Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Elder John Clark on Hardshell Arminianism

Elder John Clark, editor of "Zion's Advocate," wrote:

"The theory that we must preach to men according to the power they possess to obey is sublimated Arminianism, and yet; the advocates of it are very fraid of being called Arminians. Christians know, however, by the word of his grace, and by the revelation of that word in their hearts, when it comes in power and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, that Christ’s word is true which says, “Without me you can do nothing.” The Spirit takes the word of Christ and shows it to his people, and thus it is verified in the experience.

To preach to men upon the ground that they have power to do what is commanded, or to refuse to preach to them because they have not the power, shows that the confidence is in the flesh and not in God; that they depend upon the will of the flesh and not upon the power God, and that is the very essence, double refined, of Arminianism.

The minister of Christ does not preach to any class of men upon the consideration of their ability or inability. He has the sentence of death in himself, and therefore cannot trust in himself; and he has no confidence in the flesh of any other, but his confidence, his faith and hope, is in God, from whence alone are his expectations."

("What To Preach and How To Preach" Written by John Clark in Zion's Advocate--August 1875)

Today's Hardshells are condemned by these words of Clark.  Today's Conditionalist Hardshells are the real Arminians.

Friday, June 19, 2015

C. B. Hassell's Creed

In chapter 4 of the Autobiography of Elder C. B. Hassell (1809- 1880) (see here) this is recorded (emphasis mine):

"The religious sentiments of C. B. H. in part were the following:

1st. One only infinitely wise, holy and Supreme Being, constituted by the Union, - co-eternal, of Father, Son and Holy Ghost - the “three that bear record in heaven”.

2nd. The fall of man, original guilt and consequent depravity of every human heart.

3rd. The absolute predestination of all things by Almighty God, including that of all his Spiritual Israel unto eternal life, through and in Jesus Christ, their head, bishop, King and Priest, who was from eternity deemed precious and elected for this purpose as chief cornerstone of Zion.

4th. The absolute that the Holy Ghost will find all the chosen in Christ, regenerate their soul, lead them unto Christ, and show them the way of salvation and the riches of their inheritance, pure and undefiled in heaven above.

5th. The perseverance of the saints in grace—their final conquest and glory, and the impossibility for all the principalities and powers of earth or hell to defeat, frustrate, or bring to nought, the purposes and decrees of Almighty God.

And these continue to be the firm sentiments of C. B. H. unto this day. Were things otherwise, all would be uncertainty and confusion and much doubt would exist about the final salvation of even one of the human race."

It can be easily shown that Elder C. B. Hassell believed that the new birth was accomplished by the Spirit's use of the word or Gospel, and the above can be added to the list of proofs.  Notice that he says that all the elect would be converted, that is, that they all would be lead to embrace Christ and shown the way of salvation.  Today's Hardshells do not believe this.  Did Sylvester Hassell?

Notice how the senior Hassell is against today's conditionalist Hardshells because he 1) believed in means, 2) he believed in the absolute predestination of all things, 3) he believed in perseverance.  For these reasons he would not be in fellowship with today's Hardshells.  So, how can they claim to be primitive, old, or original?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

More on Lemuel's Inconsistency

In a recent posting about Hardshell leader Lemuel Potter's contradiction (see here), I gave a citation which had Potter saying-

"I do not serve a God who will invent a plan for the salvation of his people that he knows will fail and never save them." (Discussion on Foreign Missions, page 538)   

I have one simple question.  Is this true in regard to Gospel salvation?

Meeting Hardshellism (for the first time)

Over the past several days I have been in e-mail correspondence with a young person who has been introduced to the "Primitive Baptist" or Hardshell sect. In the last e-mail I was asked some questions which I thought would be of interest to others and so take this as an opportunity to answer not only this person but also to put something forth that would help others.

I will keep this person's name and info private.  This person asks:

"Do you have any recommendations on where would be a good place to start? Or some major chapters to be sure to read?"

