Oct 4, 2008

More on BFM & Regeneration

The 1925 BF&M statement is that "regeneration is a work of God's free grace conditioned upon faith in Christ."

Said two writers about the change in wording from the 1925 statement to the one edited and adopted in 1963.

"Interestingly, the 1963 committee made significant changes in the statement--changes that effectively shifted the confession in a more explicitly Reformed direction. In the first place, the committee moved the article so that it precedes repentance and faith in the presentation. That said, this decision (like the decision of the New Hampshire Baptists) may not reflect any specific intention to imply an ordo salutis. But the 1963 committee made another very significant change. Regeneration, described in the 1925 statement as "conditioned upon faith in Christ" is now described as "a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through the conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."

What exactly did the committee mean by this change? Herschel H. Hobbs, chairman of the 1963 committee, clearly did not teach regeneration precedes faith. Even after the committee he chaired made the change noted above, Hobbs argued: "Regeneration is the result of conviction of sin, repentance from sin, faith in Jesus Christ, and the confession of that faith." Thus, the confession itself, as revised in 1963, defines regeneration as the event "to which the responds" in faith even as Dr. Hobbs defined regeneration as "the result" of faith. Does the Baptist Faith and Message require a specific order of salvation? Taken as a whole, the paragraphs on salvation attempt to define the doctrine of salvation by looking both backward and forward. A specific ordo salutis cannot be argued too strongly from within the text or the context of the Baptist Faith and Message. As if to make that point, the 2000 committee moved one very strategic sentence ("Regeneration and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.") to end the paragraph on regeneration, rather than to begin the next.

In the 1925 statement, repentance and faith are described as "wrought in our souls by the regenerating spirit of God." E. Y. Mullins, chairman of the 1925 committee, may have expressed this best: "In strict logic regeneration precedes both faith and repentance if we begin with the true Gospel teaching that all is due to the grace of God. Yet here again fact and apparent logic do not necessarily coincide. The correct view is that regeneration and repentance and faith are simultaneous events in the soul's life. No impenitent or unbelieving soul can be a regenerate soul, just as no penitent believer can be unregenerate."

By Douglas K. Blount, Joseph D. Wooddell


No comments: