Pedobaptists and Hardshell
Primitive Baptists are the source of most of the modern teaching which alleges
that regeneration [new birth] precedes faith. This theory is not found in the
Westminster Confession nor in the Baptist confessions, but it is found in
some post-17th century pedobaptist writers. As I have emphasized in past
articles on the subject, the apparent chief source for the theory today, in
theology books, is the Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof,
widely used by those who like to refer to their theology by the word
Logically followed, this theory rules out the Word or
Gospel as a necessary instrument in the New Birth. Since pedobaptists
believe that the infant children of believers inherit the spiritual blessings
promised in the supposed "covenant," they allege that regeneration (new birth)
takes place early, before the children are capable of believing. This is
supposed to be one of the blessings which is part of their promised inheritance.
Infants are therefore baptized and inducted as members of the church and,
according to the theory, will eventually in due time come forth as believers,
although pedobaptists admit that this is not an absolute certainty. It is sort
of "an elect within the elect."
What is disturbing is that a number of
today's Baptists, such as among the Founders, are apparently embracing teachers
such as Sproul who advocate "regeneration [new birth] before faith," and some
are advocating this theory. You will find a lot of this on the Internet under
the term of "monergism," a term which in a number of cases simply
disguises the heresy that a person is born again apart from the necessary
instrumentality of the Gospel.
James White, a "Reformed Baptist,"
has become an advocate for the "pre-faith regeneration" view in his writings and
debates. He recently advocated this very theory in a debate with Bob
In his theology book, Louis Berkhof admits that this view is
not consistent with the Reformers, the Puritans, and the Confessions of faith.
A reading of the Puritan, Stephen Charnock, on this subject will
certainly verify the truthfulness of Berkhof's admission. See Charnock's work on
the Internet at
the New Birth is the work of the Holy Spirit in using the instrumentality of the
Word of God to create faith, it is inconceivable that "regeneration precedes
faith" or that "faith precedes regeneration." When a separation is made between
"regeneration" and "faith," there is obviously a misunderstanding of what
constitutes the New Birth.
C. H. Spurgeon summarized the matter as
"If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is
regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an
unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to
believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate"
(Warrant of Faith, #531, page 532).
For more on this subject, you may
request an email copies of my articles entitled,
RELATION TO FAITH IN CALVINIST THEOLOGY -- What is the Confessional
SPROUL'S THEORY OF NEW BIRTH
-- Bob L. Ross
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