Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hays on Perseverance

Steve Hays, theologian and author at triablogue (see here) wrote the following rebuttal to an article titled "Unconditional eternal security" (written by Ben Crenshaw, Arminian).  (see here)

"In Calvinism, “eternal security” is conditional, not unconditional. It’s contingent on the “perseverance” of the saints. In fact, that’s why it’s traditionally dubbed the “perseverance of the saints.” Subtle, I know.

In Calvinism, “eternal security” is contingent on sanctification, contingent on faith. Good works are a condition of salvation.

Of course, there’s a condition behind the condition. If “eternal security” is conditional on perseverance, then perseverance is conditional on God’s preservation of the elect. And that’s a sure thing."

This is in accordance with what I taught in my series on "Salvation - Conditional or Unconditional?"  It is both.

Watson on the Few

An issue inevitably affected in the conditional time salvation paradigm is the determination as to whether many or few shall be saved.  The accepted way under this teaching to harmonize these passages which speak of the saved as a small remnant (e.g. Matthew 7:13-14) as compared to those which suggest they are many, especially Rev. 5:9, is to make them each refer to a different salvation for a different group of people.  In short, many shall be saved with an eternal salvation, yet only a few will be saved with a temporal salvation.

Elder John Watson, however, handled the matter another way.  It’s a testimony to the vast difference between today’s school of thought and what prevailed prior to the origin of conditional time salvation that the elder was not dubious on this point, but addressed this issue at the very beginning of his work The Old Baptist Test.  That he was not afflicted with the categorical way of assigning a text to temporal or eternal based on numbers is proven by simply reading through the very first chapter.

Here are a few valuable thoughts from our Old Baptist forefather followed by a brief note showing where he differs from the evolved view of today.

Watson wrote:

As these topics will be fully discussed, I will at once quote some explanatory texts of Scripture in regard to them : 'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.'  'Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat.' MATT.vii : 13, 14.

Will only a few be saved ? is still a question which often comes up painfully in the Christian's heart in view of the many great religious inconsistencies of our times. Did we have the privilege, as did the Apostle, of asking the Saviour, Lord are there few that be saved? The answer doubtless would be the same ; at least in words of similar import. The Christian entertains this question, not merely from curiosity, but also with a solemn restraint to answer it as did the Saviour; besides it excites in his heart another question of the most profound personal interest: Am I one of that few ? The popular religious inconsistencies of the times in which we live constrain its often to examine and prove ourselves by the divine standard ; by which only a few are found to be real Christians. 2 Cor. xiii : 5. “

NOTE: And thus in the very first paragraph of his book, the elder references a text which is almost universally dropped in the time salvation bucket by his supposed descendants.  Watson correctly used Matthew 7:13-14 within the context of eternal salvation.  He also did not feel that the apostles inquired the Lord as to how many would get a time salvation.

Watson wrote:

"The blessed doctrine of election generally exasperates the "carnally minded;" and still more indeed when the great truth is proclaimed in it, that only a few are chosen! Matt, xx : 16 ; xxii : 14. Neither our judgment nor feelings are to be relied on here, we must submit to the teaching of the Lord, and acknowledge the revealed truth, that few there be that find the narrow way!"

NOTE:  Election mentioned in the same breath with the few! It’s important to note that Watson dismisses reliance upon our feelings to deny this fact.  This is a very profound statement.  It is our opinion that sentiments play a huge role in upholding the teaching of time salvation. The minds of its proponents have been conditioned over the years to view the overwhelming majority of the human race as regenerate children of God, and to pine for the salvation of those who are never brought to meet its necessary requirements.  No scheme of salvation will be accepted as true which does not find God winning the numbers game by a vast margin.

Watson wrote:

"Church history, when read by those who have an eye to contradistinguish the " few chosen" from the "many" who are only called externally, teaches us also that there are few who are Christians inwardly, compared to the many who are Christians only outwardly. How many more alas pertain to another gospel than those who belong to the true one. How few were saved between Abel and Noah, between Noah and Abraham, between Abraham and Christ, between Christ and the full development of Anti-Christ, between the decline of Anti-Christ, through the reformation and the present time. During these periods multitudes of outward worshippers existed; and since the day of Christ and the Apostles, their history has been much more fully written than that of the Lord's few hidden ones. Their history would abound in names and acts of which we have no account."

NOTE:  Watson says that the eye to distinguish the few from the many sees the former as truly regenerated and the latter as mere pretenders.  What an indictment on the evolved view today which has no such eye, and rather sees the many as being those who are “regenerate but not converted” and the few as that very small remnant within God’s elect who do become converted!

Watson's work may be read here:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Was Balaam Saved?

Elder Moore, a Hardshell Baptist, in delineating what "Primitive Baptists" believe, responded to questions.  (see here)

8. Do you not then teach that some might want salvation but could not have it because they are not one of the elect?

Answer: No, the man who wants salvation already HAS it.

I have cited others who have said the same thing in my book on "The Hardshell Baptist Cult."  Such a proposition makes men like Baalim a child of God, even though the Scriptures clearly affirm that he is one of them who will "perish."  (Jude 11)

Balaam said:

"Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"  (Num. 23: 10)

Looks like Balaam wanted to be saved, and by the logic of the Hardshells, this was enough to prove that Balaam was a born again child of God!  Who can believe it?

