Monday, February 25, 2013

Wilson Thompson's Heresies

Elder Wilson Thompson is viewed by Hardshells as one of their greatest founding fathers and yet he held to views that are heretical.  If Thompson were alive today and preached those heresies, he would not be in fellowship with the Hardshells.  The Hardshells simply overlook these errors of Thompson.  One of the errors of Thompson was his belief that the human soul of Christ was created before the world began.  Another error was that he taught, along with Beebe and Parker, that the children of God preexisted with Christ before the world began, being in vital union with Christ before they had an earthly existence.  Another error is that he denied the Trinity, denying that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead, and advocating that the Son and the Father were the same person.  He was a Sabellian or Modalist.

Elder Sylvester Hassell, in his Hardshell history, though singing the praises of Wilson Thompson, nevertheless wrote this about him:

"Considering 'person' to mean a distinct and separate individual, he objected to the saying that there were three persons in the Godhead; though he maintained the unity of God, and, at the same time, the divinity of the Father, Son, and Spirit."  (pg. 633)

What Hassell says of the view of Thompson on the Trinity is what may be said in regard to anyone who holds to the heresy of Sabellius.  Hassell shows that he was unwilling to call such a view heresy!

Here is what Thompson wrote on the subject of the Trinity (emphasis mine).

"My next business will be to prove that Christ taught, and the apostles believed, that He was God to the exclusion of all distinct equal persons. That the apostles believed as they were taught by Christ, that He was exclusive God, and rejected the idea of any other equal person, that was distinct from Him, we call your attention to the New Testament, where their faith, and Christ’s lessons of instruction are plainly stated, in the following manner...Now can there be any distinct person from the Lord God of the holy prophets, and equal with Him? Is not the tri-personal plan false, according to these texts?"

However, in saying such things Thompson denies what is taught clearly in the London and Philadelphia Confessions of faith, and sets him against what the churches believed.  This view of Thompson got him into hot water with the Old Baptists in the area where Thompson labored.

Thompson continued:

"Compare I Cor. 8:6, with John 20:28. In the first of these places, Paul says, “To us there is but one God the Father.” In the other, Thomas says to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” Then Jesus and the Father could not be two distinct Persons, for while Paul owned no God but the Father; Thomas said Jesus was his Lord and his God. Then Jesus is all the God that the apostles acknowledged, as a God to them."

This is nothing but pure Sabellianism or Modalism!  For a refutation of these views, see my postings in the Baptist Gadfly blog.  here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here

Thompson wrote:

" the God in Christ, or Christ as God, was the only Lord God of the apostles, to the exclusion of all persons distinct from Him." "Some may try to evade the force of all these plain, and pointed Scriptures; by acknowledging that Christ is God, in common with the Father and Spirit; but yet a distinct person, from them both. To destroy this futile and illogical refuge, I will adduce a few pointed texts, which will be like fire among thorns, to this cobweb refuge."

"Now, if the Godhead consists of three equal, and distinct persons, and Christ be only the second one of these, how woefully the apostle missed it, and how improper the caution in the text; but if the apostle be correct, and the whole fullness of the Godhead, to the exclusion of all distinct persons, be in Christ bodily, how woefully the tri-personal scheme misses it, and how well timed the warning given by the apostle to the church, to beware lest any man spoil them through philosophy, etc."

"...neither is there one text that says anything about three persons in the Godhead." In a small Book which I published in 1821 entitled “Simple Truth;” I said something against the notion of three distinct persons in the Godhead; as being a defect in the Trinitarian plan of reasoning. On this account, some men, not very well disposed toward me, have seized this one reference as a good opportunity to poison the minds of their friends against me, by falsely saying, both, in print and verbally, that I had treated the doctrine of the Trinity with the utmost contempt. This is a false allegation, but I hold nothing against any man on this account; to his own master he stands, or falls. By the word Trinity; I understand three in one. By the divine Trinity; I understand the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; being one. But I never thought, nor do I yet think, that these three must necessarily be distinct, divine, and equal persons of one indivisible essence, and each of these persons, separately considered, truly and properly God, and yet all of them but one God, in order to the existence of a trinity; nor did I believe, that the three must necessarily be persons at all, in order to the existence of a trinity; nor do I yet believe it."

This is classic Sabellianism!  Of course Sabellians believe in some kind of a "Trinity"!  But, what they believe is that the "three" are simply three modes in which the one person God manifests himself.  They believe in what is called an "economic Trinity." 

In defining Sabellianism, Hassell wrote the following about Sabellius:

"He maintained that the distinction of Father, Son and Holy Spirit were only external, successive and transitory manifestations of God to His creatures, and not internal, simultaneous and everlasting subsistencies of the Divine Being--that there is a trinity of offices, but not a trinity of persons in the Godhead.  See foot-note on pages 23 and 24."  (pg. 378)

Another heresy of Thompson was his upholding the view that the elect had an existence and vital union with Christ before the world began.  (I have written about this in my book on the Hardshell Baptist cult - see here)

Thompson wrote:

"...we are lost when we go to hunt the antiquity of this union. We can only say it is as old as God, for God is love; but love must have an object or it ceases to be, for I cannot love and love nothing; love is that endearing or uniting perfection of God, which could only exist, so long as the object beloved existed; nor could God be love before the object was beloved, neither can love be controlled, for it brings forth, produces, or sets up its own object, that is, must necessarily have an object, in order to have its own existence; and as God is self-existent and independent, His existence as love, brought forth its object, which was the soul of Christ with all His people in it, and the very existence of God as king could only be because He had subjects: for a king without a kingdom, is no king at all; so love without an object is no love at all. So we see that in order to our speaking of God as being love, or His existing as love, there must be an object beloved, and in order to His being a king there must be subjects, and thus the pre-existent soul of Christ, was the object of the love of God and His people in it were the subjects of His kingdom, and Christ was the medium of operation through whom God exercises His authority in the government of His kingdom; for in the pre-existing soul of Christ, the subjects of this kingdom were chosen, before the world, when we speak or read of a choice being made in Christ before the world, we are not to understand, that God was looking through Adams posterity, and picking out one here, and another there, and writing their names in the book of life, and refusing the rest, for they were chosen in Christ before the world and not in Adam; for He did not exist before creation; and the choice was not an act that took place, or was planned some time after the existence of God, either before the world or since, but was a consequence of and inseparable from the existence of God as king, and this kingdom was organized in the pre-existent soul of Christ..."  (DISCOURSE #5 On the Atonement, and Man's Justification by it. in "Simple Truth")

It was this view that the human "soul" of Christ was created by God before the world began, or before the Incarnation, that led some, like Elder James Osbourn, to call the followers of Thompson Arians.  Thompson not only believed that the soul of Christ pre-existed the creation of the world, but so did the people of God.  Thompson does not believe that the children of God merely "existed" in the mind of God, but that they actually existed.  This was one of the errors of Daniel Parker, one of the founding fathers of the Hardshell denomination.  It was also the view of Elder Gilbert Beebe, another leader of the Hardshell denomination.  It is also held to by Hardshell "Absoluters" today, such as Elder James Poole.  These Hardshells believe that the "union" that existed in eternity past was not virtual but real and thus both the man Christ and his people all had a pre-existence before their actual physical existence in the world.

Elder Sylvester Hassell wrote against the heresy of "eternal vital union" in his paper "The Gospel Messenger" in 1894 - see here)

Now, will the Hardshells continue to ignore all this about Elder Wilson Thompson and still claim him as being one of their greatest leaders?

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