How The Campbell-Rice
The Restoration churches (and Scottish Common Sense Realists like Rice) limit the Holy Spirit. This fact was made evident in the Alexander Campbell - Nathan Rice debate of 1843. Before we go to the debate, let's look at the four views of the activity of the Holy Spirit:
1830 Campbell's Consistently Published view (and the majority opinion of Restorationists), The Verbal-Restrictive theory:
Now let's go the the part of the Campbell-Rice Debate of 1843 that relates to the four views of the activity of the Holy Spirit:
Wednesday, November 29, 1843 Mr. Campbell's eighth address:
Now, does the Spirit operate through the instrument, or without it, in the ordinary work of conversion and sanctification? This is the question in its present form. This question involves various other questions. No question either in nature, religion, or society, is properly insular. These are all perfect systems, and, therefore, there is not one insular or independent truth in any one, nor all of them. Not a particle of the universe, not an atom of our planet is independent of other atoms and principles. Nor is there an isolated verse, nor an independent period in the Bible. Those atoms of the universe, those particles of our planet, and those verses of our Bible, are to be contemplated with reference to the Whole.
This is a typical post-Enlightenment explanation of God being restricted to metaphysical activity. Had Campbell been exposed to American New Light Calvinsim instead of Scottish Common Sense Realism, he would have believed that the Holy Spirit is not resticted to metaphysical activity. As it is, Campbell will try to say that the Holy Spirit is Verbal-Restrictive (see above definitions). Notice that Campbell is so confident in saying that God is restricted to the metaphysical, that even the Bible, the means by which the Holy Spirit must work (according to the Verbal-Restrictive theory), must be taken as a system and not used peacemeal. Campbell betrays his material causation theory by speaking of "atoms of the universe". This is a reference to the Newtonian Cosmos, where every movement causes another movement from what modern scientists would call the Big Bang.
Little minds sport with particles, great minds with systems. Mr. Rice has quoted some passages of Scripture. But have they been quoted as proverbs, or as parts of great contexts? I do not believe that any one passage, read you by my friend, has any thing specially to do with the question before us. I might throw into a speech thirty verses, and make thirty assertions, and prove nothing, only that I intended to
employ some one else, some other mind than my own, for not one of the thirty may come within a thousand miles of the real issue. My manner is to notice every thing relied upon as proof of the proposition on hand; not every thing, however, that may be offered on various other matters That would be the work of months and not of weeks. I will, so far as I have recollection or memoranda, allude to some of the proofs
offered, to show that the Spirit operates in conversion without the Word.
Again, it was Jesus and not the Spirit. They were disciples and not sinners. "To open the understanding" is also explained in the context, verse 32. Thus the subject of the operation is explained in these words; "Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?" To open the Scriptures to the understanding, is the meaning of the Hebrewistic phrase, "open the
understanding to understand the Scriptures." Their hearts burned not by
Another proof text was 1 Corinthians 2:14: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The natural man is here contrasted with the spiritual man. The word is sometimes rendered physical, natural, animal, sensual. Natural is the most common. It is four times natural, and twice sensual in the common version. McKnight prefers the animal man, and he is high authority in Scotland, and I learn, of high authority in the theological school at Princeton. Some of the professors there, I am told, speak of him in much admiration. The animal man, then, in the context, means the "wise man according to the flesh"—in contrast with the spiritual man, wise according to the Spirit.
Campbell was schooled in Scottish Common Sense Realism like all the students of Princeton Theologial Seminary... we will soon see that Campbell and Rice were very close in their view of the limitation of the activity of the Holy Spirit.
A sensual man is a man merely of sense; but it has come to signify
one enslaved to sense. Now such a man, who has no other guide than
sense, cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. " The things of
the Spirit" can only be discerned by him that is spiritual — one that is
enlightened by the Spirit. But the things of the Spirit are revealed
things — and, therefore, the discernment of revealed things is very different
from the discernment of nothing — as in the case of infants, pagans,
Campbell has given the Scottish Common Sense Realism explanation of "truth impression" taught by Archibald Alexander since 1813 at Princeton Theologial Seminary. When "truth impression" happens to a sinner, he is "morally persuaded without the need of a supernatural change of nature.
