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霍顿:重生即有效的呼召
送交者: pinpoint 2017年11月15日07:17:25 于 [彩虹之约] 发送悄悄话

Regeneration as Effectual Calling

The gospel is not simply the good news concerning Christ, but Christ’s own declaration to sinners of that reality of which the gospel speaks. Christ himself declares his absolution to the ungodly through the lips of his messengers (Ro 10:8–17). Election makes salvation certain, and Christ’s redeeming work secures it. Nevertheless, when the Spirit grants the gift of faith in Christ through the proclamation of the gospel, all of Christ’s riches are actually bestowed. Whether or not one is conscious of this moment, it is the effectual calling of God the Spirit, and it brings justification and renewal of the whole person in its wake. After explaining that believers have been chosen in Christ before the creation of the world and redeemed by Christ, Paul adds, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:13–14). Faith is not something that we must contribute in order to make the gospel effective; it is itself given to us through the gospel that is proclaimed. God does not ordinarily work directly, but uses means. Although the gospel is proclaimed to every person (an external call), the Spirit draws the elect to Christ inwardly (the effectual call). The gospel is freely announced to all people and to every person indiscriminately, although only the elect embrace it through the Spirit’s effectual call.

The question at least among the Reformed is whether the effectual call is synonymous with regeneration or whether regeneration is a distinct and logically antecedent work of the Spirit. Earlier in the tradition the terms regeneration and effectual calling were used interchangeably. Regeneration (or effectual calling) is the Spirit’s sovereign work of raising those who are spiritually dead to life in Christ through the announcement of the gospel. Later, especially after extensive interaction with Arminianism, many Reformed theologians argued for regeneration as God’s act of infusing the habit or principle of life in those who are dead so that they will embrace the gospel when they are effectually called by the Spirit. Regeneration, then, became understood as a direct act of God, without any creaturely means, while effectual calling was seen as mediated through the preaching of the gospel. The special concern of those who embraced this distinction between regeneration and effectual calling was to guard the important point that regeneration (the new birth) is not dependent on human decision or activity but is a sovereign work of God’s grace. Even after acknowledging the impressive exegetical and confessional credentials of the older view, Louis Berkhof follows Charles Hodge in regarding the distinction between immediate regeneration and effectual calling through the Word as a useful one.

I adopt the earlier view on exegetical grounds. Although we must distinguish regeneration from conversion, I do not see the basis for a further distinction between regeneration and effectual calling. Scripture indicates that we “have been born again … through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pe 1:23). “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas 1:18). In John 6 Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (v. 44). Humans do not effect this new birth. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all,” yet he immediately adds, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (v. 63, emphasis added).

If this is the case, why do we need an immediately infused habitus to intervene between these mediated events? Does such an adaptation of this medieval category save us from synergism only to open the door again to a dualism between God’s person and Word? According to the above-cited passages, the Spirit implants the seed of his Word, not a principle or habit distinct from that Word. At no point in the ordo salutis, then, is there an infusion of a silent principle rather than a vocal, lively, and active speech. In attributing all efficacy to the Spirit’s power, Scripture nevertheless represents this as occurring through the Word of God that is “at work” in its recipients (1 Th 2:13; cf. 1 Co 2:4–5; 2 Co 4:13; Eph 1:17; Gal 3:2; 1 Th 1:4; Tit 3:4)—specifically, that message of the gospel, which is “the power of God for salvation” (Ro 1:16; 10:17; 1 Th 1:5).

