Does regeneration precede salvation?

RC Sproul writes:

Yes, the faith we exercise is our faith. God does not do the believing for us. When I respond to Christ, it is my response, my faith, my trust that is being exercised. The issue, however, goes deeper. The question still remains: “Do I cooperate with God’s grace before I am born again, or does the cooperation occur after?” Another way of asking this question is to ask if regeneration is monergistic or synergistic. Is it operative or cooperative? Is it effectual or dependent?

This is an excellent example of the problem in viewing faith as a work under the law. You see, if Sproul is right and faith is a work under the law then it certainly does mean the debate between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is one of synergism vs monergism. However since it is impossible to show how faith is a work under the law (because it isn’t) raising the issue of monergism vs synergism is simply a red herring thrown out to merely obscure the real issue, which is what we mean when we say that man exercises his faith and that God does not “believe for us”.

And here is where we also get to see the double-speak employed by Calvinists like Sproul.

The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we can- not. We cannot because we are spiritually dead. We can no more assist the Holy Spirit in the quickening of our souls to spiritual life than Lazarus could help Jesus raise him for the dead.

That is very interesting, mostly because if people are dead in the way Sproul seems to think they are, then they can do _neither_ good nor evil. If God were to punish such a person, we would have to accuse him of literally beating a dead horse, that is, something that can do nothing other than lay there.

However the language of the whole of Scripture simply doesn’t support such a notion and Sproul knows it, that’s why he stated at the outset that:

“Yes, the faith we exercise is our faith. God does not do the believing for us. When I respond to Christ, it is my response, my faith, my trust that is being exercised.”

Well if Sproul says that at the outset and yet by the end comes to the conclusion that we are totally dead without the quickening of the Holy Spirit, what is he doing in the interim to alleviate the apparently logical paradox he has created?

The answer: He fundamentally redefines what faith is.

In the reformed view faith is simply a mechanistic system predicated on a chain of causes that eventually rests on God. Where faith is traditionally and commonly accepted to mean an act of the will (albeit not a directly volitional act).

Therefore Sproul’s assessment that faith is evidence of regeneration preceding salvation is only valid if we add in a hidden premise that faith is merely a mechanistic output of a predefined set of inputs. The trouble with that view is that if the will is reduced to a machine where faith is nothing more than a product of a series of causal inputs (regeneration being one of them) then the very words used such as “will” and “faith” loose their meaning.

Moreover, on this view of faith, we end up begging the ugly question of why God does not choose to regenerate all men so that they will automatically choose to place their faith in Christ and be saved. Then again, this butts up against another ugly reformed doctrine which is that God does not really love all men nor does he want them to all be saved.

In the end, however, I would agree with Sproul’s assessment that regeneration precedes faith. That the Holy Spirit’s prior operation is a necessary precondition to one’s placing their faith in Christ. however it is far from certain that such regeneration is a sufficient condition for one’s placing their faith in Christ. Indeed, Scripture indicates in many places that it is not sufficient as we have many accounts of people freely spurning the love and drawing of Christ. In other words, regeneration may precede faith, but it by no means causes faith.

So while a positive contribution can not be made in regards to one’s salvation, a negative contribution (ie. choosing to reject the drawing of the Holy Spirit unto salvation) is certainly possible.

Some may point out, however, that Sproul thinks that people are dead such that they only do evil. And that “it would, perhaps, be “double-speak” if he didn’t believe other things in lieu of those two.”

This is where the double speak comes in. You see, if I were to ask whether sinful man sins of his own free volition then you would undoubtedly say “yes”. However, if I asked if man knew he were sinning you would either have to say no in order to remain logically consistent within your own system or you would have to say yes if you wish to affirm what the Bible says on the matter. You see, throughout Scripture we are entreated with language that makes it appear (that is, if we do not presuppose a doctrine that claims otherwise) that man knows he is sinning (in spite of knowing what good is) and yet chooses to forgo God’s will thereby making himself, of his own free will, a rebel just like Satan, the rebellious angel and Adam and Eve, the rebellious progenitors of our race.

