Wednesday, August 09, 2006

More Blunders from Gene M. Bridges

Gene M. Bridges, the ex-Southern Baptist bloviating blogger, is at it again. Brother Bob Ross has responded to Gene's latest attempts to prop up the Reformed theory of "regeneration before faith."

Despite his lack of serious scholarship, Gene has developed a small readership that is akin to the blind leading the blind. Gene's misuse of sources, "lack of theological savvy," and general incompetence regarding the issue make his "born again before faith" blog an untrustworthy resource for Southern Baptists looking for clarity on the issue.


See previous articles: Gene M. Bridges falls down on "regeneration before faith" and The Blunders of Gene M. Bridges



Bob to Charles:

Once again, Charles, Gene Bridges has been spending his time cutting and pasting, repeating the same old jargon, and primarily utilizing materials from pedo-regenerationists who follow the Shedd-Berkhof theory of "born again before faith."

In his latest, Gene again demonstrates his lack of theological savvy by alleging that there are "three views" on regeneration among professing Calvinists. Actually, the fact is, there are essentially only two views; either --

(1) The Holy Spirit uses the instrumentality of the Word of God, or Gospel, in creating the constituent elements of repentance and faith, which constitutes the New Birth. We understand this is the view set forth in the Confessions of Faith and has been generally held by most Baptists, particularly Southern Baptists.

(2) The Holy Spirit, without instrumentality, "regenerates" as a "direct operation", with repentance and faith being separate and subsequent acts to the supposed preceding "regeneration." For this view, the most popular and extensive theological expositions are found in the theologies of pedo-regenerationists, Dr. Shedd and Dr. Berkhof.

Gene tries to refute us, Charles, and he tends to skirt around the issue of "baby regeneration" like it is a separate issue altogether. He fails to give any serious consideration of the fact that the very theory that "regeneration precedes faith" was concocted by the pedos as their "classic" argument in behalf of their false doctrine that "covenant children" receive regeneration in infancy apart from means and faith. So they argue that if regeneration takes place in infancy without means and faith, then it must likewise be the case with adults. The fact is, they have yet to prove that their babies are born again.

Gene apparently eschews facing the fact that the "born again before faith" theory which he is defending grows out of the pedo-regenerationist effort to justify infant baptism and church membership for "covenant children." So he heaps scorn upon us when we refer to the matter of "baby regeneration," and calls this a separate issue.

Gene "inGeneously" explains that the admitted "change" by pedos -- from the earlier Calvinistic view on regeneration to the later "born again before faith" theory -- is merely a "change in language." He says, "Yes, the language has changed. Nobody denies this". But Gene does not see the significance of this change.

He attributes the theological fatherhood of the theoretical "change of language" to the pedo-regenerationist, Francis Turretin (1623-1687): "Turretin, however, began distinguishing between 'conversio habitulis' and 'conversio actualis,' and from that point on the language has evolved," according to Gene and his patch-and-paste material.

Baby regenerationists such as Shedd and Berkhof have followed the Turretin "evolution" in theoretical language. Does this mean that Turretin is the "father" of the "born again before faith" heresy -- the "ordo salutis" of the Reformed pedos? Or, can Gene find one before Turretin who should have the "honor"?

Gene, however, for some reason does not tell you that Turretin taught that "Some infants are regenerated in the womb, and before baptism, others in baptism, others after"

This is essentially the same palabber taught by Shedd and Berkhof.

This is enough to make a Bible student wonder how much a man really knows about the New Birth when he thinks that "some infants are regenerated in the womb." Would Gene ordain him to the Baptist ministry or allow him to teach Sunday School?

Then Gene goes on in this article -- which is typical of his "normal" labyrinth of mega-strosities -- and winds up with no more than what he began with -- the same ole "Reformed" pedo heresy of "born again before faith."

He wastes a lot of words and space writing about different views on "infant salvation," which is a matter no one really knows anything about, but that does not seem to hinder Gene from his verbosity on the subject.

