Jul 26, 2009

Bogard on Pre-Regeneration

In the famed debate (1938) between Ben Bogard, Missionary Baptist, and N. B. Hardeman, Campbellite, on the "work of the Holy Spirit," there were exchanges concerning the pre-faith regeneration theory of the Hardshells and some other Hyper Calvinistic Baptists. The following are excerpts from the speeches of both these men, followed by my own observations.

In Hardeman's first speech in the negative, he said:

"He (Bogard) uses the word "direct" and "immediate" which mean one and the same thing. Therefore, there is no difference in the position which his proposition requires and that occupied by what he called the Hardshell Baptist theory." (Hardeman-Bogard debate, page 18)

"Baptist doctrine teaches the theory of pre-regeneration. That word means salvation without response; regeneration before all other graces; redemption without any act of obedience on the sinner's part. A sinner, therefore, is passive and inactive, and unless God, the Almighty, sends his Spirit before the sinner performs any act, even repentance and faith, nothing can be brought to bear upon his heart that will lead him to life." (pg. 19)


Was Hardeman correct? Is the "pre-regeneration" (or "pre-faith" or "pre-conversion" kind of "regeneration") theory the historic view of Particular Baptists? Does he accurately describe the "pre-faith" view of "regeneration" correctly? What about the work of regeneration being "direct" and "immediate"? What have Baptists traditionally taught?

Hardeman is correct in his description of the "pre-faith" view of "regeneration." He is also correct that this view has been taught by some Particular Baptists, historically speaking. It is true that some have used the adjectives "direct" and "immediate" to refer to the work of regeneration, but who, unlike the Hardshells, believe it is also at the same time, indirect and mediate, as did Dr. Bogard. The pre-faith view of regeneration is not the traditional or common view among Baptists.

Hardeman does acknowledge that the "pre-regeneration theory" is the same as the "Hardshell Baptist theory."

Hardeman also said:

"I have here a number of statements--first from the Philadelphia Confession of Faith; second, from the New Hampshire Confession; and, third, from the late Dr. Graves. We may also call attention to the teaching of Dr. J. P. Boyce whose book is the text in Louisville Seminary, a Baptist school. This will present the Baptist doctrine from representative Baptists, and I take it that their teaching will not be questioned by Dr. Bogard. I quote Philadelphia Confession, chapter 10, section 2. "This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit: he is therefore enabled to answer this call and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than which raised Christ from the dead." The New Hampshire Confession is quoted in Bogard's Waybook and in Pendleton's Church Manual and declares that "regeneration comes first and that such shows itself in the holy fruits of repentance and faith."


Concerning J. M. Pendleton, here is what he wrote elswhere:

"This change is, in theological writings, usually called Regeneration, and it is inseparable from "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 20:21. For this reason the heading of this chapter has been selected, and I purposely present in closest connection Regeneration, Repentance, and Faith. Nor is it my intention to dwell on what has been termed "the order of time." Indeed, if the view of Calvin and Jonathan Edwards is correct, regeneration and repentance are in substance the same so that the question as to order of time is ruled out." ("Regeneration, With Its Attendants, Repentance And Faith")

And again, he said:

"But if we turn to Galatians 3:26, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," the obvious view is that we become God's children by faith, or, in other words, that faith is instrumental in effecting regeneration."

See this previous posting of mine about Pendleton on this issue. These citations show that Pendleton did not believe that faith and regeneration could be separated and so "order of time" was inconsequential. Yet, he did acknowledge that there are scriptures that do put faith before life.

What about the two confessions cited? Do they teach what he says? No, they do not. The confession declared that one is not effectually called till he embraces by faith the gospel message. Coming to life includes coming to faith. Also, Hardeman uses the word "therefore" instead of "whereby," which the confession used.

Hardeman, after quoting the above from Pendleton, quotes the following, supposedly from Pendleton's "Church Manual." Yet, in the debate, Hardeman gave no page number or section for the supposed citation.

"Regeneration always comes first. It may exist without faith and repentance, but these cannot exist without first regeneration. There is not only antecedence, but in some cases an appreciable interval."

Now, I have looked for this citation in Pendleton's "Church Manuel" and have not found it. Yet, I do find that J. P. Boyce did say that. Yet, Hardeman, in some respects, is citing Boyce out of context. In the same section, Boyce said:

"From the Scriptural teaching we see that the whole work of Regeneration and Conversion is included under the one term regeneration."

I have plans to review Boyce in the future, so this observation is all for now.

Hardeman continued, saying:

"Dr. J. R. Graves endorses the same idea and enlarges upon it in "Seven Dispensations," p. 131."

I have looked at page 131 and Graves does imply that the work of preparing the soil, is a "quickening" of the soil that prepares it to receive the word. Yet, on the next page, Graves wrote:

"The quickening, life-giving act of the Spirit is direct and immediate, but exercised only upon those who have heard the Gospel preached, or heard and believed its truths."

