Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hermeneutical Problems for Hardshells IV

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace." (Philippians 1: 3-7)

In the preceding postings the "good work" of the above passage was for the sake of argument assumed to be "regeneration." Wuest and Robertson, two highly respected Greek scholars and bible translators, stated that the "good work" was rather an active participation in supporting Paul's missionary labors. I stated that I agreed with this interpretation and that, if true, posed a serious problem for Hardshells. I stated that I would point this out in a separate posting after I pointed out the problems the Hardshells have with making the "good work" to be "regeneration." I also showed how the Hardshells had problems with Philippians 2: 12-13 and how to harmonize it with Philippians 1: 6 and Philippians 3: 8-15.

In this posting I wish to show 1) how a proper translation and interpretation supports the view of Wuest and Robertson, and 2) that such an interpretation is a strong condemnation of Hardshellism.

In his commentary on Philippians, Wuest wrote:

"The word “fellowship” in the original means, “a joint-participation in a common interest and activity.” This was the meaning of the word “fellowship” when the Authorized Version was made. The English word has largely lost its original meaning in religious circles, although it has retained it in academic phraseology. The word “fellowship” today usually means “companionship, intercourse between individuals.”

Because of factors I mentioned in my last posting, Hardshell spokesmen, apologists, and preachers do not generally advocate studying the original languages of Scripture. Believing that the KJV is without error, and perfect in every way (being the product of God's providence and inspiration), the Hardshell does not believe that studying the original words is necessary for correct Bible interpretation. This is why very few of them today, in teaching, ever mention what is written in the original Hebrew or Greek. For them to do so would give to others the impression that the KJV is flawed and that the Bible needed correcting.

We saw in the last posting how such a view of the KJV has led many Hardshells to err on what it means to "work out" one's salvation. But now we also see it in the general way in which Hardshells use and think of the word "fellowship," the way denounced by Wuest. This would also be true of the word "communion" (which often is from the same Greek word as "fellowship").

I could give other examples where Hardshells do not practice good sound principles of Bible interpretation. It is my plan to have a series in my book soon on this very point titled "Hardshell Hermeneutics." Perhaps the postings in this series should be made chapters in that planned series.

When the Hardshell Bible student reads Paul's words about "your fellowship in the gospel" he interprets Paul to be referring simply to “companionship, intercourse between individuals.” The Greek word "koinōnia," however, though it includes this much, also includes the idea of participation, of joint participation, as in a marital fellowship. Thus, if salvation involves a sinner becoming married or engaged to Christ (and it does), it must also include that sinner entering into communion and fellowship with Christ, with intercourse with him, and with an active participation and partnership with Christ.

Hardshells generally affirm that being in the fellowship of Christ is absolutely unessential for being eternally saved. Today's Hardshells teach that most of the saved in Heaven died without having ever experienced the "fellowship of the Spirit" (2: 1), or "the fellowship of his sufferings" (3: 10). They teach this because of their erroneous views on the word "fellowship" and its meaning.

If they understood the Greek word, then they would recognize that "joint participation" is a better and more complete English translation than "fellowship." Then the "fellowship of the Spirit" would become, in their minds, "joint participation of the Spirit" and with such knowledge they would hopefully be less inclined, or able, to think that "fellowship" concerned only a "time salvation." With a more correct idea of what the apostle had in mind when he used the Greek word "koinonia," the phrase "fellowship of his sufferings" becomes "joint participation of his suffering," and the "communion of the blood of Christ" (same Greek word) and the "communion of the body of Christ" (I Cor. 10: 16) will include the idea of joint participation in the blood and body of Christ. Participating in the Spirit, in the sufferings of Christ, in the blood and body of Christ, are not for a mere time salvation.

Wuest continued:

"This was the Philippian’s joint-participation with Paul in a common interest and activity, that of preaching the gospel. The preposition “in” is a preposition of motion. This common interest and activity was in the progress of the gospel. The Philippians supported Paul with their prayers and finances while he went about his missionary labors. This is what he is thanking God for. And this is part of that “whole remembrance” of them for which he is grateful."

Remember that this is also the interpretation of Robertson and others. It is really the proper way to interpret the words and context. Your "fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" is "your joint participation in the furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now."

It is also what is included in Paul's statement that "ye all are partakers of my grace," The Greek word for "partaker" is "sygkoinōnos" and means, according to Strong, Thayer, and other Greek scholars, a "participant with others in anything," or a "joint partner." Thus, a better translation would read - "you all being joint partners (and co-sharers) with me in this grace."

Further, the word "grace" has been used by Paul elsewhere in regard to being involved in the spreading of the Gospel. In II Corinthians 8: 1-3 Paul says that the financial contributions of "the churches of Macedonia" were examples of God's "grace." Wrote Paul:

"Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also." (verses 4-6)

What does Paul mean when he says that he desired that "this grace" be finished in the Corinthian believers? Is it not the grace or favor shown towards the needy saints and missionaries? This interpretation is confirmed by the words of verse seven.

"Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also." What grace? Is it not the grace of Christian giving? Finally, notice verse 19:

"And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord..."

Obviously "this grace" is the favor shown to poor saints by the financial support of other saints.

Paul wrote:

"For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem." (Rom. 15: 26)

What is interesting here is the fact that the word "contribution" comes from "koinōnia." On this Dr. Gill wrote:

" finish the collection they had begun; which collection is here called a contribution, or "communion", as the word signifies; it being one part of the communion of churches and of saints, to relieve their poor, by communicating to them, and to assist each other therein; and in which they have not only fellowship with one another, but with Christ the head; who takes what is done to the least of his brethren as done to himself: the persons for whom the collection was made, are "the poor saints", or "the poor of the saints"; for not all the saints, but the poor among them, were the objects of this generosity..." (Commentary)

Of course, as we have seen, not only are the contributions made to suffering saints a joint participation and partnership, but also contributions made to missionaries and evangelists. Further, such giving is an example of the grace of God and those who give to needy saints and missionaries are partners in such a grace or favor.