The "bottom line" is, Charles, according to Gene (1) you and I and most all Baptists for hundreds of years are wrong to believe that the New Birth is the work of the Holy Spirit in His use of the instrumentality of the Word in creating repentance and faith, and (2) the pedos (baby regenerationists) and Hardshells are correct when they say that "regeneration" takes place prior to faith.

If you want to read the defense of the pedo-regenerationist and Hardshell position that "regeneration" takes place prior to the Spirit's creation of faith in Jesus Christ, see Gene Bridges at on Monday, August 7.


Bob to Charles:

Gene Bridges refers to Dr. Peter Masters of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, and alleges that Dr. Masters holds a view which involves "Regeneration precedes faith."

However, this did not appear to me to be the view which Dr. Masters taught in his book, Physician of Souls, pages 79-92. In fact, Dr. Masters opted to not even use the word "regeneration" because it "nowadays causes instant confusion" (page 81).

While he taught -- as we also teach -- that there are pre-faith influences or acts by the Holy Spirit, he evidently did not think these were enough to constitute the New Birth. He used the terms "conception," "awakened," and "conviction," but did not indicate that these were yet the New Birth.

In fact, he does not use "New Birth" until Justification occurs -- with which the New Birth is said to be "simultaneous" (page 90).

He says, "So as soon as repentance and trust is genuine, we believe justification and new birth may occur," and conjunctively with justification "he is now completely born again" (pages 90, 91).

In Dr. Masters' chart on page 94, his presentation places "Repentance and Faith" before "Justification and the New Birth," and he says, "Once 'Repentance and Faith' is genuine there can be no further delay and the New Birth is wrought by the Lord."

Therefore, it seems that Dr. Masters understands the New Birth about the same as Dr. B. H. Carroll on the New Birth -- that it is "not complete without faith." (An Interpretation of the English Bible, Vol. 10, page 294).

Gene Bridges, on the other hand, has the New Birth being complete before faith. Gene is of the pedo-regenerationist/Hardshell camp on this issue.


Bob to Charles:

Gene Bridges evidently "borrowed" from Phil Johnson about Peter Masters, but Gene did not make half the report on Masters that Phil made.

Here is how Phil reported Masters' view on the new birth:


Today, in the earliest afternoon session, Dr. Peter Masters gave a message on evangelistic preaching that made a perfect complement to Chris Buss's Wednesday morning message. He gave a wonderful defense of the gospel's free offer. To say that Dr. Masters is not a fan of John Murray's book Redemption: Accomplished and Applied would be putting it mildly. He objects to Murray's treatment of regeneration as an instantaneous, almost unconscious event.

Dr. Masters sees regeneration as a process that subsumes various aspects of God's converting work — effectual calling, conviction, spiritual awakening, conversion, and the genesis of faith. These, he said, usually aren't simultaneous; they occur over time and are the work of God's Word on the mind. That's why evangelistic preaching ought to be persuasive. When an elect person comes to faith, his mind ought to be fully convinced in the process. Dr. Masters said that John Murray, by contrast, seems to regard conversion as so much the work of God that the believer's mind is, in effect, totally passive and may even remain unconscious of the change that has occurred.

Dr. Masters at one point said of Redemption: Accomplished and Applied that in his assessment, "about 25 percent of it is hyper-Calvinistic." He made a very direct appeal for a return to passionate, persuasive, evangelistic preaching. It was a great message, very thought-proroking and well worth listening to. Dr. Masters' opinion on Calvinism and evangelism would seem to have a special credibility in light of the amazing fruits of the evangelistic ministry here at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

As you know, Charles, John Murray is a "Reformed" theologian in the same tradition of those who teach "regeneration before faith."

Thanks to Gene Bridges for mentioning Masters, for we certainly concur with his evaluation of Murray's "Reformed" view on the new birth.


Gene Bridges alleges:

"We know little more than men believe because they are regenerated (I John 5:1). . . . regeneration comes before saving faith (1 John 5:1) "

This is a complete distortion of the passage -- which palabber Bridges may have imbibed from a jug of "White Lightnin'" brewed by the "born again before faith" brewmaster, James White.

