Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hardshell Sabellianism

Recently under a posting titled "Wilson Thompson's Heresies" I showed how Thompson was a Sabellian, denying the historic doctrine of the Trinity, that God is a trinity of persons.  This false doctrine apparently was widespread among the first Hardshells in the 1830s as the following citations from the Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor demonstrate.  In the first citation there is a letter from George Ambrose from Ohio to Daniel Jewett, editor of the Monitor, followed by letters to Ambrose and Elder John M. Watson of Tennessee from Elder Osbourn.  It is evident that many churches in Ohio, particularly in the Miami Association, held to Sabellianism and the other errors of Wilson Thompson.  In Ohio today there are few Hardshell churches, but in the 1830s there were many.  What happened to them?  What was the cause of their decline?  Was it not their false teachings?

From Br. George Ambrose, Darbyville Ohio

Brother Jcwett,—I have lately received a communication from Elder Osbourn of Baltimore, and herewith enclose it to you; that if you deem it worthy of publicity, you may give it a place in the Advocate and Monitor.

When he was in this State, last summer was a year, I had the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with brother Osbourn, and esteem him an able minister of the New Testament. He delivered the introductory sermon at the opening of the Mad River Association, from 1 Chron. 26; 27. "Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the Lord," to a very attentive audience. I have several Books written by him and must say that I am pleased with his writings. His works will be more generally admired by the Baptists when he is no more, than they are at this day; so I think it will likely be.

I would brother Osbourn had used some milder terms, when speaking of those Ohio Baptists, whom he terms Sabellian Heresiarchs as you will see in his communication. Those brethren do not oppose the doctrine of the Trinity, as Br. Osbourn thinks they do. They advocate that doctrine, but oppose what they call the Tripersonal scheme; and they are worthy, zealous, exemplary christians, as much so as any within my acquaintance, for with some of them I am acquainted pretty well; so that I am not prepared to part with them as he is, on the ground of real christianity, for I think we may differ thus much and still be christians "But, examine the communication, and dispose of it as your wisdom may direct. I remain yours truly in the love of the truth, and in the patience of the saints. George Ambrose."  (pg. 47-48)

When Ambrose says that the "Ohio Baptists" do not deny the doctrine of the Trinity, he is being an artful dodger, as many Sabellians.  They say they believe in an "economical Trinity," that the one person God manifests himself in three roles, offices, or modes.  Yet, they constantly ridicule the idea of "the Trinity," that is, in the historic teaching of God in three persons. 

From Eld. James Osbourn to Br Geo. Ambrose.

Dearly beloved, grace be with thee. -Your affectionate epistle, dated the fifth inst. came safe to hand; and also the one directed to me in Glasgow Kentucky 1 got safe, when I was there in Nov. last; and for them both I here present to you my sincere thanks.

But still I want Elder Ambrose to give all lawful dilligence to live in the enjoyment of an abode so honorable and so safe.—And will you not take my advice in this thing? Brother Eld. Williams of whom you speak, is a choice man in my estimation; and so likewise is Eld. Peters, whose name you mention. But as to your Sabellian heresiarchs, and those who dance after their pipe, I pity, but have no fellowship with them in the gospel; for in my view of divine teaching and of pure Christianity, those men cannot be men of grace who can and do, (as a writing which I have received since I saw you, amply proves,) laugh to scorn, and speak disdainfully of the holy Trinity, and sarcastically treat the glorious doctrine of three Persons in One God, as did old Sabellius before them. And if indeed, you yourself are in the Sabellian heresy, let me know it if you please, and I will drop all correspondence, and connection, and fellowship with you on the ground of real Christianity. But I hope better things of you although I thus write; but I have said these things that you might distinctly know and understand, that in a religious point of view, I have no wish or desire to know any man after the flesh; and also that I estimate the truth and honor of God, far above the friendship, and high esteem, and good will, of all the religionists in the world. Write soon—write often—write largely—write without reserve—write experimentally—write the truth—write in love—and write about Christ. I am yours affectionately,
Baltimore, Jan. 1839. James Osbourn." (Advocate and Monitor, Volumes 3-4 By Daniel E. Jewett, pages 40-51

In a published letter to Elder John M. Watson of West Tennessee, Elder Osbourn wrote:

Your second suggestion to me is truly un important one ;—The greivousness (sic) of the office-work of the third adorable person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, being so very generally neglected in the administration of the word. This awful defect is as true as it is heart-rending. But sir, you speak of the third person in the Trinity, and right enough too by the rule of God's word and in the judgment of those who fear the Lord and love his truth. But you sir, have an abundance of people, in your Great West who laugh to scorn the idea of the Holy Spirit being a Person; and so indeed did old Sabellius of the third century and his followers; and so likewise did old Noetius, a philosopher of Ephesus, and his followers; and also the Mahomedans, and Swedenborgians, and Socinians, and Unitarians, and even the Deists, Laugh to scorn the Personality of the Spirit. And it is no wonder that such men should neglect the office-work of a Person they. have no faith in, and be silent about a work they know nothing of. But for men who profess to be interested in the Personality, and Godhead, and office-work of Jehovah the Spirit, to neglect this all important and highly interesting point in theology, when laboring in the pulpit, is a very painful consideration; and yet I know, and am sure, that this is the case among us to an alarming degree."  (pages 53-59 - January 1939 - see here)

Woburn, Mass., March 1839. James Osbourn

Osbourn was convinced that those Hardshells who were Sabellians were not saved.  One wonders what today's Hardshells want to do with these facts?  Will they continue to call Wilson Thompson one of their great leaders in spite of his heresies?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Good Friend and His "Much Better" Position

Several years ago I became good friends with the saints at Mt. Zion Chapel Library in Pensacola, FL. They were a big help to me when I was wrestling with important bible doctrines. After the pastor learned of my background with Hardshellism, he was very sympathetic to the doctrinal anxiety I was going through. He told me that he was good friends with a pastor in Mississippi who had travelled a path similar to mine, and suggested that I contact him. In words I won’t ever forget he said that the pastor now occupied a “much better position” in the scriptures.

The first time I spoke over the phone with Elder Thomas Ray Floyd we discovered that he had met before at the Amite Association in Mississippi some ten years ago, although we recollect very little. We have since become close friends, he preaching at my home church, and I at his. We have had numerous edifying phone conversations, each sharing our own experience of what we came to see taught in God’s Word, both thankful that we were delivered from pernicious error.

The following is an article written by Elder Floyd which was recently part of his weekly column entitled “The Narrow Way”. Let it serve as an example of one delivered from false teachings to a “much better” position in the Bible.

