Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 11:18 PM
Subject: REGENERATION -- A MAJOR ISSUE? [04/28--2005]
A MAJOR ISSUE? [04/27--2005]

One of my readers recently sent an email in which he said:

You seem to be beating a single drum incessantly! "Regeneration precedes Faith". Seems like a very major issue with you?!

I assume the writer understands that I do NOT favor the idea that regeneration precedes faith, but rather reject that teaching. I think my articles have been clear on that!

And it is a "major issue" with me. This is nothing new, for it has been a major issue with me for many years, and I have often written and spoken on the subject over the years. In the 1950s, in my early years, I saw several young preachers in Kentucky and Ohio "go to seed" on this matter and they ultimately woundup in the Hardshell Primitive Baptist church, a denomination which split from Baptists in 1832 and opposed missions and evangelism to the unregenerate. I have objected to this idea ever since the mid-1950s and try to oppose it wherever it raises its ugly head.

The subject of Regeneration, or the New Birth, is a major theme in our Baptist Confessions of Faith wherein entire chapters are given over to its presentation. Differences on the subject of the New Birth have given rise to many distinct religious movements, not only the Hardshell movement but the Campbellite movement, the Mormon movement, the Catholic movement, the Pedobaptist movement, the Pentecostal movement, and others.

The "pre-faith regeneration" theory has several inherent fallacies which militate against the Gospel of Christ:

1. This view deprives the Gospel, or Word of God, of its place in the New Birth. Hardshells reason that if regeneration is by the Spirit alone without the instrumentality of the Word of God, then there is no need for preaching the Gospel in missionary and evangelistic work. Those who adopt this theory lose all faith in the power of the Gospel to bring men to Christ.

2. This view presupposes that the sinner is in such a state that the Word of God is powerless. The sinner is viewed as being so "dead" that the Word of God can have no effect on him, contrary to the example of Ezekiel's dry bones and the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Thus, the sinner must be "made alive" before anything else can be done. This makes the sinner more powerful than the Word of God.

3. This view separates the Word of God from the Spirit of God. Whereas the Bible teaches in several places that the Word of God is the instrument used by the Holy Spirit to bring about spiritual life and change, this view denies that the Word is actually the instrumental cause in the Spirit's bringing to pass the New Birth.

4. This view is part of the ideology which justifies the baptism of babies. Supposedly, the babies born to believers inherit a "covenant" blessing of regeneration which is presumed to take place very early in infancy. Infants are supposedly regenerated a good while before they become capable of faith in Christ.

5. This view undermines the doctrine taught in our Confessions of Faith, which always unites the Word and Spirit in effectual calling, or the New Birth.

6. This view gives ground to the opponents of the Baptist view of grace, as they can very easily pit verses of Scripture against the idea that one is born again before faith.

7. Advocates of this view often present the erroneous "either or" proposition that the only alternative view to pre-faith regeneration is the view of post-faith regeneration. The fact is, the Holy Spirit's creation of faith by the instrumentality of the Word of God is what constitutes regeneration, and regeneration is neither "pre" nor "post" faith. If one has faith, he is born again; if he does not have faith, he is not born again. Faith is of the very essence of being born again.

I could refer to a number of Scriptures and to articles in our Confessions of Faith, but I am here simply giving a basic summary of some of the aberrant concepts which are related to the pre-faith regeneration theory, demonstrating that it is indeed a "major issue." -- Bob L. Ross

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