John is teaching believers how they may "know" that they are born of God, and he tells them that "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," and he goes on to state the fact that their "faith" is the "WHATSOEVER" which is "born of God" (1 John 5:4). Faith is therefore proof of their being born of God.

Therefore, if one has faith, he may know and be assured that he is "born of God" for his faith is "born of God," according to 1 John 5:4. Since faith is the victory which overcomes and is that which is born of God (1 John 5:4), the one who has faith (believes) may thereby "know" that he is "born of God."

Gene Bridges, like the normal Hardshell, has distorted the verse to teach that one is "born again before faith." Accordingly, the passage should read, "Whosoever believeth was already born of God before he believed."

But John is not saying a word about "regeneration comes before saving faith." He is rather saying that faith is the proof that the believer is born of God.

Since the Holy Spirit uses the Word to give faith its birth (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:l8; 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Thess. 1:5), the person who has that faith which is born of God may know that he is indeed a born again believer. Obviously, if faith is born of God (1 John 5:4), a person would not have faith if he were not born of God.


At Wednesday, August 09, 2006 12:34:00 PM, Blogger volfan007 said...

thanks for such an informative blog. God bless yall.


At Wednesday, August 09, 2006 4:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Bob to Charles:

I do not think that Gene Bridges intends it, Charles, but the position on "regeneration" which he defends is in reality a defense of an Anti-Gospel philosophy.

This doctrine apparently was invented to "protect" baptized babies from the Gospel when they grew up and became exposed to it.

If baby sinners are "born again before faith," as the pedo (baby)regenerationists contend about their babies, then it follows that these persons would never actually need to hear and believe the Gospel to be saved. They were already "regenerated" as babies, according to Turretin, Shedd, Berkhof, Frame and their disciples. So any subsequent "believing" would not effect their "regeneration" in the least.

In talking with some people who were baptized as infants about salvation, I have heard the "testimony" that they were saved in infancy. If so, this nullifies the need of their believing the Gospel to be saved.

Lorainne Boettner, a "Reformed" writer, years ago personally told me that he did not know when he was born again.

Most, if not all, of the "revivals" in England and America have been occasions for many, who were baptized in infancy, making professions of salvation. They were awakened to the fact that they had never been born again, and needed to repent and trust Christ for salvation -- despite their supposed "regeneration" when they were babies.

Notable revival evangelists of the past such as the Wesleys, Whitefield, Edwards, Nettleton, Finney, and Moody led many pedos to realize that they had never been born again, and thousands of these made professions of faith. I also understand that mulititudes who have made professions at Billy Graham meetings had been baptized as babies.

Also, since Hardshells believe that sinners are "born again before faith," they have built their denomination on the idea that the Gospel is not necessary for the new birth, and they therefore oppose missions and evangelism to the unregenerate.

It seems probable that when men believe sinners get "born again" before believing in Christ, there is a tendency to minimize the necessity of the Gospel and the calling upon sinners to repent and believe.

As Spurgeon said, "If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate" (Warrant of Faith, #531, page 532).

I don't think Gene Bridges intends to oppose the Gospel, but he defending a doctrine which at its very heart alleges that the Gospel is not an instrument used by the Holy Spirit in the act of regenerating sinners, but its utility is "after" regeneration has taken place. It is no surprise that where this doctrine is imbedded in a ministry or church, there is a great lack of converts to Christ.

At Wednesday, August 09, 2006 11:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Not satisfied with his earlier blundering attempt at distorting A. H. Strong, Gene Bridges is making an even more extensive foray into demonstrating his "weakness on Strong."

He says:

Recently critics have tried to set up a competition between Louis Berkhof and A. H. Strong with respect to the axiom “regeneration precedes faith.” In this article, we will look at Drs. Strong and Berkhof.

"Recently"? This probably demonstrates how far behind Gene Bridges is on this matter, so far as he knows anything about my opposition to Berkhofianism. I wrote my article "Regeneration: Strong vs. Berkhof" in the late 1960s, and it has been in circulation ever since. Of course, Gene was probably still in diapers or short pants at that time.

