Thursday, December 15, 2011

Montgomery on "Time Salvation"

In an article titled "Proving Time Salvation," by Elder David Montgomery, who runs one of the leading Hardshell web sites, an attempt is made to prove that the doctrine of "time salvation" is not a new doctrine, but one held to by the primitive Baptists. In this effort, however, Montgomery utterly failed. In this posting I will review the evidence that Montgomery presented to prove his thesis.  Montgomery's article can be seen at

http://primitivebaptist.info/mambo//content/view/626/36/

Elder Montgomery begins (emphasis mine):

"Elder Afton Richards wrote a pamphlet in 1956 entitled, "Why I Am A Primitive Baptist". On page 21, he gives a definition of time salvation. Elder Richards says, "Primitive Baptists read the Scriptures with the desire of getting the harmony taught therein, and they enjoy much comfort that others do not get. When salvation refers to what God does for man without action on his part, and by the meritorious work of Christ, they know and realize that it refers to salvation in its highest order; preparing one to live with God in glory after death. When salvation is mentioned in connection with the acts of men; or man is to perform some action to bring about a better situation for himself, they know it is to be to the child of God (one freed from the guilt of sin), and refers to a timely deliverance, or something that is for man's benefit while he lives here in the world.""

Where did Richards get his criterion about judging texts that deal with "salvation"?  Did he get his hermeneutic rule from the texts themselves or did he invent it and then begin to apply it to scripture?  Surely the latter is the case.  Did Richards exegete his proposition from scripture?  Why did he not simply cite scripture where this rule was given and applied?  Richards admits that he uses this rule in interpreting scripture that deals with salvation.  Where did he get that rule?  Where did he get his authority for making scripture to square with it? 

If one looks at all the passages in scripture that instruct on the topic of "salvation" he will discover how false is the rule of Richards and the Hardshells.  Let us notice some scripture which uproots the Hardshell rule.

"For bodily exercise profiteth little (for a little while): but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."  (I Tim. 4: 8) 

There is no way that this text can apply only to what is experienced in time.  The "life that now is" certainly refers to a timely benefit, but it is contrasted with "that (life) which is to come."  Interestingly, it is "bodily exercise" that saves in a temporal sense.  But, Paul denies that "godliness," or godly living, saves only in a temporal sense.  Paul says that godly living is "profitable unto all things," which must include salvation.  Bodily exercise is not profitable for that life which is to come, but spiritual exercise, or godliness, is profitable for both the present and future life.  Paul contrasts the benefits of bodily exercise with spiritual exercise.  One profits only for a little time, but the other profits eternally.  One saves in time, the other saves in eternity.  Thus, this one text destroys the rule that Richards applies to scripture.

"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."  (Gal. 6: 8)

Surely the reaping of everlasting life concerns eternal salvation.  But, this must be denied by Richards and the Hardshells using their man-made hermeneutic rule.  Is "sowing" not an act of men?  If so, the Richard's rule must make the reaping to be a "time salvation."  But, how can he make "life everlasting" to denote a mere "time salvation"? 

"Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."  (Isa. 55: 3)

According to the Richard's hermeneutic rule, this verse has no reference to eternal salvation!  How can it seeing it speaks of a person doing something, of a person "inclining" the ear, and "coming" to the Lord?  But, it is rather obvious that the verse uproots the Hardshell hermeneutic rule.  Entering into eternal covenant with God and receiving the "sure mercies of David" relate to eternal salvation.

"And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them."  (Rev. 7: 14, 15)

How can the Hardshells deny that being washed in the blood is dealing with eternal salvation?  And yet, this is something that the saved are said to have done for themselves.  What does the word "therefore" mean?  What does it mean to be "before the throne of God" and to have God dwelling among people?  Surely these verses uproot the hermeneutic rule of Richards and Montgomery.

"Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting."  (I Tim. 1: 16)

Believe on him to everlasting life?  Does this not destroy the hermeneutic rule of Richards?

Multiple examples from scripture could be cited in addition to the above examples.  But, if a man will not accept those, why would we think that he will accept others?  If a man is dishonest in interpreting one passage, he will be dishonest in interpreting others.

Montgomery wrote:

"The Black Rock Address of 1832 gives an excellent admonition: "Brethren, while we rejoice in the glorious truth that salvation is of the Lord, may it be manifested by our lives that we are under the influence of that grace which teacheth that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world." This is what I would define as time salvation."

It is very clear that Montgomery is reading "time salvation" into these words of the founding fathers of Hardshellism.  There is no mention of "time salvation" in those words from the Address.  They are "read into" it by Montgomery.  What "salvation" was under consideration when mention is made of "the glorious truth that salvation is of the Lord"?  Is it "time salvation"?  Should their words be read as follows - "we rejoice in the glorious truth that time salvation is of the Lord"? 

What is to be "manifested" by denying ungodliness, etc.?  Is it not eternal salvation?  Notice that Montgomery says "this is what I would define as time salvation."  Yes, but is it what the document defines as such?  According to Montgomery and the Hardshells, living godly has no benefit in the world to come, yet we saw that Paul taught otherwise.  Godly living is profitable for the life that is to come after this life.

But, let us notice these words from the Black Rock Address.

"The plans of these [protracted or 'revival'] meetings are equally as objectionable; for, in the first place, all doctrinal preaching, or in other words, all illustrations of God's plan of salvation, are excluded from these meetings. Hence they would make believers of their converts without presenting any fixed TRUTHS to their minds to believe. Whereas God has chosen his people to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the TRUTH.--2 Thess. 2:13." (Black Rock Address, pp. 35, 36, Primitive Publications' reprint).

Obviously the Black Rock Address did not object to the use of gospel truth in salvation.  What salvation is under consideration in the passage?  Is it not that salvation which is the result of eternal election?  How can the Hardshells deny that this is eternal salvation?  The first Hardshells objected to certain evangelistic methods whereby converts are made where there is no doctrine or biblical truth is taught, where there is no instruction in "God's plan of salvation."  When the Black Rock Address speaks of "salvation," it never refers to some "time salvation."  Montgomery simply tries to read "time salvation" into the Address. 

Montgomery wrote:

"The Black Rock Address of 1832, speaking against "tract societies" says thusly, "If we were to admit that tracts have occasionally been made instrumental by the Holy Ghost for imparting instruction or comfort to inquiring minds, it would by no means imply that tracts are an instituted means of salvation, to speak after the manner of the popular religionists, nor that they should be placed on a footing with the Bible and the preached gospel, in respect to imparting the KNOWLEDGE of salvation."

What "salvation" did the writers of the Address have in mind when they spoke of the "means of salvation"?  Let Montgomery and the Hardshells prove that they did not have eternal salvation under consideration.  Let them prove that they were talking about a "time salvation."  If the writers of this Address rejected means altogether, would they not have said so?  If they believed in "time salvation," would they not have presented it as a rebuttal against any and all "means"?  Though the Address rejects "tracts" of the "popular religionists," as "means," they do not reject "the Bible and the preached gospel" as means.  They simply thought that tracts were usurping the genuine means of salvation.

Notice this citation from the Black Rock Address.

"The apostles possessed as great a desire for the salvation of souls, as much love to the cause of Christ, and knew as well what God would own for bringing persons to the knowledge of salvation, as any do at this day."

 The Black Rock Address does not speak of two kinds of salvation, does not advocate "time salvation."  All through the document they simply refer to "salvation" and it is clear that they are speaking about the one great salvation talked about in scripture, about eternal salvation.  They spoke of how they had a "great desire for the salvation of souls," but you never hear Hardshells talk this way.  They define "salvation" as being the same kind of salvation that other evangelists were talking about in revival meetings and in gospel tracts.

