Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Watson's Condemnation Continued

Elder John M. Watson's book "The Old Baptist Test" is a must read for anyone doing serious study into the history of the "Primitive Baptist Church." As has been noted before, Elder Watson was a first generation leader of the newly formed denomination, and labored during the formative years of the 1830s through the middle of the 1860s. His views can be taken as an example of what the first generation Hardshells believed and may be compared with what today's Hardshells believe. He recorded how many of the "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptists were going to extremes in their fight against Baptists who supported mission work and religious education. I am sure that this old preacher died (1866) grieving over these extreme departures from the historic old Baptist faith, and he called those who were promoting these new doctrines "modern innovators," "ultraists," etc.

It is impossible for anyone to read the following citations from Watson (together with previous citations given in preceding postings) and deny that Watson believed in the Gospel means position. Yet, this is exactly what Elder Lemuel Potter did in his 1887 debate with W.P. Throgmorton. He affirmed that Watson did not advocate the means position. But, Potter either cannot read plain English or told a falsehood. Further, Elder Potter may be considered as one of the creators of modern Hardshellism, being one of the "modern innovators" and "ultraist" that Watson warned against. Potter, together with men like John R. Daily, T.S. Dalton, Charles Waters, C.H. Cayce, and R.W. and J.M. Thompson, Walter Cash, helped to make the Hardshell church into what it is today.

Watson wrote:

"A gospel without exhortation; without a call on the sinner to repent and believe; a gospel which does not in word address itself to all; is not the gospel which Christ ordained subordinately for the bringing in of his "other sheep."" (page 86)

Watson says that the Hardshells who were against preaching the Gospel to the unregenerate, and denying that it was a means in regeneration, were not in possession of the true Gospel. This is a serious indictment. Today's Hardshells think that they are the only ones who are preaching the true Gospel, but the truth is, they do not preach it if they do not believe the Gospel is to be preached to all. Further, the day that the Hardshells discarded this belief and practice is the day that the Hardshell church began to wither and die, and the day when they became a cult. They will never again see escape from this curse until they once again begin to preach to sinners and to exhort them to believe and repent in order to be saved.

When I was a young Hardshell pastor, I struggled with this issue. I wanted to urge sinners about their situation, and point them to the way of salvation. I was concerned about the lack of conversions and wanted to bring my sermon messages to a point where I exhorted the sinner about his need to call on Christ. I gave the typical Hardshell invitation at the end of every sermon which was simply to say "the doors of the church are open for anyone who wants to join." But, to me, this was simply not the best or only way.

Watson also wrote:

"Let us take a practical example. We have it on record in the 13th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. When Paul and Barnabas preached at Antioch of Pisidia, had any of our ultra brethren been there and heard their zealous appeal to all those present, they would have called them Armminians." (ibid)

Today's Hardshells are totally made of "ultra" brethren, people who will not preach to dead sinners as did Christ and his apostles. If one today preaches in such a fashion, he would indeed be called "Arminian" by the neo Hardshells. In failing to preach evangelistically to sinners, today's Hardshells are not in league with the Old Baptists of the 17th and 18th centuries, their forefathers, and not in league with their own founding fathers of the 19th century, with men like Leland, Watson, Fain, and Grigg Thompson, men who regularly called upon sinners to believe in Christ for salvation.

Watson also wrote:

"Let us see: The zealous preacher calls on all to repent, earnestly, faithfully and I may add, gospelly, but alas! the old brother whose head has got wrong, whose heart has grown cold, says all cannot repent, some have not the power to do so. How does he know? Peradventure the Lord has given the power to repent to the very ones whom he has in his feelings excluded.." (page 87)

In this quotation, and the preceding one, Watson mentions giving "zealous appeal," to the lost, and doing so "earnestly," a thing which you will not see in today's Hardshell churches. They feel no burden to the lost nor believe that their preaching has any power to raise the spiritually dead to life. Watson says that these ultra Hardshells not only do not preach the Gospel but have hearts that have grown cold and who had heads that are wrong. Simply put, today's Hardshells do not believe that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

Watson also wrote:

"How mortifying to the feelings of a faithful preacher to be called an Arminian on account of preaching according to the very commission which Christ gave for the rule and government of his ministry. Brethren preachers, it is high time that we strive to please God in this affair rather than men. It is high time indeed that some of us were waking up on this subject; let us rather exhort our opposing brethren to pray the Lord that he would open the hearts of our hearers to attend to the truths which we may preach, knowing that none will heed to profit without this blessing, to the great end that the 'other sheep" of our day may be brought in. Here again the objector says, why pray for that which is sure? This, verily is the very reason why we should pray for it..." (page 88)

Oh that these words of wisdom would have been heeded by the Hardshells! They need little comment. There is one historical observation that ought to be made, however. Obviously by 1866 the anti means view of regeneration was gaining ground. What brought about this change? Is it not because the opposition to mission methods by itself lacked strength? Did simply attacking methods, after awhile, begin to "wear thin" as Brother Ross has stated in his work?

Watson wrote:

"There are yet a few who contend for the general outward call of the Gospel, but we doctrinise it too much, lest some ultra brother should conclude that we are Arminians." (page 89)

Notice the historical significance of these words of Watson. He says "there are yet a few," which indicates that in 1866 the no means position had gotten the upper hand. Watson says that it was the tactic of the "ultra brother" to label all who believed in the outward general call of the Gospel, or in exhorting the lost, or in Gospel means regeneration, as "Arminian" that led to the dwindling of those who held to the Gospel means position. These ultraist brethren used cult tactics to win in this war. They threatened the side who retained a belief in means. They intimidated them.

Watson wrote:

"Further, I was much surprised as well as mortified that they evinced so little concern about the unbrought "other sheep" which the Saviour said he must bring. They lay great stress on these words of the Saviour, but do not regard other things which he connected with the bringing them in as they ought to do. I heard but few prayers for the sending forth of laborers into his field; nor did I see much concern in any way about them." (page 181)

Watson says that he was both "surprised" and "mortified" to see so little concern about the lost. But, it really ought not to have been a surprise for it should have been evident to such a learned man as Watson to have foreseen what the opposition to missions, religious education, and evangelism, would eventually lead to. We who look back see clearly how such opposition led to a change in doctrine regarding means and perseverance.

It is to the credit of Watson that he felt mortified by the unconcern and apathy that his fellow Hardshells showed towards the lost, especially in foreign lands. Watson saw this unbecoming spirit begin to take over the newly formed denomination, and if he were alive today he would see how such a spirit has pervaded the denomination. A Christian who has no concern about sending the Gospel to the lost, that they might be saved, is a Christian who has a spirit that ought to be condemned.

Watson wrote:

"I felt inclined to ask these orthodox Christians, if they believed that any of the "other sheep" are now among the heathen nations? and if they were watching the providence of God in regard to them? Moreover, if they felt under any obligations to search them out; to pray unto the Lord to bring them in; and to encourage, aid and send out any who may feel called of the Lord to preach to them?"

How would today's Hardshells respond to such questions? If they searched their hearts, would they not have to confess that they live from day to day with little or no concern for the lost souls in heathen lands? Do they not feel no obligation towards them? Do they not think that it is God's responsibiility alone and not theirs? What is this but Antinomianism?

Further, Watson mentions encouraging, aiding, and sending out those who have been called to preach to those poor lost heathens. But, as we have already seen, today's Hardshells feel no duty or desire to do any of these things. Recall how I cited from Hardshell testimony in the Mt. Carmel Church trial in which a Hardshell said that he felt no duty to even give encouragement or one cent to help such a preacher to preach to the heathen.

Watson continued:

"I find that the great extravagance of many who have engaged in this work has had a very bad influence on these people, and probably prevented them in some instances from performing their duty toward the "other sheep" which may be in distant countries. And I really fear should any one profess a call of this kind, he would not receive the fellowship and assistance which he would be entitled to. Thus I fear they do not act as did those who heeded all the commandments of the Lord." (pages 181-82)

What is Watson saying? Is he not saying that the Hardshells, in opposing mission methods of others, went to an opposite extreme? He says their opposition to the "great extravagance" of some Mission Baptists led them to neglect their "duty" towards the elect who are lost in heathen darkness. He testifies of his fear that this Hardshell extremism would lead to the Hardshells doing nothing to help see that the Gospel was sent to the heathen. His fears, as history shows, was indeed what actually materialized. The Hardshells today have violated the commission of the Lord, and are a disobedient people, not doing what the Lord has commanded them today. Why do they think that they shall escape the judgment of God for this?

Watson continued:

"Who of us are...sinning in propagating Protestant heresies, or Old Baptist ultraisms. We can readily see the absurdities of Romanism, the errors of many Protestant sects, and avoid them, but we do not recognize, as heresies, those hurtful ultraisms which are eating, as doth a canker, upon our very vitals as a denomination-a denomination which very justly boasts of its antiquity, and of having never acknowledged any other rule of faith and practice but that of the Bible. But some of our brethren are interpreting many of its blessed truths in such a way as to lead off their hearers from the Old Baptist platform of principles." (page 300)

What Watson here says is what I have been saying throughout my writings against the Hardshells. If Watson were alive today, he would join Elder Fralick and me in writing against the errors of today's Hardshells. The modern Hardshell church has seen the cancer of "Old Baptist ultraisms" metastasize and reach its final stage. These ultraisms he labels as "heresies." He says that these new interpretations of Scripture, wherein means are denied, and duty to fulfill the Great Commission is set aside, etc., were leading the denomination away "from the Old Baptist platform of principles." This is exactly what brother Fralick and I have been also proclaiming.

Was Watson wrong when he says that these ultraisms of those who were calling themselves "Old" or "Primitive" Baptists was a departure from the historic teaching of their Old Baptist forefathers? What Hardshell can come forward today with the evidence to disprove his assertion? Have we not presented all kinds of evidence in my book and in my blogs that show that the Hardshell no means view is an innovation in doctrine, not held to by the ancestors of the Hardshells?

