Monday, August 31, 2015

The Hardshell God - Unable or Unwilling?

For everything that is God must either be willing or not willing that they are.  As Jonathan Edwards correctly stated:

Whether God has decreed all things that ever came to pass or not, all that own the being of a God own that he knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident, that if he knows all things beforehand, he either doth approve of them, or he doth not approve of them; that is, he either is willing they should be, or he is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be, is to decree them.”

This is both biblical and logical.  But if God is willing that something should be yet it does not transpire, then the only alternative is that He is not able to bring it to pass.

With that in mind let me ask my Conditionalist friends within the “Primitive” Baptists a few questions, worded in such a way that really exposes what it is they are affirming when they divorce the subjective experience away from the eternal salvation of the family of God.

Is God unable or unwilling to bring the gospel to all of His elect?

Is God unable or unwilling to convert all of His elect?

Is God unable or unwilling to convert “regenerated atheists”?

Is God unable or unwilling to convert “regenerated idolators”?

Is God unable or unwilling to impart evangelical faith to all of His elect?

Is God unable or unwilling to impart evangelical repentance to all of His elect?

Is God unable or unwilling that all of His elect come to know His Son?

Is God unable or unwilling to save all of His elect from their ignorance?

Is God unable or unwilling to give all of His elect a zeal which is according to knowledge?

Is God unable or unwilling to experimentally sanctify all of His elect?

Is God unable or unwilling that all of His elect grow in grace?

Is God unable or unwilling to convert His elect at the moment they are regenerated?

Is God unable or unwilling to preserve His elect in holiness?

Is God unable to unwilling to use instrumentality for His own glory?

Is God unable or unwilling to ordain all which comes to pass?

Is God unable or unwilling to save His people from the practice of sin?

Is God unable or unwilling to grant what He commands?

What say ye?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hardshell Devotionalist ignores Ephesians 1:13

A local Hardshell elder sends out a daily commentary (actually more of a devotional) to an emailing group of which I have remained a part for several years.  He has lately spent much time in the glorious first chapter of Ephesians.  In the past week he has written on verses 4,5,7,9,11, and 12. Curious as to what thoughts would come from verse 13 my hopes were dashed this morning when out of the blue he forsakes this verse-by-verse approach and jumps to the gospel of John and sends out a devotional from there. Wonder why?

Was this just where his mind was leading him?  Possibly.  Or was he hesitant to confront it, choosing rather to address another portion of God's Word?  Even more possible.  Did he find it difficult to place this gospel-means passage in a temporal framework, seeing that all verses before and after pertain to eternal salvation? If he did see that eternal salvation was established by the context did he see that it was hard to relegate the sinners' activity therein mentioned to the subconscious level?

Yeah, that hardshell hermeneutic ain't workin' too well here!

It certainly does present a challenge!

Elder Preslar on Two Seedism

In previous writings I have referred to Elder Hosea Preslar who was first of North Carolina (Bear Creek Association) in its early days and later a resident of middle Tennessee and friend of Elder (Dr.) John M. Watson.  For instance see my posting "Elder Hosea Preslar & Watson" (see here).

I showed that Elder Preslar believed the Gospel means position, which was the original position of the first generation of Hardshell leaders, including the Bear Creek.  Both Elders Watson and Preslar show that the "no means" view of spiritual birth was one of the foundational principles of Daniel Parker's "Two-Seedism." 

Today's Hardshells tell their members things about their history that are outright falsehoods (which any serious student of Baptist history will soon discover).  When beginning students of Hardshell history ask their Hardshell "historians" about Daniel Parker and his view on the "two seeds," or what was later called "Parkerism," they are told these things (what we might call their "talking points").

1.  Parker was one who rightly opposed the "modern mission system" with all that pertains to that term.

2.  His views on the "two seeds" was quickly declared as a heresy by the Hardshells and his followers were few, mainly in Texas.

3.  The "Primitive Baptist" not only soon disassociated themselves from Parker and his views on the "two seeds," but had no further difficulty with the teachings of Parker.