In another passage Paul spoke of "your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men" (II Cor. 9: 13) Notice that the Greek word "koinōnia" is translated as "distribution." Thus, like the word "contribution" this word also involves giving financial support.

Only when one sees how "koinōnia" first of all means "joint participation" does it make sense to see how the words "contribution" and "distribution" fit more with this definition than with the bare idea of mutual enjoyment of each other's presence. One who contributes and distributes his resources for the benefit of poor saints and for the needs of missionaries of the cross is a joint partner in service to Christ.

Notice how the KJV translators chose the word "communicate" to translate "koinōnia."

"But to do good and to communicate forget not" (Heb. 13: 16)

Words are not what is communicated but monetary resources. And, the Greek word for "communicate" is "koinōnia."

The words "you are joint partners with me in this grace," naturally connect with "your joint participation in the furtherance of the gospel."

Further, in the same chapter, in the immediate context, a few verses later, Paul speaks of "the furtherance of the gospel," (vs. 13) which words do not represent the introduction of the thought, but a continuation of the subject.  He also gives examples of how the gospel was furthered and advanced. It involves being "bold to speak the word without fear" (vs. 14), of helping others to "preach Christ" (vs. 15, 16) of insuring that "Christ is preached" (vs. 18)

Problem #1 - Hardshells are Partners in supporting Missionaries?

Wuest continued:

"This joint-participation in the work of propagating the gospel had gone on from the first day when Lydia had opened her home to the preaching of the Word (Acts 16:15), until the moment when Paul was writing this letter. Paul was grateful to God for all their help. And he was thanking them also. There is a most delicate touch here that cannot be brought out in any English translation, since the English language does not have the idiom. In the Greek there is a definite article before the adverb “now.” That is, Paul was thanking God for the joint-participation of the Philippians with him in the great missionary enterprise from the first day until the now. The article “the” is a delicate Pauline finger pointing to the gift which the Philippians had just sent with Epaphroditus, their messenger. Paul thanks them in so many words at the end of his letter. But here he does not want to appear too hastily and obtrusively grateful. So he thanks God for all of their help, and points a delicate finger consisting of the Greek definite article, used before an adverb, at the most recent gift as included in the “whole remembrance.”"

The evidence for the correctness of the view of Wuest and Robertson increases. The meaning of the Greek word koinōnia is evidence. The preposition, syntax, and other linguistic factors, represent added evidence. The context of the epistle itself is further evidence, as Wuest shows (the church had supported missions since its beginning). The remainder of the letter makes reference to the support that the Philippians had sent to Paul to help him do his missionary labors. They were "partners" of the apostle in his missionary work.

In the marital "koinōnia" husbands and wives are partners and they jointly participate in the communion and fellowship. At the root of communion is union. There is no hint in Scripture that the Apostles conceived of communion with Christ apart from union with Christ, as do the Hardshells of today. One who has participated in Christ and his atonement has also become a partaker.

Wuest translates this verse as follows:

"I am constantly thanking my God for your joint-participation in the furtherance of the gospel from the first day until this particular moment."

Then, in commenting upon verse six, he wrote:

"The words “being confident,” have a slight causitive force in the Greek. Coupled with his thanksgiving for their past generous aid in the cause of foreign missions, is his thanksgiving for their future aid, since he is confident of their future help. The word translated “confident,” speaks of the fact that Paul had come to a settled persuasion concerning the fact that the God who had begun in the Philippians the good work of giving to missions, would bring it to a successful conclusion right up to the day of Christ Jesus."

He continued:

"Verse seven "The word translated “meet” has the idea of “right” or “just.” That is, Paul says that it is no more than right or just on his part to think this of them, namely, their continued joint-participation with him in missionary work."

A.T. Robertson wrote;

"For your fellowship (επι τηι κοινωνιαι υμων — epi tēi Koinéōniāi humōn). “On the basis of your contribution” as in 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Acts 2:42. The particular kind of “partnership” or “fellowship” involved is the contribution made by the Philippians for the spread of the gospel (Philemon 1:7 συγκοινωνους — sugKoinéōnous and Philemon 4:14 where συγκοινωνησαντες — sugKoinéōnēsantes occurs)."

"In furtherance of the gospel (εις το ευαγγελιον — eis to euaggelion). “For the gospel.”

"From the first day until now (απο της πρωτης ημερας αχρι του νυν — apo tēs prōtēs hēmeras achri tou nun). As when in Thessalonica (Philemon 4:15.), in Corinth (Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 11:7-10), and now in Rome."

Problem #2 - No Hardshell "good work"

Not only are Hardshells guilty of not jointly participating in the furtherance of the Gospel, but also show no signs of God having done the same "good work" in them as he did in the Philippians (1: 6). They are also not partners in the same grace as that before described in relation to financially supporting missionaries. These are serious problems for my Hardshell brethren. Would to God they would wake up and see their errors and repent of them.

Hermeneutical Problems for Hardshells III

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (2: 12-13)

A. T. Robertson, in Word Pictures, says this about Paul's exhortation to work out one's own salvation in Philippians 2: 12.

"Work out (κατεργαζεστεkatergazesthe). Perfective use of καταkata (down) in composition, work on to the finish. This exhortation assumes human free agency in the carrying on the work of one‘s salvation...He exhorts as if he were an Arminian in addressing men. He prays as if he were a Calvinist in addressing God and feels no inconsistency in the two attitudes. Paul makes no attempt to reconcile divine sovereignty and human free agency, but boldly proclaims both."

Robertson alludes to what is well known among theologians. These Pauline verses have been a battleground in discussions about "human free agency in the carrying on the work of one's salvation," and about Arminianism and Calvinism, and about reconciling divine sovereignty and human free agency. 

Problem #1 - The Hardshell Error

Because the Hardshells bring to this verse their false premises and propositions, which are not supported by Scripture, they will not believe that the "salvation" labored for has anything to do with eternal salvation, and will insist that the salvation must be temporal. Thus, one of the objectives of this strange interpretation is to say to people - "oh, don't worry about failing in this matter! People are saved eternally whether they work out their own salvation or not."

