Monday, March 17, 2014

Hardshell Philosophizing and Revelation 5:9

“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” (Rev. 5:9)

Sentiments, more than biblically acquired knowledge, prevent most “Primitive” or Hardshell Baptists from submitting to the idea that all men who die without knowledge of the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ are doomed to everlasting torment. Much hindsight about the fate of unevangelized heathens in centuries gone by occupies their apologetics. A popular text among them, Revelation 5:9 is often set forth in an attempt to justify the belief that history is full of unconverted regenerates whom despite never hearing the gospel were nevertheless saved into heaven. However, the redeemed “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” is a portrait of the total number of God’s elect, not what the family of God is at every given moment in time. This is a crucial observation, and one which having escaped the Hardshell interpreter, has led him to the tragic conclusion that God’s elect are to be found among those who live and die in heathendom. Yet even if the text were to be understood as a continuous portrait of the family of God throughout history, it should be remembered that the text only specifically says where the elect were found. It does not specifically state 1) what their new life in Christ is like, and 2) what state they are in at the time of death. Even if it were true that there remained an elect among the heathen nations at all times in history, Rev. 5:9 provides no basis for believing that they would have remained in heathendom till they die. Heathens across the globe shall obviously be quickened by the Holy Spirit, thus fulfilling the fact of Rev. 5:9. Yet they then become converts to the Christian religion! They do not remain spiritual vegetables void of any awareness of their salvation, as predicated by Hardshellism. In order to be a friend to this heretical system, Revelation 5:9 would not only have to demonstrate from where some of God’s elect are found, but that they remain unconverted, having a hollow-log regeneration and sanctification experience.

To be specific, the question I heard most often when I was among this people was “What about the American Indians before 1492?” I have to admit that this used to remain on the top of my tongue as well when I imbibed this heresy.

The first thing that I now say in response to this is that such a question is a prime example of philosophizing, of which the Hardshells are notorious for doing when trying to refute the claims of Calvinisim. Instead of simply accepting the Bible truth that one must abide in the doctrine of Christ (i.e. be a Christian) in order to have God (2 John 9), they resort to speculation to settle the matter. Since most Hardshells have been made overly sentimental by hearing much of God’s sovereignty in salvation, but not in reprobation, they have a difficult time accepting the possibility that vast numbers of unevangelized people were not of God’s elect. They boast of the broad scope of their doctrine as including more souls than any other taught in Christendom, not realizing that the broadness is not supposed to go beyond what God himself has set. God’s salvation is indeed broad, but not as Hardshellism suggests, which stretches it to the point that many of the reprobate are thought to be God’s elect.

Instead of philosophizing about spiritual matters, we do well to stick to the word of God. Let me demonstrate how the Hardshell speculation and sentimental conviction that multitudes of unevangelized souls are heaven-bound falls flat with not just the Bible, but one of their very own popular passages.

In John 10:27 Jesus says:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

I can remember discussing in the past with Brother Stephen what a difficult task it would be for Hardshells to answer the question:

”Did the American Indians who were elect follow Christ?”

Since I was once a hollow-log heretic myself, I’m glad I was never asked it. Many Hardshells today would place the concept of following Christ in the category of discipleship, something which their modern time salvation paradigm says is not necessary to be finally saved into heaven. The problem is that Jesus specifically states his sheep DO follow Him, not might. Furthermore, following Christ is descriptive of the subjective experience of salvation, razing to the ground their imagination that such may not follow regeneration, and that only the objective fact of salvation is certain.

So on one hand we have the Hardshell sentiment and preconceived grid that multitudes of elect heathens void of knowledge of Christ die and go to heaven, and on the other an affirmative from Christ himself that His sheep would follow Him in this life. Which one is to be given the preeminence? If I lived at an earlier time and didn’t have the benefit of hindsight in which I could speculate about the fate of past peoples, would I not affirm without hesitation the truth that God's sheep, all of them, will follow Christ?

I’m quite sure at this point that instead of submitting to the obvious teaching here, Hardshells would attempt to wiggle out by saying one of the following:

1) Elect heathens follow Christ below the level of consciousness.

2) Elect heathens follow Christ in regeneration only, but not in the subsequent life.

3) There are two kinds of following Christ; one necessary without the gospel as a means, and the other unnecessary with gospel means. Elect heathens get the former, but not the latter.

