The Logical Priority Of Regeneration To Saving Faith In A Theological Ordo Salutis -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger
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The Logical Priority Of Regeneration To Saving Faith In A Theological Ordo Salutis
The discussion of the logical relationship between regeneration and saving faith within a theological ordo salutis is no novel endeavor. Debate of this topic has abounded for over a millennium,2 and possibly even from the days of the apostles themselves. Prominent surges of debate occurred between Augustine and Pelagius, between Luther and the Roman Catholic Church, and, with the emergence of the three traditions of the Protestant Reformation, between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Arminian Remonstrants.
In the latter half of the eighteenth century, Archibald McLean, John Glas, and Robert Sandeman developed a “Sandemanian” ordo within a broadly Reformed tradition. Sandemanianism inserted saving faith (defined as bare assent to the facts of salvation) before regeneration, but anticipated a fuller expression of faith after regeneration. This idea countered the Reformed ordo salutis that had historically united in placing regeneration prior to saving faith.3 After Andrew Fuller
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powerfully rebutted Sandemanianism in his Strictures on Sandemanianism,4 it faded, together with all its other theological and political trappings and vitriol. Its basic soteriological precepts, however, survived.
During the nineteenth century a practical theology that emphasized the human role in the salvation process yet retained Calvinistic nomenclature5 emerged. Retaining the priority of divine activity in the salvation process yet also wishing to accommodate the human response-centered evangelistic practices of the day, this new soteriology synthesized elements of Taylorite6 Holiness and Calvinist Keswick soteriology, thus creating a “moderate Calvinism” that would allow the two traditions to merge.7
The quest for the theological legitimacy of this new system found its most successful expression in the theology of Dallas Theological
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Seminary and its early leaders.8 Seizing on several key passages that seem to place faith before regeneration, this “moderate Calvinist” position proposed an antecedent work of God
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