Obviously the Hardshells think that the Apostle spoke carelessly in these words and in his other epistles. A careful Hardshell apologist would always let his audience know when he was talking about eternal salvation and when he was not. Had Paul been in the custom, as Hardshells think, of talking about "time salvation" in one breath, and then about "eternal salvation" in the next, he certainly would have been more careful to let his audience know by the use of the correct adjectives.

Further, when the Apostle, like the other biblical writers, spoke of salvation relative to time, they did so mainly by the use of tenses of verbs and participles. No theologian denies that past, present, and future tenses are used in Scripture in relation to salvation. We have been saved, in some sense. We are now presently being saved, in some sense. We are yet to be saved in the future in some sense. However, present tense salvation in Scripture is not the same as the Hardshell "time salvation" concept.

Further "work out" is in the middle voice and denotes not only that the person is doing the working out but is also doing it for himself. About the middle voice Robertson elsewhere wrote:

"The middle calls special attention to the subject...the subject is acting in relation to himself somehow."

Saying all this does not exclude God and his working, as the next verse shows in the words "for it is God who works in you." Both God and the Christian are continuously active in this work. Sometimes the Christian is passive in relation to God's effectual working. To say that the Christian after regeneration is only active (as most of today's Conditionalist Hardshells do) is a falsehood and is against the plain teaching of Scripture, as we saw in the previous posting ("we are being renewed and transformed each day" - an experience in which we are passive). To say that the Christian after regeneration is only passive (as the Absoluter Hardshells do) is also a falsehood.

Problem #2 - Working Out & Working In

Wuest, in his commentary on Philippians, wrote:

"Let us be clear first of all as to what this exhortation does not mean. It does not mean to work for one’s salvation, and for two reasons; first, Paul was writing to those who were already saved, and second, salvation is not a work of man for God, but a work of God for man, a work that was accomplished at the Cross. Neither does it mean to work out an inworked salvation. The idea of working out an inworked salvation is merely a play upon the English words “work out,” and has no support from the Greek."

Nearly every Hardshell I ever heard comment on this verse made a big play on the English words "work out" and "work in" as though Paul was exhorting the people simply to manifest in their lives what God has put in their hearts.  This error is due in part to their elders and apologists, with few exceptions, not knowing Greek. 

Many of today's Hardshells have enhanced their cult status by becoming believers in "King James Onlyism." These deny that preachers need to study Greek and Hebrew, or need seminary instruction, to properly interpret Scripture and to teach others. The reasons given are two: first, because God personally teaches his ministers, and second, because the English KJV fully and accurately translates the Hebrew and Greek. Of course, both of these reasons are not according to truth.

A person who is teaching from the simple English of the KJV translation is easily misled in discovering the true meaning of what it means to "work out," i.e., what Paul meant when he penned the Greek word that is translated into "work out."

In English the words "work out" are use in various ways, sometimes as a noun and sometimes as a verb. "Work out" often refers to physical exercise. Is Paul exhorting the Philippians to "exercise" their salvation? From the mere English words it cannot be positively known. "Work out" sometimes refers to exhausting labor. Sometimes "work out" means to solve, as to "work out" a problem in math. But, Paul is not saying "solve your own salvation." So, let us hear Wuest on how to better translate the word in question. He wrote:

"The words “work out” are the translation of a Greek word which means “to carry out to the goal, to carry to its ultimate conclusion.” We say, “The student worked out a problem in arithmetic.” That is, he carried the problem to its ultimate conclusion. This is the way it is used here. The Philippians are exhorted to carry their salvation to its ultimate conclusion, namely, Christlikeness. The salvation spoken of here is not justification, but sanctification, victory over sin and the living of a life pleasing to the Lord Jesus." (see here)

Thus, Paul is saying - "continue to carry out your salvation to its ultimate conclusion." What salvation is this? What does the context say about this question? First, the context of Scripture, then the context of Paul's epistles, and third the general context of Philippian epistle, and finally to the context of 2: 12? Each of these contexts show that it is not a mere temporal deliverance as the Hardshells deceive themselves into believing.

Wuest also correctly says that the ultimate conclusion or goal of our salvation is perfect likeness to Christ. This is the end, according to Paul, for God having foreknown and predestined people.

Problem #3 - Striving for Complete Salvation

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son..." (Rom. 8: 29)

How and when is one conformed to the image of Christ the Son of God? Is such a change into the image of Christ completed all at once when one is "regenerated"? Most neo Hardshells would say yes, at least as it relates to the soul. My father, for instance, a Hardshell preacher for fifty years, would say that he is no more like Christ today than when he was regenerated over sixty years ago. He must say this because he does not believe that God does any of the work of making one into the image of Christ after regeneration. He does not believe that his increase in faithfulness and holiness, his spiritual growth and maturity, is a result of God working to make him more into the image of Christ. But, from our last posting it was shown how Paul said that we are now, after regeneration, still "being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory" (II Cor. 3: 18) and that the Christian "is continuously being renewed," (Col. 3: 10) and that "day by day." (II Cor. 4: 16)

Alford similarly wrote:

"carry out (bring to an accomplishment) your own (emphasis on your own, perhaps as directing attention to the example of Christ which has preceded -- as He obeyed and won His exaltation, so do you obey and carry our your own salvation) salvation (which is begun with justification by faith, but must be carried out, brought to an issue, by sanctification of the Spirit--a life of holy obedience and advance to Christian perfection. (The New Testament for English Readers)"

If Paul has already said, in regard to God's work of salvation in the believer, that God is the one who does the work, starting it, and carrying it on to completion, then why is he now exhorting the believer to complete his own salvation? To the Hardshell, such a seeming contradiction is enough to warrant his asserting that the salvation of 1: 6 is not the same as the salvation of 2: 12. But, as we shall see, his solution to the seeming difficulty is no solution at all, but creates more difficulties.

Every workman and creator has a purpose in mind when he begins his work.  He has a picture in his mind of the finished product.  Every runner in a race has a goal.  What is the goal of the Lord in regard to his work?  What is the goal of the Christian in regard to his work?  Are these mutually exclusive?  If my complete transformation into the image of Christ is God's purpose behind his work, does this exclude such also being my purpose behind my work?  The Hardshells would say yes.  Paul, and the other biblical writers, however, would say no.  Notice these words from a little later place in the Philippians epistle. 

