Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jason Brown vs. John Gill

Jason Brown, Hardshell apologist, has once again begun to respond to our writings on hardshellism, after a long hiatus. He has made now three rebuttal postings. See here. I have been out of town visiting my dad, a Hardshell elder, and am now back home. In this posting I will be responding to Jason's posting "Garrett's Response 2.1." In this posting Jason is once again back at attempting to show how Gill was a Hardshell on the subject of regeneration, but again has failed in his attempt. Yet, he is inconsistent for he has admitted in previous writings how he agreed with me in affirming that Gill had not "changed his mind" on the subject of means in regeneration, a charge that Elder John R. Daily first made in his debate with Elder W. P. Throgmorton. I proved that this charge was false and Jason agreed that John Gill did not change his mind, did not teach a different view in his Body of Divinity and in his Cause of God and Truth from what he had taught in his Commentary. I commended Jason for this admission. Interesting is the fact that I just finished reading Elder Harold Hunt's book on the London Confession and noticed how Hunt repeated the same error, affirming that Gill had changed his mind and no longer taught means in regeneration in his Body of Divinity. I hope Jason will help me to correct men like Hunt on this point. By the way, I plan in the future to write a review of Hunt's book.

But, though Jason agrees that Gill did not change his mind, and affirms that Gill taught means in regeneration in all his works, he nevertheless now wants to try to say that Gill believed that there are two kinds of regeneration, one "immediate" and that occurs apart from the gospel, and one "mediate," and that occurs through the gospel. For those chapters on "Gill and the Hardshells" see chapters 58-65 at hardshellism.blogspot.com.

In the post I am now reviewing, Jason said:

"In my original post, I noted that John Gill, in his Body of Divinity, Book 6, chapter 11, gave credence to interpretations of James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:25, and 1 Corinthians 4:15 that is consistent with Primitive Baptist views on these texts."

I have shown this to be false and have no need to repeat it. Jason is being stubborn and hard-headed, "hardshell" traits, in refusing to acknowledge his error on Gill. Gill did not "give credence to" Hardshell views on these verses. He affirmed that these passages dealt with regeneration and that the gospel and word of God was the means, and Gill specifically says that the "word of God" and "word of truth" in James 1: 18 and I Peter 1: 23-25 WAS NOT CHRIST. Jason is blinded by his own prejudice in refusing to acknowledge this. If "give credence to" denotes endorsement, then Gill clearly did not do so!

Jason wrote:

"Garrett has argued that PB views of these texts were invented by them around 1832 in the context of the Missionary debate among the Baptists, and that no Baptist theologian before the early 1800's can be cited espousing the doctrine of immediate regeneration."

Yes, and Jason has not shown that this is false. He has not brought forth anyone who believed that the passages in question were not talking about regeneration or quickening and that the word of God and the gospel were not the gospel. But, he is trying to say that Gill proves it, and yet this is a falsehood, and anyone who is not blinded by Hardshell cultic prejudice can see it. Even if I admit, simply for the sake of argument, that Jason is correct about Gill's views, who else can he name? Surely if Gill taught it, then Jason can find many others who taught the "Spirit alone" view. What about John Brine, a close associate of Gill? Will Jason say that Brine taught that men were born again apart from the means of the gospel, apart from faith in Christ and the gospel? We will see!

Besides, it is not crucial to our debate to find some Baptist who taught that initial "regeneration" occurred apart from the preaching of the gospel, for his Hardshell forefathers all taught this. However, those same men taught that being "born again" was distinct from "regeneration" and that the latter was 1) the birth of John 3: 3-5, I Cor. 4: 15, James 1: 18, I Peter 1: 23-25, and in those many other verses dealing with the divine "begetting," and 2) that this "birth" was necessary for going to heaven and being eternally saved. So, they denied hardshellism, a view that does not make "regeneration" to be distinct from "birth," and that does not make conversion by the gospel to be the "birth," and necessary for salvation. Will Jason agree with his Hardshell founding fathers that though "regeneration" may not be by the means of the gospel, yet the new birth and eternal salvation are by means of it? Jason is not "primitive" to disagree with either Gill or his own Hardshell founding fathers, not to mention the 17th century London confessions. Jason, was initial regeneration (narrow theological definition) sufficient for being eternally saved, according to Gill and the founding fathers of hardshellism?

Jason wrote:

"Gill plainly states at the beginning of Book 6, "Regeneration may be considered either more largely, and then it includes with it effectual calling, conversion, and sanctification: or more strictly, and then it designs the first principle of grace infused into the soul; which makes it a fit object of the effectual calling, a proper subject of conversion, and is the source and spring of that holiness which is gradually carried on in sanctification, and perfected in heaven.""

