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?

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