Monday, October 31, 2011

Thus Saith Brown

Jason Brown, my Hardshell opponent, wrote:

"Gill is simply arguing here that a separation between the work of the spirit apart from the word does not readily appear from Scripture, not that such a separation is not logically necessary."

This is a good confession by Jason. I am glad that he agrees that Gill recognized that the "two kinds of regeneration" view is not apparent from scripture. It is good that he acknowledges that Gill looked at the issue "logically" in one case and scripturally in another case, and that Gill took the view that corresponded to clear scriptures rather than that view which accorded most with human logic.

Jason wrote:

"Gill argues that regeneration logically precedes gospel faith in the context of regeneration broadly defined."

Then Gill cannot be said to have preached that "regeneration preceded faith" as "regeneration" is talked about in scripture. Besides, even if Gill accepted the idea of a certain kind of pre-faith "regeneration," he nevertheless did not believe that strict "regeneration" preceded faith chronologically.

Jason wrote:

"Where did Gill clearly state in this context that the strict view of regeneration was not his own?"

He did this in context when he said "although it is clear that the scriptures say that sinners are regenerated by the gospel." (paraphrase) It is also clear from the fact that he elsewhere said that one cannot be more regenerated than another, and that a person cannot be more regenerated tomorrow than today. Thirdly, it is clear from the fact that he interpreted all the verses dealing with regeneration, being born again, and with being quickened and possessed of the Spirit, as dealing with conversion, or regeneration broadly and scripturally defined. Fourth, in all Gill's commentary on such verses, he never said "this limited kind of regeneration is under consideration, and not broadly defined regeneration." Fifth, he said that biblical regeneration was the same as being born again, quickened, or being indwelt by the Spirit. If Gill accepted the narrow definition of regeneration as biblical, then he would be affirming that the bible taught a kind of regeneration that did not include a man's being quickened, or born again, or indwelt by the Spirit.

Jason wrote:

"Obviously he is avoiding the contradiction of Garrett of giving equal primacy to Word and Spirit in the creative act, which cannot be construed from Gill here."

Neither Gill nor myself ever argued for "equal primacy" between the word and Spirit. That is a straw man. Certainly the Spirit, or agent, is greater than the agency or instrument. So, that is not the issue! The issue is this - has God chosen the means of his word to regenerate sinners? What did Gill say in numerous places? Further, I address the Hardshell argument about God not using instruments in creation and resurrection in my book on the Hardshells. Did God use the apostles and prophets to raise the dead? Is resurrection not a creation? Was God's word not a means in creation? Is a person not created when he is born? Did Gill not say that the scriptures taught that the word of God was a means in being born?

Jason wrote:

"Gill is not consistent with Primitive Baptists today that assert that God regenerates apart from the word, but Gill is consistent with Primitive Baptists in viewing the Spirit's primacy in the creation of the new man."

Again, I am glad that Jason admits that Gill never taught Hardshell views on regeneration. Further, as I said, all agree that the Spirit has the primacy in regeneration, just as a doctor has primacy over the scalpel in surgery.

Jason wrote:

"I point out to the reader that, though Garrett affirms regeneration is by both Word and Spirit, he does not view the Word as preached only by man, he views the word as also preached directly by God per Gal. 3:8 and 1 Thess. 4:9. The New Testament does not grant the liberty to affirm that the word as preached by man is necessary for the new creation of God in regeneration. Gill's commentary on this text allows for this logically as well."

The fact that Garrett believes that the gospel that regenerates men has been sometimes preached by the Lord himself offers no support for Hardshellism. Many were saved by the personal preaching of Jesus, just like Abraham was by the preaching of God himself. But, this is still not regeneration apart from the preaching of the gospel! But, I never affirmed that the gospel, in all cases, had to be preached by man. Elder Sylvester Hassell was asked - "Q. Will any persons be saved unless the gospel is preached to them?" He said - "Jesus is the Great Preacher, and, by His omnipresent Spirit, He preaches His gospel savingly to His people (Isa. 61:1-3,10,11; Luke 4:16-30; Heb. 2:11,12; Psalm 110:3)."

Jesus may do this preaching personally, as he did when here in the flesh, or do it through his earthly messengers. The former is not the general or ordinary way as is the latter. Still, Christ must be preached before anyone can "believe" in him as Paul affirmed.

Jason wrote:

"I want to demonstrate that Gill's view of Eternal Justification is not consistent with viewing an intellectual, gospel faith as synonymous with the faith given in regeneration."

It is absolutely a falsehood to say that Gill affirmed that gospel faith was not produced in regeneration. Jason has not shown where Gill taught this. He ever taught that a regenerated man was a believing man. I have shown this to be true from numerous citations from Gill. Also, Gill did not believe that there was such a kind of saving faith that did not have Christ and the gospel for its object. I have cited Gill in which he says this very thing. Let Jason cite passages from Gill where he said that saving faith did not involve an intelligent and cognitive faith in Christ.

As to whether Gill's doctrine of eternal justification is consistent with his view about faith and regeneration is a matter I am willing to discuss. I do not find Gill inconsistent. But, I will reply to this point in another entry and incorporate what Jason said in a postscript addenda to Gill and to the doctrine of eternal justification and its relation to faith and salvation.

Jason wrote:

"First, Gill did not view the faith given in regeneration to be the means of conferring justification or the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Gill did not view the faith of regeneration to be unto eternal life, or the basis of the vital union between Christ and the elect. Rather, it was an evidence of the elect's eternal Justification in Jesus Christ."

However, here is what Dr. Gill said:

" is a means of apprehending and receiving righteousness; it views the excellency of Christ's righteousness; it owns the sufficiency of it; the soul by it renounces its own righteousness, submits to Christ's, rejoices in it, and gives him the glory of it: now this is by, or through faith... a justifying righteousness, which is said to be "unto", and "upon them"; that is, it is appointed, provided, and wrought out for them, and directed and applied unto them, and put upon them as a garment, and that upon all of them." (Commentary on Rom. 3: 22)

Gill did not believe that "faith was unto eternal life"? Jason is totally ignorant of Gill or purposely misrepresenting him. On John 6: 53 Dr. Gill wrote:

"But the words design a spiritual eating of Christ by faith. To eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ, is to believe that Christ is come in the flesh, and is truly and really man; that his flesh is given for the life of his people, and his blood is shed for their sins, and this with some view and application to themselves: it is to partake of, and enjoy the several blessings of grace procured by him, such as redemption, pardon, peace, justification and such a feeding upon him as is attended with growth in grace, and in the knowledge of him, and is daily to be repeated, as our corporeal food is, otherwise persons have no life in them: without this there is no evidence of life in them...only such that believe in Christ are living souls; and without this there is nothing to support life; everything else that a man eats tends to death; but this is what will maintain and preserve a spiritual life; and without this there is no just expectation of eternal life; but where there is this, there is good reason to expect it, and such shall enjoy it."

Further, I have already responded to Jason's wording about faith being "the basis of" salvation and justification, how this was a straw man. The question is - is it a means for receiving and experiencing this salvation and justification?

Further, Jason reasons falsely about faith being only an evidence of eternal justification and therefore not a requirement for receiving this justification. Is regeneration not an evidence of eternal justification? Can it not be, at the same time, the way justification and righteousness are received and applied?

Jason said:

"...nor is it a "causa sine qua non", as the case of elect infants shows; it is not in any class of causes whatever; but it is the effect of justification..."

The "case of infants" shows no such thing! Where is the proof that infants are saved apart from faith and repentance? Did John the Baptist not leap from joy of faith while in his mother's womb?

What kind of "effect" is it? Is it not a necessary effect? What if I said that spiritual life was also an "effect" of regeneration? Does that mean that it is not a certain, instantaneous, effect?

Jason wrote, still citing Dr. Gill:

"...but by faith men have a comfortable sense, perception and apprehension of their justification, and enjoy that peace of soul which results from it; it is by that only, under the testimony of the divine Spirit, that they know their interest in it, and can claim it, and so have the comfort of it."

Notice that Gill does not believe that any can "claim" to be regenerated and justified who is not a believer! Gill believed that justification was "received by faith." Real enjoyment of justification, the actual receiving of it, is by faith.

Jason wrote:

"Gill plainly uses 2 Timothy 2:13 to prove that regenerate children of God, lacking some measure or confidence of intellectual faith, are nevertheless possessors of the imputed righteousness of Christ, which Gill also allows in his commentary on this text."

But, I have already shown this to be false.

Jason wrote:

"Sure sounds like a "Hardshell" here! Most Primitive Baptists teach this Eternal view of Justification."

But, it does not sound like Hardshellism to me! Jason is guilty of having selective perception as to what he hears.

That is fine for Hardshells to teach a kind of eternal justification, but it is not fine for them to teach that unbelievers are eternally, or in time, justified. Justification removes the wrath of God, but unbelievers, said John, have the "wrath of God abiding" on them. (John 3: 36)

Jason wroter:

"Now, of course, Gill taught that the elect would be regenerated and effectually called in time by the gospel."

Then, why all the debate about Gill and his endorsing of Hardshell views?

Jason wrote:

"But it is not clear to me at all how his doctrine here squares with his views of the nature of the faith implanted at the effectual call and the nature of the faith persevered. Gill at times seems to clearly assert a gospel, intellectual faith as necessary to regeneration and perseverance, but that view is controverted both in the case of infants and the regenerate who are in a state of unbelief."

Here is more proof of how Jason represents Dr. Gill. Earlier he said that Gill did not believe that faith was necessary for obtaining eternal life! Yet now he says that Gill taught that faith was necessary for salvation!

As I said, Jason made another posting on Gill's view of eternal justification, and I will respond to that in another posting.

Jason and 2 Timothy 2:18,19

Jason wrote:

"A related point is illustrated in 2 Timothy 2:18,19, "Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his."

Now, it is apparent that if a mediated, intellectual gospel belief is equated with faith, which is obtained and necessary in regeneration, it would of necessity persist as the basis of the vital union between Christ and the regenerate."

Jason's first error in interpretation is evident in his interpretation of what Paul meant when he spoke of "the faith."  There is no question but that Paul equates "the faith" with "the truth."  Thus, "the faith" does not refer to belief, or to the action of believing, but to the object of faith, to the gospel doctrine.  I don't think Jason will deny that "the faith," in scripture, often refers to the doctrinal system of Christian beliefs.  When Jude said that we ought to "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3), he is referring to the Christian religion.  When people ask - "what faith are you?" - they are asking "what is your religion?"  Paul is said to "preach the faith which once he destroyed" (Gal. 1: 23).  That is, he preached the gospel. 

So, when Paul spoke of some having "the faith" of their profession "overthrown," he is talking about them having their set of beliefs overthrown, their religion, what they own as being "the (religious or theological) truth."  The Greek word for "truth" denotes what is "real," or "reality," of what is genuine, what is not a falsehood or non-reality.

Jason argues that those professing Christians, such as Hymenaeus and Philetus, of whom Paul speaks, and who had "erred" in the foundational truth of the Christian religion about the doctrine of the resurrection, and who's "faith" was "overthrown," were nevertheless clearly regenerated.  But, where does he get his proof that they were genuinely regenerated?  Or, genuine believers of the gospel?  Does Jason not merely assume it and then base his whole line of reasoning on that assumption?  Is there anything in the context that would suggest that these were viewed as having been certainly regenerated?  Further, if Jason cannot first prove that they were definitely regenerated, then all his reasoning upon his premise is to be rejected.

So, from what I have already said, Jason must prove two things.  He must prove that "the faith" is not equated with "the truth," but refers to the action or state of believing.  Second, he must show that these men were certainly believed by Paul to have been truly regenerated.  If he cannot prove these things, then all his deductions based upon this unproven premise cannot be accepted. 

