Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Conversion is Regeneration (Edwards)

Though some affirm that Jonathan Edwards taught the hybrid "born again before faith" view, the following citations show otherwise. Edwards did not think that regeneration was different from conversion. 

Edwards wrote (all emphasis mine - SG):

"If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest that by regeneration, or being begotten or born again, the same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the Scripture speaks of as effected by true repentance and conversion. I put repentance and conversion together, because the Scripture puts them together (Acts iii. 19), and because they plainly signify much the same thing.'"

"This inward change, called regeneration and circumcision of the heart, which is wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same with that spiritual resurrection so often spoken of, and represented as a dying unto sin, and living unto righteousness...That a spiritual resurrection to a new divine life, should be called a being born again, is agreeable to the language of Scripture, in which we find a resurrection is called a being born, or begotten...This change, which men are the subjects of when they are born again, and circumcised in heart, when they repent, and are converted, and spiritually raised from the dead, is the same change which is meant when the Scripture speaks of making the heart and spirit new, or giving a new heart and spirit....Thus repentance (metanoia) or the change of the mind, is the same as being changed to a new mind, or a new heart and spirit. Conversion is the turning of the heart; which is the same thing as changing it so, that there shall be another heart, or a new heart, or a new spirit."

"The apostle does in effect tell us, that when he speaks of that spiritual death and resurrection which is in conversion, he means the same thing as crucifying and burying the old man, and rising a new man."  (pgs. 466-470)


See here

(see my posting here for more citations)

The first Hardshells believed that regeneration included conversion to Christ.  Today's Hardshells have forsaken the Old Baptist faith.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wilson Thompson - 1 Peter 1:23 And The Certainty Of Conversion

I recently read a brief blog posting on one of the more popular Hardshell Baptist websites (see Here), in which author Josh Winslett shared a quotation of Elder Wilson Thompson, a first-generation preacher of this faith and order. It is obviously posted in an attempt to prove that he is “in succession” with the conditional time salvation line of thinking invented in the late 1800s and advocated by the majority of the current generation.

The quotation is taken from Thompson’s autobiography, which can be found on, a site managed by David Montgomery.

Writing in reference to our Baptist forefathers, Thompson states:

"They denied that the preaching of the gospel had any power to convert the dead sinner, or to give him life, and declared that man in nature was dead in trespasses and sins, and that as no means could be used to give life to one literally dead, even so no means could be used to give eternal life to those who are dead in sins, that God effects that work of Himself, by His holy Spirit, without means or instruments, and the gospel is a proclamation of good tidings, of great joy to the soul that is prepared with a hearing ear and an understanding heart to receive it. To those who thus believe it is the power of God unto salvation, and it saves them from the false doctrines of men, and feeds and makes them strong in the truth."

It is not my present purpose to here address Thompson’s own error in misrepresenting our Baptist forefathers, yet I simply point out to the reader that he does so. As far as the rest of his statement is concerned I will be the first one to admit that on the cover these words seem to convey some semblance to the modern scheme mentioned above. Immediate or no-means regeneration, though not sufficient evidence to document conditional time salvation, is nevertheless a central component of it. In addition, his expression that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and it saves them from the false doctrines of men, and feeds and makes them strong in the truth” is language very similar to what usually comes from this camp, and gives weight to the notion that Thompson was considering the salvation of Romans 1:16 as a post-regeneration experience. Let it be clearly understood, though, that Thompson can be said to be an advocate of time salvation if and ONLY if he felt that acquaintance with the gospel was an optional experience for the people of God. However, when we consult further writings of Thompson we see that such is not the case!

Brother Stephen has made the assertion in the past that the first generation “Primitive” Baptists made a very close analogy between natural birth and spiritual birth. They held to a three-stage model of the whole death to life process in which there was a point of initial conception (i.e. regeneration), followed by a period of conviction analogous to the babe in the darkness of the womb, and then deliverance (i.e. new birth).