On Strong and Berkhof, Gene asks:
Are they really in vast disagreement?

Yes, Gene, there are several differences, and I will point them out in due course of tome. Thank you for focusing on Strong, as it affords me a good reason for showing how many differences there are between a Baptist and a baby-regenerationist on the new birth.

Gene seems to have a "problem" seeing anyone in "disagreement" with the baby-regenerationists. He seems to be a self-appointed advocate for the view held by baby- regenerationists on the new birth. Despite the tons of material we have presented from different Baptists and others which is diametrically opposed to Berkhof's and Gene's palabber, Gene seems to have a unique gift of turning these men on their heads and making them into "born again before faith" advocates.

Gene says:
Contrary to the claims of these critics, Strong certainly and explicitly affirmed that regeneration precedes faith. How do we know this? The solution is really quite simple.

After making this wild allegation, Bridges then quotes a short statement from Strong which does not say what Bridges alleges. Strong does not "explicitly affirm that regeneration precedes faith."

What Strong says has to do with "Union with Christ, Regeneration, Conversion (embracing Repentance and Faith), and Justification. Much confusion and error have arisen from conceiving of THESE in chronological order" (Systematic Theology, page 793).

Strong denies that these are to be conceived as occurring in "chronological order," therefore he is not saying that "regeneration precedes faith," for that would imply chronological order. Strong says he is speaking of "logical order," and in that sense he says that "union with Christ logically precedes both regeneration and justification."

Strong says that it is "in Christ" that one is a "new creature (2 Cor. 5:17)," and that "the believer is said to be in Christ" (page 797).

Furthermore, Strong says this "union with Christ involves a change in the dominant affections of the soul," that "Christ's entrance into the soul makes it a new creature," and "this change we call Regeneration" (page 504).

Therefore, in the "logical sense," Strong has "Union with Christ" preceding "Regeneration."

So, neither "chronologically" nor "logically" does A. H. Strong teach that "regeneration precedes faith," as alleged by Gene Bridges.

At Thursday, August 10, 2006 1:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Gene Bridges' attempt to "unify" A. H. Strong with Louis Berkhof on regeneration is somewhat similar to Alexander Campbell's attempt to verify his theory on baptism by quoting Baptist writers.

Gene Bridges says:

In this article, we will look at Drs. Strong and Berkhof. Are they really in vast disagreement?

In my article written many years ago and published under the title, "Regeneration: Strong vs. Berkhof," it was demonstrated that there are three very significant differences between Dr. A. H. Strong (Baptist) and Dr. Louis Berkhof (Reformed) on the New Birth:

1. As to INSTRUMENTALITY in the New Birth.

2. As to the ORDER of regeneration and conversion.

3. As to the NATURE of the LIFE produced in the New Birth.

Berkhof denies the use of the truth, or the Word, as an instrument in the new birth:
"But the truth of the Gospel can only work in a moral and persuasive way. Such an instrument has NO EFFECT ON THE DEAD. To assert its use would seem to imply a denial of the spiritual death of man; which, of course, is not intended by those who take this position" (Systematic Theology, page 474).

In his Summary of Christian Doctrine, Berkhof says:

It is a creative work in which for that very reason the word of the gospel CANNOT very well be USED as an instrument.

Berkhof agrees with Dr. W. G. T. Shedd, and says that the Word of God, or the Gospel, "has no effect on the dead."

Berkhof says that the Word "does not operate creatively" (page 472).


A. H. Strong, on the other hand, believed that such an idea of "spiritual death" as held by Berkhof is an erroneous "literalizing," and that "Death" actually denotes "the absence of that which constitutes the true life of the soul, namely, the presence and favor of God" (Systematic Theology, page 659).

Strong would point to such illustrations as the man with the withered hand, who was commanded by Christ to stretch it forth, and to the man sick of the palsy, who was told to take up his bed and walk (page 830), as evidence that human agency is involved in the miracle of regeneration and that man is not merely passive.