As a side note, let me say that it is strange for me to have to be demonstrating to Jason, one who believes in the eternal security of all the elect and called, that the "errorists" that Paul references were not genuine born again children of God. Jason's view that they are in fact genuinely saved is the view of the Campbellites and Arminians with whom I have debated.  They too argued that these errorists were genuine born again Christians and they say that this verse proves that you can lose your salvation.  Jason agrees with this reasoning, but would say that these errorists only lost a "time salvation," but not their eternal salvation.  But, the truth is, both the Campbellites and the Hardshells are wrong, for these errorists proved by their departure from "the faith" and "the truth" that they were never truly Christians.  Wrote John:

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."  (I John 2: 19)

Hymenaeus and Philetus were not really "of us," for "had they been" truly "of us," then "they no doubt would have continued with us."  But, their departure and apostasy was evidence of their status as impostors, as hypocrites, as empty professors. 

My brother Jason ought always to read Dr. Gill on such passages.  Dr. Gill wrote:

"and overthrow the faith of some;  the Ethiopic version reads, "of many"; that is, of nominal professors of religion; not of true believers, for true faith cannot be overthrown. Hence it follows,

Ver. 19.  Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure,...
That faith, which is the faith of God's elect, is of the operation of God, and is the gift of his grace, and of which Christ is the author and finisher, is firm and immovable as a foundation; it is solid and substantial; it is the substance of things hoped for; and it is permanent and abiding; it stands sure, being supported by the power of God, and prevalent mediation of Jesus Christ; and so cannot be overthrown by false teachers, when an historical faith, or the faith of temporary believers may: or the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is here meant, which was said to be past by the above false teachers; which is a fundamental doctrine of the Gospel, without which the preaching of it is vain, and faith is vain; and which is a doctrine of God, of pure revelation; and this will be effected by his power: this stands sure upon the testimony of the patriarchs, prophets, and of Christ, and his apostles; upon the sure word and writings both of the Old and New Testament; and will stand its ground against all opposition, and will have its certain effect; for the Lord Jesus knows who are his distinctly and perfectly; nor will he lose them, nor anything that belongs to them; not their bodies, any more than their souls, nor any dust of theirs, but will raise it up at the last day. Or else the doctrine of eternal election may be here designed; which is the foundation of all spiritual blessings, of faith and of holiness, of joy and comfort here, and happiness hereafter, and even of complete and everlasting salvation; and is of God's laying, and is owing to his sovereign pleasure and free rich grace; and stands sure, not on the foot of works, but upon the unchangeable and unfrustrable will of God; and this secures from a final and total deception by false teachers: and also into the account may be taken the persons of God's elect themselves; who are of God's founding, and are as immovable as the firmest foundation whatever, even as rocks and mountains, and stand sure upon the rock of ages, Christ Jesus, and shall never perish; nor can they be deceived by false Christs and false prophets, but will remain safe and sound, when the faith of ever so many is subverted by them."

Gill believed what the apostle John believed.  Apostasy from the Christian faith and gospel is evidence of a lack of genuine regeneration and conversion. 

Paul wrote:

"In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached..."  (Col. 1: 22, 23)

The apostle John also said the same:

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."  (II John 1: 9)

It is clear that failure to continue in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel is proof of a lost condition, of a professing Christian who has not been truly regenerated and converted. 

Gill said that "true faith cannot be overthrown."  Thus, the errorists Paul mentions did not have true faith, were not genuinely saved.  The "faith of God's elect" (Titus 1: 1) is such a faith.  John said that faith is the Christian victory, and that all God-begotten faith would "overcome," that is, not be "overthrown."  (I John 5: 4) 

The scriptures speak of "the faith" of demons.  (James 2)  There is a "faith" that "stands in the wisdom of men," but another that "stands in the power of God."  (I Cor. 2: 5)  There is hypocritical and pretended faith, a "vain faith."  (I Cor. 15: 14)  In the latter passage, interestingly, Paul equates "the faith" of those who denied the resurrection with such a "vain" faith.  There is a "faith" that men have "dominion" over, and there is a "faith" that only the Lord rules over.  (II Cor. 1: 24)  There is "unfeigned faith" (I Tim. 1: 5; II Tim. 1: 5) and there is a feigned faith. 

So, what about those who "err from the faith," who apostatize from Christ and the gospel? 

"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows...O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen."  (I Tim. 6: 10, 20, 21) 

What did the apostle John say of those who don't abide in the doctrine of Christ?  What does he say about those who "went out from us" Christians?  What did Paul say about those who do not "continue in the faith grounded and settled" and who "move away from the hope of the gospel"?  Further, about those who depart or err from "the faith," Paul wrote:

"...he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."  (I Tim. 5: 8) 

What is the state of "infidels"?  What is the state of those who do not have faith in the faith of the gospel (infidels)?  "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth..."  (II Thess. 2: 12) 

Surely then, to be "worse than an infidel" is to be a lost unregenerate man.  Those who deny the faith of the gospel, the faith of God and Christ, are doomed.  Such apostates show, by their departure, that they are "reprobate concerning the faith."  (II Tim. 3: 8) 

Jason speaks about "a mediated, intellectual gospel belief is equated with faith."  But, where has he ever proven that there is, in scripture, a non-mediated, non-cognitive, non-intellectual faith?  Does not Paul say that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God"?  Does he not ask - "how can they believe in (have faith in) him of whom they have not heard?"  And, "how shall they hear without a preacher" of the gospel?  It is adding to the words of Paul, and twisting their clear meaning, to assert that Paul did not mean that any and all "faith" came in that manner, or that he denied that there was such a thing as a faith that is not mediated, intellectual, and cognitive.  Paul did not say "this kind of faith" or "this kind of believing" is non-cognitive. 

Jason denies that faith is "obtained and necessary in regeneration."  He believes a man can have a false faith, a false religion, and yet be "regenerated."  But, such a notion is foreign to anything taught in the new testament.  The notion!  A man without faith in Christ nevertheless having Christ living and reigning in such a man! 

Jason refers to a "straw man" when he suggests that I believe that faith in Christ is "the basis of the vital union between Christ and the regenerate."   I have never affirmed such a belief and neither did the old Baptists who wrote the oldest confessions.  On this I agree with Dr. Gill.  Only the blood and sacrifice of Christ is "the basis of" all aspects of salvation.  But, faith and repentance are means of salvation, the very substance of it.  Jason and the Hardshells do not believe that faith and repentance are inseparable from salvation, and affirm that those without faith and repentance may be saved nonetheless! 

Jason wrote:

"Here, in this chapter of 2 Timothy 2, the inconsistency of this view is manifest, for the text proves that it is possible that the regenerate are in a vital union with Christ, though their intellectual gospel belief has been overthrown."

But, where has this been first proven?  "The text proves" no such thing!  Here is a good example of faulty hermeneutics.  First of all, Jason has not proven from the text, or context, that the apostates Paul refers to, were "the regenerate," or that they were "in a vital union with Christ."  He only assumes it, without warrant, and expects us to accept it!  Further, as I have shown, their apostasy proved their unregenerated and unconverted state!  The scriptures I cited prove it.  Consider also the fact that Jason himself seems to agree that Paul's distinction, in the context, of "vessels" that are God's vessels, vessels of "honor," or "vessels of mercy," with those "vessels" that are vessels of "dishonor."  These descriptions are descriptions of elect versus non-elect!  (See Romans nine)  Surely the apostates that Paul speaks about, in II Tim. 2, and in all other passages in his epistles, are identified with being "vessels of wrath," while those who "continue" in the faith of Christ are identified with being "vessels of mercy." 

Faith that is overcome or overthrown is not that faith that itself overcomes!  (I John 5: 4)

Jason wrote:

"This would prove that it is incorrect to equate faith with mediated gospel knowledge. It surely cannot be advocated that those who deny the resurrection of Christ could be said to believe the gospel, but you have here in this chapter the possibility in the mind of Paul that some regenerate children of God have been led astray by false teachers into heresy."

Jason does not equate knowledge of God and Christ with faith.  He believes that "faith" is ignorant of God and Christ.  His "faith" has no understanding or knowledge of God or Christ!  Where is his authority, from scripture, for such a redefinition of things?  Does he not realize the seriousness of his changing the meaning of words and concepts given in the scriptures?  He believes that "faith" does not come by hearing!  He does not agree with Paul that no one can believe in Christ apart from intellectually and cognitively "hearing" the story of Jesus! 

But, I never said that "those who deny the resurrection of Christ" had ever truly "believed the gospel"!  Why is Jason putting words in my mouth and arguing with them?  And, what is Jason's view?  One can reject the announcement of the resurrection of Christ, the core of the Christian faith, and still be one who has "faith" and is "regenerated"!  Hardshells teach that a man can even be "anti" Christ and still be one who has a non-cognitive and sub-conscious, yet, saving "faith"!    Heathens, who worship false gods and goddesses, "born of the Spirit"!  Heresy!  "Damnable doctrine"! 

No, Jason, you and the Campbellites are both wrong to think that these apostates were genuine Christians!  Jason said - "but you have here in this chapter the possibility in the mind of Paul that some regenerate children of God have been led astray by false teachers into heresy."

But, that is a baseless assumption, "read into" the passage by Jason.  I have disproven his false inference.

Jason wrote:

"It is necessary to recognize that Paul is admonishing Timothy in his ministry to children of God that may be in error."

That is not actually correct. Timothy's ministry embraced all men. Paul told him to "do the work of an evangelist," which meant that he should preach the gospel to the lost, to those who knew not Christ. Further, Paul and Timothy knew that not all those who were members of the visible church, and who publicly professed faith in Christ, were not really saved, but were hypocrites and false professors. His ministry was to all the "children of God," to all who "name the name of Christ."  (I Tim. 2: 19) Does Jason believe that all those who "name the name of Christ" are genuine?  Does Jason deny that he has a ministry to the lost?  That he does not have anything to say to them?

Does Jason mean "regenerated ones who may be in error" when he speaks of the "children of God who may be in error"?  What kind of "error"?  Can they be in error about there being only one God?  Can they be in error about God being the God and Father of Abraham?  Of Christ?  Can they be in error about the work and person of Christ?  Can they be in error as to whom they trust in for salvation?  To affirm that the biblical description of "children of God" includes those who are heathens and pagans, and who believe not in the one true and living God, and in his Son Jesus, is the kind of serious "error" that Paul is talking about!  Ironic!    A "regeneration" that teaches a man nothing about God! 

Jason wrote:

"I call the reader's attention to several places in this chapter (2 Timothy 2) to show that Paul is not pronouncing finally on the eternal destiny of those that have been carried away into Gnosticism."

Well, Dr. Gill disagrees.  So do I.  Did he not associate them with dishonorable vessels in the passage's context?  So, Jason believes that a man can believe gnostic heresies and yet be owned by Christ in the day of judgment!  What a heresy is Hardshellism!  One can well understand my calling it a "cult," and for my bitter opposition to it!  Is gnosticism an evidence of regeneration or degeneration?

Jason wrote:

"Verse 12 and 13 indicate this in that Paul shows in context of enduring all things for the elect's sake, "if we deny him, he also will deny us", right next to, "if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." Verse 19 places the certainty of the knowledge of the identity of the regenerate in the mind of God, not in the mind of Paul, as the LORD knoweth them that are his. Verse 21 shows that Paul's exhortation is for the young Timothy to purge himself from the influence of false teachers that are vessels of dishonor in the church of God in verse 20, like Hymenaeus and Philetus, not that those overthrown in their faith are certainly vessels of dishonor."

Jason's error, as I have shown, consists in his not recognizing that the embracing of fundamental error, pertaining to Christ and his salvation, by a person, is proof that "the faith" and the "regeneration" of that person was not genuine. 

