Appendix: The RAC Position as Historic Baptist Doctrine
The testimony of all of Baptist history favors the fact that repentance is a change of mind that always results in a change of action (the RAC). The RNC doctrine that repentance may not always result in a change has infiltrated Baptist churches largely as a result of the replacement of Biblical evangelism[i] with carnal techniques of salesmanship and marketing techniques, very inappropriately called “soulwinning,” that have led to only a tiny percentage of those who are “saved” ever showing evidence of the new birth in their lives (2 Corinthians 5:17).[ii] The quotes below, reproduced from pgs. 64-69 of the fine book Repentance and Soul Winning by David Cloud,[iii] are only representative of historic Baptist confession of the RAC. While certain antinomians outside of true churches held the RNC heresy in earlier times, the view that repentance only potentially results in a change of action is absent from Baptist confessional and doctrinal life until very recently, since God in His great mercy has kept His churches from falling into and adopting this dangerous heresy.
“Unfeigned repentance is an inward and true sorrow of heart for sin, with sincere confession of the same to God, especially that we have offended so gracious a God and so loving a Father, together with a settled purpose of heart and a careful endeavor to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God’s commands” (The Orthodox Creed, Baptist, 1679).
“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency; praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor by supplies of the Spirit to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things” (Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Baptist, 1742).
“Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things” (Abstract of Principles, Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, 1859).
“Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learned at our mother’s knee: ‘Repentance is to leave the sin we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more’” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Royal Saviour,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, Feb. 1, 1872).
“[R]epentance … is a turning from sin, a loathing of it; and if thou hast that, thou hast sure repentance; but not else. Repentance is also a sense of shame for having lived in it, and a longing to avoid it. It is a change of the mind with regard to sin—a turning of the man right round. That is what it is; and it is wrought in us by the grace of God. Let none therefore mistake what true repentance is” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Mistaken Notions about Repentance,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, April 20, 1879).
“Repentance is a change of mind or purpose. Until a man repents he commonly feels comfortable about himself and his ways; but when the Saviour, through the Spirit, gives him repentance, he changes his mind about himself, and seeing nothing good in his heart or in his works, his whole soul cries out, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk. 18:13)” (William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881).
“Repentance and the firstfruits of repentance [baptism and other steps of discipleship mentioned in Acts 2:38-42] were generally inseparable. The former could not be genuine without manifesting itself in the latter. And in the circumstances of that day a willingness to be baptized was no slight evidence of a new heart” (Horatio Hackett, Commentary on Acts, American Baptist Publication Society, 1882).
“To repent, then, as a religious term of the New Testament, is to change the mind, thought, purpose, as regards sin and the service of God—a change naturally accompanied by deep sorrow for past sin, and naturally leading to a change of the outward life” (John A. Broadus, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Matthew, 1886).
“The preacher who leaves out repentance commits as grave a sin as the one who leaves out faith. I mean he must preach repentance just as often, and with as much emphasis, and to as many people as he preaches faith. To omit repentance, to ignore it, to depreciate it, is rebellion and treason. Mark its relative importance: You may make a mistake about baptism and be saved, for baptism is not essential to salvation. You may be a Christian and not comprehend fully the high-priesthood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 5:11), but “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” So said the Master Himself. Repentance is a preparatory work. For thus saith the Lord: “Break up your fallow ground and sow not among thorns.” I submit before God, who will judge the quick and the dead, that to preach faith without repentance is to sow among thorns. No harvest can be gathered from an unplowed field. The fallow ground needs to be broken up. The most striking instance on record of repentance as a preparatory work was the ministry of John the Baptist. He was sent “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” He did it by preaching repentance, and Mark says his preaching was “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Here is the true starting point. Whoever starts this side of repentance makes a false beginning which vitiates his whole Christian profession. When true repentance was preached and emphasized, there were not so many nominal professors of religion. TO LEAVE OUT OR MINIMIZE REPENTANCE, NO MATTER WHAT SORT OF A FAITH YOU PREACH, IS TO PREPARE A GENERATION OF PROFESSORS WHO ARE SUCH IN NAME ONLY. I give it as my deliberate conviction, founded on twenty-five years of ministerial observation, that the Christian profession of today owes its lack of vital godliness, its want of practical piety, its absence from the prayer meeting, its miserable semblance of missionary life, very largely to the fact that old-fashioned repentance is so little preached. You can’t put a big house on a little foundation. And no small part of such preaching comes from a class of modern evangelists who desiring more for their own glory to count a great number of converts than to lay deep foundations, reduce the conditions of salvation by one-half and make the other half but some intellectual trick of the mind rather than a radical spiritual change of the heart. Like Simon Magus, they believe indeed, but “their heart not being right in the sight of God, they have no part nor lot in this matter. They are yet in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” Such converts know but little and care less about a system of doctrine. They are prayerless, lifeless, and to all steady church work reprobate” (B.H. Carroll, Baptist, Repentance and Remission of Sins, 1889).
“Repentance being, as it is, an inward change of purpose resulting in an outward change of life, cannot be performed by one person for another. Repentance is a turning from a life of self and sin to a life of submission and obedience to God’s will. Repentance, as used in the New Testament, means a change of mind, but it is a word of moral significance and does not mean merely a change of opinion. Such a change often takes place without repentance in the New Testament sense. The will is necessarily and directly involved, as well as the emotions, but in scriptural repentance there is a change of mind with reference to sin, a sorrow for sin and a turning from sin. Repentance means sins perceived, sins abhorred and sins abandoned. This change is wrought by the power of God through the Holy Spirit, the word of truth being used as a means to convict the sinner of sin and lead him to forsake it and to resolve henceforth to walk before God in all truth and uprightness” (W.D. Nowlin, Baptist Fundamentals of the Faith, c. 1897).