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but (having) that (righteousness) which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded..." (3: 8-15)

The Hardshell who says that to "win Christ" has nothing to do with final salvation truly stretches credulity. The Hardshell who says that to "be found in him" has nothing to do with eternal salvation cannot be taken seriously. The Hardshell who says that "having the righteousness of Christ" is only for a time salvation is a gross heretic. The Hardshell who says that to "attain unto the resurrection out from among the dead" (resurrection of the righteous) ought not to be our goal, is perverting Scripture and endangering souls. The Hardshell who says that coming to fully know and apprehend Christ only brings temporal salvation is guilty of no mean sin. The Hardshell who says that to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" is to press only towards a temporal salvation is being rebellious towards Scripture. The Hardshell who says that reaching perfection, or completion of work into the image of Christ, is not a purpose behind the labor of the Christian for Christ is flatly contradicting the plain teachings of the apostle.  It seems to me that these words of Paul in 3: 8-15 fully explain what he said in 2: 12.  In 2: 12 he exhorts believers to bring their salvation to its contemplated end, to reach this goal and conclusion, and in 3: 8-15 he clearly defines what is this end and goal.

Problem #4 - Eternal Salvation, not Time Salvation

Hardshells have historically viewed verse 13 as dealing with regeneration, or eternal salvation. The first Hardshells, however, unlike their modern descendants, also saw the verse as applicable to the work of God in continuously sanctifying his people, or making them more holy and more like Christ, and making them to persevere in the faith, while today's Hardshells do not. But, in either case, verse 13 is said to be talking about what relates to eternal salvation, for it is what God is doing in us effectually and without fail.

Even assuming the traditional Hardshell interpretation that "work out" means to "manifest" or "bring to light" what God has placed secretly within, the Hardshell cannot say that it is not eternal salvation that God has "worked in." If we are to work out what God has worked within, then we are to work out eternal salvation, don't you see?

Further, as we have seen, the goal of God in his work (1:6) is to complete the work of making sinners into the perfect likeness of Christ. Also, the goal of Paul's work was towards being made more and more into the likeness of Christ. Obviously Paul was no Hardshell, for he saw no contradiction between God and the Christian having the same goal.

Problem #5 - Work Hard for the Goal

Another commentator at preceptaustin wrote:

"Work out (2716) (katergazomai from katá = intensifies meaning of verb + ergazomai = labor, work or engage in an activity involving considerable expenditure of effort) means to work out fully and thoroughly, to accomplish or achieve an end (implying thoroughness), to finish or carry something to its conclusion. To work so as to bring something to fulfillment or successful completion and implies doing something with thoroughness. It means to do that from which something results. This verb always means to complete the effort and the work begun."

Did not Paul say that he counted all loss so that he might finally win Christ and be found in him before the judgment bar? Paul regularly taught this principle: "godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (I Tim. 4: 8) Paul believed that "godliness" (which is essentially Christ likeness) was "profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Ironically, this principle is one the Hardshells vigorously denounce. They do not believe that "godliness" or "godly living" have any profit in the life to come, that all its profit is in "the life that now is."  Further, the fact that salvation is by grace and the sure work of God does not exclude the Christian repenting, confessing, believing, obeying, being active in service to the Lord, persevering in faith and holiness, etc., as the Hardshells assert. We have already seen how Paul, who taught that salvation was of the Lord and by his grace, nevertheless taught that we must press toward the mark and run for the prize. In Hebrews 4: 11 he said "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest." (Heb. 4: 11) To Timothy he said "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (I Tim. 4: 16) He also wrote to Timothy these words in his second epistle:

"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (II Tim. 2: 21)

Notice that a man does something. He purges himself of his sins. What is the result of this doing? "He shall be a vessel unto honour." In Romans 9: 21 it is God who makes "vessels unto honour" from the clay. Paul is God's "chosen vessel." (Acts 9: 15) The Hardshells, because of their false presuppositions, will not allow that Paul, in II Tim. 2: 21, is dealing with eternal salvation though the language is the same as Romans 9: 21 and Acts 9: 15.

Problem #6 - A Christian's Work is God's Work

It is one of the propositional errors of the Hardshells to affirm that a work cannot both be the work of God and the work of another. In Hardshell thinking, if something is said to be the work of God, then this necessarily excludes not only creaturely means and instrumentalities, but also all work and activity of people. Likewise, when something is said to be the work of a creature, then this necessarily excludes the work and activity of God. It is an amazing and simple truth at which they thus stumble. The Scriptures are filled with a great many examples that demonstrate the falsity of their self produced presupposition.

"Lord...thou also hast wrought all our works in us." (Isa. 26: 12)

That is enough evidence to demolish the Hardshell reasoning.

Wuest translates the verses 12-13 as follows:

"Wherefore, my beloved ones, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His power in you, both in the form of the constant activity of (your) being desirous of and the constant activity of (your) putting into operation His good pleasure."

Problems for Antinomians & Hyper Calvinists

Question - if God is the one who must begin his work (or "workmanship" - Eph. 2: 10), then where is the need to persuade lost souls to call upon God to begin a good work in them?

Question - If God is the one who must complete the work of individual salvation, then where is the need to exhort saints about their responsibility towards the progress and completion of salvation?

These were not problems, however, for Paul and the new testament writers. They were not problems with our Baptist forefathers who put forth the 1689 London Confession.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hermeneutical Problems for Hardshells II

In this posting and in the next I will point out other hermeneutic problems for Hardshells that become evident in examining and comparing Philippians 1: 6 with Philippians 2: 12 in light of Hardshell views.

