Sent: Saturday, July 02, 2005 8:44 PM

In a message dated 7/2/2005 4:46:13 PM Central Daylight Time, HLSWebb writes:

Dear Bob:

Like your Lutheran friend, I too Praise the Lord for you, your ministry, and your strongly held and proclaimed Baptist convictions.  I would be disappointed in you if you did otherwise.

However, as a Reformed & Presbyterian, of the Bible believing and Westminster Confession of Faith school of thought, I too must weigh in with my two cents worth.

I have discussed this with you before when you seemed to imply, by mentioning Francis Schaeffer together with some of the authors you mention in this email, as believing and teaching the baptismal regeneration of infants.  I KNOW that such a belief was not held by Schaeffer, nor by any of the Bible believing Presbyterian pastors I have known.  Furthermore, I suspect that it was not believed by some of the authors you quote, e.g.,
Shedd who, in his opening sentence, makes the DECLARATIVE STATEMENT, "Infant baptism does not confer the regenerating Spirit..." 


Dear Brother:

I don't think I have ever asserted that the Presbyterian Pedobaptists to whom I have referred taught the "baptismal regeneration of infants."

The fact is, the theologians I have quoted, do not believe that ANY "means," including baptism, are involved in conveying regeneration, but it is rather a sovereign and "direct operation" by the Holy Spirit in BOTH infants and adults. That is precisely what the "Hardshell" or Primitive Baptists teach.

What I have asserted several times is that they do teach the regeneration of both infants and adults as a "direct operation" without the necessary use of means. If you examine all the quotations carefully, I think you will see that this is my point.

Dr. Shedd, for example, makes the distinction very clear in his footnote on page 508 of Volume 2 of his Dogmatic Theology:

"In the case of infant regeneration, there is an INTERVAL OF TIME between regeneration and conversion."

Dr. Shedd held that "The Westminster Confession (38:6) teaches that 'the efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time where it is administered;' in other words, the regenerating grace of the Spirit, signified and sealed by the rite, may be imparted when the infant is baptized, or previously, or at a future time" (II:575).

Dr. Berkhof held the same. "In the case of those who live under the administration of the gospel the possibility exists that they receive the seed of regeneration long before they come to years of discretion and therefore also long before the effectual calling penetrates to their consciousness." (Systematic Theology, page 472).

Both Shedd and Berkhof deny that the Spirit uses the instrumentality of the Word in the act of regeneration in either infants or adults. It is rather a "direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human spirit" (Shedd, II:506 . . . regeneration is not efffected by the use of means" (II:597). Shedd lists the Word as one of the "means of grace," and he denies that it is used in the act of regeneration {II:506).

Berkhof echoes the view of Shedd as to "no means" in adult regeneration (page 473-476) and in infant regeneration (pages 471, 472).

And I might add, both Shedd and Berkhof admit their view is not consistent with the post-reformation Calvinists such as the Puritans, John Owen, Stephen Charnock, and even the Westminster Confession itself (Shedd, II:492; Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pages 466, 470, 476)..

In your references to Spurgeon, whom I have often quoted in regard to the early conversion of children, he was in no wise referring to the regeneration of infants who are not capable of faith. You say:

When I read your words, I was reminded of the words of CHS, the greatest Baptist of them all, in my opinion, on the subject of the "very early regeneration of children" in an email you sent in May, 2004 [highlighting mine]:

" I do love to think that the gospel is suitable to little children. There are boys and girls in many of our Sabbath-school classes down below stairs who are as truly converted to God as any of us. . . . But a minister who preaches as though he never wanted to bring children to Christ, and shoots right over the little one's heads, I do think Jesus is displeased with him. . . .

It ought to be, and in those Churches where the gospel is simply preached, it is as common a thing for children to be converted as for grown-up people to be brought to Christ.

Spurgeon was obviously referring to children capable of faith, not to children incapable of faith, such as Shedd and Berkhof are discussing.

I hope this makes it clear that too my knowledge, I have never alleged the the Reformed Pedobaptists teach the idea of "baptismal regeneration," but they do teach that the children of believers may be assumed to receive the "covenant" blessing of regeneration by a "direct operation" sometime very, very early in infancy, before they come to years of discretion. -- Bob L. Ross

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