Friday, January 29, 2016

Salvation = Gospel

"Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." (Acts 28:28)

What is sent? salvation or the message? When Paul says "they will hear it," what is the antecedent of the pronoun it? If it is "salvation," how can one hear it? If what is heard is the message of salvation, then does the apostle not equate the singular term "salvation" with what is heard, or with the gospel message?

Obviously when Paul speaks of "salvation" he equates the term with the gospel message itself. He uses the word "sent" and then uses the word "hear," but you would think that he would have rather used the word "receive" rather than "hear." Thus, we would read the verse as saying in English - "this salvation is sent to the Gentiles and they will receive it."

Thus, one of two things are obvious. First, Paul equates the Gospel being "sent" to the Gentiles with "salvation" being "sent" to them. Second, Paul's idea of hearing the Gospel is all the same as receiving. And, is it not true in both cases? That in sending the Gospel to the Gentiles God was sending salvation (a fact denied by the Hardshells)? And, second, that to hear is the same as to receive? (And this latter fact also denied by today's Hardshells)

So, what can the Hardshell do with this text? Seeing he refuses to acknowledge that "the salvation of God" is sent via the Gospel, what then will he do? What kind of twisted interpretation can he offer to the verse to make it compatible with hardshellism? I dare say that most of them will opt for the "time salvation" defense, affirming that it is a mere temporal salvation that is sent and received. But, does this solve the difficulty for them? Or (as I will show in the next posting), does it not rather create innumerable problems for them?

From Dr. Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

"Be it known therefore unto you,.... Unbelievers and despisers, take this along with you at parting, and do not say you were never acquainted with it: that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles; meaning the Gospel, which is a publication and declaration of that salvation, which God contrived from all eternity..."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

God's Faith? (vii)

As previously stated, no translator nor serious commentator on holy scripture denies that many times in the new testament that "the faith" refers to the object of Christian belief and not to a strictly subjective faith. Two scriptures that were cited as examples of this are these:

1) "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)

2) "shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." (I Tim. 4:1)

Now let us add to this list others, beginning with a passage which most interpreters acknowledge refers to the object of Christian trust and conviction.

"And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:7)

On this verse A.T. Robertson says (emphasis mine):

"The faith (τηι πιστει — tēi pistei). Here meaning the gospel, the faith system as in Romans 1:5; Galatians 1:23; Judges 1:3, etc." (Word Pictures)

Notice how Robertson says that "the faith" denotes "the gospel" (the common interpretation), and then mentions Romans 1: 5, as another passage where "the faith" denotes the gospel and is a passage we will look at shortly as it bears on the discussion of the meaning of "the faith" in Romans 3: 3. But, first, let us look at these other verses in Acts.

"But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith." (Acts 13:8)

"Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22)

"And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily." (Acts 16:5)

What these verses show is that Luke commonly refers to the doctrine of Christ or the gospel as "the faith" and shows that the first Christians understood what was signified and denoted by "the faith." It is as Dr. Robertson said a term that stands for the gospel system. Further, notice how the presence of the definite article is important, referring to something definite and particular. I think another word for "faith" in arthrous cases could be "creed." Thus "the faith" is "the creed." Also, we can speak of "the creed" or "the faith" without stated adjectives (or genitive nouns) because it is understood in context. It often is given with modifiers and genitive nouns and so we have "the faith (creed) of God," "the faith of saints," "the faith of Christ," etc., or put the same into this English form; "God's faith (creed)," "saint's faith," or "Christ's faith."

Though it is most often the case that where "faith" is used with the definite article it is a reference to the creed of Christians, or to the gospel revelation, or to the oracles of God in Christ, to the object of individual subjective belief, yet there are some few cases where "the faith" possibly alludes to the subjective belief of individuals. In such cases the definite article functions as a demonstrative pronoun and so in such cases the writer will indeed be speaking of the subjective faith or belief of Christians. The context will reveal this. If a writer is discussing individual belief or believing, then when in such context he says "the faith" or "the belief" he means "this belief or believing that I have been talking about." This will become evident as we look at pertinent passages, first in the Roman epistle. Further, we will see that most often when a writer is focusing on subjective belief he will do so by using "faith" (pistis) without the article, and why this is so.

Before we leave the book of Acts, let us notice this disputed passage.

"And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ." (KJV)

When Felix heard Paul "concerning the faith in Christ" we notice how the KJV adds the definite article, which is present in the Greek text. However, notice how both the NIV and NASB both omit the definite article in their translations. Others, like the KJV, retain the article.

"Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

"But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus." (NASB)

It is possible that the definite article means "this" or "that" and so may refer to individual Christian belief, or subjective faith, in this context. But, it is doubtful that Felix wanted to hear about Paul's personal convictions as much as his doctrine or teachings. Further, had this been the object of Felix's hearing of Paul, would not Luke had rather written that Felix sent to Paul to hear him of "your faith" (2nd person) rather than as he wrote "the faith" (3rd person)? Further, in the previous passages in Acts "the faith" stood for the Christian religion, being the oracles of God as given to the Jews as well as the oracles of God as given through Christ.

However, this verse is unique in that it does not have a genitive attached to "the faith" so as to read "the faith of..." but rather has "the faith in (eis) Christ Jesus." The Greek preposition is directional, pointing towards an object. It is belief that is towards or unto Christ. We will be looking at passages that have "the faith of Christ," but this here is "the faith towards Christ." This would seem to lend weight to the definite article being demonstrative and therefore meaning "this belief directed towards Christ Jesus." Not that this is conclusive, for even with the preposition eis, "the faith" still may denote "the Christian creed" as the other passages in Acts just noticed. Certainly the Scriptures, which are the Christian's creed, are all "unto (eis) Christ," that is, they all point to Christ.

Again, I don't think anyone can doubt that these passages in the book of Acts show that it was common nomenclature for the early church to refer to the gospel as "the faith" and these passages demonstrate such. Further, we see this same term used not only by the inspired historian but by the other writers of the new testament as we observed in Paul's first letter to Timothy and in Jude's general epistle. Shortly, we will see whether Paul used this term in his Roman epistle, and if so, where? But, let us first look at some of those other new testament passages that speak of "the faith."

"Watch, stand fast in the faith, quit yourselves like men, be strong." (I Cor. 16:13)

"Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith." (II Cor. 13:5)

"But they had heard only, That he who persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith which once he destroyed." (Gal. 1:23)

"If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and do not be moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; of which I Paul am made a minister." (Col. 1:23)

"Being rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." (Col. 2:7)

"But if any does not provide for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." (I Tim. 5:8)

"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (I Tim. 6:10)

"Which some professing have erred concerning the faith." (I Tim. 6:21)

"Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith." (II Tim. 3:8)

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." (II Tim. 4:7)

"This witness is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith." (Titus 1:13)

"My brothers, do not have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons." (James 2:1)

"Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brothers that are in the world." (I Peter 5:9)

"Here is the patience of the saints: here are those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." (Rev. 14:12)

I doubt that anyone will doubt the frequency of the term "the faith" in the new testament scriptures and that it refers to the object of Christian conviction, or to their scriptures or creed. But, let us notice this interesting passage that also has "the faith."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Meeting With Sonny Pyles (vi)

After Lunch


Brother Newell, will you lead us in prayer?