The Narrow Way by Thomas Ray Floyd

Title: “The Necessity of Faith”

“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

"We showed you in our last two articles that faith is a gift of God and that it is the channel, or conduit through which the grace of God is brought to a sinner trusting in Christ alone for salvation. Properly speaking, a believer is not justified by his own act of believing, but rather by Christ Alone, the proper Object of a believer’s faith. Salvation is all of the Lord. Everything necessary for justification is furnished by the Lord.

That being said, I now want to emphasize that no one is saved by his own act of believing, but no one is saved apart from a real and living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Even a cursory reading of the Bible makes it clear that no one has ever been saved apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and no one ever will be or can be saved apart from such justifying faith. Some of you dispensationalists may inquire, 'but what about the Old Testament saints?' If you will go read the fourth chapter of Romans and the eleventh chapter of Hebrews you will see that the Old Testament saints believed in the same Saviour as New Testament saints. The Old Testament saints believed in the Christ Who was coming, and new Testament saints believe in the Christ Who has come, but we all believe in the same Christ for salvation. Again, the two chapters I just cited make it clear that all believers are saved the same way. Some of you universalists will inquire, 'well, what about those who never heard the gospel?' Your argument is with our Lord, not me, for He plainly says here that all who will not believe in Him are doomed and damned forever. Our Lord says here in our text in John 8:24 that you will either die in your sins, or you will die believing in Him. There are no two ways about it.

Salvation is promised to all who will cease from their rebellion, and repent of their sins, and trust in Christ Alone. But there is only a fearful looking of judgment and fiery indignation to those who will not believe in Christ. Mark it down friends and neighbors, no one can be saved who will not believe in Christ. The poor deluded Moslems are damned unless they turn to Christ. The unbelieving Jews are damned unless they believe in Christ. The Deists are all damned unless they believe in Christ. The secular humanists are all damned unless they believe in Christ. The Unitarians are all damned unless they believe in Christ. The liberal churchmen who deny the atonement of Christ are all damned unless they will repent and believe in Christ. All the cultists who deny the proper Deity of Christ and the satisfaction He made for sin are all doomed and damned unless they repent and believe in the Christ of the Bible. All the works mongers who are trying to add their own works to Christ’s are all damned unless they trust in Christ Alone. And you my dear reader, will certainly be damned forever except you believe in Christ for your eternal salvation.

Let our Lord’s warning sound in your ears and awake you from your slumber of death. 'If ye believe not that I am He , ye shall die in your sins.' 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark 16:16). The unbelieving shall be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8). May the Lord give you the gift of faith so that you may believe in Christ for the eternal salvation of your never dying soul."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Visiting with Sonny Pyles?

Every year Elder Sonny Pyles comes to our area here in North Carolina to preach in the local churches.  I have previously written about Sonny and critiqued one of his sermons.  (see here)  This blog post continues to be the top read blog post of The Old Baptist blog.  I sent Sonny a copy of the posting at the time of my writing it.  I never got a reply from him.  I am not surprised however. 

Sonny and I were once fairly close associates in the "Primitive Baptist Church."  I spent a week in his home back in the late 70s and he has spent the night in my home.  Over the past couple years, since I sent to him a copy of my above mentioned posting, I have thought about going to one of his appointments here and see if he would like to get together and discuss doctrinal matters.  Again, I have thought about it this year.  I would enjoy the occasion and even think it would be profitable.  However, my gut reaction is to not do so.  I think to myself - "he knows that I live here.  If he wanted to chat with me he knows how to get up with me."  I also think about how many local Hardshells would not be too welcoming of me in their churches. 

However, if any of Sonny's friends read this blog and want to encourage Sonny to get together with me, please do so.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Strange Conclusion

It probably goes without saying that if one applies a text in an unorthodox way then he must be willing to accept all of the consequences which ensue from it, no matter how strange or unusual they may be. The unorthodox position, contrary to general Christendom, which the Conditionalist Hardshells place upon Romans 1:16 is a perfect example. They are adamant in their claim that this passage is teaching that the gospel is the power of God unto a temporal salvation only. Due to anti-means prejudices, they are forced into such a position. Unfortunately, such a stance produces a very odd conclusion.

Paul writes:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

The Apostle tells us that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, yet he does not stop there. He also says that this same salvation, and not another, is "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek". My question, therefore, to those whom I would love to see rescued from their error is simply this:

"Is time salvation to the Jew first?"

This is the question facing those who give an explanation to this text which, to my knowledge, no one else in Christendom does. If this well-known gospel means passage is in fact teaching a temporal salvation only, then it necessarily follows that it must be "to the Jew first". In all honesty one should not have to proceed any further to know that this is approaching strange exegetical ground, and he should rethink his position. Hint.

The priority of the Jews is mentioned in a few places in scripture. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman that "...salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). He described it as well when he stated there were some sheep not of the current fold which He, being the Good Shepherd, must also bring (10:16). When Paul and Barnabus were preaching in Antioch and the Jews refused to listen they responded "It was necessary that the word of God should first (emphasis mine -KF) have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." (Acts 13:46)

In looking at these passages (and there are others), the priority of eternal salvation for the Jews is being set forth. If allowing scripture to interpret scripture means anything, we would also place Romans 1:16 in the same category. Should not all the New Testament witness on the priority of the Jews in salvation trump any wild anamoly? The fact that this passage is nevertheless being applied this way, despite what the analogy of faith has to say on the matter, shows that an extreme bias is at work. The premise that instrumentality cannot be involved in matters respecting eternity rules the day, even when the most basic hermeneutic rule says otherwise.

Early Associations Bear Witness

It is most unfortunate that historical records are often hard to come by. There are probably multitudes of articles of faith, church histories, and circular letters which are buried in obscurity which I would like to post as proof of the true Old Baptist position. Confining it only to associations, below is the witness of some of the early ones I’ve been able to find before the birth of conditionalism began to deny them. It would be wise for many to return back to the sentiments of their forefathers.

The Certainty of Conversion

“We believe, in like manner, that God's elect shall not only be called, and justified, but that they shall be converted, born again and changed by the effectual workings of God's holy Spirit.” (1777 Kehukee Association Articles of Faith)

“We believe all those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world are, in time, effectually called regenerated, converted, and sanctified; and are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.” (1807 Mississippi Association Articles of Faith)

The Necessity of Faith and Repentance

”…we constantly affirm the necessity of ‘repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,’ in order to happiness here and hereafter.” (1834 Warwick Association Circular Letter)

Absolute Predestination

“Holding the doctrine of total Depravity, by the fall of Adam; the predestination of all things in the council of God; Eternal and Personal Election; Particular Atonement, Efficacious grace in the work of regeneration; Perseverance of Saints through grace to glory; the Resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust; the eternal punishment of the wicked, and Everlasting Happiness of the righteous.” (Summary of the Faith of the Chemung Association, 1841)