However, men like Sproul seem to think that if they redefine “faith” and “will” to mean something which is slavishly enslaved to some other causal entity (ultimately controlled by God, so the number of gears in the causal machine is really irrelevant) they can use the same words the Bible does without doing fundamental damage to language itself. Faith or belief, while not a volitional action, is still an action taken by a will that must be free in some capacity or else the word is emptied of its meaning.

So when men like Sproul, who are smart guys that know better, equivocate on the meanings of the words they are using, they are being deceptive and dishonest. They are practicing double-speak in the classic Orwellian sense by attempting to subvert the very words being used. They would be more honest and respectable if they were to say what they plainly mean in language everyone can understand. But then, they would have to resort to mechanistic language wherein we would have to take great pains to avoid words like “puppet” and “robot” which, while derided by Calvinists far and wide, continue to provide an apt description of the epistemic bankruptcy of Reformed epistemology.

Consequently, this equivocation or redefining of words is one of the reasons that it is so hard to have a productive discussion with Calvinists. Then again, for a system of doctrine that ended up burning many men at the stake merely for disagreeing with it, I suppose being intellectually dishonest is but a small price to pay.

For an extended treatment of this topic I highly recommend this article from the Society of Evangelical Arminians.

Also, if you are interested in what I consider to be a more credible alternative to irresistible grace, I suggest overcoming grace.

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29 responses to “Does regeneration precede salvation?

  1. I think we can also say that regeneration precedes faith because at the get go, men are depraved and I think we can all agree on that. Sin and moral action is man's choice; man can be moral without believing in God. However, like I heard Bill Craig say in a RF podcast, the moral actions performed by the atheist/agnostic are not moral duties.
    In order for man to put faith in God, I think the Holy Spirit has to regenerate the heart and then he can put his faith in God because without that regeneration, man will never put faith in God because of man's innate hatred for God. Middle knowledge grounds this well. God did not roll dice, he chose to save, without violating human freedom. Before God saved me, I would feel conviction for my sins in church (my parents made me attend Church) and I know that was the Holy Spirit because He convicts the world, but the regeneration I felt when God saved me was much different. I felt conviction, yet liberated at the same time. It was very different. I don't base my beliefs on sensational events, but I'm sure all of us that are saved felt that regeneration moment from the Holy Spirit.
    I apologize for the lengthy post! lol

    • Thanks for your posts Seth!

      I completely agree and I apologize for not making a distinction between Calvinists above. I do recognize that there are many who have a more nuanced view of Calvinism (much like Calvin himself) that extends beyond the 5 points chosen by Jacob Arminius's followers to throw down on (but weren't really given an opportunity to) at the Synod of Dort.

  2. "However since it is impossible to show how faith is a work under the law (because it isn’t) raising the issue of monergism vs synergism is simply a red herring thrown out to merely obscure the real issue, which is what we mean when we say that man exercises his faith and that God does not “believe for us”."

    It's exactly the Calvinist's point that faith isn't a work under the law. This is the conclusion of a reductio ad absurdum. It's like this: if faith is originated in a man, then God owes him His grace. If it's by God's paying what He owes to us for something, then it's not grace, it is work. It wouldn't be a reductio ad absurdum if we thought that faith was actually a work.

    • "It's exactly the Calvinist's point that faith isn't a work under the law."

      If that is true then why do men like Sproul argue that if faith were something we do then it would amount to cooperating with God in salvation (synergism)?

      " if faith is originated in a man, then God owes him His grace."

      Be honest here and make a distinction between originating as in "creatio ex nihilo" wherein Man brings forth something our of nothing vs. exercising a function of our being we've been endowed with by virtue of being created in the image of God.

      You see, Calvinism DOES see faith as a work and THEREFORE it has to repackage the words used to make it a gift from God, and not a gift in the same sense that rain is a gift granted to both the righteous and unrighteous, it is a gift in the sense (under Calvinism) that is only given to those who subsequently believe. That is a causal linkage, that is causal determinism, and that logically leads to the unavoidable and inescapable conclusion that man is a robot, nothing more, nothing less.