I object, however, altogether to the theological appropriation of this term. Our gospel-hearers are not Paul's natural men — and therefore, it is the sophism of equivocation, or of an ambiguous term, of which all are guilty, who use this word as equivalent, to the citizens of Kentucky who read the Bible. We have no natural men in that sense, nor in the proper sense of that word. Adam was a natural man; we, as his mere offspring, are preternatural men, and under Christ we hope to rise to be supernatural men.
Campbell says the gospel-hearers in Kentucky are not like the Apostle "Paul's natural men". He says the citizens of Kentucky who read the Bible are "preternatural".
Webster acknowledges "direct exertion of omnipotence", which would be the forth category of the activity of the Holy Spirit called Verbal-Transcendent Theory (see definitions of the four theories at the top of the page). NEITHER CAMBELL OR RICE BELIEVED IN THE VERBAL-TRANSCENDENT THEORY. BEFORE THE ADVENT OF SCOTTISH COMMON SENSE REALISM IN THE AMERICAN COLONY, ALL NEW LIGHT CALVINISTS BELIEVED IN THE VERBAL-TRANSCENDENT THEORY.
Campbell uses the term "preternatural" to say that ANYONE WHO READS OR HEARS THE BIBLE IS AFFECTED BY THE WORD OF GOD. This is heresy that denies "ye must be born again" in order to receive the things of God. Campbell continues to dig a deeper metaphysical hole...
I object to much of the nomenclature of modern theology. We have
drawn too much on the paganized vocabulary of Rome. Neither Jewish, Christian, nor Pagan, but a mongrel dialect is the jargon of the present
age. Nature and grace are from the same God — twin sisters of the same
divine family. But man has strayed away from God and nature, and
has become a preternatural being. From this miserable condition God
proposes, in his glorious philanthropy, to redeem man and to make him
God made man upright, and while he remained in nature, that is, in his natural or original state, he had not a passion, appetite, or instinct which he might not most religiously gratify. But now his soul is harassed with the tumult of a thousand passions, lusts, appetites, and elements that war against his soul. If there were no sin in human nature, there could be none in obeying all its passions. Skeptics are deceived, always deceived, and fatally deceived, in their reasonings from Mr. Rice's premises.
Like him, they suppose man to be in the state of nature; and, therefore, think it no crime to gratify their passions. Their reasoning is just, but their premises are false, and their conclusion is a fatal error.
We have had numerous allusions and references to Titus 3:5. The gentleman can find in the phrase, "renewing of the Holy Spirit," no proof of a proposition contrary to mine. The renewing of the Holy Spirit is in the second birth connected with other means. He has saved us through the washing of the new birth, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.
This renewing of the Spirit is not immediate, nor exclusive of other means; it being associated with a washing, and a shedding forth of the Spirit through Jesus Christ our Savior.
The 1828 Webster Dictionary definition for IMMEDIATE: 1.Acting without a medium, or without the intervention of another cause or means; producing its effect by its own direct agency. An immediate cause is that which is exerted directly in producing its effect, in opposition to a mediate cause, or one more remote. 2. Not acting by second causes; as the immediate will of God. Campbell is saying that regeneration is not a supernatural change of nature, but rather a moral persuasiuon of the mind. The MEANS he refers to is the acceptance of the Word of God. he is saying that God never operates on a person immediately, but always through the means of the Word of God. This is the most restrictive theory of how the Holy Spirit works called the Verbal-Restrictive theory. For more on the theological significance of the word "immediate", click here. Campbell's view of the limitation of the Holy Spirit is almost identical to that of Rice.
Campbell is saying that the Holy Spirit only regenerates the mind by "moral persuasion", and repudiates the doctrine that says the Holy Spirit operates on man immediately, that is, separate from the means of the Word of God. Rice would say that the Holy Spirit is only needed to "quicken the Word" in the individual so they will have a "truth impression". Both ideas deny the Biblical view of supernatural regeneration as a change of nature and character.