Gospel Means

”THO’ a Sovereign God, may work above, beyond, and without means, according to His own good pleasure, yet as He hath been pleased to ordain means, and accompanied them by the displays of His power for the conversion and salvation of multitudes of poor sinners…” (A Concise History of the Ketocton Baptist Association, 1808)

Predestination and Means

”Now if all Things were known of God as they invariably come to pass, through all Eternity, the Result is; They could not be so foreknown of him, if they could, might, or may, otherwise come to pass. So that upon the whole; if his complete Foreknowledge of all Things is confessed; it ought with the same parity of Reasoning also to be owned, that he is able, and of consequence can, predetermine all Things, with as much justice and equity as he foreknows all Things, as they invariably come to pass, through all eternity. However, We hope we shall not be so understood, as to exclude the use of Means in any case whatever; nor on the other Hand, to idolize Means; for God is at Liberty to work by them, without them, above them, or against them at his divine Pleasure; though in common has seen fit to honor the timely, prudent, and humble use of them with a Blessing:" (1793 Portsmouth Association Circular Letter)


“We believe in election from eternity, effectual calling by the Holy Spirit, and justification in his sight only by imputation of Christ righteousness. And we believe that they who are thus elected, effectually called, and justified, will persevere through grace to the end, that none of them are lost.” (1816 Sandy Creek Association Articles of Faith)

“We believe that such as are converted, justified and called by His grace, shall persevere in holiness, and never fall away.” (1777 Kehukee Association Articles of Faith)

Conversion as Regeneration

“It is claimed by all Primitive Baptists , so far as we know, that until a person is converted to Christ, or in Christ, that such person is in bondage to sin…” (History of Fisher’s River Primitive Baptist Association)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hardshell Pelagianism V

Chapter 142

In chapter 13 of this work ("Hardshells on Faith - Conclusion") I cited these words of Elder Sarrels from his "Systematic Theology."

"The regeneration of man changes his soul essence. Faculties, affections, and dispositions are not personal entities, and are therefore not subjects of regeneration. God regenerates man, not his attributes or properties." (Page 342)

Thus, I have anticipated a more fuller examination of this issue.  The issue of the nature of man's inability, or degeneration, is determinative of the nature of man's regeneration.  Thus far, I have shown how Hardshells generally err on the nature of man's inability and on his regeneration.  I have cited Calvinist authorities who have insisted that man's inability is not natural or physical but strictly moral.  I have also cited Elder J. H. Oliphant, a leading Hardshell authority at the turn of the twentieth century, who also affirmed that man's inability was not physical or natural, agreeing with Dr. Edwards on the topic.  I also cited from the London Confession of Faith where the Old Baptists of that confession affirmed that man has lost all ability of will.  I also have cited leading Calvinists on the affirmation that regeneration is not a change of man's soul substance, but is strictly a moral change.  I then began citing leading Hardshells from the twentieth and twenty first centuries that show that the view has now become common to affirm that man's inability is physical as well as moral and that the change in regeneration is physical (non-moral) as well as moral.  In this posting I will cite extensively from Elder Sarrels on this point.  Let us now look at some additional citations from Elder Sarrels on this matter.

Sarrels wrote:

"A change of direction does not make one a new creationOnly a basic change of one's nature can account for and explain that fundamental spiritual work which is wrought in the soul by the quickening power of God."  (pg. 307 of his "Systematic Theology")

"Lastly, regeneration is solely the work of God, a work which makes man in his soul essence a new creature."  (pg. 307)

"Regeneration makes man in his soul essence a new creation...The birth from above does not produce a "creature," it makes anew the creature which already exists.  The already existing soul substance is fitted to be a proper residence and vehicle for the spiritual life which God "promised before the world began";  that is to say, the soul essence is changed from natural to spiritual.  The renewing in Titus 3: 5 does not mean a "renovation" of the soul, but a change of its nature."  (Pg. 308)

"Sin is not a mere pimple on the soul, a barely detectable fleck on its surface;  it is a virulent, loathesome canker which has invaded every nook and cranny of the soul substance."  (pg. 324)

"This complex operation, which in its ethical aspects involves the atonement of Christ, still confronts naked reason as a matter which has to do only with the regeneration of man's soul substance...From Reason.  Since the regeneration of substance can be effected only by creative power..."  (pg. 327)

"The changed essence which results from the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, and the nature of the life coincident with this changed essence, clearly indicate that they are different in kind from all things solely natural.  In regeneration the essence of man's soul is changed from natural to spiritual, and the life coincident with this changed essence is spiritual life."  (pg. 328)

Sarrels cannot help but keep repeating his assertion that regeneration is a change of man's soul "essence" and "substance."  He denies that regeneration is merely moral transformation, but that man's soul substance is changed.  He does not define exactly what is the nature of the change except to say that it is a change from "natural" to "spiritual."  I will comment on this further after we have looked at all the pertinent citations from Sarrels on this issue.

Sarrels wrote:

"Even if man were able, through the exercise of any solely natural power, to participate in his regeneration, he would be morally unable to do so."  (pg. 328)

"Regeneration is not a mere enlightening of the understanding and a rectifying of the volitions.  To clarify this statement, we consider:

a. The view that man's original faculties are retained, and that they are only given a change of direction.  "Regeneration is the giving of a new direction or tendency to powers of affection which man possessed before.  Man had the faculty of love before, but this love was supremely set on self.  In regeneration the direction of that faculty is changed, and his love is now supremely set on god" (Strong, Systematic Theology, 825)."  (pg. 338)

"Faculty implies substance which underlies and conditions it.  It is impossible to think of faculty as being different in kind or grade from the substance to which it belongs, or in which it inheres.  We cannot think of the faculty of human love as being linked biologically with the brute.  The faculty of love in man is a faculty peculiar to human nature, or human essence.  The fall did not change the grace of human nature.  Man was as truly human after the fall as he was before it.  After the fall man was a sinful human being, but still a human being."  (pg. 338)

In the first citation above it is clear that Sarrels believes, like elders Winfrey, Crouse, and Gowens, that man's inability is not strictly moral, but physical or constitutional.  Even it the soul were willing to please God, it could not do so.  This is opposed to what the leading Calvinists have taught on the subject, as well as what was taught by Elder Oliphant.  Sarrels denies that regeneration is strictly the giving of new directions to man's existing faculties, or a "rectifying of the volitions" or will of man, disagreeing with the words of Augustus Strong who was stating the original Calvinist and Baptist position.  Sarrels affirms that the faculties cannot be changed in their direction without a change in the "substance" of the soul.  Man's inability to love God was not simply due to a lack of will, but also to a physical inability. 