All of this is simply avoiding what is the Bible truth. Jesus saves, not just to populate heaven, but to change mens’ lives and turn them to be followers of Him. Why, oh why, my Hardshell brethren, can you not see this? Or will not see it? Cast to the dunghill your endless philosophizing about who lived at what time and where in trying to deny the certainty of Christian conversion as part of salvation, and get your beliefs from Biblical exegesis!

Wherever the elect are found, they shall be made followers of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

History of Baptist Mission Work IV

Chapter 173

Hassell continued:

"After thirty or forty years’ experience, since the separation, however, it was ascertained that the Old School were not all dead, that some were still in existence, and by some unaccountable means they were in a state of outward prosperity to all human appearance. This so astonished the New School that they, supposing a good name was becoming popular, and might be some cause for success, suddenly changed their tactics, and assumed the name of “Old School or Primitive Baptists” to themselves, which they had themselves given to the Bible Baptists, and had for many previous years been aspersing and holding in the greatest contempt!"

There are several things that Hassell states that demand examination. First, however, let us notice the time period referred to by Hassell when he says "after thirty or forty years’ experience." If we take the starting date of 1827 (Kehukee Declaration) and add thirty years, then we are at 1857 and are specifically talking about the period from 1857 to 1867. There is no question but that the whole period from 1827 to 1867 (forty years, or a generation) is most important in studying the beginnings of "The Primitive Baptist Church." Further, a closer look at the time between 1857 to 1867 is also very revealing. What does Hassell say was happening in that period?

First, he says that it became evident that the prophecy about the demise of the newly formed Hardshell denomination, first uttered in the 1830s by the opposers of the Hardshell schismatics, was finally proven to be false. He says that the Hardshells were "in a state of outward prosperity" and this was evident "to all human appearance."

One cannot help but think of how the Hardshells want to have it both ways. They want to say, as Hassell does for the Hardshells of the 1850s and 1860s, that their prosperity proved that the "Missionary" or "New School" were wrong and that they were right, but then, at other times, when the Hardshells acknowledged their decline, or lack of prosperity, they would say that such a decline proved that they were right (for the truth is always with the little few they say). So, their contradiction is what is self evident.

Hassell says that the Missionary Baptists began to acknowledge that they had been wrong to have prophesied of the downfall of the Hardshells and that they, in the 1850s and 1860s, were confessing that error. He also says that these Missionary Baptists, who had long opposed the Hardshells, were "astonished" at the continued existence and growth of the Hardshells. Not only were the Missionary Baptists astonished, but they were also puzzled and bewildered about the reason for the astonishing phenomenon. He says that it was by "some unaccountable means." However, he then argues that such a realization led the Missionary Baptists to account that the success of the Hardshells was due in large part to their marketing of themselves as the "Old School," or as the "Primitive," Baptists.

Of course, Hassell makes statements under the appearance of "history" which are simply opinions that are put for facts. Hassell shows that he is writing primarily for the cult members, and not as an apologetic for others to examine and judge. Cult members will accept statements by their leaders as facts without the least effort to verify the truth or accuracy of those statements. Hassell offers no proof for his conclusions. He does not give citations from Missionary Baptist sources of the period in question to substantiate his allegations.

Further, the first opposers of the Hardshell schismatics, men like R.B.C. Howell and J.M. Peck, who predicted the decline of the "old school," did not, to my knowledge, ever predict the total extinction of the new heretical sect. What they predicted was a decline toward practical nothingness, toward being such a minute part of the Baptist or Christian world.

Indeed, at one point in the 19th century, the Hardshells were a leading force, representing a large number of people, especially on the frontier, but that time is long past and the "Primitive Baptist" denomination has dwindled down to probably less than 50,000 people. So, the prophecy was not proven to be false, but time has rather shown it to have been genuine.

Secondly, Hassell represents it as a new practice in the 1860s-1870s for Missionary Baptists to argue that the Hardshells were really the new Baptists, and not the real primitive Baptists. I have already shown how both Peck and Howell early on, in the 1830s, argued that those calling themselves old school or primitive Baptists were not really so. They did this by showing Baptist precedent for mission work and for theological education. Of course, in the first generation time period, there was no disagreement or debate over whether the Scriptures or the Baptist confessions taught the use of the preaching of the Gospel as a means in the eternal salvation of sinners. The fact that there was a larger number of Missionary Baptist historians and apologists in the 1860s and 1870s who were arguing as did Peck and Howell proves nothing.