Efficient & Instrumental Causation

Stephen Charnock wrote, in his sermon "A Discourse of the Word, the Instrument of Regeneration," the following as it relates to the efficient and instrumental causes of regeneration.  These citations refute the argumentation of Jason Brown, Hardshell apologist, wherein he argued that the instrumental cause must be viewed as the efficient cause. 

"The Scripture does distinguish the efficient and instrumental cause by the prepositions "ek", or, "eks", and "dia". When we are said to be 'born of the Spirit,' it is, John iii. 5, "ek pneumatos"; 1 John iii. 9, v. 1, "ek Theou"; never "dia pneumatos", or "dia Theou:" but we are nowhere said to be born of the word, or begotten of the word, but "dia logou", by or with the word, 1 Peter i. 23; and "dia euangeliou", 1 Cor. iv. 15, I have begotten you 'through the gospel.' The preposition "ek" or "eks", usually notes the efficient or material cause; "dia", the instrumental or means by which a thing is wrought." 

"As God will have the mediation of his Son honoured in the whole progress and perfection of grace as the meritorious cause, the efficacy of the Spirit as the efficient cause, so he will have the word in every step to heaven honoured as the instrumental cause; that as Jesus Christ is all in all, as the chief, so the word may be all in all as the means. As God created the world by the word of his power, and by the word of his providence bid the creatures increase and multiply, so by the word of the gospel he lays the foundation, and rears the building, of his spiritual house." 

"Consider, as it is an instrument, so but an instrument. God begets by the word; the chief operation depends upon the Spirit of God. No sword can cut without a hand to manage it, no engine batter without a force to drive it. The Word is objective in itself, operative by the power of the Spirit; instrumental in itself, efficacious by the Holy Ghost. The Word of Christ is first spirit and then life. 'The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life,' John vi. 63...When it is received into the speculative understanding, it is a preparation to the new birth; when it is received into the practical understanding and will, it is the new birth...The Spirit immediately himself touches the soul, but by the word, as an instrument proposing the object, and drawing out the soul into an actual believing." 

"Some word or other was the instrument to beget you (I speak of people grown up). The apostle's interrogation is a strong negative. There is no believing without hearing, Rom. x. 14. Hearing goes before believing; he lays it down as a certain conclusion from his former arguing: 'So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' If you conclude yourselves new begotten, how came you by it? Is it by the word, or no? That is God's ordinary means. If you be not renewed by this, it is not likely you are renewed at all; no other instrument has God ordinarily appointed to this end. Afflictions may plough men for it, but the word is the only seed that renews the face of the earth. All false notions or presumptions of the new birth must be brought to this touchstone; it is a misshapen and monstrous birth, that is not by a seed of the same kind; the law in the heart has no seed of the same nature with it to engender it, but the law in the word, that word which we properly call gospel; the word of truth, not the word of philosophy, which is a word of uncertainty; God's word, not Plato's word." 

"The gospel, the word of truth, does much more than this: it is an instrument to beget a soul for God; an instrument whereby God makes himself our Father, and us his children. It is but an instrument; let not the glory be given to the instrument, but to the agent."  (see here)

John Gill, in commenting upon Romans 11: 14, asserts the same:

"The ministers of the Gospel may be said to save souls, not efficiently, for the author or efficient cause of salvation is God only; the Father has chose unto it, the Son has effected it, and the Spirit applies it; but instrumentally, as the word preached by them is the means of regeneration, faith, and conversion, with which salvation is connected: and as they show unto men the way of salvation, and encourage souls to believe in Christ, in whom alone it is."

Changed by Beholding

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."  (II Cor. 3: 18 NASV)

This is another verse that clearly shows that the Gospel and faith in it are the means for being transformed in regneration and progressively in sanctification.  The mirror is the Gospel and it is in the Gospel that the glory of the Lord is beheld.  (See also James 1: 22-25)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brown's Non-Sequiturs

Jason Brown, in his ongoing work in answering our writings against Hardshellism, wrote (see here):

"The saving degree of intellectual cognizance of faith in the elect is fundamentally equal among them."

This is a concession that we are glad to see from brother Brown.  He has previously argued that the "faith of God's elect," the faith that is produced in regeneration and necessary to final salvation, does not involve cognition or mental understanding of Gospel propositions.  Now, however, he argues that there is "intellectual cognizance" involved in the "faith" that saves.  But, Jason has regularly been given to doublespeak, of saying contradictory things. 

When he argues that this faith is "fundamentally equal among them," however, he is arguing contrary to what he has affirmed previously.  He has said that the faith of OT saints was inferior to the faith of NT saints.  Of course, what he probably means is that there is a bare common knowledge that they all possess.  Yet, he will not allow that this faith includes faith knowledge of Christ. 

R. V. Sarrels, Hardshell apologist, in his "Systematic Theology," argues that this common minimal knowledge excludes knowledge of Christ, affirming that the knowledge that all the elect possess, as a result of regeneration, is knowledge that there is a "god" who is Creator, Savior, and Lord, but yet does not necessarily have the God of Israel as its object.  By this definition, all except atheists may be viewed as "regenerated."  But, it is hard to debate with Jason on this because he attempts to have it both ways.  On one hand, he argues that faith in Christ, through the preaching of the Gospel by apostles and missionaries, is not necessary to be finally saved, but then, on the other hand, argues that faith in Christ, through the personal preaching of Christ, is necessary. 

