Question About Regeneration

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Timmay, Jan 12, 2016.

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  1. Timmay

    Timmay Puritan Board Freshman

    I just finished Warfield's The Plan of Salvation and he mentions Congruist Calvinism which:

    "imagines that the Holy Spirit thus effectually brings them to Christ, not by an almighty, creative action on their souls, by which they are made new creatures, functioning subsequently as such, but purely by suasive operations, adapted in his infallible wisdom to the precise state of mind and heart of those whom he has selected for salvation, and so securing from their own free action, a voluntary coming to Christ and embracing of him for salvation."

    He says the Holy Spirit does not make them new creations.

    This prompted a clarification on my end:

    In regeneration, we are made new creatures, given new wills by the Holy Spirit, and with these new wills we willingly come to and embrace Christ. That's my understanding.

    But I've also heard that we are made new creatures, and that the Holy Spirit then persuades us to come, and we come.

    Perhaps these are nuances of the same thing, or what I've heard isn't quite right, but what is the proper understanding of what occurs at regeneration?

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  2. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    That work has not made it onto my reading table. My gut reaction is that our wills are changed and we respond to God's word -- the operator is the Word Himself. :popcorn: Awaiting a more precise analyis, likely from someone who lives down under.
  3. rickclayfan

    rickclayfan Puritan Board Freshman

    Here's a quote from William Cunningham (Historical Theology, v. 2, p. 411):

    Calvinism: 1. Regeneration; 2. Faith.
    Arminianism: 1. Moral suasion by the Holy Spirit; 2. Faith; 3. Regeneration.

    The view that states that moral persuasion precedes a new nature is Arminianism. It is not contrary to Calvinistic thought to say that we accept Christ with our will. Christ does not believe on our behalf. He frees and renews our will allowing us to believe (WCF 9.4-5).
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Warfield was describing the view associated with Amyraut, which taught the primacy of the intellect. This view speaks mostly of illumination in describing the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is said to illuminate the understanding to the extent that the will freely embraces Christ. According to this scheme, "illumination" leaves the will free and unconstrained in its choice, but God sees a certain degree of illumination will persuade the individual so that the will inevitably chooses Christ. As this is "irresistible" it differs from the Arminian view of resistible grace, which is why Warfield classified congruism as a form of particularism, although he also noted its inconsistency.

    In contrast, the orthodox reformed position is that the Holy Spirit enlightens the mind and renews the will (Shorter Catechism, 31), to the point that the Spirit is also said to "determine" the will (Larger Catechism, 67). Most of the orthodox regard the will as primary, although some have been intellectualists, while others have regarded will and intelligence as one in operation.

    According to the orthodox view, man is considered to be passive in the first act of regeneration, in which he is "quickened" with new life and made capable to receive the grace offered in the gospel. God does not give a new mind or new will in regeneration. The man has the same human powers of mind and will; but as regenerate the man is endued with spiritual life and is thereby able to think, will, feel, and act spiritually.
  5. Timmay

    Timmay Puritan Board Freshman

    God doesn't give us a new will? He just sets it free? Then in what sense are we new creatures?

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  6. rickclayfan

    rickclayfan Puritan Board Freshman

    The faculty of the will cannot be removed and substituted. The same old will (which was enslaved) is renewed and liberated. A freed person who was once a slave does not need to be made an entirely new person; he merely needs to be freed.
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    When the apostle speaks of a new creature in 2 Cor. 5, he contrasts it with knowing men "after the flesh." He no longer knows men in this way, but as new creatures in Christ. The newness is in the most fundamental sense of being a creature of God, namely, in being reconciled to God, as he goes on to explain.

    If the regenerate were made with an entirely new will, mind, etc., this would be perfect, and then there would be no need for the call to progressive renewal and sanctification, as when we are exhorted to be transformed by the renewing of our mind or to be renewed in the spirit of our mind.
  8. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Rev. Winzer, I predicted correctly you'd contribute clarity :)

    If I may raise an additional question:

    I wonder if you can contrast your last statement:
    with the idea expressed in Hebrews 10 that we have been sanctified (ἡγιασμένο). 1 John expresses a now/not yet resolution: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him ..." This suggests a current newness.
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The Heb 10 reference would be used as an example of definitive sanctification as distinct from progressive sanctification. It is on the basis of this initial definitive act that sanctification can progress as a work.

    Definitive sanctification has a "legal" and "relational" aspect which draws on the idea of "separation," and is reflected in the requirement of priests to be ceremoniously holy in order to draw near to God. As Hebrews 10 is looking at the "perfection" of the priestly work by our great high priest I would lean towards understanding Hebrews 10 as speaking of this relational, ceremonious aspect. Being sanctified would therefore be akin to being "reckoned" holy and separated for an holy use.

    1 John 3 is an excellent example of now/not-yet. It is sometimes misconstrued as saying that what we shall be is not yet known, whereas it means that what we are as the children of God does not yet appear in our present state in the world. A similar distinction is drawn in Hebrews 2 with regard to all things being put under the feet of Christ and not yet seeing all things under His feet. 1 John 3 likewise ties the not yet to "seeing" Christ as He is, i.e., in His exalted and triumphant state.
  10. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you!
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