The could multiply such arguments indefinitely. It
The proponents of baptismalregeneration, therefore, offer undecided persons no clear and compellingscriptural warrant for their doctrine. This is not to say, however, that Scripture speaks with an unclear voiceon the subject.
On numerous occasions,Scripture represents faith as the condition of salvation, without mentioningbaptism. One could multiply sucharguments indefinitely. It seems,however, that a deft apologist for baptismal regeneration could show argumentssuch as these to be, at least when considered in isolation, less thanabsolutely decisive. Only one argument, drawn notfrom scattered texts, but from a central theme of New Testament soteriology,seems adequate to the task of establishing irrefragably the falsehood of thedoctrine of baptismal regeneration: viz.
, that this doctrine cannot be true,because it conflicts with the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Ifthe doctrine of baptismal regeneration were correct, then countless persons whohave died apostates were once authentically regenerated. The reason is notfarfetched. By undermining the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, thedoctrine of baptismal regeneration poisons the wellsprings of Christian lifeand doctrine. Reformed Christians oftoday, accordingly, would do well to take up the cudgels against this doctrineas Charles Haddon Spurgeon famously did in 1864. In particular, Reformed Christians ought toroot out of their churches the so-called Auburn Avenue theology, one of whosetenets is a mitigated form of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.
Whether they are willing to do so is a testof whether Reformed Christians deserve the names Reformed and Christian.Puritan developments,which are echoed in European Pietism, do have a pastoral context. As one readsthe later Puritans closely, one finds them emphasizing the distinctiveness ofregeneration as an operation of the Spirit active in the sinner’s lifetime, andusing the language of “new birth” to describe the distinguishing feature of thetruly Christian man or woman. They do this in the face