A friend of mine, an elder of the “Primitive” Baptists, recently shared a quotation of Loraine Boettner on Facebook. It has been very hard for me to refrain from commenting, but I know me pretty good. If it turned into a back-and-forth I would not want to let it go. Yet when I read this particular one it reminded me of how I have seen this sort of thing before; that is, when a Hardshell must borrow a small point from Calvinism on which they agree in a desperate effort to find some sort of resemblance to their modern-day novelties.
The problem? A false conclusion is drawn from it, leading the ignorant or grovelling mind to think that they are “one of them”.
Case in point is the quotation itself:
“A man is not saved because he believes in Christ, he believes in Christ because he is saved.” – Loraine Boettner
First of all, why the need to quote a Calvinist on one of Hardshellism’s most sacredly held truths? History is full of Baptist writers, elders, and theologians. Why not cite one who had the “Primitive” Baptist label attached to his name? Could it be that there are none to cite?
So since there is no historical evidence for Hardshellism prior to the 19th century the best that today’s adherents can do is misrepresent others. In this case, a citation is given from a known Calvinist who was simply GIVING HIS OWN STRICT VIEW OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN REGENERATION AND FAITH AS THEY OCCUR IN THE ORDER OF NATURE. In other words, he was doing what certain other Calvinists do, which is place the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit under the microscope, trying to map out the exact steps which transpire when an unregenerate sinner goes from death to life. There is no way, no how, that Boettner was lending credence to the foreign notion that sinners are regenerated, where most of them come to faith in Christ 30 years later or never at all!
Why not tell the audience that though this man believed this way, he also believed, contrary to Hardshellism, that faith would in fact result? Regardless of when he believed it would happen (before, after, or during regeneration) he believed that it would occur! Regeneration before faith is definitely a Hardshell tenet, but a regeneration which guarantees faith is a nail in its coffin. Yes, faith is a “fruit of the Spirit”, but scripture also says that it is a definite fruit! I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Immediate regeneration is NOT sufficient proof for Hardshellism. Rather, it is optional gospel conversion. That is where the scavenger hunt for pre-19th century Hardshellism must maintain its focus.
In addition, such quotes as the above are often set forth without telling the audience that basically all of these men advocated the absolute predestination of all things (ever read Boettner’s work “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination”), instrumentality in eternal salvation, and the perseverance of the saints, three doctrines which would have them labelled as heretics quicker than paint dries.
Keep searching though for the Baptist poster-child who taught the regeneration without gospel conversion heresy.
Let me know when you find him.