In this passage Paul gives four "if" statements meant to identify a class, or a certain character, a description of a specific individual.  1)  "If we died with Christ" 2) "If we suffer with Christ" 3) "If we deny Christ" 4) "If we believe not."  (II Tim. 2: 12, 13) "If" statements have a protasis and an apodosis.  It is the "if, then" logical formula. "If this, then that."  It deals with logical consequences, to express the dependency of one thing upon another thing.   

Part of helping us to properly interpret this passage is to ascertain what class of people is referred to by the pronoun "we" in the passage.  Paul is either referring to 1) all we professing Christians or 2) all we human beings.  The latter is clearly the "we" of Paul.  His intent is to put men into classes or groups based upon certain adjectival qualities.  So, let us examine Paul's four distinct classes of people.

First, there is that class who have "died with Christ."  I don't think that there is any question that this is a description of one who has been either chosen or called.  Second, there is that class who "suffer" for and with Christ.  Again, there can be no question but this is a description of genuinely saved people.  Thus, so far, there are two classes mentioned by Paul and they are both descriptive of saved people.  Those who have "died with" and "suffered with" Christ are saved.  But, the question is, do the next two classes that Paul mentions  also describe saved people? 

The third class is of those who "deny" the Lord Jesus.  Can we say that Paul is now describing the same class as he had described by the first two adjectival descriptions?  Or, a different class?  Jason will take the former position, while I will take the latter.  The fourth class is of those who "believe not," that is, they believe not in Christ, or in his word. 

Clearly, just as the first two classes described denoted truly saved souls, so the last two classes denote truly lost souls. 

Jason's position is that these four descriptions are of the same class!  But, there is no such class of saved people, who have died and suffered with Christ, and who are, at the same time, members of the class that deny and reject Christ!   That is Hardshellism!  It is to be bitterly opposed!

Jason affirms that those who "deny" Christ and who have "no faith" in him,  are nevertheless saved!  He also thinks that the result of denying Christ and rejecting him as Lord and Savior, is not eternal condemnation!  But, let us try this assertion.  First, is not eternal salvation under consideration when Paul says "we shall also live with him," in the case of those who have died with Christ?  Is eternal salvation not under consideration when Paul says "we shall reign with him"?  Clearly it is.  Well, why would we think that eternal destiny and eternal damnation are not referred to when Paul speaks of being "denied by Christ" in the future?  And what about Paul's mentioning of God "abiding faithful," in response to a person not believing God and the record he has given of his Son?

Jason and the Hardshells would argue that Paul is saying - "if we believe not in Christ he will still be faithful to save us anyway"!  What a twisted and dangerous interpretation!  One to be opposed! 

On verses 12 and 13 Dr. Gill wrote:

"if we deny him, he also will deny us...there is a partial denying of Christ, which was Peter's case, though his faith in him, and love to him, were not lost; and there is a total denying of him, a thorough apostasy, and from which there is no recovery; and if there be any such apostates among those who have named the name of Christ, he will deny them, he will not own them for his another day; he will set them at his left hand; he will declare he knows them not, and will banish them from his presence for evermore."

Jason cannot claim to be taking an old Baptist view of the passage!  Dr. Gill's is such, however.  Gill saw the denial of Christ as bringing eternal death and condemnation.  Gill does not see the elect and called under consideration in this class of people who "deny" Christ!  What are they denied, by Christ, if it is not final salvation?  Hardshells affirm that Christ will not finally deny salvation to those who deny him! 

Jason wrote;

"Lastly, verse 25 and 26 make it obvious that those overthrown in their faith are possibly regenerate children of God, as Paul states that it is possible that they will repent and acknowledge the truth of the gospel. The children of God can be taken captive of the devil from the intellectual truth of gospel faith, as Peter was nearly sifted like wheat, but can possibly recover themselves, as those that are converted from the error of their ways (James 5:19,20)."

Jason is incorrect in thinking that "giving them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" is not a description of being regenerated or converted.  He thinks that it is a giving of repentance and faith to those who are already regenerated and saved, apart from repentance and faith. 

I deny that "children of God can be taken captive of the devil"!  Jesus said that none would be able to snatch any from his hand!  To think of such a thing is horrible!  Satan attacking the possession of Christ and making slaves of his people!  God's people are saved from being slaves to Satan and to assert that they can once again become his slaves, after having been liberated, and after having been made the slaves of Christ, is unthinkable!  Heresy of the worst sort! 

People still in the snare and captivity of the Devil are yet the slaves of Christ!  Saved but still not liberated from Satan's bondage!  Christ frees us from Satan's bondage, but not once for all!  Saved but not restored by new birth!  Not "recovered"!  Not "converted" from damnable errors! 

On these verses Dr. Gill wrote:

"Ver. 13. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful,.... The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read, "if we believe not him". This may be understood, either of such who are altogether destitute of faith, who do not believe in Christ at all; and particularly do not believe what was just now said concerning his denying such that deny him, but mock and scoff at his coming, and at a future judgment: this unbelief of theirs will not make void his faith or faithfulness; see Ro 3:3, he will abide faithful to his word of threatening; and what he says in Mr 16:16 will be found to be an everlasting truth: or it may be understood of true believers, whose faith sometimes is very low, as to its exercise on Christ, and with reference to their future glory and happiness; but Christ is faithful to all his, covenant engagements for them, to bring them to glory, and to every word of promise concerning their happiness, and to every branch of the faithful saying above mentioned; and he is ever the same in his love to them, and in the efficacy of his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; and his salvation is an everlasting and unchangeable one; nor do the saints' interest in it, and security by it, depend upon their acts of believing, or their frames, but upon the firmness and unchangeableness of Christ, the object of faith."

Dr. Gill interprets "he abides faithful" as meaning that "he will abide faithful to his word of threatening," not to his "word of salvation" to such characters as do not believe in Jesus! 

Jason wrote:

"If gospel knowledge is equated to faith, Garrett is forced in one of two directions in this chapter: (1) those with an overthrown faith were of a certainty never truly born again, or (2) it is possible that regenerate children of God can lose their actual faith and become unregenerate. (2) is manifestly denied by his adherence to Calvinism. (1) is denied because 2:13 shows those with an overthrown faith to be in vital union with Christ, and 2:25 refers to repentance to orthodoxy, which establishes the possibility that those with an overthrown faith were regenerate children of God. While it is a possibility in the mind of Paul, but not a certainty, that these with an overthrown faith were never truly born again, it is clearly possible to him that they were deceived and may repent."

How does 2: 13 prove that those whose faith is overthrown had true saving faith or were truly regenerate?  Jason says it does say it, but he did not demonstrate how it does.  Dr. Gill disagrees with Jason on his assumption.  Gill said - "This may be understood, either of such who are altogether destitute of faith, who do not believe in Christ at all."  But, Jason thinks that it can only be language applicable to those with genuine faith!

Jason said:

"2:13 shows those with an overthrown faith to be in vital union with Christ, and 2:25 refers to repentance to orthodoxy."

But, I have shown that this statement is false.

Jason wrote:

"This establishes that an intellectual, gospel faith is not the fundamental basis of the vital union of the regenerate with Christ, and if it be not the fundamental basis after regeneration, neither can it be the fundamental basis in regeneration in the first instance."

No, Jason did not "establish" anything correct about the passage!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jason Brown's Latest

Jason Brown, my Hardshell opponent, has responded to my last posting with an entry titled "Garrett Again on Omissions."

In this reply Jason, at my request, gave us some personal information about himself. He wrote:

"Jason Brown is my real name. I am not an Elder, and I do not identify with a faction among the PB's. I was exposed to strict Calvinistic beliefs by my Father, so I began from that standpoint. He and my Uncle, Roy Brown, traveled much among the Primitive Baptists throughout the 80's. Perhaps Garrett may have even known him. They both embraced the "time salvation" paradigm, but came to reject it during the public ministry of Uncle Roy. My Father was not an Elder, but my Uncle Roy eventually left the PB's. I was present as a youngster when Kirk McClendon, another PB Elder who came to teach Calvinism, split the Church in Arlington, Texas in the early 90's. The Church was prevented from conference for months on the basis of individuals of McClendon's "camp" claiming to "not be at peace". McClendon and his group were finally narrowly excluded by a majority that contained one extra vote than McClendon's minority. I don't care much for factions."

First, I am glad to know this about Jason. I can address him a little more personally now. I do consider him a brother in Christ, and I have more than once addressed him as brother, just as he has me. This is important for readers to understand. We are not enemies but friends. We are having a friendly and brotherly disagreement. Yes, I am opposed to Hardshellism, but I love my Hardshell brethren and all my efforts and prayers are for their recovery from serious error. I support all reform movements among today's "Primitive Baptists" where brethren are trying to take today's Hardshells back to real primitive Baptist beliefs.

From what Jason has said in the above testimony we have had several of the same experiences. I too was taught Calvinism by my father. Now, I do not know what Jason means by the term "strict Calvinistic beliefs," but my father taught me Hyper Calvinistic Hardshell beliefs when I was a young convert to Christ. Further, it is sad that Jason, in his wrestling with "strict Calvinism," embraced Hyper Calvinism and Hardshellism. He should have accepted the Calvinism of the old Baptist confessions, of Dr. Gill and Charles Spurgeon. Even the Calvinism of his own Hardshell forefathers would be better than today's Hardshell brand of Calvinists.

Jason speaks about troubles that his father and uncle had with certain points of doctrine held to by neo-Hardshells, such as the doctrinal paradigm of "time salvation." I too had troubles in my early years with the Hardshells regarding some of their doctrinal positions and this caused me to have trials of conscience. My dad also had his troubles with the Hardshells over his views that Satan was a angel who fell from heaven (Luke 10: 18). He and his church were "declared against" by the Powell's Valley Association for believing this. Such trouble affected me since I had been ordained by my dad's church after this unjust "declaration of non-fellowship." After I was ordained, I moved to North Carolina and married the daughter of a leading Hardshell elder here in the Bear Creek Association, an association that was "in direct correspondence" with the Powell's Valley Association. Elder C. M. Mills was the pope of the Bear Creek Association, and his close friend was Elder John Robbins, a leader in the Powell's Valley Association, and the ringleader of those who were "out to get" my dad, Elder Eddie K. Garrett, Sr., and made dad's views on the fall of Satan a reason to declare dad and his church in "disorder."

Elder Mills took the view that the Bear Creek Association would not recognize my ordination was "valid" because it was done after the action of the Powell's Valley Association when my church in Ohio was in "disorder." This caused me no little amount of anxiety as a young minister who only wanted to serve the Lord's people. I agreed with my dad on his position, a position that several of the leading founding fathers of Hardshellism also believed, that Satan was an angel who fell from heaven, the third heaven. What was I to do in a situation like that?

I called my friend, Elder Lasserre Bradley, Jr., of the Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church.

Note: I spent my early years with the Hardshells (1971-1976) while in Ohio and I had a familiarity and acquaintance with Elder Bradley. Our church in Middletown was only about 40-50 miles from the Cincinnati church. Dad and Elder Bradley had been friends for years, even before both left the Missionary Baptists to join the Hardshells. In those early years I often attended the Cincinnati Church for their Wednesday evening services, as well as other special services there. Of course, when dad and I both would attend a Cincinnati meeting, Lasserre and dad would often discuss things dealing with the "Primitive Baptists." Sometimes this would include issues dealing their disagreements over "adultery in the church," "long hair on men" and "short hair on women," and certainly on inter-church difficulties.

So, I had good reason for calling Lasserre about my being "re-ordained" to make it "valid." I told Elder Bradley that I thought my first ordination was valid because 1) The church in Middletown was not justly "excluded" by the Powell's Valley and my being "re-ordained" would be seen as my recognition that I agreed the the decision of the Powell's Valley, and 2) It had elders in the presbytery who were recognized as being in good order, such as Elder Paul Trautner, a close friend of Lasserre, and pastor of the Lexington Primitive Baptist Church, and should be a valid ordination for that reason, and 3) my submitting to being "re-ordained" would mean my "exclusion" from my original home church, where I was still a member, though living in North Carolina. I also told Lasserre that if I did not agree to be "re-ordained" then I could never be a member or preach in any of the churches here where I lived. It was a tough decision and Lasserre did sympathize with me and thought that I should go ahead and be "re-ordained" and that everyone would understand.