In the Address the authors also spoke of having a "saving acquaintance with the word of God."  They affirmed that "the Scriptures declare that Christ's words are spirit and life."  They defined "Christ's words" as being the same as the "doctrine," the thing thought lacking in many gospel tracts and revival preaching. 

The Address said:

"There is, brethren, one radical difference between us and those who advocate these various institutions which we have noticed to which we wish to call your attention. It is this: they declare the gospel to be a system of means; these means it appears they believe to be of human contrivance; and they act accordingly...we would still be content to preach the word, and would be instant in season and out of season; knowing it has pleased God, not by the wisdom of men, but by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. And that his word will not return unto him void, but it shall accomplish that which he please, and prosper in the thing whereunto he sends it."

These words advocate the use of means, though not the means of tracts and revival meetings that lack doctrine and biblical substance.  They believe that the true means of conversion and salvation is the preaching of the word, the foolishness of preaching, and that such means have been determined by God to be successful.

Montgomery wrote:

"I say all this to show that I am not a novice to what Primitive Baptists believe. I feel that I was blessed to see and hear what Primitive Baptists believed not just in my local area, but in a very broad sense.

In all those meetings, sermons, discussions, the subject of time salvation was brought up. These "pioneer" preachers mentioned earlier, many of them were over 80 and 90 years old when I was a child, did preach often on this subject. I recently asked several members if they remember this subject preached when they were young. All responded, "yes". Several of these members grew up in other states such as Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and New Jersey.

This is what I call LIVING HISTORY, an oral testimony of the heritage of our people. These living witnesses speak of meetings held over 80 years ago. They well remember individuals whose experiences would pre-date the Civil War. Even if you do not subscribe to "Time Salvation", you should find this to be very interesting."

It is not denied that the invention of the doctrine of "time salvation" was in existence in the mid to late 19th century, but Montgomery has not proven that it was taught prior to that time.  He certainly did not prove that it was taught in the Black Rock Address.  He certainly can find no Old Baptist prior to the 19th century who taught such a novel idea.  And, why was this "time salvation" doctrine invented?  Was it not for the same reason that Richard's hermeneutic rule was invented?  Was it not to "get around" all the many biblical passages that teach that salvation is by means of preaching the gospel?

In Montgomery's talking about "What Time Salvation is NOT," he says that it is not a new doctrine, but he offered no proof to show that this was what Baptists believed prior to the rise of the Hardshells.  He cannot even show that it was the teaching of the writers of the Black Rock Address.  It is clear that the writers of that document believed in one salvation, and that it was brought about by the means of the gospel.

Montgomery then cites some scripture which he thinks teaches "time salvation," none of which, however, come even close to teaching it.  He makes no argument on the passages he cites, but thinks that simply citing them prove the Hardshell notion of "time salvation."  For instance, he cites I Cor 15:1-2.

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."

Where is there any mention of "time salvation" in these words?  The context clearly shows that it is the salvation that was effected by the death and resurrection of Christ.

He cites Col 1:23, without comment, as if the words so obviously teach a "time salvation."

"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 to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister."

Why did he not cite the previous verses?  Is it not because they show that eternal salvation is under consideration?  Those verses speak of Christ "having made peace through the blood of his cross," and of him "reconciling all things to himself," and of reconciling those who are "alienated and enemies" in their minds "by wicked works," and of "presenting you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight."

In Montgomery's "Concluding Remarks," he says:

"I am sure that I could provide more proof that time salvation is a valid Bible doctrine had I more time. I hope that this study will at least show to the skeptics that time salvation is not an emotional reaction, but it is a belief that has been buoyed by a desire to "rightly divide the word of truth.""

These words are but the words of self deception.  They are said to soothe a guilty conscience, a conscience that is convicted for having "handled the word of God deceitfully," and of having "twisted" it.  To read "time salvation" into the above passages so clearly represents a butchering of the word of God, not a "rightly dividing" it!  Count me still a "skeptic" in the Hardshell doctrinal invention of "time salvation." 

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