Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 2:40 PM
Subject: JAMES WHITE REVISITED [04/20--2005]

Most of you were on my email list about a year ago when I wrote critiques of both James White and Dave Hunt relating to their book, DEBATING CALVINISM. I objected to both White and Hunt in regard to their lack of proper representation of Creedal Calvinism on the subject of Regeneration or the New Birth.

My critiques began with one brief summarial review on March 21, 2004, but unexpectedly extended through several articles resulting from White's lame attempt to evade my charge as to his lack of presenting the view of creedal Calvinism in the debate. Hunt even successfully and frequently used C. H. Spurgeon against White on the same point of doctrine, namely, White's theory -- borrowed from some non-creedal Calvinists such as Louis Berkhof -- that the New Birth actually takes place before the Holy Spirit uses the means of the Word of God in the creation of faith in Christ. White defended the view which has a person being a "regenerated unbeliever," similar to the heresy of the Hardshell Baptists since at least 1832.

White wrote in a blog
3/27/04:  Bob Ross and Debating Calvinism
    >>Despite how often I say "God ordains the ends as well as the means," or "God uses the proclamation of the gospel as the means by which he draws His elect to Himself," Ross insists on not seeing this, or accepting it, and writes that I promote the idea of "regeneration apart from means." <<

But what we actually pointed out was simply that White failed to teach that  >>
the Holy Spirit uses MEANS in the new birth, according to the Calvinist confessions and notable Calvinist theologians. All of the Calvinist confessions I have read refer the new birth to the sole efficient power of the Holy Spirit and His instrumental use of means -- "by his Word and Spirit" according to the Baptist Confession, chapter 10.<<

What White said in the debate -- namely, that the New Birth [regeneration] takes place prior to faith and is necessary to impart to man the "ability" to believe the Gospel -- is not the view taught in the Calvinist creeds and confessions. Any pre-faith work of the Spirit is never said to be the New Birth or regeneration in the Confessions.

Now -- forthcoming on this Friday, April 22, 2005 -- White is evidently going to defend his same "Hardshell" view against Bob Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society of Dallas, Texas. On his website, White says, "
The debate will have two parts. In the first I will defend the thesis statement, 'Resolved that regeneration precedes faith.'"

This simply means that White is defending the heterodox [i.e. non-creedal] idea that a person is immediately BORN AGAIN before he believes the Gospel. White therefore has a "born again unbeliever."

As our past articles pointed out, White has borrowed this idea from the Pedobaptists who baptize babies and enter them on the church roll on the pretext that they are "born again unbelievers" who at some point are given the blessing of the New Birth as a "covenant" promise inasmuch as they are the offspring of believers. This is how Pedobaptists get the majority of their church members, via infant baptism.

This view was taught by Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof in his Systematic Theology, once published by the Pedobaptists at Williams B. Eerdmans Publishing Company and now by the Pedobaptists at the Banner of Truth in Scotland. This view is also espounsed by R. C. Sproul and some others.

In the course of my critiques, I called attention to White's own "Statement of Faith" on his website, and noted the following:

>>While I am in full agreement with the fact that it is solely that efficient power of the Holy Spirit that regenerates men, and that there is a pre-faith work of the Holy Spirit in a lost person, I see nothing in this Statement of Faith about the Word, the Gospel, or the use of means. This is not the Calvinism I have come to know and believe from the confessions of faith. It is not the historic Calvinism of the Baptists who stood against the hyper-Calvinism of the Hardshells who split off in the 1830s.

The confessional "standards" [of theological "orthodoxy"] for Calvinistic communions are the Canons of Dort, the Westminster Confession, the 1644 London Baptist Confession, and the 1689 London Baptist Confession (Philadelphia Confession, in America), and all clearly affirm the [necessary] use of means in regeneration, quite different from the Statement on James' website.<<

It is unfortunate that White is going to once again promote veritable "Hardshellism" in a public context as if this is "Calvinism." I have personally given notice to Bob Wilkin that what White holds on this subject is not creedal Calvinism, and should not be treated as such. In an email to me, Wilkin has assured that "
I plan to mention once or twice that White's views are not those of all or even most 5-point Calvinists."

I am not at all certain of Bob Wilkin's view on this matter, but I do understand that he does NOT hold that one can be a "regenerated unbeliever." To that extent, at least, we can agree with him. On the other hand, if he holds to the "unregenerated believer" view espoused by Dave Hunt in his debate with White, then we must disagree with that concept. -- Bob L. Ross

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