Friday, June 27, 2014

Hardshell Boasting

According to a leading "Primitive Baptist" web page, put out by Arlington (Texas) Primitive Baptist church, "The Primitive Baptists have some very able writers." The authors of the site go on to say:

"Many Primitive Baptists (and others) in seeking additional insight or wisdom on the written word seek out writers that are popular or are supported by publishing houses or bookstores while our writers are ignored."

The Arlington church, like Hardshell apologist Harold Hunt, boasts of the superiority of their historical apologists and Bible teachers. They really believe that their leading and accepted writers, especially at the start of the 20th century, are more knowledgeable of the Scriptures, and how to interpret them, than any other outside of their own denomination. Now, that is indeed some boast! Sadly, it is just the opposite. Further, the Hardshell clergy of today have an high minded view of themselves, which leads them to speak disparagingly of the Christian world's greatest Bible teachers and expositors.

It is a sign of their status as a cult that they so revere their own spokesmen and denigrate all others, claiming superiority over them. They claim to be superior in doctrine than any other church, or any other Bible teacher, outside of their own group. They have insights that all other churches and Bible teachers lack. They are the ones who have it all right.

Notice how the boast of superiority is followed by a complaint. The observation is made that the Hardshell apologists, or "our writers," are not "popular," and are in fact "ignored." And, though this seems to be a complaint and source of disappointment, yet other Hardshell writers would say that the fact that they are not popular and recognized is proof that they are the one's preaching the whole truth.

The authors continue:

"Most use inferior translations of the Bible and thus going further astray."

This is said by those today who have embraced "whole hog" the error of "king James onlyism." What is wrong with each Bible student studying the original writings and doing his own translating? What is the difference between translating and interpreting? Are they not essentially connected?

Let it be born in mind that KJV onlyism is a new development among the Hardshells and did not take over much of the denomination until the latter quarter of the 20th century. The leading writers that the Arlington church, Harold Hunt, Michael Gowens, etc., put forth as being worthy of the top place in the church's Bible teaching hall of fame, were men who did not hold to KJV onlyism, but often cited from other translations in their writings, even doing their own translating, judging it as being better than the KJV. Anyone can see the gross inconsistency in this. The statement is made that all Bible commentators are prone to err in interpretation because they do not simply take the translation/interpretation of the KJV, and yet the men Hunt holds up as superior Bible expositors, men like Sylvester Hassell, J. H. Oliphant, Claud Cayce, John R. Daily, were men who often cited from other translations and often did their own translating by their word studies. So, they were superior in interpretation and yet did not restrict usage to the KJV!

It is my intention to write further upon the subject of KJV onlyism among the Hardshells, but what I have said thus far is enough to demolish the claims of the Arlington church as just cited.

The authors continue:

"There are significant doctrinal differences between us and “them” so why not use the gifted men God as provided us and read and study what they have taken great effort and with the blessing of God put on paper or preached?"
(see here)

Notice how the Hardshells speak of "us" and "them," even avowing the group psychology. I have written about this in my book on the Hardshell cult. Again, the Hardshells are expressing disappointment and bewilderment at the fact that their leading writers are largely ignored. It does not seem to enter the minds of these Hardshells that the reason why they are largely ignored is because they show such ignorance in how to interpret the Bible, and put forth such teachings that are absurd and which contradict what is plainly revealed in Scripture.

The authors continue:

"I would be in remiss if I did not tell you about another place to get Primitive Baptist material. Elder Harold Hunt has for years been republishing material from our ablest writers of the past 2 centuries for the sole purpose of further glorifying God by making these past authors available who have expounded on the “pure words” of God."

Oh, yes, let us not ignore the modern Hassell, the leading historian and apologist of the present time, the superior Bible teacher and expositor, elder Harold Hunt! If one wants to know what the first Hardshells believed, in the 1832-1875 period, let him come to the Old Baptist blog and he will find out. Why does Hunt not cite from the first Hardshell periodicals of that period on the question of means? Why does he not cite James Osbourn? Joshua Lawrence? Mark Bennett? Gilber Beebe? Samuel Trott? John Watson? R.W. Fain? John Clark? Willaim Conrad? Daniel Jewett? C.B. Hassell? Is it not because he has no writers of that early period to offer? "These past authors"? Where are the authors of the 17th and 18th centuries?

The authors continue:

"At paradise primitive baptist church web site (see here) the first thing one reads is this:

Paradise Primitive Baptist Church website is an internet outreach to the hungry children of God where ever they may be in the world. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Jesus told the disciples to go and preach the Gospel. He did not specify how to go. If He had said, Go on a donkey, then we would all have to go on a donkey. If he had said, Go on a bicycle, then we would all have to go on a bicycle. Since he did not specify how we are to go, we have liberty to ride in automobiles, airplanes and other modes of transportation in order to preach the gospel."

One would think that this Hardshell church believed that it was under the Great Commission. Yet, this is not the view of Hardshells since the latter end of the 19th century. Notice that this church, by "going" via the Internet, is supposed to be fulfilling the Great Commission.

Notice also how this Hardshell apology does not argue as did his forefathers who espoused "patternism." This writer seems to favor giving wide latitude to the methods and ways of fulfilling the Great Commission. Than why all the division over methods by their forefathers?

I cannot help but think how the Hardshells for decades have felt no burden to put forth any great effort to take the Gospel to those who have never heard. But now, when they can "go" with little effort, they are now going to go?

The authors continue:

"We also feel impressed by The Lord to go. However the method we feel impressed to utilize is the electronic method. Just 18 years ago this method of communication was in it infancy. Since that time it has matured into a very rapid means of communications. And it turns out that this is where many of Gods people are spending their time. On the internet. It makes sense to go, where the people are."

"The method"? Did not the Hardshells of 1832 condemn all methods not specifically mentioned by the Scriptures? If this church can give latitude to the specifics of how to fulfill the commission, why do they then condemn Bible classes, Sunday schools, seminaries, etc.?

The authors continue:

"Therefore we are going electronically over the internet. This being the reality, we are making ourselves available to God's children wherever they be in the world but not for the same reasons that most Christian evangelical organizations do. We are going, as The Lord commands, but for a much different reason than others."

Notice that the purpose of their outreach ministry is not to save sinners, but to "make ourselves available to God's children."

Whether those children of God ever hear the Gospel will not keep them from salvation, so no big worry or effort or sense of responsibility need be had.

The authors continue:

"Some charge us unfairly that we teach that Primitive Baptist are the only ones who will live in heaven. This is not true. As the above stated scripture clearly tells us, God has redeemed a people out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. Perhaps many may even be laboring under a false religious system, and may never experience gospel conversion. But we know without doubt that all of Gods elect will be born again thru the life giving voice of the Son of God (John 5:25) at some point between conception and death." (Luke 1:15; Luke 23:40-43)

No, we know that the Hardshells do not teach that they are the "only ones" who will go to Heaven. But, we know that they teach that they are the "only ones" who may be called "church of Christ," or may be said to be in the present kingdom. We know that they teach that they are the "only ones" who teach the full truth about salvation, are the only ones who have gospel salvation or been converted by the Gospel. They are the "only ones" who administer valid baptism and a genuine Communion.

These Hardshells believe that most of those who worship false gods, and who are Gospel unbelievers, are "regenerated" and "born again" children of God and the purpose of God in sending forth the Hardshell missionaries is simply to try and deliver those children from their idolatrous faith.