      • That is a causal linkage, that is causal determinism, and that logically leads to the unavoidable and inescapable conclusion that man is a robot, nothing more, nothing less.

        I have to disagree Wes. Are you saying the following: If God is responsible for our salvation, then it follows that we are predetermined machines. Another way of saying this is, "If God decides the one issue of my salvation, then He decides everything. Either everything I do is free, or nothing I do is free. If God determines my salvation, then I have no free will at all." If you are, then I have to call the "all-or-nothing" fallacy on you. I hoped my post had cleared the smoke of the Calvinism equals robot mindset.

        Just because God determines one aspect of our lives based on His mercy, doesn't mean all aspects of our lives are based on a deterministic machine. It doesn't follow that if God determines one thing in our lives – that we go to heaven – then nothing else in our lives is freely chosen. We make free choices all the time, immoral and moral, the immoral choices are what make us guilty. God makes a choice too; to exercise grace on our behalf and allow us to have mercy for the sin choices we freely make.

        • Lastly, I like this illustration used by Greg Koukl:

          f you owe me a million dollars and I choose to completely forgive the debt, how is your will violated? The debt is owed to me; it's on my side of the ledger. I can cancel it if I want. It may have a further impact on your life, that in canceling the debt you don't have to work for 20 years to pay it off. But it seems to me such an action grants you freedom, not bondage.

          Further, freedom usually has some limitations. Even a criminal in prison has a measure of freedom. Though some choices are restricted, it doesn't follow that he has no choices at all. In the same way, if God chooses us for forgiveness and salvation, it doesn't follow that we have become robots.

          • With the offer me a million dollars to pay off my debt. Is the offer in and of itself a sufficient condition for my accepting the offer? I will grant that it may be a necessary condition of my debt being forgiven, as is the willingness of the offerer to offer the money in the first place (which I would argue is logically prior to the debt being created in our case), as is the payment that is to be made on my behalf. All of these are necessary conditions for my debt being forgiven but they are not sufficient without the addition of the debtor's acceptance of such a payment on their behalf.

        • Right, what I'm saying is that if we do not posses a will that is free in even a limited capacity then we are left with causal determinism by virtue of logical deduction.

          It is not a case for complete freedom, but a case for any freedom whatsoever. If God violates as opposed to merely persuading and influencing and drawing or wooing man into a loving relationship with himself then we have no grounds for rejecting the claim from the hypercalvinists tat all of our actions and decisions are also summarily foreordained by a causal linkage beyond our control.

          God does determine the world in which we find ourselves, however the decisions we make in the world God has determined are, at least in part, and including our decision to follow Christ or not, are our own.

          • OK, I understand your position now. I think I understand that your "beef" is with extreme calvinists right? So, from now on, I need to understand that when you use Calvinist you mean extreme calvinist?

            Did my post make sense, in that Calvinism does not teach that we're robots?

          • Yes, I would qualify that as "hyper-Calvinists" but the problem is that most hyper-Calvinists (like James White) won't label themselves as such even though their views are indistinguishable from those who do claim to be hyper-Calvinists.

            Oh and I agree that Calvin himself was likely not a hyper-Calvinist, though I'm pretty sure his successors were (like Beza).

      • Calvinists don't see faith so much as a deliberate volitional act; it's merely the act of believing God: the Lord speaks, we think it's true. Consequently, they can't possibly see it as a work under the law.

        But Calvinists think that LFW guys make it a work because of the advent of decisionalism. If faith is a decision in the sense of "if you'd just accept Jesus into your heart" (speaking of redefining "faith" haha!), then it is a deliberate action on man's part. And if a man has made this decision, then, by Jove, God owes him spiritual rebirth. This is even more the case if God is at the end of a lengthy, complex argument.

        Anyhow, if faith is something we do, then it is a cooperation thing. But I think faith is completely passive, so it can never be a work. More formally, that faith is a work of the Spirit in the heart and particularly, "By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein." That is, faith is nothing but believing.

        • And I post that having "read recently in this reputable and notable work," the Westminster Confession of Faith.