I would first suggest reading articles in the Old Baptist Test blog  In the ongoing book I would definitely read the first 25 chapters or so, then skip to those chapters coming in a series of chapters, such as these series:

 Addresses To The Lost (42-48)
 On Conviction (54-56)
The Great Commission (66-76)
 Mediate or Immediate? (110-116)
Passive or Active? (117-118)
Conditional or Unconditional? (118-122)
Hardshell Pelagianism (138-142)
Hardshell Antinomianism (175-180)

"Regarding my thoughts on Primitive Baptists, I must take one step further back and address Calvinism in general...I have come to the conclusion that Calvinism is not supported by scripture. I am not sure what your stance on the subject is, and I do not mean to offend or to engage in a debate. So it logically follows that if I believe Calvinism to be in err then the Hyper-Calvinistic views of the PB would clearly throw up a red flag...In general, it's the Calvinistic and Hyper-Calvinistic doctrines that I have the most issue with."

I am Calvinistic in the tradition of men like Spurgeon and Whitefield. 

Yes, you certainly would want to avoid Hyper Calvinism and Hardshellism, especially if your sentiments are Arminian (or the opposite of "Calvinism").  Further, it is your duty as a Christian, not only to be converted to truth but to convert others.  If you can help the Hardshells to be delivered from their errors, then you should know how to answer their arguments and scripture distortions.  I have several online debates with Arminians on issues of Calvinism and Arminianism.  I fight Hyper Calvinism and rank Arminianism.  Yet, I have greater affinity for many classical Arminians than I do the Hyper Calvinists.

"Oddly enough I think there are many things about the PB that I like: they do not Salary their leaders, or demand a tithe, and they have many men in a church body teach (plurality of elders as is spoken of in 1 Timothy 3)."

I agree.  But the things that are unattractive about them greatly obscure what is seemly.

"A couple questions: I've heard teaching from Bradley regarding the Gospel not being important for salvation. That the Gospel just brings peace and awareness to a salvation that was already present in the individual (I heard this on a video on youtube, not in person). Has he ever recanted that belief? Has he admitted that he was wrong? Or simply stopped teaching that doctrine? I have read some things on your blog to indicate that he no longer teaches it, but does he still agree with it?"
I don't think he has recanted that belief publicly, although he should!  He seems willing to fellowship with those who have either recanted it or are close to doing so.  His criticism of the Hardshell "time salvation" doctrine indicates a change in direction.  So also does his views on perseverance. 
"Do most Hardshells agree that the Gospel is not important in one's eternal destiny? Or do they believe that it is?"
Nearly all of today's Hardshells believe that the Gospel has nothing to do with saving people eternally.  However, as I have shown, the first Hardshells (1830s-1860s) believed otherwise.
"I'm just trying to get more of a handle on what they do in fact believe, and what they don't."
You are to be commended for this.  There is no better place to find out what they believe than here in this blog.

"Thank you for spending time to talk with me. I am just a young person, hungry for the truth, honestly seeking and trusting that the Lord will lead me to truth. Your input and effort is greatly appreciated as I search."
You are one of the reasons why brother Kevin and I spend our time here.  We want to save you from a dangerous cult.  God bless you.  I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What Sylvester Hassell Did Not Tell You

Remember that Hardshell historian Griffin said:

"...were we not bound by the truth of history to speak of these things [the missionary zeal of those early Baptists-S.G.] we would gladly hide them in oblivion."  (from chapter four of "The Hardshell Baptist Cult")

Hassell Did Not Tell You
(or what he hid in oblivion)

1. That his father (C.B.) believed in Gospel means and that all the elect would be converted to Christ by faith in the Gospel.

2. That the Hardshell forefathers of prior centuries supported theological education and mission organizations.

3. That many of the first Hardshells were Arians and Sabellians.

4. That many of the first Hardshells were infected with Daniel Parker's heresies, such as eternal vital union, hollow log regeneration, etc.