So, I can say that Jason and I share similar experiences in regards to the initial troubles each of us had in our entering into the Hardshell "kingdom of God."

Jason speaks of how his father and uncle first accepted, then rejected, the neo-Hardshell teaching about a "time salvation." I too did the same. I accepted it, but could not hold on to it as I read the scriptures and became honest with them on the subject of salvation. But, thankfully, this rejection of "time salvation" brought me completely out of Hardshellism. I saw "means" in salvation, a salvation that was eternal. Thus, I saw that faith in Christ was essential for being eternally saved. All this led to further understanding of the teachings of the scripture on salvation and away from neo-Hardshell views. Finally I was able to see that the "Primitive Baptist Church" was a heretical group, a cult.

Jason did not tell us whether he too, like his father, rejected the Hardshell teaching paradigm of "time salvation." Jason said - "my Uncle Roy eventually left the PB's." So, Jason's Uncle Roy and I share that experience in common.

Jason said - "another PB Elder who came to teach Calvinism, split the Church in Arlington, Texas in the early 90's."

I do not know what Jason means by "Calvinism," so I can only speculate about what he means. Does he mean by "Calvinism" the belief in means and in perseverance? One side, "McClendon's minority," believed in means and in perseverance? How many Hardshells recognize the means side? Did not the first Hardshells fellowship those who believed in gospel means, and did not make the issue a "test of fellowship"? Seems to me that both sides were in error in allowing the matter to keep them from fellowship and Christian joint labor and cooperation. But, this is a long practice among Hardshells, as one easily discerns by studying Hardshell history.

Jason says he has no use for "factions." Yet, he is identified with a most schismatical people. This is so easy to demonstrate from their history. R. B. C. Howell called them "new test men," men who created new "tests" for judging orthodoxy and the circle of fellowship.

Jason wrote:

"If it weren't for the preaching of David Pyles when he came to preach in Arlington in 1997, I might have too eventually left the PB's. Elder Pyles seemed to navigate gracefully between the extremes of Calvinism and the practical universalism of many."

I would love to know more about how David Pyles "navigated gracefully" and about what Jason means by "the extremes of Calvinism." Is David then a "moderate" Calvinist? Does he believe that all the elect will hear and believe the gospel? Does he believe in perseverence as traditionally taught by the old Baptists of primitive times? Does he believe that faith in Christ is necessary in order to be eternally saved?

Jason says that David Pyles kept him from leaving the Hardshells. Whether this is a good decision or not, only time will tell. If Jason can work within the Hardshell denomination to reform them back to the faith of their fathers, then it may be of God for him to remain there. But, if the Hardshell denomination is a cult, which I believe I show to be a fact, then it is a dangerous thing to remain in it. I suspect that the public views of brother Jason will find him in hot water with most Hardshells. They will not agree with him that all the elect who hear the gospel will believe it. I suspect the longer he stays in the cult the more Hardshell wars and conflicts, divisions and separations, will he witness and participate in, willingly or unwillingly.

Further, I have had a feeling that Jason Brown was really a pen name for some other Hardshell. I even said the same to brother Fralick. I had guessed that "Jason Brown" was really Sonny or David Pyles. Oddly enough, I was not far off seeing David Pyles' influence is evident in Jason.

Does David Pyles disagree with his father, Sonny Pyles? I know that Sonny rejects the gospel means position. I also know that Sonny believes some heathen are saved apart from faith in Christ. I do not know whether Sonny thinks that all the elect who hear the gospel will believe it. Maybe Jason can tell us that.

Jason wrote:

"I have a sermon he preached on VHS on Justification by faith that made a heavy impact on my mind. I didn't grasp all of the implications at the time (I was 17 and had just began to think meaningfully), but it provided a lot of clarity in subsequent years."

And, just what were David's view on "justification by faith"? That faith in Christ was not necessary? That the faith that is necessary to justification is some kind of non-cognitive "faith"? That justification by faith is not necessary for being eternally saved? What did David say to uphold neo-Hardshell views on justification by faith? Is David's view on justification by faith the same as the old Baptists of the pre-19th century?

I wonder if Jason can get David to enter our discussion? Or Sonny? I wonder if either one would be willing to debate "Who are the Primitive Baptists?"

Jason wrote:

"Gill's idea of one man not being "more born again" than another hardly destroys "my position" any more than it would destroy Gill, for I am simply stating Gill's stated position. At most, any problem here would only prove a contradiction in Gill, as his views as I have stated them are clearly presented by him."

Actually, Gill used the word "regeneration," not "born again." So, this avoids the issue, which is "regeneration." Gill said that one person cannot be more "regenerated" than another! Yet, if one was narrowly regenerated only, and another person was both narrowly and broadly "regenerated," then Gill would not be correct. I think Jason sees this or cannot resist it's logic. Jason wants to say that this simply proves that Gill is "inconsistent." He also says that I believe that Gill was inconsistent. But, here are the facts. First, I have always affirmed that Gill was consistent, in all his writings, on the subject of regeneration, new birth, conversion, perseverence, salvation, etc. But, I never said that I thought Gill was consistent in all other points of doctrine.

Jason wrote:

"Notice Garrett would rather ignore this section of , "Of Regeneration", claiming that Gill didn't really believe what he published, which, ironically also indicts Gill of contradiction because he didn't state the view as not his own."

No, Garrett does not ignore any of it. It is Jason who ignores what Gill said in that section, as I have shown. The section does not show that Gill contradicted himself. Rather, the contradiction is in Jason's head. Gill gave us what was a theological distinction but then concludes by saying - "but though the scriptures are clear in ascribing regeneration to the utility of the gospel" (paraphrase). He clearly contrasts the scriptural view of regeneration with the theological. He did state that the view that makes regeneration into two kinds was not scriptural, which I take to mean that it was not the view of Gill. Why would we think that Gill would not believe the view he called the scriptural view?

Jason wrote:

"...effectual call is placed in the category of broad regeneration or being born again."

Correct! Also, as I have shown, Gill believed that the "regeneration" of scripture was equated with being quickened, receiving the Spirit, and with being born again, all which denotes regeneration in the broad sense of the theologians. Again, Gill would never say that the regeneration or quickening of the bible was the narrow kind.

Jason wrote:

"Gill's position has no problem harmonizing with everyone being regenerated the same because his broad view of regeneration entails gospel conversion."

Yes, it is true that all who are broadly regenerated are equally regenerated. The same could be true of all who are narrowly regenerated. But, if Gill says that no one is more regenerated than another, then he by this rejects the view of two kinds of regeneration in scripture.

Jason wrote:

"I have no problem admitting this because I was never trying to prove that Gill was fully consistent with Primitive Baptists. I was simply showing that Gill taught immediate regeneration, which I think is clear from Gill's own words. I was proving this to show that views of immediate regeneration did not originate among the Baptists in 1832 with Beebe and Trott. In respect to that claim of Garrett and Bob Ross, that surely has been disproved as zealotry."

Gill agreed, in theory, with those Calvinists who narrowed regeneration down to the first act of God in that work, that such a regeneration must precede regeneration broadly defined. But, remember, he always said that broad regeneration was the regeneration of scripture, the regeneration that was equated with receiving the Spirit, with being quickened and born again.

It is good that Jason admits that the views of Gill are far different from those of the Hardshells. This being so, then why has Jason labored so hard to claim him as one individual in their line of church succession? Who can Jason come up with, in the 18th century, who believed Hardshell views?

How many times do I have to repeat things? How many times must I remind Jason that neither Bob Ross, nor myself, have ever said that some Baptists, like Andrew Fuller, spoke of a regeneration in the narrow sense? But, they all viewed narrow regeneration as simply the initial workings of regeneration proper. They never taught that there were any individuals who were narrowly regenerated only, but who were not at the same time broadly regenerated.

Jason wrote:

"Indeed, when I wrestled with strict Calvinism some years ago, this is one of the passages that seemed irreconcilable."

Well, since it is such an important passage to Jason, I promise, in my next entry, to review what Jason has written about the passage with the hopes that I can help him out.

Jason wrote:

"I have shown that Garrett's depiction of the differences between Beebe and present PB's was inaccurate in making the difference one of gospel utility rather than Absolute Predestination."

Is Jason saying that there is no difference between present Hardshells and Beebe on the new birth? Come on, Jason, tell the truth. I have shown how present Hardshells reject the view of Beebe on both gospel means in eternal salvation and new birth, and concerning predestination! Thus, they cannot legitimately claim to be primitive or original.

Jason wrote:

"I have shown the folly of equating an intellectual, gospel faith with the fundamental faith that is the basis of the mystical union between Christ and the elect by 2 Tim. 2..."

Again, I will address this in a separate posting.

Jason wrote:

"Primitive Baptists do believe it still. I'm not certain what the majority consensus is. You have extreme Calvinists still also. There are universalist extremes as well. Garrett's desire to paint the PB's one color is not accurate. Garrett was not the only rampant Calvinist that was or is among the Primitive Baptists, as I testify."

What Jason says that Hardshells still believe is the proposition that "all the elect who hear the gospel will be converted by it." But, that is a falsehood, for I dare say that 99% reject that proposition.

Also, Garrett has never attempted to "paint the PB's" in "one color," for I have repeatedly mentioned the various factions! But, I have also stated what is the common, nigh universal belief of today's Hardshells. Jason himself has said that such passages as II Thess. 1: 7-9 and 2: 11-13 do not teach that all unbelievers will be lost! So, Jason is now contradicting himself!

It is funny that Jason mentions the existence of "extreme Calvinists" among the Hardshells when they all are extreme or Hyper Calvinists.

I am a "rampant Calvinist"? No, Garrett is simply a real old Baptist, not a pretended one like today's Hardshells. Further, is Jason not himself a "rampant" Hardshell in his views?

Jason wrote:

"For my part, I agree with Garrett - and Hassell - that Primitive Baptists ought to fellowship Absoluters - not on the Absoluter's terms, perhaps - as that debate is mostly semantics, and Hassell was not of the view that a division was appropriate. And as Garrett has pointed out, some of the anti-missions faction of the Primitive Baptists taught gospel instrumentality, so it appears to me that fellowship was withdrawn from those with such views over time, as Watson complains of the "ultraists" accusing others within the anti-mission movement of Arminianism. Gospel instrumentality of the word was taken to be inconsistent with an opposition of Missionary Baptist methods, which is intuitive."

That is good for Jason to say that he thinks that the division with the Absoluters was uncalled for! Does he think that most Hardshells will agree with him on this? Does such a statement not show that he is a "rampant" Hardshell? It is also great that Jason admits that the first Hardshells believed in "gospel instrumentality." He also agrees that those few Hardshells who later began to deny it nevertheless did not disfellowship those who did! So, not only should the Hardshells not have made a declaration of non-fellowship with the Absoluters, but also with those who believed in means, men like Elder John Sparks, Elder W. T. Pence, Elder E. H. Burnam, etc. Interesting is the fact that Jason thinks that the Hardshells should fellowship the Absoluter Hardshells but not those Baptists who believed in church sponsored missions, in Sunday Schools and bible classes, and in tract distribution! Isn't the truth just this - the Hardshells have become far too schismatic?

Jason said that "fellowship was withdrawn from those with such views over time," but who was right? Those who did not make the issue a cause of separation (forefathers) or those who later did?

Jason acknowledges how Elder Watson referred to the non-means side as being "ultraists." Watson also referred to them as "modern innovators." But, why would Watson call them "modern innovators" if he did not see their views as new? Does Jason not see that he is identified with these "innovators" and "ultraists"?