          • Is the WCF a reputable work from the opposing viewpoint? Would you like to attempt your submission again when you have something from the opposing viewpoint you'd like to cite as an example of what you are arguing against?

          • Opposing you or me? WCF opposes you, if that's what you mean. You said Reformed people believe such-and-such. I said no, they believe thus-and-so, and proved it with the WCF. The opposing viewpoint is disreputable, because it consistently misrepresents us (for proof, read the reputable and notable post called "Does regeneration precede salvation?" and note how its statement of our beliefs is unreconcilable with the statement in the WCF).

          • Can you quote the relevant sections and build a case for how they do not line up with what I\’ve stated?

          • WCF says, "By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein." In other words, faith is plain believing, and not working. But, you say, "Calvinism DOES see faith as a work." Here, you say that Calvinism sees faith as work, and that we've redefined it. But we say to everyone that faith is mere believing, a purely passive human function.

            When the Calvinist makes the reductio ad absurdum, "you're making faith a work," it's in reference to the LFW idea that man is neutral (that he can do good or evil), and that man has only to do the one good thing, that is begin to have faith. Faith is therefore redefined by LFW as a decision on man's part, and God owes regeneration to the man on the basis of his faith; that is, God saves a man because of something in him. That is, God is represented as regarding one man above another. Therefore LFW sees faith as a meritorious work, though they won't admit it. (I accidentally made this reductio on my own system back when I was a LFWer.)

            But the Calvinist says man cannot do good prior to regeneration (because he is under law, and not under grace. That's why Paul can say "whatsoever is not of faith is sin."). As the WCF says, man "became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body" (not maximum wickedness, but defiled in all parts) and that this was "conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation."

            When you say "if people are dead in the way Sproul seems to think they are, then they can do _neither_ good nor evil." You begin a line of argument against Calvinism that isn't, in fact, against us because we believe men are dead _in sin_.

            Here's the Calvinist's understanding of the Gospel: All men are sinful, not only because of deeds but because of their corrupt (fallen) nature. Because man is corrupt in his nature, no amount of good- or bad-doing (that would be to seek justification by works and therefore is blasphemy against Christ) will change man in his nature. This kind of change can only be the work of a Creator. Therefore, all men are commanded everywhere to believe the Gospel, and no man can be saved apart from this, for there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved. Moreover, we are told in the Scriptures that faith comes by hearing, and Christ says that His sheep hear his voice, so we must preach to everyone that there is no salvation but by faith in Christ; if they are His, they will hear. There's no working in there, nor is there any idea of any man being better than another. Nor is it complicated; it's pretty much "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

            This practically works out like this: We say to unbelievers, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."

          • If faith is not seen as a work under Calvinism, then why is one of the main tenants that it must be supplied by God lest man be able to boast in participating in his own salvation?

            If faith is really not seen as a work under Calvinism then there would be no controversy around the notion that man may freely believe or not the free offer of salvation made to all men.

            Subsiquently, if men are as dead as Sproul says (yes, I am repeating this point because I don't think you understand it), then men cannot choose to accept Christ and they cannot choose to reject Him either. Thus to hold a man culpable for something he has no control over and never has had control over is, quite simply, morally wrong. Is this something we invented? No, Abraham Himself says of God "surely the king of all righteousness will do what is right". Was he setting himself above God as judge? Hardly. Rather because God has given us the common grace to understand, at least in a rudimentary sense, the difference between right and wrong, we can know simple moral truths like holding someone responsible for something they have no control over is incoherent and wrong (on the part of the person seeking justice since justice would be to hold the primary cause of the moral wrong responsible).

            "Moreover, we are told in the Scriptures that faith comes by hearing, and Christ says that His sheep hear his voice, so we must preach to everyone that there is no salvation but by faith in Christ; if they are His, they will hear."

            But to the rest we are lying to their faces but that's ok because Christ didn't really mean what he said by "let your yes be yes". It is also ok because under the hyper-Calvinistic notion of limited atonement god is a lier who does not actually love everyone anyway even though he clearly claims to in Scripture.