Sarrels wrote:

"However, it is inconceivable that man's faculty should undergo a change of direction while the substance in which it is grounded should remain unaffected.  The wrong direction of man's faculty of love is the sensitive needle which indicates the way the self or ego faces.  Sin sank its deadly fangs deep in the soul essence of man, not merely in his faculties."  (pg. 338)

"The only way to change the direction of man's love is to change the essence which this love manifests.  To make regeneration have to do only with man's disposition, or the direction of his love, is equivalent to treating the symptom while ignoring the disease...It ignores the essence reality of man and attempts to deal with his qualities.  Working on direction without coming to grips with that which directs, is like dealing with phenomena while ignoring the reality which underlies and conditions them."  (pg. 338)

When Sarrels says that "it is inconceivable that man's faculty should undergo a change of direction while the substance in which it is grounded should remain unaffected," he does not prove anything.  Just because it is inconceivable to Sarrels does not mean it is not true.  His statement that the direction of man's faculty of love indicates the way the self or ego faces also does not prove that the substance of the soul or the faculty of love itself undergoes a physical (non-moral) change.  First of all, Sarrels does not even define what he means by "soul."  Is the essence or substance of man's soul different in saved and unsaved persons?  When he speaks of the "disease" of the soul, he implies that it is a disease in the soul substance and not merely in the moral disposition of the soul or in the direction of the soul faculties.  Man is indeed a morally diseased soul, but saying this does not mean that the physics of the soul are altered. 

Yes, indeed, man's moral nature is polluted.  But, his soul is not less of a soul.  The pollution has not altered man's soul as respects its basic make up.  Having dirt on the body does not change the physics of the body and having moral filth on the soul does not change the physics of the soul.

Sarrels wrote:

"c. The view that regeneration involves simply the enlightening of the understanding and the rectifying of the volitions.  "Reverse the lever of the affections," says Dr. Strong, "and this moral locomotive, without further change, will move away from sin, and toward truth and God" (Systematic Theology, 825).  We reply that this is no more than an "about face" religion, and is basically identical with the reformation theory.  According to this view, the same old locomotive which you had before regeneration still stands before you unchanged.  It is now only moving down the track in the opposite direction.  This cannot be the truth regarding the fundamental change wrought by the Holy Spirit in the new birth.  The disappointing end to which this view directs us is clearly shown by the following statement by Dr. Shedd.  "In this regeneration, we are restored by the grace of Christ to the righteousness of God from which we fell in Adam" (Dogmatic Theology, II, 492)  This makes regeneration to be a restoration to a former state, instead of a resurrection to a new and higher state.  According to this view, as Dr. Strong states it, regeneration "is not a change in the substance of either body or soul" (Systematic Theology, 823).  Certainly this whole concept is in direct conflict with such Scriptures as Titus 3: 5; Phil. 3: 21; Rom. 8: 29."  (pg. 339)

"But we do not agree with him when he says "The new life is rather a new direction and activity of our affections and will" (Ibid, 824).  To be sure our affections and will have a new direction, but to equate "direction of faculties" and "life" is wide of the mark.  This statement from Dr. Strong, strictly interpreted, leaves out the man to whom the faculties belong, and ignores the new life coincident with the changed nature."  (pg. 339)

But, regeneration is a restoration to what man lost in his degeneration.  On this I will enlarge upon later.  Sarrel's disagreement with Dr. Strong puts him also into disagreement with Elder Oliphant and with the leading Calvinists and Particular Baptists of primitive times.  Further, Sarrels keeps affirming what he has not at all proven from Scripture.  Where is his scriptural proof for a change in the physics of the soul substance resulting from both the fall and from regeneration?  Where is the evidence that a change in direction of the faculties of the soul necessitates a change in the substance of the soul?  Where is the evidence that a change in the object of love and affection necessitates a change in the physics of the soul? 

Sarrels wrote:

"God has not explained just what he does to the soul of man to fit it for the heavenly state, and it is probable that if he had explained it, we still could not understand it."  (pg. 339)

This is an amazing admission from one who is vehement in his assertion that the physics of the soul is changed in regeneration.  Sarrels can affirm that the soul essence or substance is changed but he cannot explain the nature of the change.  It is true that no one can fully comprehend the change that an individual goes through in being born of God.  Yet, of this we can be certain.  It is a moral renovation and not a change of the physical substance of the soul.  When I say that I changed my mind, I do not mean that my mind went through a physical or metaphysical change in the substance or essence of my mind.

Sarrels wrote:

"Faculty is an endowment of a substance-reality, and our minds refuse to stop till they come to the substance-reality endowed with the faculty.  Faculties are native to man, not to themselves, and it is man, and not his faculties, who is the subject of regeneration.  There is an essence-ground to which faculties are native, and it is this essence-ground which is washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and made a new creature...Without the renewing of the soul substance the faculties would be directed from the level of man's original state, which is natural."  (Pg. 340)

"B. Positively.  Regeneration is the regenesis of the soul substance, a being born from above."  (pg. 340)

"What is to be done to the body is comparable to, or perhaps identical with, that which is done to the soul in regeneration.  Man, the entire man, must be born from above."  (pg. 341) 

Much of what Sarrels wrote in these citations continues to be repetition.  Rather than explaining what he means by such statements, he simply keeps repeating what he has already said, as though saying something over and over again, argumentum ad nauseum, proves his point.  Sarrels affirms that the change of the body in the resurrection is the same as the change of the soul in regeneration.  But, they are not the same and cannot be the same.  The body is physical, but the soul is spiritual.  The one is physical but the latter is moral.  On this I shall enlarge upon later.

Sarrels wrote:

"The regeneration of man changes his soul essence.  Faculties, affections, and dispositions are not personal entities, and are therefore not subjects of regeneration.  God regenerates men, not his attributes or properties."  (pg. 342)

"a. Negatively:  Regeneration does not bring into being essence which does not previously exists...Regeneration adds nothing to man's substance, nor does it take anything from it.  Rational man, as a constitutive whole, is to be regenerated and taken to heaven.  We do not hold, nor does our view in any way imply, that God creates a new soul for man in regeneration, or that he creates any new substance in the soul, or that he adds new substance to it.  On the contrary, we hold consistently and unequivocally that the very soul substance of man, nothing more, nothing less, is changed."  (pg. 342)

"b. Positively:  Regeneration changes man's soul substance so that, after being born again, it is said to be "spirit," or spiritual (Jno. 3: 6)."  (pg. 342)

"Regeneration does not restore the lost man to his former state, it "raises him up" from his state of nature and from his death to sin to a new and higher state, where he can "sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  (pg. 342-343)

"The erroneous view that regeneration does not and need not change the soul substance stems from the failure to take into account the real nature of man apart from sin."  (pg. 343)

Sarrels thinks that the great Calvinists of the past, such as Edwards, Owens, Charnock, Hodge, Strong, and others, are all wrong in denying that regeneration does not cause a change in the soul substance of a man.  He thinks the Old Baptists who wrote the London Confession were all wrong.  He thinks Elder Oliphant is all wrong.  Yet, he does not prove wherein they are wrong but simply thinks that his assertion of their error is sufficient. 