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it (epiteleō) until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1: 6)

Hardshells agree with other Calvinists that these words, directly or indirectly, support the teaching that none who have been born again can be lost. The work that God does in the heart, mind, and soul of the sinner in initial salvation is indeed a "good work." and is also known as regeneration, renewing, calling, conversion, etc. (* see note below)

The work of transforming the nature and character of a sinner is begun by God when a sinner is regenerated. That divine work does not end as soon as it begins, as many neo Hardshells teach. The "good work" of God continues on throughout the life of the newly regenerated and will not be completed till the day of Christ, when perfection is reached. God is the first, efficient, and final cause of this work. (** see note below)

Problem #1 - God's Work is Continuous

It is interesting how Paul uses the intensive form of "epiteleo" for the "ending" or "performing" of God's good work in the heart. Many Hardshells will want to acknowledge that this "good work," whatever it is, only has the beginning (regeneration) and an ending (glorification) but has no continuity of work in between. Conversion to Christ is not part of this "good work," nor is progression in holiness, further transformation, nor perseverence in faith. This "good work," in Hardshell theory, cannot be continuous and progressive.

The thing is, however, the affirmation of continuous work is clear in the syntax, as can be seen in either the Greek or English, or in many translations. For instance, "will perfect" is from the Greek "epitelesei" and here are some examples of how it should be translated:

will carry it on to completion (NIV)
will go on completing it (NJB)
will continue his work until it is finally finished (NLT)

The words "from the first day until now" (vs. 5) speak of a period of time, not to an instant, being a time when God was doing his good work.

A favorite Hardshell saying is "We are passive in regeneration, but in obedience we are active." What is meant by "in obedience" is "in the life after regeneration." According to Hardshell theory God does not work in the same way after regeneration as he did in regeneration. God does not work effectually in the regenerated to insure their progressive sanctification or perseverence. There is no further work that God needs to do, after regeneration, and before the resurrection of the body, towards completing this "good work." After regeneration, it is taught by nearly all neo Hardshells, the saint is never passive. But, again, in rebuttal, the text is clear that the good work of God is continuous and without interruption. Further, as we shall see, Scripture speaks of the ongoing work of God in daily renewal and transformation and uses the passive voice.

Problem #2 - Identifying the "good work"

Whatever the "good work" is, it has a beginning, ending, and continuous work in between.

The commentary at preceptaustin (a good place for Bible study help) wrote:

"Good work almost certainly refers to God's work in salvation but a few commentators feel that it may relate to their active financial participation ("good work") in the furtherance of the gospel. For example Wuest feels that God who had begun in the Philippians the good work of giving to missions would maintain their fruitful activity until Christ returns."  (see here)

I do not wish to go into the view of Wuest and others who contend that the "good work" is not regeneration or conversion specifically (a view which I accept), but "the good work of giving to missions." The posting after next in this series will concern this point and if it is shown that the good work is equated with a heart for supporting evangelism and missions, then such a fact will present yet another problem for Hardshells. But, whether it is regeneration or mission support, the principle that Paul upholds is true. In all of God's works we may say that God finishes what works he begins. So, I will deal now with the verse with the supposition that the "good work" is talking about regeneration or conversion.

Hardshells have a problem with affirming that this "good work" is regeneration, for the good work, as we have seen, is continuous, and does not stop with initial regeneration. Let us read the verse substituting "regeneration" for "good work" and see what problems it gives to the Hardshells.

"he which hath begun a regeneration in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

The difficulty for Hardshell interpretation is easily seen. They do not believe that regeneration is continuous in the life of the believer. I, like John Calvin, do not have any problem with viewing "regeneration" as a word that may include daily transformation into the image of Christ. This seems to be more in keeping with Scripture usage though it be at odds with many post reformation theologians who want to confine the term "regeneration" and its equivalent terms, to first receiving spiritual life. If we equate "regeneration" (paliggenesia - noun) with "transformation" (metamorphoō - verb), and with "renewal" (anakainōsis), then we must say that it is indeed continous.

Regeneration & Transformation

In II Cor. 3: 18 Paul wrote:

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

"Are changed" is better translated as "are being transformed." The Greek word "metamorphoumetha" is present passive denoting a work that is ongoing and one in which the receiver of the work is passive. This is a difficulty for the Hardshells. What will they say about this continuous change from glory to glory? In Hardshell theory, when a person is passive in some spiritual activity, then God is the one doing the work and thus it will always be effectual. How can they deny that God is working as effectually in people after regeneration as he did in regeneration? "The legs of the lame are not equal" here.

Further, this transformation occurs while people are "beholding" the glory of the Lord, and this beholding is continuous. This is significant and poses insurmountable difficulties for the Hardshells and their views. The Hardshells of today will likely not want to acknowledge that this continual change into the glorious image of Christ is the "good work" of God. They will not confess that progressive sanctification and perseverence in the faith are part of that "good work."

Hardshells dare not make conversion to Christ a part of this "good work" that God begins and which he will surely bring to completion. Yet, it gives them insurmountable difficulties to exclude conversion from it.

Regeneration & Renewal

In Titus 3: 5, a verse often cited by Hardshells, Paul connects "the washing of regeneration" with the "renewing of the Holy Ghost."

Regeneration and renewal go together as does change and transformation. In Scripture, the words used to denote renewal and transformation are nearly always, if not always, used in present tense linear form which represents continuous action, not a one time instantaneous action. We are being regenerated, being renewed and being transformed, and that "day by day."

"Trench writes that "anakainosis" ("renewing") refers to

the gradual conforming of the man more and more to that new spiritual world into which he has been introduced, and in which he now lives and moves; the restoration of the divine image.

John Stott agrees writing that anakainosis...

may be synonymous with ‘rebirth’, the repetition being used for rhetorical effect. Or it may refer to the process of moral renovation or transformation which follows the new birth. ( Stott, J. R. W. Guard the Truth: The message of 1 Timothy & Titus. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press)

The noun anakainosis is found only twice in the NT here and in Romans 12:2 (no uses in Lxx)

And do not be conformed (stop this - present imperative) to this world, but be transformed (continually - present imperative) by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (ibid)

The Hardshells must deny that the transformation and renewal in these words are the same divine "good work" as that transformation and renewal that happens in regeneration. Yet, there is no justification for doing this. What is clear, however, is the fact that the transforming of people into the likeness of Christ is not only a continuous fashioning work, but is also described as a work that God does upon people, who are passive, and as a work these same people are exhorted to be active in. Hardshell failure to see how these are harmonious facts is because of their false presuppositions and false premises.

