Monday, October 31, 2011

Thus Saith Brown

Jason Brown, my Hardshell opponent, wrote:

"Gill is simply arguing here that a separation between the work of the spirit apart from the word does not readily appear from Scripture, not that such a separation is not logically necessary."

This is a good confession by Jason. I am glad that he agrees that Gill recognized that the "two kinds of regeneration" view is not apparent from scripture. It is good that he acknowledges that Gill looked at the issue "logically" in one case and scripturally in another case, and that Gill took the view that corresponded to clear scriptures rather than that view which accorded most with human logic.

Jason wrote:

"Gill argues that regeneration logically precedes gospel faith in the context of regeneration broadly defined."

Then Gill cannot be said to have preached that "regeneration preceded faith" as "regeneration" is talked about in scripture. Besides, even if Gill accepted the idea of a certain kind of pre-faith "regeneration," he nevertheless did not believe that strict "regeneration" preceded faith chronologically.

Jason wrote:

"Where did Gill clearly state in this context that the strict view of regeneration was not his own?"

He did this in context when he said "although it is clear that the scriptures say that sinners are regenerated by the gospel." (paraphrase) It is also clear from the fact that he elsewhere said that one cannot be more regenerated than another, and that a person cannot be more regenerated tomorrow than today. Thirdly, it is clear from the fact that he interpreted all the verses dealing with regeneration, being born again, and with being quickened and possessed of the Spirit, as dealing with conversion, or regeneration broadly and scripturally defined. Fourth, in all Gill's commentary on such verses, he never said "this limited kind of regeneration is under consideration, and not broadly defined regeneration." Fifth, he said that biblical regeneration was the same as being born again, quickened, or being indwelt by the Spirit. If Gill accepted the narrow definition of regeneration as biblical, then he would be affirming that the bible taught a kind of regeneration that did not include a man's being quickened, or born again, or indwelt by the Spirit.

Jason wrote:

"Obviously he is avoiding the contradiction of Garrett of giving equal primacy to Word and Spirit in the creative act, which cannot be construed from Gill here."

Neither Gill nor myself ever argued for "equal primacy" between the word and Spirit. That is a straw man. Certainly the Spirit, or agent, is greater than the agency or instrument. So, that is not the issue! The issue is this - has God chosen the means of his word to regenerate sinners? What did Gill say in numerous places? Further, I address the Hardshell argument about God not using instruments in creation and resurrection in my book on the Hardshells. Did God use the apostles and prophets to raise the dead? Is resurrection not a creation? Was God's word not a means in creation? Is a person not created when he is born? Did Gill not say that the scriptures taught that the word of God was a means in being born?

Jason wrote:

"Gill is not consistent with Primitive Baptists today that assert that God regenerates apart from the word, but Gill is consistent with Primitive Baptists in viewing the Spirit's primacy in the creation of the new man."

Again, I am glad that Jason admits that Gill never taught Hardshell views on regeneration. Further, as I said, all agree that the Spirit has the primacy in regeneration, just as a doctor has primacy over the scalpel in surgery.

Jason wrote:

"I point out to the reader that, though Garrett affirms regeneration is by both Word and Spirit, he does not view the Word as preached only by man, he views the word as also preached directly by God per Gal. 3:8 and 1 Thess. 4:9. The New Testament does not grant the liberty to affirm that the word as preached by man is necessary for the new creation of God in regeneration. Gill's commentary on this text allows for this logically as well."

The fact that Garrett believes that the gospel that regenerates men has been sometimes preached by the Lord himself offers no support for Hardshellism. Many were saved by the personal preaching of Jesus, just like Abraham was by the preaching of God himself. But, this is still not regeneration apart from the preaching of the gospel! But, I never affirmed that the gospel, in all cases, had to be preached by man. Elder Sylvester Hassell was asked - "Q. Will any persons be saved unless the gospel is preached to them?" He said - "Jesus is the Great Preacher, and, by His omnipresent Spirit, He preaches His gospel savingly to His people (Isa. 61:1-3,10,11; Luke 4:16-30; Heb. 2:11,12; Psalm 110:3)."

Jesus may do this preaching personally, as he did when here in the flesh, or do it through his earthly messengers. The former is not the general or ordinary way as is the latter. Still, Christ must be preached before anyone can "believe" in him as Paul affirmed.

Jason wrote:

"I want to demonstrate that Gill's view of Eternal Justification is not consistent with viewing an intellectual, gospel faith as synonymous with the faith given in regeneration."

It is absolutely a falsehood to say that Gill affirmed that gospel faith was not produced in regeneration. Jason has not shown where Gill taught this. He ever taught that a regenerated man was a believing man. I have shown this to be true from numerous citations from Gill. Also, Gill did not believe that there was such a kind of saving faith that did not have Christ and the gospel for its object. I have cited Gill in which he says this very thing. Let Jason cite passages from Gill where he said that saving faith did not involve an intelligent and cognitive faith in Christ.