Sarrels wrote:

"Man, by creation, was not a spiritual being.  He was made "lower than the angels," and as an earthly creature was not prepared "to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  He was a natural man (I Cor. 2: 14), and was not, with respect to grade of life, fitted for heavenly existence.  If man had never sinned, a re-genesis of both soul and body would have been necessary in order that he share in, or have fellowship with the divine nature."  (pg. 343) 

"Sin did not change the soul substance of the natural man into a different grade of substance.  It depraved it, but it did not transmute it downward.  The fall was not from one type or grade of substance to a lower one; it was simply the vitiation, or moral breakdown, of that substance.  Man was as truly human after the fall as he was before it.  If before the fall of man's soul was spiritual as the angels are spiritual, then indeed all he needs is to be cleansed and restored to his former state."  (pg. 344)

Sarrels, by these statements, shows that he does not understand what is meant by the terms "natural" and "spiritual" as used in Scripture.  Sarrels assumes that the change from natural to spiritual involves a change in the substance or essence of the soul, but he no where proves such an assertion.  Sarrels shows where such a view of his leads.  He says that man in his original righteous condition, prior to his sin and fall, was in need of being made spiritual, that Adam needed to be regenerated or born again even in his unfallen state.  In this he affirms that the man that God originally made had a soul that was physically and naturally unable to have communion with God, or to please God, or to do anything that is spiritual.  This is no little error. 

Adam was indeed a spiritual man when God created him.  To deny this is to deny that he was under the law of God which Paul says is "spiritual."  (Rom. 7: 14)  Further, to deny that man was originally a spiritual man is to deny that man is spiritually dead because of sin.  To have died spiritually implies that one was previously spiritually alive.  Sarrels affirms that those who do not have spiritual life have no ability to please God.  Then, how can God justly condemn Adam for disobeying his spiritual law?

Adam was originally made in the image and likeness of God and this must mean that he was spiritual.  In describing the experience of regeneration Paul says:

"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." (Col. 3: 10) 

"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."  (Eph. 4: 24) 

Thus, as Adam was made in the likeness and image of God, so he was created in righteousness and true holiness, and had spiritual knowledge of God. 

Sarrels wrote:

"All that man possesses as the result of his original creation is natural and not spiritual."  (pg. 307)

"The seed or germ of the eternal, spiritual life, of the Bible was not in man as the result of his original creation."  (pg. 341)

But, these statements are not true.  Thomas Boston in his work "Human Nature in its Fourfold State," in section one, on man's state of innocence, wrote:

"Thus was man made originally righteous, being created in "God's own image," Gen. 1:27, which consists in the positive qualities of "knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness," Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24. "All that God made was very good," according to their several natures, Gen. 1:31. And so was man morally good, being made after the image of him who is "good and upright," Psalm 25:8. Without this, he could not have answered the great end of his creation, which was, to know, love, and serve his God, according to his will; nay, he could not be created otherwise, for he must either be conformed to the law in his powers, principles, and inclinations, or not—if he was, then he was righteous; and, if not, he was a sinner, which is absurd and horrible to imagine." 

Boston wrote:

"The penalty was death, Gen. 2:17, "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die." The death threatened was such as the life promised was, and that most justly; namely, temporal, spiritual, and eternal death."  (see here)

If man was "natural" in the same sense in which fallen sinners are said to be "natural," then God made man so that it was impossible for him to obey his law, which is spiritual.  When Paul says that God made Adam a "natural" man (I Cor. 15: 46) he does not exclude man being "spiritual" in some sense.  In the same text Paul says that Christ, the second Adam, was spiritual.  But, Christ being spiritual does not exclude him also being natural, a man of flesh and blood.  So, Adam being natural does not exclude him being, in some respects, spiritual. 

Sarrels wrote:

"In the work of re-genesis, or regeneration, no new substance is originated.  If a new substance were created in the new birth, this would be genesis, nor re-genesis, creation, not re-creation.  Regeneration changes the soul which man already has.  It is as Scripturally and philosophically sound to hold that the soul substance of the natural man must be re-created--changed from a natural substance to a spiritual substance--as it is to hold that the body substance to a spiritual body substance."  (pg. 344)

If God regenerates the old substance of the soul, as Sarrels admits, and adds no new substance to it, then he has contradicted himself.  He has said that God gives the soul a new physical ability that it did not have previously.  And, he has said that a new ability, or new faculty, implies a change in the substance of the soul, so that the soul has what it did not have previously. 

Sarrels, in his work, admits that the angels have spiritual life and that some of them fell.  Thus, he admits that those who were spiritual became natural.  Then why does he have difficulty admitting that Adam likewise was spiritual and became natural? 

Sarrels wrote:

"Regeneration, then, is that intrinsic and essential change of the soul substance which fits it to possess the eternal life which God promised before the world began."  (pg. 344)

But, Adam as he was originally made was made fit for eternal life.  Interestingly, it was the Pelagians who insisted that man would have died even if he had not sinned, affirming that death was a consequence of being made natural.  Again, Sarrels is affirming that Adam, as originally created, still needed to be regenerated to have eternal life.

Sylvester Hassell, in answer to the question - "Was Adam made a spiritual man, and did he die a spiritual death when he ate the forbidden fruit?" - wrote (emphasis mine):

"No other man was ever like Adam, or even had his exact experience, and we can only know of him what the Scriptures teach us. It is worse than useless to speculate as to Adam or any other subject beyond the plain teachings of the Scriptures. The truly humble soul does not desire to indulge in such speculations, or to hear or read such speculations from other (Psa.  cxxxi.; Isa. viii 20.; Acts xvii. 11; 1 Tim. Vi. 3-5; 2 Tim. Iii. 15-17). We know from the scriptures that Adam was made with a body and a soul (Gen.ii 7; Ecc. Xii. 7), and yet that he was made a natural man (1 Cor. Xii. 7), and yet that he was made a natural man (1 Cor. Xv. 45-49). Though he had a human spirit, he was not spiritual in the sense in which God’s children are who are born of the Divine Spirit. And we know, from the Scriptures, that, when he ate the forbidden fruit, he died to the pleasant communion that he had before with God, became dead in trespasses and sins (Gen ii. 17; Eph. Ii 1), and that he became subject to Divine wrath and to physical and eternal death unless saved by Divine mercy. Gen iii. 17, 19; Rom. V. 12, 21. Some call the death in trespasses and sin spiritual death; if by the phrase “spiritual death” they mean death in trespasses and sins, let us bear with them, and not make our brother an offender for a mere word or expression, when he means only what that Scriptures declare (Is. xxix. 21).”  (From Gospel Messenger of Oct., 1902 - see here)

In these words Hassell shows a reluctance to confess that Adam was a spiritual man.  Yet, he does admit that being "dead in tresspasses and sins" is all the same as saying that one is in "spiritual death."  I too saw this difficulty that Hardshells had with affirming that Adam died a spiritual death when I was with them.  This difficulty arises chiefly from the fact that they think that to affirm that Adam had spiritual life and died to that life, then it may be possible for those who have spiritual life in Christ to also lose their spiritual life.  But, this difficulty need not exist.  Though the spiritual life is the same, the keeping of it is not.  Adam was responsible for keeping himself spiritually alive, but those who are spiritually alive in Christ by regeneration are kept alive by the power of God. 