The gentleman has more than once called upon me to read something from some of my books contrary to what he has read. Being here in person, I prefer speaking on these subjects viva voce, to reading my views already published. Besides, I have no time to debate a hundred questions, growing out of his designs, of which I am now apprized. The gentleman may read from them when he is hard pressed for matter. I perceive this is his principal use of them. For me, when my present esources are exhausted, I may turn in and debate with him on those writings. I have another reason; I do not find just such passages as suit all the topics that occur. Yet, as a matter of complaisance, I will furnish the gentleman with one or two extracts, if he will ask me for no more: (Christian System, p. 66.)
"Some will ask, has not this gift been conferred on us to make us christians! True indeed, no man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit. As observed in its proper place, the Spirit of God is the perfecter and finisher of all divine works. 'The Spirit of God moved upon the waters;' 'the hand of the Lord has made me; the Spirit of the Almighty has given me life;' 'by his Spirit he has garnished the heavens; his hand has formed the crooked serpent'—the milky way; 'the Spirit descended upon him;' 'God himself bare the apostles witness, by divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his will;' 'holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit;' 'when the Spirit of truth, the Advocate, is come, he will convict the world of sin, because they believe not on me, and of justification, because I go to my Father;' 'God was manifest in the flesh, and justified by the Spirit.’
Now we cannot separate the Spirit and word of God, and ascribe so much power to the one and so much to the other: for so did not the apostles. Whatever the word does, the Spirit does; and whatever the Spirit does in the work of converting men, the word does. We neither believe nor teach abstract Spirit, nor abstract word; but word and Spirit, and Spirit and word." page 710
It is this quote from Cambell's Christian System that Rice takes up in his response:
NATHAN LEWIS RICE
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 1843, Mr. rice's eighth REPLY. 713
He told us also, that the Spirit is always present with the Word. I asked him what he meant by this language; but I received no answer! I discover plainly, that the audience are not to see the real point at issue, Unless I constantly keep it before them; and this I am resolved to do.
The great question, is not whether ordinarily the Spirit operates
through the truth; but whether the only influence exerted in conversion
and sanctification, is that of words and arguments — whether the Spirit
of God operates on the hearts of men only as Mr. C.'s spirit operates on
the minds of this audience? This is the question — I use the gentleman's own illustration. We are not debating the question, by what instrumentality the Spirit converts and sanctifies men; but what is the work
This Mr. C. denies. The gentleman has a clear head. I wonder at the confusion in which
he keeps his real sentiments. On some subjects he delivers himself with
Let me now give you a specimen of the manner in which my biblical
friend expounds Scripture. He professes to be a very biblical man.
In proof of a divine influence in addition to the Word, I quoted Luke
24:45: "Then opened he their understandings, that they might understand
the Scriptures." The inspired writer, you observe, does not
say, he opened their understandings in order that they might understand
the Scriptures. What is the gentleman's reply? He turns to the 27th
Why, you might expound the Scriptures to persons by the
hour, and yet they might have no correct understanding of them; but if
you had power to open their understandings, the whole difficulty would
be at once removed. Remove the causes of their blindness, and they
will see clearly. So did David pray — "Open thou mine eyes, that I
may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Did he not pray for a
divine influence on his mind, opening his understanding? It is vain to
To prove the necessity of the special work of the Spirit on the heart, I quoted 1 Corinthians 2:14: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit; for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The gentleman appeals to McKnight, who translates the phrase "animal man." And he tells us, he has somewhere heard, that the professors in the Princeton theological seminary have placed McKnight at the head of critical commentators.
This may be true; but I should prefer to have some proof of the fact. But let us take his translation. Now the question is, who is the animal man? Mr. C. says he is the pagan without a divine revelation to guide him. But the fact is, the word translated natural or animal, has not this meaning in one instance in the New Testament. It is used in 1 Corinthians 15:44, 45, to distinguish the natural body from the spiritual body.
