Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 2:17 PM

The following consists primarily of a reply I made to a friend who wrote that "The groundwork for Presbyterian apostasy lay in the work of Charles Finney, who ruined American evangelism."

I rather think that filling the churches with the unregenerate baptized in infancy was more responsible for Presbyterian apoastasy than Charles Finney. Pedobaptism had previously led to apostasy in New England. It has also led to apostasy in Scotland and England. Wherever Pedobaptism prevails, in due course of time there is apostasy. You can't fill-up the churches primarily with unregenerate persons on the pretext of regeneration in infancy without in due time reaping the consequences.

Men such as Charles and A. A. Hodge and W. G. T. Shedd all taught that children of believing parents are regenerated in infancy and are to be accounted as members of the church. With churches filled with the unregenerate it is not strange that in the 20th century the Pedobaptists fell victim to liberalism and modernism.

As for Finney, is it not the fact that, whatever Finney contributed, he did his work in the "ground" prepared for him by the Pedobaptist hyper-Calvinists who baptized babies on the presumption of regeneration in infancy, thereby filling the churches with the unregenerate? Was it not the Pedobaptist hypers who ordained Finney to the ministry?

Finney took advantage of the Pedobaptist hyper-Calvinistic circumstances he found among the Pedobaptists, with which he became acquainted when he was in law school in New Jersey (Autobiography, page 7). He formed his concepts of theology and evangelism in reaction to this hyper-Calvinism which dominated the Pedobaptist theologians whose primary, or even exclusive, "evangelism" was baptizing babies. As is usually the case, one theological aberration tends to breed another just as bad or even worse.

Is not hyper-Calvinism thereby responsible for spawning Finney and his methods? It was also responsible for Pedobaptists Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell, who likewise formed their theology and methods in opposition to the hyper-Calvinism of their times. See the early chapters of Campbell's Memoirs. Memoirs of Alexander Campbell; Works of Elder B. W. Stone

The Pedobaptist hypers had no concept of "immediate" salvation by faith such as Spurgeon and Moody preached, but were hung-up on (1) infant regeneration and (2) "preparationism" in the case of adults. Shedd was one of the worst on the sinner's engaging in what he called "preparatives," almost as bad as Joseph Alleine, making pre-conversion WORKS essential to "prepare" for the new birth. Shedd even  taught that the sinner is to pray for regeneration, which is really a diversion from believing in Christ for salvation, as taught by John 20:31 (Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, pages 512-515).

This was also the reason the Scottish Pedobaptist John Kennedy opposed Moody -- he was hung-up on "preparationism." He opposed what he called "sudden conversion," and viewed conversion as a "process."

Pedobaptist Kennedy, who is favored by Pedobaptist Iain Murray over Spurgeon's view, wrote:

>>The favorite doctrine of sudden conversion is practically a complete evasion of the necessity of repentance. Suddenness is regarded as the rule, and not the exception, in order to get rid of any process preliminary to faith. And on what ground do they establish this rule? Merely on the instances of sudden conversion recorded in Scripture. True, there are cases not a few of sudden conversion recorded in Scripture, and there have been such instances since the Book of God was sealed. There was a wise and gracious design in making them thus marked at the outset. They were intended, by their extraordinary suddenness, to show to all ages the wondrous power of God. But was their suddenness designed to indicate the rule of God's acting in all ages? This it will be as difficult to establish, as that the miraculous circumstances attending some of them were intended to be perpetual. The work of conversion includes what we might expect to find detailed in a process. There can be no faith in Christ without some sense of sin, some knowledge of Christ—such as never was possessed before—and willingness, resulting from renewal [which is the hyper view of pre-faith new birth advocated by Berkhof, Shedd, Murray] to receive Him as a Savior from sin. If a hearty intelligent turning to God in Christ be the result of conversion, it is utterly unwarrantable to expect that, as a rule, conversion shall be sudden. Indeed, the suddenness is rather a ground of suspicion than a reason for concluding that the work is God's.>> (Hyper-Evangelism)

Spurgeon's sermon in defense of salvation by faith was a reply to the views of men such as Kennedy: <>

In that sermon, Spurgeon defended "sudden" or "immediate" conversion, as follows:

What has been affirmed by a certain class of public writers comes to this, if you boil it down—that it cannot really do any good to tell men that simply by believing in Jesus Christ they will be saved, and that it may do people very serious injury if we lead them to imagine that they have undergone a process called conversion, and are now safe for life. We are told by these gentlemen, who ought to know, for they speak very positively, that the doctrine of immediate salvation through faith in Christ Jesus is a very dangerous one, that it will certainly lead to the deterioration of the public morality, since men will not be likely to set store by the practical virtues when faith is lifted up to so very lofty a position. If it were so it were a grievous fault, and woe to those who led men into it. That it is not the fact we are sure; but meanwhile let us survey the field of battle.

Will you please to notice that this is no quarrel between these gentlemen and our friends Messrs. Moody and Sankey alone. It is a quarrel between these objectors and the whole of us who preach the gospel; for, differing as we do in the style of preaching it, we are all ready to set our seal to the clearest possible statement that men are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and saved the moment they believe. We all hold and teach that there is such a thing as conversion,—and that when men are converted they become other men than they were before, and a new life begins which will culminate in eternal glory. We are not so dastardly as to allow our friends to stand alone in the front of the battle, to be looked upon as peculiar persons, holding strange notions from which the rest of us dissent. So far as salvation through faith in the atoning blood is concerned, they preach nothing but what we have preached all our lives; they preach nothing but what has the general consent of Protestant Christendom. Let that be known to all, and let the archers shoot at us all alike.

-- Bob L. Ross

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