Monday, June 15, 2009

"Decisional Regeneration"

From Ardel Caneday's intriguing chapter, "Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement" in Believer's Baptism, edited by Tom Schreiner and Shawn Wright:
[S]ince the Second Great Awakening, this same zeal [to isolate baptism from conversion] has permitted "new measures" of various kinds, such as the "mourners' bench," the "invitation system," or a recited "sinner's prayer" to displace baptism as the rite of conversion, thus shirking and even marginalizing Christ's command to the church. Zeal to avoid "baptismal regeneration," which many perceived to be the necessary consequence of Alexander Campbell's teaching, actually spawned another error, "decisional regeneration."

This was an error rooted in revivalism that is now a traditional element in American evangelicalism. If the former error is to relegate regenerating efficacy to the rite of baptism itself, the latter error assigns the same efficacy to the human decision to act upon whichever measures preachers may use. [p. 325, emphasis original]


Kent Brandenburg said...

I wonder if these authors think that anyone who believes in a "mourner's bench," "invitation system," and "sinner's prayer" also believes that any one of those three is necessary for salvation. Is Romans 10:13 post justification? When the publican prayed, "Be merciful to me a sinner," was he already justified, that is, were his words the post conversion prayer of a believer? I believe an entire erroneous hermeneutical system underlies the baptismal regeneration of Campbell.

It was an interesting thought though.

Ken Fields said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken Fields said...


Thanks for pointing us to this book. It's a much-needed message in an age of pragmatism and easy-believism.

Ben said...


You should read the chapter. Even the whole book, especially Wellum's chapter, but Caneday's chapter would give you the context for his perspective on Campbell.