5. That all the great first leaders of the Hardshells were believers in Gospel means, such as Joshua Lawrence, Mark Bennett, John Watson, John Clark, James Osbourn, Daniel Hewett, Gilbert Beebe, Samuel Trott, Wilson Thompson, Stephen Gard, John Taylor, William Conrad, etc.

6. That the first Hardshells all believed in the absolute predestination of all things.

7. That the first Hardshells believed in perseverance as well as in preservation.

8. That the original split was over methods of evangelism and not over the issue of Gospel means.

9. Not all who were "new school" (supporters of missions) were Arminians.

10. The first Hardshells endorsed the London Confession of 1689 and interpreted it as teaching means.

11. That the first Hardshells believed that regeneration and the new birth were distinct and separate experiences.

12.  That the first Hardshells believed that conversion to Christ by faith was the new birth.

13.  That the first Hardshells exhorted lost sinners to come to Christ for salvation.

14.  That the first Hardshells were not promoters of "time salvation" doctrine.

15.  That the first Hardshells were not promoters of KJV onlyism.

16,  That there were no anti means Hardshells prior to the 19th century.

17.  That the first Hardshells believed that the faith of God's elect was evangelical.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Blame the Lord!

In the "Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," edited and published by Elder Daniel E. Jewett, a leading "Old School" or "Hardshell" editor in the late 1830's and early 1840's, I found this interesting commentary from a circular from an "Old Baptist" association. Let me first give the entire citation and then make my observations.

"Now the sum of what we have written is this : whilst the New School Baptists, together with all the different orders of the anti-christian interest, may transgress the Laws of Christ with impunity, may change his ordinances, add to his commands, take from any of the prophecies of his book—the Old School Baptists, from the profession which they have made, are not at liberty to separate that which God has joined together, nor to prefer any of his commandments one above another, but to observe all things whatsoever he has commanded.

Holding as we do, brethren, the faith once delivered to the saints; and standing aloof from all other denominations in the world, it certainly becomes us, above all others, to see that we love one another with a pure heart fervently—to manifest that we are taught of God to love one another; and to give evidence of this by works of faith and labors of love in doing good unto all men, but, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

The letters from the churches, that have been read in our meeting, bring us the pleasing intelligence of the prevalence of peace and harmony among the brethren, but complain of coldness and barrenness in divine things. We believe however, that the Lord's set time to favor zion cannot be hastened, and although we feel inclined to pray for a manifestation of his presence in the churches, in building up the waste places of His Zion; yet we dare not resort to unscriptural and unauthorized measures to hasten that event. We would remember the experiment which our old mother Sarah made in days of old, to hasten the accomplishment of the Lord's promise, and from the effect thereof learn wisdom:—no mechanical efforts of ours can revive the Lord's work."
(Page 36)

Now, I recognize that success, like victory and safety, is "of the Lord" (Proverbs 21: 31 KJV); And, that "except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it," etc. (Psalm 127: 1); However, we cannot blame the Lord for our failures as the Hardshells are ever in the habit of doing. Certainly the above writer blames the Lord for the coldness and barrenness in their churches following their division with their brethren who supported missions. Rather than blaming the desolations on themselves, they rather blame the Lord, telling the people that it is cold and barren because the Lord has not chosen to bless them.

The Hardshell ministry is also infamous for this type of blame for their lack of preaching effectively. When they begin to preach they can be heard to caution their hearers with these words - "now brethren, I cannot preach except the Lord bless me to preach and we will hope and pray he will." Then, when they quit in miserable failure, they say "the Lord did not bless"!

What they ought to do is blame themselves for their "do nothing" attitude, for their own failure to study and prepare, and not blame the Lord.

I rather think the coldness and barrenness that the above circular alluded to is a result, not of God failing in his will to bless, but rather a failure of the Hardshells to do what God has said.
(This is a reprint from March 2, 2009 Baptist Gadfly blog)

Shocking Hermeneutics

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."  (Heb. 6: 4-6)

Who Are They?