Thank you

Well, the last thing that we were discussing before we broke for lunch was how we would save discussions about issues involved in Landmarkism till later and talk about what we think the Hardshells of today need in order to bring about the blessing of God. You know, one of my favorite verses of the bible is Psalms 127:1 where it is said: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes in vain."

This verse does not give us any authority to blame the Lord for our vanities in labor, yet we are to give him the credit for vanity's opposite, which must involve success in labor, as the metaphors chosen show. The Psalmist contrasts meaningless or useless labor versus meaningful and useful labor.

If we want to "build up Zion" and to see her grow, mature, and prosper, then God will have to be the chief builder behind our work. Paul confidently said of his own labors "we are laborers together with God." And he said to the Corinthians "know that your labors are not in vain in the Lord."

But, how can we know that he is laboring with us in building the Hardshell church? In watching over her? Is he the master builder in the building efforts of the Hardshells? A joint laborer with them as he was with Paul?

A house that is in the process of being constructed is growing in size and members. To say a building is being built but yet no new no members are being added to it, or that it is not increasing in size, is a contradiction. When a building is being destroyed, or dismantled, members of the building are removed one by one until there are no members joined together. I just think you brothers are living in denial of this fact. You have a disease. The symptoms prove it. But, you refuse to accept the fact. You convince yourself that your failure to prosper is any sign of being out of the will of God.


I like that verse also. I certainly do want the Lord to be involved in our building and watching. I also want to see the church prosper, but not in the way the Arminians define "prosper." What you say about growth in numbers in relation to God blessed labors is difficult to refute. I will have to give that some more thought. I do recall that verse - "For the children of the desolate one are more numerous than the children of the married woman." (Isaiah 54:1) The churches of the world will always be "more numerous" than the Lord's true church.


About the manner in which we are to build up the Lord's church and bring about its prosperity, let me first say that we ought not to think that the Lord's doing the building excludes our building. That would be an Antinomian error, one into which many Hardshells have fallen. Paul said to the members of the early church "you are God's building," meaning that God was the builder. Did that exclude Paul from being involved in that building?

Further, you cannot exclude growth in numbers from the criteria for judging God's blessing on a work or group. If we do include growth in numbers as an evidence of blessing and approbation from the Lord, as we should, then by this criteria the Hardshells are not in a state of blessing. Luke, in writing the book of Acts, often linked growth in the number of disciples with the blessing of God on the word being preached. For instance he wrote in Acts 11: 21 - "And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."  Notice that the hand of the Lord being with the first evangelists in their preaching produced a great number of converts. By this criteria, the "Primitive Baptist Church" is not being blessed and owned by God.


A growth in numbers does not prove orthodoxy nor is it a sign of divine approval. Many heretical groups have grown in great numbers, such as the Catholics and Muslims. As far as the Antinomian error of which you speak, I would rather call it fatalism, and no one doubts that such an error has had its influence among our people. Further, our enemies have been prophesying of our death for two hundred years.


Bare survival is not prosperity. The "Primitive Baptist" church of today is at least "half dead" like the wounded man in the story of the good Samaritan. To me they are like the church at Sardis, to whom Christ said - "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead."

The prosperity and success of the Lord's church is guaranteed so long as she believes and practices the true faith of Christ. As far as heretical groups prospering in number, and this proving that growth in numbers is no sign of God's blessing, I will say that growth in numbers alone does not prove a good standing with God, but I do affirm that God's blessing of the word preached will always be prosperous as regarding the number of converts, as I showed already from the Acts passage. But, notice also Isaiah 55: 11.

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

I just find it fascinating that the Hardshells cannot see how their decline is a sign that they are not in line with the Lord in some serious way. And, they are not going to prosper till they discover what it is about them that is frowned upon by the Lord. They even want to make their decline a sign of God's blessing. Ironic indeed. And yet we find just the opposite sentiment in scripture. Notice God's judgment on Israel is evidenced by her decline in numbers.

"Wheras you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God." (Duet. 28:62)

Are not the Hardshells today left few in number? The word prosper, used often in connection with the word preached, necessarily includes growth in number. How can you say that the Hardshell church is prospering when she is not increasing in size?


Well, lots of our churches are growing, but they will never grow as fast nor be as large as worldly churches. Some are dying, and I agree that the Lord is not to blame, but rather we must be at fault. And, so far as being few in number, remember Stephen that the Lord's church is called a "little flock." Only few walk the narrow way by being in the Lord's visible church kingdom. Remember that in Noah's day only eight people were saved. Remember also that in the days of Elias there were only seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal.


We are indeed making progress. I thank God for where we now are in our conversation. We are addressing the question as to why the Hardshells have been in decline ever since their origin and why God has not been blessing their preaching as he did that of their forefathers, men like Benjamin Keach, John Gill, and Charles Spurgeon. And men in this country like John Leland and John Gano, Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall, John Watson and R.W. Fain, etc. These are your forefathers as well as mine to some degree. God blessed their ministries and the churches in their care and fellowship and they prospered. Converts to Christ were not rare occurrences as they are in today's Hardshell churches, but were commonplace and expected.

You know, brother Sonny, you have had such great gifts given to you of God for the purpose of gospel preaching. I think of what a waste your talents have been as a result of your cult thinking and heretical beliefs. Rather than preaching to handfuls here and there, you could, like Spurgeon, preached to thousands regularly. Instead of seeing a few converts to hardshellism, you would have seen radical sinners transformed by the power of your preaching. You could have also been an excellent seminary professor. So much lost because of your going into hyper Calvinism.


Well, that is a lot to respond to. You certainly hit hard and get right to the point. No ambiguity with you. But, I at least admire the gentle way you are saying these things. And, of course I take a different view of things than you do relative to what you have just said. Moses could have been a great man in Egypt. Some have said that I would have made a good doctor or possibly some kind of engineer. But, I forsook those things as did Moses. I chose to suffer the loss of all things, including fame and fortune, in order to be a servant among God's little chosen flock, or the Primitive Baptists. And as far as my being a modern day Spurgeon, we know that Spurgeon, as great as he was, did not hold to the full truth, as well as the other men that you mention. I am glad that I did not begin my ministry thinking that the eternal well being of my neighbors was dependent upon my preaching. Had that been my thinking, I doubt I could have had a moment's rest or peace. I would always be worrying whether my time spent in meaningless pursuits could not have been used to save the souls of others. What a burden your doctrine of means puts on you. Remember, it is your doctrine that says that you will be held eternally responsible for not warning your neighbor about his eternal dangers.


Why don't we take a short break and return?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Meeting With Sonny Pyles (v)

After Break


Before I respond to what you last said, let me make this one preliminary comment.

You know, this is the kind of debating or discussing that we should be doing. We have treated each other with respect and talked in conversational and friendly, yet frank, terms. For this I thank God and I hope that this will lead us to a longer and more thorough discussion of our differences and on what is good for the "Primitive Baptist" church. For, I think, you and I have the same goal in mind, yet we disagree on the means to the end. I want the old Hardshell church to be in the will of God and fully enjoying his presence and approbation.