Problem #3 - God works in believers to persevere

The preceptaustin study page on our passage then cites the famed Bible scholar Hendrikson.

"how closely the apostle links human perseverance (“your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until the present”) with divine preservation (“he who began a good work in you will carry it on toward completion”). Any doctrine of salvation which does not do full justice to both of these elements is unscriptural... Although it is true that God brings his work to completion, it is equally true that when God has once begun his work in men, the latter by no means remain merely passive instruments! (Hendriksen, W., Kistemaker, S. J. New Testament Commentary Set, 12 Volumes. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House)"

But, this linking of perseverance with preservation is a truth cast away by today's Hardshells. In the next posting, when we look at Philippians 2: 12-13, we will see how the Apostle Paul had no problem seeing God's saving work as having both passive and active aspects to it.

*(Note: Salvation's aspects may be divided into those things that God does for the sinner, external to the sinner, and what he does to or in the sinner. Justification and forensic pardon are works done for the sinner. These change the sinners state or legal standing while conversion, regeneration, sanctification, etc., are works done in the psyche/pneuma of the sinner, changing his condition and moral character.)

**(Note: In saying that there is a beginning and an ending to God's good work of saving and transforming the character of a sinner, it is also affirmed that there is a first cause and a final cause. "Teleo" is the Greek word used for "end" in Scripture. The teleological "end" of a thing is not simple cessation, but for a thing to reach the final state intended. It signifies a goal attained, purpose or aim accomplished. The idea of reaching maturity is included in the Greek idea of "teleo." (Note: The Greek word "synteleia," often translated end or consummation, carries more of the mere idea of cessation of a process than does "telos") Aristotle spoke of the four causes, the material, formal, efficient (or moving), and final cause. Paul speaks of three causes. He wrote:

"For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever." (Rom. 11: 36)

When a thing (A) is said to be "of" another thing (B), it is affirmed that B is the cause of A, that B is either the formal, material, or first cause of A. When Paul says that all things are "through" God, he means that God is not only the first cause but also the efficient cause, or means. Finally, when Paul says that all things are "to" God, he means that God is the final cause, the reason or purpose for all things. Because a Christian's transformation is the work of God, a work of infinite love, wisdom, and power, it cannot fail to reach its purposed end.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hermeneutical Problems for Hardshells

In my ongoing book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult," in chapter 19, "Coming to Christ," I dealt with the insurmountable problems that the subject of "coming to Christ" gives to neo Hardshellism. (see here)

A "Primitive" or Hardshell web page says:

"How do you know that all of the elect will respond to the call of the Spirit? Answer: All of the called are justified, so all who were called were called effectually (Rom. 8: 30). Jesus said all that the Father giveth me SHALL come (John 6: 37)." (see here)

Notice that it is affirmed that 1) all the elect will "come" per John 6: 37, and that 2) this coming is what it means to be effectually called, regenerated, or born again.  All Hardshells teach that this coming to Christ is synonymous with regeneration.

Notice also how the above citation omits "to me" or "to Christ" in its affirmation that all the elect "shall come," even though the text cited says "shall come to me." This is perhaps a kind of freudian slip. Either way it is significant.

This text gives insurmountable problems for the Hardshells.

Problem #1 - Nature of Regeneration

Obviously equating coming to Christ with regeneration demolishes the Hardshell assertion that regeneration is an experience wherein the sinner is only passive, and in no way active.  Coming denotes activity of the heart and mind and is used in the active voice in Greek.

The idea that regeneration is essentially a coming of the mind to Christ demolishes the Hardshell idea of regeneration being strictly on the subconscious level, or being non-cognitive. 

The fact that regeneration involves a coming to Christ, or faith, shows that the Hardshells are in error in their divorcing regeneration from conversion.  Coming to Christ, as all the leading commentators teach, including all the Old Baptists, is the same experience denoted by being converted, or in being given faith and repentance.

Further, if coming to Christ is equated with regeneration (and I agree that it should be), then clearly the experience of being taught by the Father, and learning from him, and being drawn by him (see vs. 44), precede coming to Christ, or precede regeneration and conversion.  What does such a fact do with all the Hardshell  argumentation on total depravity?  People heard and learned of the Father, were drawn, before they were regenerated.

Problem #2 - the ordo salutis

The idea that one must be regenerated before he can hear the voice of the Lord, or be taught and drawn by the Father, has already been shown to be false.  Also shown to be false is the Hardshell reasoning that life must exist before action.  But, clearly there was the action of hearing the Father, learning from the Father, prior to coming to Christ and being regenerated.  Also, there was action in the bones before brought to life by Ezekiel, or before breath entered into them.  Clearly an example of action before life.  Faith and repentance go together, so any argumentation as to which precedes the other is not important.  Also, conversion and regeneration go together.

Problem #3 - Interpreting "not by works"

Hardshells argue that the assertion that salvation is by grace and not by works excludes conversion being part of regeneration, or that faith and repentance are necessary for salvation.  But, what does such a standard do with the fact that "coming" to Christ is regeneration?  Have they not said that coming to Christ cannot be necessary for being saved since this would make salvation to be by works?

The Call of the Spirit

The Hardshell citation speaks of "the call of the Spirit" being effectual and irresistible. But, Hardshells deny that this is true when and if the Spirit calls via the word.  In their minds it is impossible for the Spirit to call sinners in an effectual and irresistible manner with the word!  But, the real Old Baptists did not so limit the omnipotent God.

Friday, January 3, 2014

History of Baptist Mission Work II

Chapter 171

According to a "Primitive Baptist" web page (see here), this is what is intended to be conveyed by the use of the adjective "primitive" with "Baptist" by the Hardshells:

"Primitive means 'original' and in doctrine and practice, the Primitive Baptists are identical to the original English and Welsh Baptists who immigrated to colonial America. More importantly, the Primitive Baptists are identical to the primitive or first century church in doctrine and practice."