Watson continued:

"No wonder we have perversions, heresies, debates and divisions among us, from such a deceitful handling of the Word of God; a part carried far beyond its true import, and another portion suppressed just as may subserve their tenets or fancies." (page 319)

Notice again how Watson says that the no means, Spirit alone, view of regeneration, and the denial that the Great Commission is yet an obligation of the church, is the result not only of faulty interpretation of Scripture, but from a "deceitful handling of the Word of God." How accurate is this judgment! The hermeneutics of the Hardshells is so faulty. They feel no judgment for their handling of the word of God in the manner they do. They twist it, they pervert it, and feel no sense of wrong for doing it. They do not realize how great an evil it is to as they do. The Scriptures that teach against their peculiar beliefs they truly do suppress or else try to make them say what they obviously do not say. They come to the Scriptures with their "fancies," with their peculiar tenets and presuppositions and are guilty of eisegesis. I hopefully will have a couple chapters on "Hardshell Hermeneutics" and "Hardshell Amillenialism" which will demonstrate the errors of the Hardshells in how they interpret Scripture.

Watson continued:

"To show that the will of God is in His word, of His own will, says James, begat he us with the word of truth. The proof that His everlasting love is in it, is that with loving kindness He draws believers to Christ." (page 421)

This is the truth that was discarded by second and third generation Hardshells, and which had even begun in the latter days of Watson's life. They deny that the word of truth is God's instrument in begetting sinners to life. Today's Hardshells are suffering the consequences of such a departure from the Scriptures and the historic Baptist faith.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Watson on the Conditions of Salvation

As I wrote in my series "Conditional or Unconditional?" the Hardshells have greatly erred in denying that there are any conditions that sinners must do in order to be finally saved. (See chapters 119-122 here, here, here, and here) H. B. Taylor was a mighty opponent of Hardshellism and he wrote against the Hardshell idea that salvation was in every sense unconditional. I wrote an article on this titled "Taylor on Hardshellism" (see here) in which I cited these words of Taylor on this issue:

"Hardshells leave out, namely, their calling and their justification. They are called, Paul said, by the gospel and they are justified by faith or believing the gospel. So that the whole truth as to election is that all the elect will be called by the gospel and be justified by believing the gospel and be glorified by reason of the hope obtained through the gospel. Or take this passage in II Thes. 2:13-14: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ", Paul again tells the whole truth about election: There is eternal election, from the beginning; personal election, "you"; unconditional election, "God chose." But that is only half the truth. God's election was "unto salvation." This salvation was not unconditional, but was "through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." This unconditional election was unto a conditional salvation to which the elect were called by the gospel. These unconditionally elected ones could only obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ through a conditional salvation to which they were called by the gospel. Since Hardshellism preaches no gospel, no one has been called unto salvation through it. Since being called unto salvation by the gospel is necessary to obtaining salvation and Hardshellism has no gospel for the unsaved, no one was ever saved by Hardshellism. Since God's elect are all called unto salvation by the Gospel and the Hardshell elect are all saved without the gospel, Hardshell elect are not God's elect. Since all God's elect are saved "thru sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" and Hardshells are saved without the belief of the truth. Hardshells are not saved or not God's elect and Hardshellism is not the truth. Since God's unconditional election is unto a conditional salvation and Hardshell unconditional election is unto an unconditional salvation; Hardshell election is not the truth but a perversion of the truth and is not unto a salvation at all but unto damnation. Remember that God's unconditional election is unto a conditional salvation and when Hardshellism teaches an unconditional salvation the election they preach is unto damnation instead of salvation. An election which does not include the preaching of the Gospel as a condition of salvation is not God's election at all; for "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (I Cor. 1:21). God's election included both the men and the means."

Taylor hits the mark when he points out the error of the Hardshells believing that because election is unconditional therefore salvation also must be. Of course, as I showed in my series, there is a sense in which salvation is unconditional and a sense in which it is conditional and I cited our Old Baptist forefathers on this issue. In this posting I wish to cite from Hardshell founding father Elder (Dr.) John M. Watson on this point, who, as will be seen, correctly understood this matter, and it would be a good thing if today's Hardshells heeded his instruction on this point. Most of today's Hardshells fail his "test" for being an "old Baptist."

Watson wrote:

"This doctrine does not stop here, but includes all ordinances, conditions, means, and modes of divine "workmanship." None of these are accidental or fortuitous as we may suppose, Reader, "Is not the Lord gone out before thee" in all these?"

According to "Teth" (the blog writer for the Hardshell web page theearstohear), to believe that salvation is by sovereign grace logically excludes any and all conditions of salvation. But, Watson rejects that idea, and so "Teth" and today's Hardshells who follow Teth's thinking do not hold to Old Baptist doctrine and fails Dr. Watson's "Old Baptist Test" for being truly old Baptist. Watson says that the doctrine of sovereign grace and unconditional election "includes all ordinances, conditions, and modes."

Watson continued:

"According to our text, God had ordained the deliverance of Israel, and the means, by which that deliverance should be wrought, and one was not more certain than the other. God was as much in the means of that deliverance as He was in the ordination of it; and so in other things." (page 354)

This is Old Baptist doctrine and those Hardshells today who do not agree with Watson show that they have departed from the true Old Baptist faith. God not only ordained and predestined the end, or salvation, but the means to accomplish it, and Watson shows that the preaching of the Gospel is one of those God ordained means, and that faith, repentance, and perseverance are also the ordained means of salvation.

Watson wrote:

"Some suppose that as this doctrine includes conditions or means, the performance of, or compliance with, them determines the acts of the Lord, making His acts dependent on them of the creature; and as the subject is sometimes discussed in such a manner as to embarrass those who are otherwise sound in the faith, it may not be amiss to give scriptural exposition of conditions and means."

What Watson is opposing in these words is the Arminian or Pelagian idea of what it means for salvation to be conditional. He does not believe that salvation is conditional in the sense in which the conditions are done by a person's own free will and innate ability so as to make God's act of saving to be dependent on those conditions. But, he does not throw out the baby with the bathwater and deny that salvation is in any sense conditional.

He continues:

"The reader should be reminded that there is a difference between the conditions of the first covenant under the law, and those of the Gospel under the second, or new covenant, Heb. 8: 9, 19...The condition, do and live was performed by Christ, and the benefits of it are enjoyed by faith, and by our compliance with it; for by nature we are morally unable to do so." (page 355)

Notice how Watson, like the Old Baptists I cited in my series on this topic, believes that salvation is not conditional in the sense in which things were conditional under the law. But, he does not deny that there are nevertheless conditions of salvation under the new covenant. He does not deny that Christ performed the conditions of "do and live" and that it is upon this basis that salvation, and the conditions of it, are made certain for the elect. Watson says that "the benefits" of the salvation procured by Christ "are enjoyed by faith, and by our compliance with" the conditions of the new covenant. It is also interesting how Watson refers to man's natural inability as being "moral" as opposed to being physical, which I elaborated upon in my series "Hardshell Pelagianism."

Watson continued:

"Burroughs well says: "He doth not only command us and leave us to our created strength to obey the command; but He furnisheth us with His own spirit and grace to obey the command."

What Burroughs says, and what Watson endorses, is what the first Hardshells taught, as anyone who reads the Hardshell writings in the 1830s. They believed that the fact that faith and repentance were conditions of salvation did not make salvation to depend upon themselves, for they believed that the meeting of these conditions was certain due to the working of God. The Hardshells reason that to make salvation conditioned upon faith and repentance, and upon perseverance, is to make salvation to depend upon believers themselves, and in this way makes their salvation uncertain. But, this is illogical. What God commands, in the case of the elect, he insures compliance by the giving of a will and power to do. This is what Paul meant when he said "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Phil. 2: 13)

Watson next cites these words from John Owen, the great Calvinist theologian:

"Owen also has a few sentences on the subject much in point, which I will quote: "It is as easy for a man by his own strength to fulfil the whole law as to repent and believe the promises of the Gospel. This then is one main difference of those two covenants, that the Lord did in the old require the conditions, now in the new He also affects it in all the federates, to whom the covenant is extended."

The Lord did not determine to save his elect apart from faith and repentance, but he did determine to give faith and repentance.

Next Watson cites Perkins:

"William Perkins writes equally as clear on this subject as follows: "In the covenant of grace, two things must be considered, the substance thereof, and the condition. The substance of the covenant is, that righteousness and life everlasting is given to God's people by Christ. The condition is, that we for our part are by faith to receive the aforesaid benefits; and this condition is by grace as well as the substance." And no less in point is the following: "He freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator and life and salvation by Him, and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in Him, nourisheth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect to work in them that faith with all other saving graces, and to enable them to all holy obedience of the truth of their faith."

What Perkins says is what is the Old Baptist position. It is what those who wrote the 1689 London Confession believed. It is what John Gill believed. It is what the first Particular Baptists in America believed. It is what the first Hardshells believed. These Old Baptists believed that there was a difference in the kind of conditions Christ met for our salvation and the kind of conditions we meet for our salvation. The conditions Christ fulfilled represent the substance, what is the grounds for meeting the covenant conditions by believers. When Hardshells today argue that the making of faith and repentance, and perseverance, into conditions of salvation undermine God's salvation or makes it to depend upon believers rather than upon Christ, they are simply arguing falsely. Their problem is in their illogical reasoning and not because the Scriptures are not plain. Where can they show us a verse that says that faith, repentance, and perseverance are not necessary for being saved? Rather than citing such verses of Scripture, do they not try to make arguments from reason?