As to whether Gill's doctrine of eternal justification is consistent with his view about faith and regeneration is a matter I am willing to discuss. I do not find Gill inconsistent. But, I will reply to this point in another entry and incorporate what Jason said in a postscript addenda to Gill and to the doctrine of eternal justification and its relation to faith and salvation.

Jason wrote:

"First, Gill did not view the faith given in regeneration to be the means of conferring justification or the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Gill did not view the faith of regeneration to be unto eternal life, or the basis of the vital union between Christ and the elect. Rather, it was an evidence of the elect's eternal Justification in Jesus Christ."

However, here is what Dr. Gill said:

" is a means of apprehending and receiving righteousness; it views the excellency of Christ's righteousness; it owns the sufficiency of it; the soul by it renounces its own righteousness, submits to Christ's, rejoices in it, and gives him the glory of it: now this is by, or through faith... a justifying righteousness, which is said to be "unto", and "upon them"; that is, it is appointed, provided, and wrought out for them, and directed and applied unto them, and put upon them as a garment, and that upon all of them." (Commentary on Rom. 3: 22)

Gill did not believe that "faith was unto eternal life"? Jason is totally ignorant of Gill or purposely misrepresenting him. On John 6: 53 Dr. Gill wrote:

"But the words design a spiritual eating of Christ by faith. To eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ, is to believe that Christ is come in the flesh, and is truly and really man; that his flesh is given for the life of his people, and his blood is shed for their sins, and this with some view and application to themselves: it is to partake of, and enjoy the several blessings of grace procured by him, such as redemption, pardon, peace, justification and such a feeding upon him as is attended with growth in grace, and in the knowledge of him, and is daily to be repeated, as our corporeal food is, otherwise persons have no life in them: without this there is no evidence of life in them...only such that believe in Christ are living souls; and without this there is nothing to support life; everything else that a man eats tends to death; but this is what will maintain and preserve a spiritual life; and without this there is no just expectation of eternal life; but where there is this, there is good reason to expect it, and such shall enjoy it."

Further, I have already responded to Jason's wording about faith being "the basis of" salvation and justification, how this was a straw man. The question is - is it a means for receiving and experiencing this salvation and justification?

Further, Jason reasons falsely about faith being only an evidence of eternal justification and therefore not a requirement for receiving this justification. Is regeneration not an evidence of eternal justification? Can it not be, at the same time, the way justification and righteousness are received and applied?

Jason said:

"...nor is it a "causa sine qua non", as the case of elect infants shows; it is not in any class of causes whatever; but it is the effect of justification..."

The "case of infants" shows no such thing! Where is the proof that infants are saved apart from faith and repentance? Did John the Baptist not leap from joy of faith while in his mother's womb?

What kind of "effect" is it? Is it not a necessary effect? What if I said that spiritual life was also an "effect" of regeneration? Does that mean that it is not a certain, instantaneous, effect?

Jason wrote, still citing Dr. Gill:

"...but by faith men have a comfortable sense, perception and apprehension of their justification, and enjoy that peace of soul which results from it; it is by that only, under the testimony of the divine Spirit, that they know their interest in it, and can claim it, and so have the comfort of it."

Notice that Gill does not believe that any can "claim" to be regenerated and justified who is not a believer! Gill believed that justification was "received by faith." Real enjoyment of justification, the actual receiving of it, is by faith.

Jason wrote:

"Gill plainly uses 2 Timothy 2:13 to prove that regenerate children of God, lacking some measure or confidence of intellectual faith, are nevertheless possessors of the imputed righteousness of Christ, which Gill also allows in his commentary on this text."

But, I have already shown this to be false.

Jason wrote:

"Sure sounds like a "Hardshell" here! Most Primitive Baptists teach this Eternal view of Justification."

But, it does not sound like Hardshellism to me! Jason is guilty of having selective perception as to what he hears.

That is fine for Hardshells to teach a kind of eternal justification, but it is not fine for them to teach that unbelievers are eternally, or in time, justified. Justification removes the wrath of God, but unbelievers, said John, have the "wrath of God abiding" on them. (John 3: 36)

Jason wroter:

"Now, of course, Gill taught that the elect would be regenerated and effectually called in time by the gospel."

Then, why all the debate about Gill and his endorsing of Hardshell views?

Jason wrote:

"But it is not clear to me at all how his doctrine here squares with his views of the nature of the faith implanted at the effectual call and the nature of the faith persevered. Gill at times seems to clearly assert a gospel, intellectual faith as necessary to regeneration and perseverance, but that view is controverted both in the case of infants and the regenerate who are in a state of unbelief."

Here is more proof of how Jason represents Dr. Gill. Earlier he said that Gill did not believe that faith was necessary for obtaining eternal life! Yet now he says that Gill taught that faith was necessary for salvation!

As I said, Jason made another posting on Gill's view of eternal justification, and I will respond to that in another posting.

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