The Hardshells on the above web page make an unfounded and ignorant claim about being one with, or a legitimate descendent of, the Old English and Welsh Baptists, and with the first Baptists in America. This is a claim that has no historical evidence to support it and a mountain of evidence to show that they are themselves not "primitive." Beebe, as we have seen, did not claim identity with the old English and Welsh Baptists because he knew that they had supported mission organizations and theological education for ministers. Further, as we have seen, they are certainly not like the first Christians in doctrine or practice.

In our day, two Hardshell elders, who claim to have studied the history of their denomination and of the Particular Baptists, and written books on the subject, are Harold Hunt and Michael Ivey. I have already referred to the claims of Hunt in our series "Hardshells and the London Confession."

Hunt, though knowing that his Hardshell brethren had historically claimed succession from the churches who first published the London Confession, believed that his brethren were wrong, for he correctly believed that the old London churches believed in Gospel means, missionary societies, and theological schools. To Hunt this showed that the Calvinistic Missionary Baptists were most like them, and not the Hardshells.

Ivey, he also saw how the Hardshells of former days, who argued that the Hardshells were the rightful heirs of the Baptist churches who first wrote and endorsed the 1689 Confession, were wrong in that claim. This revelation forced Ivey, as it did Hunt, to admit that the Hardshells cannot find succession through the old London churches. Ivey tried to find another ancestral line for his Hardshell group. So did Hunt. But, as we have seen, they are "wish histories," a term R.E. Pound, expert on the history of the Old Baptists, said of Ivey's history. But, more on Hardshell histories later.

Elder Sheets in his book "History of the Liberty Baptist Association," wrote:

"Our Baptist people from the days of Christ to the present time have always been missionary in spirit and practice; though at times held back by a spirit of lethargy. The Antimission Baptists claim that the system of modern missions is too modern, and ought therefore to be rejected. But the missionary spirit is no new thing; it is old as the church. We learn that the early Christians "went everywhere preaching the word."" (chapter 25, page 181)

Sheets repeats the theme of the first apologists against the Hardshells, which is that the church of Jesus Christ has always been a missionary baptist church. Saying this, however, is with the acknowledgment that there have been times when the church of Christ was not active in mission work. This inactivity has these causes: first, persecution, second, lethargy, and third, hyper Calvinism and antinomianism. So, what is affirmed is that the church of Jesus Christ has been in favor of mission work, and has promoted it when she could. Further, when we say that persecution has hindered open evangelism and mission work, this does not exclude the fact that God has often used persecution to scatter believers and thus scatter the seed of the kingdom.

Sheets continued:

"Paul and Barnabas were sent out as missionaries. This work may not have been done in the same way or under the same name that we do it. As time wore on, great changes took place, yet it was really the work of spreading the Gospel. It was carried on according to the plan best adapted to their surroundings."

First, Elder Sheets affirms what we have shown in this book, particularly in the series "Hardshells and Mission Opposition," relative to the church at Antioch sending out missionaries, and how the Scriptures show that the early Christians were intensely involved in evangelistic and missionary work. He also states that the missionary work of later Christians does not have to be precisely spelled out in Scripture to be right and proper.

Sheets continued:

"After the Romish hierarchy was fully established, our people were driven back, tortured in almost every conceivable way; and vast numbers of them were put to death. Thus during the hundreds of years which found them in the wilderness, it was impossible for them to do anything in the way of sending out the gospel as we do it now."

It is important to keep these things in mind in order to explain why the church, at times, has not been engaged in missionary work. To argue that the absence of missionary work during those times is evidence that those churches were opposed to mission work, is not a valid logical deduction.

Sheets continued:

"Neither can they claim the old records as sustaining them. From the organization of this work in England, in 1792, up to about 1826, there was no division of sentiment on the subject of missions (except the Kehukee Association, which divided in 1827), till 1832."

In these words, Sheets focuses in on the period of time between 1792 and 1826. It has already been shown, from facts of history, that the English Baptists who adhered to the 1689 London Confession, were supporters of mission organizations and theological schools. But, the date of 1792 is important because it is the date in which a foreign missionary society was formed in England by Fuller, Carey, and other Baptists. Many Hardshells say this is the date for the birth of the "new school" or "missionary" Baptists. The time period from 1792-1826 is important for analyzing the attitude of the Baptists in general to mission work and to ministerial education. And, what have we learned? We learned that all the Associations, in that period, supported those things. Thirty four years when the Baptists supported mission and education societies without any Hardshell opposition by any Association. We agree with the Hardshells in saying that the churches, between 1810 and 1820, were all one, but not all one in opposition to these things, but one in support of them.

Sheets continued:

"But even the Kehukee Association, anti-mission that she now is, was at one time in favor of missions.

She contributed as follows to the General Meeting of Correspondence: $3, in 1812; $5, in 1813; and $5, in 1814. Here is another record of hers: "Bro. Bennett Barrow was appointed the standing secretary of this Association, to correspond with the Board of Foreign Missions." This, with others, shows that at one time she was thoroughly in accord with us in mission work. But since 1827 she has persistently opposed this work."

How do the Hardshells deal with these facts? Griffin, as we have seen, admits that the first Baptists of the Mississippi territory were supporters of mission and education organizations for 30-40 years before the Hardshells first began to organize a protest. Spencer, the historian who has already been cited, said that there was not an anti-mission Baptist in Kentucky prior to 1816, and that the Baptists of Kentucky and Tennessee were for many years supporters of mission and education entities. The Kehukee also supported such things for many years before the Hardshell faction arose on the scene to organize opposition.

Sheets continued:

"We find as early as 1772 that the Philadelphia Association paid money to traveling preachers (missionaries). The Association voted a vote of thanks with the interest on Association funds, together with £6 more to Morgan Edwards "for his services in traveling and visiting the churches to the southward."

Here is the old Philadelphia Association, the oldest in America, involved itself in paying money to missionaries. Other aged associations, in correspondence with the Philadelphia, voiced no protest against the missionary doings of the Philadelphia Association.

