The common belief of today's Hardshells that there are now millions of heathen who are "regenerated" (and therefore sure of Heaven when they die) is among the worst of heretical beliefs, and one that has caused much harm to the body of Christ. It is a "damnable heresy." (II Peter 2: 1)
The belief that there are regenerated heathen people gives a definition to regeneration totally at odds with the biblical teaching. This error, in a nutshell, creates a mere fictional character (though imagined as real by today's Hardshell heretics). In reality there is no such character as a "regenerate unbeliever," nor any "unconverted regenerate."
The Hardshells created this fictional character when they first adopted the Pelagian idea that a command implies ability, and second, when they further deduced that ability must be given by God in regeneration before hearing the Gospel, and before evangelical faith and repentance, or before conversion, and deducing still further, "before" faith and conversion = "without" faith and conversion. After all this "false reasoning" (Demolishing Hardshell Reasoning) there was nothing left but the conclusion, or as I may say, the reductio ad absurdum, which affirms that there are millions who are now regenerated who are practicing Muslims, non-Christian Jews, Hindus, etc. Yes, they are not "converted," and do not have evangelical "faith" in "the truth," but there is no doubt that they are of the elect and have experienced biblical regeneration. This is the conclusion that the Hardshell takes as his presupposition and by which he interprets Scripture.
The Old Baptist forefathers of the Hardshells believed that regeneration did not exist apart from conversion, and likewise, that conversion did not exist apart from regeneration. They kept together what God has joined together. They did this because, like I do, they viewed the idea of a born again heathen monstrous and utterly repugnant.
One of the arguments offered by Hardshell apologists on this point is to say that anyone who is convicted of sin, who is worried about the coming day of judgment for his sins, and who is sorry for his moral failings, is "regenerated" or "born again." One can easily see why such a view of regeneration would easily lead Hardshells to semi-universalism. In fact, having this belief is a boast of today's Hardshells. They say their view makes them popular as funeral preachers. Their view would give hope to people that their loved ones, who may have been worshippers of some false god, or irreligious persons, that they were of the elect and had been "regenerated" though not converted, though not a believer in Jesus.
Hardshellism is indeed a dangerous heresy and one that ought to be opposed.