I want the "Primitive Baptist" church to experience heaven sent revival. I want to hear their preachers preaching Jesus to thousands rather than to a small handful. I want to see the lives of sinners transformed by the preaching of the gospel, just as it was in the days of the first Christians and of our Baptist forefathers. I want to see the people really enjoying our present or "time salvation," and to show them the way, which is by working for the Lord, by doing his business. But, hopefully we can discuss this more in detail as we continue our time of conversation together.

But, let me respond to the last things you said before our little break. You said that you were concerned about the present state of the church and not what errors our forefathers may have entertained for a time. First, I am glad that you are staying away from the idea that a church cannot now be pure if she had ancestors who were not. That was Sylvester Hassell's view, and mine also, but it is not the view that is avowed by modern primitives, the ones you say you are defending.

Your statement about concern for the present state of the church is not unrelated to what I just said about us both wanting what is good for the Hardshells, which of course is one and the same with what God characterizes as good. You know, if the Lord wrote letters today to the Hardshell churches, as he did to the seven churches of Asia, what would he condemn, and what would he condone? How would his condemnation be different from mine as respects the Hardshells? Could it be that he has, to some degree at least, already written to them through yours truly?


Well, Stephen, I too have enjoyed our discussion. It is not like I thought it would be. I fully expected you to be combative and to be hurling insults. As long as our talks continue in this mode I see no reason why we can't continue to have them. You are unlike your dad in how you dialogue with your opponents. I know you have had several debates as he did and I never entered into them because they seem to make those who engaged in them combative, argumentative, forward, and disrespecting to others who disagree with them. But, that doesn't seem to have been the case with you.

About wanting the church to prosper, I do want it, but I hardly believe you when you say you are only interested in the good of the old Baptists, while we see you as only interested in destroying the old Baptists out of hatred. About the way to accomplish this, we are not going to employ Arminian or Missionary methods that our forefathers declared against in the Black Rock Address.

About problems in Landmarker principles as held to by Primitive Baptists. I do not doubt that many of our brethren have gone overboard in this area, but I deny that baptisms and other church work done by churches in disorder are valid and I think I can prove it by the bible. And, so, the practice of our churches in not recognizing the baptisms and ordinations of other groups, Baptists or otherwise, we do so on biblical authority.


Well, as much as I would like to talk in greater detail with you about the difficulties that Landmark ecclesiology has had in the Hardshell church, concerning which I have written extensively, and I hope you have read or will read, we can save that for later as other things seem to be of greater importance, in my mind, for us to discuss at this moment. This relates to our common goal, which is to see the prosperity of the "Primitive Baptist Church." I also hope that when we return to the subject of Landmarkism that brother Helms can also be present. I am sure as an old elder in the Bear Creek association that he too would like to see them prosper and experience heaven sent revival. Further, a few years ago the difficulty with Landmark sentiments involved a man who wanted to join Union Grove church from a Sovereign Grace Baptist church, but who did not see why he needed to be baptized again, believing his first baptism was scriptural and pleasing to the Lord. Your insistence, Newell, that he be baptized again was a result of your Landmarker views, which are not scriptural.


I hope that you all can get back to discussing Landmarkism sometime as I would like to hear it. And, as far as what we can do to see Zion prosper, I am all for, as long as it is scriptural and does not disturb the peace of the church.


Well, surely, the Lord will arrange for us to discuss this important area of doctrine then in the future. That being said, we lay that subject aside for the present and move on to how we can achieve our common goal, and that is the health and well being of the Hardshell flock.

We have already agreed that charity is of the utmost importance. Love gives birth to faith, and from faith all other Christian gifts and graces proceed. So, what can we do to bring the Hardshells into closer communion and fellowship with Christ so that the love of Christ burns in their hearts and produces hard working disciples? For surely, revival and gospel blessings will then come down as showers of blessing.


Lunch is ready. You all come.


Well, brothers, we will continue our talk after lunch.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Meeting With Sonny Pyles (iv)

Elder Helms called me at 8 am the next day and wanted to know if he and Sonny could come by this morning about 10.

(remember that the following is an imaginary dialogue)

Knock Knock


Good morning brothers! So good to see you again. I hope you all had a good service last evening and a good night's rest.


Yes, we had a good service. Sonny preached one of his ablest messages. Perhaps your discussion yesterday stirred him as he preached with a little more youthful vigor, as he use to do when he was a young stallion rather than an old dinosaur. (laugh)


I wish I could have heard it. But, of course, I have heard many of brother Sonny's sermons over the years and know his thoughts and spirit quite well I think.


I hope you also slept well last night Stephen.


Yes, I did, thank you. You all sit down. Can I get you anything? Paul!


Good to see you both again, Elder Helms, Elder Pyles. What would you like to drink?

Stephen (after prayer)

Sonny, let me respond to your last words from yesterday, since we ran out of time for me to do so.

What I am saying about the Hardshell group is not what is true of a few, but what characterizes them generally. I am not inferring anything from a limited sampling, but is the result of a very long list of evidences to prove what I say. I only gave you an inkling of such instances, but more could be added. You know, I got my undergraduate degree in Sociology and so I know about studying groups.

About love keeping no list of wrongs, I don't think Paul meant this to be applied to every case. God keeps a list of wrongs, does he not? Our consciences, by the word and Spirit of God, also keeps a list of wrongs until they are confessed, do they not? Paul often made a list of wrongs, did he not? Did not Jesus? Once sin is acknowledged and turned from, it is forgiven, and of course there is no list of wrongs kept. Did not Jesus say "if your brother repent, then forgive him?" Further, the Hardshells have kept a list of my wrongs, have they not? Of those of Eddie Garrett? Of those of the liberal brethren?

Further, Paul also said that charity is kind and I have had little kindness shown to me by the Hardshells. Others can testify the same. Charity is also not boastful, and yet I hear the Hardshells boast all the time about how they are the only ones who know the full truth, who are pure in doctrine and practice, and who therefore need no correction or repentance. And love, said Paul, does not dishonor others, and yet this is a common practice among the Hardshells. Paul says that love is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. I hardly think these qualities characterize the Hardshells, at least not more than other Christian groups. Further, we are told that love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. The Hardshells delight in opposing the truth on many issues.


I guess I was thinking along the lines that it was you who showed a lack of charity, forbearance, long suffering, and that it was you who held a grudge against us, and refuse to forgive us of any errors or mistakes. What church does not have these same faults? But, your criticisms are not only excessive but often seen as nit picking.


You mean the kind of charity and forbearance that was shown to me, dad, Lasserre and the liberal brethren, and Elder Fralick, not to mention many others? That kind of love that men like Keith Ellis manifests? I am sure you know of Ellis, being a pastor now or formerly in Texas. Do you know that he started spreading the lie on Facebook that I had been unfaithful to my first wife, and that I was excluded for it, and that I therefore have been out of the church ever since?

Brother Newell, you know this is not the case. When Elder Jeff Patterson years ago attempted the same tactic, in an attempt to smear my name, he even called you, remember? (Newell nods yes) Well, what did you tell me that you told him?