The natural body, we know, means the body as it is by nature, unchanged. "It is sown (or buried) a natural body." The spiritual body means the body as it will be changed at the resurrection. So the natural man means man as he is by nature—depraved; and the spiritual man is the man renewed by the Holy Spirit.
The same word, as I have already stated, is used by James, who describes the wisdom which is not from above, as "earthly, sensual, [Greek: natural] devilish." In this passage the word is used with reference to moral character, and it certainly expresses the idea of depravity. It is also used by Jude, verse 19, where he describes the wicked thus: "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, [Gr. natural] having not the Spirit."
The wicked, who have not the Spirit, are described as natural or sensual. On the use of the word in these passages, the gentleman forgot to make even a passing remark. The usage of the New Testament, in regard to this word, leaves no room to doubt what is its meaning. The natural man certainly is man in his native depravity.
Mr. C. objects to the use of the word natural, as applied to man in his depravity, because
by nature he was not depraved. He, therefore, uses the word preternatural.
If Paul thus uses the word nature, I may be excused for following his example!
But Mr. C. was careful not to notice the succeeding part of the verse
under discussion. Why does not the natural man receive the things of
the Spirit? Because, says Paul, "they are foolishness unto him." The
meaning of this language, as I proved, is made perfectly clear by chapter 1:18, "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but
unto us which are saved, it is the power of God." That is, when they
hear the Gospel preached, it is to them foolishness; they see in it no wisdom,
no adaptation to their condition, nothing attractive; and therefore
But if Mr.
C.'s interpretation be correct, the passage should read thus: The animal
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are not revealed to
Consequently, in every case of conversion, such a
divine influence is actually exerted.
To show you how much I have misrepresented him, the gentleman
He quotes several passages, as follows: "The hand of the Lord has made me, the Spirit of the Almighty has given me life;" "By his Spirit he has garnished the heavens, his hand has formed the crooked serpent;" "The Spirit descended upon him; God himself bore the apostles witness, by divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his will." Not one of these passages, nor any one quoted by him, has the slightest reference to a change of the heart by the Holy Spirit.
He also read on the next page: "Now we cannot separate the Spirit and the Word of God, and ascribe so much power to the one and so much to the other; for so did not the apostles. Whatever the Word does, the Spirit does; and whatever the Spirit does, in the work of converting men, the Word does. We neither believe nor teach abstract Spirit nor abstract Word—but Word and Spirit, and Spirit and Word."
All this is perfectly ambiguous. For if the Spirit dictated and confirmed the Word, and the Word converts and sanctifies men; it is true, in a sense, that the Spirit does the work. But does Mr. C. hold to an influence of the Spirit in conversion, distinct from the Word? On this point these paragraphs give us no light. Let me read on the 277th page of his Christianity Restored. Perhaps we shall here gain some information.
He says: "But this pouring out of the influences, this renewing of the Holy Spirit, is as necessary as the bath of regeneration to the salvation of the soul, and to the enjoyment of the hope of heaven, of which the apostle speaks. In the kingdom into which we are born of water, the Holy Spirit is as the atmosphere in the kingdom of nature: we mean, that the influences of the Holy Spirit are as necessary to the new life, as the atmosphere is to our animal life in the kingdom of nature.
All that is done in us before regeneration, God our Father effects by the word, or the gospel as dictated and confirmed by his Holy Spirit. But after we are thus begotten and born by the Spirit of God—after our new birth, the Holy Spirit is shed on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior; of which the peace of mind, the love, the joy, and the hope of the regenerate is full proof:for these are amongst the fruits of that Holy Spirit of promise, of which we speak."
On this passage I make two or three remarks.
2. Observe, he says—" All that is done in us before regeneration [immersion] God our Father effects by the Word, or the gospel as dictated and confirmed by his Holy Spirit.” Here we have a denial as clear and as strong as language can make it, of any influence in conversion, except that of the Word as dictated and confirmed by the Spirit. This is the most important point about which we differ, and which I desire the audience not to lose sight of.
