Thursday, September 11, 2008

James White: Regeneration & In Christ

Concerning Calvinism and Arminianism, there is much to talk about, but I'd like to stay on the theme of what it means to be "in Christ," in contrast to what I believe that Calvinism requires, which is an eternal state of being "in the Father," though Calvinists are unwilling to admit to such. I've argued that it's absolutely essential to what Calvinism is all about, and documented the quotes here: http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/CalvinistElection.html

So now I'd like to touch on the matter of Regeneration, as it pertains to "in Christ." Calvinism teaches that not everyone can be saved, but only those to whom God elects to give an Irresistible Grace. So what exactly is that? It's also referred to as an "effectual calling." It's said that in the foreordained time, God makes an "elect" person preemptively Born Again, regenerated and with a new heart, and thus naturally comes to Christ, as a consequence of such a regeneration. Obviously, Arminians such as myself, absolutely insist that no one outside of being "in Christ" is entitled to such a new birth and regeneration. Arminians argue that only when a person hears and believes in the Gospel, and is sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit, as per Ephesians 1:13, does he then receive regeneration, the new birth and a holy calling (i.e. vocation in Christ). That's why I'd like to highlight a particular statement from James White, concerning Regeneration & In Christ:

Calvinist, James White, writes: “When the time comes in God’s sovereign providence to bring to spiritual life each of those for whom Christ died, the Spirit of God will not only effectively accomplish that work of regeneration but that new creature in Christ will, unfailingly, believe in Jesus Christ (‘all that the Father gives Me will come to Me’). Hence, we are not saved ‘without’ faith, but at the same time, Christ’s atonement is not rendered useless and vain without the addition of libertarian free will.” (Debating Calvinism, p.191, emphasis mine)

White believes that “the elect” are already in Christ, despite being unbelievers. Why? Because he needs what is reserved in Christ alone, namely, Regeneration, to be given to unbelievers in order to become believers. He correctly recognizes that regeneration is alone reserved in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17), and that with such regeneration, comes the new birth of being made Born Again with a new heart and a new spirit. The new heart is what Calvinism needs for the decision for Christ to be rendered irresistible, as in Irresistible Grace. However, and this is where Calvinism gets in trouble, Calvinism requires that regeneration (born again, new birth, new heart) be made preemptive (given to unbelievers) in order to overcome Total Inability, and since regeneration alone comes in Christ, being in Christ, therefore, must also be rendered preemptive as well. But it’s not, since being in Christ also carries with it, Redemption (Romans 8:1), and Redemption requires faith in Christ (John 3:18), and faith precedes the sealing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:13) Therefore, when in Christ is shifted forward into a preemptive state, you can see how much damage it does to these other verses. So the answer to the question of “When do you become in Christ?” is after believing in the Gospel, which we already knew from Ephesians 1:13. (For more details on this point, see also: http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/Articles/when.html)

How can a condemned and judged old creature in Adam (John 3:18), simultaneously live in Christ? Answer? They cannot. You must spiritually die in Adam and become raised to new life in Christ. When we are crucified with Christ, according to Galatians 2:20, William MacDonald explains: “It means the end of me as a child of Adam, as a man under the condemnation of the law, as my old, unregenerate self.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.1180)

Being a "new creature" is the mark of identification of being in Christ. Being the "old creature" is the mark of identification of being outside of the body Christ, namely, in Adam. Since being in Adam and being in Christ are Mutually Exclusive, you cannot simultaneously be in both. Those who are in Adam are judged. (John 3:18). Those who are in Christ are redeemed, and are free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1) Hence, Calvinism is a non-starter, unless there is such a thing as a regenerate, redeemed unbeliever who thus, by being preemptively placed in Christ, will now unfailingly come to believe in Christ.

35 comments:

kangaroodort said...

Regeneration Precedes Faith: One of the most glaringly theologically absurd teachings of Calvinism. Great post.

David said...

Guess you caught this response.

kangaroodort said...

..and a powerful respose it was :) Notice it does not interact at all with Richard's post or contend with his argumentation, just re-assert the Calvinist position. Very impressive.

a helmet said...

Some remarks on the reasoning at contemporarycalvinists:

I quote:
Think of it as stumbling around in a dark room until someone flips on the lightswitch.

I say: quite right so far, John 12:35 is corresponding here:


35Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer.


The light had been switched on. It was there. Jesus is the light switched on by God, that they were going to have a little while longer.

quote:
One can see the instant the light comes on, but there must first be light in order for one to see.

Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.

is the bible's answere here. Since the light was there they should use the light.


quote:

The Apostle Paul was sent to the Gentiles "to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins" (Acts 26:18).



Open their eyes was preaching the light. Quite right. But now verse 12:36 continues:

36Put your trust in the light while you have it, that you may become sons of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

So while they have the light (=switched on) they shall believe in the light, so that (=in order to, =with the goal to) become sons of light (=children of God, sins forgiven)

quote:
Regeneration preceding faith is the only logical progression.

What, only logical progression? Or the very opposite? Well, judge for yourselves....


My conclusion:
Light must be there first, no plant can grow where no seed has fallen first. That is clear.

But this has nothing, really absolutely nothing to do with the mysterious, secret, unknowable effectual, irresistible inward enlightening calling that calvinists claim you must receive.

Richard Coords said...

Hello all,

The main point that I believe Calvinists are overlooking, which James White only briefly touched upon, is not merely a position insisting that regeneration preceeds faith, but that being in Christ preceeds faith, such that unbelievers are in Christ, so that what they obtain in Christ, enables them to irresistible come to Christ. To me, it's just yet another fundamental position that Calvinists almost completely ignore, just as Calvinists ignore the fact that Calvinism requires that "the elect" reside eternally "in the Father." Why is it ignored? You tell me. John Calvin briefly touched upon this concept, which quotes I've highlighted on the main website in the section on Election.

The Puritan said...

Richard says 'the elect.'

Calvinists say 'sinners.'

Richard says 'the elect are in the father.'

Calvinists say 'sinners in the hands of an angry God.'

Richard Coords said...

Puritan,

Do you agree with James White's quote that the unbelieving elect are preemptively placed "in Christ"? (Yes/No?)

I think that too often, Calvinists are in full-fledged debate-mode, when they ought to be more candid and forthright. Realize that whichever way that you answer, is is not going to make or break Calvinism. These issues will be debated long after we are both dead and buried. So what's the big deal? Give me a yes or no, and then please develop White's point specifically in terms of preemptive placement "in Christ."

Thanks in advance,
Richard

The Puritan said...

Personally I find James White to be a jackass which keeps me from reading him, so I'm not familiar with what you say he said.

Overall though after the fall all are sinners and in need of the ground of justification which is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, His active and passive obedience imputed to us via faith in Him.

Calvinism is Federal Theology - 'federal' - and to say 'in Christ' means justified by the blood of Christ. To have Christ as your federal head (as opposed to having Adam as your federal head which all fallen mankind has from birth) requires justification, and the only ground of justification is the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Again, you want to pose that Calvinists say 'elect' when Calvinists say 'sinners', and you want to pose that Calvinists consider the elect to be 'in the father' when Calvinists say 'sinners in the hands of an angry God.'

Richard Coords said...

Hello Puritan,

Yes, I have persisted in doing so, but only because I feel that it's the correct understanding of Calvinism. So when I came across White's quote, I felt justified in my characterization. What I would have liked is if White had developed his point. The whole thing about "in the Father" was drawn out from multiple quotes from John Calvin, listed in the Election section of the main website.

The Puritan said...

Richard writes: "So now I'd like to touch on the matter of Regeneration, as it pertains to "in Christ." Calvinism teaches that not everyone can be saved, but only those to whom God elects to give an Irresistible Grace. So what exactly is that? It's also referred to as an "effectual calling." It's said that in the foreordained time, God makes an "elect" person preemptively Born Again, regenerated and with a new heart, and thus naturally comes to Christ, as a consequence of such a regeneration."

You don't have even a beginning of a grasp of Reformed doctrine, Richard.

Do us a favor and acquire Berkhof's Manual of Christian Doctrine. It's a shorter version of his Systematic Theology, very easy to get through complete and to digest.

If you don't make that effort, with Berkhof or a similar Calvinist work, you simply won't be serious in your critiques.

You can't know this now, but the paragraph I've quoted above shows more ignorance and confusion of Reformed doctrine than makes it practical to straighten out here.

a helmet said...

Irresistible Grace. So what exactly is that? It's also referred to as an "effectual calling."

It must be very esoteric.

Richard Coords said...

Hey Helmet,

When Calvinists cannot answer yes/no questions, it becomes very telling.

As James White states, the Calvinist believes that a person is "in Christ" before he ever believes.

Thus I pose the question: When does a person become in Christ?

A) Before the foundation of the world?
B) At the cross?
C) Before believing in the Gospel?
D) After believing in the Gospel?