He says:

"The Scriptures recognize the voluntary activity of the human soul in this change as distinctly as they recognize the causative agency of God" (page 829).

"Man is not wholly passive at the time of his regeneration" (page 822). "The influences of God's Spirit require human agencies, and work through them" (page 830).

It is Strong's view that regeneration, effectual calling, conversion (repentance and faith), and justification are NOT CHRONOLOGICALLY SEPARATED, but occur "at the same instant." Therefore, the use of "truth as a means" (page 811) is imperative.

"The Spirit," says Strong, "uses the Word as His instrument; but the Spirit is the cause of regeneration," for he views the truth as "the sword of the Spirit . . . wielded by the Spirit himself" (page 815, 819).

"In ascribing to the Holy Spirit the authorship of regeneration, WE DO NOT AFFIRM that the divine Spirit accomplishes His work WITHOUT ANY ACCOMPANYING INSTRUMENTALITY. We simply assert that the POWER which regenerates is the power of God, and that although conjoined with the use of means, there is a direct operation of this power upon the sinner's heart which changes his moral character" (pages 818, 819).

Since Strong was acquainted with Dr. Shedd's view, the foregoing may have been occasioned by his difference with Shedd on the use of the "instrumentality" of the Word in regeneration.

Strong insists that "Only as the sinner's mind is BROUGHT INTO CONTACT WITH THE TRUTH, does God complete His regenerating work" (page 822).

Even in the case of dying infants -- which Gene Bridges mangled in discussion of Strong's view -- Strong refused to divorce the use of truth in some form from regeneration:

"Since there is no evidence that children dying in infancy are regenerated prior to death, either with or without the use of external means, it seems most probably that the work of regeneration may be performed by the Spirit IN CONNECTION WITH THE INFANT SOUL'S FIRST VIEW OF CHRIST in the other world" (page 663).

Here it is seen how much significance Strong placed upon "means," since he holds that even infants are "most probably" regenerated in connection with their "first view of Christ" as the "means."

"We prefer," he says, "to say that, if infants are regenerated, they also are regenerated in conjunction with SOME INFLUENCE OF TRUTH upon the mind, dim as the recognition of it may be. Otherwise, we break the Scriptural connection between regeneration and conversion, and open the way for faith in a physical, magical, sacramental salvation" (page 823).

With Strong, "there is necessity of some sort of KNOWLEDGE in regeneration. The doctrine of Christ crucified is that fit instrument" (page 828).

Strong's view plainly contrasts with the view of Dr. Shedd and Dr. Berkhof, both of whom teach that in the act of regeneration itself, there is no "instrumentality" used. As Dr. Shedd puts it:

"Regeneration is not effected by the use of means . . . regeneration is a direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human spirit . . . the word and truth of God, the most important of all the means of grace, is not a means of regeneration . . . spiritual truth cannot be a means or instrument . . . regeneration is not effected by the use of means . . . the Author of spiritual life himself must operate directly, without the use of means or instruments, and outright give spiritual life and power from the dead: that is, ex nihilo" (Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, pages 506-509).

[To be continued].

At Thursday, August 10, 2006 2:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ORDER of Regeneration and Conversion

Thanks again to Gene Bridges for his obfuscation of A. H. Strong, giving us the occasion to defend Strong's view in opposition to the "Reformed" palabber on "regeneration."

Reformed theologian,Louis Berkhof, published by the Banner of Truth and promoted by the Founders Ministries, alleged that "regeneration" and "conversion" were two separate and distinct matters and may therefore have a "chronological" or time sequence. In other words, one may be "regenerated" at one time and be "effectually called" or "converted" (repent and believe) at some later time.

This "born again before faith" theory fits nicely with Berkhof's phantasmagoria about the supposed "regeneration" of babies (born to believers) which supposedly inherit the new birth as a "covenant" inheritance. With this theory, Berkhof can have the alleged "covenant" babies "regenerated" (born again) early on -- either before, at, or soon after baptism.

This was likewise the notion taught by Dr. W. G. T. Shedd, whom Berkhof frequently quotes.