            I find it amazing that hyper-Calvinists can wrap yourself with a doctrine that contains so many logical contradictions and yet have the nerve to be so arrogantly condescending to your brothers when they try to point out the bankruptcy of your man-made system.

          • "If faith is not seen as a work under Calvinism, then why is one of the main tenants that it must be supplied by God lest man be able to boast in participating in his own salvation?"

            I suppose if it's not supplied by God, one could boast of superior wisdom, but not work. Either way, in the LFW view, it's a volitional decision, and consequently a work.

            "If faith is really not seen as a work under Calvinism then there would be no controversy around the notion that man may freely believe or not the free offer of salvation made to all men."

            The controversy has more to do with what freedom is. We see man as either in law, or in grace; in Adam, or in Christ; in sin, or in newness of life. One who is dead in sin can only sin because nothing proceeds from faith, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Christ said he came to set us free. We shouldn't claim, like the Pharisees, that we're already free, but one must in according to LFW idea of faith.

            "If men are as dead as Sproul says"

            then they will ONLY choose to reject Christ. (yes, I am repeating this point because I don't think you understand it)

            "holding someone responsible for something they have no control over is incoherent and wrong"

            Why is God praised for doing good? He can't help it. He's praised for being true, yet the Scriptures cannot lie. He is praised for his nature. Likewise men are saved for their regenerated nature, not their better deeds.

            "we are lying to their faces"

            That depends on how you preach. Preach like Christ, Paul and Peter, then you won't have that problem.

            "who does not actually love everyone"

            Scripture says He does, and sends rain on the wicked and the righteous alike. It also says, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will. … No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him." I'm not going to reconcile it by ignoring a load of Scripture. There's a much more logical way of doing so.

            "I find it amazing that hyper-Calvinists can wrap yourself with a doctrine that contains so many logical contradictions"

            But why be so arrogantly condescending, and angry about a calm discussion?

          • "it's a volitional decision, and consequently a work. "

            This statement validates what I stated above. So you've failed in your efforts to show how faith is not regarded as a work (by anyone, perhaps you misunderstood that initially) under Calvinism. Also, faith's definition relies on volitional will being employed, otherwise the word looses its meaning and we are talking about something else.

            "The controversy has more to do with what freedom is. We see man as either in law, or in grace;"

            So do we, so your statement is a red herring. In both cases, however, man is free to choose. Whether to follow the law or whether to accept grace.

            "for whatsoever is not of faith is sin"

            Everyone, including the atheist employs faith. What they place their faith in is the question. In this case that faith must be placed in Christ or else their works (which are good, btw, just not enough to merit their salvation as they remain condemned since their works cannot repay the debt they have incurred).

            "then they will ONLY choose to reject Christ."

            Except for those of us who didn't/don't. Sorry, readily accessible evidence of believers who have chosen to trust

            "Why is God praised for doing good?"

            He isn't. He is praised for being holy. He is not praised for what he does, he is praised for who He is.

            "That depends on how you preach."

            No, it depends on what you preach. And Jesus preached that He came to die because He loved all men and desired all men to be saved. He did not lie, no matter what the doctrines of men teach.

            "But why be so arrogantly condescending, and angry about a calm discussion?"

            The tone of the discussion has nothing to do with the intellectual dishonesty displayed by you when it comes to recognizing and addressing the biblical and logical contradictions inherent within your man-made theological framework.

          • "Also, faith's definition relies on volitional will being employed, otherwise the word looses its meaning and we are talking about something else."

            But that means it's man's effort. Therefore, you see it as a work. The Scripture says we are born not by willing or running.

            "So do we, so your statement is a red herring. In both cases, however, man is free to choose. Whether to follow the law or whether to accept grace."

            If you see this as a red herring, I don't think you've understood me. If anyone is in Adam, they will be condemned for their sins. If anyone is in Christ, they will not. If a man is in Adam, then good deeds and bad deeds are all sins; a man in Christ is finally free to do good deeds that aren't sins, since they are done according to faith in Christ. I don't believe in freedom in the sense of man's neutrality to do good or evil. The unbeliever isn't free to not sin. The believer is free to not sin (though he carries the flesh with him as in Rom. 7).

