Monday, August 25, 2014

R.B.C. Howell on Hardshellism

In the Feb., 1838 issue of "The Baptist" is a letter sent to R.B.C. Howell of Nashville with Howell's response (see here).  Here it is with my comments.

"Bro. Howell, I am trying to give effect to your letters to Watson (Elder/Dr. John M. Watson, leader of the Hardshells in the 1830s - SG), by circulating them through the country. Having a friend for whom I feel the warmest affection, but who belongs to the new fashioned denomination called "Old School"—alias Hardsides, I sent him a copy. Last week he came to see me and thanked me very much for the opportunity of reading the letters, and told me "if it had not been for a passage in the seventh letter, he hardly knew what they would have done with him." Not having, myself, observed any thing objectionable in them, I asked him to direct me to the item. It is in the latter part of the seventh letter, in these words:—"Some are saved by the knowledge of God, and some are saved by the ignorance of God etc." He does not understand you, and may it not be supposed that, as he is, others may also be at a loss. I place this matter before you that you may have an opportunity to explain."

Yours truly, H. P. Carney."

Brother Howell wrote in Response:

"We will explain with very great pleasure, and thank broiher Carney for the suggestion. In the place referred to we were exposing the absurdity of old school doctrines. They maintain that all the heathen will not be lost, because they are perfectly ignorant on the whole subject of religion. Then, we said, if they are not lost they are saved, and if our old school friends are right, they are saved by their ignorance. This they profess to believe, not vie. But it is evident, with us, that those who are saved on the Bible plan, are saved by the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. This we know is true; and assuming the doctrine of "the hardsides" to be true also, then some are saved by the ignorance of God and some by the knowledge of God. We laid down these grounds and then, to show the absurdity, of antism stated, if this be true, ignorance and knowledge are equally beneficial. We believe that no one will be saved but through the blood, and righteousness of Jesus Christ, and that all who have arrived to years of maturity, heathen or not, who do not repent and believe in Christ will be lost."

That God knows all things from the beginning wc believe and maintain. That portion of knowledge which he thought proper to communicate to us, is contained in his word, by which we are governed in our conclusions. We are to be guided, not by what, perchance, may be the secret will of God, but by his revealed word.

We thank brother Carney for the circulation of these letters. They have been published for some time, and we hope those who subscribed for them, will take them, and give them an extensive dissemination."

I say amen to what Howell said. He truly exposed the false teaching of the "Hardsides." What Howell stated as the truth is what the Old Baptists had always believed and the doctrine of the Hardshells was a novel invention. The Old Baptist, prior to the "rise of the Hardshells," did not believe that the heathen were saved apart from faith in the Gospel, and faith requires knowledge.

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