That it was untrue and to leave it alone.


Well, someone ought to tell the Hardshell liars like Ellis to quit spreading such lies. I hate it Newell. Such vicious lies simply bring up things that ought not to be brought up. But, the fact is, Karon was excluded from Union Grove after our divorce. I was given a letter of dismissal and good standing by the church at Haws Run where I was a member. You remember. (Newell nods yes) It is sad. But, Ellis shows the Hardshell spirit, one that lacks love. I don't know why he just didn't try to answer the many things I have written about the Hardshells instead of using such tactics. His behavior was simply more proof that he was acting like a typical cult member protecting his cult's image.


Again, we are not perfect. But, what you say about some people and some cases is not reflective of our people as a whole.


Well, as we have agreed, God is our judge and we should fear and tremble at the thought of such a judgment and it ought to produce in us a sense of caution in how we talk about our brethren, criticize them, how we do apologetics, or defend the faith, and how we choose our battles. But, I would like to add that I think it wrong for Hardshells to say that people like Karon (Newell's daughter and my first wife) can never be taken back into the church or forgiven, because, as they say, "she is living in adultery." This practice of refusing baptism to such, and not allowing them membership in the church, is an example of that strict discipline I spoke about yesterday and which reveals a lack of the love of Christ. But, I do not mention this in order that we may spend time debating that issue, for we have other issues to discuss. But, perhaps at some future point, we could also debate this point. I hate that men like Ellis must result to smear tactics to oppose one who is writing against his errors.


I don't condone what Ellis or Patterson attempted to do with regard to your divorce from Newell's daughter. They can defend themselves.


I wish they had not gone down that path.


Newell, I think it shows how they cannot give a reply to my arguments against their errors and so, rather than deal with the argument, they make personal attacks. And, as I said, such behavior ironically proves my whole thesis. The Hardshell church is a cult and when their members and spokespersons act like cult members, it lends weight to my thesis. It is hypocrisy. Ellis wants to condemn me for throwing stones and yet he picks up stones and hurls them at me.


I am not going to defend such individuals and specific cases. I would be a fool to try it. Such folks can defend themselves. I am defending the church as a whole.


That is wise of you. And, I am glad you don't condone such tactics by men like Ellis. Also, why would Ellis even concern himself with me if my blogs were not doing some damage to the cult? In fact, if I put together a list of the comments I have received from the Hardshells over the past ten years or so while I have been writing on the Web, they would evince a spirit and attitude that is anything like the meek and gentle spirit of Jesus.

I find it ironic that such Hardshells could decry my supposed anger while spewing forth such anger towards me. Actually, I could point to other examples of hypocrisy, of being guilty of the things I am accused of, by such Hardshells. I am condemned for lacking love towards the old Baptists but nothing is said about my being loved by the Hardshells. If you all don't see it, surely God does, and also others outside the cult. I think brother Bradley has seen it, becoming the object of scorn and ridicule by most of today's Hardshells. As I said, Hardshells can show "much love," as they did to Bradley for years, but once you get on their bad side, they will look upon you with the severest enmity, with no desire to save you, but only to destroy you. You know Sonny, I wonder how you would behave if all of a sudden you did or said something that got under the skin of the Hardshell brotherhood? I wonder how soon that love for you would disappear also as it has to a large degree with Bradley?


Well, again, I respond by saying that I am not going to enter into being an attorney for the defense for some of our brethren. They can defend themselves. Further, we never claimed to be free of sin, that we don't have jealous preachers, irritable and cantankerous folks, troublemakers, etc., and their presence is to be expected in the church from time to time. And, about Elder Bradley, he brought this on himself when he began to teach things contrary to the views of Primitive Baptists.


You know, Sonny, I find the cases of you and Bradley interesting and revealing. Let me explain. I could add my dad, but for now will keep the cases to you and Bradley who have been the two leading figures in the Hardshell church for the past fifty years. You both spent many years together in sweet fellowship. You both did more to help save the Hardshells from death than any others. But, look at where both of you are now. You cannot now fellowship Bradley and consider him and the Cincinnati church in disorder. I think you and Bradley help demonstrate a lot of what I have been talking about in regard to the schismatic and separatist nature of the Hardshell denomination; About their lack of love, forgiveness, forbearance, long suffering, patience, good will, etc.

You know, for the first seventy five years or so of the Primitive Baptist denomination, those of your view and Bradley's view lived together in the church, and did not make their disagreement over means a test of fellowship. How unlike are today's Hardshells to their forefathers. The first Hardshells were indeed an intolerant bunch, but two hundred years later their offspring far outdo them in the spirit of intolerance.


Well, some of our forefathers held to more errors that we do now. As I said, the church has been purged of errors. And, when someone today departs from the old paths, as did Bradley and those in the liberal movement, in regards to preacher schools, mission work, their belief in perseverance rather than preservation, and with some of them believing in gospel means in the new birth, we must cut them off. Further, the reason why our forefathers tolerated much is because they had those qualities that you say we lack as a denomination, such as love and forbearance. They tolerated because they were being patient and forbearing. But the time came when forbearance and a time of repentance came to an end and it then became time for the old church to finally cut off such errors and those who hold them.


You know, with all this talk about the Hardshell church taking decades to purify herself, and that this fact accounts for the fact that she did not generally believe at the start all things right, as do today's Hardshells, I am reminded of the history of the Campbellites, which also was a history of purging as you say is your history. Actually, brother Bob Ross and I have written about the numerous similarities of these two groups. The first Campbellites were called "Reformers" and so were the first Hardshells in the Kehukee Association. And, you prove my point in saying that the church took decades to reform and purify itself. But, I see this as creating all kinds of problems for you in light of your Landmarker views on church succession and validity. You have a clean thing, a pure church, that has come from an unclean thing, or impure source. Your mother church believed in means, for example, but the daughter church does not. If she is pure now, she was corrupt then. If she was pure then, she is corrupt now.


Well, I don't claim that an existing church that is pure in doctrine, but yet had in previous years held to corrupt doctrine, is not a valid church. That is an extreme view. But, we cannot be held accountable for the sins of our forefathers. They made mistakes and we have tried to learn from them. The Lord often uses controversy as a means in purifying the church of false doctrine, so that after such controversies the particular truth debated is much more definitive and clear than before. What I am concerned about is the present state of the church, not what errors our forefathers may have entertained for a time.


Why don't we take a short break, so that we can be refreshed.

Friday, January 15, 2016

God's Faith? (part vi)

Thus far I have proven that the context shows that "the faith of God" in Romans 3:3 means the same thing as "the oracles of God" (3:. 2), and as "the word of God" (9:6; 10:17), and as "the truth of God" (1:25; 2:7), and as "the gospel of God" (1:1).  I have shown that the syntactical construction of the phrase "the faith of God" (Head Noun + Genitive Noun) in itself cannot prove what kind of Genitive it is, whether Ablative, Subjective, Objective, or some other type. I have shown that the only way to determine the type of Genitive is to look at the context. This being done, the context is very clear.