Hassell said that the second generation Missionary Baptists, in studying the matter, began to suppose that it was in the Hardshell choice of a denominational name, and the marketing of the name, that led the Missionary Baptists to adopt the Hardshell practice. The truth of the matter is that the Hardshells adopted the name of "primitive" or "old school" as a tactic and as a way to market themselves. The fact is, however, that they mislabeled themselves, for they were not in keeping with the traditional beliefs and practices of the English and American Particular Baptist churches. The answer to the question - who is the rightful descendant of those first Baptists who gave us the accepted confessions of the Particular or Regular Baptists? - is an easy one to answer, as I have shown.  I have the benefit of others before me, like Howell and Peck, who totally demolished the Hardshell claims.

Also, the point being asserted by Hassell assumes that the Missionaries of the 1860s and 1870s were envious of the numerical growth of the Hardshells and coveted their tactics.  But, how can this be when the Missionary Baptists were outgrowing the Hardshells in that period by a large percentage?  Hassell insinuates that the motives of the Missionaries, in claiming to be the real Old Baptists, and in denying the pretentious claims of the Hardshells, were not doing so because they really believed such, but only wanted to claim to be so in order to be successful like the Hardshells.  Such Hardshell apologetics!

Perhaps Hassell, in talking about the 1860s and 1870s, has in mind the controversy led by Dr. Graves in this time period. During this time there was much debate among Baptists, including those in the young Southern Baptist Convention, concerning principles of Landmarkism, including the propriety and scriptural basis for "mission boards." Graves led a wing of Baptists that would later become known as the "anti board Baptists." These agreed with the Hardshells in their protestations against certain mission methods and organizations, yet they did not oppose all mission work, for they stressed that mission work should be in the control of local churches. Graves and the leaders in the Landmark anti board wing, however, were staunch opponents of Hardshell beliefs and practices. They would never have admitted that the Hardshells were the true old Baptists and that they were themselves new.

Hassell continued:

"For some few years now prior to the writing of this history, their ablest minds, through the medium of pulpit and press, have been endeavoring to prove themselves the veritable Primitive Baptists of the nineteenth century! It is likely their affliction will increase as the prosperity of Zion becomes more and more manifest, and the well established among themselves forsake them and go where they rightfully belong, to the citizenship of the saints and the household of God."

"Their ablest minds," in the time period under consideration, "have been endeavoring to prove themselves the veritable Primitive Baptists of the nineteenth century." Again, the insinuation is that this was the first time that men had called into question the claim of the Hardshells to being in agreement with the Baptists of preceding centuries. I am sure that Hassell knew how Peck opposed Parker in the 1820s, and that he answered the Hardshell claim that theological schools and missionary organizations were new among the Baptists. I am sure that he knew of Dr. Howell and how he stated, in "The Baptist" of the 1830s, how the claim of the Hardshells to being primitive was false. Many others could be named from these early decades. These denied that they were departing from the historic teaching of the Baptists.

Remember that the first Hardshell apologists not only arrogantly claimed that they were the true primitive Baptists, but denied that any others were. They not only marketed themselves as being "old" or "primitive" but constantly labeled Baptists who supported missions and seminaries as being "new school," that is, the bringers of new beliefs and practices. Why would the supporters of missions and theological education not respond to the claims of the Hardshells? Hassell wants us to believe that it was not till a generation later that Missionary Baptists began to deny that the Hardshells were the truly old school or to claim that they were the real old Baptists.

As we have seen, however, the Hardshells have no historical records to show that there were any Baptists who held their views in the 17th and 18th centuries. Mission organizations existed in those previous centuries. So too did theological schools. But, where were the Hardshell protesters? They did not exist!

Remember also how the first Hardshells in North Carolina considered and adopted the name "Reformed Baptists" for awhile before they began using the terms "old school" and "primitive" as their distinctive modifiers. Why would they do this if they really thought that they were opposing what was totally new belief and practice among the Baptists? However, if they knew, as did Beebe, that the Baptists had a prior tradition of these things, then truly "reformed" would have been the proper adjective. It would have been an acknowledgement that what they were then advocating was not the general Baptist belief or practice of the time, though it had been sometime in the more distant past, but it needed to become once again Baptist belief.