The authors continue:

"Primitive Baptist believe that heaven will be populated with thousands of millions from among mankind, (Genesis 24:60, Hebrews 11:12 & Mark 10:45) we know that only a few will find the church and the truth of God in this life and will be able to walk the strait and narrow way which leads to life in the kingdom of God. (Matthew 7:14 & Matthew 22:14)"

Did you see that? Most of those who worship in false religions are people who will be saved! And the Hardshells wonder why no one takes them seriously as Bible expositors? A simple cursory reading of the Scriptures reveal that all who die without faith in Christ and without knowledge of the one true God will perish forever.

The authors continue:

"Primitive Baptist are not attempting to help God populate heaven, we believe Jesus did a prefect work in that regard. His grace is effectively implanted in each one of His elect at the moment of regeneration. This very act brings eternal life to the individual and makes him a fit subject for heaven. Nor are Primitive Baptist attempting to get people to know The Lord, because scripture says in Hebrews 8:11;

And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest."

God's use of means does not denote a need in God, as the Hardshells think. Again, such reasonings will not bring people to respect their handling of the word of God. When the Lord used the Apostles to raise the dead, did this mean that the Apostles were helping God do the healing? The questions is this: do the Scriptures teach that God uses the preaching of the Gospel in the salvation of sinners? Did Ezekiel help God raise the dead dry bones? According to the Hardshell reasoning just presented, Ezekiel was trying to help God!

As far as the verse cited teaching what this Hardshell web page asserts, I have overthrown their reasoning in my book, in that series "Hardshell Proof Texts." Yes, "all shall know me," but is that now or yet in the future? The reason why it will "no more" be needed to teach people about God is because all will know, that is, because there will be none who have not been taught.

Further, how does the Lord teach people to know him? Is it not by the teaching of the word of God? These Hardshell mystics who teach that Jesus subconsciously and personally teaches each sinner when he regenerates him! Hardshells can say of someone who is supposedly regenerated, but who is a heathen, that he does not know that he knows. Laughable, if it were not serious.

Further, the Hardshells teach that God delivers his people, or converts them, by the teaching of the word of God. Well, by their own logic, they are helping God save his people!

The authors continue:

"As we go, our aim is to instruct, encourage, and feed those who have been taught by God to know Him, (John 6:45, Matt 16:17) with knowledge and understanding of How great things God has done for them, and what His loving instruction is to guide them into faithful obedience. The gospel does not give eternal life, but brings life and immortality to light and is made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:... (Romans 16:26 & 2 Timothy 1:10)"

"The Gospel does not give life"? Why the Bible is full of verses that state the opposite! How can they say such things and then wonder why no one takes them seriously? In our series "The Means of Grace," we showed how utterly false is such a view.

The authors continue:

"This is the true purpose of the church and the gospel ministry."

Again, such words make me think that this church believes that it is under the Great Commission.

The authors continue:

"The Bible is Sheep food, plain and simple. It does not make children of God. Therefore we go to feed His sheep."

Yea, and for most of their history, the Hardshells have let the children of God in foreign lands starve to death! Is food not necessary to sustain life?

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Go" Who?

When I was pastoring two small "Primitive Baptist" churches in eastern North Carolina, they use to sing a song at the close of the service that contradicts neo Hardshell teachings on the duty of fulfilling the Great Commission. A sacred harp web page says this about the song, title "Cuba."

"A simpler type of religious song that was later incorporated into sacred harp was the camp-meeting song. This was a substitution song of one or two lines that was based on repetition. For instance, in a song with the unlikely title of "Cuba," the line "Go, preachers, tell it to the world" is repeated three times and then tagged with a final line, "Poor mourners found a home at last." The chorus is "Thro' free grace and a dying lamb," a line repeated three times and followed by "Poor mourners found a home at last." The song could be sung as long as the leader could think up substitutes for "preachers": "Christians," "Baptists," "brothers," and so forth."" (See here for citation)

Here are the words to the song.

Go, preachers, and tell it to the world,

Poor mourners found a home at last.

Chorus:

Through free grace and a dying Lamb,

Poor mourners found a home at last.

Go, fathers, and tell it to the world,

Poor mourners found a home at last.

(Chorus)

Go, mothers, and tell it to the world,

Poor mourners found a home at last.

The Great Commission, as I have shown in my series on "Hardshells and the Great Commission," makes it the duty of all Christians to "go" announce the Gospel. This the Hardshells deny, however. Yet, who can deny that the above song makes it the duty of all, and not merely that of those who are called to preach?

Recall how I pointed out, in the series "Hardshells and Mission Opposition," how the Hardshells are inconsistent to sing the song "I love to tell the story."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Harold Hunt's Falsehoods

These citations are from Elder Harold Hunt, a Hardshell apologist, and are found in his book "An Anthology of Primitive Baptist Literature." (See here)  I have previously examined some of the falsehoods of Hunt, see John Watson vs. Harold Hunt, and our series on "Hardshells and the London Confession."  See also Hardshell Abrasive Language.

Hunt wrote:

"Our Primitive Baptists have a rich heritage of literature on a wide range of subjects. In an unpublished manuscript, Elder David Pyles makes the comment, “On points of emphasis and on methods of explanation, I have long preferred the Primitive Baptists of the 19th century over any generation of Christians since the Apostles.” I would probably expand that expression to take in the early 20th century, but I agree entirely. In the first century and a half after America gained her independence our people produced some of the brightest minds the Lord’s church has known. Blessed with a hitherto unknown freedom of religion, and liberty of free speech, those brethren soared to heights previously unknown in their examination of God’s Word."

The literature of the "Primitive Baptists" from 1776 to 1926? What can we say about it? I can understand why Hunt would want to include "the early 20th century," as this is the time when the Hardshell church, as we know it today, took its final gross form. But, more on that later.

Hunt wrote:

"We call to mind names like Sylvester Hassell, Claud Cayce, T.S. Dalton, James Oliphant, Joseph Newman, John R. Daily, Walter Cash, and John Clark. The list goes on and on and on. Those are not the best known names among the denominational world, but for true insight into the most profound of Bible subjects, they leave the John Calvin’s, the Martin Luther’s, and the Augustus Strong’s in the dust. None of them were such linguists and rabbinical scholars as John Gill, and J. B. Lightfoot, but for sound and accurate explanations of Bible principles, not even the great Gill could keep up. We are not likely to see their kind again."

Look over the names Hunt mentions. Look at whose writings and teachings he lauds. Are there any from that period of time from the late 18th or early 19th century? None! Isn't that interesting? The names of the men he mentioned, with the exception of John Clark, were men whom Elder John Watson (1866) called "modern innovators" and "ultraists." In fact, why does Hunt not mention Watson? Could it be because he opposed the newly spawned Hardshell heresy?

These men were the ones who led the anti means faction to take over the new denomination and force all others out. Both Hunt and Pyles say that they are in agreement with the Old Baptist literature of the 19th century. Well, why then can they not produce evidence to show that the Baptists of that period taught their views?

I have already shown how Elder E.H. Burnam was correct when he testified that Hardshellism was born in the last quarter of the 19th century, the very period of time Hunt holds up. The end of the 19th century, and the start of the 20th, was the "heyday" for all the men, except Clark, that Hunt names. Though he upholds the time period of 1776-1926 as superior, he really excludes the first half or three quarters of the 19th century.

Of course, as I have shown in previous writings (herehere, for instance), Clark believed in the Gospel means position. Is Hunt ignorant of this fact? Further, Clark died about 1888, before the Hardshell sect took over.