When some Calvinists say, "you don't understand," "you're ignorant," "you refuse to educate yourself," "it's sad," what that really is, is damage control.

a helmet said...

Richard,

Concerning James White I think after running this AO ministry for 25 years, preaching falsehood about the gospel, it is hardly possible for him to admit any errors. He has ensnared himself in doctrinal restrictions and made a business or something similar out of this. Such is a serious trap for anyone: to think you have found "the truth" once for all and then defend a set of dubios teachings for decades.....how could you get out of there, if you realized your position would actually need some adjustments?! I don't want to be in his position! Any car salesman must sell his cars and show them from their best side only. Such a person is surely not open-minded, neutral and unbiased, how could he possibly be?
The Pharisee's snare was similar. They made their restricted religion a "brand". They could not afford to see beyond their own nose, admitting problems with their view they had been helding, without risking to lose their face.

Look at White's bio. What is really his education? What was the subject of his doctorate, who endorsed it and so on? What does "having taught....." mean? What is a "professor"? Is White entitled to call himself as such?

So I wonder how valuable White's books should be regarded.

Anyway, I think it is wise not to restrict oneself in a "I-found-it-once-for-all" mentality, but be open-minded and humble. For this was after all the pharisee's "thorny prison" they could not easily get out of and it looks like White's condition is quite similar.

Richard Coords said...

Hey Helmet,

Execellent post. This reminded me of the "Jehovah's Witnesses." Certainly, I'm not calling Calvinists cultists, by any stretch, but in the aspect of entrenchment, I have seen something similiar with them, when they become so entrenched in a particualr theology, and having committed their lives so deeply to an organization, that even when they begin to see the light, they simply fight, fight, fight against it. Saul of Tarsus had perhaps a similar inner battle, until the day when Jesus met him and said, “It is hard to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14) Sometimes there are high profile conversions, but not many.

In my experience, when someone is new to the Calvinist controversy, it seems like they have a much more open mind vs. after having committed their heart to Calvinism, they become bulldogish cheerleaders for Calvinism. Certainly this does not apply to all Calvinists, but I'd like to point out that I've experienced this with my own family. I don't mean to offend Calvinists with this, but this is a phenomenon that I've seen first hand. Now my brother in law is just a closed-minded, cheerleader for Calvinism. I can have no rational discussion with him, concerning Calvinism.

The Puritan said...

OK, Richard, let's put our cards on the table. Once and for all give us some context for these statements you are finding in Calvin's writing (and White's). Without context I can make Calvin a supporter of the Pope. Get serious, Richard.

The Puritan said...

I notice also you've gone from 'in the father' to equate that with 'in Christ'. You are very loose with language, Richard. One can't discuss biblical doctrine with such disregard for the meaning of biblical language.

Richard Coords said...

Puritan,

You wrote: "I notice also you've gone from 'in the father' to equate that with 'in Christ'."

I have no idea what on earth you are referring to.

Second, I've asked you 3 times for yes/no answers, and a multiple choice, and I've received nothing but excuses from you.

The Puritan said...

It's not an excuse to ask for context for a quote, Richard. You are obviously new to all this, but Reformed Christians get quotes from Reformed theologians thrown at them all the time from critics operating from the outside (like Roman Catholics) and from the inside (like recently Federal Visionists). Anybody can surgically clip a quote to make a theologian say anything they want that theologian to say. In your case you have clipped a quote on a subject you just don't understand (Calvin, White, etc., are obviousl discoursing on some subject not to do with justification, but I need context to see what it is the quotes pertain to).

a helmet said...

I've made the observation, that it is very, very difficult not to misrepresent Calvinism when you explain it. Calvinists never fail to most clearly present their views but if you then simply repeat it in your own words, you can almost be sure that you will be misrepresenting them! All critics of Calvinism never understand what is really meant!

Why is it so difficult not to misrepresent Calvinism? It looks like dealing with this theology is like walking on a rope, you must be very, very carefull one little wrong step might cause a severe mistake and you must be very, very carefull to get things right.

a helmet said...

Oh, of course they only most clearly present what they think they know. But they refuse to answer the real and compelling questions as can be seen over and over again.

The Puritan said...

>"I've made the observation, that it is very, very difficult not to misrepresent Calvinism when you explain it."

Yes, you do tend to have to know what it is you are attempting to debunk. You can complain all you want, but if you're ignorant of a subject you just are. And 99 times out of a 100 the ignorance is of the most basic kind. There are legitimate criticisms to make of various schools of Reformed Theology, areas where theologians tend to get off the mark. Ironically, Calvin himself is the softest in these areas, but try to find an Arminian who would know this. Actually reading Calvin being just too big an assignment apparently.

a helmet said...