It is true that some went off into the no-means heresy because they thought it was inconsistent with their stand against spreading the gospel by inter-church agencies. Did they not do this because their arguments against mission methods was weak and that they were forced into this view by their extreme opposition to spreading the gospel?

Jason wrote:

"One thing I take to be erroneous in Garrett is his effort to call Primitive Baptists neither "original" or "primitive". The designation "Primitive" strictly refers to the Missions debate, as that is where it originated. This debate, as he concedes, was not over gospel utility. Now, he may be right to say that Baptists who taught gospel instrumentality ought to be able to call themselves Primitive Baptists, but only if they throw away the modern garb of missionary boards, tract societies, Sunday Schools, etc. On the basis of the subject of the Missionary division among the Baptists, present Primitive Baptists are wholly deserving of the appellation "Primitive"."

When Jason says - "The designation "Primitive" strictly refers to the Missions debate, as that is where it originated," he is not quite correct. Baptists had been supporting missions through Associations and societies for the spread of the gospel since the 17th century! I plan to demonstrate all this in future chapters of my book on the Hardshells. Theological schools had been supported by Baptists in England and America for centuries without objection! So, no, today's Hardshells are not entitled to the name of "primitive" or "original" for these things, no more than for their views on salvation and predestination.

Jason wrote:

"Primitive Baptists who attempt to argue for the justification of the description "Primitive" on the basis of unchanged doctrinal purity are blind to history. There has certainly been an evolution or devolution (in Garrett's view) of doctrine within the Primitive Baptists in reaction to controversy. No doubt about that from a historical perspective."

This is a wonderful admission! There is not "unchanged doctrinal purity" in the Hardshell church! What does that do for their Landmarker views relative to church succession? What does that do to their claim of being primitive? It is also good that Jason admits that Hardshells are "blind to history." That is a easy thing to demonstrate, which I have done already in reviewing many of the works of their leading historians. Again, it is good that Jason admits about the Hardshells evolving in their doctrine!

Jason wrote:

"The real question is, however, is this change a sharpened perspective thanks to controversy, or a dull one using the only canon to judge? Only an examination of the Scripture as the standard can determine this. The London Confession is not the standard."

In one sense, it does not make any difference. If today's Hardshells are correct, then their forefathers were not, and were therefore not in "order," and they cannot be claimed as a link in their chain of succession. Further, it is clear, if we examine the scriptures, present day Hardshells are futher away from the truth now than they were originally.

Friday, October 28, 2011

More of Griffin's Logic

In the debate between Elder G. E. Griffin, Hardshell, and Guy N. Woods, Campbellite, in 1957, which I have previously posted articles, Elder Griffin said:

"Now, he's got some questions he wants me to answer.

Are there any saved people among the heathen who live and die without the knowledge of Christ? Yes, that's easy to answer. He would not have asked such a question unless his doctrine or he believes that every last heathen that he or some of his brethren don't get to or someone of like faith are doomed for hell, every last one of them.

Let me tell you something about the heathen right now.

There are at present time some two thousand million people on the earth according to statistics, there are one thousand million who have never heard any kind of preaching. A thousand million! thousands are dying every day, doomed to an endless hell, because they can't hear him or some preacher. (laughter) How do you like it? I want that to soak in.

Now, I'm going to prove by God's Book that the heathen will be saved whether I, Mr. Woods, or any other preacher gets there. I want you to turn with me first to Psalms, 2: 7,8. Here David is speaking as though he were Jesus Himself. He said: "I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, ask me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Mr. Woods no doubt believes that He did that, but they may never be in peace with God. I'm going to prove now how they get in peace with God. Turn with me to Zachariah 9: 10: Here is (sic) the prophet's words. I want you to notice this. Please let it sink in. This is inspiration. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The prophet said: "He shall speak peace to the heathen." He--a personal pronoun in the singular. God is going to do this. This is what the prophet said. Do we believe He will? This is what He said about it. A man of God said that God "shall" speak peace to the heathen.

May one be regenerated, born again without faith in Christ? Yes. John 14: 1: "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me." Jesus said there were some believers in God. Will the believers in God be lost in a devil's hell? Are the believers in God alien sinners? Would you call a believer in God an alien sinner?" (pages 20, 21)

"I read a plain statement where God speaks peace to the heathen. I mean the prophet said: "He shall speak peace to the heathen." Zech. 9: 10. This is what the prophet said. We don't have to worry about the heathen." (pg. 74)

There you have it! A man is saved without faith! This became the Hardshell position in the late 1800's and nothing could be more unbiblical than this! It flies in the face of numerous passages which state that those who do not believe in Christ are condemned.

It is ironic that the Hardshells call themselves "Primitive" or "Original" Baptists! No Baptist who signed the London Confession held to such a view! John Gill repudiated it. The true "Old Baptists" held that those who die without faith in Christ are eternally lost!

Griffin argued that the prophecy of Zechariah 9: 10 taught that the "heathen" would be saved apart from hearing the gospel, apart from faith in Christ, apart from conversion to the Christian religion. Of course, the text says no such thing. In response to this argument of Griffin, I observe,

1) That the text does not say "some of the heathen," but "the heathen," denoting all of them without distinction. So, if Griffin says that "speaking peace to the heathen" denotes their certain regeneration, then he is advocating the universal salvation of all the heathen. But, the truth is, Christ, in the gospel, "speaks" (announces) peace, but all who hear it do not enjoy this peace, for it is only "by faith" in the announcement that true saving peace comes. (Rom. 5: 1 & 15: 4, 13)

2) The text does not exclude the means of preaching the gospel. Christ speaks through the Holy Spirit and through his word. Paul said that Christ "spoke" through him. (II Cor. 13: 3)

Notice too that Griffin does not say "some of the heathen" will be saved, but says simply "the heathen."  No wonder the Hardshells have had trouble with universalism!

Dr. Gill wrote:

"We also know of no such covenant made with, nor of any tender of it, nor of any publication of it to the heathen world; but rather, that all that are destitute of revelation, are strangers to the covenant of promise (Eph. 2:12), which passage likewise acquaints us, that such as are without the knowledge of Christ, and God in Christ, are without hope; and that such who live and die so, have no good ground of hope of eternal life and salvation; which plainly points out the state and case of the heathens, and leaves us at no great uncertainty about it..."

"...and from the words themselves, that believing is absolutely requisite to coming to him; not only that he exists, but that he is, in Christ, a God gracious and merciful, and a rewarder, in a way of grace, of all them that diligently seek him in his Son, in whom only he is to be so found. And since heathens are without any knowledge of him or faith in him, as such; for, how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom. 10:14). It follows, that this passage of Scripture proves the reverse of what it is brought for; namely, that it is impossible for heathens to come to God aright, to serve him acceptably; or to do what is well-pleasing to him, because they are destitute of faith; and whatsoever, is not of faith, is sin (Rom. 14:23)."

Elder Griffin also argues that Psalm 2: 8 proves that heathens are saved without coming to Christ by faith.  But, this is not how our Baptist forefathers interpreted this passage.

Benjamin Griffin was a leader in the formation of the Hardshell denomination and wrote one of their first histories (1853), a "History of the Mississippi Baptists."  In this history, Griffin says this about the first Baptists in Mississippi, the ones in existence before the formation of the "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptist church, in regard to the passage in Psalm 2: 8.  He said that the first Baptists of Mississippi stated in a resolution that they should stir up themselves to "send the gospel to every human being, for it is God's method by which he will give to His Son the heathen for his inheritance, and the remotest parts of the earth for his possession" (page 100).

Also, the passage says "the heathen," not "some of the heathen." 

Further, the London Confession of 1689 is clear on the lost condition of the heathen, of all those who die without faith in Christ.  Hardshells are not "primitive" in their views on the heathen!  Can they give us historical evidence where the Baptists, prior to the 18th century "rise of the Hardshells," affirmed that the heathen would be saved without a knowledge of, and faith in, Christ?

Well Said Zanchius!

The learned Jerome Zanchius, author of the "Absolute Predestination of all things," wrote these words in that great work.

"They who are predestinated to life are likewise predestinated to all those means which are indispensably necessary in order to their meetness for, entrance upon, and enjoyment of that life, such as repentance, faith, sanctification, and perseverance in these to the end."

"As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed" (Acts xiii. 48). "He hath chosen us in Him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love" (Eph. i. 4). "For we (i.e., the same we whom He hath chosen before the foundation of the world) are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath foreordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. ii. 10). And the apostle assures the same Thessalonians, whom he reminds of their election and God's everlasting appointment of them to obtain salvation, that this also was His will concerning them, even their sanctification (1 Thess. i. 4, v.9, iv. 3), and gives them a view of all these privileges at once. "God hath, from the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (2 Thess. ii. 13). As does the apostle, "Elect-through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter i. 2). Now, though faith and holiness are not represented as the cause wherefore the elect are saved, yet these are constantly represented as the means through which they are saved, or as the appointed way wherein God leads His people to glory, these blessings being always bestowed previous to that. Agreeable to all which is that of Augustine:  "Whatsoever persons are, through the riches of Divine grace, exempted from the original sentence of condemnation are undoubtedly brought to hear the Gospel, and when heard, they are caused to believe it, and are made likewise to endure to the end in the faith which works by love, and should they at any time go astray, they are recovered and set right again." A little after he adds: "All these things are wrought in them by that God who made them vessels of mercy, and who, by the election of His grace, chose them, in His Son, before the world began."

"The vilest sinner may, for aught we can tell, appertain to the election of grace, and be one day wrought upon by the Spirit of God. This we know, that those who die in unbelief and are finally unsanctified cannot be saved, because God in His Word tells us so, and has represented these as marks of reprobation; but to say that such and such individuals, whom, perhaps, we now see dead in sins, shall never be converted to Christ, would be a most presumptuous assertion, as well as an inexcusable breach of the charity which hopeth all things."

"The end of election, which, with regard to the elect themselves, is eternal life. I say this end and the means conducive to it, such as the gift of the Spirit, faith, etc., are so inseparably connected together that whoever is possessed of these shall surely obtain that, and none can obtain that who are not first possessed of these."

(Chapt. 3 of "THE DOCTRINE OF ABSOLUTE PREDESTINATION" by Jerome Zancius (1516-1590 and Translated from the Latin of JEROM ZANCHIUS by AUGUSTUS MONTAGUE TOPLADY, A.B.)

"Now, if God had been pleased to have saved those people, would He not have vouchsafed them the ordinary means of salvation? Would He not have given them all things necessary in order to that end? But it is undeniable matter of fact that He did not, and to very many nations of the earth does not at this day. If, then, the Deity can consistently with His attributes deny to some the means of grace, and shut them up in gross darkness and unbelief, why should it be thought incompatible with His immensely glorious perfections to exclude some persons from grace itself, and from that eternal life which is connected with it, especially seeing He is equally the Lord and sovereign Disposer of the end to which the means lead, as of the means which lead to that end? Both one and the other are His, and He most justly may, as He most assuredly will, do what He pleases with His own."

"Besides, it being also evident that many, even of them who live in places where the Gospel is preached, as well as of those among whom it never was preached, die strangers to God and holiness, and without experiencing anything of the gracious influences of His Spirit, we may reasonably and safely conclude that one cause of their so dying is because it was not the Divine will to communicate His grace unto them, since, had it been His will, He would actually have made them partakers thereof, and had they been partakers of it they could not have died without it. Now, if it was the will of God in time to refuse them this grace, it must have been His will from eternity, since His will is, as Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever."  (Chapter 4)

Hardshell Succession?

It is a fundamental belief of "Primitive Baptists" (Hardshells) that Jesus established a visible church organization and that such would continue in doctrinal and practical purity through the ages, a belief similar to that held to by the Catholics. Hardshells believe that no church organization can be the "one true church" that cannot show that it has existed, uninterrupted and pure, since the day of Pentecost. Again, this is the same claim made by the Catholics.