4.  The "two seed" view had one main error associated with it, and that was of an eternal devil.

5.  Another serious error of this faction (sub cult) was their belief that only the elect fell in Adam, and that the souls of the elect were eternally created in Christ (as a seed) and that these eternal souls or spirits enter the human body in "regeneration."

Generally this is the limit that the "talking points" choose to go.  Further or deeper investigation into the history or "Parkerism" is discouraged.  But, some soon discover, if they persist in their historical studies, that there was more involved in Parker's "two-seedism" than at first meets the eye.

Such further research will discover that Parkerism or two seedism spawned these other doctrinal errors.

1.  "Hollow Log" regeneration or "no change" view of regeneration.

2.  The denial of a physical resurrection of the bodies of both saint and sinner.

3.  A denial that the human nature of Christ was a creature of time, or began its existence when conceived in the womb of the blessed mother, Mary.

4. A denial that conversion to Christ was essential to being regenerated.

5.  A denial that the preaching of the Gospel is a means in spiritual birth or for final salvation.

6.  A denial that the Gospel is to be preached to all men and that they are to be exhorted to believe the Gospel and repent.

Now, the following form the pen of Elder Preslar will help show these things to be true.  Here is what Elder Preslar wrote about his meeting Two Seeders upon his move to Henderson county Tennessee from Anson County North Carolina. 

"From that time forth I was persecuted by some of those people, but I thought, perhaps that Divine Providence had sent me to Tennessee to defend the truths of the gospel, with others of like calling; and that we should suffer together for His sake.  To speak of all the distress this doctrine caused, within my knowledge, would be too tedious.  But for the satisfaction of those that are not acquainted with it, I will endeavor to give the reader a short, but plain sketch of their doctrine, though they, among themselves, seem at times to have it almost every way, any way, and as it were, no way at last.  Some call them the "Sadducees," some "Non-Resurrectionists," but mostly the "Two-Seeders."  Now if there is any system to their doctrine, or if they preach any system, I understand it to be about as follows:

First:  they hold that the foreknowledge of God amounts to a decree, because (say they) it could not be any other way, and therefore denounce the idea that Adam was able to stand, but liable to fall

Secondly:  They hold that the Church of God was in eternal union with Him, (not in purpose, but actually so); and that the church is composed of a family of eternal children, that was in eternal union with God

Thirdly: That when Adam transgressed the law of his Creator, and fell under its curse, that those eternal children fell in him; but not in the same like sense that the children of the devil fell

Fourthly: That the devil is a self-existent devil, or wicked spirit, and that, after Adam had transgressed the law of his Creator, the devil and his children, through Eve, began to make their appearance; and from them came another set of children that they call the children of the devil, or the seed of the serpent.  And that those wicked children are a wicked spiritual family that dwell in mortal bodies; and are therefore called children of the flesh, and that this wicked generation of children constitute the non-elect; and that those eternal children that were in eternal union with God, constitute the elect of God or the church. 

Fifthly: And as they had fallen under the law in Adam, that Christ came and redeemed them back again, and that the Holy Ghost makes manifest this to them in time, and that they are now renewed in the spirit of their mind, that is in the enjoyment of that eternal union they had with God; for (say they), there is nothing the soul receives in time, but a manifestation of what did before exist, not in purpose, for purpose (say they) amounts to nothing, but actually so.

Sixthly: That the gospel never was designed for anything else, but for the edification of the body of Christ, and that believers are the only subjects of gospel address.

Seventhly: That everything must return back again to its origin, and hence, these mortal bodies of ours must return to the dust, and never will be resurrected any more.  They contend for (what they call) a spiritual resurrection, and a spiritual body, that was eternally prepared of God for them; and that this was the kind of body that Jesus ascended into heaven with, and not in the one that was born of the Virgin Mary, crucified upon the Roman cross, and laid in the sepulcher; adding that it is none of our business what became of that body.

Eighthly, and lastly: They say that all other doctrine outside, or differing from this, is unsound, is Armianism, etc.