Is regeneration no part of effectual calling? Gill, using the narrow definition of "regeneration," as used by Calvinist theologians in Gill's day, does not believe that it was any part of "effectual calling." Did Gill believe 1) that a "regeneration" apart from "effectual calling" was sufficient for being eternally saved? and 2) that "regeneration," in the broad definition, was not necessary for going to heaven? and 3) that this initial "regeneration" was the same "regeneration" under discussion in the many new testament passages dealing with being regenerated, born again, or effectually called?

It is a fact that Andrew Fuller, whom the Hardshells love to despise, taught the same view of the founding fathers of hardshellism! He believed in two kinds of "regeneration," the first being apart from the gospel and faith, and the second being through the gospel, and that the former automatically and instantaneously produced the latter.

Gill, in the citation referenced by Jason, wherein he gives two kinds of "regeneration," is not giving HIS view or the view of scripture, which knows nothing of two kinds of "regeneration," but he is giving what is the view given in theological works by Calvinists in Gill's own time. Gill cites no scripture to show that certain passages, dealing with "regeneration" (being spiritually born or quickened), were referring to the narrowly defined kind of "regeneration."

Jason wrote:

"Gill outlines (in his Body of Divinity, section of "Regeneration," and in the citation given by Jason and which we have discussed) immediate regeneration or the infusion of a principle of grace here as distinct from gospel conversion - a model of regeneration preceding gospel faith. This distinction is similar to the distinction made by Beebe and Trott. The point is, however, that the doctrine of immediate regeneration plainly pre-dates 1832 by a century at least (Gill 1697-1771). Garrett's view of Baptist history is not accurate."

Yes, Gill mentions the view that breaks up "regeneration" into two parts, but where is the proof that Gill 1) believed in such a distinction and division, or 2) that the scriptures taught such?

Gill did not view "conversion" as being "separate" from "regeneration," or that the latter could exist without the former. That is the point! Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that Gill allowed that "regeneration," in the narrowly defined sense, occurred BEFORE "conversion," how does this prove 1) that he believed that conversion was not necessary for being born again or quickened? or 2) that he did not believe that one must be converted as well as regenerated to be eternally saved? Many "Reformed" Calvinists, like Andrew Fuller and James White, believe that "regeneration" logically precedes "conversion," but they did not believe that it preceded it chronologically!

If Jason does not agree with Gill, Fuller, Beebe, Trott, et als, that regeneration, in the broadly defined sense, is necessary to be eternally saved, or born again and quickened, how can he claim to be "primitive"? Let Jason show us anyone in the Baptist ranks, prior to the rise of the Hardshells, who believed that broadly defined regeneration, or conversion, or being born again, was not necessary to be eternally saved! Can he do it? Will he? If he cannot, ought not his case for being "primitive" be summarily dismissed? Garrett's view of Baptist and Hardshell history is correct, for I can cite all kinds of people who believed in gospel means, prior to the rise of the Hardshells, but Jason can produce none. Jason's view of history is what is incorrect, and he holds it in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, which shows that he is brainwashed by the Hardshell "cult," and owes more loyalty to the cult's teachings than to either the scriptures or the teachings of his forefathers.

Certainly Gill saw a distinction between the words "regeneration" and "conversion," just like he saw a distinction between "regeneration" and "quickening," but the crux question is this - "did he make them separate?" Distinct yes, but separate, no. As I shall presently show from Gill's writings, he believed that "regeneration" or being "born again" was the same as being "quickened," or being made spiritually alive. So, though Gill may have spoken about the theological definition of "regeneration," he nevertheless did not believe that this narrowly defined "regeneration" was the "quickening." Thus, he would never say that the initial or first stage of "regeneration" made people spiritually alive! According to Gill, sinners are not quickened until they are regenerated in the broadly defined sense.

Jason wrote:

"Now, he will be quick to point out that most modern PB's differ from Gill, Beebe, and Trott by insisting that gospel conversion does not necessarily immediately follow regeneration, but that is a separate issue from the matter of gospel instrumentality in all phases of regeneration. Garrett is clearly wrong to insist that no Baptist theologians before 1832 believed in the doctrine of immediate regeneration."

Jason here admits that he is not a "primitive" Baptist! He says that the Baptists mentioned did not teach hardshellism's key features! Jason and the Hardshells do not believe that conversion immediately follows regeneration! A fundamental issue! And yet he claims to be an old or original Baptist! His Hardshell creed affirms that one need not be converted to Christ, need not come to Christ, need not have faith in Christ, to be eternally saved!

I never affirmed that no Baptist taught that the first step in regeneration was immediate! What I have said is that all Baptists have taught that regeneration cannot exist apart from faith in Christ by the gospel, that they are concurrent, and that regeneration, in the broadly defined sense, was necessary to be eternally saved. Some old Baptists, like Fuller, Beebe, and Trott, and some Presbyterians, like W. T. Shedd, did teach that the first stage of regeneration was immediate, and apart from the gospel, but they also believed that regeneration, in the broadly defined sense, was the kind of regeneration often taught in scripture as necessary for final salvation. That is the point!