Hardshells are both Landmarkers and Amillenialists and this combination leads them to identify the church of Christ as being the millenial kingdom, and one that will continually exist without interruption. They believe that this "one true church," or "kingdom of God," is the "bride of Christ."

One well known web site says this about "Landmark" Baptist views.

"Landmark Baptists hold that the NT model for the church is only the local and visible congregation and that it violates NT principles to speak of a universal, spiritual church. They also believe that Communion should be restricted to members of the local assembly and that baptism is valid only when administered in a properly constituted local Baptist congregation. They also believe that a historic "Baptist succession" may be traced from John the Baptist to modern Baptist churches in which believer's baptism and Landmark principles have prevailed."

Hardshells believe this, but with some modification. They believe that the communion ordinance is not restricted to each local church, but that any Hardshell, "in good standing" with his home church, may, upon invitation, partake of communion with another Hardshell church. They practice strict or close communion, but it is restricted to Hardshells who are in good standing with their respective home churches. Further, many Hardshells do not reject the view that the word "church" only refers to the local church, but accept the view that there is a "universal invisible church" made up of all the elect and called. The chief tenet of Landmarkism, that of a "link chain succession" of churches from the days of the apostles, is however, strongly adhered to by the Hardshells.

The problem for the Hardshells, however, is in demonstrating how they have, as a church or denomination, existed back through history to the day of Pentecost. History is against them and shows rather that they came into existence in the 1830s in America. They cannot prove that their particular church, with its core beliefs, have existed prior to the 19th century. All kinds of efforts have been made by the Hardshells to show a link chain succession or geneology of Hardshell churches that go back further than the 1830s. But, it has been a dismal failure. History is against them for the evidence shows that they had no existence prior to the 19th century.  They can no more prove their succession, prior to the 19th century, than can the followers of Alexander Campbell.

When one examines the many historical attempts by Hardshells to identify themselves with primitive Baptist groups, he will see how they offer no proof, but seek to write their history into existing history by distorting the historical records or by making claims that are without foundation. Some will say that "we go back through the Welsh Baptists," but they can produce no records that show that the old Welsh Baptists held to core Hardshell beliefs. In fact, today's Hardshells would not even fellowship the ancient Welsh Baptists. Some will say that "we go back through the London Particular Baptists," but again, this is without foundation, and many Hardshells are willing to admit that the old Particular Baptists of England did not hold to Hardshell core beliefs. Some will say that "we go back through the old line AnaBaptists," but they cannot show a group of AnaBaptists who held to their core beliefs. All they can do is to assert such things, like the Campbellites, but they cannot prove their assertions.

One of the other errors of Landmarkism is the idea that only ordained ministers can legitimately baptize. This was not the view, however, of the first London confession Baptists, who stated that any disciple may baptize. This was one of the things that the old Baptists have always had disagreement concerning. Some did believe that only ordained men could baptize. Others thought that the church could appoint any male member to do the baptizing.

Another error of Landmarkism and Hardshellism is the belief that the only valid baptism is that performed by a minister of "the one true church." It is argued that only the one true church can adminster baptism, and that all other baptisms, though administered by a minister to a penitent believer, and though done by immersion, are not valid.

To Hardshells, water baptism is strictly an ordinance of the church. This is interesting because the Hardshells reject the idea that the Great Commission was given to, and is yet binding upon, the church of Christ. The issue of the Great Commission was discussed in a series in my book on "The Hardshell Baptist Cult." If Hardshells were consistent, they would deny that water baptism is an ordinance of the church, and affirm rather that it is strictly an ordinance of the ministry, for this is what they say with regard to the commission itself. The commission, they affirm, was given either to the apostles alone, or to the apostles and the gospel ministry, but not in any sense was it given to the church. But, is not the authority to baptize a major part of the commission? How can they deny that the commission applies to the church when they say that baptism is an ordinance of the church?

The Hardshells also have another problem with denying that the commission was given to the church, or to every disciple. Was the Lord's Supper not given to the apostles as was the Commission? If it is argued that the commission was given only to the apostles and ministers, then how can they claim that water baptism and the Lord's supper are church ordinances?  To be consistent, should they not aver that water baptism, and the Lord's supper, like evangelism, is restricted to the apostles or ministers?

Many of the first Hardshell leaders took the view that the Great Commission was fulfilled, and therefore is no longer in force. If so, where does the Hardshell church get its authority to baptize, teach, and administer the Lord's supper?

I have been challenging the Hardshells to produce the evidence that shows their chain link succession of Hardshell churches back through the centuries. They have remained silent as the grave. Their claims to be "primitive" are therefore not valid.

Another interesting fact of history is the fact that the first Hardshell churches, from the 1830s through the 1880s, had in their fellowship men who believed that the gospel was a means in the eternal salvation of the elect. Yet, Hardshells today will not fellowship those who believe in means. How are they then like their forefathers? Did the presence of such believers in means nullify their right to be "true churches"? If fellowshipping Baptists who believed in means was okay with the first Hardshells, why is it not okay with today's Hardshells? Will today's Hardshells say that the presence of means brethren, in the 1800s, put the Hardshell denomination into disorder and out of the chain of succession?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jason's Last Stand

Jason Brown's latest posting was in reply to my posting titled "Jason's Omissions." Ironically, he is still omitting responding to my arguments! And, what does he do? He basically says - "respond to the new things I bring up." But, should not a person respond to all the arguments of the affirmative before bringing up new arguments? It is very telling how Jason continues to fail to respond to Gill's words about a person not being more regenerated than another, etc. His refusal to acknowledge the words of Gill destroy his misrepresentation of Gill and he does not know what to do except to ignore those words! Jason said:

"Garrett spoke to my "omissions", but failed to realize that where he was most critical is where I am critical in regard to some modern PB's. Speaking of omissions, notice that Garrett wouldn't touch Matt. 23, Luke 11:52, or 2 Timothy 2 in response to my last post. When it comes to "thus sayeth the Lord", he seems to retreat."

First, it is not true that I did not engage Brown on Matt. 23 and Luke 11: 52. I overthrew his interpretation of those passages and I am content with it and see no need to respond to his rehashing. Concerning his comments in II Tim. 2, I see no need to respond. I certainly do disagree with his interpretation of that passage. But, I have better things to do than to correct Jason on everything. I also don't intend to drag out our discussion by my agreeing to review all that he writes in his blog. After all, I did not start my blog with the purpose of negating all that he writes. He did that.

My "retreating"? I will let the readers decide that for themselves. Perhaps he is misinterpreting my victory walk away from battle?

Jason wrote:

"My blog is addressed to Garrett's excessive criticisms of the Primitive Baptists. I did not address some of his writing as to whether present PB's are historical in regard to teaching on conversion because I agree with Garrett here that some present PB's are in error. I stated this multiple times in past posts."

But, Jason never showed how my criticisms of the Hardshells were "excessive"! In fact, he even agreed early on that many of my criticisms of the Hardshells are valid! Even in the above citation Jason admits that "some present PB's are in error." Jason thinks I am exaggerating, but is Jason not rather minimalizing and trivializing? Is he not downplaying the seriousness of PB errors? Of course, Jason would have been more correct to say "nearly all" instead of "some." Nearly all Hardshells reject what their own forefathers taught about the necessity of conversion by the gospel! That such a conversion was the new birth and was a work that was effectual and irresistible! That the "obedience" brought about by the Spirit and the word in conversion was passive and certainly active.

Besides, why does Jason not tell us what faction he is identified with? I have repeatedly asked him to tell us about himself. Is Jason Brown his real name?

Jason wrote:

"All historic PB's believed that under the sound of the gospel as preached by man, the regenerate would be converted, as it is the nature of the regenerate to embrace the revelation available."

Is that what today's Hardshells believe Jason? That all the elect who hear the gospel will be converted by it? Since the "historic" teaching of the first Hardshells affirmed that all the elect, when they hear the gospel, will believe it, and seeing how nearly all of today's Hardshells reject that proposition, how are they then "primitive"? Thanks for your help Jason! You have affirmed that most of today's Hardshells are not primitive!

Jason wrote:

"Where Garrett and I disagree is in reference to the nature of this conversion. He argues that God's irresistible grace is at work, and I argue that conversion and belief in the gospel is a cooperative work of the Holy Spirit and the regenerated will of man much like progressive sanctification (which he also argues is by irresistible grace)."

And, what have I shown was the belief of Jason's Hardshell forefathers? Did they not believe that gospel conversion, or the new birth, was irresistible? That the verse "thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power" was universally applied to God's people being converted or born again? Did not the Hardshell forefathers all believe in passive obedience? How can Jason claim to be "primitive" in these things?

Jason wrote:

"So what is the point? The point is that Garrett's view of Baptist history is guilty of a zealous overstatement."

Of course, that is a falsehood. But, interestingly, where has Jason produced the historical proof that I asked for? Where is his proof that Hardshells existed prior to the 19th century? Jason may falsely accuse my historical evidence as "zealous overstatement," but his is a gross understatement! Why? Because he affirms the existence of Hardshells prior to the 19th century and yet cannot point to any Baptist group who held their distinctive beliefs!

Jason wrote:

"He is not in error in regard to some of the errors of modern PB's, but he is so eager to oppose that he is willing to twist and pervert Gill from his own published views if it seems to make modern PB's seem more ridiculous. It seems his spirit is wrong even if he has some truth."

But, all this is not worth responding to because it is said without foundation, and is ad hominem. Garrett did not pervert Gill. Did Daily not pervert Gill? Did not Jason agree?

Jason wrote:

"Dear reader beware! You now have indication to view his writings with a healthy dose of skepticism, and I behoove all to put his statements to the test before believing every word."

Yes, readers, beware! Beward of the Hardshell cult and its heretical teachings! Beware of that cult that avows that many unbelievers will be saved!

Chapter 102 - Hardshells and Predestination V

In the previous chapters it has been shown that the Absoluter faction of Hardshells, in holding to the absolute predestination of all things, are the real old Baptists on that topic.  This was seen from the fact that it is the teaching of the oldest Baptist confessions, confessions that have historically been accepted by the oldest Hardshell churches.  It was also evident from the writings of Dr. Gill and of the first great leaders in the Hardshell movement, by men such as Elders Gilbert Beebe and Samuel Trott.  It was also shown that the supralapsarian scheme was held to by the above named leaders.  It was further seen how some of the charges made by the Conditionalist faction against Absoluters was false.  For instance, the Absoluter faction did not deny the permissive will of God.  It was also shown how the scriptures are very plain in affirming that "all things" are "of God." 

Permissive Will of God

Many Hardshells who object to the absolute predestination of all things think that those who embrace it do not believe in the permissive will of God. But, this is not generally true. The first Hardshells were generally believers in the absolute predestination of all things and yet they believed that some things are to be ascribed to the permissive will of God. The Conditionalist Hardshell, however, does not recognize how believing in the permissive will of God does not in any way undermine the doctrine of God's universal decrees respecting "all things."

First, the Conditionalist fails to understand that "permissive will" of God is still the will of God. The adding of the adjective "permissive" does not negate the fact that such permission is still the will of God, still part of his decrees.

Second, the Conditionalist does not know how to respond to the question - "what if God does not permit" something to occur? Will it occur any way? This is important because the Conditionalist thinks that the permission of God exonerates God of all causal responsibility in the thing permitted. But, this is illogical, especially if it is granted that nothing can occur apart from divine permission. For instance, if I hold a rock in my hand, can it fall apart from my permitting it to fall by the removing of my hand? Though the withdrawing of my hand (permission) is not the sole cause of the rock falling, gravity being another cause, yet who would say that this removal (permission) was not a cause or reason?

