The ordo salutis

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Scott Bushey, Aug 10, 2017.

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  1. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    If the order of salvation is logical and not chronological and that most Christians believe most of the ordo happens simultaneously, i.e.' the spokes on a wheel that turn', when does the infant that is regenerated in the womb become converted (possess faith and repentance)?
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  2. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    The ordo does not happen simultaneously altogether since most lists include glorification--obviously something temporally separated from the others. The point is that it is a logical order so that the order does not necessarily imply a chronological relationship among all of its parts, not that there cannot ever be such a relationship between some of them.

    That said, I don't think I've ever seen "conversion" included in an ordo salutis scheme. Most of the older divines I have read didn't distinguish it from the "effectual" aspect of effectual calling which would occur contemporaneously in the infant that is regenerated in the womb.
  3. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Hi Chris,
    Ok. For the sake of this conversation and clarity, I will use the terms, *faith and repentance*.
    I edited the opening post.
  4. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    For the record, I am studying Hodge and VanMastricht on the idea and they both use the term 'conversion'.
  5. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  6. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I would agree that most Christians aren't confessional in their views. There is a reason it is called an 'order' and not an 'event'.
  7. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ok, I usually see conversion in older writers to refer to a change in internal orientation (connected to regeneration and effectual calling) rather than a change in external orientation (connected to profession and works of repentance) as it is used more commonly these days. See, for instance, Turretin or Brown of Haddington. Is that the way Van Mastricht is using it? In it's internal dimension it would certainly happen in the womb with regeneration.
  8. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Yeas, PVM is using the term in it's narrowest sense to distinguish conversion from regeneration. It is in his most excellent book, 'A Treatise on Regeneration".
  9. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Essentially, this post was provoked on a conversation I was having the other day w/ Bruce. In the thread, the idea of a 'gap' came into play, i.e. a regenerate infant in the womb, who is later, under the preached word, converted. Is there such a thing as a gap; Is the ordo chronological or alway just logical. Most people who I have talked with do not like to think of the ordo as chronological in any way, shape or form as it predisposes one to a possible 'gap' in time between regeneration and conversion.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  10. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Are you referring to 'seed faith'?
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Are the folks you are talking to confusing election and regeneration? Or are they just speculating about the unknown?
  12. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm referring to an internal conversion. Turretin makes the distinction, as always, clear:

    Many of the older writers use "conversion" in what Turretin calls the habitual sense rather than active sense, so that must be born in mind. His comment about adults in particular is interesting, but he doesn't elaborate as far as I can see. That we're willing to ascribe a "seed-like" faith to infants makes me willing to ascribe a "seed-like" active conversion as well since faith is the principle act of that conversion.
  13. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    We're discussing special cases of infants who are not just elect but actually regenerated while unborn, such as appears of John the Baptist and, perhaps, of elect infants who die before birth (though some believe them to be regenerated at death rather than in life within the womb).
  14. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I understand. Many, as well use the term 'regeneration' to refer to the whole of the ordo, i.e. the complete process, which makes it difficult at times, especially in discussions dealing with this subject matter.

    This is why most people believe the order happens simultaneously. Most adults already have much of the typical information onboard by the time they are sitting under the external call. Some process faster, others don't.

    Can a baby have more than habitual faith? Seed (f)aith is called SF for a reason? I don't struggle with seed conversion either as one would most likely agree that w/ (F)aith, conversion follows. Although, as Hodge says:

  15. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Peter VanMastricht defines regeneration:

    PVM continues when he says,

    John brine, a Particular Baptist says:

  16. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    So it is academic speculation on a matter upon which the scriptures are silent; and it is not clear that such a situation has ever existed?
  17. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, the scriptures are not silent on the issue. Consider Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Timothy. The question being posed is when did these regenerate children ever receive (F)aith and (R)epentance in relation to the order.

    Can a man be saved outside of the external call? Can a man be saved outside of an assent to biblical facts? Can a man repent unless he know of his sin, etc.?

    The WCF tells us that children can and are, regenerated in the womb (those elect individuals dying) at times and others even at the baptismal font. The sacraments are not empty rites. It is God's prerogative. So when you weigh out scripture and the confession of our fathers, it is clear that this idea or the study of it, not preposterous.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  18. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Might justification as in "justifying faith" be a helpful concept in the conversation? If a) babies who die in infancy can be saved according to our confessions, and b) regeneration itself does not justify, wouldn't justifying faith then be necessary for their salvation? If seed faith is a (small) measure of faith, I assume this is justifying faith. If not, how are Christ's merits applied to an infant who dies in infancy apart from justifying faith?

    (For the record, John Brine was an advocate of eternal justification, if I remember correctly.)
  19. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes-for the infant dying in infancy, alone.

