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?