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.
"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.
"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?"
"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.
"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?
"...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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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?
"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?
"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.
"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!
"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.