I have previously shown how Hunt, a seeker of preeminence among the Hardshell cult, in one of his books, said that the Baptists who adopted the 1689 London Confession were Missionary Baptists and taught the Gospel means position. Yet, the men Hunt mentions above, in 1900, endorsed that confession! I showed in chapter one of my series "Hardshells and the London Confession" how Hunt wrote:

"They reaffirmed what they could accept;  they explained away what they could not accept; and they looked aside, and walked past what they could not explain away." (This sentence was in bold in Hunt's book - SG)

Most of the men Hunt mentions signed the Fulton Confession which endorsed the London Confession as being the historic confession of the Old Baptists. He holds them in high esteem, even more than the Old Baptists who wrote the 1689 confession, or who wrote in the 1776-1826 period, or even John Gill. Yet, he then says such things about these men? They were great interpreters of the Bible and yet they were perverting and falsely interpreting the words of the London Confession?

Hunt continued:

"It is the great tragedy of our age that so few of our people are acquainted with the work of those men. A few days ago in talking to one of our young ministers, I mentioned the name Claud Cayce. He wanted to know, “Who is he; I never heard of him.” The brother is one of our brightest and best, and I certainly mean no reflection on him, but I fear that is the case with more of our young generation than we have been aware. They are well acquainted with writers like Arthur Pink, and John MacArthur, and John Piper, but they never heard of those able Primitive Baptist ministers of the past, who had far more insight into God’s Word than any of those writers ever had."

No, elder Hunt, the real "great tragedy" for the Hardshells of this age is not that they are unfamiliar with Claud Cayce, but rather that they have been fully indoctrinated into his teachings. Claud Cayce is no one to hold up as one of the great lights of Old Baptist tradition, though he became one of the ringleaders in making the Hardshell church what it is today. When I was a young teenage preacher, I got my copies of "Cayce's Editorials." I can tell you this, he was a gross spiritualizer, and hurt the cause of genuine rules of bible interpretation among the Hardshells.

Further, as indicated, it matters not that this young preacher was not personally acquainted with the teachings of Cayce, as men like Hunt, one of Cayce's disciples, have parroted his notions since the early 20th century and put them forth as the iron dogma of "the church." When I first moved to North Carolina and spent time with the local pope, Elder C.M. Mills (mentioned in my chapter on "personal experiences" in my book) thought that Cayce was the standard that all must conform to in their interpretations of certain passages.

Claud Cayce does not even come close to being on the same par, theologically speaking, with men like MacArthur and Piper. Hunt cannot be taken seriously. He is simply admiring, for his own advantage, the cult's esteemed leaders.

Hunt continued:

"At the present time our people are being torn apart by a Calvinist\Liberal Movement from one direction, and a Pseudo-Conservative Movement from the other direction. Between those two extremes are the other eighty percent of solid, conservative Primitive Baptists, who are still faithful to the Bible, and faithful to those unchangeable principles that have guided our people for two thousand years now. Truth will prevail; it always has; but we would be so much better prepared if our people were as well acquainted with our literary heritage today as we were, when I first came among the Primitive Baptists over forty years ago."

And who does Hunt think he represents? Why the 80% who are "solid," like Hunt, and "conservative" like Hunt. Those in the movements Hunt mentions are not "faithful to the Bible" as is Hunt and the Hardshell schismatics he desires to represent.  They are not "faithful to those unchangeable principles" that have supposedly "guided our people for two thousand years." Hunt, of course, is one who is faithful to what the Old Baptist church has believed. Yea, right. Want to give us the evidence Hunt?

Also, Hunt cannot find "our people," the Hardshell church, for the past two thousand years, as he asserts without the least proof. He knows that he needs no proof for the cult members, who he knows will accept what he says without any questioning.  Hunt has already gone on record as saying that the Particular Baptists who wrote the 1644 and 1689 London Confessions (which would also include those who put forth and adhered to the Philadephia Confession) were Calvinistic Missionary Baptists.  So, where are the Hardshells in the 17th century? Hardshell Michael Ivey tried to find them among the Welsh Baptists, but in this he miserably failed, as I have shown in postings here in this blog's archives.  Hunt tried to find them among the AnaBaptists of the time, but in this, as I have shown, he miserably failed.  Whether he likes it or not, Hunt must face the fact that his forefathers believed what he now condemns.

I do not know who Hunt has in mind by the two movements he mentions.  They do represent, according to Hunt, at least 20% of the Hardshell denomination.

Also, what does Hunt mean when he says "truth will prevail"? Will it prevail like the old Hardshell church?

Hunt wrote:

"And, very importantly, we want every person, who is willing to do so, to go carefully over this work. We will always have differences of opinion; we cannot expect to agree on the explanation of every passage. But if you find any expression, or any point of view, that you feel is fundamentally unsound, we hope you will call it to our attention. We cannot promise to make every change suggested, but we will give the matter our serious consideration."

"Call it to our attention"? Any "fundamentally unsound" "point of view"? Is he serious?  Perhaps someone should get our writings into Hunt's hand? I wonder if he would give it "serious consideration"as he has promised?

Hunt wrote:

"Even though they differ in insignificant ways, in their most basic precepts Calvinism and Arminianism are very similar. Regardless of the ways in which they are very different, both insist eternal salvation is limited to those who hear and believe the preached gospel. If that is true, the grace of God reaches no farther than the preacher does. That enormously limits the grace of God, to say the least."

Hunt here seeks to redefine the terms "Calvinism" and "Arminianism." He then wants to pawn these newly invented definitions off on the cult brotherhood and leave them with the impression that he has gotten insights that no other, or few others, have.

There is only "insignificant" differences between the systems of Calvinism and Arminianism? How can Hunt say such things and expect any theologically learned person to take him seriously?

Hunt's Hardshell logic gets in his way.  By the same line of argument Hunt advances, I could say that Calvinism and Arminianism differ little because they both accept the Bible as the word of God, confess faith in the Trinity, etc.!  Further, by the same logic I could say that Hardshellism and Arminianism differ very little.  Both believe that conversion, perseverance, and progress in sanctification and the Christian life are not certain for any saved person, but only for those who exercise their free will.

Hunt wrote:

"But having said all that, this new form of Calvinism insists that if one has been born again, it is inevitable that someday —after he is born again—he will hear and believe the gospel. In other words, if he never hears the preached gospel and believes it, it is proof positive he was never truly born again."

What "new form of Calvinism"? Is it a new form of Calvinism to teach that all the elect will come to faith in Christ when they are regenerated? Where is his proof that this is new? Is it not rather the traditional and historic view of Calvinists?  How can Hunt make such false historical claims and expect to be taken seriously by any learned ones outside of his cult?

Further, the view that Hunt condemns is actually the teaching of the Old Baptists of the 17th and 18th centuries (and since then too), and is even THE TEACHING OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF HIS OWN DENOMINATION.

Further, does the Scripture not say that all the elect will be "called"? (Rom. 8: 29-30) Are they not called by the Gospel? (II Thess. 2: 14) Does it not say that all will be "drawn" to Christ? (John 6: 37) Does it not say that they will all "hear his voice" and follow the Savior? (John 10) Does it not say that all the elect will be given faith in Christ? (Eph. 1: 18) Does it not say that all the elect will be brought to know God and Jesus and trust in them?

Can Hunt give us the Scripture that says people who are not believers, who do not know God, are saved? Can he point to one person in Scripture who was born again but who did not know the word of God?