What is it that has supposedly become "of no effect"?  Is it God's faithfulness that is being doubted or questioned? If so, directly or indirectly? Directly, no, indirectly yes. But, saying this does not justify translating pistis as faithfulness. Directly, the doubt is to the veracity of the oracles and word of God and is therefore the same doubt found later in the Roman epistle where Paul says "not as though the word of God has taken none effect." Obviously, if God's word, promise, truth, or oracles fail, then God may be said to either fail or not be faithful. However, Jesus said that "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).

Consider also that the word "faithfulness" does not even occur in the authorized version. We find the adjective "faithful" and the participle "faithful," as we do their opposites, such as unfaithful. Further, even in other English versions that do include the word faithfulness in some few passages, like Romans 3:3, it is because the translators of those versions have acted as interpreters and not strictly as translators.

The Similarity Between Romans 3:3 and 9:6

Paul's protagonist in Romans 3:3 and 9:6 is one and the same. It can also be argued that what he discusses in greater detail in Romans chapters nine through eleven he first introduces in Romans 2:17 - 3:6, which is the fact that the word of God has not failed but succeeded. Let us compare the verses.

"their unbelief shall not make the faith of God without effect, will it?"

"not as though the word of God has taken none effect"

There is no reason to doubt that these two verses are essentially addressing the same theological question. John Owen realized this. In The Works of John Owen, Volume 20 (pg. 223 - SEE HERE), he wrote (emphasis mine):

"Those to whom the promise mentioned in this place was first proposed came short of it, believed it not, and so had no benefit by it. What then became of the promise itself? did that fail also, and become of none effect? God forbid; it remained still, and was left for others. This our apostle more fully declares, Rom ix. 4, 5; for having showed that the promises of God were given unto the Israelites, the posterity of Abraham, he foresaw an objection that might be taken from thence against the truth and efficacy of the promises themselves. This he anticipates and answers, verse 6, "Not as though the word of God" (that is, the word of promise) "hath taken none effect;" and so proceedeth to show, that whosoever and how many soever reject the promise, yet they do it only to their own ruin; the promise shall have its effects in others, in those whom God hath graciously ordained unto a participation of it. And so also Rom. iii. 3, "For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid." The "faith of God" (that is, his glory in his veracity, as the apostle shows in the next words, "Yea, let God be true, and every man a liar") is engaged for the stability and accomplishment of his promises."

Owen thinks that the questions are essentially the same. In both contexts Paul is denying that the loss of God's favor and salvation by the unbelieving fleshly Jew nullifies the truthfulness of what God has said (in his word and oracles). And, if all this is so, then this gives weight to the fact that "the faith of God" is the same as "the word of God." The word of God becoming of no effect is equated with the faith of God becoming of no effect.

The Symptom or the Disease?

What is Paul condemning by characterizing people as being of "no faith"? Their unfaithfulness and disobedience, external behavior, or something pertaining to the heart and inner core of a sinner's soul and mind? It is to an "evil heart of unbelief" that the apostle, like Jesus and all the new testament writers, points to as being the source of the problem. (Heb. 3:12) Unbelief in heart gives birth to practical unbelief, or to unfaithfulness and disobedience. So said Jesus - "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders," etc. (Mark 7:21)

So, the question is this - is Paul focusing on the disease or on the symptom? Is he focusing on the effect or the cause? Is he focusing on the root or the fruit? When he says that the carnal Jew, the one who had not been circumcised in heart and spirit, would, like the heathen Gentiles, be left inexcusable and not able to escape the judgment and wrath of God, does he lay the reason to the root cause or not? And if he does, is not want of faith the reason for unfaithfulness? So then why do translators and interpreters think that "the pistis of God" requires giving pistis the unusual meaning of "faithfulness"? As we will see, to substitute the word "faithfulness" in most places in the epistle where faith is the normal word chosen, is wholly untenable. Thus, the burden of proof is on interpreters who give "faithfulness" for "faith" in Romans 3:3 to prove that the deviation from the norm is warranted by the context.

In the next few postings I will be going through the Roman epistle to see what Paul says about "faith" (pistis) and "no faith" (a-pistis) and see what may be discovered thereby that helps us to learn whether by "pistis" Paul intends faithfulness or faith. We will also be looking to see the significance of the presence of the definite article with pistis and that without it. In order to prepare for those postings, let me give some basic information about the Greek definite article.

Faith with the Definite Article

Why is "faith" sometimes used with the definite article and sometimes without? What is the meaning of "the faith" in new testament usage? What is signified by the absence of the article with pistis? Is it okay for translators to either omit or to add the definite article (or the indefinite for that matter)? What are the rules for decision making in this regard?

In "Use of the definite article in Greek" (SEE HERE) we read (emphasis mine):

"The Greek article was originally a weak demonstrative pronoun / adjective (i.e., a weaker form of "this," "that," "these," "those"). It pointed to someone or something, in a subtle way that was still clear and obvious to the listener or reader. It may have been used as a pronoun, as a sort of short and abbreviated reference to someone or something already known through the context of what was being said or written, so the whole name of the person or thing did not need to be repeated in full (e.g., "This is what we are talking about."). Or it may have pointed to a noun in order to indicate that the noun was now present or previously mentioned (e.g., "That man is the one.")."

This is important, for as we shall see, in some passages the apostle may be using the definite article as a demonstrative pronoun meaning "this" or "that," or in context may mean "the thing I am talking about."

We also read this:

"Thus, the Greek article originally served a completely different function than the English definite article "the." Then the Greek article developed many uses which are far more closely related to its original Greek function than to the functions of the English definite article. The Greek article definitely is not just an equivalent to the English definite article "the." Nor is the absence of the Greek article simply an equivalent to the English indefinite article ("a" or "an")."

This information will be important later as we look at passages where the definite article is absent. What is said above is important in the debate over John 1: 1 and the words "and the word was God" versus "and the word was a god." We will have need later to talk about the absence of the definite article and what that tells us in a given text. Of course, most nouns and participles with definite articles perform the function of individualizing, specifying, and particularizing as in English.

The Greek grammarian also wrote:

"Therefore, in translating Greek into English, we cannot automatically always use an English definite article "the" in the place of a Greek article. There are many times when one will use no English article in the translation. And sometimes one can even use an indefinite English article in translating a Greek article. For instance, when a Greek article indicates a generic noun, we may translate the Greek article as an English indefinite article, or as an English indefinite pronoun ("any"). Also, if there is no Greek article in front of a Greek noun, we often use an English definite article in the translation, simply because the context indicates a definite reference to that Greek noun."

I will not comment upon this now, but will have use of these remarks later.

Our writer continued:

"Of course, the Greek article very often, but definitely not always, functions as an individualizing article, where it is used to distinguish one entity — one person, one group of persons, one thing, or one group of things — apart from all other entities. And, if a Greek article does this, it functions much like our English definite article. Thus, it very often can be translated directly into an English definite article."

I would dare say that this is nigh universally true in the new testament.