            "In this case that faith must be placed in Christ or else their works (which are good"

            They're good, but they're sin?

            "He isn't. He is praised for being holy. He is not praised for what he does, he is praised for who He is."

            Likewise, men go to heaven for who Christ makes them.

            "Except for those of us who didn't/don't. Sorry, readily accessible evidence of believers who have chosen to trust"

            Exactly. And how do they do that if they are dead in sin? That's what this discussion is about: how is it that men begin to have faith.

            "No, it depends on what you preach."

            However you want to say it. Christ's, Peter's, or Paul's preaching contained no lies, but lies are often on the lips of modern preachers.

            "The tone of the discussion has nothing to do with the intellectual dishonesty displayed by you when it comes to recognizing and addressing the biblical and logical contradictions inherent within your man-made theological framework. "

            You serious? I'm giving you the honest truth of what I think Scripture says. My man-made theological framework came from the New Testament. I suppose you're right if you mean, the man Christ Jesus. Since I'm being dead honest, I'm left to wonder who's actually intellectually honest here.

            Here's a little intellectual honesty: This all started with you denying that Reformed people believe one of their most basic doctrines; that is, that men are dead in sin. You didn't consult any reputable or notable Reformed work to make this claim. But, once I did, the core of your argument was undermined. As a consequence, you declare that I'm a liar.

          • "But that means it's man's effort."

            Here lies the real difference between hyper-Calvinists like yourself and those who hold to limited free will. We consider faith to be a volitional act (an indirectly volitional act) but not a work under the law that could be considered meritorious unto salvation. You see, faith has an object and that object is not necessarily of our own making. In the case of salvation, the object of our faith (Jesus) is wholly outside our control. Therefore it would be silly to consider our belief in Jesus to be a "work" as prescribed in the OT which is meritorious unto salvation.

            The closes you can come to substantiating such a claim is where Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. However to say that we are not called to do likewise is to miss the whole point of the NT, all it's authors and Jesus Himself.

            "If a man is in Adam, then good deeds and bad deeds are all sins"

            Including his good choice to provide bread and not a stone, a fish and not a snake to his sons? This is where your radical view of human depravity gets you into trouble because it is found to be utterly absurd upon close inspection. Men are able to do good without being saved. Including sinful men. Is that good meritorious unto salvation? No. But to say that an atheist who loves his wife and children is not good is intellectually dishonest and biblically wrong (see Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13).

            "And how do they do that if they are dead in sin?"

            Easy. 1 they are not dead in the brain-dead sense that hyper-Calvinists like yourself seem to think they are and 2. the Holy Spirit is at work in the world convicting and drawing all men to accept the free offer of grace found in Jesus Christ.

            "However you want to say it. Christ's, Peter's, or Paul's preaching contained no lies, but lies are often on the lips of modern preachers."

            They also invited whosoever wills to accept Jesus. They preached to crowds of men, many of whom refused to believe. You are right in saying that they did not lie, but you miss the point that their invitation to accept Christ was universal, made to all men. They did not lie in their presentation of the gospel because it was a genuine offer to all men even though many willingly rejected it.

            "My man-made theological framework came from the New Testament."

            Then why does it rest on creeds that came long after the New Testament was written? Creeds that were not designed to mark a distinction between Christians and non-Christians but creeds that were designed explicitly to subdivide the Body of Christ.

            "This all started with you denying that Reformed people believe one of their most basic doctrines; that is, that men are dead in sin."

            I never denied this. I merely shows how such a doctrine collides head on with logic and reason. How such a notion that man is brain-dead is in clear contradiction with the notion of faith unless one redefines faith to mean something other than what the rest of the worlds means when they use the term. You yourself have validated this position twice now. In a previous comment and again at the beginning of this comment. Your stubborn refusal to employ the brain God has given you amazes me. I wish I could utter some incoherent nonsense in the form of God blinding your eyes to the truth. But the truth is that you have a will that is free whether you like it or not, whether it agrees with your doctrine or not. So your refusal to accept the evidence or logical conclusions is due to no one other than yourself. God did not program you to maintain illogical beliefs, you freely chose to do that yourself. As have all other hyper-Calvinists throughout history.