Hassell, in talking about the prosperity of the Hardshells called it "the prosperity of Zion," for in his mind, the Hardshell church and Zion are one and the same. He said that the "affliction" of the Missionary Baptists "will increase" in proportion as "Zion" increases. Hassell calls his work a "history" but it has more such accusatory language than it does pure history. I have not referred to my own work "The Hardshell Baptist Cult" as a history, although it has lots of historical information in it. I think my work is similar to Hassell's in that it is really an "apology" or rational defence. Hassell's is an apology for the Hardshells, and mine is an apology for Mission Baptists. Further, I don't think that I have made charges without proof. My work is not mere opinion.

Notice that Hassell makes the most uncharitable accusation against Mission Baptists. He says that they are opposers of Zion, and are they who rejoice when Zion declines and mourn when she increases. But, this is all in keeping with Hardshell precedent, for their beginning was marked by the harshest judgments and denunciations, calling those who supported Sunday Schools, theological schools, and mission organizations, followers of Antichrist and a part of the mother of harlots. One cannot call Hassell's accusations "history" but biased opinion.

Hassell also gave his own prediction of the future as respects the prosperity of the Hardshells. He said that the prosperity of the Hardshells would become "more and more manifest" and that "the well established among themselves," that is, among the Missionary Baptists who are furthering the will of Antichrist, "would then forsake them and go where they rightfully belong, to the citizenship of the saints and the household of God." Notice again how in Hassell's mind the Missionary Baptists are not part of the citizenship of saints or the household of God. Making such an accusation and claim is proof that the Hardshells are a cult.

Were there Missionary Baptists who became Hardshells? Yes. But, were there not Hardshells who became Missionary? So, what does this prove?

In the next chapter we will continue to examine Hassell's anti mission apology.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

History of Baptist Mission Work III

Chapter 172

As has been demonstrated thus far, the old English Baptists of the 17th century who produced the 1644 and 1689 confessions were not only believers in means but were also supporters of mission organizations. The Welsh Baptists of the 1600s were also missionary, and in fellowship and agreement with the London association of Particular Baptist churches. The Philadelphia Association was also missionary and a promoter of educational schools for ministers. All the first Hardshell Associations were missionary before they became anti missionary.

In the remainder of this series I will review the printed histories put out by the Hardshells and analyze how they have reported the facts of "the division of 1832." We will first review what is written in Hassell's history, the leading historical authority among the Hardshell denomination, about the separation of the Hardshells from the Baptist family.

Hassell's Anti Mission Apology

The leading authority on history among the Hardshells is "The History of the Church of God" by Elders C.B. Hassell and his son Sylvester. Both were 19th century leaders in the newly formed "Primitive Baptist" Church and wrote as apologists for the new denomination in their debates with Missionary Baptists. In fact, the Kehukee Association collected and gave money to the above elders for the writing and publication of the history. Also, the Hardshells have kept the book in print for the past one hundred and fifty years. There can be no better place to begin an examination of what the Hardshells claim in regard to the history of Baptists and of the division of 1832.

Hassell, in chapter X, "THE DOCTRINE OF GRACE, AND MISSIONS," wrote:

"The Apostles were commanded by Christ to “go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Scripture prophecy makes it certain that, in God’s own best time, the Apostles, by their writings, will go into all the world, and a heavenly kingdom will take the place of all earthly kingdoms (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 11:15)."

Why does Hassell begin his apology regarding the mission controversy with the subject of the Great Commission? Is it not because the mission question is all the same as a debate about the Great Commission? I would remind the reader how I have fully dealt with the subject of the Commission in that series of chapters titled "Hardshells and the Great Commission." Hassell (the younger) believed in a coming millennial reign, which is a view rejected by today's Hardshells, and he manifests that belief in the above words. He also seems to believe, like the Postmillenialists, that the millennial kingdom will be brought about by God's providential use of the word of God.

So, according to Hassell, the Great Commission has not yet been fulfilled. Second, it will be fulfilled in the future by the Gospel being preached in "all the world." Third, the way in which the Apostles will "go" into all the world and preach the Gospel is by the "writings" of the Apostles going into all the world.

