Salvation as regeneration

I’m starting to get an idea of where I’m going with my reading and writing. This post is on a curious chapter I came across while reading Shedd’s Calvinism: Pure and Mixed. However, I’m beginning to form topical headings for substantial posts or papers on Shedd, his theology, and his context. These include the American civil war and responses among Protestant theologians, the atonement in mid to late 19thC American Presbyterian theology, the rise of liberalism and the Confessional crisis, and the influence of historical consciousness, romanticism, and idealism on Shedd and other Protestant conservatives, especially A.H. Strong.

In Calvinism: Pure and Mixed, Shedd writes on the Westminster Standards and the ‘Larger Hope’. The discussion follows a basic outline: new birth or regeneration as the ‘root from which the whole process of salvation springs’; this world as the place within which regeneration is effected by the Holy Spirit; and a number of points about the range, or scope, of regeneration. Shedd writes that people will be saved if they are regenerated before dying. There is no possibility of regeneration after death.

He lists four points on the extent of this salvation. First, all who die in infancy are regenerate. Second, the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession teach that a great multitude will be saved through the generations, beginning with Adam and Eve. (In Calvinism: Pure and Mixed Shedd only refers to Adam, but he mentions ‘the regeneration of the fallen pair’ in Lectures upon the Philosophy of History, p81.) His fourth argument is eschatological - the millennium will be marked by such a remarkable turn around among men and women that ‘the immense majority of the race’ will be saved ‘by the washing of regeneration’.

His third point is perhaps the most interesting. Shedd writes: ‘the Scriptures and the Confession teach that the Divine Spirit exerts his regenerating grace, to some extent, with adult heathendom, making use of conscience, or ‘the law written on the heart’, as the means of convicting of sin preparatory to imparting the new divine life;’ Calvinism… p128. Regenerate heathens have a felt need for mercy, and a desire for it which ‘is potentially and virtually faith in the Redeemer.’

Shedd, W.G.T. Calvinism: Pure and Mixed; A Defence of the Westminster Standards. New York: C. Scribners’ Sons, 1893. Reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1999.


Shedd on History as development

'It is simpler to say that History is permanent without progress, or else that it is progressive with out permanence, than to say that it is a true development and therefore both permanent and progressive. The extremists upon both sides have a much easier task than the one who occupies the central postion between them. A simple idea is much easier to define and manage than a complex one. But it is not so fertile, so prolific, or so completely true. If simplicity and facility of management were all that the philosopher has to care for, the great comprehensive ideas of science would soon disappear; for they are neither uncomplex nor facile. 'The simplest of governments,' says Webster while defending the excellent complexity of republicanism, 'is a despotism.' The simplest of theories is the theory of an extremist.'

W.G.T. Shedd, Lectures upon the Philosophy of History (Andover: Warren F. Draper, 1861), 37.