    I wouldn't call it (F)aith per se, but (f)aith. in my opinion, this seed faith is dormant until the time when the person has the external call delivered and received, and the person ascends to biblical facts, i.e. one needs to have a basis for their faith and repentance. See Rom 10:14-17

    See my previous statement

    The infant dying in infancy and the mentally incapable, are handled differently as the internal and external call of God is given via the HS alone, whereas a infant decreed to live a fruitful life must have the external call issued via the preacher. Rom's 10:14-17

    I wasn't aware and I don't know that his position of EJ rails against or advocates for his statement. VanMastricht cites Brine. Hence, I am not too worried about him.
  20. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind,"
    We begin teaching our children right away, like a gardener watches his seed bed, then his seedlings, and tends them. We look for growth and we expect growth; we nurture development, we discipline, and we retard ill effects. As parents, we don't know how much of their response is natural trust (e.g. what they feel when eating what is set before them), and what part is spiritual; but surely we have a duty to trust the God of promise and his appointed means.

    But, from the above text we see that the mature convert is expected to add to his own faith the godly exercises that follow. And in the case of the Christian child, the parent (like a gardener with his seedlings) prompts and promotes as falls within his power the addition of those godly exercises in the life of his child.

    We do not spend ALL our energy on correcting faults (you're a bad sinner) and cross-talk (believe in Jesus' death); and once we have what we think is conversion, then we start working on godliness. At least, I hope we don't. We begin our work expecting to see faith (with repentance) and godliness flourish, coming along in an organic package that develops and unfolds; while we, monitoring and tending, respond to the need of the hour.

    "Presumptive regeneration" ends up (apparently) too often in presuming on the Spirit and the means. Equating the idea of "seed faith" planting with regeneration leads (as I argued in the previous thread) to minimizing or eliminating the indispensability of active faith to the maintenance of regeneration, that is spiritual life.

    I don't mind disagreeing with PVM (quoted above) who extrapolates from the infant examples, thereby validating the general theory "that one truly regenerate may, as to both habit and act, be for a time an unbeliever, destitute of repentance and walking in sin." He says, in effect, there is a "gap" for infants; thus here may also be a "gap" in the case of the mature. Did this "true regeneration" happen entirely separate from any means? How much time can a man exist as an "unbelieving regenerate" before the idea becomes absurd?

    Now we know that some men seem to fight and struggle against the convicting work of the Spirit, before they give in. I think of a man upon the operating table, the doctors working frantically applying every means of life-support and resuscitation to animate him. There may be a time when a man is "hovering" (as it were) between spiritual life and death. The power of God has been given, and there is a struggle of sorts within the man, whether to believe and repent, and be born again.

    But the notion that God gives actual (non-potential) spiritual life to his elect long ages before they live, destroys the metaphor. We've salvaged a theory for explaining the mystery of new-birth, at the expense of the very biblical imagery we were given for the purpose.
  21. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Hodge seems to put a lot of emphasis on knowledge which as well, would fit into this idea:

    *In the above quote, I believe Hodge is using the term conversion here to refer to 'regeneration'.

    It would seem that Hodge would agree that there can be a 'gap'.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  22. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    This may help. Form C. Matthew McMahon's book, 'How Faith Works' :

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  23. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior


    Out of curiosity, in the ordo, would you place faith or repentance first?

  24. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

  25. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I agree.

    In your view, can one have faith without repentance? How about faith without conversion? If so, how?

    Thanks, brother.
  26. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I would say one can have seed (f)aith and not germinated (F)aith. Conversion would come in the germination of the seed faith and the mental assent to what one is repenting of.

    Have you read some of the citations I provide as they go into the dynamics of what I am saying?
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  27. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior


    Yes, I read some of them and believe I understand where you are coming from. I also understand that others take this position. Additionally, I agree that it is within a "confessional viewpoint."

    Honestly, I'm trying to interact with the argument itself, not by trying to say no other theologians agree with you.

    My concern is that your understanding of seed faith seems fundamentally different from justifying faith.

    Hebrews 6:1: "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God..."

    Faith is "toward God." To be oriented toward God necessitates orientation away from self. Though I believe repentance flows from faith, they occur simultaneously-- two sides of the same coin. To be oriented toward God but not repenting is an oxymoron. If seed faith in not accompanied by repentance in some capacity, how can it be justifying faith?

    I apologize if I'm misunderstanding you, and thank you for your patience.
  28. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm gonna quote VanMastricht again as it may help in the answer:

    In essence, one could be a regenerated person, have seed faith (not germinated (F)aith) and still be an unbeliever.
    If Christ doesn't vicariously repent for us, would it not follow that repentance must be based on something or better yet, can a person repent of a thing it has no idea of?
  29. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    In which version do you find that in the WCF? Or are you arguing from 'infants'?
  30. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I actually said, ^^^


    Ch 10:

    III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

    and 28:
    I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.

    VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.
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