It is good that Hassell sees that the fulfillment of the Commission requires that the Gospel be preached to "every creature" in "all the world." It is also good that he sees that a heavenly or millennial kingdom will follow the present age in which the Gospel is preached. What is not good, however, is the fact that he thinks that the spreading of the new testament writings is the way in which the Commission will be fulfilled. He thinks that this will be "in God's own best time," which of course is true, although Hardshells have erred in allowing such a truth to lead them into practical antinomianism, or do-nothing-ism. Hassell gives excuse for the lack of Great Commission work by the Hardshells. It is because it is not God's time or God's way.

Remember that Elder John Watson, a leader in the newly formed denomination, said that he and his brethren had "violated" the Great Commission, which he said was "our Commission." The debate over mission work is a debate over fulfilling the Commission. What have the Hardshells done to take the Bible, or apostolic writings, to the people of the world?

Hassell continued:

"The Apostles must have under­stood Christ’s commandment to them better than subsequent uninspired men have understood it; but there is no clear Bible evidence, and, as admitted by all scholars, no other reliable evidence that the Apostles personally preached the gospel outside of the Roman Empire."

What is the point of Hassell in these words? Who denies that the Apostles had a better understanding of the work of the Great Commission? What difference does it make whether or not any of the apostles preached outside of the Roman Empire? Is it because Hassell limits "the world" to the Roman Empire? Is it because Hassell, like Beebe and other Hardshells, believes that the Great Commission was fulfilled by the apostles and is therefore no longer in operation?

As we have seen already, in our series on the Great Commission, Hassell did not believe that the Commission was given only to the apostles, nor that it was fulfilled. He did believe that the Commission was chiefly given to the apostles, but that it was also given to all who are called into the ministry since the days of the apostles.

Hassell continued:

"By the dissemination of the Greek language and civilization, and by the multiplication of the facilities for travel under the mighty dominion of Rome, the providence of God had gradually prepared the way for the apostolic preaching of the gospel, at the same time that the Spirit of God lead pre­pared a people to hear and be benefited by such preaching. No doubt the genuine future evangelization of the world will take place in a similar way. Not by such nineteenth-century machinery as unscriptural alliances, upon a money basis, of the world and the nominal “Church,” but by the providential assemblage of people from all nations at Jerusalem to hear the preaching of the Apostles, by persecution, by visions of the day and the night, by special communications of the Holy Spirit forbidding the Apostles to go in certain directions and commanding them to go in others, and by the Holy Spirit preceding and accompanying the Apostles, the gospel was preached throughout the Roman Empire."

This is Hardshell antinomianism and Hyper Calvinism cloaked in the guise of allegiance to the sovereignty of God. What Hassell is basically saying is that the Gospel will be preached in all the world, fulfilling the Great Commission, by God apart from any evangelistic efforts by the church. He is saying that it is God's responsibility to fulfil the Commission, and not that of the church. Thus, he is an antinomian as respects heeding the commands of the Great Commission.

These words of Hassell further show that he did not believe that the Great Commission had been fulfilled. He believed that it certainly would be fulfilled, because God will surely see to it. The fulfillment of the Commission is identical with "the future evangelization of the world." This brings up some interesting questions to ask of the Hardshells.

Is it correct to say that the Great Commission has never, nor will it ever, be fulfilled? Or, in other words, to say that it will fail of accomplishment? But, how could it be certainly fulfilled by Hardshell logic? Modern Hardshell logic says that if any work of God depends upon human means, then it is not certain. Does the fulfillment of the Great Commission depend upon the preaching of the Apostles, who were but human means?

Notice that Hassell now mentions several other methods whereby God will make certain that the good news message is brought to the ears of people scattered throughout the world. None of these ways are denied by those who believe that the church is bound to fulfill the Great Commission and to involve herself in the work of evangelization. Most of these methods I have already examined in previous chapters on the series on the Great Commission and the series on the history of Baptist mission work. But, all this can be true and yet not be the limit of the way in which God will see that the evangelion is taken to the four corners of the earth. Hassell speaks as though God only uses the preaching of his servants when they are forced to go elsewhere by persecution and excludes God's using of the church's active efforts apart from persecution. The logic of Hassell would say that the absence of persecution indicates that the Lord does not want others to hear the Gospel.

