Sep 7, 2009

Hardshell "Regeneration"

Hardshell David Montgomery wrote:

"By the way, do you even REMEMBER when you were born? You don’t? So why would you think that you would have anything to do in getting born again? The fact is—you had nothing to do with it…you were totally passive…it was all done by God. You didn’t ask God to get born again nor did God ask you for permission. This is one major point where Primitive Baptists differ with many other denominations for most of them believe a doctrine where the sinner has some part in regeneration."

Does this sound familiar? Is it not the same kind of "logic" we hear from some "Reformed" Baptists? Is it not the same kind of argumentation and preaching that most varieties of Hyper Calvinism utter?

Does the fact that people do not "remember" their natural birth experience prove that they cannot know or remember when they were "born again"? The Hardshells seem to think natural birth and spiritual birth are, in every way, alike. Therefore, since people do not know when they were physically born, they cannot know when they were spiritually born. Yet, what do the Scriptures say? Did not Paul know when he was born again? Did he not know that it was on the Damascus Road? Could he not remember it? Surely he could. So, what does this do with Montgomery's argument?

Further, even though Montgomery and Hardshells want to make a strict analogy between natural and spiritual birth, in order to push their Hardshell idea of "new birth," they only want to do it selectively.

For instance, in natural birth, one has both a father and mother. Yet, in Hardshell "new birth," one does not have a mother! There is no instrumental means, no gospel or church acting as the mother! If Montgomery and the Hardshells want to truly make natural birth like spiritual birth, then they would see that "the Spirit and the Bride say come," that one is Father and one is mother in new birth. (Rev. 22: 17)

Actually, it was the first Hardshell "founding fathers" who, more than Montgomery and neo-Hardshells, made spiritual birth to be totally like natural birth. They argued that there were clear stages in birth. First, there is conception, the actual implanting of the divine seed, or "regeneration," next followed by a time of hidden growth in the womb, or "conviction" of sin by the workings of the law, and then final deliverance from the womb, or salvation. In this paradigm, "regeneration" was by the "Spirit alone," apart from all means, God planting his seed, generating "life," while "conviction" represented the regenerated soul under conviction and struggling for relief, and finally the emergence of the child from the womb was represented as the time when the regenerated soul was converted. Many of the first Hardshells believed that all three stages were necessary for one to be "born again." Thus, they did not equate being "regenerated" with being "born again." They also saw themselves as spiritual "midwives" in bringing the regenerated soul to the full birth.

Montgomery continues:

"Some advocate the doctrine of “Gospel Regeneration” which teaches that a person has to believe the gospel in order to get born again. This cannot be true for how can a dead person believe anything? Consider the following analogy…"

"Sometimes as I wander among the graves, I think about the Resurrection and before too long, I’ll get to preaching, sometimes even out loud. Some of my best sermons have been preached at cemeteries. Now, if any one of those dead folks ever cried out “AMEN” then I am getting the heck out of there! (Sorry, seen too many zombie flicks). But that ainta gonna happen…why? Because they’re dead, dummy! Well, if a physically dead person can’t respond to the gospel, then it stands to reason that a spiritually dead person cannot respond as well. Spiritual life MUST precede any spiritual response just as physical life MUST precede any physical response. That just makes good horse sense."

When one reads this kind of argumentation from the Hardshells, one wonders if they have ever read of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones.

What is strange is the fact that many of today's "Reformed" Baptists often "pipe" the same tune.

Did all action follow the imparting of the breath of life to the dead in Ezekiel's vision? Did the bones not "move" and "shake" before "life" had "entered into" them?

What is strange is not that the dead are made to hear, believe, and follow the voice of Christ in the gospel, by the power of God, but how one can be spiritually "alive" and yet a rejecter of Christ and the gospel! How one can be a regenerated unbeliever! How one can be an unbeliever and yet be finally saved in heaven.

Montgomery wrote:

"Primitive Baptists believe in Holy Spirit Regeneration. The Holy Spirit comes down and kindles the pilot light in us. Where once was death and depravity is now life and righteousness."

Montgomery asserts that one does not believe in "Holy Spirit Regeneration" unless he believes that regeneration occurs apart from conversion, apart from the means of gospel truth, apart from faith and repentance. His theory, if true, would assert that regeneration is not of the Holy Spirit if the Spirit uses means.

He compares "regeneration" to the Holy Spirit "kindling" a "pilot light" in the sinner. This "pilot light" is then equated with spiritual "life" and "righteousness." It is absurd to think, however, that one can have "life" without having "Christ," and faith in Christ. It is difficult to think of a sinner being "regenerated" and having spiritual life, and yet who has not yet "come to" Christ. (See John 5: 40) According to Hardshellism, most pagans have been zapped with this "pilot light," though they reject him and his salvation. According to Hardshellism, most are zapped when they are infants in the womb. Thus, though unbelievers, and though the wrath of God abides upon them (John 3: 36), they are nevertheless "regenerated" because they have this "pilot light," this "ability" to be converted and come to faith and to Christ.

Montgomery wrote:

"Belief is a sign of life…it confirms that you have been born again, it is not the cause of regeneration but an effect of it."

If belief is a "sign of life," then there is no sign of "life" where there is no faith. Thus, one is dead without faith.

Also, what kind of "effect" is faith? A necessary and universal effect, like most "Reformed" Calvinists affirm, or only a slightly possible effect? How can he say it is an "effect" of regeneration when, according to Hardshellism, nearly all the regenerated remain evangelical unbelievers? What the scriptures teach is that faith is the medium of reception of Christ, life, righteousness, and salvation.

Montgomery wrote:

"So what if I am born again but do not believe the gospel? Go back and re-read this article, then read Romans 3:3, and then write your name 10,000 times and stop worrying about stuff like this. Believe is a wonderful thing and you should believe, it will bring you great happiness and joy to your life; but just as belief does not cause regeneration, unbelief does not cancel or annul it. God’s grace is not dependent on your obedience."

Here is the message of Hardshellism! Of the rankest Hyper Calvinism! Faith in Christ is not essential for salvation! The message is - "he that believes not shall be saved any way."

Citations from Montgomery are from his internet web site and article "Doctrine for Dummies--Part 2" and the section titled "Of Regeneration."

See here

At the end of this article David has a picture of an infant crying and angry, and this he gives as a picture of a sinner before "regeneration." He then has a picture of a smiling happy baby and this he gives as a picture of a sinner after "regeneration." Yet, according to historic Hardshellism, this is false. According to classical Hardshellism, "regeneration" does not make one happy, but sad, for it initiates "conviction" of sin, a sad and depressed state. It is not till one is "converted" to Christ that he becomes "happy."

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