I am glad that Jason disagrees with Sarrels.  But, he cannot deny that the view of Sarrels is the view that has been the view of nearly all Hardshells since the start of the twentieth century.  Brown has said that his view is the true Hardshell view and that men like Sarrels represent an aberrant view.  Yet, Jason can produce no Hardshell elder, in modern times, who agrees with him.  I challenge him to tell us who is preaching that all the elect will believe the Gospel, as preached by Christ.  Name the elders and churches who are teaching this today, will you brother Jason?  Recently Jason mentioned Elder David Pyles as one who is in agreement with him.  Does Sonny, David's dad, agree with him?  Who else agrees with him?  I have talked to my dad about all this and he says that the Primitive Baptists do not believe that faith in Christ is necessary to salvation.  Is David in league with the "liberal movement"?  Do those in the movement agree with David?

Brown wrote:

"Now, if this cognizance is defined as it should be, which is a rudimentary, spiritual perception of the the person of Christ, the requirement of some gospel knowledge by direct revelation of God is absolute, as in John 17:3."

In an e-mail, Brother Fralick wrote to me, saying:

"Just a word to say that I find Brown's remarks increasingly confusing.  He alternates between not hearing the gospel by man to hearing it by Christ when it is convenient for him, and pressed into a corner.

In his latest he speaks of a saving degree of faith being intellectual but that it does not involve propositional knowledge.

What?  Say that again?

Nothing can be intellectual upon which the mind has not first passed judgment by some proposition being presented unto it!  This would seem to me the equivalent of saying that the brain can receive something apart from the volition of the human will.

Jason needs to read Jonathan Edwards."

These comments by Kevin hit the proverbial nail on the head.  Jason avows that all those who are regenerated have a "rudimentary" and "spiritual perception" of the person of Christ, that "some gospel knowledge" is a "requirement."  But, he has argued previously that such a knowledge of Christ lacks any propositions!  Further, I have refuted such a notion, using Hebrews 11: 6 as proof, and yet Jason has ignored the refutation.  Two propositions are integral to faith.  He that comes to God must believe 1) that God is, 2) that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.  Let me add another proof that "faith" involves knowledge and acceptance of truth propositions.

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures..."  (I Cor. 15: 1-4)

Here the Gospel is defined as involving truth propositions and thus faith in the Gospel involves belief in the stated propositions. 

Jason again asserts what he calls "direct revelation," which he says is the result of Christ personally appearing to each of the elect and preaching the Gospel to him.  I have shown in previous posts how untenable is this idea.

Kevin also wrote:

"Brown at least confessed that his idea of saving faith is cognitive, writing:

"Now, if this cognizance is defined as it should be, which is a rudimentary, spiritual perception of the the person of Christ, the requirement of some gospel knowledge by direct revelation of God is absolute, as in John 17:3."

Brown is going against Michael Gowens on this point, who wrote:

"I do believe that all who are regenerated will and do have faith, but deny that the "faith" -- that is, the believing response to God -- is in all cases "cognitive" or "informed" faith -- for cognitive faith necessarily depends on hearing the rational proclamation of the gospel; rather, I do not hesitate to affirm that it is, in all cases, below the level of consciousness."

This demonstrates the confusion that exists among his brethren on this point.  Some, like Brown, want to contend for a non-evangelical yet cognitive faith in order to avoid gospel regeneration on one hand and hollow-log regeneration on the other.  Others, however, like Gowens contend for a faith below the level of consciousness.

Brown cannot flee to the direct preaching of Jesus for refuge in this case by claiming that Gowens had in view the gospel as being preached by man, for he writes that IN ALL CASES it is below the level on consciousness, and even cites the case of Lazarus to show that the "direct preaching" of Christ is itself below consciousness.

So does the direct preaching of Christ produce cognitive or subconscious faith?  Brown says the former; Gowens the latter."

Jason wants to say that men like Gowens represent an aberrant view of Hardshells, but he cannot prove this, though challenged to do so.  We know that Jason disagrees with Gowens, and possibly even David Pyles also disagrees with Gowens.  Jason cannot keep setting aside our citations from Hardshells on this without substituting citations of his own which show that Gowens speaks for a small aberrant faction.

Brown wrote:

"What has really been suggested, is that Garrett is forced to accept this spiritual standard of gospel knowledge to accommodate Hebrew 11:13, 39 and 40, and the logical consequence of admitting that the effectual call is by the efficient cause of the Spirit alone renders the acceptance of any gospel knowledge as the effect of the cause of the spirit's work."

What "spiritual standard of gospel knowledge"?  Jason has never told us what is this minimal "standard" knowledge!  Will he tell us?  It obviously, according to Jason, omits faith in the proposition that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  It omits any propositions contained in the Gospel!  According to Brown, the direct preaching by Christ does not teach as much as that Gospel preached by apostles! 

Jason does not accept the idea that there is such a thing as an "instrumental cause."  To him, the instrumental cause is the same as the efficient cause.  But, this is just plain ignorance, wilful or otherwise.  By his reasoning he must say that God is not the efficient cause of a believer's conversion!  His reasoning says that God cannot be the efficient cause of conversion since the Gospel is an instrument in affecting it.  The Gospel is the instrumental cause and the Holy Spirit is the efficient cause, just as the oldest Calvinists, including Baptists, have maintained.  But, Jason condemns them all, claiming to have superior understanding of these things than they had.