Watson wrote:

"So that the subject of the conditions of the Gospel, which have been confounded by many with those of the law and have given rise to so many Arminian errors, admits of a very satisfactory exposition. The Lord did not under the first covenant, promise to give grace to the fallen sinner to enable him to keep the whole law, that being the condition of justification and life; but under the new covenant it was both promised and given." (page 356)

These comments are so clear that they need no further comment. Hardshells today need to read them, study them, and see that they are teaching something different than what their Old Baptists forefathers taught.

Watson wrote:

"Means admit of a similar exposition. The Lord has gone out before us also in them. He not only gave us His Gospel, but ordained means by which it would become savingly efficacious to all His chosen. Isa. 55: 11...So we may say of Gospel means, without the power of God they never prevail over the hearts of sinners; but means in His power, whether great or small, in our estimation, are always efficacious. He derives no strength or advantage from them as adjuncts to His work. He employs them because it is His will to do so. Eph. 1: 11." (page 357)

In reading these words by one of the great founding fathers of Hardshellism, one wonders how Elder Lemuel Potter could say, in his 1887 debate, that Watson did not believe in Gospel means salvation. In fact, why have today's Hardshells not come forward and shown how the views of Watson on this subject were not the views of the first generation of "Primitive Baptists"? In this blog I have cited from nearly all of the first generation leaders of the newly formed denomination and shown how they all agreed with Watson. When did the Hardshells change? Also, how can they claim to have existed unchanged in doctrine since the days of the Apostles? Further, if holding to the Gospel means position makes a church illegitimate, and the Hardshells of today have descended from churches that believed in Gospel means, then how can they claim to be legitimate today?

Watson wrote:

"Paul, however, does not affirm, like some of our modern innovators, that means or instrumentalities are not employed by the Lord in the divine plan of salvation; for he asks: "How shall they hear without a preacher?" Rom. 10: 14. Paul, it is true, preached the Gospel in word only, while the election of God was manifested in the power and assurance of the Holy Spirit imparted to his words; when received by the elect which apart from that power and assurance would have been received in word only, as it really was by others and embraced in the divine election. I Thess. 1: 4. After all it may be truthfully said, that Paul's preaching even in word only was of God, was according to His grace, calling and qualifying, but we may as truthfully say, that Paul was the instrument called, qualified, and sent. I Cor. 15: 10." (pages 399-400)

Again, how could men like Potter say that Watson denied means in the eternal salvation of the elect? What Watson is here teaching was not new, but was the historic doctrine of Watson's Baptist forefathers. Let the Hardshells of today come forward and show how the Baptists prior to Watson taught the no means view. Of course, the fact that they don't come forward with the evidence, after years of calling upon them to do so, is proof that their no means view is a new doctrine and that they cannot show a line of churches back to the Apostles who held to their no means hybrid doctrine. Notice that Watson calls those who were beginning to deny the means doctrine "modern innovators." Was he right or wrong? Would he not know? Why are today's Hardshells deluded on this point? Why do they think that their anti means position is the historic teaching of the Baptists?

Watson wrote:

"We are commanded to believe, and when and how did we comply? When the Lord gave faith, so that we believe according to the grace and mighty power of God." (page 414)

Let it be understood that Watson is talking about evangelical faith. Watson knew nothing about the modern definitions of faith that neo Hardshells have invented to deal with all those passages that affirm that faith is the means of salvation. He also knew nothing about the Hardshell apologetic argumentation that falls under the heading of "time salvation." No where in Watson's book does he ever argue for a time salvation as a way to handle all that passages that make hearing and believing the Gospel a means of salvation.

Watson wrote:

"Thus we plainly perceive in strong scriptural lights that we perform these great duties in the strength of divine grace, and that we are entirely dependent on God for ability to keep His commandments, and that He is entitled to all the praise and glory of our works; and that after all we are but unprofitable servants." (ibid)

Again, what Watson here states as truth, and as the Old Baptist view, is not what today's Hardshells teach. Were Watson here today he would be attacked, would be called an "Arminian," and would be accused of making salvation to depend upon believers rather than upon God. Further, Watson was no Pelagian. He did not believe that the commands to believe, repent, and to persevere implied existing ability to do those things, but that the doing of those things were a result of God's predestination and his power working in the hearts and lives of his people.

Watson wrote:

"According to these truths our good works are as much of God as is our conversion; other truths may be adduced in proof of this view of the subject. God calls the sinner with a holy calling, including life, repentance, and faith; He creates the inner man in righteousness and true holiness; He manifests Himself to believers as He does not unto the world; He communes with them over the mercy seat in prayer, in baptism, in the Lord's supper, in His word, in secret, and in the assembly of saints; He carries on the work of grace which He has begun; He keeps them by His power through faith; He makes Christ, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. The way, the truth, and the life to them...We may as truly say that we work because God first works in us both to will and to do, as to say we love him because He first love us. Well may Paul say in relating the great works which he performed: "Not I, but the grace of God which moved me, directed me, and sustained me."" (pages 414-15)

Today's Hardshells, in reading these words of Watson, would call him an "Absoluter." But, again, it must be recognized that Watson was stating the historic view of his Baptist forefathers and the view of his fellow first generation Hardshells.

Watson wrote:

"Nor alas! can we come to His word feelingly, understandingly and practically, without it were given unto us of the Father, who has sent the Holy Spirit not only to show us the things of Christ, but also to demonstrate Gospel truths in power and much assurance. I Cor. 2: 4; I Thess. 1: 4.

Nor will we profit by exhortations, admonitions, warnings, nor threatenings only as they are made effectual by the power of the Holy Spirit. They operate effectually only in the way of grace. When we consider what it cost to make them efficacious we may learn the doctrine of their efficiency. It took the sacrifice of Christ, His death, His resurrection and ascension to procure their efficiency through the Holy Spirit, otherwise they would have been only a savor of death unto death. No one would have heeded them."
(page 415)

These words answer the reasoning of men like "Teth" who wrote against perseverance, and whose argumentation we have rebutted. Teth would say that Watson, by making faith, repentance, and perseverance necessary conditions for salvation, was not making all to depend upon the atonement. But, Watson, just as I have done, answers by saying that it was the atonement that guaranteed that all the elect would be given all things necessary for their salvation. Christ died in order to give his chosen people life. The life they receive is a gift and guaranteed by the atonement. But, what is true of life is also true of faith, repentance, and perseverance. Oh that today's Hardshells would repent of their error and come back to the real Old Baptist faith.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

More on Solomon's Case

Recently brother Fralick and I wrote in response to a Hardshell who denied the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.  This Hardshell used the case of Solomon to deny the old doctrine (see here).  Brother Kevin left some comments on the blog posting and became frustrated with the Hardshell's stubborn refusal to answer his questions and deal with his arguments.  In this posting I would like to make some observations on that short discussion.

Brother Kevin asked the Hardshell why he denied the doctrine of the saint's perseverance when this was the acknowledged view of his forefathers. This Hardshell did what my dad has also often done when confronted with the fact that today's Hardshells do not believe what their forefathers believed. He says that he denies perseverance because the Bible does not teach it. What he does essentially is to admit that his doctrine is novel, that it is not in accordance with past Old Baptist doctrine, especially as expressed in historically accepted creeds. Of course, we are willing to argue from the Bible alone, but we want it understood that such Hardshells are admitting that their views are not what has traditionally been taught by Old Baptists. Therefore, their self styled name of "Primitive" Baptist is a lie, for such a name implies that they believe what has been regularly and continuously believed by the Baptist church of Christ since the days of the apostles. Since this Hardshell is admitting that his views are not the historic teaching of the Old Baptists, he ought rather to call himself a "Reformed" Baptist, which would convey the message that he is restoring a belief that has been lost. Of course, such a view destroys their idea that a present day church, in order to be a legitimate church, must have a pure line of churches who believe pure doctrine back to the apostles.  But, if the church lost the truth on the doctrine of perseverance, and now has been restored, it still cannot be a legitimate church because its mother churches did not deny the doctrine of perseverance.

The first Hardshells did initially adopt the name "reformed," but later discarded it in favor of "old school" and "primitive." In doing this they claimed that they were the ones holding to historic Baptist teaching, in keeping with both the London and Philadelphia Confessions. All the oldest Hardshell churches accepted these confessions. The first Campbellites also called themselves "reformers" because they thought that they were restoring truth that had been lost. So, the fact that the Hardshell whose writing we have been critiquing calls himself a "Primitive Baptist" puts the burden on him to show that his views on perseverance are the traditional and historic teaching of his forefathers, a thing he cannot do. He ought therefore to discard the title.

The Hardshell who goes by the name of "TETH" did not answer Kevin's question about the Fulton Confession endorsing the London Confession and its section on the perseverance of the saints, which was endorsed without addition. Who is more "Primitve" on the subject of perseverance, Teth or Kevin? This writer wanted Kevin to read another posting of his, but he ought to read what we have written on perseverance and on how salvation is both conditional and unconditional.

Teth cited these words by Kevin:

"The righteous shall hold on his way" (Job 17:9), yet you're trying to say that Solomon was saved into heaven though he didn't hold on his way.”

Then Teth followed with these comments:

"Are you suggesting that if Solomon did not “hold on his way” that he would not be eternally saved? To do so is to place an obligation upon Solomon that the bible says was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ. (Is 53:5)"

It is not Kevin who suggested that those who do not persevere, who do not hold on to their way, will not be saved, but is what the Scriptures positively assert in many places. For instance, Jesus said "he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matt. 10: 22 & 24: 13) Now, this Hardshell can argue till he is blue in the face that this text only concerns a "time salvation," but let him cite one Baptist, or for that matter, any theologian, prior to the rise of the Hardshells in the 19th century, who promoted such an interpretation of the passage. The only other denomination to assert such an interpretation are the Universalists, who, as might be expected, would not want to make it a condition for eternal salvation. No one who comes to the passage without bias would for a minute think that a mere temporal deliverance was in the mind of Jesus. Further, by the "end" is clearly intended to mean the end of one's life, and therefore the salvation that comes after enduring to the end cannot be a salvation in this life. Had Teth been present when Christ uttered these words, he would have responded to Jesus just as he did to Kevin and say - "are you suggesting, Jesus, that if one does not endure he would not be eternally saved?"