1. Once for all enlightened
2. Tasters of the heavenly gift
3. Made partakers of the Holy Spirit

4. Tasters of the good word of God
5. Tasters of the powers of the world to come
6. Renewed unto repentance

According to some Calvinists, these descriptions are of unregenerate people.  That is shocking hermeneutics indeed!

"Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."  (Acts 26:17-18)

Who Are They?

1. Eyes closed
2. Turned to darkness and away from light
3. Turned to Satan and away from God
4. Unforgiven of sins
5. No inheritance among the sanctified

According to some Hyper Calvinists, such as the Hardshell Baptists, these descriptions are of regenerated people!  That is also shocking hermeneutics indeed!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hardshells & Expository Preaching II

The Following are some of the leading questions to be addressed in the remainder of this series.


1. Is verse by verse preaching through books of the Bible the only way to do expositional preaching and teaching?

2. Should this "verse by verse" model be the only method used by preachers?

3. What method did Christ and the first new testament preachers use?

4. What method have the great pastors and evangelists primarily used in the past?

5. Are there more than three methods?

6. Is the expository method of preaching, as Bradley has defined it, a way for Hardshells to have seminaries and Sunday Schools?  When one sits Sunday after Sunday and hears lecturing and commentating, is he not sitting in a kind of Bible class? 

7. Is the expository method best for the main Sunday services?

8. Is the main purpose of Sunday morning services to simply impart scripture knowledge?

9. Is it the best kind of preaching to build up a church?

10. Are most preachers able to do "expository preaching" as Bradley defines it?

8. Will this method force Hardshells to deal with difficult passages that they would normally ignore?

9. Will it force them to do honest exegesis?

10. What are the negatives of expositional preaching?

11. Do we need a better definition?

12. Can one do expositional preaching using textual, topical, and other methods?

What is "Expositional Preaching"?

Is verse by verse preaching through books of the Bible the only way to do "expositional" preaching and teaching?  In "A Caution for Expository Preaching", well known author Iain Murray wrote (emphasis mine):

"In a number of circles today “expository preaching” is in vogue, and it is being urged on preachers as the way to preach. If this means that the preacher’s one business is to confine himself to the text of Scripture, and to make the sense plain to others, there is nothing more to discuss; who can disagree save those who do not know that the Bible is the word of God."

Murray is attacking the view of some of the so-call expository preachers, like Bradley, who think that those who do not go verse by verse through a book of the Bible are not doing "expository preaching."  And, as I showed, such a definition leads Bradley to condemn all the preaching of the great Baptists of the past as being inferior, and to condemn most of his own preaching for some fifty years as also been inferior.  Did Bradley not do expositional preaching when he gave textual and topical sermons during that time?  Did he not "confine himself to the text of Scripture" (which is the true definition of "expositional preaching")?  Did Spurgeon?

Murray also wrote:

"But “expository preaching” has often come to mean something more. The phrase is popularly used to describe preaching which consecutively takes a congregation through a passage, or book of Scripture, week by week. This procedure is compared with the method of preaching on individual texts that may have no direct connection with each other from one Sunday to the next. The latter is discouraged in favour of the “expository” method."

This is what Murray, others, and I are fighting.  It is not expository preaching but the definition that some are giving to "expository preaching."  It is the view that topical and textual preaching are not expository.  It is the new definition which limits expository preaching to those who go verse by verse through a book of the Bible.

To show how others, like Bradley, are defining "expository preaching" in this way, I will cite the definitions of others.

In "Topical, Textual or Expository Sermons – What is the best method?" by D. Goodmanson (Sep 12, 2006 - see here) the writer says:

"An expository sermon is following a book of the Bible, passage-by-passage to allow the text to determine the point." 

