Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 4:10 PM

In the Hunt-White Debate, there is a very noticeable and significant lack of emphasis by James R. White on the means used of the Holy Spirit whereby one is born again.

The more I examine White's efforts in this debate the more I am disappointed in both his misrepresentation of confessional Calvinism and his lack of attention to the great passages which emphasize the necessity and instrumentality of the Gospel, the Word, and Truth in the New Birth.

I note that he does at least occasionally pay lip service to the fact that "the preached Word is God's chosen means of bringing His elect unto Himself" (page 136; also page 321), and "faith in the gospel is indeed part and parcel of God's work of salvation" (page 217), nevertheless he clearly places means as being subsequent to the New Birth. In other words, while he refers to "means," he does not seem to relate them as being involved as means used by the Holy Spirit in regeneration itself.

For example, he speaks of the "commands [to] sinners to repent and calls for faith" as constituting subsequent "direction," whereas "God must first free the slave from the dungeon of sin" and "once set free," then the person freed "is still in need of direction as to what to do and where to go" (page 125).

He later says "God must free us from the slavery of sin and spiritual death before we can believe" (page 217). He goes on to insist that "men believe the gospel to be saved" but "no man will do it unless and until the miracle of regeneration takes place first" (page 305). 

This view certainly implies that means -- or Gospel truth, the Word -- are merely of subsequent benefit to the person who has previously been delivered -- "regenerated" -- obviously before and apart from the instrumentality of Holy Spirit-empowered means.

This is classic "Hardshell" doctrine -- to the effect that means in the scheme of salvation are for the benefit [i. e. "direction"] of those who have supposedly been previously "regenerated." Hardshells refer to this as "time salvation." After the supposed regeneration, then the Word or Gospel has its practical usefulness in directing the life of the one already regenerated by the Spirit (via a "direct operation") apart from means.

In answer to the question, "Why Preach the Gospel?" White simply says, "we do not know who the elect are." 

But this ignores or evades entirely any explanation of the place of the Gospel as the "means" in the new birth. Why didn't White expound the great passages which show the relation of the necessary Gospel in the Holy Spirit's work of creating faith in the New Birth?

If James White held to the Confessional view of the place of means as an essential instrumentality in God's calling unto salvation, why would he fail to quote and exegete great passages of Scripture on the matter, such as the following? --

Psalms 19:7 -- "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple."

John 6:63 -- "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

Romans 1:16 -- "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

1 Corinthians 2:4 -- "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."

1 Corinthians 4:15 -- "For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

Ephesians 5:25 -- "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."

1 Thessalonians 1:5 -- "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."

2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14 -- "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

2 Timothy 1:10 -- "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."

1 Peter 1:23 -- "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

James 1:18 -- "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

Why did White choose to bypass exegesis of these great passages which reveal the place of the Word, the Gospel, and the Truth in the Holy Spirit's work of the New Birth, and which would have effectively refuted Dave Hunt's argumentation about "post-faith regeneration"?

While he talks a great deal about doing "exegesis" of passages, he does not attempt exegesis on these and other great passages which teach the necessity and instrumentality of means in the New Birth. While he cites the fact that Dave Hunt's index to one of his books has "no reference" to 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (page 110), we find no exegesis on James' part on 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14 wherein the Gospel is presented as the means of calling:

"Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

There is a dearth of exegesis in James' material on passages such as this which emphasize the means by which the Spirit calls us to Christ. Rather, he tries to prove a pre-faith regeneration, and then afterwards the Gospel commands of repentance and faith are utilitarian for the regenerate as "direction as to what to do and where to go" (page 125).

This is nothing more than the pure old Hardshell doctrine with which I became acquainted in my teens, as it was taught at the Robbins Street Primitive Baptist (Hardshell) Church, Jackson, Tennessee, just two blocks from my house. Shortly after I was saved, the Hardshells came calling on me, wanting me to come with them, whereas before my salvation they never once tried to reach me with the Gospel. -- Bob L. Ross