation (ordo salutis), Reformed theology always and everywhere insists that regeneration precedes faith. Regeneration precedes faith because it is a necessary condition for faith. Indeed it the sine qua non of faith. It is important to understand, however, that the order of salvation refers to a logical order, not necessarily a temporal order. For example, when we say that justification is by faith, we do not mean that faith occurs first, and then we are justified at some late time. We believe that at the very moment faith is present, justification occurs. There is no time lapse between faith and justification. They occur simultaneously. Why then do we say that faith precedes justification? Faith precedes justification in a logical sense, not a temporal sense. Justification is logically dependent on faith, not faith on justification. We do not have faith because we are justified; we are justified because we have faith.

Similarly when Reformed theology says regeneration precedes faith, it is speaking in terms of logical priority, not temporal priority. We cannot exercise saving faith until we have been regenerated, so we say faith is dependent on regeneration, not regeneration on faith. (R.C. Sproul, Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology,, 2000 edition, 195).

D. Engagement of mind: Active in “calling” elements. The soul itself is said to be passive with respect to the Holy Spirit’s resurrecting power itself. The mind itself is actively engaged in instruction, conviction, sorrow, etc. (the calling elements), culminating with repentance and faith due to the Holy Spirit’s striving with the soul.

E. Use of means: In the narrow usage, referring to the Holy Spirit’s actual phenomenological task of resurrecting the unbeliever’s soul to new life, there is no means as such, it is His work alone. Means are “preparations” for this work of grace but not the work itself. In the broader sense, however, means are used as preparations and given orientation to the new convert’s spiritual life, because the narrow meaning does not occur independently of the means of grace (the gospel in particular), in order for them to repent and believe. Thus, in this broader sense: Primary: Word of God, Secondary: circumstances, etc. This is God’s ordinary means (emphasis mine):

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. (Ibid., 190 -191).

Apart from the Word, there is no salvation and no activity of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people. Where the Word is rightly preached, the Spirit is active in power. Where the Word is not rightly preached, the Spirit is not active in power. It is impossible to have a place in which the Word is preached clearly (as the proclamation of Christ), where the Spirit is absent in his power and saving strength. It is equally impossible for the Spirit to be actively present if the preaching of Christ is not the central focus. (Michael Horton, Receiving Christ, In The Face of God,
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A person perishing without having heard the gospel (such as the “heathen”) and being converted, with the possible exception of those dying in infancy, perishes in their sins, cut off from God, under the presumptive judgment of God in this life. Ergo, we must do missions and evangelism in order to reach the lost. Some (Boyce, Abstract of Theology, Ch.32: cf: hold out the possibility that God can regenerate a person to motivate them to pray for more revelation through a missionary.

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.

In such cases, God ensures that they receive the gospel itself through a missionary. Boyce takes this from missions reports. This is an exception, not the rule, and it is speculative.

F. Causality: Regeneration precedes their actual faith by causing it. It is monergisitic.

G. Held by: Princeton/Westminister Presbyterians, early Southern Baptist writing theologians (Boyce, Dagg, , late 18th century theologians, some 17th century theologians (Turretin), 20th century theologians, majority of current American traditional Calvinists (Sov. Grace/Reformed Baptists, OPC, PCA, etc.), some Progressive Primitives. This is, currently, the dominant parlance.

This critics have stated that this position “denies the use of means.

This is the same “direct operation” palabber taught by the pedo-regenerationist theologians Shedd, Berkhof, and R. C. Sproul, and other preachers such as James White, Scott Morgan of the Founders, Gene Bridges, Tom Schreiner of the Southern Seminary, and others who advocate “Reformed” theology according to the Berkhof theology book.

None of them has given evidence that they believe that the Word of God is an instrumentality in the “quickening” work of the Spirit in regeneration or the New Birth, contrary to the Creedal Calvinism of all the Calvinistic Confessions of Faith. See:

By way of reply: Where in this view is means denied? Nowhere.

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. (Sproul, Ibid.)

While regeneration is a sovereign act of God according to election, it is an encouraging fact both for the sinner and the preacher of the word that God’s regenerating grace is commonly bestowed where the preparatory work is performed. This is the rule, under the gospel dispensation. He who reads and meditates upon the word of God is ordinarily enlightened by the Holy Ghost, perhaps in the very act of reading, or hearing, or meditating. “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word,” Acts 10 : 44. He who asks for regenerating grace may be regenerated perhaps in the act of praying. God has appointed certain human acts whereby to make ready the heart of man for the divine act. Without attentive reading and hearing of the word, and prayer, the soul is not a fit subject for regenerating grace. (Shedd, Regeneration, cf:

These individuals have claimed that this view affirms that regeneration can exist without faith and/or that faith is not considered to immediately accompany regeneration. How is this criticism then true?

“The very first conscious exercise of the renewed soul is faith; as the first conscious act of a man born blind whose eyes have been opened is seeing.” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, p. 41).

“The immediate effect of the divine regeneration of the soul is that the sinner now abhors his sin that he once loved and trusts in Christ for his salvation.”(Boyce and Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace, 149)

It should be apparent that View 1 can comfortably subsist within View 2 as subset expression or vice versa. Likewise, they are functionally equivalent expressions. There is no “Hardshell Doctrine” to be found here, none whatsoever. The only thing equivalent is the axiom that regeneration precedes faith, but this has always been the view expressed by the Reformed community. This is, it seems, why these critics have to change the subject to infant regeneration. That, however, is a separate issue (see below).



