Baptismal Regeneration: Is It Scriptural? [Brochure]

Baptismal Regeneration: Is It Scriptural? by Algernon James Pollock
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Full Text of This Product

As a result of that work of God's Holy Spirit, the glorious Reformation, England threw off the yoke of Roman Catholicism with its superstitions, traditions and idolatries. An edition of the Book of Common Prayer, with these evil teachings removed, was produced in 1549 in the reign of the youthful King Edward VI. This book did not fully satisfy the more zealous reformers, so much so that when one of two or three subsequent revisions was produced in 1600 in the reign of Charles II, no less than 2,000 godly clergymen gave up their livings, rather than adopt the new Prayer Book.

In spite of all these revisions, alas! the Book of Common Prayer in use today contains a most serious departure from the truth of God. We refer to the Baptism of Infants. In the Catechism to be learned by every candidate for confirmation the following question and answer well describe what is meant by Baptismal Regeneration.

Question:  “Who gave you this name?”  Answer:  “My Godfathers and Godmothers in my baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.”

In the course of the Baptismal Service the priest recites the following:  “We yield Thee most hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant with Thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for Thine own Child by adoption, and to incorporate him into Thy Holy church.”

This pretense of making the blessed Holy Spirit of God a partner in this evil doctrine and practice of Roman Catholic origin, and found in all baldness and nakedness in the Book of Common Prayer, will deceive no person conversant with the truth of Scripture.

It has been seized upon by ambitious priests desirous of mere sacerdotal power. Where practiced it tends to bring adherents into cruel and priestly bondage. It deceives, and has deceived millions as to the true nature of the Gospel of God. If this were a matter only affecting this life, it would be serious indeed. But when one contemplates souls passing from time to eternity, only to find that faith in the ritual of baptism has resulted in no spiritual regeneration whatsoever, and which has only blinded them to the true meaning of the Gospel of God, one fails to find words strong enough to express one's reprobation of such a terrible fraud.

We think it may be safely said that this evil Romish doctrine and practice has been the thin edge of the wedge that has led to the present alarming Romanizing propaganda in Protestant circles, and which owed its great impetus to the Tractarian or Oxford Movement of a century or more ago, when such as Archdeacon Manning and the Rev. John Henry Newman went over to Rome, and were rewarded with cardinal's hats. This propaganda has for its ultimate object reunion with Rome, and the acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Pope; in short, the complete undoing of that glorious work of God's Holy Spirit—the Reformation. Surely we can see the subtlety of Satan in all this.

We are told in Holy Scripture to be "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15). Alas! when this question is asked, how very often is the reply given, “I’ve been baptized," or “I’ve been confirmed," as the reason of their hope, showing that they know nothing of salvation in its true meaning, but are being deceived by this cruel error. Seeing this is a matter that concerns our eternal happiness, or eternal woe, it becomes of the deepest and most vital importance that we should be absolutely sure of the ground of our faith, and be able to point it out from the Scriptures of truth.

The ritualist, who believes in Baptismal Re-generation, quotes the following passage as authority for his belief:  "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5). We are told that "water" here refers to the water of baptism. But baptism is NOT MENTIONED in the verse. Scripture is its own interpreter, and tells us what "water," as a simile, stands for. We read, "Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water BY THE WORD." (Eph. 5:25, 26). We get a similar idea in the Old Testament. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according TO THY WORD." (Psa. 119:9). In both Scriptures we get the word “cleanse "; in both Scriptures we are told the cleansing agency is the Word of God.

Other writers in the New Testament connect the new birth, or regeneration, with the simile of “seed," and not of “water." The same idea, however, is given whichever simile is used. Regeneration is connected with the agency of the Word of God. So we read:  "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, BY THE WORD OF GOD, which liveth and abideth forever." (1 Peter 1:23). "Of His own will begat He us WITH THE WORD OF TRUTH [not by the water of baptism], that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (James 1:18). Whether "water" or "seed," the agency is ever the Word of God. We read, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8).