In chapter six of his work Simple Truth is contained the particular statement of Thompson which shows that this too was his stated position (emphasis mine – KF):

" This change wrought by the spirit, is called regeneration because it is begetting them unto a divine nature. The first work of the spirit on the heart is regeneration, or the implanting of that incorruptible seed with cleaves to holiness, and so it is sometimes called quickened, because this is a living seed, that causes the motions of life to appear, and this is always followed by the new birth which is effected when the soul is enabled to view Christ by faith, and lay hold of the comfort contained in the gospel, and so they are said to be born again, not of corruptable seed, but of an incorruptable seed, by the word of God." (Simple Truth, Wilson Thompson)

It is the highlighted portion of Thompson’s statement which overthrows any potential argument for portraying him as an advocate for modern-day conditionalism. A regeneration experience which is “always followed” by a gospel birthing is equivalent to saying that conditional time salvation is certain to the elect. This attacks the very heart of the modern-day heresy, which teaches that acquaintance with the gospel is no guarantee. Rather, it is something achieved only by ”a few” of God’s people. Furthermore, it is clear that Thompson treated 1 Peter 1:23 as respecting the last stage of his model (i.e. the new birth), being effected by the gospel, or the “word of God”.

Were Thompson to be ”invited into the stands” of the typical Hardshell church today and began to teach that the Word of 1 Peter 1:23 was not Christ, but the gospel (which is correct – KF), or that gospel conversion always follows regeneration, thereby not leaving room for regenerated heathens, unbelievers, idolators, and apostates, he would be muzzled, branded a heretic, declared ”out of order”, and promptly ostracized for the rest of his life.

It is this citation of Thompson which shows that the first one, cited by Winslett on, cannot be used as evidence for conditionalism. The only thing that can be gathered from it is that Thompson was simply trying to avoid gospel instrumentality in the initial spark of his three-stage model of the saving process. The moment he makes the addition that gospel birthing always follows regeneration, as the latter citation exhibits, he leaves conditional Hardshellism.

Thompson and the rest of his contemporaries of similar opinion constitute a brick wall through which any attempt to find a succession of churches advocating conditionalism cannot penetrate.

As if Elder John Watson’s Old Baptist Test, written later, had not already done so.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hardshells & The American Indian

The Hardshells of today make arguments, relative to the heathen (those who are ignorant of the one true and living God and of the Gospel), based upon emotion rather than upon the plain statements of Scripture. Relative to these heathen, the American Indians are often brought up as an example. Can we say that they are all lost because they knew nothing about the Father and Son? Emotion would want us to deny that they were all lost because they lacked knowledge of and faith in Father and Son, or in the Gospel revelation. An appeal is often made to man's sense of fairness in consideration of the question. Is it fair (or just) for God to deny salvation to the heathen who, through no fault of his own, was never taught the truth? If the American Indian died without faith in Christ because he had not heard of Christ, how can such a system be right?

The Hardshells will also argue that the Devil is more successful than God, which they say proves that the Gospel means position cannot be true.

If the American Indian was saved in spite of his having died without evangelical faith and knowledge, then being called, quickened, regenerated, born again, created anew, renewed, transformed, etc., do not involve cognition, enlightenment, nor evangelical faith, repentance, and conversion.

We can expect such arguments to be made by Universalists. And, interestingly, the Hardshells have had problems over Universalism and No-Hellism.

We are not to be guided by our reasoning or judgments, but by what is clearly taught in Scripture. When the Hardshells give us the Scripture evidence that affirms that those who die as heathens or pagans are nevertheless saved, we will be glad to listen to them. But when they put forth arguments and reasonings not founded on the express teaching of Scripture, we will turn away from them.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." (Prov. 3: 5)

"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8: 20)

Where in "the law and the testimony" is the salvation of faithless people affirmed? The burden is on the Hardshells to give us the Scriptural evidence. Keep in mind that we want plain statements of Scripture and not faulty deductions from texts of Scripture.