Jason mentions "phases of regeneration." First, where do the scriptures speak of phases of regeneration or of being born or quickened? Second, where do the scriptures or the old Baptist writers affirm that only the first initial stage was all that was required for being eternally saved? Third, where do the scriptures, or the old Baptist fathers and confessions, affirm there to be a gap in time between the two phases of regeneration?

Jason wrote:

"But, it needs to be pointed out that Gill did not view the gospel call as irresistible, as he states in Book 6, "...then faith comes by hearing, and ministers are instruments by whom, at least, men are encouraged to believe...""

Who ever affirmed that the gospel call was, by itself, sufficient for regeneration or irresistible? Besides the Campellites? Jason is creating a straw man here. Gill always taught that the gospel call was irresistible when made internal by the accompaniment of the Spirit and his power. Gill did not believe in the "word alone" view (campbellism) nor the "Spirit alone" view (hardshellism). Gill is not denying that the gospel was a means! Jason has already admitted that Gill taught means! He is trying to make the great doctor to contradict himself!

It is interesting how Gill, in the above citation, which Jason takes out of context, says that men, all men, unbelievers, are to be "encouraged" to believe! Is that what Jason and his Hardshells believe? No!

Let me cite once again the words from that disputed section of Gill's Body of Divinity ("Of Regeneration"), words which follow the section Jason and the Hardshells say taught Hardshell views.

"Though after all it seems plain, that the ministry of the word is the vehicle in which the Spirit of God conveys himself and his grace into the hearts of men; which is done when the word comes not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost; and works effectually, and is the power of God unto salvation; then faith comes by hearing, and ministers are instruments by whom, at least, men are encouraged to believe: "received ye the Spirit", says the apostle, "by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith": (Gal. 3:2), that is, by the preaching of the law, or by the preaching of the gospel? by the latter, no doubt."

Gill here gives what he believes is the teaching of scripture on regeneration. He defines regeneration as the receiving of the Spirit of God and his grace into the heart. He believes that regeneration, so defined, is by the means of the gospel being believed! These words show that Gill did not believe that "regeneration," narrowly defined, is where the Spirit and grace of God were received!

Jason wrote:

"He is looking at these passages in a broad and narrow sense that he defined. What this means, of course, is that Gill did not view James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:25, or 1 Cor. 4:15 as supporting gospel regeneration in the narrow sense in which Garrett espouses and declares as historically substantiated."

That is false! Gill defined the "begetting" of these passages as dealing with a narrowly theologically defined sense! Besides, the main issue is this - did Gill believe that any of the initially regenerated would not instantaneously be broadly regenerated at the same time? That is what Jason needs to do! He needs to show that Gill omitted first stage regeneration from the above passages!

On I Cor. 4: 15 Gill wrote:

"...which is to be understood of regeneration, a being born again, and from above; of being quickened when dead in trespasses and sins; of having Christ formed in the soul; of being made a partaker of the divine nature, and a new creature..."

Gill equated being "begotten," in the passage, with being regenerated, with being born again, and with being quickened from the dead.  So, since he says that this "begetting" is accomplished via the gospel, then he believed that sinners were "quickened" by the gospel, and thus Jason is in a hard spot. First, because if he makes this "quickening" birth to be the first stage kind of "regeneration," then he must affirm that Gill taught means in the first stage!  Second, if he makes Gill to refer to a broadly defined second stage of "regeneration," then he must say that Gill believed that one who was only narrowly "regenerated" was not yet spiritually alive or in possession of the Holy Spirit!

On this passage Gill also wrote:  

"...he preached Christ unto them, and salvation by him, and the necessity of faith in him; he directed them to him to believe in him, and was the means of bringing of them to the faith of Christ; and it was the power and grace of Christ accompanying his ministry, which made it an effectual means of their regeneration and conversion..."

Notice that Gill couples regeneration and conversion together, and affirms that they are incapable of being divorced.  Notice also that he says that "regeneration," which he defines as being the same as being "quickened," is by the means of the gospel preached!  Jason needs to throw away his bias and dishonesty and accept what Gill says.  He needs to throw away his cult's blinders. 

Gill commented further:

"...no regeneration, no quickening grace, no faith nor holiness come this way, but through the preaching of the Gospel; in and through which, as a vehicle, the Spirit of God conveys himself into the heart, as a spirit of regeneration and faith..."

Will Jason say that Gill is talking about the first stage of regeneration here?  Or of the second stage?  Either way he has serious and absurd consequences to deal with!  I can't wait to see what he will do.  I will be praying that God will remove his bias.