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.


So, Mr. Garrett, I do not affirm that a person can be a "regenerated unbeliever." I affirm exactly the opposite, insofar as the order is logical, not temporal - a caveat that your fellow chronic strifemaker have called, "doubletalk." I took that then to mean, as I still do, that they would rather be dishonest and drop the caveats that I have given than actually speak honestly.
You, Mr. Garrett, would do well not to associate with these individuals.

So, before you go casting about with the questions you have asked of us, Mr. Garrett, I suggest you acquaint yourself with the archive functions of this blog and others. It's really not difficult. Search Engines are your friend.


  1. Dear Gene:

    English was one of my favorite subjects and I had good professors at Wingate, though not the two you mention.

    Gene, it is okay for you to ignore whomever you want. However, it was you who said "start a blog and write against our views, and we will respond." You admit that you promised to do that but then quit doing it.

    And, I still say your view has a born again soul who is an unbeliever and not justified.

    Also, I read your blog because of the different topics you write upon. Also, I think I complimented you and someone here and have never left unkind comments. But, if I am not welcome here, there are plenty of other blogs to read.

    God bless and take care.


  2. "And, I still say your view has a born again soul who is an unbeliever and not justified."

    In the logical order of salvation this is true, but since a Calvinist believes in a compatibilist view of free-will, faith unfailingly occurs as a result of the regeneration. This means that a regenerated person will always be justified.

    In the chronological sequence, regeneration, faith, and justification happen simultaneously.

  3. Gene, it is okay for you to ignore whomever you want. However, it was you who said "start a blog and write against our views, and we will respond." You admit that you promised to do that but then quit doing it.

    At the time I wrote that, Mr. Garrett, Charles was abusing the combox of this blog and several others. At that time, he was, in point of fact, posting the same repetitious comments over several blogs. You have come to that conversation about 2 years too late.

    I did, as I pointed out, respond, MANY times. However, there comes a point of diminishing returns. For example "Orthodox" did the same sort of thing. I told him the same thing. This does not obligate me to respond to every post Orthodox has ever written, particularly after he was banned here. Why? Because Orthodox has proven himself a dishonest opponent, incorrigible, impervious to correction, etc., just like Bob Ross and Charles.

    You, like Ross, seem to have a habit of dropping the caveats I have offered.

    Speaking of which:

    And, I still say your view has a born again soul who is an unbeliever and not justified.

    Of course, that is only true if I adopt the third way that the parlance is used. Because you came from the Hardshell Baptist tradition, it is understandable that you are focused on that parlance, but I've documented the way the language concerning regeneration's relationship to faith has been used and by which groups. Do not assume, without benefit of argument, that because the terms persons from differing traditions speak is similar or the same that they refer to the same exact thing. I don't hold the view that a person is regenerated and then waits for some time before converting. That is exactly the opposite of what I have stated multiple times. Only by ignoring what I have written, and thereby lying about it, can you possibly say otherwise. That's exactly what Mr. Ross and Charles have done. Don't follow their path, Mr. Garrett.

    Also, I think I complimented you and someone here and have never left unkind comments.

    What you say on this blog and what you say on your own blog do not seem to match. You are 52 years old, Mr. Garrett. I should think that using terms like "ordu polutis" and other pejoratives that do not advance the conversation outside of making you look about 40 years your junior, would be above you. You would do well to try to elevate the level of discourse on this subject. The only reason I am addressing you now is because you chose to address me. That's it. Like I said, I have no interest in pursuing Bob Ross or Charles around the internet. I have better things to do with my time than engage those who do nothing but seek to stir up strife. Scripture tells me not to do that.

  4. You indicate that regeneration in the narrower sense of the word is resurrecting the lost soul to spiritual life.

    What is the nature of this spiritual life? Is it eternal, i.e., does the regenerate person logically (if not chronologically) have eternal life prior to exercising faith?

  5. "What is the nature of this spiritual life? Is it eternal, i.e., does the regenerate person logically (if not chronologically) have eternal life prior to exercising faith?"

    Gene can answer for himself, but in short, yes.

    Regeneration is the beginning of the subjective change within someone.

    Justification (which is the result of faith) is the objective change in one's legal status before God.

    They do occur at the same time chronologically, and I see no reason why justification cannot be logically subsequent to obtaining eternal life since they occur in seperate spheres, one subjective and the other objective.

    Of course, justification vindicates the previous act of regeneration, but there is no reason why the order must be reversed.

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  7. Mr. Bridges,

    Here Dr. Sudduth argues (persuasively to my way of thinking) that if regeneration causes faith, then regeneration necessarily precedes faith temporally. Since you apparently argue that the order is not temporal (“insofar as the order is logical, not temporal”), I wonder what you think of Dr. Sudduth’s argument? Thanks in advance.

  8. Steve,

    I'm wondering what you think of Sudduth's argument referenced in the previous comment that regeneration is temporally (not just logically) prior to regeneration? Do you find it compelling?