Hunt wrote:

"I would hate to believe the family of God is limited to the little number we preachers can reach. But that is clearly not what the Bible teaches. God will have the victory, even in numbers."

"I would hate to believe"? Is that how Hunt decides what to believe? His emotions control his faith? His likes and dislikes determine his biblical interpretations? By his logic, he should be a "no-heller," for surely he would hate to believe that anyone would suffer in Hell forever, right?

Hunt thinks that God is limited in making his family for having made the hearing of the Gospel a condition of salvation. Well, with such logic he certainly must admit that God is limited in his efforts to "convert" his people, right? 

If God had no problem making the Assyrians to be his instrument, he certainly will have no problem making his ministers into his instruments. Does Hunt deny that God is able to get preachers to the place he intends?

Next, Hunt reveals the thinking of that "80%" of "solid" Hardshells who spout the idea that only a few will go to Hell. Why?  Because, in Hunt's thinking, if more go to Hell then God does not get the victory! How's that for logic?  Does such thinking not lead to Universalism? Is Hunt not a pseudo Universalist?  Why would God settle for a mere 51% victory? Why not go for the "rout" and the "shut out"? Don't you see how this thinking leads to Universalism?

Further, why does not God, in Hunt's Hardshell thinking, not "have the victory...in numbers" when it comes to converting the regenerated? When it comes to God's work of converting the regenerated, God is a miserable failure! When it comes to insuring that God's newly begotten children get an education, or grow up healthy and into his image, God is a failure as a parent. That is what one can conclude by following Hunt's twisted logic.

Further, when the disciples asked - "Lord, are there few that be saved?" (Luke 13: 23) - Jesus answered in the affirmative.  "Many" walk the broad way that lead to destruction, and "few" walk the road that leads to indestructible life.  Also, Peter said that it is telling and prophetic that only "few" were saved through the flood.  (I Peter 3: 20) 

Hunt wrote:

"They point to those texts that identify the saved as those who believe in Christ, and they are sure the sinner could not possibly believe until they talk to him—and tell him what to believe—as if the Spirit of God is unable to witness in the heart of the sinner."

Well, I'll just take the plain word of God over the speculations of cult apologist Hunt. Who wrote these words?

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10: 13-14)

John Gill in his commentary had these words to say about this text.

"Ver. 14. How then shall they call on him in whom they, have not believed?.... The apostle having observed, that whoever, Jew or Gentile, believe in the Lord and call upon his name, shall be saved; and that the same Lord was ready and willing to dispense his grace, without any difference to them; suggests, that it was therefore absolutely necessary, that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; that it was the will of God it should be; that what he and others did, was by a divine commission; that they were sent by the Lord to preach the Gospel to them; that hearing they might believe, and so call upon the name of the Lord, and be saved; and therefore the Jews ought not to blame them for so doing, for there was a real necessity for it, since there can be no true calling upon God without faith, no faith without hearing, no hearing without preaching, and no preaching without a divine mission."

Note that the Old Baptist, Dr. Gill, enlarges upon what is clearly the intended meaning of the apostle's words. Gill says it is "absolutely necessary" that the elect hear and believe that Gospel to be saved. But, as we have seen, Hunt has little estimation of Dr. Gill and the real Old Baptists.

Dr. Gill also commented:

"and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? the meaning is, that there is no faith in Christ without hearing of him; as it is in human, so in divine faith, there may be believing without seeing, but not without hearing; so we believe that there were such men as Alexander and Julius Caesar, and other persons now in being, though we never saw them, having heard of them, or had a report made of them, which we have reason to give credit to; so there may be, and is faith in Christ without seeing him with our bodily eyes, though not without hearing of him; for of an unheard of person, there can be no faith in him, because no exercise of thought about him. This is to be understood of outward hearing of the word, and of adult persons only; for that, infants may have the grace of regeneration, and so faith wrought in them by the Spirit of God, without hearing the word, is not to be denied; since as they are capable of the principles of corruption, why not of grace? and also of such persons as have the right and free exercise of the faculties of hearing and speaking, and not of such who never could hear, and speak; for as the Spirit works where, and how he pleases, so he can work faith in the hearts of such persons who never heard the word, and enable them to exercise it on the proper object, and cause them secretly to call upon the name of the Lord, with groans which cannot be uttered. Moreover, this is to be, understood of the ordinary way and means of believing; for though God can, and sometimes does work by other means, and even without any, yet his usual way and method is, to bring men to faith and repentance by the hearing of the word...and how shall they hear without a preacher? ...There is no hearing of Christ, and salvation by him, without the preaching of the Gospel."

Hunt's words are in direct contradiction to the words of Paul. Paul thought preachers were necessary. Paul's logic is good. Hunt's is not. Paul says that all who call upon the Lord will be saved. He then reasons that one must first know about the Lord in order to call upon him. He also reasons that in order to know about Jesus, and to call upon him, one must hear about him from a teacher/preacher. Hunt attacks the reasoning of the Apostle! Be astonished, o heavens!

He would also not agree with the great Old Baptist Dr. Gill. Hunt and his Hardshell brethren are superior to Gill, remember?

Hunt wrote:

"They point to those texts that talk about the personal relationship between the sinner and his Savior. It seems never to have occurred to them that the Lord Jesus Christ—living in the heart of his child—is a deeper, and more personal, relationship than the mind of any man can imagine."

Again, Hunt's criticism is as much directed against the Apostle as any other person.

Imagine that! A man can have a loving relationship with Jesus, yet know nothing of Jesus, and who is yet a believer and worshipper of false gods! A man can have a loving relationship with someone they do not even know!

Hunt wrote:

"It is hard to imagine that any person could believe he is able—by his preaching—to provide the sinner with a more personal relationship with his Maker, than God himself can provide by dwelling and witnessing in the heart of his child. To imagine such superiority of the work of the preacher over the work of the Spirit of God is arrogance in the extreme."

Notice again how Hunt uses what he thinks is logic to convince others of the Hardshell scheme. Where is his Scripture? Again, all his words are simply an attack upon the reasoning of the Apostle.

Further, just because Paul believed that he was a means in the hand of God for the saving of sinners does not mean that he must have possessed the mental state described by Hunt. Did Paul think that he was able by his preaching alone to bring sinners into a loving relationship with Jesus? Did he think that it was all of Paul's power? Hunt's logic would force us to say yes. But, let us see where this logic leads Hunt. Did God use preachers as means to convert him to Christ? Does this mean that those preachers, in and of themselves alone, converted people?

The answer to all this is, of course, in the Scriptures. Recall how the apostles when questioned about a miracle they had performed, said:

"if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole." (Acts 4: 9,10)

"BY WHAT MEANS"? Was it not by the "name of Jesus Christ"? But, does that exclude Peter and John being means?

Notice also the words of Peter in response to another healing miracle.

"And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" (Acts 3: 11-12)

What was the rationale of the people on this occasion, the reasoning attacked by the Apostle? Was it not the people reasoning that since the Apostles had done the miracle, therefore it must be by the power of the Apostles? Is this not the same reasoning as Hunt and the Hardshells? Peter does not deny that he was a means in the working of the miracle, but he says that the power was not his, that he was but God's instrument.

Hunt wrote:

"To cast a little more light on the subject, consider, if you will, what happens when a person is quickened by the Spirit. When he is born again; the Lord Jesus Christ—in the person of his Spirit—comes into his heart. There are not many things the Bible tells us more often than it tells us that...In regeneration Jesus Christ, personally and vitally takes up residence in the heart of his child."

