presumptive regeneration

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jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
I am padeo-baptist but by no means a believer in presumptive regeneration. For those who do believe in it how would you react if your child as a teen never has made a profession of faith, sins openly, and shows no fruit of the spirit? Would you consider him/her saved because of the covenant baptism? Is there scriptural basis for this? These situations do happen.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Excellent questions. Presumptive regeneration is unbiblical. There is no such thing as "guaranteed salvation" for the children of believers. Children of believers can be just as non-elect (and, therefore, unregenerate) as the children of non-believers.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
I would agree, but the argument is not guarenteed but rather you are to give them the benefit of the doubt until otherwise. However in most cases, the parent holds on to this doctrine as hope rather than Christ. That is my experience.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Joseph,
Right this minute, I'm presuming YOU are regenerate. Am I wrong to do so?

The term "presumptive regeneration" is today simply inseparable from a particular Kuyperian-Dutch tradition. That particular strain seems to have led to a moribund membership of frankly unregenerate people. In other words,, it was so presumed that it led to presuming that conversion just happens, and means are immaterial. It led to an atitude of "guaranteed salvation" as Richard Z put it.

There is a sense in which "useful" terminology has been hijacked. There is a "simple" presumption, and there is "high-handed" presumption. To presume something in the simple sense is simply to believe a proposition based on limited or insufficient evidence. Was it improper for Stanley to say: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume"? I doubt it. There might be warrant to presume something even when evidence for it is lacking--for example if there is no counter-evidence, where it would be expected in case the opposite of the supposition was true.

On the other hand, "high-handed" presumption (my own qualifier) would be presuming a proposition when not only is there no evidence, but there is no warrant whatever to arrogate the presumption.

When I preach the gospel, I "presume" that my audience can hear and understand it. The believers can to begin with. And the unbelievers may, by this preaching of the gospel, be believers at the end of it. That's gospel power. That's effectual calling. A non-regenerate heart is a dead heart. It cannot respond to anything spiritual.

What about my children? I assume/presume/whatchacallit that they can hear and understand my spiritual discipline when they are 1 yrs old. I don't wait until they get converted to start this process, because "they can't be regenerated yet." I'm acting in faith that my spiritual discipline, and calling them to repentance and faith in Christ, will be the means to their conversion.

Reformed people of all stripes these days go to great lengths to deliberately avoid the word "presume", even though older, pre-Kuyper stalwarts like Charles Hodge may have used the term quite freely. Some of the anti-PR Dutch use terminology having to do with covenant-identity to say essentially what I've said here. Word-games tend to annoy me, so depending on my mood, I will just say I presume properly and not improperly, and leave it at that. My "presumption" is variable and situational, subject to change.


To address the real subject of the thread:
We never assume anyone's salvation. We believe and act based on how revelation tells us to believe and act regarding people of any kind, with the evidence they present us. The person described is a candidate for intensive pastoral and elder care. But as long as he is coming to church, presuming it is a good church, he's getting the gospel preached to him week in and week out. And that is the only way anyone ever changes. Anyone.

The young person is giving evidence of deep rebellion. But only he (maybe) and Holy Spirit know what his true heart condition is. Maybe he's never been converted. There doesn't appear to be "first signs" of conversion, but we are getting in on this "story" long after it began. Were there positive signs a year ago? Five? Ten? See, we have very incomplete knowledge. What does the boy say? What kind of claims does he make? How well has he been catechized? What is his professed hope (if any) for eternity?

At his late age, based on his lack of any spiritual interest (which I will stipulate he has NEVER shown), his love of sin, etc., I would "presume" at this point he is unregenerate and unsaved. Until I start preaching. Then I will "presume" that the Spirit is present and may be working right then on his heart, and he CAN hear from his heart, and be converted. And afterward, I will reevaluate the situation.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
We've talked about this before on the PB. At that time there wasn't anyone involved in the discussions who believed that baptism was means of salvation, or that it "guaranteed" it. Neither those who opposed presumptive regeneration nor those who were in favour of it.

But we did kind of draw a conclusion from the discussions, and that was that, first and foremost, the term wasn't used in our confessional standards. But secondly, it didn't help much to use the term even if you had a better understanding of it before it became as Bruce said, a "hijacked" term.

I thought it was useful to help Credos to understand what Paedo was all about, once you got them to understand what was being presumed, the limits of it, and its' Biblical grounding. As a matter of fact I am of the opinion that when a Credo accuses me of PR because I present my children for baptism I can then use the term better than he to show the weakness of excluding them from baptism as the Baptists do. I don't do this so readily anymore now. The wrong idea of PR is too deeply ingrained, and is so hard to extrude in the conversations. I now favour the wisdom of our church fathers who thought it wise not to put things that way. They did not use the term in our doctrinal standards, and for good reason. It's not really edifying.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
I agree terms can be messy however the term "presumptive regernation" is a theological term that is used in the theological academia words to describe a certain set of doctrinal beleifs by the certain people of a certain theological persuasion. Therefore I must conclude it is a proper title to use and discuss. I think my question still makes since and there is no need to play around with semantics and do all that semiotics with theological terms. You know what I am saying. So why bother questioning the name of a doctrine when it has been used for such a long time even though it may not be in our confession of faith?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
OK.

I don't think you'll find anyone here who believes in that. There are some of us who use the same term to describe something else, using it in a historical sense. It's too bad there's confusion about it, even in academic circles. But that which you are asking about we're all with you on that: it's not right.
 
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