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re-jen-er-a’-shun: As indicated in the general articles on BAPTISM and SACRAMENTS, the doctrine ordinarily held by Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, and also by Low-Church Episcopalians, differs from that of the Roman and Greek churches, and of High-Church Anglicans, in its rejection of the idea that baptism is the instrumental cause of regeneration, and that the grace of regeneration is effectually conveyed through the administration of that rite wherever duly performed. The teaching of Scripture on this subject is held to be that salvation is immediately dependent on faith, which, as a fruit of the operation of the Spirit of God in the soul, already, in its reception of Christ, implies the regenerating action of that Spirit, and is itself one evidence of it. To faith in Christ is attached the promise of forgiveness, and of all other blessings. Baptism is administered to those who already possess (at least profess) this faith, and symbolizes the dying to sin and rising to righteousness implicit in the act of faith (
The above, naturally, applies to adults; the case of children, born and growing up within the Christian community, is on a different footing. Those who recognize the right of such to baptism hold that in the normal Christian development children of believing parents should be the subjects of Divine grace from the commencement (
ANGLICAN (HIGH-CHURCH) DOCTRINE
Regeneration, the initial gift of life in Christ, is, in the church’s normal system, associated with the sacrament of baptism. The basis for this teaching and practice of the church is found primarily in our Lord’s discourse to Nicodemus (
The typical form of baptism is that appropriate to the initiation of adults into the Christian body.in his First Apology (chapter lxi) no doubt testifies to what was the general view of Christians in the 2nd century (circa 150 AD): "As many as are persuaded and believe that the things taught and said by us are true, and, moreover, take upon them to live accordingly, are taught to pray and ask of God with fasting for forgiveness of their former sins; .... and then they are brought to a place of water, and there regenerated after the same manner with ourselves; for they are washed in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour , and of the ." For the due administration of this sacrament, personal faith and repentance on the part of the candidate are prerequisite conditions. However, "the baptism of young children" (i.e. of infants) "is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable to the institution of Christ" (XXXIX Articles, Art. XXVII, sub fin.). In the service "For the Baptism of Infants," repentance and faith are promised for the children by their "sureties" (ordinarily known as "sponsors" or "godparents"), "which promise, when they come to age (the children) themselves are bound to perform."
The person, whether adult or infant, receives in his baptism a real forgiveness; a washing away of all sins, whether original or actual. He also receives, at least in germ, the beginnings of new life in Christ; which life, however, must be developed and brought to perfection through his personal cooperation with the grace of God. But regeneration, as such, is not conversion; it is not even faith or love, strictly speaking. These latter, while they are conditions, or effects, or evidences of regeneration, are not regeneration itself, which is purely the work of God, operating by His creative power, through the. The moral test of the existence of spiritual life is the presence in heart and conduct of the love of God and of obedience to His commandments (see 1 Joh passim).
It may be added that the bestowment of the gifts of spiritual strength--of the manifold graces and of the fullness of the Holy Spirit--is primarily associated with the laying on of hands (confirmation) rather than with baptism proper; the rite of confirmation was, however, originally connected with the baptismal service, as an adjunct to it. The newly-made Christian is not to rest content with the initial gift of life; he is bound to strive forward unto perfection. Confirmation is, in a sense, the completion of baptism. "The doctrine of laying on of hands" is accordingly connected with "the doctrine of baptisms," and both are reckoned by the author of the Epistle to the He as among "the first principles of Christ" (
For the Anglican doctrine on the subject of regeneration in baptism the following authorities may be consulted: Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, V, lix, lx; Waterland, The Doct. Use of Christian Sacraments; Regeneration; Wall,; R. I. Wilberforce, The Doctrine of Holy Baptism; Darwell Stone, Holy Baptism, in "The Oxford Library of Practical Theology"; A. J. Mason, The Faith of the Gospel. For patristic teaching on this subject, compare Tertullian, De Baptismo.
William Samuel Bishop
1. Definition of Terms:
See BAPTISM (I), I, 6.
2. Scriptural Basis of This Doctrine:
3. Faith in Baptism:
Baptism does not produce salutary effects ex opere operato, i.e. by the mere external performance of the baptismal action. No instrument with which Divine grace works does. Even the preaching of the gospel is void of saving results if not "mixed with faith" (
4. Infants and Adults: