In this posting I will review some things that Elder Thomas Mann said in that sermon "Rethinking My Position On Conditional Time Salvation" (SEE HERE). It is that sermon which helped to cause a stir among the Hardshells over the past quarter century.
Mann said (emphasis mine):
"Now whatever else that verse (John 17: 3 - SG) says or implies, it lets us know that belief in Christ and eternal life are married. These two things are married; they are joined together, believing in Christ and eternal life. My simple contention is "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder...I'd like to suggest that the doctrine of conditional time salvation tends to put these things asunder."
Well, amen to that! That is the historic teaching of the Old Baptists. It is also what Elders Pence, Burnam, and others were trying to remind the Hardshells in the battle over means in the 1890s. Regeneration and conversion are inseparable.
Not only does the Hardshell novel doctrine of "conditional time salvation" TEND to sunder what God has joined together, but it actually does so, and is therefore to be rejected as heterodox, heretical, and harmful to Christians.
"...this is so complex a thing. You have to really think to get at where the challenges are in this doctrine."
Well, it really isn't so complex in itself. The Bible is very plain on salvation. It presents premises and propositions in the most unambiguous language. It is written in the language of the common man. What makes this thing so "complex," for today's Hardshells, is due to the fact that what the Bible often plainly says goes against their self made propositions and twisted interpretations. I recall Elder Daily saying, in debate with Throgmorton, that one had to really put his "thinking cap" on when it comes to seeing "regeneration" as the Hardshells see it. The Hardshells can be real "hair splitting" theologians when it comes to dissecting the constituent elements of the salvation experience. The Hardshells think they are the ones who finally came up with the "solution" to traditional and historic Christian battles over the nature, causes, and means of salvation.
We shall see in the next few citations what some of those self made Hardshell propositions are (and which the Scriptures seem to often oppose, and thus causing confusion to the Hardshell mind and bringing one to call this subject "complex").
"First of all, the doctrine of conditional time salvation suggests that no conditional verse in the Bible has any eternal implication."
In these words that self made Hardshell proposition is stated, the one which makes the teaching of the Bible on salvation "complex," or seemingly contradictory, and therefore puzzling, and needing to be "figured out." That Hardshell proposition is stated - "no conditional verse in the Bible has any eternal implication." But, where does the Bible affirm such a proposition? There is no Scriptural support for such a proposition. So, for the Hardshells to accept such a proposition would indeed bewilder them.
"...conditional time salvation would suggest that there is no way that any of those verses could have eternal or heavenly ramifications because you wind up with work salvation, and it's a valid point."
In other words, to the Hardshell mind, any "condition" of salvation is to be equated with works salvation. To them, to say that faith and repentance, or calling upon the name of the Lord, etc., are "conditions" of salvation is to make salvation to be "of works." But, such thinking is entirely against the Scriptures. Even Mann seems not to have come far enough in his thinking on this matter for he says such Hardshell reasoning represents a "valid point." Well, no, it is not a valid point at all. "There is no way"? No way that a conditional salvation verse could be talking about eternal salvation or be a grace salvation rather than a "work salvation"? Is that what Hardshells say about their conversion to Christ? Their coming to repent of their sins and embrace Christ by faith? That is was not of grace? That is was a "work salvation"? Shame on them.
"It suggests that there are actually two salvations taught in the Bible. But there is one salvation for heaven which is all of grace and one salvation for time, that's where we get conditional time salvation; one salvation for time, which is largely dependent upon our works. Again there's some validity to that idea."
Salvation in time "largely dependent upon your works"! There is a statement of Hardshell Arminianism! Have they never read Isaiah 26: 12? "thou also hast wrought all our works in us."
"...it suggests that many of God's people, many saved people, never come to an awareness of their salvation or never come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior or that they never produce fruit in their life but they live essentially in a spiritual, vegetative state all their life... It would suggest that simply because American Indians worship the Great Spirit, that's indication that they're born again."
Mann describes the quasi universalism of today's Hardshells who have so reinvented the experience of "regeneration" or birth of the Spirit that it makes it an experience that even the heathen experience. This is the heresy of Hardshellism.
"I would refute the notion that because a person worships an idol god, that means he’s born again."
Well, good for Mann! Would to God that more of them came to this conclusion and turned away from the heresy of Hardshellism.
"The Bible teaches everywhere that God's Spirit draws a person to Christ and not away from Christ; not toward an idol but to Jesus. So it is not an evidence of grace just because a person worships an idol god. Okay?"
Amen again! Of course, what Mann is combating is the almost universal view of today's Hardshells. I have challenged them to give us the evidence that Baptists held this view prior to the rise of the Hardshells in the nineteenth century. It is a novel view.
"How can you love someone so lovely as Christ and not know it?"
Well, amen to that! Such a simple question and yet it is one that Hardshell apologists will want to avoid as best they can. Such questions keep the Hardshells from engaging others in debate for they fear them and have no apologetic defense for their heretical views.
"Could that infant articulate its love for Christ as an infant? Of course not, but the Bible doesn't spend a lot of time on that. And what I want to try to do in the next weeks, if again the Lord leads in this, is to try to stick with the Scriptures."
Hardshells think the case of the infant proves their whole case. But, we have challenged the Hardshells over the years to answer our questions on infant regeneration. Also, I agree with Mann that the regeneration of infants is not to be made the standard as to how God regenerates adults. Mann reflects the thinking of the Particular Baptists who put forth the 1644 and 1689 London Confessions.
"My point in bringing that up, is that extreme forms of conditional time salvation will tend to say, there are many, many people, in fact most people are saved but never know that they're saved."
Bingo! That is the heresy of Hardshellism! This is a new doctrine among the Baptists. It is the Hyper Calvinism in its rankest form. It was not even the view of the first Hardshells of the 1830s, yet today's Hardshells claim succession through these men!
"...it becomes an Arminian system applied to time."
Exactly. But, Hardshells really admit this. They even say that their time salvation, or conversion to Christ and the Gospel, is a works salvation, not of God or by his grace. Even Arminians don't say this. Old Elder John Clark, one of the founding fathers of the "Primitive Baptist" church, said the same thing.
"No, that's not the way the Bible works. But every hard verse I’d come across, I say, “Oh, that goes in the conditional time salvation bucket. That's just for time, it isn't for eternity."
And what does this say about their hermeneutics? Are they not guilty of taking their premises and propositions to the Scriptures and forcing the Scriptures to agree with them? It is clearly eisegesis.
"There is hell. So we can’t come to the position of the Universalists who says, “Everybody’s pretty much going to heaven”. I've known several Primitive Baptists who believe that. Everybody's going to heaven...I've known several Primitive Baptists who wouldn't go quite that far but would say, “I've never met anybody that wasn't a child of God”."
I have often spoken of the quasi universalism of the Hardshells. Their doctrine allows for it, yea, even leads to it. They believe that the elect are many not few. Many are going to Heaven, few are going to Hell.
"And then there's another term you’ll hear from time to time, and that is the term hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism. And most of the time Primitive Baptists are identified as hyper-Calvinists and I'm sorry that that's the case."
Notice that Mann does not deny that Hardshells are Hyper Calvinists. He only bemoans the fact. But, how could he, unless he has turned away from a denial of duty faith, the universal call of the Gospel, and the necessity of a faith union with Christ for regeneration life.
"Conditional time salvation. Think about some strengths of this doctrine. The doctrine of conditional time salvation rightly understands that not every time you see the word saved or salvation in the Bible is it referring to heaven. It's true. I can prove it to you. Don't think that every time you see the word saved or salvation in the Bible that it's talking about being saved for heaven. It's not. We must rightly divide the word of truth. An example, if you have your Bibles you may want to look at this one. 1 Timothy 2:15 as an example, shows us that there is salvation in time; deliverance in time that really doesn't have eternal implications, so far as I can tell. 1 Timothy 2:15, speaking of the woman who was deceived in the transgression:
"Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing...[now there you go]...if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
Now to all the women in the congregation who’ve never borne a child, hell is your home. No. That's not what that text is teaching. To all the women in the congregation whose children have not continued in faith and holiness with sobriety, hell is your home. That’s not what that verse is teaching at all. It's simply speaking about the fact that there is a deliverance in the woman's position of responsibility, authority and honor that comes in childbirth. It's a blessing for a woman to be able to bring forth children into the world and influence them in the faith, in holiness, in sobriety, you see. For the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
"So there’s a verse that obviously shows the word saved doesn't always mean eternal salvation." Yet she will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” 1 Timothy 2:15"
I certainly do agree with the idea that the word save, or deliver, does not always mean eternal salvation. No one disagrees with that. But, to deny that these words, in their primary sense, and in general context of Scripture, denotes eternal salvation, is wrong. Further, just because a verse dealing with salvation is ascribed to conditions or means does not mean that the salvation is not eternal.