The argument that Teth makes on the Job passage is an argument based upon an illogical conclusion, and not one based upon Scritpure. Why does Teth not simply cite a passage that denies that one must endure to the end to be saved? He thinks that to teach that perseverance is necessary for being eternally saved would logically lead to the conclusion that Isaiah 53: 5 is false. But, he ought to quit relying on his logical reasonings and accept the plain teachings of Scripture. The truth of the matter is this; the atonement of Christ is what has purchased faith, repentance, and perseverance for the elect. This was affirmed by Paul when he wrote:

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8: 32)

Does Teth not agree with his Hardshell brethren when they say that "faith" is a gift of God that was made certain for the elect by the atonement? If he can believe that faith is a gift purchased by Christ for his elect, why can he not believe that perseverance is also a purchased gift?

However, the logic of Teth would force him to affirm that not only is perseverance not necessary for being eternally saved, but neither is faith, repentance, confession of Christ, and following Christ. To insist that faith and repentance are necessary for eternal salvation, by Teth's logic, would "place an obligation upon" sinners "that the bible says was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ." Teth's position is that there is no obligation upon sinners to do anything to be eternally saved, for this would mean that Christ's atonement was not the sole reason for being saved. So, men do not have to believe, nor repent, to be saved. But, in this, he is against what is so plainly taught in Scripture.

Further, Teth did not prove that Solomon did not "hold on his way." It is not enough to show that he sinned, for no believer in perseverance affirms that to persevere means the same as not sinning. What perseverance means is that those who sin will be successfully corrected by God and brought to repentance. In fact, it was Solomon himself who wrote - "For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth." (Pro. 3: 12) Paul cites these words in Hebrews 12: 6. Consider also that the text does not say simply that the Lord tries to correct his children, but that he actually does it. Does Teth believe that God fails in his work of correction? Does he believe that God failed to correct Solomon? Obviously he does.

Teth again cited Kevin, who said:

"We learn as well that Christ achieved reconciliation for those who "continue in the faith" (Col. 1:20-23)"

To this Teth replied:

"Indeed if our “continuing in the faith” is a condition of eternal salvation, then Christ did not meet all of the conditions and salvation is not by sovereign grace."

What is this but a blatant denial of what the text says? Teth's opposition is not to anything Kevin has said, but to what the Apostle Paul said. Again, Teth argues against what the text says, not by exegeting the text, or citing other texts that might contradict or throw light on the text, but by his inability to see how perseverance does not contradict sovereign grace soteriology. Teth did not go to the text and try to show how the text does not teach that continuing in the faith was necessary for being eternally saved. He certainly cannot make this passage to deal with a mere temporal salvation. Paul is talking about that reconciliation that has come to the elect by the death of Christ and says that the Colossians are indeed reconciled by Christ's atonement "if you continue in the faith grounded and settled," and if you "be not moved away from the hope of the gospel."

Teth again cited Kevin, who said:

"...we are the house of Christ "if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:6).”

To this Teth replied:

"The sense in which these things are intended is in the here and now."

This is scholarly exegesis? We are to just take Teth's interpretation as if it were inspired? Being made a partaker of Christ does not relate to being eternally saved? One does not have to be made a partaker of Christ to be saved? One does not have to be a member of the house of Christ to be saved? With this kind of Bible teaching, it is no wonder that only a cult few take Hardshell teachers seriously.

Teth then asks - "Is sin a turning away from God?"

No, sin is not a turning away from God, at least not in the sense in which the phrase turning away from God is used in Scripture. Certainly God's people transgress the laws of God. Certainly the children of God are sometimes disobedient to their heavenly Father. But, these sins are not total apostasies, a total giving up of faith and trust in God and his salvation. In this sense, God's born again people "cannot sin." (I John 3: 9; 5: 18)

Kevin also cited the words of the prophet who wrote:

"And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." (Jer. 32: 40)

To this Scripture Teth wrote in reply:

"To accommodate the reality of remaining sin is to undermine what you imply is meant by “shall not depart.” So we see that this passage is in reference to the certainty of their standing before God as a result of the intercessory work of Christ, who most certainly DID NOT DEPART and whose righteousness is THEIR righteousness through imputation."

It is good that Teth sees that the promise that someone "shall not depart from me" is a result of the atonement. What he cannot accept however is the idea that it is the elect who are assured of persevering. He thinks that the one who is under consideration is Christ. He is the one who will not depart. But, this is poor Bible interpretation. The use of the plural pronouns "them" and "they" show that it is not Christ who "shall not depart" as a result of the atonement and covenant, but it is the ones in whose hearts God puts his fear.

Further, it is necessary to again point out the error of Teth arguing that the fact that the saints sin proves that they are not persevering. That is not what perseverance involves. Perseverence involves the idea that the saints will not be overcome by their sins, but will eventually overcome them, by regularly confessing their sins and turning from them.

In my next posting I will show how men such as Teth ought to read what Elder Watson said about salvation being both conditional and unconditional, and how he corrects the illogical reasonings of men like Teth.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Apologetics Can Be Frustrating

In the past few days I have come to learn first-hand the frustration that can come when trying to lead one to see the error of his way. This is especially true when it is apparent that the one you are trying to correct is so ingrained in his set of beliefs that it seems almost a hopeless pursuit. Do you continue the conversation? If you do not, this may suggest that you’ve been stumped, and the opposing view has gained the upper hand. If you do, you know that your pearls will continue to be trampled underfoot with little consideration to your own beliefs.

A few days ago I commented on a “Primitive Baptist” blog posting "Was Solomon a Child of God?" from The case was argued that Solomon is an example of a regenerate child of God who was preserved by God, but did not persevere in his profession. I left a comment asking the author if he agreed with the teaching found in the confession of his own order! The 1900 Fulton Confession of Faith, despite its other flaws, condoned the Perseverance of the Saints as defined by the London brethren!

After just a couple of exchanges by us both, I became disheartened. The number of errors and caricatures of Calvinism were so many it was hard to find motivation to respond. Where to start?

In their apologetics Hardshells often make assertions which sweep over finer points of systematic theology as if they are trivial matters. Conditions, necessities, or saying that our salvation depends upon something are subjects that need defining before they are presumptuously thrown in the waste basket as having no place in the salvation of sinners. I saw this whenever I was growing in my knowledge of the scriptures. These terms are ambiguous in the hands of men, and we need to know what writers mean when they use them.

That being said, here are some brief points I would like for the blog editor to consider, as well as anyone else who is equally misguided.

1. History cannot be ignored. The author hid from my question as to whether he agreed with the Fulton Confession of Faith and the 1777 Kehukee Association Articles on the matter of perseverance. He flew to the refuge that the scriptures, and not historical documents, are our authority. Correct. No one denies that they are. Yet the title “Primitive” is a claim to historicity, in which you are basically saying that my views are the old, original views. I suppose ignoring the question is the only alternative when one comes to realize that answering it would be an admission that he or she is advocating something new. Those today who deny perseverance have not only departed from the London Confession, but the Fulton as well. This is just more evidence of the evolution of doctrine over the past 150 years or so.

2. Perseverance is not “works” salvation. The new life of the regenerate is Christ within us (Gal. 2:20). He is the author of our good works (Philip. 1:11; 2:13). Hardshells generally do not understand this, but have a free-will view of man’s nature after the new birth. They are post-regeneration free-willers. In their view the "few" elect who do persevere have become their own Savior. They are "saving themselves" since there is no decree from God to guarantee they shall, and the Spirit’s work in regeneration can’t or won’t effect it. This is the Arminianism within conditional time salvation.

3. Perseverance is a definite fruit of regeneration. The scriptures teach what shall definitely happen to the elect after regeneration. They shall hold on their way (Job 17:9). They fall down but rise again (Prov. 24:6). They will continue in the faith (Col. 1:23; 1 John 2:19).

4. The "finished work" of Christ cannot be carried to the point of fatalism. Case and point. "If Christ died for a man, then that man will go to heaven even if he remains an unchanged rebel in unbelief and sin." Perish the thought! Many Hardshells shout of the "finished work" of Christ as if nothing else needs to happen for the elect to be saved. Anything else is said to be an "addition" to the work of Christ. But do not sinners have to be born again to go to heaven? This proves that something else needs to happen to the elect after the death of Christ. And so they should not be so close-minded on the subject of what yet remains for the elect to be fitted for heaven after Christ suffered and died. The redeeming work of Christ must be communicated in the new birth for starters.

5. Ambiguous terms must be properly understood. The term condition and similar expressions belong in the conversation of how sinners are saved. The Hardshell error lies in equating them with efficient causes, thus allowing them to make the charge that Calvinists are denying that the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, or the grace of God are the reasons for our salvation. When Calvinists speak of conditions within the context of eternal salvation they simply mean that something must be in place for the salvation transaction to transpire. We could say that my salvation "depended upon" those who crucified our Lord. If they do not do so, then Christ would not die, and no one would be redeemed! I could say that regeneration was a "condition" that had to be met for my final salvation into glory. Probably the worst error in this discussion is to confuse the decree of salvation with its administration. We were unconditionally elected to receive certain conditions in time, which God’s grace will provide (Romans 8:32); namely, faith, repentance, and holiness.

Whosoever Will

"And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8: 34-38)

The first thing to notice about this passage is the audience to whom Jesus addressed these words. It was not only to those who were already saved and born again. Jesus "called" (invited) both "the people" generally and "his disciples." Surely "the people" were not all saved people. Probably not all who were "disciples" were saved, for "disciple" simply means learner and many are learners who never get saved.