Sheets continued:

"Elder James Osbourn was perhaps the leading spirit in bringing about the split. Yet this item from the record tells us where he once was: "In 1817 'a committee was appointed for Domestic Missionary Affairs,' and Brethren O. B. Brown, James Osbourn and Spencer H. Cone were appointed as Home Missionaries." James Osbourn appointed a Missionary! He was Then a Primitive Baptist."

The story of Osbourn is really the story of the whole denomination that Osbourn helped to produce. Osbourn supported missionary organizations, was himself a missionary, before he denounced all of it as being of the Devil. So too the whole Baptist denomination was a supporter of missionary work for decades before the Hardshells arose to attempt an overthrow and reformation.

Sheets continued:

"The trouble in the Mt. Pleasant Association mainly grew out of the fact that some of the members of some of its churches had united with the Central Society for missionary purposes. A portion of the Association was so bitterly opposed to said society and the object of its organization, that they determined to withdraw fellowship from all who had countenanced the society, on the ground that it was a human invention and unauthorized in the Scriptures. These brethren were no doubt honest in their opposition to the Central Society, but it does seem strange that they could not see that Baptist Associations are as really human inventions as are mission societies."

The bitter opposition that Sheets refers to in the Mt. Pleasant Association was similar to what appeared and occurred in many other Associations of the time. The acts of excommunication that were executed by associations against individuals are truly acts wholly lacking that charity which is characteristic of the church of Christ. It is a new unheard of thing, and which, as has been shown, was the real cause of the division. The Hardshells showed no forbearance, patience, or forgiveness for their brethren but cast them off and denounced them as being followers of Antichrist.

Sheets, of course, demolishes the argument of the Hardshells, involving "patternism," which has been addressed already. He shows that the Hardshells are hypocrites in regard to their chief proposition. They argue that mission societies are to be condemned because they are not specifically mentioned or defined in Scripture. But, by the same reasoning, associations ought to be condemned. So, why do they not condemn associations? In supporting associations, do they not give up their right to argue from silence? Their right to condemn mission and educational entities because they are not mentioned in Scripture is taken away.

Sheets continued:

"The following extract is from the doings of the Old Welsh Association, the first of modern times:

"In the association held at Swansea, in 1654, the church at Llantrisaint proposed to assist the church at Abergavenny, now Llanwenarth, to support their minister, which also they did. From the messenger of Llantrisaint, also, the proposal to revive the ancient order of things came the preceding year; that is, to encourage and support the missionary cause." (History Welsh Baptists, by Davis, p. 85.)

These facts about the 17th century Welsh Baptists did not get mentioned by Michael Ivey in his work "A Welch Succession of Primitive Baptists." His thesis affirmed that the Welsh Baptist of the 17th century believed like the Hardshells, and were at odds with the "missionary" and "new school" Baptists who produced the 1689 London Confession.

Sheets continued:

"The anti-missionary Baptists claim that the missionary enterprise is a "modern invention." They, no doubt, think that it is; but the very opposite is true. Missions are as old as Christianity—no new thing, not even among the Baptists. By the foregoing extract we learn that over 200 years ago the Welsh Baptists promoted missions, and considered the "missionary cause" a part of the "ancient order of things." We hope the reader will not pass on without carefully reading the quotation again." (pg. 229)

Such facts as these demolish the claims of the Hardshells.

Sheets continued:

"The oldest Baptists this side of the bloody age—the times of persecution, when God's true witnesses lived in seclusion to escape the cruelties of the Romish Church—were Missionary Baptists. Tell it to all around you, and wherever you go. The real Old School, or Primitive Baptists, in every age of ecclesiastical history, have been the most zealous supporters of missions, home and foreign. This is written advisedly; we know whereof we affirm."

The Hardshell historians, what do they do with such facts? Do they tell them to their people when they write their version of Baptist history? Griffin was honest enough to report how the first Baptists in Mississippi were missionary, and that for about 40 years before the opposers were spawned. Do many not rather "hide in oblivion" such facts and put out a false revisionist history that will keep the cult members deceived?

I also repeat, how it is the Landmarker views of the Hardshells that create these difficulties for the Hardshells relative to their historical claims. Had they followed the example of Alexander Campbell, who's movement parallels that of the Hardshells, they would have admitted that they were a new sect, and claimed that the church of Christ needed to be restored. Had the Hardshells begun as a restoration movement, then they would not have to claim that they had existed unbroken back to the days of the apostles.

Sheets continued:

"The first and oldest Baptist churches and associations of America were Missionary Baptists, the Old Philadelphia, the Warren, the Charleston and the Kehukee Associations, all had missionary plans for promoting the spread of the gospel."

Again, these are facts which demolish Hardshell apologies for rightful succession.

Sheets, citing another, wrote:

"After quoting history showing that the old associations were really missionary in spirit and practice, the author concludes as follows:

"Fidelity to the truth compels us to say that the anti-missionary party were the aggressors in this controversy. There can be, we think, no doubt on this subject, and in confirmation of the truth of what we say, we refer the reader to the propositions of Uriel Sebree at the meeting in 1835, submitted in behalf of the friends of missions, as follows:

"First. We are willing to be at peace upon the principles of the United Baptists of the United States.

"Second. We are willing to be at peace, if the association will adhere to the advice given at its last session, yielding to all the liberty of conscience upon the subject of missions."

"Both these propositions were rejected by the opposers of missions; hence we say they were the aggressors, for both these propositions were reasonable and in perfect harmony with the original principles of the Association and of the Baptist denomination generally." (pg. 230)

Anyone who has read much of the language uttered by the first anti missionaries will see that the spirit that motivated them was not of God. A hateful, strife and conflict loving spirit was manifested. It is a spirit that condemns and says "come not near to me, stand by yourself, for I am holier than you." It is a spirit that seeks to lord it over the minds and consciences of others, to take away the right of personal conscience. It is a spirit that esteems self better, and smarter, than others. It is a stubborn spirit, one that refuses forbearance.

In the next chapter, we will continue to cite and discuss what Elder Sheets wrote in his writings on the history of the Hardshells.