John Calvin vs. "Born Again Before Faith"The doctrine that an unbeliever is born again before placing saving faith in Jesus Christ is a heresy held by almost all of today’s Reformed Calvinists. As Bob Ross has decisively proven, this heresy is not taught in any of the historic Baptist confessions. It is likewise not found in the Baptist Faith and Message, the confession of the Southern Baptist Convention. In fact, the BF&M teaches exactly the opposite of "born again before faith."
"Born again before faith" theology is not only rejected by Southern Baptists, it was rejected by John Calvin himself! In the book Theology of the Reformers (Broadman, 1988), Dr. Timothy George, the five-point Calvinist dean of the Beeson School of Divinity, says that John Calvin taught that faith precedes regeneration, which is exactly what the BF&M teaches and what Southern Baptists believe.
"This being placed into Christ (insitio in Christo) occurs in regeneration which, Calvin was careful to point out, follows from faith as the result: Since faith receives Christ, it leads us to the possession of all His benefits. Repentance too, which is part of regeneration, is the consequence of faith." (225-226)
While not accepting his theology in toto, Southern Baptists would certainly agree with John Calvin that regeneration occurs after faith and is the result of saving faith in Jesus Christ. This was the teaching of the real founders of the SBC and as far as I can tell has been the theology of every President of the SBC since the formation of the Convention.
Given the great weight of witnesses: John Calvin, the historic Baptist confessions, the Baptist Faith and Message, the Presidents of the SBC–why then does Dr. Al Mohler have professors at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary which teach just the opposite? Why does he have men like Dr. R. C. Sproul, a baby-baptizing Presbyterian and one of the chief proponents of the "born again before faith" heresy, as a guest speaker at the seminary?
If "born again before faith" theology is diametrically opposed to what Southern Baptists believe and what the Baptist Faith and Message teaches, why are seminary professors teaching it at Southern Baptist seminaries?
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(April 17, 2006 UPDATE: Please read Bob Ross' comments in which he carefully sets forth the origins of the "born again before faith" view. Someone might ask if all this talk about doctrine really matters. Yes, it matters.)