"The above is a correct and concise account of the items or tenets of doctrine, I understand them to hold forth.  And as I consider their system to be heresy, and having suffered much, as well as many others on account of it, I here give my reasons in a brief way, hoping that Divine Providence may make it a blessing to His church and people hereafter, for of all the systems of heresy that ever I have encountered with yet, I abhor it the most."  (pages 179-80)

"Neither has he told us when or how the devil was made or created, but He has let us know there is a devil, and He has let us know he is a murderer, a liar, and the father of lies, and that he sinned from the beginning, and abode not in the truth; John 8: 44. This much God has been pleased to let us know about the devil.  He does not tell us he never was in possession of the truth, but that he abode not in the truth...Then away with the doctrine of an eternal, self-existent devil."  (pg. 183-84)

"And as to their views of the use and design of the gospel being for nothing but for the edification of the Church, and believers being the only subjects of gospel address, I believe it not." (Page 186)

"But some object to these ideas and say all this is the work of the spirit of God; and the gospel has nothing to do with it. Ah, a gospel without a spirit! Well, God save me from a gospel that has not His spirit. God says His word is quick and powerful, and He says by Peter, This is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you; I Peter 1: 25. And as to the subjects of Gospel address, it is to every creature the disciples were commanded to preach the gospel; and Paul said, Whom we preach warning every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom, etc.; Col. 1: 28. So we see that their idea on that point is false as the balance, and we will now give their last, but not least error a passing notice."  (pg. 187)

"This is the new man begotten by the word of truth; yea, begotten of God; I John 5: 18." (page 185)

"And as to their views of the use and design of the gospel being for nothing but for the edification of the Church, and believers being the only subjects of gospel address, I believe it not." (Page 186)

He says that the gospel "is moreover to be for a witness unto all nations; Matt. 24: 14; and for the awakening of sinners, who are dead in trespasses and in sin." (page 187)

"...the other is the child of God, that was begotten by the word of truth; James 1: 14; I Cor. 4: 15; I John 5: 1." (Page 112)

"About this time there came to hand a work written by Elder Watson of Nashville, Tenn., entitled The Old Baptist Test, or the Bible Signs of the Lord's People.  Well, when I read it, I thanked God and took, as it were, fresh courage, for it contained and explained the very things that we were contending about, and I thought surely my accusers will now yield their ground...So along about this time, perhaps in the year 1858, I visited my old native State (North Carolina) again, and had one more opportunity of preaching to the members at my old association (Bear Creek)...I then made my way to the eastern parts of the State, and had good days among the brethren of the old Kehukee Association."  (pgs. 190-91)

"It was not long after my return home before I went to Nashville.  My sister having been afflicted in a very serious and critical way...I thought, now perhaps, I shall get to see Dr. Watson, the author of the old Baptist Test, as he is an able physician, as well as a minister of the gospel...I at once found him a plain and loving brother.  He took to his house and treated me with all the kindness of a father, and he and Brigs commenced waiting on my sister...I made brother Watson's house my home by his request, and he was a father, as well as a brother to us; he did not only board me free of charge, but bestowed much on me and my sister beside."  (pgs. 192-93)

Two Seedism in the Bear Creek?

Preslar wrote about his return trip to North Carolina (80 days) in the Feb. 11, 1860 issue of "The Primitive Baptist" periodical.  His letter to the editor, Elder Temples, begins on the front page.  Here are some excerpts (see here):

"And while in my mother State, (North Carolina) and in my old section (Anson and Union counties) I met with many that seemed greatly to rejoice at my presence among them: and this being the region of my birth country (of both body and soul) and also in the bounds of my old Association (to wit, Bear Creek), I watched things closely...And although this was one view I took of the case, yet in taking another view, perhaps a large majority of that section are the professed followers of Christ."

"But in the midst of all this confusion, my desire and prayer to God was that the Bear Creek Association might be saved,--saved from the many errors by which she was surrounded, (her well known enemies) And also from some erroneous things or principles, that are now in her midst, or in her ranks, going under the name of "Old Baptist;"  but when named by those who are better acquainted with its signs and marks, is the old Two Seed Parkerite heresy."

