Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hardshell Ad Hominems

A person, probably a Hardshell, recently left this comment on my blog posting Another Visit with the Hardshells:

"Respectfully sir, you sound like an angry, bitter old man who was scorned and seeking vengeance. All the serious issues in Christendom today, and you think a grave threat is a little group of 35 to 40 thousand in the Southeast US."

This person appears to be a member of one of the churches in the Bear Creek Association and knows of my time there in the mid and late 70s. I responded with a couple comments to this person but feel like more needs to be said in response, and feeling that it will be of benefit for all who read this blog, I am adding some more of my thoughts to the comment.

Of course, it is an accusatory comment given without any proof and was obviously intended to bias the minds of readers. This is a tradition with the Hardshells as they have been denouncing and scorning all Baptist groups, and others, since their formation in the 1830s. I have numerous citations in my ongoing book that prove this to be true. Also, if anyone will simply read the four Hardshell periodicals of the 1830s, he will see how scorn for mission Baptists is plentiful. The author of the comment commits a number of logical fallacies. One, he attempts to "poison the well" in regard to my writings. What does it mean to "poison the well"? According to fallacyfiles.org, "Poisoning the Well is not, strictly speaking, a logical fallacy since it is not a type of argument. Rather, it is a logical boobytrap set by the poisoner to tempt the unwary audience into committing an ad hominem fallacy. As with all forms of the ad hominem, one should keep in mind that an argument can and must stand or fall on its own, regardless of who makes it." It is basically an attempt to create a bias against a person's character with the intent that such a character cannot possibly be stating a truth. It is indeed a kind of "ad hominem" attack. What is that?

"Ad hominem" is defined as

1: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2: marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

In all the years I have been writing against Hardshellism, all the Hardshells, except one, have responded, not by refuting our arguments and evidence, but by making ad hominem attacks. What does this show? I need not answer the question because any reasonable person knows what it shows.

The commenter mentions the fact that I was "scorned" by the Hardshells. The truth is that I was indeed scorned by a few in the Bear Creek Association. But, I was warmly received by the large majority, preaching often in some of the churches, and having a regular monthly appointment at Bethel church where my membership was until I resigned to become pastor of two independent churches, which I served till my marriage fell apart in the early 80s, having found out that my wife had committed adultery. The "scorn" from the few was, to my mind, nothing in me personally, but was due to hatred for my father, which hatred stemmed from his views on the origin of Satan and on the story of the rich man and Lazarus. I remember preaching at Union Grove on Sunday morning and a Hardshell and his wife got up and walked out, and it was apparent to all that it was to show contempt for me. Everyone told me afterward that they thought it was wrong for this man to act like that. I was also scorned some at my home church in Bethel by two elders there, who threatened me about teaching that Satan was an angel fallen from heaven, and teaching that the story of the rich man and Lazarus showed what happens to people when they die.

Looking back on some of this scorn, I remember reacting as did Job who said - "My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God." (Job 16: 20) I did not return evil for evil, scorn for scorn, but patiently endured it. What does it mean to scorn someone? "Scorn" (noun) is defined as "the feeling or belief that someone or something is worthless or despicable; contempt." "Scorned" (verb) is defined as "feel or express contempt or derision for."

I recall how the first Psalm says that the "blessed" man is one who does not sit in "the seat of the scornful." (vs. 1) There are "scorners" who "delight in their scorning." (Prov. 1: 22) I have seen this in my recent reading of the old Hardshell periodical "The Primitive Baptist" of the 1830s. Those Hardshells delighted in scorning missionaries, supporters of Sunday and theological schools, etc. But, consider the words of the Psalmist who said that Lord God "scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly." (Prov. 3: 34) There are a lot of other useful things said about scorners in the Scriptures and we all need to consider those things.

The commenter also said that I "sound like an angry, bitter old man." I would like to know how he came to this judgment? Was it based upon anything I said? The choice of words that I have used in talking about the Hardshells? Other Hardshells have accused me of having "an axe to grind."

I have searched my heart and memory for evidence that I have written in anger against any Hardshell. I cannot find it. In fact, the opposite is true. I have a deep love and concern for the Hardshells, believing that there are many good and honest Christians among them. I have written forcefully against the false views and the hypocrisy of the Hardshells and I think some Hardshells interpret this as being anger and bitterness. Job said - "How forcible are right words!" (Job 6: 25) I believe my words against Hardshellism have been right words and forcible and this accounts for there being none, except one, who has attempted to refute them, and for some thinking that the force of my words and arguments imply anger and bitterness.

Bitterness? What can I say? There is indeed warnings in Scripture about bitterness. For instance, we are warned of it in these words - "lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." And, Paul said - "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." (Eph. 4: 31) But, there is a natural "bitterness of soul" that those in suffering know. (See I Sam. 1: 10; Job 7: 11, 9: 18, 10: 1, 21: 25, etc.) Certainly I felt some of this bitterness of soul when I was scorned by a few Hardshells. It was painful and hard to bear at times. In fact, I think it helped to alienate my wife from me, who could not bear the scorn.

Now, I do not think that I am writing against Hardshellism because I am out for vengeance. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. But, should we not expect that those in cults will personally attack those who write against them? Will the Mormons not say evil things against those who write against them? Will the Catholics not do the same? Will the Jehovah's Witnesses not also do the same? Why should I be surprised when members of the Hardshell cult attack me personally rather than respond to the arguments and evidence I present in refutation of their errors?

Again, let me say, that I only want to see people kept from the pernicious errors of Hardshellism. I would love to see many of them repent of their errors and become real Old Baptists, and not ones in name only. Further, it won't be long till I am finished with my book on the Hardshells. It has been an exhausting work but I believe it will prove to be beneficial for many, even after I have gone to be with the Lord. I expect to be finished by the end of the year and look forward to getting back to my other books that I have already done much to write, such as a book on the weak and strong brothers mentioned by Paul in Corinthians and Romans, the Book of Esther, the book on the character Job, etc. Lots of books have been written on the "Primitive Baptist" church, and I simply add mine to the list. I do believe that mine is the most exhaustive and is written not only as a history, but also as a refutation of their errors.

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