It is good that Hunt admits this much. However, when he says that a man can have Jesus Christ living in his heart and yet not know Christ, he greatly errs. Further, Jesus does not just "break in" to the heart uninvited and unwanted. (See Rev. 3: 20)

Hunt continued:

"First off, the Bible teaches in the clearest language that the Holy Spirit teaches us to know Jesus Christ—as a person.

John 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

That sounds plain enough to me; the Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus Christ as a person. But there is more.

John 15:13-15, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” That ought to make it plain enough. It is the special work of the Spirit—not to glorify himself—but to glorify the Son. This is the province of the Holy Spirit, and there is nary a word about the preacher."

Can you imagine that? A man has the Spirit to testify personally of Christ and the Gospel and yet that person does not know cognitively anything about Jesus!

What is Hunt doing here? Is he not making regeneration into conversion? What is conversion but coming to understand, know, and believe the Gospel? In saying that regeneration makes one a believer in Jesus makes Hunt to contradict himself. Still, we are glad that Hunt believes that regeneration involves one hearing the Gospel preached personally by the Spirit. This was the view of Sylvester Hassell, as I have previously shown.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Means" A Matter of Context

"We know, from the Holy Scriptures, that God employs his truth in the regeneration of the soul." (J.L. Dagg)

Just what does it take to come to the gospel means position with regards to how sinners are eternally saved? Must one forsake the reading of the scriptures, instead devoting his time to reading the works of Calvinists? Must he abandon the Word of God, exchanging it for systematic theologies, or base his beliefs upon confessions of faith maybe? To hear some speak, this is true. Such a one told me once that in leaving the anti-means paradigm I was walking away from the "simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3); that in my desire for knowledge I had devoted too much time studying other resources and "crossed the Rubicon", so to speak. Well, take it from one who has come to such a position that this is complete and utter nonsense. Hopefully I speak on behalf of other ostracized ones out there who have traveled a similar path when I state that conviction that effectual calling is by "His Word and Spirit" is derived from the Bible, and the Bible alone. One need not read a lick of Calvin, Owen, Hodge, Spurgeon, Edwards, Dabney, etc. to see this taught in God’s Word. He doesn’t have to have access to John Gill’s Body of Divinity or Calvin’s Institutes as I’ve often heard it claimed! He can arrive at this position if he were stranded on a desert island with only his Bible in his hands. And he could do this through use of the most elementary rule of bible interpretation available to the common man: CONTEXT.

The average Christian often takes this rule for granted when reading God’s Word, for it is simply a no-brainer that a sentence should be considered in the light of what surrounds it. The fact that the majority, whether they incline towards Arminianism or Calvinism, agree that one must hear the gospel to be saved based upon seemingly clear passages which teach it (e.g. Mark 16:16; Acts 16:30; Romans 1:16) shows that something else must be at work in the anti-means mind which denies it. As a former advocate of this system I now know that it is only when one approaches these texts with an anti-means prejudice are they interpreted to mean something contrary to what the vast majority of Bible readers see when reading them; namely, sinners must have faith in Christ to be saved, and that faith comes from gospel revelation.

It cannot be denied that there are such texts in the Bible which may be denoted as "means" passages. This is clearly established through the usage of the prepositions “by”, “through”, and “with” in connection with the gospel. There are two main questions which need to be considered here however. First, is the context of those passages where the gospel is set forth as the means dealing with matters of eternal or only temporal consequence? Second, with respect to those passages where eternal salvation is under consideration, is the gospel set forth as the means whereby it is affected, or something else? It shall be our business in this posting to seek an answer to these questions. We will not invoke the anti-means premise which says that if an instrument is used then it CAN’T BE referring to eternal salvation or if it is eternal salvation then the gospel CAN’T BE the means, for they hinder us from accomplish our specific goal, which is to settle the matter by context. If the passage is couched in language suggesting of eternal salvation, or the gospel is evidently proven to be the means whereby it is affected, then any premises must be discarded in favor of this basic hermeneutic of contextual interpretation. The honest Bible reader must acknowledge that the context of a passage is more important than some preconceived notion we might bring to it.

To the law and to the testimony we now go.

Is the context of gospel means passages dealing with matters of eternal or temporal consequence?

TEXTS: Romans 1:16; 6:17; 10:1; 11:11-15; Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Thes. 2:13-14

All must agree that these are gospel means passages for the texts mention it specifically. I could refer to more, but I choose these for the specific reason that it cannot be denied that they all depict the gospel or Word of God as affecting SOMETHING, and the surrounding context explicitly deals with either the matter of salvation or condemnation. To the average Christian there is no need to engage the question of whether eternal or some temporal salvation is under consideration as he has not been ingrained in the Hardshell manner of partitioning the Bible. He recognizes that eternal salvation is the dominating theme of the Bible, and that these passages are to be placed in that category with minimal deliberation. To the anti-means mind though, this is a question to pursue. Or should I say it WAS a question to pursue, for the universal answer has been given that eternal salvation is NOT under consideration. Sadly, it was not because of sound hermeneutics which led to such a conclusion, but because of a preconceived bias that would not tolerate the alternative. And that, reader, is the whole problem.

Let us examine the passages then allowing nothing but mere context to answer the question.

1) "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Rom. 1:16)

In the first chapter of Romans, after writing that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation the Apostle Paul informs us of the wrath of God against the ungodly. He unfolds this starting in v.18, his thoughts culminating in the second chapter where we read of the “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (2:5). The point of the Apostle in Romans 1:16 is to announce the salvation that is able to rescue a sinner from this woeful fate. That the salvation of Romans 1:16 cannot be disconnected from the wrath of God which the Apostle does here describe is proven by verse 18. This salvation exists "For" (because – KF) the wrath of God exists! Thus, Paul is revealing in v. 16 the method by which sinners find an escape from the impending wrath of God he will write about two verses later! Now if Paul is delineating the eternal wrath of God against the ungodly, culminating in the great judgment described in 2:1-10, then he must be announcing in 1:16 the salvation which is able to counteract this fate! If the judgment is eternal, then likewise must be the salvation! If Paul intended to convey to his audience in 1:16 that the purpose of the gospel is only to get a time salvation then what we should find is only a temporal wrath and judgment conveyed in the verses which follow! Only an anti-means Hardshell Baptist or possibly a Universalist would affirm, in the light of such a solemn portrait of God’s eternal wrath upon the ungodly, that the Apostle Paul precedes it all by telling us how to get a time salvation! God has provided a temporal salvation for sinners because the eternal wrath of God is against them???!!!

2) "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." (Rom. 6:17)

This passage doesn’t receive as much attention from the anti-means party as do James 1:18 and 1 Peter 1:23, the reason being there is no easy word upon which to place the time salvation twist. The word of truth mentioned by James and the word of God mentioned by Peter are possibly ambiguous and therefore grant a little space for the anti-means mind to argue against gospel regeneration. In this passage, however, we are confronted with "doctrine", a clear reference to the body of truth, or the message of the gospel. It certainly is not referring to Jesus, as the no-means view would love to say! Combined with the context’s clear description of the transition of going from death to life and it becomes, we think, an impossible task to squeeze this into the category of some sort of temporal salvation. According to Paul, the saints were once the servants of sin, an obvious reference to the unregenerate state. But now they are free from it and the servants of righteousness (v.18). Thus the text focuses on going from death to life, old man to new man, servants of sin to servants of God, and not some fictional state of "already regenerated but unconverted" to "regenerated and converted", as the anti-means, time salvation heretic argues with all gospel means passages! The text is without a doubt saying that the doctrine was instrumental in the regeneration of the saints, a matter of eternal consequence!