          • "The closes you can come to substantiating such a claim…"

            But the whole idea of a reductio ad absurdum is that the conclusion can't be substantiated by the truth.

            "This is where your radical view of human depravity gets you…"

            I'm fairly comfortable going out on this limb because the Apostles and Prophets are out here with me. Your grammatically impossible interpretation of Mt. 7:11, has long ago been exploded beyond any hope of further use.

            "1 they are not dead in the brain-dead sense that hyper-Calvinists like yourself seem to think they are and"

            Not even actual hyper-Calvinists think anyone is brain dead.

            "the Holy Spirit is at work in the world convicting and drawing all men to accept the free offer of grace found in Jesus Christ."

            The Bible says that whomever the Father draws will be able to come to Christ, and Christ will raise up everyone who is able at the last day. It also says many are called, but few are chosen.

            "They also invited whosoever wills to accept Jesus. "

            Indeed they did, by commanding them to repent and be baptised for the remission of sins. Omni-benevolence hadn't been invented yet.

            "Then why does it rest on creeds that came long after the New Testament was written?"

            It doesn't, but if you're going to argue with Reformed doctrine, you'd do well to look at the creeds since they summarize what Reformed people believe. In reality, the creeds are very handy, because they agreed with me about what Scripture says. I got along without them for a couple years before I knew they existed. Seeing they agreed with Scripture, I said to myself, "Self, these are handy summaries of your beliefs."

            "I never denied this."

            But observe how you deny it again in the next two sentences.

            "How such a notion that man is brain-dead is in clear contradiction with the notion of faith unless one redefines faith to mean something other than what the rest of the worlds means when they use the term."

            How ironic that no Reformed person believes this. For a further study on what Reformed people believe about being dead in sin, see Romans, particularly 1 through 6.

            "But the truth is that you have a will that is free whether you like it or not"

            It's not a matter of whether I like it. I'm in the image of God; I'm not an original in any way, therefore there's no LFW. Moreover, the Scripture repeatedly asserts reality on the matter of human freedom, even in the face of humanist requirements for responsibility.

          • Wait a minute… another problem:

            "to hold a man culpable for something he has no control over and never has had control over is, quite simply, morally wrong. Is this something we invented? No, Abraham Himself says of God "surely the king of all righteousness will do what is right".

            This passage has no bearing whatever on the matter of why those of Sodom and Gomorrah are responsible for their actions. We know now that there were not 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 righteous. We, who have the New Testament, should understand that the whole city was found to be not in Christ.

          • I think you missed the whole point of that reference. The point was that Abraham knew God's character and therefore knew he had room to bargain with God accordingly. The main point here is that Abraham knew God would not destroy the city of he found any righteous men in it, something hyper-Calvinism rejects with the notion that God can "do whatever He pleases".

          • But Abraham didn't judge God's metaphysics as to why their held responsible.

          • The point is that Abraham knew that God was Holy and consistent. From that Abraham knew God's intention to destroy Soddom and Gomorrah had to fit within the boundaries of his revealed revelation. In other words, he couldn't take the escapist route of saying "its just a mystery how God could perform an act contrary to what I already know of Him".

            This is not the case when it comes to Calvinism where we are asked to disregard (or interpert in such a way that makes such a plain reading impossible) revelation that clearly tells us that God loves the whole world, died for the same, and wishes the whole world to be saved.

            We are also asked, in the man-made theological framework of Calvinism, to believe that God causes (not just uses) evil even when we have many places in scripture which explicitly contradict this concept.

          • This whole passage is still a complete red herring. It doesn't say anything about "brute fact" freedom.

  3. I view you're article as being on the money

  4. Just as we cannot assist in our physical birth, we likewise are unable to assist in our spiritual birth. Being born physically is not in our control, and we have no say in whether we are born physically or spiritually.

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