This also fits nicely with the Shedd-Berkhof heresy that in the act of regeneration itself, "means" such as the Word or Gospel, are not used by the Holy Spirit as an "instrumentality," for this "regeneration" is supposedly a "direct operation" by the Spirit without the use of instrumentality.

"Means" are OK in "effectual calling," but not in "regeneration," according to these Reformed theologians.

Berkhof craftily distinguishes between and separates "regeneration" from "effectual calling." He does this in order to allege that "means" are not used in "regeneration," but it is in "effectual calling" that means are used -- while the prior "regeneration" is enacted without means (Systematic Theology, pages 469-471).

In fact, both Shedd and Berkhof appeal to the case of infant "regeneration" as "proof" that in the act of regeneration itself, the Holy Spirit does not use means:

Berkhof: "In the case of children, we speak of regeneration rather than calling" (page 471).

Shedd: "That the influence of the Holy Spirit is directly upon the human spirit, and is independent even of the word itself, is further proved by the fact that it is exerted in the case of infants without any employment of the truth" (Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, page 501).


"The new life is often implanted in the hearts of children LONG BEFORE they are able to hear the call of the gospel; yet they are endowed with this life only where the gospel is preached" (Systematic Theology, page 473).

"In the case of those who live under the administration of the gospel the possibility exists that they [infants] 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" (page 472).

Please understand, this is all spurious theoretical jargon, for the Bible says nothing about infants being "regenerated." It is all based on the Reformed imaginary "covenant" heresy, that "regeneration" is conferred upon the offspring of believers in infancy.

As opposed to this baby "regeneration" theory, which separates the use of "means" from the Spirit's work in the new birth, A. H. Strong affirms the Baptist view that these terms are descriptive of the very SAME simultaneous work, simply viewed from different perspectives: "regeneration" referring to God's agency as the efficient or life-giving power, and "conversion" referring to man's agency as the beneficiary of God's power.

"Under this head we treat of Union with Christ, Regeneration, Conversion (embracing repentance and faith), and Justification. Much confusion and error have arisen from conceiving these as occurring in chronological order. The order is logical, not chronological. As it is only 'in Christ' that man is 'a new creature' (2 Cor. 5:17) or is 'justified' (Acts 13:39), union with Christ logically precedes both regeneration and justification; and yet chronologically, the moment of our union with Christ is also the moment when we are regenerated and justified. So, too, regeneration and conversion are but DIVINE and HUMAN sides or aspects of the SAME FACT, although regeneration has logical precedence, and man turns only as God turns him" (Systematic Theology, page 793).

This simply means that man's "turning" is due to his simultaneously being "turned" by God, and neither one "precedes" the other in a "chronological" sense.


"Regeneration and conversion are NOT CHRONOLOGICALLY SEPARATE. Which of the spokes of a wheel start first? The ray of light and the ray of heat enter AT THE SAME MOMENT Sensation and perception are NOT SEPARATED IN TIME, although the former is the cause of the latter" (page 793).

"Regeneration, or the new birth, is the DIVINE SIDE of that change of heart, which, view from the HUMAN SIDE, we call conversion. It is God's turning the soul to himself -- conversion being the soul's turning itself to God, of which God's turning it is both the accompaniment and cause" (page 809).

To illustrate the inseparable union of regeneration and conversion, Strong uses expressions such as "at the same instant" (pages 809, 823), "simultaneous" (page 809), "never separated by an interval of time" (page 822), "at the same time" (page 823), and "Regeneration is but the obverse side of conversion" (page 830).

Strong further affirms that the work of the Holy Spirit in a sinner BEFORE actual conversion does not constitute regeneration. He calls this work "prevenient grace" and God's "preparatory work" (page 827). In referring to this work, Strong says, "But this work of the Holy Spirit is NOT YET REGENERATION" (page 827). He says such works in the unconverted soul are simply "signs God is working in the soul," and says to think that such works are evidences of regeneration is to "confound regeneration with conviction of sin" (page 826).