The next thing to notice is the fact that Jesus was here preaching the Gospel and that preaching the Gospel included reasoning with men about what they must do to be saved and also involved teaching the unregenerate.

The next thing to notice is that Jesus is informing sinners what they must do to be saved and that this is no temporal salvation, but eternal salvation, for it is set in opposition to losing one's soul. The salvation obtained by one denying himself, taking up his cross, and following Christ, is connected with the second coming of Christ. At the second coming Christ will be ashamed of those who were ashamed of Christ, and who did not take up the cross to follow him, but those who have done so will not experience that fate. Further, those who do not follow Christ will "lose" their life. This does not refer to physical death, for all die, even the righteous. On this Dr. Gill said in his commentary.

"shall lose it: he shall not enjoy it with honour and comfort now, and much less with peace, pleasure, and happiness hereafter, but shall be under the power of the second death."

It is to lose one's life and soul forever. So, why do the Hardshells not tell people this? Why do they rather tell them that millions will find their life who did not follow him?

And on what Christ meant by a person finding/saving his life by denying himself and following Jesus, Dr. Gill wrote:

"the same shall save it: though he will lose it now, he will find it again in the resurrection of life; for he will rise to eternal life..."

Further, Christ asks "the people," including lost souls, this piercing interrogative - "what will it profit a man if he gain and the whole world and lose his soul?" This is similar to the question - "where will you go when you die?" The question itself has no power in itself to save anyone, but the question, when made efficacious by the power of the Spirit, has such power. Such questions are made use of by the Lord to waken dead consciences, to get the attention of hardened hearts. Such evangelical questions are evident in the preaching of Christ, the prophets, and in that of the apostles.

Why do Hardshells not make use of such interrogatives? Is it not because they have falsely believed that such a method is "Arminian" and are contrary to the doctrine of sovereign grace? The fact that they do not is one of the reasons why so very few are converted to Christ by their preaching.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"He that heareth you heareth me"

As a former member and minister within the "Primitive Baptists" direct-voice regeneration was central to my understanding of salvation. It had to be, for the only alternative was to hold to gospel regeneration which I was firmly against.

In studying history I eventually came across the words of Elder John Clark published in the Zion’s Advocate in 1880 (emphasis mine – KF):

"Under the quickening power and influence of the Holy Ghost, the Word preached comes to God's people in power, by which they live, hear, and believe with the heart unto righteousness. Now, when the Gospel is preached they know it. It is the voice of their Shepherd, the great Shepherd...For with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." [Rom. x., 6, 8, 10]"

According to this Old Baptist, to hear the gospel is to hear the voice of Christ himself! On top of that, he cites Romans 10 in support of his argument, meaning that he did not make the salvation taught in that chapter different than the one expressed in the previous chapters, unlike our moderns today.

The primary verse of scripture, obviously more important than any man's opinion, which persuaded me that I was making a distinction which God’s Word did not was Luke 10:16. There we find our Lord saying to the seventy disciples:

"He that heareth you heareth me…" (Luke 10:16)

The disciples went forward with the understanding that when others heard them speak, they were in fact hearing Christ! The idea that the voice of Christ is not contained in the gospel, or that there are “two kinds” of hearing the voice of Christ would have been absolutely foreign to their minds.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

If you died today, where would you go?

I remember reading how Elder Ambrose Dudley (father of Hardshell founding father Thomas P. Dudley), at a service at Bryan's Station church in Kentucky (one of the oldest in that state, if not the oldest), asked this question of those who were present. Why do not Hardshells do so? Elder Ambrose Dudley (who died just before the Black Rock Address) had no reluctance doing so. He also was no Arminian. Why do Hardshells ignore the unregenerate in their addresses? Their forefathers did not have such a reluctance to do so. Do they not know that the Holy Spirit has often attended such interogatives to awaken the consciences of alien sinners? Why do the Hardshells think that the Holy Spirit cannot attend such Gospel addresses with his power?

Hearing the Voice of Christ

In chapters 20 & 21 (see here and here) I wrote against the Hardshell doctrinal innovation called "Direct Voice Speaking." Such a view was first promulgated by Elder Gilbert Beebe who insisted that the voice that a sinner hears in regeneration or new birth was the literal voice of Christ and not the Gospel.  When the Hardshells see passages that connect hearing the voice of Christ with regeneration (such as John 5 and John 10), they interpret this to mean that Christ personally speaks to the soul of a sinner, and that the voice cannot mean the same as hearing the words of Christ by a preacher. But, the following verse proves the Hardshell contention to be wrong.

"For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him." (Acts 13: 27)

Notice that in hearing the words of the prophets read and proclaimed the people were hearing the "voices" of the prophets. The "voices" of the prophets were "read" each Sabbath. So, all the argumentation of the Hardshells that hearing the word of Christ is not the same as hearing the voice of Christ is false. To hear the word of Christ is to hear his voice just as to hear the word of the prophets was to hear their voices.

Further, in reading the Hardshell periodicals of the 1830s it is clear that the first Hardshells interpreted the voice of Christ to be the Gospel, just as did Dr. Gill. Beebe's view was an innovation.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Solomon Persevered

As a follow-up to my posting below, and a second to what Brother Stephen wrote in his, I wanted to pen the thoughts of some notable men on the case of Solomon. This will expose how presumptuous it is to conclude that he was either eternally lost, or to do as the Hardshells, find support for their modern-day teaching that perseverance is not guaranteed by preservation, but that they may be separated so that the former becomes uncertain.

Matthew Henry writes:

"The account we have of Solomon's apostasy from God, in the latter end of his reign (1 Kings xi. 1), is the tragical part of his story; we may suppose that he spoke his Proverbs in the prime of his time, while he kept his integrity, but delivered his Ecclesiastes when he had grown old (for of the burdens and decays of age he speaks feelingly ch. xii.), and was, by the grace of God, recovered from his backslidings."

Matthew Poole comments as well:

"Three things in general are to be noted concerning this book: 1. The author of it, who was Solomon, as is manifest both from the common consent of Jewish and Christian writers, and from the express words of the first verse. Nor can any thing be opposed to it but bold and groundless conjectures. That he wrote it in his old age is more than probable from divers passages in it, as, that he did it after his buildings, Eccles 2:4, which yet took up twenty years of his life, 1 Kings 9:10, and after some considerable enjoyment of them, and planting of gardens and orchards, and reaping the fruit of them, Eccles 2:5-6, and after long and much consideration and experience of all those methods in which men expected to find happiness, and after he had been deeply plunged in impure and inordinate loves, Eccles 7:27, etc., and from many other places, which may be observed by any diligent reader. And so this book was written by him as a public testimony of his repentance and detestation of all those vain and wicked courses to which he had addicted himself; wherein he followed the example of his father David, who after his sad fall penned Ps 51. And the truth of this opinion may be confirmed by that expression, 2 Chron 11:17, they walked in the way of David and Solomon, i.e. wherein they walked both before their falls, and after their repentance."

Puritan James Durham says:

"It's of weight also, that it seems more than probable, that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes after his recovery; it being neither amongst the Proverbs, nor Songs which are mentioned, I Kings 4:32. And in it, he speaks out of experiences he had both of folly and madness, and the vanity he had found in all created things, even when he had finished his experiment of all the possible ways of attaining, either the knowledge of their perfections, or satisfaction in the enjoyment of them."

A.W. Pink writes:

"With others, it is our own conviction that before the end of his earthly pilgrimage Solomon was made to repent deeply of his waywardness and wickedness. We base this conviction upon three things. First, the fact that he was the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes (1:1) and that it was penned at a later period of his life than the Proverbs and Canticles (see 1 Kings 4:32). Now to us it seems impossible to ponder Ecclesiastes without being struck with its prevailing note of sadness and without feeling that its writer is there expressing the contrition of one who has mournfully returned from the paths of error. In that book he speaks out the bitter experiences he had gone through in pursuing a course of folly and madness and of the resultant "vexation of spirit"—see especially 7:2, 3, 26, 27 which is surely a voicing of his repentance. Second, hereby God made good His express promise to David concerning Solomon: "I will be his Father and he shall be My son. If he commit iniquity, I will chastise him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul" (2 Sam. 7:14, 15). Third, centuries after his death the Spirit declared, "Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God" (Neh. 13:26)."

In his recent posting Brother Stephen cited the words of Dr. Gill to which the reader may turn as well.

From these sound opinions based on Bible facts it is obvious that Solomon is no poster-child for denying the perseverance of the saints.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Case Studies a Problem Among the Hardshells

In the defense of their peculiar teachings I have noticed a trend among the Hardshells to lean heavily upon case studies. Lot and Solomon are frequently cited as "proof" that God's children, while preserved, do not persevere. King Agrippa is often used to prove that men may be regenerate but yet reject the gospel and still be saved. The Greeks at Athens are "proof" that men may be regenerate and remain engaged in idolatrous worship. Cornelius is the famed poster-child for the dogma that men may be regenerated or eternally saved without means of the gospel. I even knew one Hardshell elder who was convinced, upon reading the account of John the Baptist, that all the elect were born again in their mother's womb!

I recently read a posting entitled "Was Solomon A Child of God?" by a blogger who relies upon the case of Solomon to deny the perseverance of the saints. It is simply part of the modern neo-Hardshell movement in rewriting their articles of faith to divide the two-sided coin of preservation/perseverance, claiming that only the former is permissible. This is a denial of both the scripture and the teachings of their very own forefathers.

Case studies ought to be interpreted in the light of explicit texts which directly address important bible doctrines. Clear bible passages should not be given secondary attention while we attempt to deduce doctrine from a biographical anecdote. It is simply bad hermeneutics to suggest that sinners may lose their salvation or that regenerate souls may not persevere, using Solomon as our supposed proof, when there are biblical texts which directly speak to those subjects. When determining whether the saints shall persevere (and they shall) certain passages such as Job 17:9, Col. 1:21-23, 1 Peter 1:5 should be given the utmost attention with Solomon, Lot, and Peter interpreted in their light.