3. As my friend is fond of asking questions, I wish to ask him — What kind of influence does the Spirit exert on the minds of immersed believers? This is a very important question. He has said in his publications—that there are but two kinds of power — moral and physical. He has also said, that the only power that can be exerted on mind, is moral power; and he has said, that " every spirit puts forth its moral power in words," — that "all the power it has over the views, habits, manners or actions of men, is in the meaning and arrangement of its ideas expressed in words; or in significant signs addressed to the eye or ear."
Now I am particularly anxious to know
what kind of influence the Spirit does exert on the minds of believers,
after they are immersed. Is it physical power? My friend will say —
no. Is it spiritual power — neither physical nor moral? He will say — no. Is it a moral influence which sanctifies the heart? If so, it must be an
I was pleased to hear him, for once, come out and express with some clearness his real sentiments. The Spirit of God, he tells us, produces moral effects only by arguments; that when all his arguments and motives are brought to bear on the mind, his moral power is exhausted. This is precisely what I read on yesterday from his Christianity Restored.
What more moral power could Demosthenes or Cicero exert on their hearers or
readers, after they had put forth all their arguments? So it appears, according
"Because arguments are addressed to the understanding, will, and affections of men, they are called moral, inasmuch as their tendency is to form or change the habits, manners, or actions of men. Every spirit puts forth its moral power in words; that is, all the power it has over the views, habits, manners, or actions of men, is in the meaning and arrangement of its ideas expressed in words, or in significant signs addressed to the eye or ear.
All the moral power of Cicero and Demosthenes was in their orations when
spoken, and in the circumstances which gave them meaning; and whatever
From such premises we may say, that all the moral power which can be
exerted on human beings, is, and must of necessity be, in the arguments addressed
Thus, in the nature of things, we are prepared to expect verbal communications from the Spirit of God, if that Spirit operates at all upon our spirits. As the moral power of every man is in his arguments, so is the moral power of the Spirit of God in his arguments." This limiting of the power of God, I have said, is both unscriptural and unreasonable. God originally created man upright. He exerted on him an influence, not by words and arguments, which made him holy.
Who shall venture, in view of this fact, to say, he cannot now exert an
influence which will renew his sinful nature? The gentleman asks, what can the Spirit do, after all his arguments have been put forth? Will he inform us, how the devil tempts men to
sin? He acknowledges, that the devil has access to the minds of men,
The gentleman is attempting to prove, that in conversion and sanctification the Spirit operates on persons only through the truth. If there is a passage in the Bible that expresses such a sentiment, let us have it. I desire to see the passage, if it is in the Bible. If it is not, he would better abandon his doctrine.
But he says, the proposition he affirmed on the design of baptism, was, with the exception of one word, precisely the language of the Bible, and yet I was not satisfied with it. The difficulty was, that I was not satisfied with his interpretation of the language of the Bible, because it flatly contradicted many of the plainest declarations of Christ and the apostles! The gentleman has a remarkable tact at representing all men who differ from him, as fighting against the Scriptures. I verily do not believe, that he is infallible; and believing him fallible, I must venture to differ from him.
He has given you, my friends, some important information this morning, viz: that on yesterday I gave up the whole question! I venture to say, that not an individual in the house, except himself, discovered that I had done so. It was, therefore, particularly important that he should make the announcement!
But how did I give up the question? By admitting,
that generally the Spirit operates through the truth. So says
Mr. C. Let me repeat the substance of my remarks on this point, and
the audience will judge whether I gave it up. I stated distinctly, that the
Scriptures speak of two kinds of faith, very different in their character
It is evident to every man's common sense, that you may believe a thing to be true, and yet be perfectly indifferent concerning it." Gallio cared for none of these things." You may be constrained by clear evidence to believe a truth, and yet most earnestly wish it were not a truth. Thousands believe the Bible to be a divine revelation, and yet are wholly indifferent to its sublime truths.