Again we are told:

"In Greek, the first mention of a noun or substantive, or its synonym, is traditionally anarthrous (i.e., it has no article in front of it). Then any subsequent references to the same entity — whether through the use of the same noun or a synonym — will normally be articular (with an article in front of it), indicating an anaphoric reference. In this way, it signals the reader to identify any previously mentioned information with the current articular noun or substantive."

This particular lesson will become very important as we look at the noun "faith" in the first two chapters of Romans (leading up to 3:3 our central verse)/

More Theology from the Old Hymns

In this posting I cite from two leading Hardshell hymn books, giving songs that uphold the gospel means position. Further, I cite the words of the hymn book authors about their selection of hymns.

In the introduction to the hymnbook (1886) they published for the "Old School Baptists," Hardshell leaders Silas H. Durand and P. G. Lester wrote (SEE HERE): (emphasis mine)

"In the selection of hymns our first care has been that every sentiment expressed should be in harmony with the truth of God, believing that "Christians should never sing what they do not believe to be true.""

In that section titled "Gospel" being hymn # 42

I. While in the vale of vision dead,
The house of Israel lie,
Jehovah to the Prophet said —
"do thou, and prophesy.

2 "Go thou, nor reasoning scruples make,
Because the bones are dry;
My voice shall bid the dead awake;
Go thou, and prophesy.

3 "I'll bid the dying sinner live.
To lift my name on high;
Eternal life 'tis mine to give —
Go thou, and prophesy.

4 "Preach Jesus as he's brought to view,
And thither point their eye;
'Tis I must give to will and do—
Go thou, and prophesy.

5 "From stones, to celebrate my grace.
While mercy's tidings fly.
My arms shall raise a numerous race, —
Go thou, and prophesy."

6 Let Zion's watchmen ne'er refrain
Her silver trump to blow;
For Jesus can, with feeblest strain,
His richest grace bestow.

Now here are some songs from Osbourn's hymnal (Sonnets) published with the approval of the Kehukee Association in 1844.

First, from the Preface Elder Osbourn wrote:

"Inasmuch as singing in the house of God forms an important part of divine worship, so of course it is expedient that the hymns made use of in the singing department should contain such sentiments, and such only, as are in strict accordance with the genius of the gospel of Christ...the old Kehukee Baptist Association in North Carolina, at its last session, thought proper to recommend a plan whereby this serious defect might be remedied; and hence it proposed, that in case a volume of such hymns and songs should forthwith be compiled as would well comport with the gospel of the grace of God, and also be adapted to the religious views and feelings of the churches composing its body, they, as an Association, would cheerfully patronise the same and use it as their Standard Hymn Book."

Hymn # 330 in that section "THE GOSPEL AND ITS BLESSINGS"

1 GOD, in the Gospel of his Son,
Makes his eternal counsels known;
Tis here his richest mercy shines,
And truth is drawn in fairest lines.

2 Here sinners of a humble frame,
May taste his grace, and learn his name;
Tis writ in characters of blood,
Severely just, immensely good.

3 Here Jesus, in ten thousand ways,
His soul-attracting charms displays;
Recounts his poverty and pains,
And tell his love in melting strains.

4 Wisdom its dictates here imparts,
To form our minds, to cheer our hearts;
Its influence makes the sinner live,
It bids the drooping saint revive.

5 May this blest volume ever lie
Close to my heart, and near my eye,
Till life's last hour my soul engage,
And be my chosen heritage.

# 332

1 How precious is the book divine,
By inspiration given!
Blight as a lamp its doctrines shine
To guide our souls to heaven.

2 It sweetly cheers our drooping hearts
In this dark vale of tears;
Life, light, and joy, it still imparts,
And quells our rising fears.

3 This lamp, through all the tedious night
Of life, shall guide our way,
Till we behold the clearer light
Of an eternal day.


1 THIS is the word of truth and love,
Sent to the nations from above;
Jehovah here resolves to shew,
What his Almighty grace can do,

2 This remedy did wisdom find,
To heal diseases of the mind;
This sovereign balm, whose virtues can,
Restore the ruined creature, man.

3 The gospel bids the dead revive,
Sinners obey the voice and live;
Dry bones are raised and clothed afresh,
And hearts of stone are turned to flesh

4 May but this grace my soul renew,
Let sinners gaze, and hate me too;
The word that saves me does engage
A sure defence from all their rage.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

About the "Go" in the Great Commission

The following is from Chpt. 72 - The Great Commission VII of my ongoing book on "The Hardshell Baptist Cult" book (SEE HERE). The Hardshells, with all their argumentation on the word "go" in the Great Commission, fail to realize that such is not even the main verb, and that the Greek word should have been translated in English as "as you go," so that we have "as you go, make disciples."

In the Greek syntax of the passage the word "disciple" (or"teach" or "make disciples") is both the main thought and the main verb. The other verbs, baptize and teach, are the ways one fulfills the command to "disciple" (or 'make disciples'). The main verb is imperative. The verb "go" is not the main verb and is not necessarily imperative. It may be translated "as you go." Thus, we may translate the verse as follows:

"As you go (depart or proceed) into all the world, disciple the nations as you go, and baptizing them as you go, and continue to teach them as you go."

The root word for "go" is poreuō, and according to Strong means:

1) to lead overcarry over, transfer
a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue one's journey 
b) to depart from life
c) to follow one, that is: become his adherent
1) to lead or order one's life

The Greek word poreuo itself is from that base root word "peira"and means, according to Strong:

1) a trial, experience, attempt
2) to attempt a thing, to make trial of a thing or of a person
3) to have a trial of a thing
4) to experience, learn to know by experience

On these points a writer says:

"It is a well-known fact that the Greek text of Matthew 28:19-20 does not include an imperative verb that must be translated "go." Instead, the Greek text has a participle from which the command to go has been translated."

"The verb that is translated "go" (if transliterated exclusively from the English alphabet and without accent marks) is "poreuthente"which is an aorist particle of "poreuo." In A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Second Edition, Copyright 1958, page 692, the lexicographers make this double-pronged comment: 

"The aorist participle (of poreuo) is often used pleonastically to enliven the any case the idea of going or traveling is not emphasized."

Referring to the root verb, and not to the aorist participle in particular, also on page 692, the lexicographers describe two other ways that the verb is used(1) "conduct oneself, live, walk"and (2) "of life generally" (page 692).

Why then is Matthew 28:19 translated "go," as if the Greek New Testament included an explicit command to go? It may be because of the command to disciple all nations. However, the command to disciple all nations may not have been given to command "going."


In Matthew 10: 7 the same word is translated "as you go preach." (KJV) So, I am not translating the word differently than how it was translated elsewhere in the King James Version.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Meeting With Sonny Pyles (iii)

After Break and prayer
(remember, all this is imaginary)


Stephen, I have not been coddled but have had my share of dealings with troublemakers in the church. Yes, I am respected as is Lasserre. However, it is hopefully because people have seen that we really love the old Baptists and have their best interest in heart and mind, and which I might add, you did not always seem to show. Further, I am happy that you are happy. I am not trying to get you to come back to the church. You even admit that you could not he happy in such a loveless place. But, I am asking that you give us a break in your constant denunciations and diatribes against us.