Does Solomon's Case Disprove Perseverence?

In an article titled "Was Solomon a child of God?", a Hardshell thinks that the case of Solomon disproves the doctrine of the perseverence of the saints.  The writer does what is typical with those who profess to believe in preservation while denying perseverence.  He brings up the case of Solomon's sins and apostasy as if this proved that Solomon did not persevere.  Sometimes such writers will bring up the case of Peter's apostasy, or that of Lot, to also prove that perseverence is not true.  But, these writers do not understand the doctrine of perseverence, a doctrine that their Old Baptist forefathers professed to believe.  It is not the teaching of perseverence that the saints cannot sin or fall, but that they shall be corrected and successfully chastened of the Lord and brought to repentance. 

The Scriptures show that Solomon was indeed brought to repentance prior to his death.  He wrote the Book of Ecclesisastes as a token of his repentance.  His confessions and repentance in that book show that he had been restored, just as Peter also was brought to repentance.

Dr. Gill wrote:

"Secondly, objections are raised against the doctrine of the saints final perseverance from the sins and failures of persons eminent for faith and holiness; as Noah, Lot, David, Solomon, Peter, and others. But these are no proofs of their final and total falling away. As to Noah and Lot, though guilty of great sins, they have after this the character of truly good and righteous men. As for David, though by his fall his bones were broken, and the joy of his salvation was taken from him, and grace lay some time unexercised by him; yet the Spirit of God was not taken from him, as appears from his own words, when most sensible of his case (Ps. 51:11, 12). As for Solomon, though his backsliding was great, attended with aggravated circumstances, yet not total, see 1 Kings 11:4, 6 nor final, as to perish everlastingly; which would have been contrary to the promise of God, that his mercy should not depart from him (2 Sam. 7:14, 15). Besides, he was restored by repentance; and the book of Ecclesiastes was penned by him in his old age, as an acknowledgment and retractation of his former follies; and some persons, after his death, are spoken of with commendation, for walking in the way of Solomon, as well as in the way of David (2 Chron. 11:17). As for Peter, his fall was not total; Christ prayed for him, that his faith failed not; nor final; for he was quickly restored by repentance. And these various instances are recorded in scripture, not as instances of final and total apostasy, but of the weakness of the best of men in themselves; and for our caution and instruction, "to take heed lest we fall"." (A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 6—Chapter 15 - Of the Perseverance of the Saints)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

John Watson vs. Harold Hunt

In chapter 126 of my book titled Hardshells & The London Confession I I cited the words of would be Hardshell historian Elder Harold Hunt. Hunt confessed that the 1689 London Confession did not teach Hardshell doctrine and that the Hardshells had done wrong to claim church succession through those Baptists, who he says were Calvinistic Missionary Baptists. Instead, Hunt tried to find Hardshell church succession through the AnaBaptists. But, here is what Elder Watson wrote in his book "The Old Baptist Test."

"About 1633, a Church of Regular Baptists was constituted in London. Their enemies have often tried to identify them with the Ana Baptists; but even the imperfect ecclesiastical history of those times, shows most conclusively, that they always disclaimed the fanaticism of that sect." (page239)

Of course, Watson was correct, and Hunt is not. The AnaBaptists were indeed fanatics and those who wrote and endorsed the London Confession did not support nor fellowship their errors. Watson claimed succession from those old "Regular Baptists" and not through the fanatical AnaBaptists.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Watson on Ephesians 5: 14

Over a year ago I wrote an article titled "Arise From The Dead!" in which I wrote against the view of Hardshell apologist Jason Brown on the passage.  You can read the subsequent exchanges on this here and here and here.  In this posting I want to cite from Elder Watson on this point and show that Watson took the same view of the text as I do, and that my view is the Old Baptist view and Brown's is the neo-Hardshell view.  Watson wrote:

"We call on sinners to awake from the sleep of death by faith, believing that God will give them life;  to repent because he has promised to give repentance; to believe because He gives faith, to persevere because He is the finisher of our faith. Shall we give up this part of the work of the ministry because it has been Arminianized, and call all Arminians who carry it out?" (page 537)

Observe that Watson says that it is "part of the work of the ministry" to "call on sinners to awake from the sleep of death." So, who is more in league with Watson? Neo-Hardshells like Brown, or we here at the Old Baptist blog?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Elder Watson Condemns Hardshell Error

Elder (Dr.) John Watson in his "Old Baptist Test" wrote these words (emphasis mine):

""And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 15: 15-16. The unscriptural sayings which have been predicated of this text, have done much heretical mischief among the Old Baptists. Some of our ultraists are occasionally heard to say, in our pulpits, that they have no authority to preach to sinners, and they seem to glory in their fancied exemption. Nothing appears to give them greater offence, or savors more of Arminianism, with them, than for sinners to be exhorted to repent!" (pages 327-28)

Elder Watson was one of the main leaders in the anti-mission movement and founding father of the "Primitive Baptist" church. His book was published just after the Civil War and just before his death. He was a major leader of Baptist in the then western territories, especially of middle Tennessee. Every Hardshell ought to read this book. It will surely show him what was the doctrinal beliefs of the first Hardshells.

Who does the elder refer to when he speaks of his "ultraist" brethren? It was those who denied that the Great Commission was still in operation, and who denied that the Gospel is to be preached to dead sinners, and who denied that the Gospel was a means in the eternal salvation of sinners. By these standards, today's Hardshells are "ultraists" and are not in agreement with Elder Watson, whose views were the standard view of the first generation of Hardshells. Elder Watson wrote frequently in the "Signs of the Times," the "Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," the "Primitive Baptist," and even was a co-editor of the "Old Baptist Banner," all periodicals of the 1830s. He was in fellowship with the first great leaders among the "Old School" Baptist, and was a close friend to such men as Elder Grigg Thompson, Elder John Clark, Elder James Osbourn, and other such notables.

It is interesting how the "ultraists" not only rejected the idea that the Gospel was to be preached to the spiritually dead, but even rejoiced in the idea. Elder Watson rightly saw this as a disgusting thing. It can be truly said that the day that the Hardshells took on this idea is the day that "Ichabod" was written over them.

Also, Watson considers such errors to be "heretical." He also says that such heresies had caused much "mischief" among the Old Schoolers. If he were alive today he would no doubt stand amazed at how much more serious was this mischief. Later in his book, on page 517, he wrote:

"Our not exhorting sinners to repent and believe, is a gross deviation from the gospel rule, and a palpable perversion of the great commission under which we preach."

Notice Watson's further description of the heresy that the "ultraist" had begun to believe and preach. He says their heresy is a "gross deviation from the gospel rule" and a "palpable perversion of the great commission." Would that today's Hardshells would repent of their error and listen to Elder Watson, who wrote this for their benefit.

Watson went on to say:

"Let us pursue the revealed method of God, and not the assumed one which we now follow. If ultraist, in their blindness, call us Arminian, let us bear it for the truth's sake. We had better suffer ourselves than deviate from our commission." (page 517-18)

Notice how Watson not only identifies the ultraist Hardshells as heretics, but says that they are blind. They are the ones who call those who believe in means "Arminian," which is a falsehood.

He also wrote:

"The violation of our commission has engendered a spirit of coldness and indifference about those yet unbrought; by some they are not cared for, prayed for, nor preached unto; this spirit in like manner extends to the "babes" in Christ, the sheep, and the sheep only, are fed." (page 521)

Watson says that the ultraist Hardshells had violated the commission, which is no minor transgression. He says their anti means doctrine had created a spirit in them that lacked any concern for the lost. He no doubt would agree that such a spirit and heresy has turned them into a cult, were he here today.

Elder Watson continued (pages 327-28):

"That the commission extends to such, is apparent from the fact that some believe, and some do not. Those who believe were unbelievers before, and the unbelieving of others can only be predicated of their hearing. What said the prophet? "O ye dry bones, hear ye the word of the Lord." I would just state here, at once, that I have no idea that sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, will ever believe through the mere preaching of the Gospel, or through the exhortations of the Lord's ministers, any more than that the dry bones would have lived through the prophesying of the prophet, apart from what the Lord did for them. But that fact does not nullify the commission to preach to them, but on the contrary, greatly strengthens it. The divine assurance that God's word will prosper in the thing whereunto He hath sent it, affords great encouragement to preach to sinners."

The force of Watson's logic on the commission is based upon the assumption that those who are "unbelievers," who are not believers in the Gospel, are "dead in trespasses and sins." He says that the command to preach the Gospel even to unbelievers is proof that it is to be preached to those who are spiritually dead. But, this shows that Watson believed that the terms "unbeliever" and "dead" are connected. If one is an unbeliever, then he is dead. If one is dead, then he is an unbeliever. Such logic, however, would never be conceded to by today's ultraist Hardshells who believe that there are many who are unbelievers but who are spiritually alive.

In proving that the Gospel is to be preached to the spiritually dead, and that it is a means in the hand of God in raising the dead, Watson goes to the story of Ezekiel's prophesying to the dry dead bones. It was this story that overthrew all my arguments against means, when I was a Hardshell believer in the Spirit alone view. All the arguments that Hardshells have ever made against the means view can be overcome by a simple look at the story of Ezekiel and the raising of the dead. Perhaps this is why the Hardshells of today do not want to debate, for in debate they would have to deal with how Ezekiel's raising of the dead destroys all their logical arguments.

Elder Watson continued:

"The Antinomian will not regard any thing in the light of means, and in his doctrine will not allow even the Lord to employ them, says that the Lord is not dependent on means, and can do all His work without them. Now, the truth is, had it been the will or the way of the Lord, He could have breathed upon the dry bones as well without the prophesying of the prophet as with it, and could have given repentance to John's converts, or to Paul's, without their preaching; but their preaching to such, even to those dead in trespasses and sins, had been included in the divine plan, and it needs must be done, let it be termed means, the will or way of the Lord, as you please." (pages 327-28)

Watson correctly identifies the anti means ultraist Hardshells as being "Antinomian."

