Friday, December 28, 2012

Selective Publishing

Quite some time ago I wrote an article entitled Getting It To the People in which I expressed my desire to see the writings of the 19th century Primitive Baptists make it into the hands of the people.  This is something that needs to be done for the benefit of current members, prospective members, and sadly, ordained elders.   As a young minister among them I was never told about some of the earlier works which, if read, will show an important difference between then and now.  I can only now lament at the number who probably have little to no idea of the existence of these writings.
Thankfully I have been blessed in the past two years to share some of these older works I have come to treasure with those who are willing to listen.  Just the other day I received a phone call from such a one, who received in the mail a small pamphlet entitled “Getting Books To Our Preachers” by Elder Harold Hunt.  In this, the elder expresses his desire to see certain works republished and distributed. Unfortunately, the ones in mind are those of his own choosing.
He writes (emphasis mine - KF):
“I have made the point many times that, over the years, our Primitive Baptists have produced some of the most capable, edifying and doctrinally sound writers the Lord’s church has ever known.  Men like John R. Daily, Lemuel Potter, J.S. Newman, and Claud Cayce are far more dependable than any of the most popular writers we find in the book stores.  It has been a passion of mine to republish as many of those books as I possibly can, and we have succeeded in getting quite a few of them back in print.  There are others I still intend to republish.”
Coming from one who has been brought to know that there has been an evolving of doctrine in the past 200 years or so, I know the observation which needs to be made here.  It’s tough for folks to know what is out there, and the truth of their own history, when one of their leading distributors exerts his bias and gets to select and choose what arrives into the mailbox.  I can almost guarantee that no works will be re-published except for those written towards the end of the 19th century and forward. Daily, Potter, Newman, and Cayce were all cut from the same conditional cloth and exerted their influence in the mid to late 1800s. Arriving into the mailboxes of many will therefore be more writings serving to propagate and further ingrain the people into what these particular men taught with no mention made of those leaders prior to this time.
Why not go back a little further and recirculate the 1777 Kehukee Association Articles of Faith, and show how they believed the elect would all be converted and subsequently persevere in holiness?
Why not republish William Fristoe’s History of the Ketocton Association and let the people read how they were “Means” Baptists?
Or distribute into the homes of many a copy of Elder John Watson’s The Old Baptist Test?
It would even be nice to see the Black Rock Address re-circulated with emphasis upon how the "means” passages of 2 Thes. 2:13-14 and 1 Cor. 1:21 were handled, and that the current generation is not even in line with their own celebrated epoch.  Were these texts applied eternally or temporally?
To this list could be added a number of elders (Beebe, Trott, Thompson, Conrad, etc.) whose writings are still extant.
Contained as well in his pamphlet, Hunt takes note of the present controversy among his brethren:
“We have just come through a painful fight over Calvinism and the London Confession.  Most of that conflict came from the fact that many of our preachers are better acquainted with writers like Arthur Pink, Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, and David Jeremiah, than they are with our own great writers.”
I would like to think that the preachers acquainted with these writers came to their position not exclusively from these men, but from the Bible itself.  They then came to see that what these writers were teaching was in agreement with the scriptures.  Atleast that’s the way it was with me.  But I have heard this charge in my own case.  Many times.  I have read the works of Pink, Spurgeon, Gill, Owen, etc. for many years.  However, I knew enough at the time to know where the point of distinction lied.  I knew what to keep and what to place in the garbage (I speak according to my former opinion).  Though Hunt will say later that “You can talk all you want to about eating the chicken and throwing away the bone; after awhile that bone will stick in your throat…”, I reply that if a person keeps focus in his mind to allow proper hermeneutics to dictate his Bible interpretation, he can do it.  Coming to a position similar to what these giants of the past saw is a simple matter of biblical exegesis.
Does our own “great writers” include John Watson, John Clark, John Leland, David Bartley, Gregg Thompson, etc.?  If not, why not?  Does it include only those who lived in the latter half of the 19th century and since who imbibe certain anti-means preconceptions?
One thing for sure.  You SHALL be able to read of these other writers and their works here on this blog.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

From the Signs of the Times Volume 67 – Hite's Letter

Recorded in the first issue of volume 67 of the Signs of the Times periodical, published in 1898, is a letter written by George Hite to his father.  Here are a couple of quotes followed by points important to see.