Well, brother, ignoring me is not the way to shut me up. That has been tried but has failed. It is not by attacking my character or by spreading lies about me. That has also been tried and has also failed. It is not by encouraging me to go on to other topics and groups for that too has been tried and failed. The only way to shut me up is to answer what I write. Only one person has come forth publicly to do this and he soon saw he could not handle the heat, got out of the kitchen. I am talking about Jason of course. Did you read our long discussion or parts of it?


Yes, Jason sent me copies of your discussions.


Surely I would like to know your thoughts about it, though not necessarily now. But, back to my relentless writings. Let me add that my apologetic writings against the Hardshells have only been a part of my writings. I have numerous writings on the Internet involving many subjects and groups. I have attacked the Campbellites all my life, having had a dozen public debates with them. I have writings against them. I have lengthy writings against Sabellianism, on the weak brothers in Romans and Corinthians, on eschatology, etc. I write what is on my mind and what I feel impressed to study. I only continue to write against hardshellism because my sister, nephew, and father are yet Hardshells. My nephew is in line to take over the pastorship of the church dad pastors. I write so that I can save the Hardshells from their heresies and keep other people from entering the cult. What is wrong with that? By the way, my dad has also asked me, "son, why don't you leave the old Baptists alone? Why don't you study something else?" My response has been to say "dad, I study lots of topics in the Bible. I study Baptist history. I do not limit myself to issues in hardshellism when it comes to what I study. I regularly engage others in my other blogs, Arminians, Calvinists, etc."

Since I began my Internet writings years ago, several Hardshell preachers have left the Hardshells. Others have called or written to me to express their agreement. Brother Kevin Fralick knows. We have people write to us and tell us how they are glad that we have written what we have, that they have been helped and kept away from this cult. Plus, my hope is, that more and more will reform and return to the real old Baptist faith, believing that if they do, they will experience great revival.

You know, Sonny, I must be really doing some damage with my writings (Kevin's too) to cause you, dad, and Jason to ask me to stop. It seems you can't ignore me though you try.


No, Stephen, we would like for you to stop it or tone it down, seeing it is not doing you nor anyone else any good. It is a distraction to us, that is all.


Why should I? Any Hardshell who visits my blogs and reads my writings, especially on the Hardshells, will come away better informed. They are getting things in these writings that they will not get anywhere else. Though some Hardshells might agree with a lot of what I write, yet because they are inside the cult, they know they cannot say it openly without doing harm to their standing. So, in a sense, Elder Fralick and I become voices for these Hardshells. Further, as I said, I am writing out of love for the Hardshells and trying to save them from their sad state. I think I have a better prescription for their growth and for their increase in Christian love and knowledge of the truth than Elder Joe Hildreth published. The Hardshells, were they to imitate Spurgeon, would see their churches grow and prosper.

Further, the Hardshells have got to get rid of their spirit of opposition to anything and everything, become less intolerant and more charitable. They must get that passion for souls that old Elder John Leland talked about, as did men like Elder John Watson.


Sometimes when I hear you say such things, I think of how it is a shame that Stephen is not now with us and showing us these things as our friend rather than our enemy. I am not saying that I agree with all your criticisms, but as Jason Brown said to you, there is a lot of merit in what you say about us. And, as far as Kevin leaving us and joining you in your crusade, and about others leaving or been kept from joining us, we regret that. Kevin was treated with nothing but love while he was with us. We have our disgruntled brethren and troublemakers, pushy people, and you guys appeal to these types. You prey on the unstable among us.


Brother Sonny, why are you and the Hardshells so interested in brother Kevin and me stopping our "diatribes" if we are doing no harm to your cult group? You know, one of my other blogs, which is read more than the Old Baptist blog, is called "The Baptist Gadfly," and that is what I intend to be to the Hardshells, and other heretical groups, a pest. I will continue to show people their sins, as called of God to do. And, I will call for repentance as commanded of God to do. Further, it seems to me that all you have said thus far supports the idea of further dialogue and debate, not less of it. I think people enjoyed the discussion I had with Jason. People would enjoy any exchanges you and I might have in the future. I hardly see how it would hurt the old Baptists for us to present both sides to the questions we are now discussing. I just don't understand this general reluctance on Hardshells not to engage Kevin and me in open and frank discussion. Of what are you all afraid? Cayce or Daily would not hesitate to engage us were they here.


Well, of course, you do what you want. You are going to do so any way. But, it seems to me that you could at least tone it down and become less combative. You can attract more interest with a sweeter tone than one that evinces anger and hostility, and ironically, a lack of the love of Christ that you mentioned. I think more of our preachers would engage you if they saw that your spirit was much more meek.


Well, like you say, "that is a lot to respond to." But, let me begin. First, I am glad we are still talking to some extent about "love." You said the Hardshells have shown you much love. Well, I thought of this verse:

"And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness." (Eze. 33:31)

People can show much love and yet it be no sign that the love they are showing is Christ like. Many in the Hardshell church who likewise showed me much love actually had a knife ready to stab me in the back. They were not looking out for my good but for my harm. They saw me as a threat to them, and Hardshell elders are known, by historians at least, to have traditionally been very zealous of their position in the hardshell pecking order. People who want the preeminence will generally do so under cloak and disguise. You know that. How much love did the Hardshells show to dad? Was it out of love that Elder Harold Hunt wrote such vitriolic language against my father? Was it out of love that many have denounced in scathing anathemas the work of Elder Bradley, the Cincinnati church, and the so called liberal brethren? Just as you did in that sermon I critiqued titled "will all the elect hear the gospel?" Brother Kevin, ask him about the love that was shown him and his beloved father. Read all the letters I have gotten from people who have left the Hardshell cult and they will tell you about the love that was shown them by the Hardshells. Need I go on?


Again, who can doubt that you state the truth as respects some among us. But you must not generalize nor give a false inference from some of the cases you give. I am certainly not going to deny that we have had our would be popes, and people who wanted to be viewed as supreme, but we also have far more meek and humble servants, ones who often get little recognition, because they do not blow their own horns, but who are just the opposite of these few character types that you mention, and who do not represent our church as a whole. About Harold Hunt, I'll just leave that one alone. He can defend himself if he wants to do so. About Elder Bradley, I don't think we really ought to get into that either. But, let me say this about love. Did not Paul say that love keeps no list of wrongs? If you love us, why do you constantly make lists of wrongs? Why do readers of your writings come away feeling not love emanating from them, but anger and wrath? Further, in my sermon about whether all the elect will hear the gospel, and my reference to gospel regeneration, I did not have Bradley specifically in mind, for so far as I know, he still believes in immediate regeneration apart from gospel preaching. What I was opposing in that sermon was those who may be associated with Bradley and who are preaching gospel regeneration, which is a heresy that we will not tolerate.


Boy, that is a lot to respond to. I am glad I am taking notes as my memory is not as good as it used to be, and never was as good as yours! (laugh)

Knock Knock


Steve, Newell Helms is here. Come on in Elder Helms.


Newell! It is so good to see you. It has been a couple years or so since I saw you. This is amazing. Forty years ago I was engaged to your daughter, and she and I were sitting in your living room while you, Elder Pyles, Elder Jarrel, and Stuart Crane were all in a room discussing fascinating stuff. And now here are three of us together!