The Hardshell thinks that there are serious theological problems in denying the salvation of many of the heathen, such as the American Indians who died knowing nothing of Christ or true religion. That may or may not be, but let the Hardshell acknowledge how his own position creates far more theological problems.

Further, consider the historical evidence concerning the American Indian. Who took the Gospel to the Indians? The Hardshells or the Missionary Baptists? If the Hardshells had such a concern for the state of the Indian's soul, why has he not had any preachers to preach to the Indians? Was it not Missionary Baptists or other evangelicals who gave the good news to the Indians? The Hardshells have been no friend to the Indians, and had it been left to them alone, the Indians never would have heard the Gospel. I'll take the example of Isaac McCoy over that of Wilson Thompson, I'll take the example of J.M. Peck over that of Daniel Parker. When the Scripture speaks of "those who turn many to righteousness" (Dan. 12: 3), were they describing men like McCoy and Peck, or Thompson and Parker?

John Leland, in writing to John Taylor, cited this verse and thought that it was expressive of men like Taylor who were instrumental in winning the lost to Christ. Who is more like the character "they who turn many"? The Hardshells or non-Hardshells?

They who turn many to righteousness "shall shine like the brightness of the sky above," "like the stars forever and ever." God help us to be evangelical! More like Paul! More like Spurgeon and Moody! More like Carey and Fuller!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Advantage?

What advantage has it been to me to have been delivered from the Hardshell or "Primitive" Baptist cult? I was delivered from the heresies of Hardshellism in the mid 80s and I have been glad for it ever since. I regularly give thanks to the Lord for delivering me from the errors of Hyper Calvinism, Antinomianism, and Hardshellism.

I think of the many positive effects to my spiritual thinking, character transformation, increased sanctification, and perseverance, etc., as a result of my deliverance.

First, I have no reluctance to preach to the spiritually dead, to witness to the sinner, and to counsel him about his need of salvation. I am eager to witness to all, to plead with the lost.

Second, I have greater appreciation and assurance of salvation, my deliverance from heresy being evidence of God's care for me.

Third, I am more careful in my Christian walk, knowing that if I do not persevere and overcome, then I will not be finally saved. Contrary to my former Hardshell beliefs, my actions do have eternal consequences both for others and for myself.

Fourth, I am also more soberly aware of how my actions may be a means either in the obtaining of salvation or of damnation. I am not only a means in the salvation of dead sinners but also in the continuous salvation and perseverance of the regenerate.

Fifth, I have greater fellowship with other Christians who are not five point Calvinists, even with Arminians, being opposed to schismatic thinking and behavior. I appreciate these Christians and realize that they are people who love the Lord and seek to follow his will. I realize that they may be right in some areas where there is disagreement and I may be wrong. I am more patient and tolerant, and less stubborn, less a "Hardshell" "straightjacket."

Sixth, I am more humble in my view of myself, less ambitious, more respectful to those who know more and have superior experience. I am less given to rail, to accuse, to attack. I am far more removed from a "know it all" mentality now that I am no longer a hardheaded Hardshell. I have a greater appreciation for the gifts of others with whom I do not fully agree.

Seventh, I am a far more careful exegete of Scripture, and less inclined to take my presuppositions to Scripture. I am less likely to twist Scripture, being more honest in my reading of Scripture. In a nutshell, my hermeneutics are much better.

I am sure that there are other good things that have come to me as a result of my having been delivered from a cult. I know cult thinking. I know the dangers of being in a cult. I believe God wants me to use my experience to help people in the Hardshell cult to experience the same deliverance as I have.

What the first Hardshells Believed VIII

For the "Primitive Baptist" periodical for 1845 (see here)

"Shall Baptists admit in their churches this long-condemned heresy?  Shall they unite with those who hold the doctrine of Cassian, Pelagius, or the Roman church, and reject the doctrine of the Reformation, the doctrine of the Baptists published in their Confession of Faith more than 200 years ago, and adopted by the first Association of Baptists in the United States, viz. the Philadelphia Association? Shall they reject the doctrine of the Bible, and shrink from a faithful discharge of duty, from faithfully declaring all the counsel of God, for the sake of money, applause, or members, or for fear of offending a gainsaying world?"