Today's Hardshells, including the Bear Creek, though they may reject some of Parker's "Two-Seedism," nevertheless hold to its "no means" view.  Remnants of Parkerism still remain.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tennessee Association Originally Espoused Means

In the previous posting I showed where the Powell's Valley Association of Primitive Baptists as late as 1879 still espoused the Gospel means position, which was the position of most "Primitive" or Hardshell Baptists up till the Civil War and was still the position of many Hardshell churches well into the twentieth century

Most Hardshells who know most about their history will want their fellow cult members to believe that the anti means view was the view of nearly all Hardshells from 1832 till about 1890 when Elders Pence and Burnam (means side) and Potter (anti means side) butted heads in debate over the issue.  Then, these Hardshell "historians" want their fellow Hardshells to believe that the split that resulted from this debate showed 1) that the means view was new among the Hardshells, and 2) that those favoring Pence and Burnam represented an extreme minority.  But, the historical facts will not substantiate this Hardshell revision of history.

It can be shown that the rejection of the Gospel means position among the Hardshells was gradual, and occurred mostly during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century.  In this posting I will cite from the minutes of the Tennessee Association of Primitive Baptists, but first let me cite this from the web page of today's "Progressive" Primitive Baptist Tennessee Association.  (emphasis mine)

"By 1843, the Tennessee Association of Primitive Baptist was comprised of 9 churches in Sevier and Blount Counties, Tennessee. These churches embrace the original twelve “Articles of Faith”, or religious principles, that they had in their beginning with the addition of a thirteenth article that states: We believe that the Church of Jesus Christ should have no organic connection to any society or institution of man not authorized by God’s word. The association grew to include churches in North and South Carolina, as well as Tennessee, which totaled 22 by 1912. It was at the 110th annual session of the Tennessee Association of Primitive Baptist held at the Green Brier Church, Sevier County, that Elder William Brickey addressed the association by letter concerning the topics of: Eternal Two-Seedism, or Parkerism, Absolute Predestinarianism, Eternal Vital-Unionism, and Arminianism. At the 1913 session the association recommended that the churches which comprised the Tennessee Association to say by church act whether they adopt or accept the said advice concerning preaching of repentance to unregenerated sinners. Part of the Tennessee Association split off and joined with the Nolachucky Association and remain with them to this day. The remaining seven churches assumed the name The Original Tennessee Association of Primitive Baptist in 1914."

We are progressive in relation to most Primitive Baptists, we preach repentance to unregenerated sinners, have Sunday school, attend worship service weekly, have a mid-week service, and support footwashing meetings and revivals in each church."

When I was traveling among the Hardshells as a young Hardshell preacher, I visited with folks who were members of the "Tennessee-Nolachucky Association of Primitive Baptists."  This association was created in 1913 as a result of the Gospel means division.  Now, who held to the original view of the old Tennessee Association, the means or the anti means side?  Well, we shall see.

In the Association minutes for 1897 we have this circular given to the churches. (emphasis mine)


Very Dear Brethren

We are glad the time has come when we address you in an epistolary way, for which purpose we have chosen for our subject - "Preaching the gospel to sinners."  We are glad to believe that you are a unit upon this subject, but we wish to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance how "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24-27)  This is the language of our blessed Saviour to His Apostles after his resurrection and is today our authority as His ministers for preaching the gospel to sinners."  But let us go back a moment to the Old Testament and see if the prophets did not warn the wicked...Jonah preached to wicked Nineveh, and Jesus tell us they repented at his preaching.  John the Baptist preached repentance to sinners, and many believed and were baptized.  Jesus preached, "Repent ye, and except ye repent ye shall perish.  But while he was preaching to sinners and they drew near to Him, there was some murmured against Him, just like some professing Primitive Baptists are going (sic) today, calling us Armenians (sic) for preaching the gospel to sinners.  One of them (a preacher too) called the very language of Jesus in Matthew 23:37 Arminianism.  So if they call the Master of the house Beelzebub how much more shall they call those of his household.  But let us see if it was Baptists, or even Christians, that murmured against Him.  Nay, verily, it was the Scribes and Pharisees.  Now is it possible, dear brethren, that this same opposing spirit has found its way among Primitive Baptists, if so pray that good Lord to move it away, and show them that Jesus died for sinners, and would have His ministers to tell them so.