Third, another question the Conditionalist does not sufficiently consider is that which asks - "does God permit by choice?" Or, "does God permit willingly and knowingly?" Or, does he permit without a choice to permit, without will and knowledge? Obviously willing and knowing permission includes second causes (such as gravity in the above example).

Some will use various adjectives to differentiate the permissive will of God from his non-permissive will. The latter will often be called "absolute will," or "will of purpose." But, these adjectives may just as well be used in conjunction with his permissive will. Does God choose to permit without a purpose? Does God's permissive will exclude what is absolute and certain? Some will say God's absolute will is his "perfect will," as if his permissive will was not perfect. Some will say that his absolute will is his "sovereign will," again, as if his permissive will is not sovereign. All this is unacceptable. It would be better to come up with different adjectives than to use the foregoing, or better to use none at all.  We saw this same difficulty in previous chapters in attempting to find adjectives to distinguish between two usages of God's will in scripture.  I chose the adjectives "resistible" versus "irresistible" as the best.  In differentiating God's permissive will from his non-permissive will, the adjectives often chosen, as I have observed, are generally not proper.  Perhaps it would be best to just keep it simple, using permissive versus non-permissive. 

Wrote Jonathan Edwards:

"5 1. Whether God has decreed all things that ever came to pass or not, all that own the being of a God, own that he knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident, that if he knows all things beforehand, he either doth approve of them, or he doth not approve of them; that is, he either is willing they should be, or he is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be, is to decree them."

Edwards is correct.  The permissive will of God is still the will of God, involves a choice and purpose on the part of God, and is still part of his "decrees" regarding the future.  Edwards also shows how a belief in the absolute foreknowledge of God is a proof for his predetermination of all things.

Edwards wrote:

"17. For God certainly to know that a thing will be, that possibly may be, and possibly may not be, implies a contradiction. If possibly it may be otherwise, then how can God know certainly what it will be? If it possibly may be otherwise, then he knows it possibly may be otherwise; and that it is inconsistent with his certainly knowing that it will not be otherwise. If God certainly knows it will be, and yet it may possibly be otherwise, then it may possibly happen to be otherwise than God certainly knows it will be. If so, then it may possibly happen that God may be mistaken in his judgment, when he certainly knows: for it is supposed, that it is possible that it should be otherwise than he judges. For that it should be otherwise than he judges, and that he should be mistaken, are the same thing. How unfair therefore is it in those that hold the foreknowledge of God, to insist upon this objection from human liberty, against the decrees, when their scheme is attended with the same difficulty, exactly in the same manner!"

18. Their other objection is, that God's decree make God the author of sin. I answer, that there is no more necessity of supposing God the author of sin, on this scheme, than on the other. For if we suppose, according to my doctrine, that God has determined, from all eternity, the number and persons of those that shall perform the condition of the covenant of grace: in order to support this doctrine, there is no need of maintaining any more concerning God's decreeing sin, than this, lis. that God has decreed that he will permit all the sin that ever comes to pass, and that upon his permitting it, it will certainly come to pass. And they hold the same thing. For they hold, that God does determine beforehand to permit all the sin that does come to pass; and that he certainly knows, that if he does permit it, it will come to pass. I say, they in their scheme allow both these; they allow that God does permit all the sin to come to pass, that ever does come to pass: and those that allow the foreknowledge of God, do also allow the other thing, viz. that he knows, concerning all the sin that ever does really come to pass, that it will come to pass upon his permitting it. So that if this be making God the author of sin, they make him so in the very same way that they charge us with doing it. They own that God does permit sin, and that he knows, with respect to all sin that ever is committed, that upon his permitting it, it will come to pass; and we hold no other. God's permission of sin they allow; and yet it would be a sin in men to permit sin. We ought not to permit, or suffer it, where we have opportunity to hinder it; and we cannot permit it, without making ourselves in some measure guilty. Yet they allow, that God permitting it does not make him guilty of it."

Those Conditionalist Hardshells, as well as the Arminians, in believing in God's absolute foreknowledge and in his permissive will, nevertheless have the same difficulties with human reason as do those who believe in the absolute predestination of all things, that all things are the subject of God's decrees. 

Edwards wrote against these Arminian objections by saying:

"...they lay it down for a rule, to embrace no doctrine which they, by their own reason, cannot reconcile with the moral perfections of God. But I would show the unreasonableness of this rule. For, if this be a good rule, then it always was so. Let us then see what will follow. We shall then have reason to conclude every thing to be really inconsistent with God's moral perfections, that we cannot reconcile with his moral perfections; for if we have not reason to conclude that it is inconsistent, then we have no reason to conclude that it is not true. But if this be true, that we have reason to conclude every thing is consistent with God's moral perfections, which we cannot reconcile with those perfections, then David had reason to conclude, that some things that he saw take place, in fact, were inconsistent with God's moral perfections; for he could not reconcile them with those perfections, Psalm lxxiii. And Job had cause to come to the same conclusion concerning some events in his day. If it be a good rule, that we must conclude that to be inconsistent with the divine perfections, that we cannot reconcile with, or, which is the same thing, that we cannot see how it is inconsistent with those perfections, then it must be, because we have reason to conclude that it cannot happen that our reason cannot see how it can be; and then it will follow, that we must reject the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God, &c."

Rejection of clearly expressed biblical propositions because we cannot eliminate all seeming contradictions in our minds is to make our understanding the judge about the truthfulness of scripture, and this is untenable.  Further, it is ironic that those who use human rationality as the deciding factor as to which biblical propositions are true, nevertheless do not remove all seeming contradictions by their unscriptural rule.

Edwards wrote:

"The scripture itself supposes, that there are some things in the scripture that men may not be able to reconcile with God's moral perfections. See Rom, 9: 19. "Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" And the apostle does not answer the objection, by showing us how to reconcile it with the moral perfections of God, but by representing the arrogancy of quarrelling with revealed doctrines under such a pretence, and not considering the infinite distance between God and us. "Nay, but who art thou, O man, that replies against God?" And God answered Job after the same manner. God rebuked him for darkening counsel by words without knowledge, and answered him only, by declaring and manifesting to him the infinite distance between God and him; so letting him know, that it became him humbly to submit to God, and acknowledge his justice, even in those things that were difficult to his reason; and that without solving his difficulties any other way, than by making him sensible of the weakness of his own understanding." (pgs. 420-24, CHAPTER III., "CONCERNING THE DIVINE DECREES IN GENERAL, AND ELECTION IN PARTICULAR")

See here

In the previous chapter several citations were given from Dr. Gill to show that he believed in the absolute predestination of all things, a belief stated in the London Confession of 1689.  It was also seen that Dr. Gill was a supralapsarian, just as were the first Hardshell leaders.  It was John Gill who in 1760 urged Toplady to publish his translation of Zanchius's great work on the absolute predestination of all things.  Gill endorsed the views of Zanchius.

Jerome Zanchius wrote:

"VI.-When foreknowledge is ascribed to God, the word imports (1) that general prescience whereby He knew from all eternity both what He Himself would do, and what His creatures, in consequence of His efficacious and permissive decree, should do likewise. The Divine foreknowledge, considered in this view, is absolutely universal; it extends to all beings that did, do or ever shall exist, and to all actions that ever have been, that are or shall be done, whether good or evil, natural, civil or moral. (2) The word often denotes that special prescience which has for its objects His own elect, and them alone, whom He is in a peculiar sense said to know and foreknow (Psa. i. 6; John x. 27; 2 Tim. ii. 19; Rom. viii. 29; 1 Peter i. 2), and this knowledge is connected with, or rather the same with love, favour and approbation."

"Divine preordination has for its objects all things that are created: no creature, whether rational or irrational, animate or inanimate, is exempted from its influence. All beings whatever, from the highest angel to the meanest reptile, and from the meanest reptile to the minutest atom, are the objects of God's eternal decrees and particular providence. However, the ancient fathers only make use of the word predestination as it refers to angels or men, whether good or evil, and it is used by the apostle Paul in a more limited sense still, so as, by it, to mean only that branch of it which respects God's election and designation of His people to eternal life (Rom. viii. 30; Eph. i. 11)."

"The supreme end of this decree is the manifestation of His own infinitely glorious and amiably tremendous perfections; the inferior or subordinate end is the happiness and salvation of them who are thus freely elected." (chapter 1)

(4) That he (Adam - SG) fell in consequence of the Divine decree we prove thus: God was either willing that Adam should fall, or unwilling, or indifferent about it. If God was unwilling that Adam should transgress, how came it to pass that he did? Is man stronger and is Satan wiser than He that made them? Surely no. Again, could not God, had it so pleased Him, have hindered the tempter's access to paradise? or have created man, as He did the elect angels, with a will invariably determined to good only and incapable of being biassed to evil? or, at least, have made the grace and strength, with which He endued Adam, actually effectual to the resisting of all solicitations to sin? None but atheists would answer these questions in the negative. Surely, if God had not willed the fall, He could, and no doubt would, have prevented it; but He did not prevent it: ergo He willed it. And if He willed it, He certainly decreed it, for the decree of God is nothing else but the seal and ratification of His Will. He does nothing but what He decreed, and He decreed nothing which He did not will, and both will and decree are absolutely eternal, though the execution of both be in time. The only way to evade the force of this reasoning is to say that "God was indifferent and unconcerned whether man stood or fell." But in what a shameful, unworthy light does this represent the Deity! Is it possible for us to imagine that God could be an idle, careless spectator of one of the most important events that ever came to pass? Are not "the very hairs of our head all numbered"? or does "a sparrow fall to the ground without our heaveuly Father"? If, then, things the most trivial and worthless are subject to the appointment of His decree and the control of His providence, how much more is man, the masterpiece of this lower creation? and above all that man Adam, who when recent from his Maker's hands was the living image of God Himself, and very little inferior to angels! and on whose perseverance was suspended the welfare not of himself only, but likewise that of the whole world. But, so far was God from being indifferent in this matter, that there is nothing whatever about which He is so, for He worketh all things, without exception," after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. i. 11), consequently, if He positively wills whatever is done, He cannot be indifferent with regard to anything. On the whole, if God was not unwilling that Adam should fall, He must have been willing that he should, since between God's willing and nilling there is no medium. And is it not highly rational as well as Scriptural, nay, is it not absolutely necessary to suppose that the fall was not contrary to the will and determination of God? since, if it was, His will (which the apostle represents as being irresistible, Rom. ix. 19) was apparently frustrated and His determination rendered of worse than none effect. And how dishonourable to, how inconsistent with, and how notoriously subversive of the dignity of God such a blasphemous supposition would be, and how irreconcileable with every one of His allowed attributes is very easy to observe."

This reasoning is sound and irresistible.  God, if he foreknew the fall, and permitted it, then he willed it, and had good reason and purpose for so doing.

Continues Zanchius:

"The Deity from all eternity, and consequently at the very time He gives life and being to a reprobate, certainly foreknew, and knows, in consequence of His own decree, that such a one would fall short of salvation. Now, if God foreknew this, He must have predetermined it, because His own will is the foundation of His decrees, and His decrees are the foundation of His prescience; He therefore foreknowing futurities, because by His predestination He hath rendered their futurition certain and inevitable. Neither is it possible, in the very nature of the thing, that they should be elected to salvation, or ever obtain it, whom God foreknew should perish, for then the Divine act of preterition would be changeable, wavering and precarious, the Divine foreknowledge would be deceived, and the Divine will impeded. All which are utterly impossible. Lastly, that all men are not chosen to life, nor created to that end is evident in that there are some who were hated of God before they were born (Rom. ix. 11-13), are "fitted for destruction" (ver. 22), and "made for the day of evil" (Prov. xvi. 1)."