This point is critical to the understanding of modern decisional regeneration. Modern ministers teach that if you sincerely pray the salvation (or sinner's) prayer, you are saved. They do this on the basis that you sincerely believed a scripture that states "if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved", regardless of whether or not you actually believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Believing a scripture is not believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. One is faith in a scripture, the other is saving faith. The same error Campbell makes in believing saving faith is merely believing scripture with the natural mind, so Rice makes with believing saving faith is merely a "truth impression".
Their minds are occupied with other subjects, and their time employed in worldly pursuits. One goes to his farm, another to his merchandize; and each says, "I pray thee, have me excused." There are others who are constrained to admit the truth of the Bible, but are deeply averse to its doctrines and precepts. "The devils believe and tremble."
This faith, though it leads the soul not immediately to Christ, is yet important; because it causes men to hear and to think, that their consciences may be reached, and that God may regenerate and sanctify them through the truth. Thus they may be induced to embrace the gospel, which before they both believed and hated; or to the appeals of which they were indifferent.
The faith of Agrippa is the faith which precedes regeneration; and the faith of Paul is the effect of it. The faith of Paul worked by love, and overcame the world. This is the faith of which John speaks, as an effect of the new birth: "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." I should be pleased to know, whether Mr. C. ascribes to faith any moral quality; or whether he supposes that men believe in Christ, just as they believe that there was such a man as Caesar, and as they believe what he relates of his wars. Is not faith the cordial (of the heart - not just a head knowledge) reception of Christ as our Savior? I did not give up the question.
I have offered a considerable number of arguments, to which my friend has attempted no reply. He has pursued his usual course. He says they are irrelevant. This is the easiest way in the world to answer arguments. If a man finds them unanswerable, he can say they are all irrelevant! To prove that in conversion and sanctification there is an agency of the Spirit, distinct from the Word, I quoted such passages as the following: " I will pour out my Spirit upon thy seed." "A new heart also will 1 give you, and a new spirit will 1 put within you." "I will give them one heart and one mind," etc.. They are all irrelevant, says the gentleman. Such is his answer; though every one can see that they bear directly and most conclusively on the point at issue; for they teach in the clearest manner, that men repent and believe, because God sheds upon them his Holy Spirit. My lime is so nearly out, that I will not now introduce another argument.
Wednesday, Nov. 29 Mr. Campbell's ninth address.
His remarks on spiritual operations, when further explained, may,
perhaps, be comprehended. As yet, however, to me they are not comprehensible.
I will answer his interrogations when they are more definitely
set forth. Let him explain his distinct power. I cannot comprehend
his theory of an abstract power. If he say superadded power, I wish to
know of what character it is: physical or moral? I can readily conceive
of various means being employed to secure the attention of persons to
If I see a man take an axe and fell a tree, I call the axe the instrument, and I say, whatever power he puts forth in felling the tree is put forth through the axe. Not one chip is removed without it. This illustrates so much of the subject as pertains to instrumentality.
I am at a loss to understand his additional power. I see but the man and the axe, and the tree falls. That the Spirit operates through the instrumentality of the Word I doubt not; but if asked to explain the modus operandi. I confess my inability. The fact of the power I admit, but the how it works I presume not to comprehend. If Mr. Rice will set it forth, I will cheerfully avow my assent or dissent, as the case may be; for I keep nosecrets on that subject, or any other, connected with man's salvation. I candidly consider, that the gentleman has, however, conceded the real issue.
He has got a regeneration without true faith,
This is critical to understanding Campbell- He is saying that faith without a moral man having a moral response to the truth can not be saving faith. Rice would say "of course I believe that saving faith is a moral response to the truth", but Campbell would say, "no, you are saying that saving faith is the result of a non-moral action by the Holy Spirit on the man".
but now seems to have need of a pretended faith, or some sort of an indescribable, partial, imperfect faith as a prerequisite. He has a faith before, and a faith after regeneration. But this seems not to meet the case, nor relieve him from the dilemma. His indefinable, previous faith is just