Monday, January 13, 2014

Hermeneutical Problems for Hardshells

In my ongoing book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult," in chapter 19, "Coming to Christ," I dealt with the insurmountable problems that the subject of "coming to Christ" gives to neo Hardshellism. (see here)

A "Primitive" or Hardshell web page says:

"How do you know that all of the elect will respond to the call of the Spirit? Answer: All of the called are justified, so all who were called were called effectually (Rom. 8: 30). Jesus said all that the Father giveth me SHALL come (John 6: 37)." (see here)

Notice that it is affirmed that 1) all the elect will "come" per John 6: 37, and that 2) this coming is what it means to be effectually called, regenerated, or born again.  All Hardshells teach that this coming to Christ is synonymous with regeneration.

Notice also how the above citation omits "to me" or "to Christ" in its affirmation that all the elect "shall come," even though the text cited says "shall come to me." This is perhaps a kind of freudian slip. Either way it is significant.

This text gives insurmountable problems for the Hardshells.

Problem #1 - Nature of Regeneration

Obviously equating coming to Christ with regeneration demolishes the Hardshell assertion that regeneration is an experience wherein the sinner is only passive, and in no way active.  Coming denotes activity of the heart and mind and is used in the active voice in Greek.

The idea that regeneration is essentially a coming of the mind to Christ demolishes the Hardshell idea of regeneration being strictly on the subconscious level, or being non-cognitive. 

The fact that regeneration involves a coming to Christ, or faith, shows that the Hardshells are in error in their divorcing regeneration from conversion.  Coming to Christ, as all the leading commentators teach, including all the Old Baptists, is the same experience denoted by being converted, or in being given faith and repentance.

Further, if coming to Christ is equated with regeneration (and I agree that it should be), then clearly the experience of being taught by the Father, and learning from him, and being drawn by him (see vs. 44), precede coming to Christ, or precede regeneration and conversion.  What does such a fact do with all the Hardshell  argumentation on total depravity?  People heard and learned of the Father, were drawn, before they were regenerated.

Problem #2 - the ordo salutis

The idea that one must be regenerated before he can hear the voice of the Lord, or be taught and drawn by the Father, has already been shown to be false.  Also shown to be false is the Hardshell reasoning that life must exist before action.  But, clearly there was the action of hearing the Father, learning from the Father, prior to coming to Christ and being regenerated.  Also, there was action in the bones before brought to life by Ezekiel, or before breath entered into them.  Clearly an example of action before life.  Faith and repentance go together, so any argumentation as to which precedes the other is not important.  Also, conversion and regeneration go together.

Problem #3 - Interpreting "not by works"

Hardshells argue that the assertion that salvation is by grace and not by works excludes conversion being part of regeneration, or that faith and repentance are necessary for salvation.  But, what does such a standard do with the fact that "coming" to Christ is regeneration?  Have they not said that coming to Christ cannot be necessary for being saved since this would make salvation to be by works?

The Call of the Spirit

The Hardshell citation speaks of "the call of the Spirit" being effectual and irresistible. But, Hardshells deny that this is true when and if the Spirit calls via the word.  In their minds it is impossible for the Spirit to call sinners in an effectual and irresistible manner with the word!  But, the real Old Baptists did not so limit the omnipotent God.

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