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.


Blogger C G said...

Where does he find point 3 in the WCF? (And did he ever wear sandals?)

7:38 pm  
Blogger David Shedden said...

The answer to one of those questions will occupy some of my time over the next few months.

I am being forced to question the whole Reformed theological tradition, simply because it failed to develop in the 19thC in a way that was progressive yet biblical. It is remarkable to see the parallels between Scottish and US Presbyterianism - the different experience of bloody national civil wars, and schisms and splits over confessional standards. One stark difference is that the US experienced all this during one or two generations, whereas the Scottish experience was less intense, perhaps, stretching over two centuries?

2:47 am  

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