The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. - John 5:25
I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me. - Psalm 119:93
Someone wrote to me and asked me the question if I was a "means" man or an "anti-means" man. Here is my attempt to answer that question. For background purposes, this is how I understand the means vs. anti-means debate. Primitive Baptists have historically maintained that men are regenerated without the use of "means" in stark contrast to most sovereign grace believers who believe that the preaching of the Gospel is the "means" that God uses to regenerate His elect. This debate has raged on for centuries now, and many congregations have even split over the disagreement. Some in the conditional time salvation primitive baptist camp have even stated that men may be regenerated and never hear the Gospel. Absoluter primitive baptists deny this error. And some in the sovereign grace camp like to condemn both groups as "heretics" and erect straw men that can easily be torn down. They will often broadbrush primitive baptists as "hyper-calvinists" claiming that they do not believe in "preaching the Gospel." This is an easy straw-man to tear down, but I have yet to meet a primitive baptist that does not believe in preaching the truth. Almost all that I have met consider preaching the Gospel to be of the utmost priority.
Truth be told I’ve never understood why either side makes a big deal out of this as there are two facts that both sides will agree upon: The Holy Spirit does all the regenerating work, and all the elect will believe the Gospel (minus the cts pb groups which I believe are in error). So what are the practical implications of either side of the debate?
On the “means” side, nobody truly believes it’s their preaching that saves. They view regeneration as primarily an epistemological process but would not deny that it is supernatural. They claim those on the "anti-means" side of the debate don't believe in preaching the Gospel (an obvious strawman).
On the “anti-means” side, most believe that Gospel belief is practically simultaneous with regeneration. They view regeneration primarily as a supernatural mystical process, but would not rule out any epistemological work of the Spirit. They claim that those on the "means" side of the debate confuse regeneration with justification by faith (minute details).
My own opinion on the matter is that I believe this debate is one that splits hairs. I'm sure some may accuse me of splitting the baby, but I can see both sides of the argument. Ultimately for me however, it doesn’t matter to me how God regenerates His elect. I just know that He does and that the Gospel is of such extreme importance that full salvation is not possible without knowing it, however which way the Lord delivers it to His precious elect.
So to answer the question, am I a means man? Yes! I believe God uses all of His creation including His Gospel to accomplish His purpose which includes regenerating His people. However, I am also an anti-means man! When it comes to the regeneration of His precious elect, He supernaturally breathes life into their rotted soul and gives them life. And Gospel knowledge always accompanies this miraculous event. I refuse to get hung up on the issue and be drawn into endless polemical debates where each party accuses the other of "heresy." Instead of engaging in theological arguments that not only split hairs, but also congregations, maybe it's time to just get back to the basics and just preach Christ.