Certainly "acceptance of any gospel knowledge" is an "effect" of the work of the Spirit.  But, is it a necessary effect?  What saith his Hardshell brethren?  Do they all not deny that faith in Christ is an automatic effect?

Brown wrote:

"There are not two planes of salvific knowledge, such as the "before Christ" plane and the "after Christ" plane."

Okay, so what?  Does that fact prove that faith in the salvation promises of God are not necessary to salvation? 

Brown wrote:

"Brother Garrett will not admit this Dispensationalism.  He has already made statements that reveal a commitment to the harmony of salvific knowledge of Old and New Testament saints."

I admit that there is a difference in the degree of saving knowledge between OT believers and NT believers.  But, I have also said that there is a "harmony" between them, and I cited verses to prove it, verses which Jason has ignored.  Did not Paul say that the same Gospel that was preached to Christians in the first century is the same as that which was preached to the ancient Hebrews per Hebrews 4: 1?  Jason does not agree with Paul on this "harmony"! 

Further, Jason speaks of "salvific knowledge" and yet will not tell us what this knowledge involves, what propositions are integral to it.  Most Hardshells today do not believe that any knowledge comes in regeneration, affirming that it is "below the level of consciousness."  He has also affirmed that this knowledge CANNOT come through the Gospel as preached by apostles, but can only come through the Gospel as preached by Christ.  He denies the omnipotence of God when he says that God cannot make the preaching of apostles to be as effective as the preaching of Christ.  He says this in spite of the fact that the Scriptures say that Christ preached through prophets and apostles, as I have shown.

Brown wrote:

"The gospel that was embraced in faith by Old Testament saints was essentially the same as New Testament believers.  It was the good news that salvation is of the Lord, whether this gospel was revealed directly by God or through what had been revealed in propositional revelation at that time."

The doublespeak of Brown is clearly evident in these words.  He argued previously that the Gospel was not essentially the same for believers under both testaments, and now he says just the opposite!  Jason is now saying what I have been saying!  Have I not said that the faith that saves embraces "essentially the same" Gospel?  And, has he not attacked that position?  Yet now, he says the same thing himself! 

Brown wrote:

"I have not argued that gospel knowledge is not integral to the effectual call.  I have already overthrown any meaningful sense in which this knowledge can be logically considered "instrumental" to the cause of spiritual life."

Jason affirms that "gospel knowledge" is "integral" to the effectual call!  This is what we affirm!  It is not what Hardshells have been affirming for the past 150 years however.  Jason is closer to us than to his own modern Hardshell brethren.  It seems he ought to be spending more time in his other blog, "The Sculpter's Hammer," and correcting Gowens and his Hardshell brethren.

As far as his boast about overthrowing the Scriptural view that this Gospel knowledge is instrumental in effecting regeneration and new birth, he is greatly mistaken.  Verses such as I Cor. 4: 15, I Peter 1: 23, and James 1: 18 prove him wrong.  It may not be "logical" to him to see how the Gospel word is a means in effecting new birth, but it is certainly Scriptural.  In our series on "The Means of Grace," we cited numerous Scripture that proves him wrong.

Brown wrote:

"What I have argued is that the knowledge integral to the effectual call, or what the elect are effectually called to grasp is the spiritual perception of the person of Christ."

 Again, I am glad for this admission by brother Brown.  It is not the modern Hardshell view, however.  Classical Hardshellism denies that the elect mentally grasp and perceive the person of Christ in regeneration.  Sarrels did not believe this, and to my knowledge, no one has come forward since Sarrels wrote his book to deny what he said.  Jason is arguing here just the opposite of what he argued when we first began to debate.  I guess I should be happy that he has now rejected his original view.  He at first argued against the idea that one had to believe in Christ to be saved and took issue with my affirming that it was necessary.  When I cited verses that affirm that those who obey not the Gospel will be damned, Jason wanted to make exceptions, and to deny that Paul was stating universal propositions.  But, now, he agrees with me that all who do not believe in Christ are lost. 

Brown wrote:

"I am glad to see that Brother Garrett repudiates that the gospel must not be the same in degree for all the elect, and that he concedes that the knowledge that Old Testament saints were effectually called to grasp by faith was the spiritual Christ as their redeemer.  This has been my entire point."

It may not be the same in degree, but, as Jason admits, it is still "ESSENTIALLY the same" Gospel! 

Brown wrote:

"It is the idea that only those who have been preached to by man will inherit eternal life that has been attacked as an unjustified conclusion, not that all of the elect are not gospel believers essentially by the preaching of Christ Himself."

I have never said that the Gospel had to be preached by human missionaries, but allowed that some were regenerated by the preaching of Christ during his earthly ministry.  But, Jason affirms that only the Gospel preached by Christ is able to save, and that the Gospel preached by divinely sent missionaries never saves!  I allow that the Gospel saves, whether preached by Jesus or by his ministers.  Jason will not allow that God can bless the Gospel preached by Paul to effect new birth.  I have denied that Jesus today personally preaches the Gospel to anyone, and Jason has not offered any rebuttal to my arguments.

