Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does Jason Agree with Beebe & Trott?

This will be my rebuttal to Jason Brown's posting titled "Garrett's Response 4.1."

Jason begins by citing these remarks of mine:

"Certainly I disagree with Beebe and Trott making the new birth different from regeneration, but who is closer to the primitive teaching of the Baptists? Jason's or the first Hardshells?"

Jason then says:

"Garrett attempts to orient the discussion around this issue away from his error in regard to Beebe and Trott. My intention is to take him to task for misrepresenting Beebe and Trott as teaching gospel regeneration when they plainly followed Gill in attributing gospel instrumentality after an initial, immediate infusion of a principle of grace. Garrett glosses over his mistake to claim that what is important is that they necessitated gospel conversion in contrast to present Primitive Baptists."

It is ironic that Jason accuses me of attempting to change course (reorient the discussion) in our debate.  First, because he has himself shifted from the negative to the affirmative.  Second, he himself, in the above words, attempts to reorient the discussion! 

Also, Beebe and Trott did not teach the same thing as did Dr. Gill!  Dr. Gill, as I have shown, did not believe in two kinds of regeneration, nor that any kind of regeneration occurred apart from the gospel.  He equated "regeneration" with being "quickened" and said that a man was not made alive spiritually until he heard and believed the gospel.  So, Garrett did not make a "mistake," but it is Jason who is greatly mistaken.  Did Gill believe that regeneration was a separate experience from conversion or that any man could be said to be regenerated who was not converted?

Jason wrote:

"I'm well aware of this principle difference between Beebe and present Primitive Baptists, but this was not the issue under consideration."

The issue under consideration is whether the old Baptists, prior to the 19th century rise of the Hardshells, believed in regeneration apart from the gospel, and whether they believed that faith in Christ, through the gospel, was necessary for eternal salvation.  Dr. Gill did not teach Hardshell views on these issues.  Now, I grant that Beebe and Trott did not teach what their forefathers taught, but their view is a lot closer to the old Baptist view than are the views of today's Hardshells.  That is the point!  Beebe believed that the preaching of the gospel was necessary for being "born again," and that being "born again" was necessary for eternal salvation.

Jason continued, saying:

" point in bringing Garrett's comments up in regard to Beebe is that Garrett inaccurately depicted the conflict between present PB's and Beebe's theology as a conflict of gospel utility. Any person familiar with Beebe and mainstream PB's knows that it was Beebe's doctrine of the absolute predestination of all things that was the divisive issue. Beebe's necessitating gospel conversion is not an issue of gospel utility, as modern PB's believe that gospel conversion is mediated through the preached word, it is an issue of the Scriptural misapplication of the doctrine of predestination."

So, what has Jason affirmed in these words?  He agrees that modern Hardshells do not agree with Beebe in making conversion a requirement for eternal salvation, and in equating it with being born again, and he also agrees that today's Hardshells do not agree with Beebe on predestination!  Has he not confessed to not being "primitive" then?  Beebe reflected the common view of the founders of the anti-mission movement on conversion, new birth, and predestination.  Yes, of course there is agreement between Beebe and Hardshells about the gospel being a means in conversion, but the gravest difference exists in the former affirming that conversion was the new birth, irresistible, while the latter believe it is not the new birth and is resistible.

Jason wrote:

"Garrett cannot deny that Gill, Beebe, and Trott taught that the doctrine of immediate regeneration preceded gospel faith. Whether or not they necessitated gospel conversion for all the elect, it is academically incorrect to claim they did not teach immediate regeneration."

But, all this is besides the point.  It does not really matter!  The point that matters is whether they taught that conversion necessarily followed narrow regeneration and was necessary for being fully regenerated and for going to heaven!  All the above men affirmed that conversion was either the new birth or being quickened, what is necessary for being eternally saved.  The difference between Gill and the founding fathers of hardshellism is the fact that Gill did not put any "gap in time" between regeneration and quickening, between being regenerated and being born, between being regenerated and being converted, whereas Beebe and Trott put a "gap in time" between the two predestined experiences.  Whether they taught "immediate regeneration" is immaterial.  They all taught that being born again and quickened from the dead was the same as being converted by the gospel, or to regeneration broadly defined.

Jason next cites these words of mine:

"Who, at the time of Beebe and Trott, publicly disagreed with them?"

Jason then responds by saying:

"One must exercise caution with this for several reasons. Beebe's doctrine of Absolute Predestination split the PB's. It's naive to think that James Oliphant's position negating this view in the latter half of the 1800's (exemplified in his letter exchanges with Silas Durand - a follower of Beebe in regard to Absolutism) came out of nowhere. It's likely to suppose that Beebe was opposed by a silent majority, but were not prepared to oppose so influential a man - on top of the fact that Beebe was not altogether wrong, save in the fact that he used unscriptural terminology. He never subscribed to the view that God was the direct cause of sin."

But, brother Jason, my question did not relate to whether neo-Hardshells agreed with Beebe on predestination, but on the necessity of being converted and begotten by the gospel for eternal salvation!  And, you did not answer that question, but a different one!  Answer the question in the context in which I asked it!

