Baptist Faith & Message vs. Pre-faith New BirthReformed Calvinists have taken a liking recently to looking at the Baptist Faith and Message for support of their heresy that a person is born again before he is saved. One writer on the subject has been Gene Bridges who blogs here, there, and everywhere. (Where do you find the time, Gene?)
In this article, Brother Bob Ross conclusively refutes this theory. The BF&M does not teach that a person is born again before placing faith in Christ. Bob also proves that if a person believes in "born again before faith," he cannot accept the Baptist Faith and Message as a statement of faith! To quote Brother Bob, "if you hold to the pedo-regenerationist theory, you do not hold the BF&M and therefore are not a Southern Baptist in doctrine!"
Where does this leave Dr. Tom Schreiner and the other professors at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who teach regeneration before faith? They are required to sign the BF&M in order to teach at the seminary. How can they do so in good conscience!
Subject: BAPTIST FAITH & MESSAGE" vs. PRE-FAITH NEW BIRTH [04/14--2006]
DOES THE "BAPTIST FAITH & MESSAGE" TEACH THAT
ONE IS "BORN AGAIN BEFORE FAITH"? [04/14--2006]
A Pastor in Georgia, who is affiliated with the Founders Ministries, evidently has a serious misunderstanding about the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, the Southern Baptist Convention's Statement of Faith.
The sad fact is, however, he is not alone in this error, for it appears that a number of Founders' affiliates agree with him, and even one or more professors on the Faculty at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Georgia Pastor addressed a comment to The Calvinist Flyswatter blog as follows:
Bob and Charles,
Please read Article 4 of the Baptist Faith and Message (Regeneration or New birth). How do you square dance around this? Regeneration precedes Faith!
I thought perhaps I had "missed" something in the BF&M, so I went to the SBC website to make sure it read as I remembered. The following are --
EXCERPTS FROM THE "BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE" >>http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp#iv<<
II. God . . .
C. God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to UNDERSTAND truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the MOMENT of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. . . . .
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation INCLUDES regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers BECOME new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.
Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.
. . .
V. God's Purpose of Grace
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends ALL THE MEANS in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
Nothing in this BF&M indicates that Southern Baptists -- including 2-point Calvinist Adrian Rogers -- endorsed the theory of "born again before faith." The 2-point Calvinist, Adrian Rogers, helped draft this BF&M, and he was not as strong on Calvinism as 5-point Calvinist R. Albert Mohler, and Rogers would have NEVER agreed to a statement of faith which affirmed "born again before faith." The Founders Ministries, of all people, know this, for Rogers was often in conflict with the Founders on doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, it is plain that the statement has "regeneration" as "part of "salvation," and it says that "There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."
Therefore, there is "no regeneration" apart from faith, according to the statement of faith.
When we put this statement beside the pedo-regeneration theory of Shedd, Berkhof, and Sproul, THERE IS NO COMPARISON!
These Pedobaptists have BABIES REGENERATED by a "Direct Operation" of the Spirit without the use of Truth as a "Means," and before the babies are even capable of "understanding" and "believing" in Christ.
They also claim that adults are regenerated the same way -- by a "direct operation" without the necessary use of Truth as the "Means" and before the sinner "understands" and "believes" the Gospel.
My brother, if you hold to the pedo-regenerationist theory, you do not hold the BF&M and therefore are not a Southern Baptist in doctrine!
It appears that there are some in the SBC who are unwittingly contributing toward making the Convention a "Hardshell Baptist" organization, and if the BF&M meant what the Georgia Pastor alleges, the SBC would indeed be affirming the Hardshell and Pedo-regenerationist teaching that "Regeneration precedes Faith."
By "regeneration" they mean the NEW BIRTH itself, and the idea is that one is BORN AGAIN BEFORE FAITH is created by the Holy Spirit's blessing on the Word of God as the means of bringing the sinner to faith.
While some few in the past may have broadly used the term "regeneration" to include the pre-faith influence of the Holy Spirit, it is obvious that they never intended to affirm that one is "born again" before faith, but that the initial internal influence of the Holy Spirit was at the most only a preparatory influence to the creation of the faith which is the new birth (1 John 5:4).
All evangelical Christians believe in the pre-faith influences of the Holy Spirit who blesses both the Word and any other Providential "means" to create conviction and concern in the lost sinner. However, the "Hardshell" Baptists and the Pedo-regenerationists are the only professing Christians to my knowledge who actually teach that such pre-faith influences are evidence that the sinner has already been "born again before faith."
Southern Baptists need to oppose this theory so as to preserve the Convention from the killing effects of this theological heterodoxy -- a heresy which helped to split the Baptists in the 1800s and became the theological foundation of anti-missionism and anti-evangelistic activity. Creedal Calvinists and less-than-Calvinists alike should take a stand against this view.
This theory is not as great a threat to the life of Pedobaptist churches inasmuch as the vast majority of the Pedobaptist members are baptized as babies and enrolled as church members. But with Baptists, this theory tends to stifle strong evangelistic efforts, appeals to the lost to come to Christ, and public or open confession Christ as Saviour, as commanded in Scripture.