Brown wrote:

"I fully acknowledge that intellectual awareness of being of God "accompanies salvation"."

 Okay, but what "God"?  Any God, as Sarrels affirms?  Or, God the Father of Christ?  Any "god" or the God of Abraham?  Further, does not "intellectual awareness" involve knowledge and does not knowledge involve propositions?

Brown wrote:

"All I said is that it does not follow logically that vital union with Christ is metaphysically predicated on epistemic awareness, though some degree of epistemic awareness of vital union certainly is the direct result of the metaphysical union of the regenerate with Christ by the umbilical cord of faith, wrought by the spirit alone, to embrace the person of Christ as revealed by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9,10).  Rather, epistemic awareness is an effect of vital union."

All Jason is doing here is arguing for a strict ordo salutis, that regeneration precedes conversion.  In doing so, he is aligning himself with "Reformed" Baptists such as James White.  But, White does not believe that there is any chronological order, affirming that faith in Christ is the immediate and absolute effect of regeneration.  One must wonder whether the direct speaking of Christ is a work that Christ does in order to regeneration, or after regeneration?  If after regeneration, then it cannot be argued that the preaching of Christ is a means in regeneration.  Will Jason tell us?  Does Jesus preach the Gospel to the spiritually dead in order that they might live?  Or, does he preach it to those already alive in order that they might have faith and be converted?

Brown wrote:

"In this way it is unjustified to say that belief itself is the means by which the elect enter into the mystical union betwixt Christ and the Church.  Belief manifests and evidences what was certain since the foundation of the world; namely, the everlasting love of God toward his beloved."

All the great theologians have agreed that union with Christ is effected by faith.  Hardshells stand alone in their denial of this.  Paul said that "Christ dwells in the heart by faith."  (Eph. 3: 17)  He also wrote:  "But he who unites himself (middle active voice) with the Lord is one with him in spirit."  (I Cor. 6: 17) 

One wonders if Jason is arguing for "eternal vital union," a heresy that has much troubled the Hardshell denomination in years past.  He seems to be arguing such.  Certainly a mystical union exists before actual vital union.  Faith is no means for the former, but it is a means of the latter. 

Brown wrote:

"What I am discussing is effectively how Peter, or any regenerate person, could have been or be in vital union with Christ and yet fail to show, even in a moment of time, consistent evidence with what they truly believe.  In such instances of outward unbelief, as in any sin, the regenerate are bearing fruit inconsistent with the true belief of the heart they have as regenerated individuals."

Okay, so what?  How does any of this prove that faith in Christ is not a means for being joined to Christ?  It is not a perfect faith that unites believers with Christ. 

Brown wrote:

"From Scripture it is apparent that non-propositional, spiritual knowledge is contrasted with propositional knowledge. Examine 1 Corinthians 2:1-10.  Those that crucified Christ in verse 8 certainly were aware of the propositional import of the gospel, yet Paul states that they were ignorant of the wisdom of God..."

"Non-propositional knowledge"?  Where is that taught in Scripture?  I Cor. 2 certainly is no proof text for such a aberrant view of "knowledge."  First, Paul says that the "faith" of Christians (vs. 5) was the result of Paul's "declaring" the "testimony" of God, from Paul's "speech," or logical discourse.  (vs. 1-4)  In this preaching Paul declared the "wisdom" of God.  This is wisdom that can be "known."  (vs. 6, 7)  When the text says that the crucifiers of Christ did not "know" God's wisdom, it affirms that they were ignorant of the proposition that Christ is the Wisdom and Power of God.  (chpt. 1)  There is absolutely no reference in this chapter to "knowledge" that is not cognitive, that does not embrace truth propositions.  "Ignorant" affirms that they did not know truth, meaning that they did not know truth propositions.  Surely Jason can come up with better proof for non-propositional knowledge than this!  Is this the best he can do to support such a ignorant idea? 

Brown wrote:

"Obviously, if gospel propositions are knowledge, Paul is wrong to say that the princes of this world were ignorant."

This is a classic non-sequitur.  How is Paul's affirmation of ignorance of God's wisdom prove that knowledge lacks truth propositions? 

Brown wrote:

"And if the gospel propositions were knowledge, Paul is wrong to say that, "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard", for manifestly, those that are regenerate do see and hear the gospel."

Another non-sequitur!  Paul is saying that lost people do not know the truth and by this he means that they do not know it in the sense of understanding and accepting it. 

Brown wrote:

"The revelation of the hidden mystery of God is not by way of the physical senses."

What an outrageous statement!  So against Scripture!  Let me give some examples.  Luke says "many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."  (Acts 18: 8)  What did they hear?  They heard preaching, discourse, declaration of truth in the form of propositions!  The same thing that they believed!  When the Father called upon all to "hear" his Son (Matt. 17: 5), did this exclude their physical ears?  Paul wrote:  "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."  (Eph. 1: 13)  Again, the ears were the means of hearing an intelligible discourse and the heart and mind believed it and trusted it, and the effect was that they were "sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."  Who can read this and believe that it is a non-cognitive hearing and learning?  Only one who is blinded by Hardshell prejudice. 

Brown wrote:

"Gospel propositions are not instrumental to the spiritual revelation of Christ directly to the heart of the unregenerate, nor can they be because they are spiritually discerned (2:14)."