Further, Mann is wrong to think that I Timothy 2: 15 is not talking about eternal salvation. On this verse Dr. Gill wrote:
Notwithstanding she shall be saved
Not Eve, though no doubt she is saved; since she had a sense of her sin, and shame for it, a revelation of the Messiah to her, and faith in him; see ( Genesis 3:7 Genesis 3:8 Genesis 3:15 ) ( 4:2 ). But rather any woman, particularly such as profess godliness, who shall be saved
which is to be understood not of a temporal salvation, or being saved through childbearing, through the perilous time, and be delivered out of it; for though this is generally the case, yet not always, nor always the case of good women. Rachel died in childbed: the Jews say: for three transgressions women die in childbearing; because they do not take care of their menstrues, and of the cake of the firstfruits, and of lighting the lamp (when the sabbath approaches). But spiritual and eternal salvation is here meant; not that bearing children is the cause, condition, or means of salvation; for as this is not God's way of salvation, so it confines the salvation of women to childbearing ones; and which must give an uneasy reflection to maidens, and women that never bore any; but rather the meaning is, that good women shall be saved, notwithstanding their bearing and bringing forth children in pain and sorrow, according to the original curse, in (Genesis 3:16) . And so the words administer some comfort to women, in their present situation of subjection and sorrow; though they may be rendered impersonally thus, "notwithstanding there is salvation through the birth of a son": and the sense is, that notwithstanding the fall of man by the means of the woman, yet there is salvation for both men and women, through the birth of Immanuel, the child born, and Son given; at whose birth, the angels sung peace on earth, good will to men; through the true Messiah, the deed of the woman, through the incarnate Saviour, who was made of a woman, there is salvation for lost sinners: he was born of a woman, and came into the world in order to obtain salvation for them; and he has effected it, and it is in him, for all such who apply to him for it; and with it all true believers, men and women, shall be saved through him,
if they continue in faith and charity, and holiness, with sobriety.
The Vulgate Latin version reads in the singular, "if she continues", &c. but the sense is the same; for the "she", or woman, is to be taken in a collective sense, as it is in the context, for many women; even for such as profess faith and godliness. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions render the words, "she shall be saved by her children", if they continue i.e. she shall be saved by bearing of children, and bringing of them up in a religious way; if they, the children, continue as they were brought up; which is a very strange rendering of the words, and is as strange an interpretation of them; and yet is what many have given into, but needs no confutation. The meaning of the words is, that there is salvation through the incarnate Messiah, for all sorts of persons; for all men and women who believe in him, with that faith which works by love, and shows itself in holiness and sobriety; provided that they continue herein. For there are some that profess these things, that have only a temporary faith, and feigned love, and not true holiness; and these fall away, and are not saved; but such who have these graces in truth, as they do, and shall continue in them, so they shall certainly be saved."
Next, Mann said:
"Another you’re familiar with would be 1 Peter 3:21:
"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…"
All you unbaptized people in the congregation, you're going to hell. Is that what that verse is teaching? No...There is a deliverance for right now, in baptism...So, conditional time salvation has rightly pointed out that we must be very careful not to think that every time we see the word saved that it means the acquisition of eternal life."
But, again, Mann is still not liberated from his Hardshell tendency to restrict verses dealing with salvation to a mere time salvation. Why would he think that Paul or Peter, in the context of talking about eternal salvation, would suddenly use the term in a different sense and context?
The baptism of Noah in the waters of the flood, and the baptism of the Christian in water, are each figures of that salvation brought by Christ, and that is an eternal salvation.
Overall, Mann is to be applauded for his repentance in doctrine and his desiring to see his Hardshell brethren reformed. We can only hope that many Hardshells will see their errors and turn to the truth.