In the first commission the apostles were limited to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but in the second commission, in all the world to every creature, but begin at Jerusalem. Jerusalem at this time was the very sink of sin and seat of hypocrisy, and gulf where true religion was tried to be drowned.  The very shambles and slaughter-shop for saints, and, to heighten their crimes, cried for the blood of Christ to be upon them and their children.  Paul said they were contrary to all men...and yet they must be the first to have the gospel preached to them.  So when the time had fully come that the Holy Ghost was poured out upon them, Peter gets up and goes to preaching the death and resurrection of Christ to some of the very ones that crucified Him, and when they heard his preaching they were convicted for sin and cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"  And Peter again exhorted them, and they gladly received his word and were baptized, and now it does seem to us that any Bible reader could see that the Lord, by His Spirit, make the preaching of the gospel effectual in the conviction and conversion of sinners.

It was the same power that converted Saul of Tarsus that converted those on the day of Pentecost.  To Saul it was the word of Jesus without the apostles; to them it was the word of Jesus by the mouth of the apostle Peter.  To each it was the power of God unto salvation.  Jesus said to dead Lazarus, "come forth," and he came forth. Peter said to Tabitha, "arise," and she opened her eyes and sat up.  The same power that raised Lazarus raised Tabitha.  The same power that attended the preaching of Jesus to the conversion of sinners attends the preaching of His ministers today to the conversion of sinners, to the extent of His purpose in sending it. It is by his spirit and in His name that His ministers preach the gospel,  It is by His spirit their preaching is made effectual to both saint and sinner.  The power is His, the work is His, and the glory shall be His.

Stephen died at the hands of those he was preaching to.  Paul preached to sinners and he was a minister by whom they believed.  Some tell us that the sinner is dead, and cannot therefore hear the word of the Lord when preached to them.  But does not the apostle tell us that hearing comes by the word of God.  Peter says that we are born by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.  And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.  So then how shall they hear without a preacher.  Some tell us that there are two words or gospel - one preached by the spirit, the other by God's called ministers.  But unless there had been two Lords crucified, there could be no ground for two gospels, but one Lord, and in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  Now the apostles tell us that the gospel is the power of God, the wisdom of God the word of God, the gospel of God, the grace of God-the Son of God, crucified, risen and exalted form poor lost sinners.  And now, dear brethren, if this gospel is not sufficient to save poor lost sinners we know that we are all lost world without end.

And now, if the Lord Jesus Himself and His holy apostles traveled and preached this gospel to poor lost sinners and many were converted by their preaching, how can we claim to be His ministers if we do not preach the same thing.  John Bunyan, a strong Baptist preacher of the sixteenth century, preached this gospel to sinners, for which he lay in Bedford jail twelve years;  not accepting deliverance on the ground that he would not preach it any more.  The churches of the Kehuke Association of one hundred years ago maintained that in order to the ordination of a minister, his preaching was to tend to the conviction and conversion of sinners.  The Tennessee Association was organized upon the same principle:  and her ministers have ever since its organization preached the gospel to sinners in the name of Jesus.  And by it the churches have been built up and God's name glorified thereby.  We will here give you a brief extract from the pen of Elder Wm. Brickey, in Towaliga Messenger, on which he says, "The apostle Paul thought it necessary that the gospel should first be preached to the unbelieving Jews:  How many of us claiming to be Primitive Baptists believe it necessary that the gospel be preached to unbelievers.  If we differ from the apostles in faith and practice, how can we claim to be apostolic Baptists."  Again he says "How many thousands of the Lord's people in all days past and present have borne testimony that they were convicted and converted under the preaching of the gospel by the Lord's ministers.  How can we get up in the face of all these witnesses and say it was all a delusion, and they were all mistaken.

So now, dear brethren, it is the spirit of Christ to weep over poor lost sinners and preach the gospel to them, and we rejoice to know that this spirit is with the churches and ministers of the Tennessee Association today."

Associations in correspondence with the Tennessee Association were the Powell's Valley, the Nola Chuckey, and the Hiwassee, all which previously also held to the means position.

The old and historic Cades Cove church was a member of this association and remained true to the means position of their forefathers, just like the Alabaha Association.

The baptisms of today's Hardshells descend from men who held to the Gospel means view, which is the original view of the "Primitive Baptist" denomination.