Regeneration? Even if Paul Washer Can’t See It, He can See Where It’s Not

Even if Arminian Southern Baptists can’t agree with Calvinist Southern Baptists about regeneration being before faith, or about regeneration being purchased for the elect by Christ, they can still all unite in faith that the Jesus who died for everybody and the Jesus who died only for those who are saved are in the end one and the same Jesus.

Because in the end, it’s not the death that matters. It’s regeneration, and most of us think we can see that! And even if Paul Washer doubts that you personally are regenerate, at least we all can see that those who teach a non-Lordship gospel are not yet regenerate.

With Paul the Apostle (not the Washer), I want to say something in my sarcasm: “then let the knife slip, cut the whole thing off”.

Or this, praising the true and only Jesus: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has died to me, and I have died to the world.” Galatians 6:14.

Walk by this rule.

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7 Comments on “Regeneration? Even if Paul Washer Can’t See It, He can See Where It’s Not”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Arminians and Calvinists seem to find common ground in a gospel which a. does not talk about election at all and b. which focuses on sovereign regeneration rather than understanding Christ’s death. Christ’s death for the elect does not merely make possible regeneration; Christ’s death for the elect makes it a necessary matter of justice to Christ that these elect will be regenerated.

    I object to Paul Washer’s message for many reasons, not only because he does not link the new birth as a result (not a condition) of Christ’s death, but also because he judges regeneration by a visible moralism he uses to measure what he calls “holiness”. But we are not holy by means of the works God causes us to do. The justified elect are set apart by the blood, by the death of Christ, not by their doing more than the next guy.

  2. DC Says:

    I too notice this. Washer focus seems to be on what God does in the sinner rather than what He did outside of the sinner. Come to think of it, in his Ten Indictments message, Washer insists that the issue is not Calvinism/Arminiamism (in other words definite, effectual atonment vs. general, ineffectual atonement) but regeneration.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    I don’t mind if “Calvinism” is killed, but there is a “Calvinism which kills” by not making justification the main thing. This non-gospel Calvinism (of folks like Paul Washer) is mainly about regeneration.

    This killing Calvinism thinks you can be regenerate apart from ever hearing the gospel of justification. Killing Calvinism also thinks the gospel is about being getting a “new man” inside of you. So do the Roman Catholics. So do the self-righteous puritans who base their assurance on their change of behavior and attitude. (Even when they “slip into sin”, they don’t want to and they mourn about it.)

    Instead of focusing on what Christ did in history, killing Calvinism puts the focus on our inward selves, because history to them is about what happens in us inwardly. Killing Calvinism can make no sense of a propitiation, or a legal justification from wrath to favor, because its “gospel” is not about what Christ did but about searching inside ourselves to find the person of Christ there, as evidenced by our struggle with “two natures”.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Williams James

    The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well–morality suffices. But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down, and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind. To suggest personal will and effort to one all sicklied o’er with the sense of irremediable impotence is to suggest the most impossible of things. What he craves is to be consoled in his very powerlessness, to feel that the spirit of the universe recognizes and secures him, all decaying and failing as he is. Well, we are all such helpless failures in the last resort. The sanest and best of us are of one clay with lunatics and prison inmates, and death finally runs the robustest of us down. And whenever we feel this, such a sense of the vanity and provisionality of our voluntary career comes over us that all our morality appears but as a plaster hiding a sore it can never cure, and all our well-doing as the hollowest substitute for that well-BEING that our lives ought to be grounded in, but, alas! are not.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Dr. T. David Gordon in his book “Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The
    Media Have Shaped the Messengers” (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2009)
    “Some of the neo-Puritans have apparently determined that the purpose of Christian preaching is to persuade people that they do not, in fact, believe. The subtitle of each of their sermons could accurately be: “I Know You Think You Are a Christian, but You Are Not.” This brand of preaching constantly suggests that if a person does not always love attending church, always look forward to reading the Bible, or family worship, or prayer, then the person is probably not a believer…”

    “The hearer falls into one of two categories: one category of listener assumes that the preacher is talking about someone else, and he rejoices (as did the Pharisee over the tax collector) to hear “the other guy” getting straightened out. Another category of listener eventually capitulates and says: “Okay, I’m not a believer; have it your way.” But since the sermon mentions Christ only in passing (if at all), the sermon says nothing about the adequacy of Christ as Redeemer, and therefore does nothing to build faith in Christ.

    “It is painful to hear every passage of Scripture twisted to do what only several of them actually do (i.e., warn the complacent that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven). And it is absolutely debilitating to be told again and again that one does not have faith when one knows perfectly well that one does have faith, albeit weak and imperfect…”

    “So no one profits from this kind of preaching; indeed, both categories of hearer are harmed by it. But I don’t expect it will end anytime soon. The self-righteous like it too much; for them, religion makes them feel good about themselves, because it allows them to view themselves as the good guys and others as the bad guys – they love to hear the preacher scold the bad guys each week. And sadly, the temperament of some ministers is simply officious. Scolding others is their life calling; they have the genetic disposition to be a Jewish mother.” (pp. 83-84)


  6. markmcculley Says:

    I think I understand the problem the “obedience boys” have with the “grace boys.” It is that the “grace boys” can seem to teach grace in such a way as to make people indifferent to sin: “Sin is not such a big deal. It happens. No need to get all worked up about it. Just accept that you are a sinner and that God loves you no matter what. Bask in the knowledge you are a child of God.” I get the problem the “obedience boys” have with the “grace boys.” As far as taking exception with that portrayal of the life of grace goes, I agree.

    What I don’t think the “obedience boys” get is how normal sin is. Perhaps they really do not know this reality in terms of their own experience. It could be that for them there is a regeneration-created night and day before and after story. Or, it may mean that there has been a steady upward trajectory to their sanctification without harrowing nosedives into sin or wearying discouragements of slow or no progress. Or, it may be that they do not know themselves very well. Or, it may be that their theological understanding of regeneration and conversion does not allow them to acknowledge that believers can have messy lives – chronic struggles and frequent defeats. That believers can by their messy lives inflict great damage and hurt on other believers and can be badly damaged and hurt by the messy lives of other believers. That the church is a messy place where messy lives are intertwined with and sometimes disillusioned by other messy lives.

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