The "Primitive" or "Hardshell" Baptists of 1845 thought ill of those Baptists who "reject" 1) the doctrine of the Reformation, or "Reformed" doctrine, and 2) the doctrine of the 1689 London Confession, and 3) the beliefs of the Philadelphia Association.  Yet, today's Hardshells claim to oppose "Reformed" doctrine, rejecting its teaching regarding the absolute predestination of all things, of the use of means in the eternal salvation of sinners, and its teaching regarding justification by faith. They also disclaim the 1689 Confession but the first Hardshells did not. Today's Hardshells also reject being styled "Calvinists" for these reasons, though their forefathers had no hesitancy in claiming to be Calvinists. It seems that today's Hardshells are far less "primitive" or "original" than what they think.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What the first Hardshells Believed VII

From June through November last I wrote six postings titled "What the first Hardshells Believed." From those posts it is clear that today's "Primitive Baptists" are not in agreement with their own founding fathers of the 1830-1860 period. Those previous postings contained citations from "The Primitive Baptist" periodical of the 1830s and 1840s. This posting will give a citation from the same paper for the year 1860 and it will be seen that the public stated view of the Hardshells, even at that time, was that people had to be converted in order to be finally and eternally saved. They were still teaching that the Gospel was a means in the eternal salvation of the elect.

It also must be remembered how it was in 1866-67 that Elder John Watson and Elder R.W. Fain published "The Old Baptist Test" and in this book Watson mentions how the anti means faction among the followers of Elder Daniel Parker were increasing in strength and is why Watson called, at that time (and in his last days), for a debate among the "Old School" or "Primitive" Baptists on this issue. In fact, Watson had been a writer and supporter of "The Primitive Baptist" periodical since its inception and clearly both Watson and that periodical taught the Gospel means position, as the following citations will further show.

From "The Primitive Baptist" (see here)

"Awful meditation! distressing thought! but it is true, --that all the world--our nearest friends and our bitterest enemies, which have not obtained repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus, --will hear his voice, and come forth unto eternal condemnation.--"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

Today's Hardshells do not believe that evangelical faith and repentance are essential to eternal salvation, but the above words are in direct contradiction to that view. Further, it is not some non-cognitive "faith" but "faith in the Lord Jesus."

Further, no Hardshell today interprets the perishing of the above cited verse to be eternal. They do not believe that Jesus was saying "repent or eternally perish." Yet, the first Hardshells did not believe such. And, in this light, who is the "primitive" Baptist?

I wonder if any of today's Hardshells would so warn the sinner? They love to boast of their popularity as funeral preachers, but I doubt that they would be found saying the things in the above citation. Spurgeon would have had no reluctance in using a funeral to warn the sinner. The Hardshells of today, because they do not warn the wicked, as did the first Hardshells, are doing harm to souls and displeasing God.

The article continued:

"Dear brethren and sisters, pray for sinners...that God would open their blinded eyes to see their awful condition, and that Jesus, who is "exalted a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Israel," may give them "godly sorrow, which worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of, but that leadeth to life eternal,"--that the awful judgment of "coming forth unto the resurrection of damnation," may be averted from their poor souls.

Pray for sinners to be eternally saved? No Hardshell today believes or practices this (to their shame). I have written about this in my book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult." Notice that being convicted of sin is not enough, but one must also repent, or actually turn, from sin to God, or be converted, in order to experience escaping final damnation.

The article continued:

O, sinner! this is your condition! You must obtain the favor of God,--"the Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God,"--or we must realize this dreadful "resurrection;" "He that believeth not is condemned already."  "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will you die, O house of Israel." O, Sinner! pray for yourself; and if you feel that you are "living without God and without hope in the world," and see your great need of a Savior, we would say to you, Come boldly to a throne of grace; come just as you are; plead the name and righteous merits of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; put your whole trust in him, and cast your whole care upon him, for he careth for you."