On James 1: 18 Gill wrote:

"Of his own will begat he us...The apostle instances in one of those good and perfect gifts, regeneration...it is done at once; there are no degrees in it...is born again, at once...no one is more regenerated than another, or the same person more regenerated at one time than at another...it is called a being born from above, in Joh 3:3...who in it produces light, in darkness, and whose gifts of grace bestowed along with it...This act of begetting here ascribed to God, is what is elsewhere called a begetting again, that is, regeneration; it is an implantation of new principles of light and life, grace and holiness, in men; a quickening of them, when dead in trespasses and sins; a forming of Christ in their souls; and a making them partakers of the divine nature...Earthly parents cannot beget in this sense; nor ministers of the word, not causally, but only instrumentally, as they are instruments and means, which God makes use of..."

Nothing could be clearer, from these words, than the fact that GILL DENIED THE IDEA OF TWO KINDS OR STAGES OF REGENERATION!  If he believed that there were two kinds of regeneration, then he would not affirm that one could not be more regenerated than another!  If one man has been regenerated only in a narrow sense, and another has been regenerated in a broad sense, then one could say that one is regenerated more than the other!  Isn't this clear?  He does not even believe that the same person can be more regenerated at one time than at another time!  But, if he believed in two kinds of "regeneration," then he could not say such!

Notice also how Gill says that the birth of the passage in Peter 1) was the same as being quickened from spiritual death, and 2) was accomplished by the preaching of the gospel.

On I Peter 1: 23, in regard to being "born again by the word of God," Gill wrote:

"...and here added, to show that he can give power and efficacy to his word, to regenerate and quicken..."

John Gill again equates this being "born again" with both "regeneration" and with "quickening."  Is this first or second stage regeneration, brother Jason? 

John Gill, in the section "Of Regeneration," said -

"God the Son has also a concern in regeneration...he quickens whom he will, as the Father does; and it is through his powerful voice in the gospel, that the dead in sin hear and live...with the word of God, and is true both of Christ, and of the Gospel...The Gospel...points out the way of life and salvation to sinners; and is a means of quickening dead sinners, and of ingenerating that faith by which men live on Christ..."

Gill says, in the section:

"It is expressed by being "born again", which regeneration properly signifies...It is called a being "born from above", for so the phrase in John 3:3, 7 may be rendered; the apostle James says in general, that "every good and every perfect gift is from above"; and regeneration being such a gift, must be from above; and indeed he particularly instances in it, for it follows, "of his own will begat he us with the word of truth" (James 1:17, 18)... It is commonly called the new birth, and with great propriety...Regeneration is expressed by being quickened...The instrumental cause of regeneration, if it may be so called, are the word of God, and the ministers of it; hence regenerate persons are said to be "born again by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Pet. 1:23), and again, "of his own will begat he us with the word of truth" (James 1:18)..."

Again, I ask - is Gill referring to initial regeneration or full regeneration?  Does he not equate this "regeneration" with being "quickened"?  Does he not say that sinners are "quickened" by the preaching of the gospel? 

Notice these other comments of Gill where he equates that "regeneration" which is "by the word preached" with being "quickened."

"...for regeneration, and not sanctification, is signified by quickening, which quickening occurs when the Spirit of God first takes up his dwelling in the soul..." (commentary on Rom. 8: 11)

"Regeneration, as it is a time of life when men are quickened..." (Body of Divinity "Of Regeneration")

In commenting upon Jesus' words in John 6: 63 - "the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life," Gill wrote:

"...the doctrines which Christ had then been delivering concerning himself, his flesh and blood, being spiritually understood, are the means of quickening souls. The Gospel, and the truths of it, which are the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, are the means of conveying the Spirit of God, as a spirit of illumination and sanctification, into the hearts of men, and of quickening sinners dead in trespasses and sins: the Gospel is the Spirit that giveth life, and is the savour of life unto life, when it comes not in word only, or in the bare ministry of it, but with the energy of the Holy Ghost, and the power of divine grace."

In commenting upon Ezekiel 47: 9 Dr. Gill said:

"...but the Gospel, and its doctrines, are rather intended; which are the means of quickening those who are dead in trespasses and sins..." 

In commenting upon Psalm 119: 50, "thy word hath quickened me," Dr. Gill wrote:

"for thy word hath quickened me; not only had been the means of quickening him when dead in sin, as it often is the means of quickening dead sinners, being the savour of life unto life..."

Jason wrote:

"Consistency with what Primitive Baptists teach today is not clearly and consistently seen in the London Confession or in the writings of Gill..."

Jason says this and yet tries to show how Gill is in fact consistent with Hardshell teachings!  Is he not speaking out of both sides of his mouth?

Does Gill teach two kinds of "quickening"?

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