Watson's book is filled with such refutation of the anti means doctrine that later, after his death, took over the "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptist denomination. It would be good if all Hardshells today would read his book and consider what he says.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Another Wants Out of the Cult

A few days ago I received an e-mail from a Hardshell preacher who wanted to talk to me about his getting out of the Hardshell cult. So, I sent him my telephone number and he called me and we talked for a couple hours. He not only has come to see the heresies of the Hardshells, and their schismatic spirit, but also their cult status.

This elder is a very well educated man with lots of religious experience and education obtained before he joined the Hardshells. He stated that our writings here on the Old Baptist blog have been of much help to him and we were glad to hear it. I invited him to come and join with Elder Fralick and me and write here. He said that he was afraid that he was at present too angry at the Hardshells to write. I told him that I understood, but that since he also expressed much love for many of the Hardshells, that he would hopefully in time come to see how he might be of help to others like himself, and write for their benefit. It is my hope that others will also come to see the errors of the Hardshells and come out of the cult. I get e-mails periodically from ordinary lay persons who have been helped by our writings and who have been saved from the cult.

What should someone in the Hardshell cult do when they discover that they are in a cult? When they discover that the Hardshells believe and practice serious doctrinal errors? Especially, what should those who are preachers do?

For those who remain convinced of the doctrines of grace, and of the basic tenets of Calvinism, there are really only two choices. First, they can separate from their church with those who agree with them and begin a new church after the order of the genuine Old Baptist faith. This is what Elder Fralick did. Second, they can find another Baptist church in their area that holds to the doctrines of grace. Many Baptist churches called "sovereign grace Baptists" or "particular Baptists" hold to the 1689 London Confession of faith. The Internet makes finding such churches much easier. Further, there are some good moderate Calvinistic churches and there is no reason why one cannot find a home with them. There are even "founders friendly" churches among the Southern Baptists who still hold to the doctrines of grace.

I counseled this elder on how to grow a church if he decides to do so. He certainly must become evangelistic, something that the Hardshells did not teach him to do. He must have a love for souls and a desire to see people converted. If this means knocking on doors in the community, or standing on the street corner preaching or handing out tracts, it must be done. To grow a church requires labor. It is no easy job. But, where the heart is right, and fully engaged, the work will be blessed by the Lord. Many large churches began with a home Bible study or weekly prayer meeting.

In starting a new church, I certainly would not call it a "Primitive Baptist" church, for I would not want people to get the wrong impression. Just simply "Baptist" is sufficient, although "Old Baptist Church" is also worthy of consideration.

This preacher and I both agreed that the Hardshells are generally very ignorant of the Scriptures. I attribute this to their lack of a teaching ministry, to their not having Bible classes and Sunday Schools. I told this preacher that most of the elders in the Hardshell church are also grossly ignorant, especially in the rules of Bible interpretation. People are hungry for the word of God and for a church to grow there has to be a serious teaching ministry. Music is important, yes, but it is only secondarily so.

In closing let me say that I have withheld this preacher's name. He can make his own announcement about his leaving the Hardshells. I pray the Lord will be with him and his family as he seeks the guidance of the Lord.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jesus was no Pelagian

A local Hardshell elder sends out a daily commentary on a verse of scripture to an emailing group of which I have remained a part ever since my departure from them. Today, his devotional was from Matthew 11:28 which reads:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

He comments as expected:

“This is not an invitation to those who have not been “born again” for the Lord also said, ‘No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him’ (John 6:44).”

Now what is the reason why he objects to the commandment being directed toward the unregenerate? It is because he assumes that sinners must have the ability to come before they can be commanded to come. And not only does he assume it, but he thinks that Jesus held to the same premise. Our Lord would not tell those who could not come to Him that they should do so.

It has been repeatedly pointed out on this blog that commands do not imply ability. To have that as a premise when one confronts the invitations to sinners in scripture is to imbibe Pelagianism.

R.C. Sproul wrote:

“For Pelagius and his followers responsibility always implies ability. If man has the moral responsibility to obey the law of God, he must also have the moral ability to do it” (R.C. Sproul)

To say that Christ would not command the regenerate due to a lack of ability on their part is to charge him with Pelagian logic!

Sorry, but Jesus was no Pelagian!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hardshells & Mission Opposition XXIII

Chapter 166

In closing out this series on the Hardshells and their opposition to fulfilling the mission of the Great Commission and of the church, and of my analysis of the Black Rock Address, I would like to cite from an article titled "AN “OPEN-HEART” LETTER TO PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS...AND ALL OTHERS" by Charles Carrin (2012), an eighty plus year old Hardshell elder. Elder Carrin wrote (see here):

"I had moved to Atlanta the year before, 1949, having been ordained in Miami, and was pastor at the Memorial P.B. Church just a mile from the Atlanta Church were Brother Thomas spoke. Half a mile from my church was the East Atlanta P.B. Church and a mile beyond that was Bethany Church. There were probably 25 Primitive Baptist Churches in the area now occupied by metropolitan Atlanta. Many had fine brick buildings and historic cemeteries. Some 500 other P.B. congregations were scattered across Georgia. But the outlook was frightening. The churches were divided into a myriad of warring groups that forbade fellowship with each other. Each of the three congregations nearest my church represented a different faction. Where Jesus had called His disciples “together”, Luke 9:1, Primitive Baptists had defiantly torn them apart."

What Elder Carrin bears witness to is nothing new. It is not simply a characteristic of the mid twentieth century, but of the entire history of the Hardshell denomination. They are schismatics, backbiters, and heretical.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"The rejection I experienced had a positive effect. It motivated me even more to discover why Primitive Baptists treated each other like enemies. Little Flock Church in Miami where I grew up and had loved me as a child now held my ministry in contempt–even though we were agreed theologically. It, like most others, was locked into the mind-set of 18th century pioneer-tradition. Old customs held equal authority with Scripture. Though my Atlanta congregation was growing I still knew that “death was in the pot” and eventually awaited all of us. II Kings 4:38-40. Something was stalking the denomination that we did not know how to stop."

Others have had a similar experience in the Hardshell church and such experiences have had the positive effect of waking up the person to see the perils of being in the Hardshell cult. I had such an experience. Elder Fralick who is co-editor of our "Old Baptist" blog also had a bad experience with the Hardshells that the Lord turned into a blessing, using it to pull us away from a cult. The amount of divisions and schisms in the Hardshell denomination shows how schismatic they are as a people. There is very little longsuffering and forbearance among the Hardshells, who are quick to cast off all who do not conform to what tradition and local Hardshell popes decree.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"In 1953, I could endure the pain no longer and asked the Primitive Western Union–of which my congregation was a member–to authorize me to write a letter to all Primitive Baptist Churches in the United States. The purpose was an appeal that we pray for each others restoration to the unity and power of former years. With the Session’s approval I then hand-addressed letters to more than 3,000 Primitive Baptist Churches in the U.S. I remember the number very well. Every state was represented. After mailing them I waited fearfully. When responses began arriving they were not only discouraging but in some cases hostile. I was rebuked angrily for thinking that churches “needed the petition of designing men for their health and well-being”. In some cases, I was ordered to remove church names from the list. My weeping intensified."

Many other Hardshells, over the past 180 years, having a burden to see the Hardshells repent of their errors and anti spirit, sought to reform the denomination, but all met with failure. The Hardshell spirit was just too stubborn and obstinate.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"Today I doubt that 500 of those 3,000 churches are still alive–and all these are tragically small. They wield no power beyond their own membership. Unlike our ancestors who helped shape America, P.B. influence in public life today is non-existent. Because of that spiritual decline, I must share some observations I gained over the past 62 years of ministry. Part of this will be facts you may not want to hear. Even so, the motive behind my letter is love for you and the churches we have mutually served. Regardless of your faction, I ask you to hear me to the end. Like most of you, I came from a long Primitive Baptist background."

I believe that Elder Carrin was sincere, though the Hardshells will probably want to attack the motives of men like Carrin, as they have all who write against their errors. Our goal is to save a few Hardshells. We are under no delusions that there will be any great numbers of them who will repent and turn back to the Old Baptist faith of their fathers.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"I waited a long time for God's answer to my question about the decline, but when the first part came–as if by thunder–it was in our history–. You probably know that in 1832 at Black Rock Church in Baltimore County, Maryland, a large number of Baptist Pastors and laymen met to protest changes that were appearing in the churches. Specifically, they opposed six new practices: Tract Societies, Sunday Schools, Bible Societies, Missions, Theological Schools, and Protracted Meetings. Other efforts that would have promoted church unity were also opposed. –Their concerns were not about doctrinal issues but practical–."

When Elder Carrin speaks of the problem with the Hardshell church, he attributes it to their history, a point I have made throughout this book. Most Hardshells have been told lies about their history. They do not know their real history. The truth is, they do not believe what their founding fathers believed and if they were alive today, they would not be accepted by today's Hardshells. There has truly been a coverup of the history of the Hardshells, particularly up until the 1860s. The authors that Hardshells today cite as expressive of the view of their forefathers are second and third generation Hardshells. They do not keep in print anything written in the time period before the 1860s because they cannot find their views being advocated prior to that time. Nearly all Hardshells today think that the founding fathers of Hardshellism all believed that the Gospel was no means in accomplishing the eternal salvation of the elect, and that conversion was not necessary to be eternally saved, but if they would read what the first Hardshells wrote, they will see that this is false.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"My personal view of Black Rock or these six topics is of no value. –The only thing of importance is what history has confirmed:– A century and a half after the Black Rock meeting thousands of its participating churches were dead. Disastrous fighting and declarations of non-fellowship broke out and infected every congregation that joined the movement. Even peace-loving churches who later took part were affected by it. These churches were not killed by Sunday Schools, Missions, Tract Societies, etc. Not at all. On those issues the churches were strongly agreed. The villain was something totally different."