He says further:

"Most conservative churches would argue that expository preaching is the only way to preach.  Reformed churches stress lectio continua (preaching through whole books of the Bible in course).   Timothy Keller summarizes the sentiment as he writes why conservative churches feel non-expository preaching is theologically inferior; "1) First, other forms of preaching are considered 'man-pleasing' because we are choosing texts we prefer rather than preaching through the 'whole counsel of God' as God provides it in the Bible.  2) Second, other forms of preaching are more open to abuse since your thesis is not being controlled directly by the text.  3) Thirdly, other forms of preaching do not show as much honor to the text of Scripture.  The expositor focuses on the Biblical passage itself in a way that the others do not."

Thus it is clear what is at stake in this debate over just what constitutes "expository preaching." Such a definition limits "expository preaching" to those who go through a book of the Bible verse by verse, in a lectio continua way. By this definition, Spurgeon did not do expository preaching when he preached on individual texts, nor any other great preacher.  Spurgeon was man-pleasing when he gave textual and topical sermons.  His preaching was theologically inferior.  He did not by this method preach the whole counsel of God.  He did not focus on Biblical passages by his textual and topical preaching.

In "Four Kinds of Expository Preaching" (March 01, 2006 - see here) Ed Stetzer wrote:

"There are many different kinds of expositional preaching. The four most common are: verse-by-verse, thematic, narrative, and topical."

He says:

"Verse-by-verse preaching is the systematic reading and explanation of a biblical text. In involves a unified book of Scripture and its piece-by-piece analysis."

He says:

"Thematic preaching is an excellent form for preaching Bible doctrine. The speaker can focus on everyday topics by expounding a specific biblical text. The pastor can focus on Bible sayings on any relevant subject by a careful study and exposition of relevant biblical passages. Thematic expository preaching generally appears in a sermon series over several weeks and introduces many Scriptures focused on the same theme. Thematic messages may include as many as 10 or 12 Scripture passages in each sermon. Since the Bible tends to provide teachings on themes dispersed through different books, this form of preaching is a good way to preach the "whole counsel of God." This method also introduces new believers or unschooled unbelievers to general themes and patterns that appear throughout the Bible."

He says: 

"Narrative preaching presents the biblical text in the form of story and follows that story to completion. A narrative sermon functions as a lengthy illustration that uses a biblical text as its beginning and end.

When using this form, the speaker shares a story from the gospel such as that found in the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4). In telling the story, the preacher asks the listener to join in the narrative."

"Narrative preaching will grow more popular in the coming years. This is good news as long as the narratives remain consistent with biblical texts. Jesus demonstrated the value of narrative preaching by his use of parables."

Concerning topical expository preaching he says:

"Of the four forms of exposition, I recommend this form the least. Its weakness grows out of the limits of time and the speaker's inability to include enough biblical text about the topic in one sermon. Although I discourage this form, it is helpful at times.

Topical exposition generally revolves around one passage, centering on one theme. It is topical because it is usually a single message on a single subject. It is expository because it uses the biblical text as its source.

Most preachers use this form on special occasions such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Easter, but topical preaching does not provide adequate time to address the whole counsel of God as other methods do. Topical preaching limits opportunities for presenting proper understandings of the context as opposed to verse-by-verse preaching. In addition, the topical approach does not offer the opportunity to use the graphic and powerful images of narrative preaching. The church planter will probably use topical exposition, but it should be used sparingly.

(Ed Stetzer is vice president of LifeWay Insights for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is visiting professor of Research and Missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, visiting research professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has taught at 15 other colleges and seminaries. He also serves on the Church Services Team at the International Mission Board. He coauthored Transformational Church with Thom Rainer.)
Stetzer is correct in showing that verse by verse preaching is not the only way to do "expository preaching."

Murray wrote:

"Why has this view of “expository preaching” become comparatively popular? There are several reasons. First, it is believed that the practice will raise the standard of preaching. By a consecutive treatment of a book of Scripture, it is said, the preacher is taken away from any hobby-horses, and congregations are more likely to be given a broader, more intelligent grasp of all Scripture. The preacher is also delivered from a constant search for texts—he and the people know what is before them."

