Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sylvester Hassell's Doctrinal Change

Elder David Montgomery wrote:

"Elder R (Respass) was a father figure to Elder H (S. Hassell) and so naturally, Elder R’s thoughts and interpretations would have a significant meaning and value to Elder H. After Elder R died in 1895, the ownership of The Gospel Messenger passed to Elder H (Brother Hassell had been an assistant editor for a few years before). We see in the beginning years of his editorship, Brother H penned articles with the same theological bent as Brother R had before, but as the years passed, things changed. In the last decade of his life (1920’s) we read Elder Hassell writing articles advocating time salvation, conditional blessings and curses on God’s elect, and other subjects along the same lines. Why this shift? I will list a few possibilities." ("About Old Writings" - see here)

Is not this fact interesting and revealing? Those of us who know the history of the Hardshell denomination know well what it reveals. It shows that the notion of "time salvation" was a new doctrine and did not become the chief Hardshell apologetic method for handling those passages that make faith and repentance, together with perseverance, conditions for obtaining eternal life. The concept of "time salvation" did not become an apologetic response until the Hardshells had come to reject the Gospel means position. The fact that Elder Hassell waited till the end of his life to begin promoting it is probably because he was slow to accept it, knowing that it was not in keeping with the views of the first generation of Hardshells. Hassell had begun to find ways to answer the adversaries of Hardshellism and once made this statement - "Jesus is the Great Preacher, and, by His omnipresent Spirit, He preaches His gospel savingly to His people (Isa. 61:1-3,10,11; Luke 4:16-30; Heb. 2:11,12; Psalm 110:3)."

So, "why this shift?" Is it not because the "time salvation" paradigm is a novel hybrid doctrine?

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