The “Ordo Salutis” And Monergism: The Case For Faith Preceding Regeneration, Part 1 -- By: R. Bruce Compton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 175:697 (Jan 2018)
Article: The “Ordo Salutis” And Monergism: The Case For Faith Preceding Regeneration, Part 1
Author: R. Bruce Compton


The “Ordo Salutis” And Monergism: The Case For Faith Preceding Regeneration, Part 1*

R. Bruce Compton

* This is the first article in a three-part series offering exegetical support for a Calvinist soteriology that places faith logically before regeneration. An earlier edition of this paper was presented at the 67th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta, Georgia, November 17, 2015.

R. Bruce Compton is Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature and New Testament Chair at the Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Allen Park, Michigan.

Abstract

The order of events in initial salvation has traditionally pitted Calvinists against Arminians. Calvinists support monergism by placing regeneration logically before faith. Arminians support synergism by placing faith logically before regeneration. Some Calvinists, however, defend monergism, yet place regeneration logically after faith. In connection with the effectual call, the Spirit illumines the lost in a temporary life-giving work so that the lost respond to the gospel in saving faith. Logically following conversion, the Spirit imparts a permanent life-giving work in regeneration. In support of the third position, this study examines the key Old Testament texts that juxtapose repentance or faith with regeneration. Parts 2 and 3 examine New Testament evidence, define illumination, and assess the contribution of the third position within a Calvinist soteriology.

Introduction

The debate over the relationship between faith and regeneration in initial salvation is long-standing.1 Calvinists argue that salvation

is monergistic, a work of God alone. Because of human depravity, the lost are spiritually dead and unable to respond savingly to the gospel. At salvation, the Spirit gives spiritual life by regenerating the lost and equipping them to respond in saving faith. Arminians contend that salvation is synergistic, a work of both God and humans. Through prevenient grace, human depravity is effectively neutralized so that the lost can respond to the gospel in saving faith and be regenerated.2

Some Calvinists, however, argue for a third position. They support monergism, deny prevenient grace, and hold that the lost are spiritually dead and unable to respond savingly to the gospel. At salvation, spiritual life is temporarily given through Spirit illumination, which convicts the lost of sin and effectively equips them to respond in saving faith. The moment the person responds, the Spirit permane...

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