Elder Sylvester Hassell also wrote:

"As shown by the Scriptures that I have cited, and by the Holy Spirit in our experience, regeneration is a Divine, supernatural, miraculous, irresistible, everlasting change, back of the will and below consciousness, not in the substance but in the state of the soul--a change in the prevailing and governing principles, disposition, tastes, and habits of the soul, which constitute character, and determine volitions and actions, by which change the understanding is illuminated, the affections consecrated, and the will rectified, so that the regenerated sinner habitually, though not always, hates and puts away sin, and loves and practices righteousness, and at the same time, the more grace he has in his heart, the more he feels and mourns over the remains of indwelling sin."  ("Interpreting the Scriptures-The Error of Denial of a Change of the Soul in Regeneration," see here)

In these words Hassell would agree with Elder Oliphant and disagree with later Hardshells such as Crouse, Gowens, Winfrey, and Sarrels.  He states that there is change "not in the substance of the soul."  One wonders why later Hardshells felt it necessary to advocate that both degeneration and regeneration involves a change in the substance of the soul?  Is it not because they have imbibed Pelagain ideas?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hardshell Pelagianism IV

Chapter 141

Archibald Alexander, in an article titled "The Inability of Sinners," in Theological Essays (New York & London: Wiley and Putnam, 1846), 265–268, 272-275, 277-280, and, 281-282, wrote:

"8. When it is said that regeneration consists in giving a new heart, or in implanting a new principle or disposition, what is meant by the terms "heart," "principle," or "disposition"?

President Edwards says, "By a principle of nature in this place, I mean that foundation which is laid in nature, either old or new, for any particular kind or manner of exercise of the faculties of the soul. So this new spiritual sense is not a new faculty of understanding, but it is a new foundation laid in the nature of the soul for a new kind of exercise of the same faculty of understanding. So that new holy disposition of heart that attends this new sense is not a new faculty of will, but a foundation laid in the nature of the soul for a new kind of exercise of the same faculty of will." Edwards on "Religious Affections," Pt. 3., sec. 1."  (Chapter 29 Outlines of Theology by A.A. Hodge - Regeneration, see here)

In chapter 93 of my book on "The Hardshell Baptist Cult," I wrote:

"Regeneration took on a strictly physical or metaphysical definition. Regeneration became a change of the substance of the heart, mind, or soul. It was no longer viewed as a strictly moral change. Regeneration now became vaguely defined as simply giving ability or powers to the soul, a kind of empowerment. There was no change in beliefs, for regeneration became "non-cognitive" and a "sub-conscious" experience."

As will be shall shortly seen, this is true as regards much of present day ideas among Hardshells regarding the nature of man's inability and as regards the nature of the change wrought in regeneration.  It may be truly said that many present day Hardshells do not believe that regeneration is a "change" but an "exchange."  Instead of God changing a man's present heart and mind, it is rather that he gives a person a totally new heart and mind, one that has no connection with the old one.  By the way it is taught one is led to believe that regeneration is a physical change of the substance or essence of the soul, similar to the Lord making living beings out of stones. 

The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith reads,

"Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation, so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to commit himself, or to prepare himself thereto." (Section 9 on "Free Will")

The Old Baptists who wrote this Confession were clear on the nature of the inability that has come to all men as a result of the fall of man.  Man has not lost any natural or physical ability to spiritual good but has "lost all ability of will."  He has lost his "strength" of "will," or his moral strength.

Elder Bernard Gowens wrote the following in his Internet article "Refuting the Hollow Log Doctrine" (see here):

"This erroneous doctrine is used by some to describe the act of regeneration in the new birth of the elect. The analogy is that the new birth does not provide a change of essence or substance in the soul of the regenerate...It is the nature of the soul substance in the inner man that needs changing.

It is the Holy Spirit that accomplishes this nature change in the spirit essence of the inner man of God's elect when they are translated into Divine Life. The soul substance of the inner man needs changing.

The inner-sanctum of this "soul essence" can no longer commit sin (1st John 3:9)."

From these words of Elder Gowens, a present day Hardshell leader, regeneration involves a "change of essence or substance in the soul."  Twice he says "it is the nature of the soul substance in the inner man that needs changing."  But, in saying this, he puts himself into opposition with Elder Oliphant who believed that man's inability was strictly moral and denied that it was in any way physical, natural, or constitutional.  But, he does reflect, as we shall see, what was taught by Elder Sarrels, who was from Texas as Elder Gowens.  Sarrels published his "Systematic Theology" in the 1970s when Gowens was a teenager in Texas.

In a separate article Gowens also wrote (emphasis mine):

"If by the word 'free,' however, one means free without any limitation, then the answer is 'no.' People are not free to act contrary to their nature. I cannot choose to fly. Yes, I can choose to travel by airplane, but I cannot choose to sprout wings or become a bird. My will, you see, is not entirely free. It is bound by the limits of my nature. We do not have the freedom to be anything we are not. 

Man, in other words, is not free to act outside the boundaries of his human nature. He cannot live the life of a fish in the ocean or fly like a bird in the air without external resources enabling him to duplicate his natural environment. Just as that is true on a natural level, it is also true on a spiritual level. In his fallen state, man cannot choose to be righteous. The Ethiopian cannot by his own sheer will power, change the color of his skin, nor the leopard his spots. Neither can those whose nature is depraved voluntarily do good Jer. 13:23). Man's will is enslaved to his sinful nature. Left to himself, his only capacity is fleshly."

From these words of Gowens it is clear that he does not believe that man's inability is strictly moral, but that his inability is physical and constitutional as well.  Yet, again, this is not the teaching of Elder Oliphant.  It seems to me, from years of research into the writings of leading Hardshells, that the older Hardshells of the 19th century were much more clear on this topic than are their descendents. 

Gowens says that man's inability in spiritual things is due to a physical impossibility, much like a human cannot fly or live like a fish.  Is this not saying that man's "cannot" is physical, natural, and constitutional?  That his inability is not strictly moral?  Also, if man is physically unable to do spiritual things, then how can God justly require this of him or hold him accountable for not doing them?  This is what the leading Calvinists that I have cited previously have stated.  If man's inability is physical, then it is unjust for God to punish him for not doing what he is unable to do.  But, if his inability is strictly moral, then God indeed can justly hold him accountable. 