Jason said:

"Beebe seemed to have a penchant for controversy. He seemed to love to re-define words unscripturally, which simply caused confusion."

But, first, this is beside the point!  The questions that should be addressed, rather than avoided, are these:  1) Was Beebe the recognized leader and spokesman for the "Old School Baptists" in his time? And, 2) Do today's Hardshells agree with Beebe on the necessity of being born again by the gospel?  Secondly, Jason makes ad hominum arguments here and proves nothing.  He does not prove the accusations he makes, so they are not to be accepted as true, but as hearsay.  What words, brother Jason, does Beebe "re-define" in the context of being born again by the gospel?  To re-define them would be to give them a different meaning than what they previously denoted among the Baptists.

It is ironic (Jason's writings are filled with irony and contradiction) that Jason would speak of Beebe being guilty of "re-defining" the words of scripture, or of the writings of the Baptist fathers, because he and his Hardshell brethren have a history of "re-defining words"!    They "re-defined" what the word "salvation" means!  They "re-define" these words too:  heaven, hell, destruction, perish, angel, faith, repentance, conversion, regeneration, heart, mind, etc.  I could write a book about this!  I do have intentions to write chapters in a series titled "Hardshell Hermeneutics" and will no doubt include demonstating this "re-defining" of words as well as their false methods of interpretation.

Jason wrote:

"Not only is he responsible for proposing predestination in place of providence in terms of Biblical language, he also redefined regeneration from being born again - a distinction not apparent from the Scripture."

First, as I said, predestination is not the topic that we are discussing, although I am willing to discuss that subject once we have finished our discussion on the topic of regeneration/new birth.  But, I will say this:  Jason has not proven that Beebe said anything new about predestination than what the old Baptists of prior centuries said, as can be seen from the oldest confessions and from the writings of Dr. Gill.  Second, Jason contradicts himself by saying, on the one hand, that Beebe "redefined" things when he made regeneration to be distinct from the new birth and then, on the other hand, says that Hardshell views have a long line of succession among old Baptists. Third, I agree that it is wrong to separate regeneration from being born again, a thing that Dr. Gill did not do.  In that respect Beebe and the first Hardshells were "modern innovaters." Beebe may have unjustly separated the new birth from regeneration, but he did not divorce the means of the gospel from the experience of full regeneration and of the new birth, or of being quickened.

Jason said:

"In addition, he seems to have believed that Christ was created in eternity, which prompted Elder John Clark's book, "Exposure of Heresies Propagated by Some Old School Baptists." Sylvester Hassell states that his father said:

"In regard to the charge of Arianism made against the first editor and some of the old correspondents of the “Signs of the Times,” my father, who was personally acquainted with the parties, was fully satisfied that the charge arose from a misconstruction of the real views of the writers; while, at the same time, it must be admitted that some of the expressions of some of the writers were unguarded, ill-advised and unscriptural."

There was Beebe again, at the very least, causing division because of unscriptural language."

Now, who is trying to reorient the discussion?  Since when were Beebe's views on predestination, the Trinity, and of the human nature of Christ, ever the topic of our discussion?  I only referred to Beebe in the context of showing how the first Hardshells did not accept the views of today's Hardshells on 1) being born again, and on 2) conversion, and on 3) the necessity of conversion to Christ and the Christian religion for being eternally saved.

Jason wrote:

"It is plain that Hassell, while sympathetic to Beebe's Absolute Predestination, nevertheless disagrees with at least his use of "predestination" and the Absoluter rejection of the word "permission" in regard to God's relationship to sinful actions of men. Hassell seems to believe that the issue was semantics and that it should not have been a test of fellowship, but he quotes Elder Respess regarding two churches in Texas that had already withdrawn fellowship from sister churches over the issue. This was all happening pre-1885, which is when Hassell's History was published. Beebe died around 1880, so it's perfectly reasonable to infer that Beebe's declarations of Absolute Predestination were controversial among Primitive Baptists from the start."

But, again, this is changing the topic of discussion!  Let us finish our discussion on being regenerated, born again, and quickened, before we go on to debate predestination.  Okay?

Jason wrote:

"This would indicate that Primitive Baptists during this period would not have embraced a view of soteriology that made gospel faith mechanically deterministic. For that matter, neither did Gill, as I have already quoted in his Book of Divinity, ".. then faith comes by hearing, and ministers are instruments by whom, at least, men are encouraged to believe...".

"This would indicate"?  This is another example how Hardshells give us their inferences, logical deductions, and implications, rather than plain unequivocal statements.  First, there is no proof that the first Hardshells (1830-1860) disagreed with Beebe on predestination.  Second, there is no direct causal link between any supposed disagreement over predestination with a denial of means in eternal salvation.  All the old Baptists taught the necessity of faith for salvation, and always affirmed it to be a gift of God, that it was the result of God's predestination.

Concerning the citation from Gill, I have already addressed it.

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