However, he does mention how the evangelism of the Apostles, which he confesses to be one of the ways in which God was fulfilling the Great Commission, nevertheless required them to "travel" on those Roman roads that providence made use of in order that "the preaching" of the Gospel might be heard, believed, and obeyed. And, as we have seen, the early Christians, individually and collectively, financially supported ministers so that they could travel those "facilities for travel" to people who had not heard the good news.  Recall also how I cited from a leading Hardshell who testified in the "Mt. Carmel Church Trial" and how this Hardshell testified that he would not give one cent to help a preacher travel to preach the Gospel in foreign lands.  Hardshells believe that God's missionaries are to somehow pay their own travel expenses.

Hassell does not want to send out missionaries who will gather people together to hear the word, for he believes that God will gather all people together to hear it when he gets ready for them to hear it. Again, it seems plain that Hassell wants to make evangelism the responsibility of God but not of his people. It is practical antinomianism.

Hassell continued:

"And during the early succeeding centuries, by social and commercial intercourse, by persecution, by conquest, by captivity, by slavery, by enlist­ment in the Roman armies, the inscrutable wisdom of God, which is able to overrule evil for good and make the wrath of man praise Him, diffused the light of saving truth, to some extent, among the barbarian nations dwelling on the borders of the Roman Empire. And during the Dark Ages the Cathari, the Patarenes, the Paulicians, the Albigenses, and the Waldenses, being persecuted in one country, fled to another, as commanded by Christ, and went in every direction preaching the word (Matt. 10:23; Acts 8:1-4). And in modern times the Baptists have suffered the most religious persecution, and have been driven from country to country, preaching the gospel."

This is but another example of Hardshell antinomianism and Hyper Calvinism. It is an attempt to justify the non-activity of the Hardshells in supporting church sponsored evangelistic enterprises. Notice the repeated use of the preposition "by." The spreading of the good news message in accordance with the Great Commission is by this, and by that, but not by agencies set up by associations of churches! Further, I have already addressed these arguments in the series on the Great Commission and on Hardshell Mission Opposition.

From chapter 22, Hassell also wrote:

"So that we feel called on to state it as a historical truth, not successfully to be denied, that wherever Missionary Societies, Bible Societies, Tract Societies, Sunday Schools, Dorcas Societies, Mite Societies, Religious Fairs and Festivals, Temperance Societies, Sectarian Schools and Theological Seminaries in America prevail, there the doctrine of Phariseeism (modernly called Arminianism) prevails, there the doctrine of saving the souls of men from sin and from hell by works which men may do for themselves and for each other prevails."

By the standard that Hassell puts forth, Hassell is making a cult out of his denomination. By his logic the Hardshells, as a group, are the purest of Christians, for they do not have the various "societies" mentioned (although, as I have shown, they do have their publication and other societies).   Of course, this standard is one of Hassell's own creation.  We have as much authority to say that wherever you find do-nothing-ism, antinomianism, anti mission and anti evangelism, there you will find the Hardshell cult and heresy.

Also, it is not true that today's Hardshells are uninfected with Arminianism, for they are in many respects Arminian, as I have shown in sections of this book. Recall that both elders John Watson and John Clark, two well known first generation leaders of the Hardshell faction, both fought with the anti means wing of the movement (the "ultraists" and "modern innovators" as Watson called them), and answered the charge of being "Arminian" by rebutting that it was the anti means faction who were the true Arminians.

It seems to me that the doctrine of today's Hardshells, as we have seen, does not give to God the credit for their conversions to Christ, or for their "time salvation," or for their increased sanctification and perseverance. They say that they can only credit themselves. Their becoming converted is exactly in the manner taught by Arminians. It seems that the premise of Hassell is proven to be false, for Phariseeism and Arminianism do have a large place in today's Hardshell churches who do not have the societies denounced by Hassell.

Hassell wrote:

"There the mark of the Beast and there persecution prevail. There fraternization with these in all sects and societies (Pedobaptists included) where salvation is reckoned of men prevails. In all these new things, comminglements and fraternizations, the New School party disprove their identity with Primitive Christians, and repudiate the faith and practice of the Apostles of the Lamb."