Strong's view is very similar to what Spurgeon taught in his sermon on "Prevenient Grace," MTP, Sermon #656. Both Spurgeon and Strong affirm the preliminary works of the Spirit in the lost soul, but deny that these constitute the new birth. They are simply "signs God is working."

[To be continued]

At Thursday, August 10, 2006 10:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

STRONG vs BERKHOF: The Nature of
the Life Given in the New Birth

A third significant point on which Baptist A. H. Strong differed with Reformed writer Louis Berkhof has to do with the "life" given in regeneration, or the new birth, to the "dead" sinner.


The view of Berkhof is that "life" is an item which is "implanted" which may not at the time be manifest in any spiritual evidence such as repentance and faith.

He refers to "the implanting of the new life in the soul," and thinks it may take a "long" while before the life manifests itself in conversion. Berkhof refers to it as a "hyper-physical" element (page 471).

Strong would call such "life" as this "physical" -- or he might use the term "substance" (pages 823-825). Although it is called "life," it is not in essence constituted by faith, love, and knowledge of Christ who is our life.

These graces, says, Berkhof, are the fruits of the new life implanted, and in babies, supposedly regenerated, they may be long in being produced (pages 472, 638). According to Berkhof, this "life" is imparted to the babies born to believers, and will be "appropriated in faith by those who come to maturity" (page 638).


For Strong, on the other hand, "life" is not a physical deposit of a substance of some description, but it is "union with Christ."

"The believer," he says, "has life by partaking of Christ" (page 797). "God regenerates the soul by UNITING it to Jesus Christ" (page 804), and "Christ's entrance into the soul makes it a new creature" (page 804).

"It [regeneration] is a change accomplished through the union of the soul with Christ" (page 811), and ths union involves faith (page 797).

Hence, the "necessity" of that use of truth as a "means" in giving the essential "knowledge" of Christ to bring about this union by faith (page 828).

"In the revealed truth with regard to the person and work of Christ there is a divine adaptation to the work of renewing our hearts" (page 811).

God's work in the soul, according to Strong, is not an "implanting" such as Berkhof's concept, but a changing work. It is the changing of the "governing disposition" (page 810). It is moral in nature, not physical:

"There is no physical seed or germ implanted in man's nature. Regeneration does not add to, or subtract from, the number of man's intellectual, emotional or voluntary faculties. But regeneration is the giving of a new direction or tendency to powers of affection which man possessed before" (page 823).

Whereas Berkhof's idea of an implanted "seed of faith" would appear to be parallel to the idea of a "faculty of faith," Strong says:

"Man had the faculty of love before his love was supremely set on self. In regeneration the direction of the faculty is changed, and his love is now set supremely upon God" (page 823).

Strong says "all materialistic inferences from the word 'seed,' as if it implied the implantation of a physical germ, are prevented by the following explanatory words: 'through the Word of God, which liveth and abideth" (page 824).

"Dr. Gordon's view that regeneration adds a new substance or faculty to the soul is the result of literalizing the Scripture metaphors of creation and life" (page 824).

"Dr. Charles Hodge also makes the same mistake in calling regeneration an 'orgination of the principle of the spirit of life, just as literal and real a creation as the origination of the principle of natural life.' This, too, literalizes Scripture metaphor, and ignores the fact that the change accomplished in regeneration is an exclusively moral one. There is indeed a new entrance of Christ into the soul, or a new exercise of His spiritual power within the soul. But the effect of Christ's working is not to add any new faculty or substance, but only to give new direction to already existing powers" (page 825).

"To alter that taste is not to impart a new faculty, or to create a new substance, but simply to set toward God the affections which hitherto have been set upon self and sin . . . Man needs no new faculty of love; he needs only to have his love set in a new and holy direction; this is virtually to give him a new birth, to make him a new creature, to impart to him a new life. But being born again, created anew, made alive from the dead, are physical metaphors, to be interpreted not literally but spiritually" (page 825).

Thus for Strong regeneration is an inward renovating work by the power of the Holy Spirit, using truth as a means, in producing repentance from sin and faith in Christ, rather than an implanting of a "physical substance or faculty."