Hardeman continued:

J. H. Grime says, "This is grand old Baptist doctrine which has come to us through the ages, and is held by the great Baptist brotherhood of today."

Now I should like to ask: If a man who has been born again--there yet being an interval of time before repentance and faith--should die and that before the interval elapses, what will be the result? There will be either a regenerated soul in hell, or a soul in heaven who has not yet exercised himself to repent and believe the gospel. (p. 19, 20)

Bogard responded with these comments:

"He (Hardeman) says Baptist doctrine requires the idea of a pre-regeneration; regenerated before you repent and believe, before you do anything. That is Hardshell Baptist doctrine. I certainly do think my friend ought to know the difference between the Hardshell doctrine and that of the Missionary Baptists, who do not teach anything of that sort. If he could get me to take the position of the Hardshell, the pre-regeneration idea, he would have no trouble in the world in defeating me in this debate. I will take the scriptural position, not the Hardshell position. (notice how Bogard associates the pre-faith view of regeneration with Hardshellism - SG)

Then he quoted from the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. Also from J. R. Graves, where Graves says that the evidence of the salvation is the holy fruit of repentance and faith. I believe with all my soul in the fruit produced by repentance and faith, the holy fruit of (produced by) repentance and faith." (p. 28)

"I am glad my friend calls attention that the Hardshells say, "Let God do it all." Professor Hardeman says, "Do it all by the preaching." Missionary Baptists do all we can and leave the results with God, asking God's blessings to rest upon it." (p. 29)

"The Hardshell would say that since the bones are dead it would be senseless and useless to preach to dry bones, hence the Hardshell refuses to preach to sinners. He would leave the whole thing to the Spirit. My friend, Professor Hardeman, would take it out in talking, thinking all the power is in the word. But both are wrong. Our Hardshell friends think the Spirit does it all and my opponent and his people think the entire power is in the preaching, and the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with it except as he may influence the sinner by the words. But Missionary Baptists step right in between these two extremes and preach the word of God as the Bible commands, and then we trust in the "breath of God' to come and the work is done." (p. 35, 36)

Hardeman then says, in his next speech:

"The point I made regarding pre-regeneration was that, if this Baptist doctrine truly represents him, then he would have the sinner born again, and that before repentance and faith, for these are fruits of the new birth. If repentance and faith result in the new birth, then it necessarily follows that by those acts the new birth is brought about. Which will he take? If he stays with representative Baptist and with his own past writings and statements, he will cling to the idea of pre-regeneration--that you must be born again before repentance and faith. And if that is true, we just wonder: Should that man die following his regeneration but before his repentance and faith, what would be the result? You would either have a regenerated soul in hell or an unbeliever in heaven. Now which?" (p. 37, 38)

Bogard then responds.

"My friend quoted from my good friend and brother, that great man of Lebannon, Tennessee, J. H. Grime, a statement on pre-regeneration, stating that Baptists believe in pre-regeneration. Brother Grime, while a great and good man, and personal friend of mine, is not a representative Baptist, and not so taken and accepted among his fellow Baptists. A good man he is, but you can find a great many individuals like him who will express doctrines contrary to the general body of faith held by their brethren. Brother Grime, with the best intention, misrepresented Baptists when he said what he did. Baptists do not believe in pre-regeneration, and I wish to drop this thought to Professor Hardeman. Would it not really be better to debate with Ben M. Bogard rather than bring up J. R. Graves and J. H. Grime and others?" (p. 48)

Hardeman then responds.

"When I call attention to the Baptist Waybook, which states precisely what Mr. Grime says, what the confessions of faith teach, and what all accepted Baptist authorities contend, Elder Bogard changes it and says, "Hardeman, they are all wrong. I don't teach that!" The books by representative Baptists teach pre-regeneration--that the birth by the Spirit produces the fruits of repentance and faith. But Dr. Bogard says, "Hardeman, it is the repentance and faith that produces the fruit." May I truly say that is not what is written in your books. "I have always taught that in order for a sinner to be saved he must be born again." And again he misses the point. Baptist doctrine is that one must be born again before repentance and faith. Now here is a fellow that has been born again, in that sense, but has not repented or believed. Is that man saved or lost?" (p. 77)

"I repeat: There are only two sensible positions on the matter of the operation of the Holy Spirit. The first one is taken by the Hardshell Baptists. They come out and say there is no word in it at all--the Holy Spirit operates wholly apart, separate and distinct from, and without the aid of the word. The second is that the truth of God is the means of salvation and the Holy Spirit uses that means in the conviction and conversion of sinners. There is no middle ground--you must accept one or the other. The Spirit either operates with or without the word. And it cannot do both." (p. 79)

Final Observations

Bogard, no doubt, felt the burden of trying to defend his Baptist forefathers who were Hyperistic in their understanding of the "ordo salutis" and of the relationship of faith to regeneration. I too have felt this burden. I too, also, agree with Bogard that this view is properly "Hardshell" and "Hyperism," and is not the traditional, common, or historic orthodox view of Particular Baptists.

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