Good morning good puritan,

Actually reading Calvin being just too big an assignment apparently.

Most Calvinists, among them Mr. Spurgeon, point out that Calvinism has actually nothing to do with Calvin but is simply the gospel and the scriptural truth. It has nothing to do with Calvin in the first place, it could as well be called Augustinianism but what is more important, it is the apostles' teaching, biblical teaching in clarity. If so, it is really not understandable why it is so difficult.

You say:
Yes, you do tend to have to know what it is you are attempting to debunk.

But you do not know what "effectual calling", "preemptive regeneration" or "being drawn" is either. Even Calvinists don't know what they talk about. You do not know where to draw the line between true, saving faith on the one hand and false, head faith on the other. The compelling questions are absolutely obscure in Calvinism.

This is why I agree with Dave Hunt when he says "it must be very esoteric" .

There is absolutely no standard, no measurement of the "genuity" of faith except mere self-righteousness.

Why can I debunk it? Well, actually you can debunk it because of this unknowability. Whatever is unknowable is in the darkness, whatever is in the darkness is already judged as being evil.

Whatever/whoever hides in darkness (unknown) has already debunked itself!

Greetings
Kehrhelm "a helmet" Kröger

The Puritan said...

>"But you do not know what "effectual calling", "preemptive regeneration" or "being drawn" is either. Even Calvinists don't know what they talk about. You do not know where to draw the line between true, saving faith on the one hand and false, head faith on the other. The compelling questions are absolutely obscure in Calvinism."

Oh, but Herr Kroger you know I described for you regeneration in a previous thread. This is something you didn't expect, yet there it is, go back and read it. You can't deny it isn't there. Christianity is not a hall of mirrors. Perhaps you are a sacerdotalist who would rely on dead ritual and, like an atheist, resent talk of anything one can't see or touch or eat, or...

>"There is absolutely no standard, no measurement of the "genuity" of faith except mere self-righteousness."

I would suspect Arminians wouldn't agree with this, Herr Kroger. You seem to deny the faith itself. You sound like a common atheist. Are you a Christian?

Vimal said...

Richard,

It is the immutable will of God that predestines elect (Rom 8:29,30), so in a way you can understand that they are in Christ before the beginning of the world. Your impotently disputing poll is like asking "When did Jeremiah become a prophet? a)before the foundation of the world? b)during conception in the womb c)after he was born d)when he realised that he is a prophet" when God said in Jer 1:5 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." I know why you have brought up such a questionnaire. Because you view the entire process through the eyes of Arminianism basing it on meritorious works whereas the Calvinists view the entire process through God's lens.

When you Arminians advocate free-will you are only promulgating the vacuousness of God' s redemptive work because many people for whom He died are ending up in Hell . God is portrayed as a pathetic spectator impotently watching His grand system of redemption dissipating because the fallen humans will not choose it.

When you Arminians are busy waging war against the Calvinists,you dont allow yourselves time to preach the gospel which you contend should be preached for winning souls. I believe many calvinists do well in bringing people to Christ than do the Arminians. Many of the Primitive Baptists that I know have formed full-fledgedly active churches than that of the contentious Arminians.

When you quoted John 14:6 to advocate your view against election in Christ, it betrayed your practice of isolating the verses and of doing a thorough esegesis instead of an exegesis. When the disciples were earnestly seeking way to the Father, Jesus was infact unraveling to them the plan of His intervention into time that is to accomplish redemption. As you should be knowing the entire Jewish population of that day was fraught with the teachings that observing the Mosaic law fetched them salvation. When Christ said that "I have come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" John 6:38 He was infact teaching them the solidarity in their wills.So it is the Father along with the acquiescence of Christ, that He decreed Christ to be the only Way to Him because He and He alone can be the efficacious sacrifice.
Acts 13:48b "all who were appointed for eternal life believed."

If you believe man is totally depraved then you have no choice but to understand only God can save a sinner but if you do not believe total depravity then you have only understood some sort of paganism. Romans 3:23 says for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and Romans 3:11 says there is no one who understands,no one who seeks God. And John6:44 says No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. Eph 2:8,9,10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

a helmet said...

The puritan,

if I understand you correctly, you judge the "genuity" of your faith by some subjective standard of self-righetousness, right?

You say there is "counterfeit" faith and "genuine" faith and the difference lies within the realm of personal opinion. Why are you arguing I, a helmet, deny the faith? I tell you what I deny: I deny that calvinism is a "Sola Fide" and "Sola Gratia" religion. Watch Paul Washer's youtubes and tell what that has to do with Sola Fide and Sola Gratia. Do you have to work in order to know whether you have grace? Obviously that's what Calvinism boils down: Check-if-you-are-saved-ism.

The Puritan said...

a helmet, you're all constipated with notions of legalism and God knows what else, and you're projecting it onto Calvinism. If you actually just made a little effort to engage Calvinist sources you would learn about such things as legalism. The faith is subtle to a fallen mind, but it is not a hall of mirrors, and it can be understood by a child.

Richard Coords said...

Vimal,

You wrote: "It is the immutable will of God that predestines elect (Rom 8:29,30), so in a way you can understand that they are in Christ before the beginning of the world."

1) How did "the elect" become the Father's elect in the first, which resulted in Him giving these to His Son?

2) If any man who is "in Christ" is a "new creature," with the old creature having passed away, as per 2 Cor 5:17, how can a person be "in any way" in Christ while they remain the unbelieving, old creature?

I've ignored the rest of your post, not out of disrespect, but because I wish to focus on the core issues of this Blog post.

Vimal said...

Richard,

1) How did "the elect" become the Father's elect in the first, which resulted in Him giving these to His Son?
It is not the "becoming the Father's elect" that the Scripture teaches. As you should be knowing the term "elect" presupposes election. Who does the election? The Father is the one who elects. Eph 1: 3-5 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he (the Father) chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he (the Father) predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

I will answer your second question later.

a helmet said...

the puritan,

If you actually just made a little effort to engage Calvinist sources you would learn about such things as legalism.


Exactly.

The Puritan said...

a helmet, if you're saying Calvinism equals legalism you are just simply ignorant.

Historically Calvinists, by the way, have always been accused by Roman Catholics for being antinomians, (look up that word if you have to).

If you preach the Gospel as it is you will get accused of antinomianism as the apostle Paul was. Calvinism preaches the Gospel as it is, unwatered down, un-negotiated down to the demands of fallen man. This, historically, has angered and confused many...

Again, use this moment to see yourself.

The Puritan said...

It's also the glory of Reformed theologians that they have been the teachers of doctrine to all Christians because Reformed theology and theologians are not afraid of any school or aspect (like legalism) or false teaching or what have you and take it all on directly in our systematic theologies and apologetic works and so on. We lay our cards on the table and educate all on false systems at the same time. Other schools of theology can't afford such tactics. Other schools of theology have too much to hide.

Richard Coords said...

Vimal,

I asked how these become "the elect," and you answered with who does the electing, namely, God the Father, and yes, I agree with you that the Father is the One who does the electing. However, my question is upon what basis does the Father elect anyone? My understanding, from having read Calvinist literature, is that it was based upon an eternal "decree." Thus, having been decreed as "one of the elect," the Father gives these elect ones to belong to His Son. Compare with my most recent post, outlining 3 quotes from James White. Do you agree? (Yes/No?)

Arminian said...

Interestingly, it is the traditional Calvinist (C) position that we come to be in Christ *by faith*. Traditional C agrees that faith precedes union with Christ. Of course, this is big trouble for their position that regeneration precedes faith. And it appears that some C's (like White from what Richard says) have departed from the traditional C position on faith preceding union with Christ for this very reason. But it really seems to be the case of letting already preset theology determine interpretation of Scripture and the issue at hand rather than letting Scripture rule, as evidenced by traditional C agreeing that faith precedes union with Christ, indeed brings union with Christ. What we seem to have here is C's realizing the problem that that causes for other doctrines, and readjustment to bring all in line with more essential C doctrine.

Joseff said...

"Obviously, Arminians such as myself, absolutely insist that no one outside of being "in Christ" is entitled to such a new birth and regeneration."

Exactly! That's the very definition of grace isn't it? That's what salvation is all of, isn't it? Grace, grace, grace. Nobody deserves it, some get it, that's grace.

"Arminians argue that only when a person hears and believes in the Gospel, and is sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit, as per Ephesians 1:13, does he then receive regeneration, the new birth and a holy calling"

So they earn it?

This statement contradicits 1 Jn 5:1

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God"

Born again first, then believe.

Joseff said...

"However, my question is upon what basis does the Father elect anyone?"

Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself

..being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

I think the word 'According' is a big clue for the question "On what basis did God elect?"

"According to His purpose"

What other answer is there?
What other answer do we, as worshipers of the Sovereign God, need?