Strong quotes Johnathan Edwards, who said: "The saints do not become actually partakers of the divine nature" (page 800).

It was the opinion of Strong that the idea as held by Berkhof, which makes man "purely" and "entirely passive" in regeneration (Berkhof, pages 465, 471) has a deadening effect upon preaching. On page 823, he says:

"Squier, Autobiography, 368, says well, of the theory of regeneration which makes man purely passive, that it has a benumbing effect upon preaching: 'The lack of expectation unnerves the efforts of the preacher; an impression of the fortuitous presence neutralizes his engagedness. This antinomian dependence on the Spirit extracts all vitality from the pulpit and sense of responsibility from the hearer, and makes preaching an opus operatum, like the baptismal regeneration of the formalist.'"

Strong adds that these words are "a valuable protest against the view that regeneration is so entirely due to God that in no part of it is man active."

Strong's view, as it was Spurgeon's, was that ministers ought to expect new births to take place under their ministry since the preached truth is the means by which the Holy Spirit does His regenerating work. Professing to solely "depend on the Spirit" without preaching the Gospel in expectation of conversions is "pious," but will it get the job done?

Berkhof evidently concedes that his view of regeneration is not representative of the notable names of the past. On page 466, he is critical of the views of Luther, Calvin, the Canons of Dort, and says, "Several seventeenth century authors [Puritans] fail to distinguish between regeneration and conversion, and use the two terms interchangeably, treating of what we now call regeneration under vocation and effectual calling."

In contrast to Berkhof's criticism, we recommend the seventeenth century Puritan, Stephen Charnock, on Regeneration:

A Discourse of the Word,
the Instrument of Regeneration

The historic Baptist position, as expressed in several articles in Baptist Confessions, always unites the Word as the "means" with the Holy Spirit as the efficient power in the work of regeneration. Baptists generally have agreed with the position of Strong that the Word, or truth, is the "instrumental cause" of the new birth, while the sole "efficient cause" is the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit. This is the true "monergism."

In the 1800s, some Baptists who opposed various methods of evangelism and missions adopted the view that regeneration is by the Holy Spirit "alone," apart from the use of truth as the instrumental means of the new birth. They became known as "Primitive Baptists," commonly called "Hardshell Baptists." They preach no Gospel message to lost sinners.

For a thorough study on the Hardshell cult, go to the Baptist Gadfly website which is by a former Hardshell Baptist preacher:

At Saturday, August 12, 2006 6:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Bob to Charles:

It is rather humorous to me, Charles, how Gene Bridges bends over backwards to cater to and soft-peddle in regard to the baby regenerationists.

I noticed some article where Gene seemed to be bragging about the Presbyterian (PCA) growth in comparison to Baptists, and claimed that many of these were defectors from Southern Baptists.

At the close of his recent article about Strong and Berkhof, Gene demonstrates just how pampering and coddling he is toward his darling baby regenerationist theologians.

He tries to paint the great Baptist scholar, A. H. Strong, as a "universalism" heretic, who allegedly "laid the ground for universalism among Northern Baptists" -- an idea he probably imbibed from Hyrid Calvinists of some description.

He says that what Strong taught "constitutes heresy . . . worthy of damnation."

In contrast, of baby regenerationist, Louis Berkhof, Bridges will only go so far as to refer to the "allegedly erroneous views Berkhof held about infant regeneration. . ."

"Allegedly"? Does this mean that Gene has his doubts about the error of the heresies Berkhof taught on baby regeneration?

Gene is among those critics, such as the Founders, who waste a lot of time and space griping about the attendance/membership statistics of the Southern Baptist Convention churches, yet he never says a critical word about all the UNREGENERATE babies which the baby regenerationists brazenly tally-up as new "members of the Kingdom God" every time some of their babies are "baptized." That's how most of the members of PCA are obtained -- other than a few proselytes who go out from the Baptists because they were really "not of us."

I believe Gene's heart may really be with the baby regenerationists, and I wonder why he doesn't follow his heart and join up with them?


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