I have addressed such "vain reasonings" of the Hardshells in chapter 86 of my book on the Hardshell cult.  (see here)  Further, David said - "thy word hath quickened me."  (Psa. 119: 50)  God's word is nothing but propositions and these propositions are used by the Spirit to quicken dead sinners.

Brown wrote:

"How can Garrett avoid the logical implications of this passage for the primacy of the Spirit in the effectual call, and that the efficient cause necessarily precedes faith and repentance?"

Jason keeps misrepresenting me and keeps fighting "straw men."  Jason accuses those who believe in Gospel means with denying the "primacy of the Spirit" in being saved, that the Spirit is the "efficient cause."  But, this is a false accusation and is what one would expect from a member of the Hardshell cult.  Men like Charnock and Owen involved in "logical" fallacies in their teaching that regeneration is effected by the instrument of the Gospel!  Of course the efficient cause precedes faith and repentance!  So also does the instrumental cause precede conversion.  But, how does this prove that regeneration precedes faith and repentance?  In Eph. 1: 13, cited earlier, they were "sealed" with the Spirit "after" they had heard and believed the Gospel.  What does it mean to be "sealed"?  Can one be eternally saved without being sealed by God? 

Brown wrote:

"Spiritual knowledge is plainly contrasted to physical, propositional knowledge.  So, for better or worse, Brother Garrett should subordinate his Enlightenment view of knowledge to the Scripture, and acknowledge the mystical element of faith."

"Spiritual knowledge" is not "propositional knowledge"?  The knowledge of the Gospel propositions of I Cor. 15: 1-4 is not "spiritual knowledge"?  "Learning" of the Father does not involve understanding and believing propositions?  When the Eunuch said - "I believe that Jesus is the Son of God" - was he stating a proposition?  Was he expressing spiritual knowledge? 

The rest of Brown's remarks are simply more logomachy and non-sequiturs.

Brown wrote:

"Rationally, I have cited Alvin Plaintinga's work in, "Warranted Christian Belief" and "Warrant and Proper Function", to show that knowledge need not be propositional."

Of course knowledge may not be propositional.  I have said that one may use the word "know" in regard to intuitive knowledge.  In this sense even animals "know."  They have an innate knowledge of things.  So too do all men have the law written on their hearts, in their natures, and so know that murder, theft, and lying are wrong.  But, is this the kind of knowledge that comes by the Gospel and by which men are saved?  All the Scriptures I have cited prove that the Gospel propositions are what are taught, learned, and known.

Brown wrote:

"Brother Garrett seems to want to equate gospel propositions of language with the spiritual perception of Christ in the new birth."

In the above words Jason could just as well have substituted "Scripture" in the place of "Brother Garrett."  It is the Scripture that equates acceptance of Gospel propositions with faith knowledge.  Imagine one claiming to know God and Christ and yet who cannot affirm any propositions about God and Christ! 

Brown wrote:

"The experience of Christ in the new birth is an experience by which belief in Christ arises immediately from the experience of Him."

"Belief in Christ arises immediately" from experiencing Christ in the new birth!  Is this not what the "Reformed" Baptists and Presbyterians teach?  Why then does Jason not fellowship with men like James White?  Further, can Jason show us citations from post 19th century Hardshells where it is said that all the elect believe in Christ when they are born again?  We have offered numerous citations from Hardshells where they state that faith in Christ is not universal among the regenerated.  All he can do is to say - "they do not speak for the Hardshells."  But, let him give us the citations from modern Hardshells who affirm that faith in Christ is necessary to be eternally saved.

Brown wrote:

"Propositions are not required as an intermediate expression of the experience just as I do not form a mental proposition of the fact that I perceive the monitor in front of me before I give mental assent to the fact.  Propositional language is an intermediary between experience and the communication of it."

This is comedic.  Jason compares knowing Christ with knowing that his computer monitor is in view.  He thinks that his knowing that a monitor is before him is "non-cognitive" or does not involve propositions!  But, knowing that the monitor is in front of you is knowledge of the proposition - "the monitor is in front of my eyes." 

Brown wrote:

"So, the spiritual perception of Christ alone is a sufficient basis for the object of faith in regeneration."

Logomachy!  Nonsense! 

Brown wrote:

"Brother Garrett concedes that God's decree of election is not contingent on the events of time.  This is all that is necessary to prove that the events of time are contingent on God's eternal decrees.  An act of time does not determine the future condition when the act of time itself was determined before the foundation of the world.  The decrees of God determine the events of time and all future conditions.  Why obfuscate this with the idea that future conditions are determined by acts in time, as if this is the entirety of the truth of the Scripture?  Future conditions are brought about through acts in time, such as the death of Christ on the cross, but this is an incomplete summary.  Time hinges on eternity in what God has decreed, so that it is quite incorrect to partially represent the matter by Brother Garrett's incomplete statements.  One wonders why Brother Garrett desires to misrepresent the whole counsel of God; perhaps it is to not appear like a "hyper-Calvinist"?"

