1. Pike has done a good job.
2. I've been busy.
3. The Arminians have done little more than assume what they need to prove.
If LFW is not taught in Scripture, so much for their argument. To date, not a single Arminian has bothered to answer:
1. Where is LFW taught in Scripture? Until they can demonstrate this action theory is taught by Scripture, every objection they offer fails, insofar as it depends on the insertion of LFW into the text of John 6. The fact that they can't resolve the text without that appeal is proof positive that they have no *exegetical* objections to the text. They are offering *philosophical* objections.
2. Why does one person believe and not another, within the constraints of (a) John 6 (Hint, John 6 actually answers the question-they just don't like the answer) and (b) LFW? I keep asking this question. The answers I get are usually, "Because they decide to do so." That's not an answer. It merely restates the question. Can Arminians not recognize the regressive fallacy when they see it. They are only pushing the question back one step.
Regarding the “new covenant” and Isaiah 54:13 (cross ref Jer 31, Mathew 26, Hebrews 8, Hebrews 10, …) One of the blessings of the new covenant is regeneration, but another is forgiveness of sins. Do you believe people are forgiven before they come to Christ?
The answer to this question is bound up with a couple of issues that need to be disambiguated.
A. What do we,and Scripture, mean when referring to "Regeneration?"
I'd point out, Dan, that there's an archive function on this blog. Before asking me questions like this, you should consult them. I've been over "regeneration" many, many times here.
Typically, I refer to "Regeneration" according to the dominant expression articulated by our theologians.
B. We're talking about a logical, not a temporal sequence:
Regeneration / effectual calling. This would be equivalent to "drawing" in John 6.
Faith/repentance (Conversion). This would be "coming."
Justification: This would be forgiveness of sins.
If regeneration does not precede faith, then why don't you affirm that good works precede regeneration?
C. Your question, indeed, objection turns on a conflation of ideas. Let's summarize it:
Regeneration preceding faith is illogical/unbiblical because it means you are saved/justified forgiven, before you are "saved/justified/forgiven."
Answer: These columns reflect the logical or causal connection between these aspects: regeneration, repentance unto life, faith in Jesus Christ, justification, definitive sanctification, adoption and sealing (indwelling), progressive sanctification, perseverance in holiness, glorification. DA = Divine Act (monergistic, e.g. God acts alone w/o man; where He acts alone, men are wholly passive). Div-Human Activ=Divine Human activity (synergistic):
Beginning Result Middle Result End
2 DAs 2 Div-Hum Activ. 3 DA’s 2 Div-Hum Activ. 1 DA
(1) Effectual call (8) Progressive Sanct.
(2) Regeneration (6) Definitive Sanc. (10) Glorification
(4)Faith in Christ (9) Perseverance in holiness
(7) adoption and the
* Definitive Sanc. On the one hand Scripture says we are being sanctified progressively, and on the other it says we have been sanctified. DS refers to this act in the mind of God seeing us not only as righteous (justified) with the righteous of Christ imputed to us through faith, but also set apart completely. From A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Second Edition, Robert Reymond, (Thomas Nelson, 1998, p.711).
This objection is fairly standard fare from anti-Calvinist writing and sermons. It’s pretty unsophisticated, but surprisingly frequent. This is a textbook example of equivocation: The disputant uses the same word in two (or more senses), trading on one sense in one occurrence to lend a surplus sense to the same word in another occurrence. The Arminian is accusing you of equivocating on your terms. In reality, s/he is equivocating on his/her terms.
Let’s reword this objection using biblical terminology. Regeneration precedes faith is logical, because it means you are regenerated before you are justified. The Reformed understanding of the order of salvation is:
Regeneration precedes faith. Men are dead in sin and cannot come to Christ to repent and believe apart from it. Men are not regenerated because they respond to God in faith. I John 5:1 explicitly states otherwise. The conclusion of John’s prologue in his gospel uses passive verbs to describe being born again and adds that men are born not by their own wills, but by God’s alone.
A man is not converted on account of his free will decision. He is converted because God unilaterally acts to regenerate Him. His faith and repentance are a response to God’s grace in doing this. John 6:44: No man can (has the ability) to come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. Apart from God doing this, nobody would believe. It is simply impossible for an unregenerate person to choose Christ apart from effectual calling and regeneration. They cannot submit their minds to God or understand spiritual truth or come to Christ and believe apart from it.
We understand that there is a sense in which one is saved, i.e., regenerated before one is “saved,” i.e. justified. However, the Arminian must agree that men are “saved,” i.e. justified, before they are “saved,” i.e. regenerated or glorified as well. Calvinists do not say “we are saved before we are saved.” We teach we are regenerated before we believe and are justified. We are not the ones guilty of equivocating on our terms.Dan wrote to Pete:
P1: Teaching, hearing & learning precede coming to Christ (taken from John 6:45)
P2: Teaching, hearing & learning are not referring to how one gets into the covenant, but instead are the promises given to those in the covenant (taken from your comments)
C1: therefore, being in the covenant precedes coming to Christ
P3: Part of being in the new covenant includes forgiveness of sins. (Taken from Jer 31, Mathew 26, Hebrews 8, Hebrews 10)
C2: therefore, forgiveness of sins precedes coming to Christ.