3) "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." (Rom. 10:1)

What salvation is Paul praying for his Jewish brethren to receive in this tenth chapter, a temporal one or an eternal one? The average Christian would reply without hesitation that it is the same one described in chapter nine, and would find it incredibly strange that someone would feel that the Apostle Paul would do an about-face on his readers! However, the anti-means view does not see this contextual flow as firm evidence that the tenth chapter must be the same salvation as that which Paul has been unfolding. But what indeed does the context say?

The previous chapter is arguably one of the most profound in all the Bible, powerfully describing the sovereignty of God in salvation and reprobation. Towards the end of the chapter the Apostle tells us that a remnant of Israel will be saved (v.27), and that such a salvation involves attaining to the law of righteousness (v.30-31). The chapter ends with a quotation from Isaiah that whoever believes in Christ shall not be ashamed (v.33). What a preposterous idea that the Apostle Paul in the very next breath laid aside any notion of context, and without given any evidence that he is about to do so, proceeded to write on a "kind" of salvation different than the one he had heretofore been erecting! And that the only way for a Bible reader to know this is to have a premise in mind, nowhere taught or explained in scripture, that if men are praying for salvation, or if it involves gospel instrumentality, that it can’t be talking about eternal salvation!

So much for the words prior to chapter ten. What of those after? It is equally devastating to the notion that chapter ten is not referring to eternal salvation. It begins with Paul referring to the same exact Israel he was praying for (11:1-4). We’re told, however, that whereas not all of them were saved, yet there was a current remnant which would be (v.5). And the salvation of which they would be the recipient is described in unmistakable language: "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (v.6)

Every anti-means Hardshell Baptist I know refers to this passage emphasizing that eternal salvation is by grace, and can’t be mixed with works, yet he fails to recognize that this is the exact same salvation that Paul was writing about in chapter 10!!!! Verse 7 makes it absolutely clear that the salvation which national Israel (chapter ten) sought for is the exact same salvation as that received by the remnant (chapter 11)! The election obtained the salvation (11:7). Which one? The one which the rest of the nation did not! If the salvation obtained by the remnant is described as eternal in verse 6, then this must be the same exact salvation that the rest of the nation didn’t obtain! And since the same nation is under consideration in chapter 10 and 11 then the salvation concerning them must be the same! This is crystal clear to anyone who is not wedded to a previous agenda and refuses to acknowledge it!

Thus, the salvation obtained by the remnant of Israel is the same as that for which Paul was praying (10:1)! It is the one achieved by hearing the gospel and being brought to faith in Christ (10:14-17)! Context says that the salvation of Romans 10 is the same as that in chapters 9 and 11. To assert that Romans 10 exists in a vacuum in that the salvation it describes is different than that of chapter nine and 11 is to destroy the unity of the Apostle’s thought regarding salvation and the nation of Israel beginning in 9:1 and ending in 11:32.

4) "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (Rom. 11:11-15)

Here we see that salvation came to the Gentiles through the fall of the Jews. It should not need arguing that this is eternal, for what anti-means mind says that time salvation came to the Gentiles through the fall of the Jews? Even I never heard anything that far-fetched. So when we read 3 verses below of Paul’s desire to be the means of saving some of his Jewish brethren (v.14), how could anything else be under consideration than this same exact salvation? Does context mean anything, or does the Hardshell premise that if the text mentions means then "it can’t be talking about eternal salvation" have precedent? If the latter, then are we to imagine an implicit change between the "kind" of salvation in verse 11 from that in verse 14! We could say that and yet still claim that verses should be interpreted by context????

Is it not clear that the Apostle Paul is expressing his desire to be the means whereby some of his Jewish brethren would be eternally saved?

5) "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." (Eph. 1:13-14)

We see the same thing with this passage as we did with Romans 10 in that it is surrounded by a powerful and unmistakable revelation of the sovereignty of God in saving sinners. It is simply astounding to imagine that anyone could surmise that this passage concerned a different kind of salvation than that which is described all around it. It is true that some Calvinists (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, for instance) do not feel that this passage had to do with regeneration proper, but rather the assurance that progressively comes to the Christian afterwards. Yet the difference is that these men nevertheless believed that this was part of the believer’s continued salvation to glory. They had not a grid which disconnected the present life from eternal salvation, claiming it was part of another optional life that the regenerated man may or may not receive. The connection between the present life and that which is to come is established when the Apostle says the Holy Spirit (received now – KF) is the earnest until the redemption of our bodies. The context is clear as to the placement of this text in the category of eternal salvation.

6) "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thes. 2:13-14)

Paul here gives his thanks to God for the election of the believers at Thessalonica. This he states in contrast to the grim portrait he displays prior. Whatever be the correct eschatological view of the coming Wicked one, the verses are clear that eternal damnation is the fate of those who "received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (v.10). They will be "damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (v.12). What we see here is similar to what was viewed in the first chapter of Romans, only in reverse order, for whereas Paul in that letter revealed the salvation available from God (v.16) which could deliver a sinner from His wrath (v.18-2:10), here we see him first declaring the doom of the ungodly in v.12 followed by the deliverance of some from it (v.13). Again, if the Apostle is describing eternal condemnation in v.7-12 then eternal salvation must be under consideration in the very next passage. If the condemnation is eternal, likewise the salvation! It is not some temporal salvation for which Paul is giving thanks, but the salvation which can rescue a sinner from the doom described above! This is obvious to anyone who is willing to let the context speak, and has not a previous commitment to defy it. What a violation of the most basic rule of Bible interpretation to cast all of this contextual evidence away simply because of an anti-means mind which refuses to see what is as clear as day. God has elected men to salvation. They are effectually called to it “by the gospel”.

With respect to those passages where eternal salvation is under consideration, is the gospel set forth as the means whereby it is affected, or something else?

TEXTS: James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22-23

To my knowledge there is no significant disagreement among the anti-means party that these two verses pertain to eternal salvation. “Begat” (James 1:18) and “born again” (1 Peter 1:22) are generally treated as references to regeneration, and since Hardshells devote much of their apologetics attempting to prove that the “word” in these passages is not the gospel, but Christ, proves that the text is being treated as if it pertains to eternal salvation, more particularly regeneration. Otherwise, they would not be under such pains to do so, for there is no objection that the gospel can be the means for an “unnecessary conversion” (i.e. time salvation). I’m sure (in fact, I know it to be the case) that there are some, who perhaps are a little more learned in the whole ordo salutis argumentation, that choose rather to place these passages in the category of conversion as something separate and distinct from regeneration. And since this is not deemed necessary of eternal salvation, it may be allowed that the gospel is under consideration in these passages.

1) "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." (James 1:18)

Men are begotten with the word of truth. Simple grammar proves this to be a “means” text, for it answers the question of how men are begotten. But is the word of truth a reference to the gospel or something else? What says the context?

First, the command is given "let every man be swift to hear" (v.19). Second, "receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (v.21). Third, "be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only" (v.22).