Here is another example of how Jason contradicts himself and is guilty of doublespeak.  When he says "future conditions are brought about through acts in time," he contradicts what he said in the words preceding!  Certainly God's choice of sinners is not conditioned upon acts in time, but being eternally saved is conditioned on being "called" in time (Rom. 8: 29-30).  And, how are sinners called?  "By the Gospel"! (II Thess. 2: 14)

One wonders what Jason's definition is of Hyper Calvinism.  Will he tell us what it is?  Will he show us how he is not a Hyper Calvinist?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time Salvation Diagram

Visual aids are always helpful.  This is especially true for those who are unfamiliar with a concept or do not have a firm understanding of it.  Copied below is a diagram I was able to create which demonstrates what the conditional time salvation controversy is all about.  For those who know what this doctrine really teaches, this will appear as elementary.  However, for those who do not we hope this will be of help in demonstrating what the doctrine teaches and be delivered from its snare.

This is what I like to refer to as the timeline of the elect.  It shows their timely phase as they journey here in the earth.  The two main parts of the diagram, regeneration and conversion, are the key factors involved in the conditional time salvation heresy.  There certainly are other doctrines which come into play, but these are the main ones.  The first thing to notice is that they are separated, denoting an expanse of time between their occurrence.  Second, conversion is represented by a dashed line in order to convey the notion that it is not certain to the elect, contrary to their regeneration which is certain (solid line).
When I started to see the error of this doctrine, this was the mental image which developed in my mind. Using it as our reference, there are two things which must be done in order for a return to truth.  First, the line of conversion must be made solid.  This would then suggest that the elect would definitely be converted but there would be some time after regeneration before they attained to it. 
We know that there are some who hold to this “gap of time” theory, and are thankful that there has at least been a return back to this position.  Though we disagree with this, it is closer to the truth and definitely a step in the right direction from that position which removes conversion completely from the picture.
This is where the second step now comes in.  Gotta close the gap! 
If we take that line called conversion, having made it solid, move it to the left and place it either on top of regeneration or right beside it…
We will then have things right.

As our forefathers stated:
We believe, in like manner, that God's elect shall not only be called, and justified, but that they shall be converted, born again and changed by the effectual workings of God's Holy Spirit” (1777 Kehukee Association Articles of Faith)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More thoughts on The Infant Hermeneutic

Some time ago I wrote an article entitled The Infant Hermeneutic.  It was a look at the error involved in those who rely too heavily on how little ones might be saved in order to build their soteriological system.   Just yesterday I received a phone call from my aunt who experienced first-hand how much reliance extremists place upon infant salvation to promote their unbiblical heresy.  She has been blessed in the past couple of years to come to see the error of time salvation and the empty Christian experience it entails.   At a funeral she confronted a well-known and what I would consider a learned elder in much of the Bible.  In her conversation she asked him some of the most fundamental questions concerning the relationship that exists between the children of God and Jesus Christ their Savior.  I have been blessed to teach her in the past that conditional time salvation attacks the very heart of religion, challenging the certainty of God's people knowing God and believing in His Son in both mind and heart.
The response to her elementary question “Will one go to heaven who does not know God?” was…
If they are an elect child of God then they will.”
As justification for his fatalistic application of election, he offered the case of infants as his “proof” that such must be the case.  His reasoning is that since dying elect infants can’t know God, then the same must be allowed as possible for the rest of God’s family.  If one is honest with the scriptures, however, he knows that this is an unwarranted deduction.  There are very explicit texts in the Bible which teach that God’s elect will know the one true God and His Son, and that those who do not are damned.
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:14)

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)

“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” (Col. 3:10)
"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:8)

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

It is ironic as well that the same ones who do this often rely upon the New Covenant as stated in Heb. 8 to make the point that all of the elect will know God, having been taught directly by Him!

“And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (v. 11)

Let me borrow fellow contributor Stephen’s thought here.

“Consistency thou art a jewel!”

If pressed, however, on making such a terrible conclusion that the elect will not necessarily know God, extremists will resort to the usual way of escape by asserting that there are “two kinds” of knowing God.  God’s elect will have a subconscious knowledge of God, but not a conscious one.  They will know Him but not know that they do!

What a load of nonsense!

Why is it that the majority of the Christian community who correctly assert that the sheep will KNOW their Shepherd have explicit texts in the Bible stating that they shall do so, when those who oppose are reduced to rationalizing about what is more or less a mystery?  The Bible says very little about the salvation of infants.  To walk through a door which God has only cracked open and proceed to build one’s doctrine thereupon is a dangerous way to interpret the scriptures.  We agree with the words of Dr. Sam Waldron on this point:

“…to draw from speculation about the regeneration of infants a deduction which flies in the face of Scripture is thoroughly unjustifiable procedure” (A MODERN EXPOSITION OF THE 1689 BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH)

Furthermore, we disagree with the very premise itself which says that infants shall not know the Lord, believing that God is able in His Sovereignty to reveal himself in the manner which is pleasing to Him.

For those who adhere to the London Confession, they know as well that this “hermeneutic” turns chapter 10 on its head!  The Old Baptists of the past did not employ such a rule in bible interpretation.  They allowed the plain statements of scripture to determine their beliefs and regulate their Christian conduct.  We should do the same in our day.  As both individual Christians and a church body, we should adhere to and follow what the Bible explicitly teaches in regards to cognitive agents.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Redford's Hardshell Apology

Elder S. N. Redford was a leader of the Hardshells, especially in Texas, and wrote a book on Hardshell history.  He also wrote a book titled "As a Man Thinketh," which is a composition of articles he wrote during his fifty years as an Elder from 1900-1950. (For sale here)  I have had my copy for many years.  In this posting I want to cite from this book and make some comments about what has been written.