May this be of help to some.

Hite wrote:

It seems to me that the dear Old Baptists are going wild, some of them at least. The Scriptures certainly do not sustain some views now advanced. The old London confession of faith, the oldest we have, does not accord with some of the notions now held by our brethren. One of the Old Baptists who spoke as the Lord moved him, said, ‘Lord turn me, and I shall be turned, draw me, and I will run after thee.’ David, a man after God’s own heart, said, ‘Lord restore the joys of thy salvation.’ Paul said, ‘The things I would do, I do not, and the things I would not, them I do.’ So you see if the modern idea of receiving God’s blessings be true, Paul would not have been blessed at all. But Paul preached a better and sure way of receiving blessing. He said to the church, and the faithful in Christ Jesus, at Ephesus, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.’ So you see the blessings in this life, as well as salvation in heaven, are according to God’s choice, and not ours.”


1) The reference that the Old Baptists “were going wild” shows that the time period was a tumultuous one.

2) The scriptures do not support some of the modern views being advanced.

3) The 1689 LCF is endorsed as being the confession of the Old Baptists, and it does not support these views.

4) All spiritual blessings are given by grace, and none left to be obtained by free-will.

Hite wrote:

There is but one salvation for us, and it is manifested in time, and continues throughout all eternity. Paul said to Timothy, ‘Take heed to thyself, and to the doctrine, continue in them, for in so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.’ He was there contrasting sound doctrine with the false, from which they were by Paul exhorted to keep aloof. But you know that it is by grace that one knows the truth. Paul, as you will remember, once said, contrasting his labor with the labor of the other apostles, ‘I labored more abundantly than they all. Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’ So you see that Paul was not a so called ‘time salvation’, for they labor to obtain the blessings, while Paul was blessed with grace which enabled him to labor more than the other apostles. You see, father, that it is by faith, that it might be by grace. That is to say, it is by grace from start to finish. It is through the gift of grace that one is enabled to believe, and what is not of faith is sin. Therefore any of our work which does not come through faith by grace, is sin. Grace, as you know, is the gift of God, which enables us to believe and act. Hence our good works come from God, as a gift of grace. In fact it is really God, or Christ in us, who does the good works.”


1) One unbroken salvation is declared.

2) Paul was no advocate of time salvation.

3) Grace from start to finish. From regeneration to glorification, with no optional interlude for a “second” free-will based salvation.

4) Grace from start to finish, yet nevertheless it is "by faith".

5) Good works are of the Lord.

Signs of the Times Volume 67

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Lesson From the Prince

If I had to pinpoint the one sermon which was the most helpful in rescuing me from my non-exhortative, discriminatory, "only to those already saved" style of gospel preaching it would be that from none other than the Prince of Preachers himself:

"If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. But you will tell me that I ought to preach it only to those who repent of their sins. Very well; but since true repentance of sin is the work of the Spirit, any man who has repentance is most certainly saved, because evangelical repentance never can exist in an unrenewed soul. Where there is repentance there is faith already, for they never can be separated. So, then, I am only to preach faith to those who have it. Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners. 'Nay,' saith one, 'but we mean that a man must have some good desires towards Christ before he has any warrant to believe in Jesus. Friend, do you not know what all good desires have some degree of holiness in them? But if a sinner hath any degree of true holiness in him it must be the work of the Spirit, for true holiness never exists in the carnal mind, therefore, that man is already renewed, and therefore saved. Are we to go running up and down the world, proclaiming life to the living, casting bread to those who are fed already, and holding up Christ on the pole of the gospel to those who are already healed? My brethren, where is our inducement to labour where our efforts are so little needed? If I am to preach Christ to those who have no goodness, who have nothing in them that qualifies them for mercy, then I feel I have a gospel so divine that I would proclaim it with my last breath, crying aloud, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners'—sinners as sinners, not as penitent sinners or as awakened sinners, but sinners as sinners, sinners 'of whom I am chief.'