"Luther observes that in Rom. ix., x. and xi. the apostle particularly insists on the doctrine of predestination, "Because," says he, "all things whatever arise from and depend upon the Divine appointment, whereby it was preordained who should receive the word of life and who should disbelieve it, who should he delivered from their sins and who should be hardened in them, who should be justified and who condemned."

The London Confession of 1689 stated the same, saying the "command given unto them (Adam and Eve), in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory."  (Chapter 6, section 1)  The confession also stated - "Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions." (Chapter 3, section 2) God's predetermination is the cause of his foreknowledge, and not vice versa.

In Chapter IV, in that section titled "Of Reprobation or Predestination as it respects the ungodly," Zanchius wrote: 

"The actions of God being thus fruits of His eternal purpose, we may safely, and without any danger of mistake, argue from them to that and infer that God therefore does such and such things, because He decreed to do them, His own will being the sole cause of all His works. So that, from His actually leaving some men in final impenitency and unbelief, we assuredly gather that it was His everlasting determination so to do, and consequently that He reprobated some from before the foundation of the world. And as this inference is strictly rational, so is it perfectly Scriptural. Thus the Judge will in the last day declare to those on the left hand, "I never knew you" (Matt. vii. 23), i.e., "I never, no, not from eternity, loved, approved or acknowledged you for Mine," or, in other words, "I always hated you."

Anyone who believes in the absolute foreknowledge of God respecting all things must also, in some sense, believe what they condemn respecting absolute predestination and supralapsarianism.  If God foreknows that John Doe, in being brought into the world (created) will die in unbelief, having rejected all God's offers of pardon, and YET, creates him any way, has he not, in some sense, created such a man for destruction?

Zanchius continues:

"POSITION 2. -Some men were, from all eternity, not only negatively excepted from a participation of Christ and His salvation, but positively ordained to continue in their natural blindness, hardness of heart, etc., and that the just judgment of God. (See Exod. ix.; 1 Sam. ii. 25; 2 Sam. xvii. 14; Isa. vi. 9-11; 2 Thess. ii. 11, 12.) Nor can these places of Scripture, with many others of like import, be understood of an involuntary permission on the part of God, as if God barely suffered it to be so, quasi invitus, as it were by constraint, and against His will, for He permits nothing which He did not resolve and determine to permit. His permission is a positive, determinate act of His will, as Augustine, Luther and Bucer justly observe. Therefore, if it be the will of God in time to permit such and such men to continue in their natural state of ignorance and corruption, the natural consequence of which is their falling into such and such sins (observe God does not force them into sin, their actual disobedience being only the consequence of their not having that grace which God is not obliged to grant them)-I say, if it be the will of God thus to leave them in time (and we must deny demonstration itself, even known absolute matter of fact, if we deny that some are so left), then it must have been the Divine intention from all eternity so to leave them, since, as we have already had occasion to observe, no new will can possibly arise in the mind of God. We see that evil men actually are suffered to go on adding sin to sin, and if it be not inconsistent with the sacred attributes actually to permit this, it could not possibly be inconsistent with them to decree that permission before the foundations of the world were laid."

This is simply saying that if God permits, then he chooses to permit, and a choice to permit is the same as saying he willed, decreed, purposed, or determined to permit, and that reason and justice were behind his deliberate choice.

Zanchius wrote:

"Thus God efficaciously permitted (having so decreed) the Jews to be, in effect, the crucifiers of Christ, and Judas to betray Him (Acts iv. 27, 28; Matt. xxvi. 23, 24). Hence we find St. Augustine speaking thus: "Judas was chosen, but it was to do a most execrable deed, that thereby the death of Christ, and the adorable work of redemption by Him, might be accomplished. When therefore we hear our Lord say, 'Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?' we must understand it thus, that the eleven were chosen in mercy, but Judas in judgment; they were chosen to partake of Christ's kingdom; he was chosen and pitched upon to betray Him and be the means of shedding His blood."

The London confession, the writings of Dr Gill, and of Zanchius, all affirm that the scriptures know of no meaningless or purposeless permitting by God.  It is not a "mere" or "bare" permission.

Zanchius wrote:

"POSITION 5. -God is the creator of the wicked, but not of their wickedness; He is the author of their being, but not the infuser of their sin.

It is most certainly His will (for adorable and unsearchable reasons) to permit sin, but, with all possible reverence be it spoken, it should seem that He cannot, consistently with the purity of His nature, the glory of His attributes, and the truth of His declaration, be Himself the author of it. "Sin," says the apostle, "entered into the world by one man," meaning by Adam, consequently it was not introduced by the Deity Himself. Though without the permission of His will and the concurrence of His providence, its introduction had been impossible, yet is He not hereby the Author of sin so introduced.

It is a known and very just maxim of the schools, Effectus sequitur causam proximam: "An effect follows from, and is to be inscribed to, the last immediate cause that produced it." Thus, for instance, if I hold a book or a stone in my hand, my holding it is the immediate cause of its not falling; but if I let it go, my letting it go is not the immediate cause of its falling: it is carried downwards by its own gravity, which is therefore the causa proxima effectus, the proper and immediate cause of its descent. It is true, if I had kept my hold of it, it would not have fallen, yet still the immediate, direct cause of its fall is its own weight, not my quitting my hold. The application of this to the providence of God, as concerned in sinful events, is easy. Without God, there could have been no creation; without creation, no creatures; without creatures, no sin. Yet is not sin chargeable on God for effectus sequitur causam proximam."

This logic is undeniable and rests upon express scriptural statements.  Even learned Arminians are forced to own this much, as I shall show in future postings.  How can today's Hardshells think it a great error to affirm that God is, in some sense, the cause of all things?  Is their position not an extreme?  Have the Conditionalist Hardshells not gone to an extreme in fighting an extreme?

Zanchius wrote:

"POSITION 7. -The punishment of the non-elect was not the ultimate end of their creation, but the glory of God. It is frequently objected to us that, according to our view of predestination, "God makes some persons on purpose to damn them," but this we never advanced; nay, we utterly reject it as equally unworthy of God to do and of a rational being to suppose. The grand, principal end, proposed by the Deity to Himself in His formation of all things, and of mankind in particular, was the manifestation and display of His own glorious attributes. His ultimate scope in the creation of the elect is to evidence and make known by their salvation the unsearchable riches of His power and wisdom, mercy and love, and the creation of the non-elect is for the display of His justice, power, sovereignty, holiness and truth. So that nothing can be more certain than the declaration of the text we have frequently had occasion to cite, "The Lord bath made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. xvi.). On one hand, the vessels of wrath are fitted for destruction," in order that God may "show His wrath and make His power known," and manifest the greatness of His patience and longsuffering (Rom. ix. 32). On the other hand, He afore prepared the elect to salvation, that on them He might demonstrate "the riches of His glory and mercy" (ver 23). As, therefore, God Himself is the sole Author and efficient of all His own actions, so is He likewise the supreme end to which they lead and in which they terminate.

"So Bucer somewhere observes that the punishment of the reprobate "is useful to the elect, inasmuch as it influences them to a greater fear and abhorrence of sin, and to a firmer reliance on the goodness of God."

Here Zanchius shows that the good to come from the willing of sin justifies God in its allowance.  Even the Arminians argue the same way, saying that the good that is created by God's giving men free will justifies his allowance of evil.  The disagreement is over the precise nature of that good that is brought about by the sufferance of sin.

Zanchius wrote:

"POSITION 8. -Notwithstanding God did from all eternity irreversibly choose out and fix upon some to be partakers of salvation by Christ and rejected the rest (who are therefore termed by the apostle, the refuse, or those that remained and were left out), acting in both according to the good pleasure of His own sovereign will, yet He did not herein act an unjust, tyrannical or cruel part, nor yet show Himself a respecter of persons.

(1) He is not unjust in reprobating some, neither can He be so, for "the Lord is holy in all His ways and righteous in all His works" (Psa. cxlv.). But salvation and damnation are works of His, consequently neither of them is unrighteous or unholy...And, surely, if the apostle's illustration be allowed to have any propriety, or to carry any authority, it can no more be unjust in God to set apart some for communion with Himself in this life and the next, and to set aside others according to His own free pleasure, than for a potter to make out of the same mass of clay some vessels for honourable and others for inferior uses. The Deity, being absolute Lord of all His creatures, is accountable to none for His doings, and cannot be chargeable with injustice for disposing of His own as He will.

(2) Nor is the decree of reprobation a tyrannical one. It is, indeed, strictly sovereign; but lawful sovereignty and lawless tyranny are as really distinct and different as any two opposites can be. He is a tyrant, in the common acceptation of that word, who (a) either usurps the sovereign authority and arrogates to himself a dominion to which he has no right, or (b) who, being originally a lawful prince, abuses his power and governs contrary to law. But who dares to lay either of these accusations to the Divine charge? God as Creator has a most unquestionable and unlimited right over the souls and bodies of men, unless it can be supposed, contrary to all Scripture and common sense, that in making of man He made a set of beings superior to Himself and exempt from His jurisdiction. Taking it for granted, therefore, that God has an absolute right of sovereignty over His creatures, if He should be pleased (as the Scriptures repeatedly assure us that He is) to manifest and display that right by graciously saving some and justly punishing others for their sins, who are we that we should reply against God?

Neither does the ever-blessed Deity fall under the second notion of a tyrant, namely, as one who abuses his power by acting contrary to law, for by what exterior law is HE bound, who is the supreme Law-giver of the universe? The laws promulgated by Him are designed for the rule of our conduct, not of His. Should it be objected that "His own attributes of goodness and justice, holiness and truth, are a law to Himself," I answer that, admitting this to be the case, there is nothing in the decree of reprobation as represented in Scripture, and by us from thence, which clashes with any of those perfections.

POSITION 9. -Notwithstanding God's predestination is most certain and unalterable, so that no elect person can perish nor any reprobate be saved, yet it does not follow from thence that all precepts, reproofs and exhortations on the part of God, or prayers on the part of man, are useless, vain and insignificant.

(1) These are not useless with regard to the elect, for they are necessary means of bringing them to the knowledge of the truth at first, afterwards of stirring up their pure minds by way of remembrance, and of edifying and establishing them in faith, love and holiness.

(2) Nor are these vain with regard to the reprobate, for precept, reproof and exhortation may, if duly attended to, be a means of making them careful to adjust their moral, external conduct according to the rules of decency, justice and regularity, and thereby prevent much inconvenience to themselves and injury to society. And as for prayer, it is the duty of all without exception. Every created being (whether elect or reprobate matters not as to this point) is, as such, dependent on the Creator for all things, and, if dependent, ought to have recourse to Him, both in a way of supplication and thanksgiving.

(3) But to come closer still. That absolute predestination does not set aside, nor render superfluous the use of preaching, exhortation, etc., we prove from the examples of Christ Himself and His apostles, who all taught and insisted upon the article of predestination, and yet took every opportunity of preaching to sinners and enforced their ministry with proper rebukes, invitations and exhortations as occasion required. Though they showed unanswerably that salvation is the free gift of God and lies entirely at His sovereign disposal, that men can of themselves do nothing spiritually good, and that it is God who of His own pleasure works in them both to Will and to do, yet they did not neglect to address their auditors as beings possessed of reason and conscience, nor omitted to remind them of their duties as such; but showed them their sin and danger by nature, and laid before them the appointed way and method of salvation as exhibited in the Gospel."

"So, then, all these being means whereby the elect are frequently enlightened into the knowledge of Christ, and by which they are, after they have believed through grace, built up in Him, and are means of their perseverance in grace to the end; these are so far from being vain and insignificant that they are highly useful and necessary, and answer many valuable and important ends, without in the least shaking the doctrine of predestination in particular or the analogy of faith in general." (chapt. 4, "THE DOCTRINE OF ABSOLUTE PREDESTINATION" by Jerome Zancius, 1516-1590, Translated from the Latin of by AUGUSTUS MONTAGUE TOPLADY, A.B.)