Jesus said that one can identify the kind of tree by the fruit it bears. By this standard we judge that the fruit of the Black Rock Address was destruction to many churches. The Hardshells must face the music about these facts of their history. They will continue to dwindle and die because they have departed from the Scriptures and the Old Baptist faith. Today their church members know very little of the Bible, and their being against teaching the Bible to their members in classes has contributed to this. Likewise, their ministers are generally ignorant of systematic theology and the rudimental principles of biblical hermeneutics, all of which could have been corrected had they been for training of ministers.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"My conviction is this: If such dangerous, divisive spirits could infect the disciples in Jesus’ day they are certainly more capable of doing so now–and I am convinced it was this kind of villain that secretly embedded itself in the 1832 meeting. Why do I say that? Look at the results! Thousands of churches have been destroyed. That was not the work of the Holy Spirit! Even churches that temporarily escaped later became victimized by it."

All that Elder Carrin is doing is judging by looking at the fruit of the Hardshell denunciations in the Black Rock Address.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"Listen carefully to these words: Churches either bear good fruit or God removes them from His garden. There is no exception. I looked for Primitive Baptist fruit. There was none. Evangelism was dead. Charity was non-existent. The churches existed solely for themselves; no one else. All fruit-bearing practices–by default–died at Black Rock. As a result, hundreds of fruitless congregations had fallen victim to God's axe. This shocked me: God Himself had been the executioner. He was the one who cut down barren ministries and cast them away."

Elder Carrin is accurate in his analysis of what has befallen the Hardshell churches. His statement that "evangelism is dead" is correct, and where evangelism is dead in churches, so will the churches be dead. Elder Watson spoke of this in his book "The Old Baptist Test" as I have already observed. He decried the Hardshell "ultraist" giving up the practice of exhorting sinners and calling those who do practice it "Arminians." If the Hardshell church is ever to be saved from death, it will have to once again begin the practice of exhorting all, both saints and sinners, about their duty and about what they must do to be saved. Elder Carrin lays the cause of the Hardshell rot at the Black Rock Address and this is true, but it is also true that it springs from their Hyper Calvinism.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"Primitive Baptists emphatically refused foreign missions and all other fruit-bearing action. We happily preached "grace" as a doctrine but rejected it as a vital practice in the life of the church."

Again, all this is very true. But, I would add that the chief blame lies in the fact that the Hardshells would later alter their doctrine on regeneration by means of Gospel preaching, and the necessity of evangelical faith and repentance for salvation, and on perseverance. It was their antinomian spirit that brought death, the idea that salvation was solely God's responsibility and that those saved had no responsibility in the matter.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"P.B. claims to being the “original church” are an insult to Jesus who "loved the church and gave Himself for it," Ephesians 5:25, but to the Holy Spirit who empowered it at Pentecost. Acts 2 .,,Where there is no power, the Holy Spirit has not come. In spite of that fact, dying P.B. churches and powerless ministries arrogantly claim to have the only valid baptism, the only valid communion, the only valid gospel...After 2,000 years of work on the earth if the dysfunctional P.B. Church is the only church the Holy Spirit has been able to produce He is a total, utter, failure. Read that statement again. It is true. As a long-term P.B. Elder I am willing to say it. Millions of believers around the world are legitimately receiving both baptism and communion in which Primitive Baptist have no part. In spite of their efforts to make changes, my own progressive P.B's. are in as tragic decline as the original old-line. Why? They are still trying to evangelize the doctrines of election and predestination instead of evangelizing Christ. Acts 26:18. They refuse to deal with their theological-bias and admit their rejection of authentic Scriptural truths."

These statements by Elder Carrin are spot on and need little comment. They reflect the same judgment that I have consistently made throughout this book. Today's Hardshells are like a person dying with cancer but who refuses to believe it. They are living in denial.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"But, I need to confess my own sin and failure as a P.B. Pastor. For 30+ years on the radio and in my pulpit, I too desperately tried to evangelize the doctrines of election and predestination. I failed. I tried to convert people to our church instead of converting them to Christ. I failed again. I tried to convince people of the validity of our baptism above all others. That also failed. I re-baptized all who came. I denied Communion to those who had no P.B. baptism. Worse still, I was ignorant of Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God."

What Elder Carrin is really acknowledging is the fact that the Hardshells are a cult and that their Landmark views are part of the problem. Further, Elder Carrin is simply stating what Elder Watson had warned about in 1866. The Hardshells will never save themselves from death until they return to the Old Baptist faith.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"A Primitive Baptist-gospel is pointless and powerless. It is self-centered and destructive. If the gospel we preach is not impacting the world around it we have the wrong gospel. I don't care how expert we may be in Bible doctrine, if the Holy Spirit is not using our message to bring others to Christ and submission to the Kingdom our preaching is a failure. Where is the grief-stricken conscience that drives P.B. pastors to their knees, asking “Am I to blame for the death of my church? What is wrong with my preaching?! Why am I not getting New Testament results?” If we genuinely ask God He will tell us."

Would to God that this message by Elder Carrin were taken to heart by the Hardshells. He writes out of grief and love for the cause. All honest Hardshells who read such words know in their hearts that what he says is right. The Hardshells think that evangelism is simply proselyting people to Hardshellism. Recall that Elder Leland had a burden to see sinners saved, weeping over the fact, and yet Hardshells have the audacity to claim that they are in league with Leland.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"I will go further in acknowledging my own sin. For 30 years of ministry there were certain New Testament scriptures which I was unable to preach. Why? I felt honor-bound to interpret every Bible verse through our Articles of Faith. If scriptures did not agree with the Articles I thought I was confused about the Scripture. The Articles were right. If I had preached any Scripture contrary to the Articles I would have been excommunicated. I am convinced many other godly pastors are submitting to the same tragic error--and getting the same zero-results in their ministry. Today I realize that the enormity of Scripture can never be reduced to a few humanly-composed statements of faith. But, you don't have to believe me. Look at facts! Look at history! Look at statistics! Look at what the Holy Spirit is now doing in China, Africa, South America, where millions are coming to Christ and the church is exploding. In the years of my own ministry believers in China have grown from 50,000 to more than 100,000,000. And that occurred under vicious Communist persecution. Are these Christians real? Yes! They are true lovers of Jesus."

These are the same things I have been saying throughout this book.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"Am I concerned? Of course I am. Angered? Yes! I was concerned 60 years ago when I heard Brother Thomas’ preach! I wept. I mourned about it. That night I went home groaning over the danger we were in. What we were forewarned that evening has fully come to pass. Vainly, I pleaded with the churches 60 years ago. And I am doing so again. Jesus has not changed His mind since He said, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away”. Did you hear that? If your ministry and your P.B. church are not bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God expect to be cut off!"

Elder Carrin speaks of how he tried to bring the Hardshells to their senses, how he tried to call them to repent and reform, and how his efforts failed. He is not the first to try to save the Hardshells for many throughout their history tried it and failed, for the most part.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"Primitive Baptists, hear me! Preachers had better come to terms with God. He is not going to adjust His word to your religious absurdity. Don't fight against Him. Acts 5:39. The New Testament is not a book–it is an unbreakable Covenant! You have dared to use your religious scissors to cut out parts that did not fit your doctrine. Stop it! No part of God’s Word is expendable."

Elder Carrin is again correct in his affirmation about how the Hardshells interpret Scripture. On this I hope to speak about in upcoming chapters. Though they boast of how they are the only ones who rightly divide the word of truth, it is really just the opposite. They are guilty of eisegesis and know little about exegesis. Their preachers would have been well served to have attended seminary and learned about hermeneutics.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"Little Flock Church where I grew up is dead. The once-beautiful and crowded Miami Church that baptized and ordained me is dead. My first church in Atlanta is dead. Utoy is dead. The church served by Elder Gilbert Beebe, Moderator of the Black Rock Conference, is dead. Thousands of great churches are dead. Others have a name that they are alive but in reality are dead. Revelation 3:1. Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you they are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63. It is impossible to speak Jesus’ words through the gospel and death to prevail. Genuine, authentic gospel imparts life! It is “spirit”! These churches died because they did not have a full New Testament gospel. They had a Primitive Baptist substitute. The substitute killed them. That terrifies me. It ought to terrify you. Churches do not die of old age; they have to be killed. What kills them? Preachers with a synthetic gospel!"

Hyper Calvinism killed the Hardshells! Failure to preach to sinners has killed them. Opposing efforts to fulfill the Great Commission has killed them.

Elder Carrin wrote:

"I am fully convinced of this: God saw the fruitlessness, religious legalism, and fighting, in P.B. churches, and removed the Candlestick. It is gone. Gone forever! The Candlestick is not coming back. Hear me: Nothing will ever restore it. The denomination cannot be revived. Stop trying. It is finished. Bury the dead past and get on with reality! The “tree” has been cut down." "The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us that we have sinned!” Lamentations 5:16. Do I believe this? Yes!  Absolutely! Nor will I be quiet about it. The Holy Spirit will never be tied to a dead tree stump. Don’t try to keep Him there. Brother Thomas’ 1950 warning was prophetic. Acts 2:17. Whether you like my saying it or not is not my concern. My only desire is to see you rescue whatever time remains and move on with an authentic New Testament ministry. This is not 1832. It is 2012! God expects us to act accordingly. We are in the end-times of human history. Wake up! We were not sent to embalm the dead but to raise the dead."

I agree that the Hardshells, as a denomination, cannot be saved. But, it is possible to save some of them. It is also possible that those Hardshells today who are seeing their errors, such as those in the "liberal movement," may be successful in at least setting up a counter set of "Primitive Baptist" churches. Let us hope so.