Are these not clear admonitions to receive and apply gospel truth? If so, how can it be said that the word of truth in v.18 is something different? I’m tempted to say that the time salvation advocate might admit that the word of v.21 is the gospel so that he might teach from it that we can use the gospel to save our soul’s "timely", but then he would be left with the difficult task of proving how this word is the gospel, but the word of v.18 is not!

Stay tuned to my next posting where I demonstrate the pains to which one goes to claim the word of truth is not the gospel.

2) "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Peter 1:22-23)

One of the main problems that the anti-means party makes in their approach to this particular passage is their virtual silence on the surrounding text in determining the meaning of the word of God. I can only suspect the reason why it has been given such little attention is because it’s detrimental to the argument that the word of God has reference to Jesus. Surely, the word of v.23 is to be interpreted in light of v.22 which speaks of men purifying their souls by obeying the truth, a certain reference to the gospel! Probably even more convincing is the admonition to "desire the since milk of the word" in 2:2. One of the rules of bible interpretation, which makes perfect sense, is that verses which are possibly ambiguous should be interpreted in the light of those which are clear! If we do that here, then it becomes evident that it is by the gospel that men are born again.

SUMMARY

It ought to be pointed out that in looking at these passages we have only concerned ourselves with the context in which they are placed. Were we to look closer at the verses themselves we would find additional evidence that the anti-means, time salvation view is simply not tenable. Our point in taking somewhat of a bird’s-eye view is hopefully to persuade others of their most glaring error. Either one of two things must be true regarding the passages cited. They are to be categorized based on what the surrounding context suggests or we must propose the silly idea that the Apostle Paul is alternating back and forth between eternal and temporal language, the word of God referring to Jesus in one passage, and the gospel in the next; and that, supposedly under the direction of the Holy Spirit! There is no way around this. If we remain obstinate and still maintain that these passages are nevertheless to be interpreted from their anti-means perspective, then let us be clear on what we are doing at this point. We are not "rightly dividing the word of truth", but butchering it! We are saying that the context is not to be the leading factor as to whether the text is to be applied in an eternal or temporal sense, but rather our pre-conceived premises that we carry to it.

It is a textbook definition of eisegesis.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A neo Hardshell on the new birth

A neo Hardshell whose writings brother Fralick and I have previously examined wrote a piece wherein he sought to correct the views of Billy Graham on the new birth.  (see here)  I would like to examine some of the things this Hardshell spokesman wrote on the subject.

He wrote:

"The new birth happens the same way to everybody who is born again.  It is a passing from death unto life (John 5:24) and thus is it an instantaneous event, because there are no gradations of life.  Jesus said that the new birth is like the blowing of the wind and "so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) meaning that it happens the exact same way to every one of God's sheep."

Okay, the new birth happens the same way to everybody.  But, what do we mean by "the same way"? Do we mean "exactly the same way," without the least difference, as this Hardshell affirms? If so, then all are born again as was the Apostle Paul. Was he not converted to faith in Christ at the moment of his new birth? Yet, ironically, the Hardshell above does not believe that all are converted to Christ when they are newly born of the Spirit.  The very argument he thinks proves his anti means view actually disproves it.  Isn't that funny?

Further, the first Christians were "born again...of incorruptible seed, by the word of God" (I Peter 1: 23), were begotten "with the word of truth" (James 1: 18), were "begotten by the gospel" (I Cor. 4: 15), so all are born again this way. Thus, again, the argument "all are born again the same way" does not lead one to Hardshellism but away from it.

Is coming to life always "an instantaneous event"? Was it so with the coming to life of the dead in the story of Ezekiel and the dry dead bones? Is natural birth always instantaneous?

"There are no gradations of life"? Do we not read of one who was "half dead"? (Luke 10: 30) If one can be half dead, then he can be half alive. Further, people have dead skin as a part of their living body, and dead cells too, and if they are terminally sick, may have body parts that have already died.

The Hardshell also wrote:

"This teaching is a denial of depravity.  The natural man lacks faith because he lacks the indwelling spirit of God (Romans 8:9) of which faith is a fruit. (Galatians 5:22)  Stated bluntly, if the natural man must produce faith in order to be born again, then no one will be born again.  If a man has faith, he is ALREADY born again because "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." (I John 5:1)"

He begins this paragraph with a stated falsehood.  He gives no evidence to prove his assertion.  He merely gives his opinion, which proves nothing of course. 

John Gill, because he taught the Lord's use of the Gospel in new birth, denied the doctrine of depravity?  The other great Baptist leaders in the Particular Baptist tradition also denied the doctrine of depravity by teaching the Lord's use of means? 

Does the doctrine of depravity make it impossible for the omnipotent God to use the Gospel as a means in overcoming that depravity?  Is God unable to use the Gospel to raise the spiritually dead in the same way that he can't make a rock bigger than he can move?  Is the use of the Gospel in new birth a logical impossibility?

This Hardshell argues for a strict ordo salutis in which one must have the Spirit of God before he can hear the word of God.  Yet, this is in direct contradiction to the teaching of Paul in Galatians 3:2, for Paul says that they had received the Spirit "by the hearing of faith."

Here is what Dr. Gill wrote in his commentary on this passage:

"received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? This question supposes they had received the Spirit; that is, the Spirit of God, as a spirit of wisdom and knowledge in the revelation of Christ; as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification; as a spirit of faith and adoption; and as the earnest, seal, and pledge of their future glory. Now the apostle asks, whether they received this Spirit "by the works of the law"; meaning, either whether they could imagine, that they by their obedience to the law had merited and procured the Spirit of God; or whether they thought that the Spirit came to them, and into their hearts, through the doctrine or preaching of the law: the former could not be true, for if they could not obtain righteousness and life by the works of the law, then not the Spirit; besides, works done without the Spirit of God, are not properly good works: not the latter, for though by the law is the knowledge of sin, yet this leaves nothing but a sense of wrath and damnation in the conscience; it is the killing letter, and a ministration of condemnation and death, and not of the Spirit, and of life; this belongs to the Gospel, "or the hearing of faith"; for by "faith", is meant the Gospel, and particularly the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ's righteousness; and by "the hearing" of it, the preaching of it, the report of it, Isa 53:1 which, in the Hebrew text, is wntemv, "our hearing", that by which the Gospel is heard and understood. Now in this way the Spirit of God is received; while the Gospel is preaching he falls on them that hear it, conveys himself into their hearts, and begets them again by the word of truth: and in this way the Galatians came by the Spirit, and which is another aggravation of their folly, that they should enjoy so great an advantage by the Gospel, and yet be so easily removed from it."

This brother, like the Hardshells in general, like to cite Galatians 5: 22 that says "faith" is a "fruit of the Spirit" and affirms that this proves that one has the Spirit, and spiritual life, before he believes.  I have written on this before (see here) .  I have also written against the allegations of the Hardshells about I John 5: 1 (see here).  Certainly faith is begotten of God.  (See also I John 5: 3-4)  But, it is not a Hardshell faith that believes or knows nothing.

Further, not only does Paul say that the Spirit was received by faith, in Galatians, but he also says "for you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3: 26) Why does this Hardshell not see how these words overthrow his interpretation and presupposition on Gal. 5: 22? Further, Jesus said the same thing.

"While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." (John 12: 36 KJV)

Believe in order that you may be the children of light? Do not the Hardshells rather say - "believe because you already are the children of light"?

Further, if those who believe Jesus is the Christ are they who have been born again, then those who have not believed have not been born again.  John equated being a believer in Jesus with being born again. 

The Hardshell apologist continued:

"Since faith is the "gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8-9) and "all men have not faith" (II Thessalonians 3:2) it follows that God has not given the faith that Graham claims is required for the new birth to every man. It is therefore abundantly evident that God does not want every man to be born again and thus Graham's statement is both unscriptural and inconsistent with his own assertions.  The testimony of scripture is that God did not purpose to save all men (Matthew 25:41) and so he does NOT desire that all men be born again (John 8:44).  Indeed, if he had, they most certainly would be. (Daniel 4:35-36)"

While it is true that God especially desires the salvation of the elect, this does not preclude him having a general desire for the salvation of all.

What this brother is saying is that God does not want all men to be saved, and yet this is what the Bible teaches. This brother says that God wants men to reject Christ and his word, that he wants them to be unbelievers. Yet, in the word of God, we find God saying these things to unregenerate people.

"Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." (Deut. 10: 16)

"Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." (Jer. 4: 4)

"Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Eze. 18: 31)

It is to God's credit that any man has saving faith, yet he cannot be blamed for men refusing to believe. Yet, this Hardshell's apology would shift blame to God for men not believing, not circumcising their hearts, etc. He would also justify men for their unbelief by saying it is not God's will for them to believe.

The Hardshell apologist continued:

"The natural man is enmity against God (Romans 8:7). Can such a man ever be said to be "willing to yield to God"?  Absolutely not.  If such willingness is the requirement for being born again, no one will be saved.  Graham's assertion makes it plain that he has a distorted view of the effects of the fall (Romans 3:10-18)."

"If such willingness is the requirement for being born again, no one will be saved."

So, what can we conclude by this statement? Why, simply, that "willingness" is not essential to having been born of God, for having spiritual life. Not only is willingness not essential to being spiritually alive in Christ, but neither is faith and repentance. God save us from this Hardshell "new birth."

Further, I have shown before, in my book and elsewhere, how the Hardshells err in attempting to deduce their theory of regeneration from the doctrine of total depravity.

The Hardshell apologist continued:

"This teaching is as common in Christianity today as it is wrong.  Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus because he already had a hunger and thirst for righteousness, which is a sign of his born again state (Matthew 5:6).  Additionally, Zacchaeus does not tell Jesus that he will start making things right, he tells Jesus that this is his current practice (Luke 19:8)  So when Jesus tells Zacchaeus, "This day salvation has come to this house" he is NOT saying that His visit marks the moment of Zacchaeus's new birth.  Rather he is saying that the very Lord of Zacchaeus's salvation is there in his presence - indeed Christ is our salvation."

I'll take what is plain in the text. Salvation came to the house of Zaccheus that day, in the full sense of the word.

Notice the kind of hermeneutics practiced by the Hardshells. Notice how he reads things into the text that none but those trained in the Hardshell cult can see.

The Hardshell apologist continued:

"Both Graham and MacArthur teach salvation by commitment, their only argument is with respect to degree."

And, what is the Hardshell teaching? Salvation without commitment to Christ! Salvation without faith and repentance! Salvation without the word of God!

Jesus said "If you believe not that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8: 24) Hardshells, however, say that many of those who "believe not" will escape dying in their sins. John said that the wrath of God abides on those who are unbelievers in Jesus (John 3: 36) but the Hardshells say that many non Christians have been delivered from the wrath of God.

The Hardshell apologist continued:

"A man who is willing and able to repent is ALREADY born again, else man is not totally depraved as Paul asserts in Romans 3:10-18. There's simply no way for repentance to be found in such a man. To require spiritual repentance from the spiritually dead in order to be made spiritually alive is as silly as requiring the physically dead to come forth from the grave so that they may partake of a quickening cure."

Again, we have written against such "reasonings" before. Yet, in the Scriptures, and in the 1689 Confession, repentance is "unto life." (Acts 11: 18) Further, as Calvin and Edwards taught, repentance is in essence regeneration. Further, the reasoning of this Hardshell creates a creature who is "regenerated" but who has experienced no repentance, conversion, or bibilical faith. Absurd!

"Believing is your response to God's offer of mercy, love and forgiveness." (Graham, p.161)

"No, believing is the exercise of God given faith.  Man does not have the capacity of faith until God regenerates him. Faith is not a response to God's offer of mercy, it is a fruit of the spirit, the ears to hear, whereby a born again child of God can receive the truth of his salvation found in the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Again, it is asserted that there are people out there who have been "regenerated" but are still impenitent, still an unbeliever, still unforgiven. What saith the Scriptures?

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when
the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."
(Acts 3: 19)

Hardshellism teaches differently, however. They say there is forgiveness without repentance and conversion!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cult Tactics

A brother named Nilo del Mundo left this comment on my blog that contains the chapters of "The Hardshell Baptist Cult" (see here):

"A friend posted your blog in FB and this is what a PB wrote about you. Elder Keith Ellis said

The man behind this effort to destroy old baptist is Stephen Garrett, son of Elder Eddie Garrett. (Presently pastoring PB church in Ohio.) Stephen was excluded from the old baptist church for abandoning his wife. He wanted the best of both worlds, but it was not to be."

SOUR GRAPES, and his arguments smell bad."


Now, this "elder" has told a falsehood.  I was never excluded for abandoning my wife.  Ironically, the fact is, my wife was excluded for her adultery against me.

I have had falsehoods told against me before by the Hardshells.  I have written about their cult "tactics" before.  (see here, and here, for example)  This is but another tactic of the cults.  Rather than engage their opposers in learned Christian discussion, they attack the character of the one exposing them.

It does show that our writing against the Hardshells are fairly well known among the Hardshells, at least the elders and those who use the Internet.  But, very few of them have ventured into a discussion of the claims by the Hardshells.  Isn't that interesting?

I notice how some have attempted to provoke brother Kevin into forsaking writing in this blog and associating with me.  How have they done it?  Have they sought to convince Kevin of his supposed errors?  Or, have they sought to make emotional appeals to him instead?

This brother says that my writings are "sour grapes."

This shows just how little of my writings this brother has really read. Anyone who has read any substantial amount of them knows that I write what I do out of conviction for the truth and in order to win some out of this cult. Why did the elder not simply come here and engage on the important issues? What this brother does is attempt to "poison the well" as a tactic to get his Hardshell brethren to disregard what we write here in this blog. He uses a "smokescreen" to cloud the real issues. Rather than deal with the message, he attacks the messenger. Does this brother not know that ad hominem arguments prove nothing?

Further, if this brother really wants to discuss my experiences with the Hardshells, and get the facts, why does he not come here and discuss them? He wants others to think that he is an expert on my time spent with the Hardshells. Or, does he not rather know that all he has to do is put forth such falsehoods and that will be enough to insulate his fellow cult members from our writings against the Hardshell heresies and falsehoods?

And, as far as my arguments against Hardshellsm smelling bad, then perhaps he needs his olfactory system checked.

But, notice how this brother gives an "answer" to us in the form of an emotional subjective argument. We are wrong because it smells wrong to Ellis!

Thus far this "elder" has made at least these three fallacious arguments.

argumentum ad hominem
argumentum ad ignorantiam
argumentum ad passiones

Now, I demand that Elder Ellis retract what he wrote and quit spreading falsehoods.

Further, about my "effort to destroy old Baptist" I can only say that this brother does not know what "old Baptist" is. We have shown that his cult is not old or primitive at all, but a new sect. He does not even agree with his Hardshell founding fathers or the old confessions. We are the old Baptists and he is a new schooler, a hybrid sect.