"Saved By The Gospel" (page 34)

"If it is a fact that God saves sinners through the preaching of the gospel, the Old Baptists would have all the saving to do, for they are the only people in the world who are preaching the gospel." 

This statement shows that the "Primitive Baptist Church" is a cult.  One of the characteristics of a cult is that it sees itself as the "one and onlys," some highly favored group with God. (see in chapter 3 here)  Redford makes the claim of a cult when he says that only the Hardshells preach the Gospel.  This also leads Hardshells to say that they "only" are the "Church of Christ," similar to the Campbellites, the Hardshell "twin" brother, who say the same about themselves.  It is the "we be Abraham's seed" syndrome.  Further, if the Hardshells are the only ones who preach the Gospel, then they are the only ones who have been saved by the Gospel.

"Two Salvations" (pages 36-37)

"Arminians and Absoluters both say there is but one salvation taught in the Bible, and hence they are continuously trying to harmonize their doctrine with the Bible.  The Old Baptists have the truth on this point and I know it."

Of course, by "Old Baptists" Redford means those who call themselves "Primitive Baptists."  Again, we have more of the "we be the only ones" kind of statement.  He says the Hardshells, and they only, "have the truth on this point." 

Further, no one denies that the word "saved," or its equivalents, is sometimes used to refer to a temporal deliverance.  But, to give a temporal signification to how these words are generally used by Christ and the Apostles is to do violence to the Scriptures. 

"Two Salvations" (page 85)

"I told him further that God's Word teaches that the eternal salvation of sinners is unconditional on the sinner's part, and that in every instance where it bases salvation on conditions it has reference to a temporal, or time salvation of God's people."

This is how the Hardshells "interpret" Scripture.  They take a presupposition to Scripture and make the Scripture to conform to it.  It is a classic example of faulty hermeneutics.  Further, it is so easy to overthrow this presupposition, as the Scriptures show that there are conditions for being eternally saved.  For a look at how salvation is both conditional and unconditional, see my series on this. (see here, here, here, here, here, here)

"Endure To The End" (pages 263-265)

"He that endureth to the end shall be saved." Matthew 10: 22

"This salvation could not mean eternal salvation because it is based on conditions, and we know our eternal salvation depends alone upon what Christ does for us.  Then it must mean a Time or Common salvation."  (pg. 263)

Here Redford applies his false premise and faulty hermeneutics.  He does not prove anything by the context but simply interprets the words of Jesus according to his own mind.  However, Jesus did not go around using the word "saved" in various ways, but spoke of that singular salvation which was the subject of his discourses.  Further, how could this be a "time salvation" seeing that it comes after one has endured to the "end"?  End of what?  Is it not the end of one's life? 

"Time Salvation" (pages 82-83)

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;  but he that believeth not shall be damned."  (Mark 16: 15, 16)

I think the salvation spoken of in the text is a gospel salvation, or time salvation.  Because we know that the Bible teaches that in order to believe the gospel we must first be made spiritual;  and likewise the damnation, or condemnation, spoken of is a time condemnation.  This text applies strictly to the obedient and disobedient children of God, as I understand it." 

How could this be a mere time salvation, or a temporal condemnation?  One would expect Universalists to argue such.  Hardshells are so much akin to the Universalists.  Further, this message is to be preached to "every creature."  This in itself shows that the Hardshell interpretation is false for they do not preach that every creature is to be told how they can be temporally saved by conversion.

"We Know By Revelation" (pages 57-58)

"I know that this doctrine of salvation alone by the grace of God is a death blow to the Arminian world...I believe we all know Christ just alike, by revelation.  I believe infants that die know Christ by revelation.  If they do not know Him that way, then how do they know Him?  I believe where it said, "They all shall know me from the least to the greatest," that it meant we have an experimental knowledge of Him.  God has never had but one way of saving sinners;  and since we have found that God revealed Christ to Peter without the aid of man, we are sure that is the way He saves all that He saves."

First, it is odd how the Hardshells make so many arguments about the inability of infants and idiots to believe the Gospel, and of how this proves that the Gospel cannot be a means in salvation, and then turn around and admit that God is able to make infants to hear and believe!

What God is able to do and what he has chosen to do are two different things.  God is able to raise up children unto Abraham from stones.  But, who would affirm that this is what God has chosen to do?

Also, is God not able to use the Gospel to save?  Do Hardshells not say that God is not able to do this?

Further, by "experimental knowledge" Redford probably means a non-cognitive knowing, which is ridiculous. 

"Saving Believers" (page 69)

"I believe there will be millions of Adam's race reach heaven who never heard the preached gospel, and so do all Old Baptists, but who else believes this?  To say that God saves only those who hear and obey the gospel would damn all that die in infancy.  And what would become of idiots?  Where could the poor heathen hope for salvation?  The gospel is to save the believer..." 

Who else believes this?  The Universalists!  Also, if Jesus himself reveals himself, and preaches the Gospel to his elect, then how can it be affirmed that many will be in Heaven who did not hear and know? 

Further, he says that God cannot save infants by the Gospel and yet he has already said that the infant will hear the voice of Christ and come to know Christ!  What contradictions!