Therefore, the external call includes the locutionary act of the Father’s speaking and the Son as the illocutionary content. The internal call (effectual calling), synonymous with regeneration, occurs through the Spirit’s perlocutionary effect. As in all of God’s works, the Spirit brings to fruition the goal of divine communication. The Father objectively reveals the Son, and the Spirit inwardly illumines the understanding to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Co 4:6; cf. Jn 1:5; 3:5; 17:3; 1 Co 2:14), liberating the will not only to assent to the truth but to trust in Christ (Eze 36:26; Jer 32:39–40; Heb 8:10; Eph 2:1–9). Regeneration or effectual calling is something that happens to those who do not have the moral capacity to convert themselves, yet it not only happens to them; it happens within them, winning their consent. The God who says, “Let there be.… And there was …” also says, “Let the earth bring forth …” (see ch. 10, “I Am the Alpha and the Omega,” pp. 344–48). Because the Word of God is not mere information or exhortation but the “living and active” energies of the triune God, it is far more than a wooing, luring, persuasive influence that might fail to achieve the mission on which it was sent. In both instances, it is the work of the Father, in the Son, by the Spirit.

Here we once again call upon the essence-energies distinction advocated by the East (see ch. 10, “Creative Communication,” pp. 331–34), but with a specific focus on the Word. There is always a distinction between the incarnate Word (consubstantial with the Father and the Spirit) and the spoken and written Word. Yet the Word in its spoken and written form is not only a creaturely witness that may or may not correspond to God’s Word at specific moments; it is the working (energy) of God. Combining this distinction with speech act theory, we may say that in this respect God’s working is God’s wording. In fact, the gospel “is the power [dynamis, energy] of God for salvation …” (Ro 1:16).

Nor is regeneration something done at a distance, but is already the presence of Christ mediating the voice of the Father in the power of the Spirit who not only works upon us but within us. Calvin comments, “We must also observe that form of expression, to believe through the word, which means that faith springs from hearing, because the outward preaching of men is the instrument by which God draws us to faith. It follows that God is, strictly speaking, the Author of faith, and men are the ministers by whom we believe, as Paul teaches (1 Co 3:5)” (emphasis added). Commenting on Romans 10:17 (“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”), Calvin writes,

And this is a remarkable passage with regard to the efficacy of preaching; for he testifies that by it faith is produced. He had indeed before declared that of itself it is of no avail; but that when it pleases the Lord to work, it becomes the instrument of his power. And indeed the voice of man can by no means penetrate into the soul; and mortal man would be too much exalted were he said to have the power to regenerate us; the light also of faith is something sublimer than what can be conveyed by man: but all these things are no hindrances, that God should not work effectually through the voice of man, so as to create faith in us through his ministry.

Against both the medieval doctrine of justification according to infused habits and the Anabaptist emphasis on a direct and immediate work of the Spirit within us, the Reformers insisted upon the mediation of the Word—specifically, the gospel. “For faith and the Word belong together,” Wilhelm Kolfhaus notes concerning Calvin’s view. “The foundation of both expressions is always the faith produced by the Spirit through the Gospel.” Dennis Tamburello nicely summarizes Calvin’s view of the ordo: “The Holy Spirit brings the elect, through the hearing of the gospel, to faith; in so doing, the Spirit engrafts them into Christ.”

In the account I have offered thus far, believers are seen to be “worded” all the way down: through the covenant of redemption, the covenant of creation, and now in the covenant of grace. The Spirit has voluntarily bound himself in his activity to the Word spoken by the Father in the Son. There is simply no place for infused habits in this kind of covenantal ontology. Not by silent thoughts and infused dispositions apart from the Word but by living speech God creates and recreates his world. A covenantal paradigm, rather than distinguishing between a forensic event (justification) and infused habits (regeneration), renders the entire ordo forensically charged, without confusing justification with sanctification or denying that union with Christ includes organic and transformative as well as forensic aspects.

Furthermore, even regeneration and sanctification are effects of God’s performative utterance: a declaration on the level of ex nihilo creation: “Let there be …” It was only on the basis of having first created the world by this fiat declaration that there were now creatures who could “bring forth” the proper response. While union with Christ and the sanctification that results from that union are more than forensic, they are the consequences of God’s forensic declaration. Both justification (“Let there be …!”) and inner renewal (“Let the earth bring forth …!”) are speech acts of the Triune God. These arguments in favor of seeing the entire ordo salutis in communicative, covenantal, and energetic terms will be especially important in our discussion of justification and sanctification.

 

 Horton, M. (2011). The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (pp. 572–575). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

 


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