“The New Testament emphasizes repentance and faith as fundamental conditions of salvation. Repentance is a change of mind toward sin and God, and a change of will in relation to sin and God. Repentance is not merely sorrow. It is rather godly sorrow which turns away from all wrong doing and enters upon a life of obedience. Faith is belief of God’s Word concerning his Son, and trust in his Son for salvation” (E. Y. Mullins, DD., LL.D., Late President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, published by The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1920).
“We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour” (Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist Convention, 1925).
“To repent literally means to have a change of mind or spirit toward God and toward sin. It means to turn from your sins, earnestly, with all your heart, and trust in Jesus Christ to save you. You can see, then, how the man who believes in Christ repents and the man who repents believes in Christ. The jailer repented when he turned from sin to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (John R. Rice, What Must I Do to Be Saved? 1940).
“We believe that Repentance and Faith are solemn obligations, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the quickening Spirit of God; thereby, being deeply convicted of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ and openly confessing Him as our only and all-sufficient Saviour” (Baptist Bible Fellowship, Articles of Faith, 1950).
“Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin. Repentance is a forsaking of sin. Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore. Repentance is permanent. It is a lifelong and an eternity-long experience. You will never love the devil again once you repent. You will never flirt with the devil as the habit of your life again once you get saved. You will never be happy living in sin; it will never satisfy; and the husks of the world will never fill your longing and hungering in your soul. Repentance is something a lot bigger than a lot of people think. It is absolutely essential if you go to heaven” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish, 1950s).
“Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior” (Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist Convention, 1963).
“What do I mean by repent? I mean to turn your heart from your sin. Turn from sin in your heart and start out to live for God. … A penitent heart that turns from your sin and turns to Jesus” (John R. Rice, “Repent or Perish,” Sword of the Lord, March 3, 1971).
A Baptist church that renounces the RAC for the RNC heresy should cease to call itself Baptist. A Baptist pastor who adopts the RNC heresy should voluntarily resign from his position, and be barred from the pulpit, removed by his congregation from his office, and placed under church discipline if he refuses to leave voluntarily. Baptist church members who adopt the RNC, and who refuse to repent of it after being instructed and admonished, should be removed from church membership and placed under church discipline. Corruption of the gospel has awful eternal consequences (Galatians 1:8-9), and since “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9), all such leaven of false teaching must be kept from entering into the church and immediately purged out if it enters (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).
You are encouraged to use the comment section here for thoughts related to this post. Also, please feel free to use the comment section in the post immediately below this one to supply further quotes that the RAC is historic Baptist doctrine. Please provide clear documentation for your quotations, so that someone who wished to do so could verify your references. You can use the post below the one with further quotes documenting the historic Baptist doctrine on repentance to provide quotes from men that have been infected with the RNC heresy that still call themselves Baptists. Once again, please provide clear documentation for your quotations.
[i] For an exegetical study of Biblical methods of evangelism, see “The Biblical Mandate for House to House Evangelism” at http://sites.google.com/site/thross7.
[ii] David Cloud, on pgs. 37-40 of Repentance and Soulwinning, notes:
It is obvious that fundamental Baptists have traditionally defined repentance as a radical change of mind that results in a change of life. They have defined it as turning to God from sin and idolatry. . . . [T]he change in the definition of repentance among some fundamental Baptists is the product of the change in evangelism methodology that has spread widely throughout fundamental Baptist circles. It is a justification for an unscriptural, manipulative, man-centered, pressurized, numbers-oriented methodology of soul winning that is more akin to salesmanship than to anything we see in the New Testament. If a man boasts that thousands are getting saved when only a tiny percentage of them demonstrate any evidence of regeneration, it is not surprising that he would want to redefine repentance to mean a mere change of mind without any necessary change of life.
The late Jack Hyles said that repentance as defined traditionally (as a change of mind in relation to God and sin so radical that it results in a change of life) is one of the enemies of soul winning. He redefined repentance to mean a mere change from unbelief to belief.
The late Curtis Hutson, who assumed the editorship of the Sword of the Lord following the death of its founder, John R. Rice, boldly claimed in 1986 that repentance is not to turn from sin and is not a change of mind that leads to a change of action.
These two men have had a vast influence on the thinking of fundamental Baptists in the matter of repentance. Most others who have changed the traditional biblical definition of repentance have done so upon the “authority” of these two men.
How did Dr. Hyles and Dr. Hutson get to that point in their thinking? . . . By changing the doctrine of repentance and by calling the old doctrine of repentance the “enemy of soul winning,” . . . Dr. Hyles was acknowledging that a biblical understanding of repentance got in the way of his methodology. The old doctrine of repentance is not the enemy of biblical soul winning; it is the enemy of the Jack Hyles type soul winning.
A traditional biblical understanding of repentance does not allow a man to claim that thousands of sinners are being saved when most of them show no evidence of regeneration. A traditional biblical understanding of repentance does not allow a man to count a mere sinner’s prayer as salvation. It is one thing to say that 100 or 1,000 people prayed a prayer; it is another thing to say that those people are saved. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). . . . The idea that you cannot tell if someone is saved is unscriptural nonsense. It is possible, of course, for a person to show false signs of salvation and to deceive those who observe him, as Judas did the other apostles; but on the other hand, if someone is genuinely saved, there will definitely be some evidence of it in his or her life. Profession is not the same as possession. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).
[iii] Repentance and Soul Winning, David W. Cloud. Port Huron, MI: Way of Life, 2008 (5th ed.).