So I guess I still don’t understand your response.Pete can respond on his own. I, like you, looking @ your blog, may be gone for awhile, so I may not be able to get back. But I'll just observe before I depart:
1. It depends on what one means by "getting into the covenant." If by this you mean "election," then these are promises that God will certainly bring to pass with respect to those persons. God does not fail to bring the elect to faith. This would moot all your objections.
2. You seem to be suggesting that "coming" and being "forgiven" are equivalent. (1) I've not argued that. (2) Pete didn't argue that. (3) Forgiveness of sins is a divine act, not a human act. True, one must "come"in order to be "forgiven" but all the elect will certainly "come."
3. To summarize then, the reasons that "being taught, hearing, and coming (to Christ)" are "promises" given to those in the New Covenant is due to election. We can think of being "in" the New Covenant in a presumptive sense, eg. in the mind of God. He "foreloves" the elect by chosing them a recipients of the application of the benefits of redemption. Alteraatively, we can think of them from the other side in a temporal, experimental sense, from the perspective of the elect. They stand as condemned sinners outside of the covenant insofar as they are objects of wrath until the benefits are applied, yet God will certainly bring that application of the benefits of redemption upon them.
I'd also refer you to Francis Turretin who, in the debate between the High Calvinists in his day, over what it meant for the covenant to be "unconditional" drew a distinction between a meritorious and instrumental condition. The Covenant is meritoriously unconditional. It is instrumentally conditional. This directly impacts any doctrine of "eternal justification." EJ is generally built upon the conflation of these conditions as unconditional. That's Hyper-Calvinism.
4. "Forgiveness of sins" is, by your own admission "part of" the New Covenant. The question does not involve that fact. Rather, the question is one of historical and/or logical order in which that blessing comes to the person, e.g. it relates the difference between redemption "accomplished" and redemption "applied." Historically, our redemption was accomplished at the cross, well before we were born. It was not applied to us until we believed, and we believed because of the Spirit's effectual call via the instrumentality of the Word (a classic Reformed Baptist formula).
I realize an objection may arise due to the non-temporal nature of God. Hyper-Calvinists draw their doctrine of EJ from that thinking. To anticipate it, as you seem to be following along those similar lines, I answer, with Robert Reymond (from his New Systematic Theology)
This thinking is muddled in several respects.
For starters, God does have a concept of cause and effect in that logic is an attribute of God's mind. He does understand that in order for x to occur as a concrete instance of what is in his mind, y must come to pass. It's an ends-means relation.
We understand cause and effect and the antecedence of x to y; ergo God does too, or else we have no ground for the logical process.
God Himself also grounds the passage of time in His creation. His own Word recognizes that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. The very terms "in the beginning" and "before the foundation of the world," are about a cause-effect relation and a historical relation.
God does exist outside of time, but that also means He orders and grounds time.
Likewise, the objector conflating ontology and teleology. The timeless of God does not mean there is no teleological order to His attributes or the working of His mind. Ontologically, God is unaffected by relational sequence as to His person, but He is conscious of sequential duration, because sequential duration is a part of the ordering of his decree.
We know this because we have a sense of past, present, and future that, because it exists and will exist, is grounded by His mind. In other words, we actually experience this sequential order because we are part of the decree.
For God, all of these are internally intuited and not arrived at chronologically through a process, but the concept or idea of durational sequence or succession is a distinct epistemological, not ontological category. God knows all our thoughts and actions in the past, present, and future,and at the same time knows His own thoughts and actions in relation to each other and to our own and in what order. Thus, He can inspire Paul to say, "He chose before He created." He knows that He created the sea and dry land before He created birds and fish and animals and man. He knows 1 comes before 2 comes before 184, 388.739394. Likewise, He can perceive us as children of wrath prior to our calling and conversion and His children by adoption afterward.
5. All of which renders C2 fallacious.
I'm also a bit concerned about your use of the term "New Covenant." I take it you are a dispensationalist. Is it your position that persons were saved by a different means prior to the era of the "New" Covenant? Just curious.
I'd also point out that Jeremiah 31, if you're a Baptist, would undercut your appeal to Baptist ecclesiology. Baptists affirm the New Covenant is unbreakable. That's why we affirm regenerate church membership.
Presbyterians get around this by positing two dimensions to the covenant, one related to the visible church, the other the invisible, universal church. But as a Baptist, that option is not open to you. If you affirm that folks can lose their salvation, then you deny the New Covenant is unbreakable, thereby undercutting Baptist ecclesiology. I'm asking because I don't recall you staking out your eccleisology. Sometimes it helps to know if we're dealing with a (Credo)Baptist or a Paedo(Infant)baptist.
If you affirm that the NC is breakable with respect to its spiritual elements (eg. personal salvation), then how exactly is the NC better than the Old Covenant, given the the qualifications in Hebrews? How is Christ Mediator of a "better" covenant if he does not/cannot save His people from apostasy?
I suspect dispensationalists and covenant theologians might have very different points of view of end times. This could be impacting our differences on understanding Isaiah 54, and therefore John 6.The Calvinist understanding of Isaiah 54 is not dependent on Covenant Theology.