Do Hardshells preach like this today? I do. Who is more "Primitive" then? Who is more in agreement with the first Hardshells?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

God NOT Sovereign In Conditionalism

From time to time I come across certain assertions made by my former acquaintances of the “Primitive” Baptists in which they contradict themselves; and I strongly suspect, do not even know it. I blame a lot on this on the general ignorance of systematic theology, failing to know the implications that the modern time salvation paradigm has on basic bible doctrines. On the cover the statement seems to uphold their doctrine as exalting God higher than any other belief system found within Christendom (which is their intention), yet when it is actually applied to their novel paradigm, He is abased and their teaching is in fact revealed to be a cloaked form of Arminianism.

In answer to the question “What’s the difference between Primitive Baptists and other Baptists?”, the Camp Creek Primitive Baptist Church website says:

“We firmly believe that God is sovereign in all matters….” (See Here)

To which I reply, no, you do not believe this! I should know since I’m a former teacher within this order. There are particular areas where Hardshellism does NOT recognize where God is sovereign, and it is the point of this brief article to show the two main areas of doctrine where this is so.

First, God is not sovereign in limited predestination.

If God were sovereign in all matters, He would be so over those things which the limited or conditionalist view of predestination says He has not in any sense caused. But to be sovereign over a matter presupposes that God is actually involved in the execution of the event! Except for the salvation of God’s people, however, and possibly those few events where God is said to have “intervened”, Conditionalism makes free-will the FIRST cause of what remains. This was one of the major things I saw when the Lord was delivering me from this teaching. Everything must have a FIRST cause, and if God is not that FIRST cause, then what is? Gravity? Dirt? The Big Bang? The only alternative outside of some scientific or evolutionary response is to reply the free-will of man. Conditionalism cannot reply that God is sovereign over all events, for most of those events it is said He has not caused!

So how can God be sovereign over that which conditional predestination says He is not even involved in bringing to pass? I’m sure Martin Luther would have a field day with this, seeing that is similar to Erasmus's free-will philosophy.

Second, God is not sovereign in conditional time salvation.

Now here's a sad admission! A woeful depiction of the Almighty God! That Hardshellism does not believe that God is sovereign in all matters is proven when the question is really pondered:

”Is God sovereign in gospel conversion (i.e. time salvation)?”

This is a stickler in the "Primitive Baptist" paradigm, and a question which, when honestly pursued, will expose the Arminianism implicit within Conditionalism. Being overly protective of God's sovereignty in eternal salvation (which is of course to be commended of all Christians), they have so sliced and diced the scriptures, separating those things God has joined together, that they have left themselves vulnerable to the charge of being Arminian with respect to their beloved time salvation doctrine. This hypothetical "second" salvation available to the elect child of God "already regenerated" is said to be accomplished by free-will. Just ask one to preach from Acts 2:40 and you'll see. So how can one speak of God being sovereign in time salvation when He doesn't even have anything to do with bringing it to pass? It sounds strange seeing that is a works-system, but I can remember my deceived friends being almost boastful of there being a salvation that only they can do, which God wouldn't do for them.

So how can it be said on one hand that God is sovereign in time salvation, and on the other say that I must save myself (per their view of Acts 2:40)? Which one is it? The question really is not even permissible, for it must first be allowed that God is actually involved in the event. Only then could one begin to entertain the question of whether the grace of God was irresistible or not in performing it.

In this system it cannot be said that God is sovereign, for according to the teaching of time salvation many of the regenerate reject the gospel, reject Christ, refute to repent, believe, practice holiness, or persevere in the faith. Otherwise, the irresistible grace of God would successfully impart these virtues into His people.

To admit that God is sovereign in gospel conversion would also mean that He is so despite the fact that means are involved, something which our moderns say renders the transaction not secure because it is dependent upon man.