What a harsh sweeping condemnation of Baptists who support inter church cooperation in mission work! By his standard, all Baptist churches who support mission work have "the mark of the Beast," and are persecutors of the Lord's people! All churches are supporters of Antichrist except for the Hardshells! Only the "Primitive Baptists" are pure in faith and practice, are the only legitimate "church of Christ." Further, the assertion that those who support organizations for mission work or Christian education believe that "salvation is reckoned of men" is no proof of anything. It is simply Hassell's Hardshell view, one in which he offers no proof. He cannot prove that his Hardshell anti means, anti mission, or anti ministerial education is either scriptural or the teaching of his acknowledged ancestors. This I have fully shown.

Hassell continued:

"The other party treated the Old School with a great deal of contempt on account of the paucity of their numbers, their old-fashioned creed, their experience of grace, their want of education, and general deficiency in human polish."

Whether or not Hassell's accusation is true, he cannot possibly overlook his own contempt that he, like his Hardshell brethren, have shown towards those styled as "missionary" or "new school" Baptists. The periodicals of the 1830s are filled with severe denunciations against all Baptists who supported theological and Sunday Schools, and mission work. But, it did not stop with that first decade, for the Hardshells have been denouncing their Baptist brethren ever since. How much worse can it get than to accuse missionary Baptists with being in league with Satan?

Further, Hassell seems to think that his Hardshell brethren did not deserve any of the criticisms or labels that were given to them by those who opposed them. Further, he views all criticisms of the Hardshells as being persecution. This is a cult trait and tactic. Tell your followers that all criticism is only proof that you are the favorites of heaven. Though not a grounds for "contempt," it is nevertheless a ground for criticism and condemnation of Hardshell heresies and falsehoods.

Further, as I have shown, the Hardshell "creed" is not so old fashioned, for the Hardshells now reject the London and Philadelphia Confessions, reject the teachings of their Baptist forefathers, not being able to shown any creed that promotes their views prior to the middle nineteenth century.

Of course, Hassell does not want "the paucity of their numbers" to be looked at with any purpose to condemn. He can judge mission Baptists as part of Antichrist because of what he thinks is the fruit of their beliefs and practices, i.e., supporting the things he condemns, but can we not judge the Hardshells by the fruits of their having declared all others in darkness and only themselves in the light? Can we not judge their decline as a proof that God's blessing has not been upon them?

In the next chapter we will continue to analyze what Hassell says about the Hardshell justification for separating from the general Baptist family and for their harsh condemnation of all Baptists outside their own ranks.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hermeneutical Problems VI (conclusion)

I have always believed, with the vast majority of scholarly bible interpreters, that innate or instinctual knowledge is "written" into the moral conscience and Psyche of all men by virtue of their nature (being made in Adam, who was made in the image and likeness of God). The question is: was the law of God, respecting moral duty, written into the nature of Adam? Did he know instinctively or intuitively that it was right to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love his neighbor (in this case his wife) as himself (which are the two pillars of the law's substance)?

An Epistemology Debate?

The word "instinct" means "an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species." Of course, instinctive knowledge is neither rational nor actively acquired. Rather, it is passively received, unlearned, acquired in birth, coded somehow into the physical nature.

In the Scriptures this is called "brutish knowledge" ("become brutish in their knowledge" - Jer. 10: 14). There are things that animals instinctively know. Peter spoke of "brute beasts" and of "what they know naturally." (II Peter 2: 12) "Know naturally," that is, know inwardly and intuitively. Thus, the Scriptures do acknowledge some kind of innate knowledge. There is also, of course, other knowledge that animals acquire by mimicking behavior, a kind of learning. For example, in Scripture, an animal is said to "know" his owner and his stall. (Isa. 1: 3) This knowledge was not natural, instinctive, or unlearned. Man is animal and he also has inner instincts, the effect of innate knowledge.

Of course, animals do not have rational minds, nor consciences, nor understanding of moral laws, as does man. Animals do not have spirits, or ability to have intercourse with and enjoyment of God. Man as a physical being, or animal, has innate knowledge, as other animals, but he also has an inner knowledge of right and wrong that is part of his moral or spiritual nature.

Some philosophers, like Locke, believed that a person was born with a "blank slate", or tabula rasa (Latin), for a soul. These denied that man was born with any innate knowledge, arguing rather that all human knowledge is acquired from experience and sensory perception. This has not been the general belief of Christians, however. It is against what Paul wrote in Romans 2: 14-15)

"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another."