If baptismal regeneration were true, we should be able to tell the exact date and place, when and where we were regenerated, whereas in this Scripture we are told that such knowledge is impossible. In this verse there is no allusion to baptism, but the new birth, or regeneration, is attributed to the sovereign action of the Spirit of God.

To show to what lengths ritualists will go to pervert the Word of God, we quote 'Eph. 5:25-27, as given in Moffatt's Translation of the Holy Scriptures. For the sake of comparison we give first the translation as given in the Authorized Version.

Authorized Translation: "Christ also loved the church? And gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water BY THE WORD, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing."

Moffatt's Translation: "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her to consecrate her by cleansing her IN THE BATH OF BAPTISM as she utters her confession, in order to have the church as His very own, standing before Him in all her glory, with never a spot or wrinkle or any such flaw, but consecrated and unblemished."

What right has Dr. Moffatt to bring in “the bath of baptism," when such words are not in the passage, and omit “the Word," which is? He dares to tamper in this unauthorized way with the words of Holy Scripture, despite the warning of Scripture not to add to or take away from the Word of God (see Rev. 22: 18, 19).

Moreover, the church, as the church, is never said to be baptized with water; individuals are baptized.

It is well known that James Moffatt, D.D., D.Litt., Hon. M.A. (Oxon.), was an unsound Modernist. In his preface to his Translation of the Bible he quotes with approval certain scholars, and all of them without exception are Modernists.

In his introduction to his Translation of the New Testament, from which we quote, he writes: "Once the translation of the New Testament is freed from the influence of the theory of verbal inspiration, these difficulties cease to be so formidable." What confidence can we have in a man, who, whilst engaged in translating the New Testament, glories in the fact that he is freed from the influence of the theory of verbal inspiration, and hence has no regard for the very words of Scripture? Is he not a blind leader of the blind?

If regeneration really followed baptism by water, then we should find that in after-life those baptized would behave as those who had been regenerated by the Holy Spirit of God. We should find multitudes of true earnest Christians adorning the doctrine of God, our Savior in all things. But is this so? Alas! no. There are millions of baptized infants, now grown up, who make no pretense whatever of being Christians, and who rarely or never darken the door of a so-called place of worship. If regeneration really followed baptism by water how easy it would be to fill the land with true live Christians, but that is not the way it is done. What did the Apostle Paul say? "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." (1 Cor. 1:17).

We cannot conceive how any priest, who believes in his heart that the baptism of an infant brings about baptismal regeneration, can be a true Christian at all. If he were a true Christian he would know that he had been saved by the grace of God on the ground of the righteousness that God imputes to all believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, "Who was delivered for our [believers'] offenses, and was raised again for our [believers'] justification." (Rom. 4:25). If he were really a saved man he would know that the truth of God is far removed from the superstitious, priestly notion of baptismal regeneration.

Three things are claimed by ritualists in baptism. The baptized infant is said to become 1. "A Member of Christ." 2. "The Child of God." 3. "An Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven."

1. "A MEMBER OF CHRIST"

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesian saints, shows plainly the only way whereby any one can become a member of Christ. "In whom [the Lord Jesus] ye also trusted, after that ye heard, the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also AFTER YE BELIEVED, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." (Eph. 1:13). Writing to these same sealed believers he plainly says, "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel." (Eph. 3:6). Here we find that being a member of Christ is not to be attained by the mere performance of a rite, even though ordained of God, "but by the Gospel;" not after a few drops of water have been sprinkled on the face of an unconscious child, but "AFTER YE BELIEVED, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." It is in this way, and in none other, that anyone can have the high honor of becoming “a member of Christ." The same writer, addressing the Corinthian saints. exhorting them to holiness of walk as Christians, wrote, "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?" (1 Cor. 6:15).

