The Connection between Baptists and Revivals

Charles Hodge explained that Christianity rooted in the covenant favors Presbyterianism and rejects credo-Baptism as well as revival:

. . . what we think is plainly taught in Scripture, what is reasonable in itself, and confirmed by the experience of the church, is, that early, assiduous, and faithful religious culture of the young, especially by believing parents, is the great means of their salvation. A child is born in a Christian family, its parents recognize it as belonging to God and included in his covenant. In full faith that the promise extends to their children as well as to themselves, they dedicate their child to him in baptism. From its earliest infancy it is the object of tender solicitude, and the subject of many believing prayers. The spirit which reigns around it is the spirit, not of the world, but of true religion. The truth concerning God and Christ, the way of salvation and of duty, is inculcated from the beginning, and as fast as it can be comprehended. . . . He is constantly taught that he stands in a peculiar relation to God, as being included in his covenant and baptized in his name; that he has in virtue of that relation a right to claim God as hi Father, Christ as his saviour, and the Holy Ghost as his sanctifier; and assured that God will recognize that claim and receive him as his child, if he is faithful to his baptismal vows. The child thus trained grows up in the fear of God; his earliest experiences are more or less religious; he keeps aloof from open sins; strives to keep his conscience clear in the sight of God, and to make the divine will the guide of his conduct. . . . This is no fancy sketch. Such an experience is not uncommon in actual life.

That kind of covenant religion makes revivals not only superfluous, but a threat to Christian nurture. Revival, in other words, is antithetical to rearing children in the faith:

Does not a theory of religion extensively prevail which leads believing parents to expect their children to grow up very much like other children, unconverted, out of the church, out of covenant with God, and to rely far less on the peculiar promise of God to them and to his blessings on their religious culture, than on other means for their salvation. . . . They look upon conversion as something that can only be effected in a sudden and sensible manner; a work necessarily distinct to the consciousness of its subject and apparent to those around him. This conviction modifies their expectations, their conduct, their language, and their prayers. It affect to a very serious degree both parents and children, and it arises from false, or at least imperfect views of the nature of religion, it of course tends to produce and perpetuate them. We see evidence of this mistake all around us, in every part of the country, and in every denomination of Christians. We see it in the disproportionate reliance placed on the proclamation of the gospel from the pulpit, as almost the only means of conversion; and in the disposition to look upon revivals as the only hope of the church. (Hodge, Bushnell on Christian Nurture)

8 thoughts on “The Connection between Baptists and Revivals

  1. It’s interesting how some can be raised in revivalism and it’s like water off a ducks back. For those, such as myself, that has not been the case.


  2. Why is it that when Paul talks about divisions in the Church, some of those who claim to be the most knowledgeable seem to enjoy criticizing others the most. If we paid attention to how Paul compared the fruit of the spirit with the works of the flesh, we’d better understand the place of doctrine in our lives. That though it is essential, our use of it can also sabotage the mission of the Church.


  3. Charles Hodge–It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one, his natural descendants through Isaac were constituted a commonwealth, an external, visible community. By the other, his spiritual descendants were constituted a church. The parties to the former covenant were God and the nation; to the other, God and His true people. The promises of the national covenant were national blessings. The conditions of the national covenant were circumcision and obedience to the law … There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace, and the commonwealth founded on the one with the church founded on the other.” Church Polity, 1878, 66

    mcsarcasm–Well, some Christians are refugees in this age and world, but other Christians are non-refugees because they are born with promises and commands that the pagan babies don’t have. These birthright Christians serve as the colonialists of any Christian civilization, and by their elite example, they open the covenant to some other people groups

    There is historical connection between flattening all the covenants (after the covenant with Adam) to one “the covenant of grace” and the deportation or extermination of those not in the covenant. Perhaps the covenant is wider now, with some Jews welcome back in (if they act like gentiles), but God is NEVER going to NARROW the covenant so as to eliminate the big difference at birth between the children of Christians and other children

    Acts 2: 39 For the promise is for you, as many Jews as the Lord our God will call, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect

    the promise is for your children, as many children as the Lord our God will call, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect

    the promise is for all who are far off, as many baptists and revivalists as the Lord our God will call, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect

    God has already chosen who to damn and who to save

    But as a child of the Canaanites once said—But if your meaning be that we must not expect to be a true church except we begin to practice infants baptism; then, I say, it is the most uncharitable, as well as unwarrantable, and dangerous censure It is evil to make the proper subject of baptism the article of the standing or falling of the church. Notwithstanding your many errors, I am still willing to come out of God’s true church into the secular hallway to talk with non- refugees who were born Christians. There is one standard for the Western church prior to the Reformation and another standard after the Reformers stop deporting and exterminating baptists and revivalists.

    In the neglect of understanding the doctrine of “presumptive regeneration,” Charles Hodge wrote, “we have long felt and often expressed the conviction that this is one of the most serious evils in the present state of our churches.” (Bushnell´s discourses on Christian Nurture, Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review (1847)


  4. Teaching that faith alone is never alone is antithetical to saying that faith alone means faith is not works.

    But if you don’t want to merely tell your children that Christ had died for all those in the covenant, then you likely will also warn your children against “forensic fixation” and tell them that the Holy Spirit who puts people into Christ will cause covenant successors to produce enough works to prove to everybody that they believe. You will caution your children that there is no salvation outside the true church and that all baptism is with water and that all who do not water infants are Arminians People like Zwingl cannot be good parents because they deny that God is the agent who does the sacraments and that is God who adds the other revivalistic additional factors which make the sacraments effective for perseverance in the covenant and salvation.

