Thursday, February 19, 2009

Piper vs Hybrids?


Pastor John Piper has a new book, Finally Alive, published by Christian Focus. It deals with the New Birth, and apparently is consistent with the view for which we have been contending on the Calvinist Flyswatter blog for the past three years -- namely, the New Birth takes place in conjunction with
simultaneous union with Christ through faith.

Pastor Bruce Oyen recently called my attention to an excerpt from Piper's book which is posted at a website in an item entitled Ransomed, Raised, and Called -- How Does God Regenerate Us?

Here are few selected remarks from the excerpt at that website:

Jesus said we must be born again (John 3:3). The Holy Spirit has to work a miracle in our hearts and give us new spiritual life. . . . The way this happens, as we have seen so far, is that the Spirit of God supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith. The new spiritual life that we receive in the new birth is not separate from union with Jesus, and it is not separate from faith. When God in the riches of his mercy and the greatness of his love and the sovereignty of his grace chooses to regenerate us, he gives us new life by uniting us to Christ. “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). Our first experience of this is the faith in Jesus that this life brings. There is no separation of time here. When we are born again, we believe. And when we believe, we know we have been born again. When there is fire, there is heat. When there is new birth, there is faith. . . .

. . . God causes us to be born again. 1) He ransomed us from sin and wrath by the blood of Christ and paid the debt for sinners to have eternal life. 2) He raised Jesus from the dead so that union with Jesus gives eternal life that never fades away. 3) And He called us from darkness to light and from death to life through the gospel and gave us eyes to see and ears to hear. He made the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ shine in our hearts through the gospel. And we believed. We embraced Christ for the Treasure that he is.

These statements are consistent with what was posted on the Flyswatter awhile back, which you may consult here -- Is John Piper Correct on the New Birth?

If we understand Piper correctly, his view is certainly distinguishable from the Hybrid Calvinist "regeneration precedes faith" view advocated by Hybrids such as R. C. Sproul, Tom and Bill Ascol of the Flounders, Wayne Grudem, Tom Nettles, Thomas Schreiner, J. I. Packer, Iain Murray, Ernest Reisinger, James White, and featured in the systematic theologies of W. G. T. Shedd and Louis Berkhof. If this is the case, we hope Piper's influence for the Creedal view on Regeneration will be felt among those who erroneously use the term "monergism" to refer to the "regeneration precedes faith" teaching.


  1. Bob, I wish piper had not made some unclear statements on this subject. E. g. "When we are born again, we believe. And when we believe, we know we have been born again." This sounds like strict monergism to me. On the other hand, he makes statements that don't support strict monergism, as per the link you have given.

    Bruce Oyen

  2. Dear Bob:

    Hello! Thanks for all the support!

    May I also respond in kind by saying that your efforts in promoting biblical Calvinism and combating errors in the church, are superb and a great help to many.

    I am glad to see these remarks by brother Piper. He seems to have uttered things in the past that go against what he said in the citations you gave.

    I e-mailed Piper a year or so ago and referred him to our writings. This was about the time that he announced his intentions to write abook on "regeneration."

    I hope he has visited our web pages and we have helped him become better at expressing the scriptural way of explaining this subject.

    Keep up the good work.

    God bless,



    Brother Oyen commented: Bob, I wish Piper had not made some unclear statements on this subject. E. g. "When we are born again, we believe. And when we believe, we know we have been born again." This sounds like strict monergism to me.

    Of course, only Piper would know what he intends to convey by those words. However, I believe it can be said that "When" we believe we are born again simultaneously.

    I like the wording of the late B. H. CARROLL, Founder of Southwestern Baptist Seminary: "The new birth is NOT COMPLETED WITHOUT FAITH."

    [Page 287 of Volume 10, Part I on The Gospels, An Interpretation of the English Bible].

    Therefore, "WHEN" we believe, the New Birth is "completed," according to Dr. Carroll.

    This does not disregard the fact that one's believing is the consequence of the Holy Spirit's efficient empowerment of the Word in producing conviction, repentance, and faith -- which is true "monergism."

    Again, as Dr. Carroll says in his book of Sermons, page 177:

    Conviction, repentance and faith are the CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS OF REGENERATION.

    Carroll uses this illustration:

    "I would prefer to write the word 'regeneration' above a horizontal line with
    'conviction,' 'repentance,' 'faith,' directly underneath, so that three names under the line are exactly equal in length to the one above the line. Then, above the line is the mysterious, inscrutable, divine side, while below the line is the explicable human side of the same -- one fact. Thus considered, conviction, repentance, and faith are the constituent elements of regeneration; that is, they are the elements within our range of vision" (Sermons, page 177).

    While affirming that the Spirit exerts preliminary influence,
    Carroll says, "But I do not call this influence regeneration" (page 178).

    There you have a specific denial by B. H. Carroll of the Hybrid Calvinist idea that the preliminary influence of the Spirit is "pre-faith regeneration." He further says, "No son without faith" (page 185).

    Carroll taught that the Spirit uses "the instrumentality of the Word in the new birth" (page 187.


    Pastor Bruce Oyen has referred me to an item on "regeneration" by the late C. H. Mackintosh: "Regeneration: What Is It?" The article can be read at Here is a part of what Mackintosh wrote:

    Having endeavoured to show, from various passages of scripture, that regeneration, or the new birth, is not a change of man's fallen nature, but the imparting of a new — a divine nature, we shall now, in dependence upon the blessed Spirit's teaching, proceed to consider how the new birth is produced — how the new nature is communicated. This is a point of immense importance, inasmuch as it places the word of God before us as the grand instrument which the Holy Ghost uses in quickening dead souls. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made;" and by the word of the Lord are dead souls called into new life. The word of the Lord is creative and regenerating. It called worlds into existence; it calls sinners from death to life

    You may read the entire article at the website:

  5. Bob:

    I appreciate Piper's elucidation of the new birth in these citations and hope it is representative of the rest of the book. I especially like the attention to union with Christ since we have all things by virtue of our union with Christ.

  6. Bob:

    I have good news for you and readers of the Reformed Flyswatter. Piper's book, Finally Alive, is available as a free download from the Desiring God website.