Is the verse by verse method of expository preaching a safe way to get Scripture perverters to stop twisting Scripture?  To come to see their errors and heresies?  Will this method force Bradley and the Hardshells to deal with passages they have historically ignored and failed to properly exegete?  Will it force the Hardshells from off their theological hobby-horses?  As Spurgeon would say, "I trow not." 

Murray wrote:

"The argument that the “expository” method is the best means to cover most of the Bible is too largely connected with the idea that the foremost purpose of preaching is to convey as much as possible of the Bible. But that idea needs to be challenged. Preaching needs to be much more than an agency of instruction. It needs to strike, awaken, and arouse men and women so that they themselves become bright Christians and daily students of Scripture. If the preacher conceives his work primarily in terms of giving instruction, rather than of giving stimulus, the sermon, in most hands, very easily becomes a sort of weekly an end in itself. But true preaching needs to ignite an ongoing process."

"In our view, however, it is time that the disadvantages of this view of preaching are at least considered."

When Murray speaks of the disadvantages to "expository preaching," he is speaking of it as it is narrowly defined by men like Bradley.  There is no disadvantage to doing expository preaching when it is properly defined, which then would include topical and textual types of sermons.

In "Seven Qualities of Expository Preaching" By Wayne McDill (see here), the author writes:

"Among evangelicals, the term expository preaching has come to stand for authentic biblical preaching. However, exactly what constitutes expository preaching varies from writer to writer and preacher to preacher.

I have talked with preachers who described themselves as “expositors,” and I believed them until I heard them preach. For many, exposition seems to mean taking a text and preaching on the subject the passage seems to address. For others exposition means defining some of the words in the text. For others expository preaching seems to mean giving a history lesson on a text with most of the sermon in the past tense."

Again, what is being opposed by Murray, and by me in this series, is the way "expository preaching" is defined, which excludes any preaching that is not part of a series in which a book of the Bible is being examined verse by verse and line by line.

In "What is expository preaching?" a writer says:

"Expository preaching is typically defined in terms of the length of the Bible passage used. Andrew Blackwood's definition: "Expository preaching means that the light for any sermon comes mainly from a Bible passage longer than two or three consecutive verses."1 The passage is often a Bible paragraph or chapter, sometimes an entire book. The most valid definition, however, would deal less with the length of the passage treated and more with the manner of treatment.

Our definition of expository preaching in its strictest, most narrow sense: Expository preaching is preaching based on a significant Bible passage so that the sermon's principal lessons originate in Scripture and are applied to a present human need. In its broad est sense, expository preaching is simply biblical preaching."

This is why I like Stetzer's outline concerning types of expository preaching.

In "What expository preaching isn't" another author wrote:

"It isn't springboarding. Our perpetual temptation is to use the Bible as a springboard from which to jump into a discussion of our own thoughts. The Scripture is adjusted to fit our thinking, rather than our thinking adjusted to fit the Scripture. We use the Bible as a sermon resource, but it is not the sermon's real source.

It isn't lecturing, if lecturing means including everything in the passage in detail. It isn't a verse-by-verse commentary on an entire passage, nor is it a word study. It isn't giving a lot of facts with no more unifying purpose than a page from the dictionary. Rather, it must focus on one principal proposition found in the passage and either omit or pass lightly over every thing else.

It isn't just teaching. Expository preaching emphatically includes teaching, but it is teaching not for the sake of knowledge alone but for the sake of using that knowledge to move the listener's will to do the will of God."

These words are worthy of consideration in this discussion.  The same author wrote:

"We can define expository preaching in its broadest sense as genuinely Bible-based preaching; textual, biographical, or topical sermons, if truly biblical, could be considered variations of expository preaching. The topical approach, although fraught with the obvious danger of lifting texts out of context, is almost essential to doctrinal preaching. To learn the whole truth on any subject, the whole Bible needs to be studied. If topical preaching is belittled, doctrinal preaching will likely be neglected."  (see here)

Well, amen to that!