    William Smith (1) Saving Faith. What is the faith that saves? This is often presented along the lines of “the faith that saves transforms.” Saving faith is altogether different from “easy believism” that allows you to walk the aisle or pray the prayer and go on your merry sinful way assured you are saved. If your faith is of the saving variety, it will produce definitive effects in your life. You will find in and about yourself evidences that saving faith is at work changing you. You must examine yourself to see if your faith is transforming, and if you cannot find clear evidence of transformation then your faith may not be of the saving sort. It may be “nothing in my hand I bring” at the beginning, but some things better show up in your hand pretty soon. It may be “just as I am I come” but you better not be what “I am” long or you didn’t really come.

    (2) Regeneration. Faith is impossible apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Regenerating grace or the new birth precedes faith. But what does regeneration do? Does it awaken the sinner to his true peril and then enable him to trust in Christ, or does it involve a total moral renovation? If it involves moral renovation, then you must look not only for faith that rests in and on Christ, but moral differences of nature, character, and behavior…. Are you born again into a whole new relationship with God in Christ or are you born again into a whole new moral quality of life?

    3) Repentance. You cannot turn to Christ without turning from sin. But what is this repentance that goes with faith? Is it a change that means you no longer resist God, rely on yourself, and reject Christ? Or is it more? Is it being sorry for your sin, seeking mercy, and longing for the happy day when you will be free of it? Or is it more? How much transformation and renovation must there be if you truly repent? How much ceasing from sin is involved in the repentance that is faith’s Siamese twin?

    4) Lordship. You cannot hold Christ’s Lordship in abeyance while you are a “carnal Christian” and later become a “spiritual Christian” when you put Christ on the throne and rise to a new level of faith, the faith of submission as distinct from the faith of assent. But what does receiving Christ as Lord mean? It is bowing to him as your only hope – putting yourself in his hands and saying, “Lord, I cannot save myself; you must save me”? Or is it a submission that issues in a consistent pattern of obedience? Are you in a new realm where the devil is no longer king but Christ is? Or, are you now so dead to the devil’s rule and so alive to Christ’s that, as a citizen of His kingdom, there is some but not a whole lot of remaining corruption. Does faith in Christ as Savior and Lord mean that Christ has so conquered sin in your life that you and others see that sin no longer has dominion over you?

    William Smith–It seems to me that these issues about the “faith part” of justification by faith are a very big ones, though seldom if ever acknowledged. The problems are not so much with the doctrine itself as with the pastoral treatment of it. What is given in justification by faith alone can be taken away by so defining faith that the comfort and hope of justification is removed. What is the faith that saves? What is the regeneration that enables faith? What is the repentance that accompanies faith? What the reception of Christ’s Lordship? It can come down to the question, “How righteous do I have be as a result of faith in order to know I am righteous by faith?”


  5. McM: Teaching that faith alone is never alone is antithetical to saying that faith alone means faith is not works.

    Gotta draw a strong line here, friend. Your statement is absolutely false.

    Rom 8: You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    Paul plainly teaches both that faith is not works and also that faith is never alone — because those who have faith are indwellt by the Spirit.


  6. Hodge—“the disproportionate reliance placed on the proclamation of the gospel from the pulpit, as almost the only means of conversion.”

    Refugees like Ruth who did not grow up in a Christian home can marry into the covenant.

    Romans 10: 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is from the law: The one who does these things will live by them….14 But how can they call on Christ they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him?…

    Romans 3: 26 God presented Christ Jesus to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus….28 a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

    Romans 4: 4 Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, God credits righteousness.

    Romans 9: 11 so that God’s purpose according to election would stand— 12 not from works but from the One who calls

    Romans 11: , There is a remnant chosen by grace. But if it by grace, it is no longer by works. Otherwise grace would be no more grace.

    Machen– We can preach the gospel, they tell us, by our lives, and do not need to preach it by our words. But they are wrong. Men are not saved by the exhibition of our glorious Christian virtues. They are not saved by the contagion of our experiences. We must preach to them the Lord Jesus Christ, for it is only through the gospel which sets Him forth that they can be saved.

    Horton–instead of saying that our judicial acceptance is rooted in justification and that our sanctification is grounded in an infused habit of grace, the New Testament repeatedly returns to the forensic domain even when speaking of the new birth. What happens for us is the basis for what happens to us and in us, and to reverse that order is to eventually surrender soteriology to ethics

    Near the end of his life, Wyclif had repudiated the entire papal system and called for its abolition. Hus–“The unity of the church consists in the bond of predestination, since the individual members are united by predestination.” The “chief abbot” of the church was not the pope but Christ, and it was possible to be in the church (visible) without being of the church (invisible). In the context of the religious awakening in Bohemia, Hus’s correlation of predestination and ecclesiology ignited a national reform movement with revolutionary implications.

    But there is one standard for the Western church prior to Wycliff and Hus and another different standard after institutional churches were formed by the Magisterial Reformers.


  7. Who is the real idiosyncratic one in regards to the normative Gospel revealed to and understood by the Apostle Paul during the writing of the New Covenant?

    17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.


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