Also, as previously intimated, such erroneous views on the nature of man's inability has led Hardshells into false views on the nature of the change wrought in his regeneration.  Men like Gowens would not see regeneration strictly as a moral transformation but also as a physical transformation.  It would be like changing a fish or bird into a man.

The passage that Gowens alludes to about the Ethiopian changing his skin or the leopard his spots is not intended to teach that the change effected in regeneration is a physical change, but simply to say that the degree of moral inability is equal to the degree of physical inability.  Regeneration of the soul does not make a man something more than a man, or into a superman.  In many ways it is a restoration of what was lost by sin.  The fall did not make Adam into less than a man and regeneration does not make a man something more than a man.  No new faculties are added to the nature of man in his regeneration, but his faculties are renewed. 

Gowens continued:

"By nature, man's will is a "will not" (Ps. 10:4; Ps. 58:3; Jno. 5:40; Is. 26:10). His only inclination is toward carnality. The natural man will never choose anything but sin, because he cannot operate outside the parameters of his sinful nature (Rom. 8:7). The nature of man's will is not free.

Not until his nature is changed does he have the desire or the capacity to choose righteousness. Prior to God's work of regeneration in the soul, therefore, man's will is bound by the old nature. In regeneration, the fallen sinner is made "willing in the day of God's power" (Ps. 110:3). He is given a new nature, a righteous nature, capable of responding to God."  ("Born Again; The Doctrine of Effectual Calling" - see here)

While Gowens allows that moral inability, or inability of will, is part of man's fallen condition, he does not limit his inability to the moral faculties or to the will.  While I do agree that man's nature is "changed" in regeneration, I do not believe it is "exchanged."  However, when Gowens speaks of God changing man's nature in regeneration, he does not believe that this is confined to man's moral nature, but extends it to man's physical nature, to a change in the substance, essence, constitution, or make up of the soul.  By his definitions the nature of the soul is physically different as a result of the fall and regeneration, like a fish is different from a bird.  According to Gowens, new faculties are added to the physical substance of the soul, just as it must be if a man is given the ability to fly like a bird.

Another Hardshell, Elder Jeff Winfrey, wrote:

"According to the Bible the problem with natural man goes beyond a lack of willingness to comeThe problem is even greater than a fallen will that is compelled to follow a fallen nature, for the Bible in many places plainly declares that natural man simply cannot come to God.  So past a “will not” come in fallen man, there is even a “cannot” come in fallen man.  Thus even if a fallen nature were to suddenly release a fallen will, the problem with fallen man still remains.  According to the scriptures he yet would have no ability in his fallen state to come to God." 

It is clear that his Hardshell apologist disagrees with Elder Oliphant and advocates that man's "cannot" is more than a moral cannot, that it is a physical cannot, due to some inability in the substance or make up of the soul itself.  Even if a man wanted to please God, he would be unable to do so due to his lacking of a physical ability in his soul substance.

Winfrey continues:

"So even if you in error imagine that man might want to do that which he by nature considers to be foolishness, or if you really believe that man would choose to befriend the one he so hates, or if you still think that man would decide to dwell with a perceived enemy, or if you deny that Jesus said that man will not come, then there is still an insurmountable problem with the idea of natural man coming to God.  For besides being unwilling to come, the Bible says that unregenerate man is unable to come to God.  Therefore even if fallen man were to find the “want to” and against his very nature will to do what he will not do, the scriptures still declare that he cannot do it.  Fallen man cannot come, because the fallen nature has no ability to function in the spiritual realm."

Again, it is clear that this elder views the inability of fallen man to be more than moral.  If a man had a will to come to Christ, he still could not.

Winfrey continues:

"We have seen that the fallen nature has much power in the realm of nature, even the power to overpower the will.  Yet the fallen nature has no power in the realm of the spirit, not even the power to come to God.  Thus the root of the problem with natural man lies in his very nature.  The real source of the problem in fallen man is a fallen nature that results in a complete unwillingness to come to God and a total lack of ability to come to GodUnregenerate man does not come to God, because he will not come to God.  Furthermore, unregenerate man does not come to God, because he cannot come to God." 

Again, man's inability is not simply moral but physical.  Winfrey's understanding of "natural" inability is "physical" inability. 

Winfrey continues:

"So prior to God’s life giving work in regeneration, a man cannot know any thing concerning God.  Thus we can begin to see that the problem goes beyond a man not being willing to receive spiritual things because of the perceived foolishness of such things.  Beyond an unwillingness to receive, there is an inability to truly know the things of the real God who is a Spirit, unless the individual has the real Spirit of that real God in him."

But, the Scriptures do not teach that the natural man cannot "know any thing concerning God" even in his depraved moral state.  Paul wrote of hiim - "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened....Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Rom. 1: 19-21, 32) 

Winfrey is in error when he says "that the problem goes beyond a man not being willing" and "beyond an unwillingness to receive, there is an inability."  Is the spiritually dead man unable then to receive life?  By Winfrey's statement we must conclude that it is physically impossible for man to be saved.

Winfrey continues:

"Thus it is not just that a man will not come to that which he sees as foolishness.  Truly the difficulty goes far beyond a problem of will.  There is an overwhelming inability in the natural man that prevents him from coming to God.  The natural man cannot come to the God of heaven, because he cannot know Him to come to Him.  If natural man cannot know God, how can he be able to come to that which he cannot know?  He may come to something he has imagined in his mind.  He may come to something someone has carved out of stone.  He may come to some philosophy.  Yet he cannot come to the true God, because he cannot know the true God to come to Him.  There is no strength or ability in man that can enable him to approach unto the God that he cannot know."

When Jesus said "all that the Father gives to me shall come to me," was this a physical impossibility, like making a square circle?  If we accept what has been written by Winfrey, we would say yes. 

Winfrey continues:

"In our sequence of Bible truths concerning the teaching that man by nature cannot come to God we now come to a fifth passage in God’s word.  In this passage Jesus first asked this question.  Why do ye not understand my speech?  He then gave the answer to His own question.  Even because you cannot hear my word. (John 8:43)  The problem in this case was not that these men had put their hands over their ears in a rebellious refusal to hear.  Jesus did not tell them that they were unwilling to listen to Him.  He did not tell them that they were not paying any attention to Him.  He said to them, “you cannot hear my word.”  So their problem surpassed a reluctance to hear or a refusal to listen.  Jesus plainly stated that they could not hear...Beyond unwilling, they were unable."  ("Scriptural Defenses For Holy Spirit Unassisted Regeneration" by Elder Jeff Winfrey - see here)

"Beyond unwilling, they were unable"!  How much clearer can one be on the point?  Man is not simply morally unable to do good, but he is physically unable to do so!  In upcoming chapters in this series I will deal with this question in greater detail.  Does a man lack eyes and ears for hearing God and truth?  Is regeneration the giving of eyes and ears or the regenerating of already existing faculties?