Is conscience acquired at birth? This question is a related question to that which asks whether man has knowledge in his nature or subconscious mind at birth. Or, we may ask, is one born with a superego? Or, is the superego something that comes later into existence? If we define "conscience" as the capacity or faculty for making moral choices, then yes, all men are born with a conscience. However, if we define conscience as cognitive knowledge of right and wrong, as that which is written into the conscience by life learning, then the conscience is something that is in continuous construction during life.

The words of the apostle, in the above passage, seem to clearly teach that man has a natural knowledge of wrongdoing. Yet, we also read where Moses spoke of "your little ones" and said that as such they had "no knowledge between good and evil" (Deut. 1: 39) If they had "no knowledge" of good and evil, as newborns, then how can it be asserted that they had such knowledge innately?

On this passage Dr. Gill wrote:

"Though the Gentiles had not the law in form, written on tables, or in a book, yet they had "the work", the matter, the sum and substance of it in their minds; as appears by the practices of many of them, in their external conversation. The moral law, in its purity and perfection, was written on the heart of Adam in his first creation; was sadly obliterated by his sin and fall; upon several accounts, and to answer various purposes, a system of laws was written on tables of stone for the use of the Israelites; and in regeneration the law is re inscribed on the hearts of God's people." (Commentary)

Clearly, when Moses said that babies do not have any knowledge of right and wrong, he means they do not have any conscious or rational knowledge of such. This can only be acquired by learning.

It is true, as Gill says, that the original writing of God's law into the nature of man has been "sadly obliterated," or we may say "over written" by another writing. The law of sin was written over the first writing, greatly obscuring it. Both writings manifest themselves in moral choices.

This concluding essay is not intended to be chiefly on this epistemological debate, but was only introduced because of the Hardshell argument that God's word is written into the new nature of the regenerated in the same way in which the law is written into the nature of man, that is, in both cases, there is no conscious knowledge connected with this writing.

It is not important to debate the merits of the Socratic method, which affirms that all knowledge that a man may acquire in life was already present in the man, and "learning" a thing was not strictly "cognition" but "recognition." In such an epistemological scheme knowledge is simply "brought out" of a person rather than put within the person. All knowledge is anamnesis, or remembrance, a person merely rediscovers innately possessed knowledge.

This is exactly the kind of belief that the Hardshells have in regard to that spiritual knowledge that God promises to give to sinners in their regeneration. Thus, they will say that when a person is regenerated, he then knows instinctively the good news, yet not consciously. And, when that person hears the good news, he knows it instinctively, or remembers and recognizes it as truth. The word presented to the conscious mind agrees with the the word written in the subconscious mind. Of course, today's Hardshells will generally say that this is not so in every case.

This has been a paradigm of many Hardshells throughout the years, though it is not often explained so thoughtfully as I have in this posting. Many simply say things as did Elder Holder, saying that every born again person has had the word of God written into his heart and soul, even in those who have no conscious knowledge of it, such as pagans. The problem with this view is to explain why today's Hardshells are against affirming that all the elect who hear the Gospel will believe and obey it.

Further, I do not deny that there is some truth in all this, and there is such a thing as Christian intuition, an ability to sense when something is dangerous or a lie.

What I deny is the Hardshell attempt to deny God's use of means in fulfilling his promise to write his word into the heart and mind and their attempt to deny that the knowledge produced by this divine writing is cognitive.

Remember that it was Paul who said "how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Paul did not believe that there were people who knew about Jesus apart from being informed about who Jesus is. Further, the prophecies themselves show that the word written is written into the conscious mind.

Further, Paul often pointed to people and said of them that they did not know God. But, if the Hardshell view of how saving knowledge is communicated to the soul is correct, Paul could not be sure that the heathen people he referred to did not know God.

Further, why would the Lord advise his people to write his word upon their hearts if it is already all written there? Hardshells sing the song "Tell Me The Story Of Jesus," and there is a prayer in that song that asks God to "write upon my heart every word." From this we may gather that the Hardshells agree that this work of God in writing upon the heart and mind is not a one time instantaneous work, but continuous throughout the life of the believer, and one often accomplished by the means of Gospel instruction.

The Hardshell view makes it possible to say of a Hindu worshipper who worships gods and lords many, that he both knows and does not know God, all at the same time, which just throws out the window the law of non-contradiction.