Secondly, to tell the sinner that he is to believe on Christ because of some warrant in himself, is legal, I dare to say it—legal. Though this method is generally adopted by the higher school of Calvinists, they are herein unsound, uncalvinistic, and legal; it is strange that they who are so bold defenders of free grace should make common cause with Baxterians and Pelagians. I lay it down to he legal for this reason: if I believe in Jesus Christ because I feel a genuine repentance of sin, and therefore have a warrant for my faith, do you not perceive that the first and true ground of my confidence is the fact that I have repented of sin? If I believe in Jesus because I have convictions and a spirit of prayer, then evidently the first and the most important fact is not Christ, but my possession of repentance, conviction, and prayer, so that really my hope hinges upon my having repented; and if this be not legal I do not know what is. Put it lower. My opponents will say, 'The sinner must have an awakened conscience before he is warranted to believe on Christ.' Well, then, if I trust Christ to save me because I have an awakened conscience, I say again, the most important part of the whole transaction is the alarm of my conscience, and my real trust hangs there. If I lean on Christ because I feel this and that, then I am leaning on my feelings and not on Christ alone, and this is legal indeed. Nay, even if desires after Christ are to be my warrant for believing, if I am to believe in Jesus not because he bids me, but because I feel some desires after him, you will again with half an eye perceive that the most important source of my comfort must be my own desires. So that we shall be always looking within. 'Do I really desire? If I do, then Christ can save me; if I do not, then he cannot.' And so my desire overrides Christ and his grace. Away with such' legality from the earth!"

A great sense of freedom comes when one, formerly opposed to preaching without discrimination, finally understands that the sovereignty of God is no hindrance for preaching the gospel in its fullness to all who will hear.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Riner's Response

In the February 2010 issue of The Banner Herald Elder Scott Riner wrote a very good article entitled "The Old Paths - An Historical Response". It basically served as a return volley to the charge of modernism made upon those of the Progressive faction of the Primitive Baptists. It was a delight to read, and though outside of our present scope to relay it all, there are many things stated with which I agree. At the beginning reference is made to the importance of returning to the old paths in our worship. Yet before one does so, he of course must know what they are. As he says...

"But, this also begs the question, 'What have Primitive Baptists always believed historically?' I say that for the simple reason that often it depends upon how far back one goes to either define or defend their understanding of 'old paths'."


He writes again:

"There are several teachings that are often presented as 'orthodox' doctrine, along with the assertion that Primitive Baptists have always believed these things. However, original source documentation demonstrates that this is simply not the case."

Bingo number two!

Riner calls to remembrance Elder Sylvester Hassell's 1892 article New Theories and, in his own words, summarizes some of the innovations that the elder and historian noticed while on a 72-day preaching trip:

"Some of the 'innovative' interpretations include: 1) the denial of any real fundamental change made in individuals by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, 2) labeling all of the grounds in the parable of the Sower, the five foolish virgins, persons represented by the dog and the swine, the idolatrous as "children of God," 3) the only purpose of preaching is to comfort the people of God, and 4) the limiting of scriptural references which up to this point were said to be referring to eternal heaven, now believed to be speaking of only a present spiritual enjoyment of the believer here in time."

These interpretations are simply the fruits of conditionalism and its stripping down of salvation to be a more or less empty experience in many cases. If there indeed exists a desire to return to the "old paths", the first question must be what they are.

For its answer, the London Confession would be a good start.