Maybe one of the reasons that modern Southern Baptists are so willing to jettison (at least practically) our historical conviction of a regenerate church membership is because we have grown soft on the whole idea of regeneration. One of the realities that we must face is that we can no longer assume that people in our churches understand what we mean by “salvation.” That is even more of a concern when we start talking about the constituent elements of biblical salvation (like justification, sanctification or regeneration).
For that reason, I call your attention to an article I wrote some time ago on this subject.
When Jimmy Carter became President of the United States in 1976 I remember my Political Science professor at Texas A&M University talking about the confusion which his colleagues from the North were experiencing. Several of them called him on the phone to get help in understanding what the phrase, “born again,” meant.
From the outset of his campaign Carter made it very clear that he was not ashamed to be known as a “born-again Christian.” At that time this was a new thought to a lot of people in our land because they had not weighed or considered Christianity in terms of the idea of a new birth. Reporters and political analysts wanted to know what the language meant and what Mr. Carter was actually saying. (read more)