Elder W. H. Crouse, who I have cited already in this work, wrote:

"A large percent of the religious world today think of regeneration as but a moral change. If this be true, it can be brought about by moral force. And if this be true, the salvation of the world rests alone in the hands of men, and men are born again through the instrumentality of the church, her ministry and the preached word. This unscriptural teaching, introduced long ago among Baptists, now appears in full fruitage in the teaching of many Doctors of Divinity and ministers of lesser prominence." 

Having admitted that regeneration can be accomplished by or through the instrumentality of moral forces (such as the ministry and the gospel), these men were led on to affirm regeneration to be but a moral change, and at last God and the supernatural are entirely discarded and they have launched out into the open sea of rationalism and infidelity. 

They fail to understand the nature of regeneration. It is not a work done FOR man, but a work done IN man; not a reformation of life, but a change of heart; not a turning of man to God, but God dwelling in us; not the development of Adam life, but the implantation in man of the life of God; not a work done through or by human means and instrumentalities, but a work done alone by the irresistible creative power of an omnipotent God who speaks and it is done, who commands and it stands fast."   (Regeneration, chapter IV, see here)

Elder Crouse is in agreement with Gowens and Winfrey that regeneration is more than a "moral change" and involves a physical change of the substance of the soul.  He sees the inability as the same as a fish being unable to fly.  He says that the idea that man's inability is strictly moral is an "unscriptural teaching" that was "introduced long ago among Baptists" along with the idea that regeneration is effected by moral means, by the hearing of the word of God. But, this is wrong.  The reverse is true.  The idea that man's inability is physical as well as moral is the new teaching, and so is the idea that there are no moral means used to effect man's regeneration, as I have already shown and will show further. 

Elder Crouse realizes that if the change in regeneration is strictly moral, then it may be affected by moral means, such as by preaching the Gospel.  He thinks that if he can show that regeneration is physical, like changing a fish into a bird, then he can disprove the use of moral means in the work. 

Crouse denies that the "change of heart" in regeneration is a "turning of man to God."  Imagine that!  A heart that is changed but is not turned to God!  Actually, Crouse believes that "regeneration" is strictly a physical change of soul substance and does not involve any moral change! 

Who is right?  Elder Oliphant or Crouse, Winfrey, and Gowens?  Which view represents the views of today's Hardshells?  In the next chapter I will look at the detailed writings of Elder Sarrels on this point.  It is obvious that the elders who disagree with Oliphant are all post 19th century Hardshells. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Citations From the Quiet Reformation

In a recent article Brother Garrett cited a Facebook posting in which a Primitive Baptist elder expressed his thoughts regarding the current unrest among his order. There were many things stated which I felt were an error, all of which were caught and promptly pointed out by my fellow blog contributor. However, there was one particular statement made by the PB elder at the beginning of his posting which especially peaked my interest as a statement worthy of notice.

He writes:

"Ten to fifteen years ago, there began to be some unrest among the Old Baptists with regard to what we commonly refer to as 'Time Salvation'. Some began to imply that our "Time Salvation" was a necessary part of our "Eternal Salvation'."

To which I reply...

Then ten to fifteen years ago some began to see the truth on this matter. They came to see, as did I, that there is one main salvation taught in scripture which is composed of its "parts" of election, redemption, regeneration, conversion, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no "time salvation"; only the timely phase or "part" of eternal salvation.

As I read this posting I was reminded of something similar sent to me a couple of years ago when I myself came to see the truth concerning these matters. In an article entirely dedicated to addressing this same unrest, Elder Michael Gowens cited some of the men who, no doubt, were viewed as the causes of it.

Copied below are some citations from "Questions and Answers Regarding Recent Primitive Baptist Tension".

“God uses the gospel minister as His instrument in the eternal salvation of the elect.”

“A certain amount of Christian orthodoxy is necessary to final salvation.”

“Salvation is daily therapy…there are ‘means of grace’ which must be employed.”

“The Bible is relentless in holding forth both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in relation to salvation.”

“Preaching as a ‘means of grace’ to assist the saints to persevere, and perseverance as necessary for final salvation. Therefore every sermon is a “salvation sermon”­ not just because of its aim to convert sinners, but also in its aim to preserve the holy affections of the saints and so enable them to confirm their calling and election, and be saved.”

“If you don’t believe that your ministry has any eternal consequence, then I seriously doubt that you will have the courage or strength necessary to persevere in the face of opposition and discouragement.”

“All those who were predestinated unto salvation, Jesus Christ came and died for them, therefore the Holy Spirit will quicken each one of them and they SHALL hear with an effectual ear the gospel and rejoice in Christ as their Savior and be converted.”

“[Preachers], although worthy of no glory or praise, are [an] inherent part of God’s work in the salvation of His elect and will be until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”

“[In the NT], we find that God has made [men] essential elements of his plan. This is especially true when we consider justification…What we learn is that justification comes by faith (Gal. 2:16) and faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17). God connects us to His righteousness by faith in Christ, thereby imparting His saving benefits to us. It is faith in Christ that God has ordained to unite us with His Son.”

“Believing in Christ and eternal life are married and what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

“If belief is a condition to salvation, then where does this belief come from?From the God who elected you to salvation. It’s all part of the plan. I submit that is the historic and Biblical position that has been held by Primitive Baptists in ages past.”

“Many PB churches today are eliminating the word ‘perseverance’ from their articles of faith and it absolutely blows my mind. Now, the word means that the child of grace will ‘hang in there’ in a state of grace until death. He will continue, at least to some degree, in the way of righteousness. If he sins, he repents—‘The just man falleth down seven times and rises again’ (Pro. 24:16). That’s the doctrine of perseverance.”

“Jesus prayed that every one of His children would be sanctified by the word and did Jesus’ prayers always get answered? Amen! Sanctification is a guaranteed part of the salvation package.”

“Conditional time salvation eliminates the Biblical notion that sanctification—daily growth in grace—is a definite and guaranteed part of the salvation package.”

“Now I would not suggest that it’s impossible that an individual in a foreign land without the benefit and aid of the gospel, the Bible, or the church, could be called by God, because we believe in a sovereign Holy Spirit. But the question is, ‘Does a person who has been reached by the Holy Spirit then stay in this element of ignorance and darkness, or is he drawn to Christ?’.”

All of these teachings, regardless of any tension they may or may not have caused, are simply the teachings of the Bible. I know the names of some of these men who made these statements. They have my support and my concurrence that they are returning to real Old Baptist doctrine. I wish those laden with traditions would be willing to let their voices be heard, instead of ostracizing them from the general company.