2. " THE CHILD OF GOD”

How does anyone become a child of God? Is it by any ritual which man can encompass? We defy the ritualist to find a single text of Scripture in the New Testament in support of such an idea. What does Scripture say? And, after all, Scripture and not the opinions of men is our only sure guide. We read, "Ye are all the children [or sons, N. Trans.] of God BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS." (Gal. 3:26). This Scripture is plain enough. Not by a few drops of water sprinkled on the face of an infant of no understanding, not even by the complete immersion of a very intelligent adult by a priest or anyone else, but simply and only " BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS can anyone become a child or son of God.

3. " AN INHERITOR OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN”

How does anyone become an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven? For answer we have our Lord's own words, than which authority we can get none higher. He said to His disciples, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3).

Our Lord said not a word about baptism, hut spoke of conversion, that inward change that comes as the result of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He tells us plainly that conversion is necessary for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The sad point about baptismal regeneration, that evil doctrine and practice belonging to the Romish Church, and alas! carried into Protestantism, is that it obscures the true way of salvation. It makes light of the atoning sacrifice of Christ and of faith in the Savior of sinners. Baptismal regeneration is the cruelest deception that can be imposed upon any man or woman.

The child grows up and at the age of sixteen or so is urged to be confirmed. It suffices for the candidate for confirmation to repeat the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments, and answer questions that are contained in the short Catechism. It takes for granted the carrying on of the lie of baptismal regeneration, and still further lulls the soul into a deadly, false peace. Suffice it to say that the rite of confirmation gives to the candidate no spiritual blessing whatsoever, any more than his being baptized as an infant did. Let all, who enter on the partaking of the Lord's Supper lightly, remember the solemn warning of Scripture, "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:27). Sad indeed it is beyond words when this cruel deception blinds any man or woman even in death. A letter recently received from a Christian friend says, "My cousin, Colonel M-, when dying, was spoken to by my sister, telling him the way of salvation. But, alas! he replied, 'I am all right, I have been baptized and made a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.' And so he died." Such sad cases could be indefinitely multiplied.

May this article be graciously used of God to deliver many who have been ensnared, and preserve many from being ensnared.

We add a few words in case any reading this booklet may say:  “I see that baptismal regeneration is all wrong, but I would like to know clearly how I can stand in God's favor, and be sure of heaven.”

We are all sinners, and God cannot pass over sin because of righteousness and holiness. How then can God forgive sin, and yet be righteous? There is only one way. The sinner must have a Substitute, who will be willing and able to bear the punishment due to his sins. Herein lies the wondrous story of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Who among Adam's fallen race could step into the breach? The answer is none, for "ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23). ALL have sinned, and ALL need a Savior.

If that be so, then there is no alternative to God Himself finding a Substitute capable of atoning for sin. So we read the wonderful words: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). The Son of God, equal with the Father in the unity of the Godhead, became a true Man, God and Man in one Person, blessed mystery which none can understand but the Father in Heaven. He died upon the cross. There He endured the judgment of God upon sin. There He exhausted that judgment, so that salvation might be offered to sinners righteously.

The atoning character of those sufferings on the cross is well seen in the following passage of Scripture. Sinners putting their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior can say:- "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and with His stripes we are healed." (Isa. 53:5).

Dear friend, get the meaning of that verse into your very heart and conscience, and you will realize the way of salvation.

We have been writing a good deal about the water of baptism, but Scripture says: "Without shedding of blood is no remission," (Heb. 9:22) but, thank God, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin." (1 John 1:7). So we read, "Through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." (Acts 16:31).

Can you not take God at His word, and accept the Savior He has provided as your own loving personal Savior? Then on the authority of God's own Word, you may know with assurance that salvation and forgiveness of sins are yours. There is no other way. Take it as you read these lines, and may the blessing of God fill your soul " with all joy and peace in believing '' (Rom. 15:13). "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God: that ye may KNOW that ye HAVE eternal life " (1 John 5:13).

A. J. Pollock