It is good to see you Steve. I like your old farm house and porches.


We love it and have been here thirteen years and hope to be till we die. We thank God for it every day.

Where is Elder Pyles preaching tonight?


At Union Grove. He is then spending the night with me.


Sonny, I hate I was not able to answer your last response. Can you come back tomorrow?


I'll see. Can I call you in the morning?


Yes. And, let me say that it has been so good to see you again. My prayers are that God will use you for the good of the old Baptists, which I think you could be, if you would just see your errors on the new birth.


It was good to see you too Stephen. So long.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Meeting With Sonny Pyles (ii)

As noted in the first posting, this is an imaginary meeting, and not real. But, it is what I imagine my meeting with brother Pyles would be like were it to happen this March.

During lunch we chatted about personal things.

"Afternoon Session"

Stephen (after prayer) (we both had note pads to take notes)

Well, Sonny, what do you think about my statement that the Hardshell church lacks the chief mark of the church in lacking love?


Well, again, I think what you say about the lack of love among us, at least historically, is to some extent true. But, is it not true of other denominational groups of Christians? The Old Baptists have shown me nothing but the greatest of love. Some churches do lose their first love and become lukewarm in love for Christ and his people, but some churches do not lose this. I believe there is more love now in the Old Baptist church than at any other time. The early church had its Judas, its Demas, and other such persons members of the church, but they were still the church. The church at Galatia had numerous errors but were still the church, at least till they were confirmed in their heresies and were either excluded by the pure party or the pure party separated themselves from such. Further, I think you are judging the whole denomination based upon how a few treated you and your dad.


That is a good defense of my charge against the Hardshells about love. I of course do not make this judgment because of the presence of some Judas and Demas types among you, but because the lack of Christian love in your social group is inordinately great. But, at this time, this is my judgment call. I gave the reasons for such a judgment and, as I said, I think I can, and have done already to a great degree in my writings, prove this. Yes, other church groups have divisions, and their Judas and Demas types, but the schismatic nature of the Hardshells is, in my opinion as an historian, substantial and abnormal, and easily shown. But, perhaps we have both expressed ourselves on this point enough for now and perhaps go on to other things? Perhaps you will consider discussing this subject in depth at a later time?


Okay. God is our judge and we should discover his viewpoint in our individual cases any way. As far as debating these topics, I will have to prayerfully think it over.


I agree. Let me then respond to a couple things you mentioned earlier and to which I did not immediately respond. The first relates to my judgment about the Hardshells being a cult, which really is not totally unconnected with them lacking the love of Christ. The second relates to my relentless writings against the Hardshells and why I do not stop it and go on to something else. The third relates to my conduct among the Hardshells being the cause of my so called wandering from the path. The fourth relates to the origin of Satan controversy.

First, let me begin with the latter. First, I totally disagree with your view on this subject. I believe, like dad, that Satan, whose name was originally Lucifer, was one of the angels of God, even one of the highest, possibly even an archangel as Michael, and that the place of his abode as an angel, was in what the bible calls the third heaven. I believe that he sinned with other angels and fell therefrom. Further, I believe that this is taught in Scripture and has always been the leading view of the church. I know the Hardshells have historically had troubles over this issue and I have researched the question as an historian, looking for the time when the agitation over this question first began, and to follow the subsequent disputes about it. Now, it is not my intention for us to argue this question now as this would be impractical. It would take too much of our precious time together now, which should be spent discussing other more important issues. But, I think the issue should be fully debated in the future and so I ask you to also prayerfully consider debating this subject with me in the future and that it be published over the Internet.


Again, I will prayerfully consider it and also see what the brethren think of the idea. But, as you know, I do not believe that you or your dad's view on the origin and fall of Satan should have been made a test of fellowship as was done by some. I disagree with you and your dad's view, but I don't think it is a test of orthodoxy. Many did not come to your dad's defense, not because they thought he should be declared in disorder for his view, but because they thought he was getting what he deserved with his popish and argumentative spirit. Also, how your dad handled this controversy did not help his case.


I knew you felt this way and that your thinking was that of a large segment of the Hardshells in regard to this "origin of Satan controversy" or "devil doctrine controversy." I do not want to judge each Hardshell elder who had anything to do with this controversy other than what I have already said, either in my blog writings or in my book on the Hardshell cult. As you said earlier about our judgments regarding the absence or presence of love, God is our judge. To our own Lord we stand or fall. However, I do want to say this. Just as the lack I love that I observed among the Hardshells first started me on the road of actually leaving the Hardshells, so this controversy over what the bible taught about the Devil and his origin also helped me in making that departure. I was becoming alarmed at the kind of bible hermeneutics that I was seeing among the Hardshells. I saw it in Cayce's Editorials, I saw it in other Hardshell writings. They were gross spiritualizers, a thing I have also heard you warn Hardshells against, as well as did Sylvester Hassell. I see that all their errors result from bad rules of bible interpretation, and oftentimes, sadly, this itself is a result of simply not believing what the bible says, which leads to the twisting of the meaning of biblical words and sentences to make the verse say what they want it to say.

You know, this "devil doctrine" controversy and schism should be called what it is, a "scandal" in the sense used by the new testament writers. The history of the Hardshell denomination is nothing but one of scandals, and such springs from a lack of love, either for God, his truth, or his people. Many Hardshell cult leaders have used religious politicking and the art of scandalizing in their fights for local supremacy.


Again, like Jason Brown told you, a lot of what you say is true. But, you go overboard and paint with a broad brush. What you say about bad rules of interpretation, scandals, and lack of love, is true with many groups other than Primitive Baptists. We never claimed to be perfect. We confess our faults and weaknesses. But, the Primitive Baptists are the only ones today who properly interpret the scriptures consistently, especially about the doctrines of grace, Our forefathers were a mixed group, as you know, and it took time for the church to purify herself, which I think, she has done, so that she is purer in doctrine and practice than ever before.


Again, I suppose it all involves degree. I dare say that even the most honest and sincere student of the word will sometimes fail in his interpretation of certain portions of scripture. The only one who was without error in the doctrine of God was the Lord Jesus Christ. So, that being said, to what degree do we, either as a church or individual, practice perverting or misinterpreting the word of God? It is the same as the question that we just discussed. How much of the love of Christ is operative or seen in my life? So, my judgment is that the Hardshells are extremely lacking in both the love of Christ and proper rules of bible interpretation and exegesis. So, let me go on.

In regard to my charge that the "Primitive Baptist" church is a cult, you responded by saying that you agree that there are cult qualities that have sometimes characterized the Hardshells, but deny that they can in fact be a cult because you have no recognized cult leader or group of leaders, and because no one is forced to enter the group or to stay in it. However, these traits are not necessarily essential to the definition of a religious cult, depending of course upon how we define "cult leader(s)" and "forced."

I believe that the Hardshell church has always had its cult figures and leaders (standard bearers, we might say). Further, I believe that the Hardshell Baptists have used "force" to keep members in line and from leaving the group, such as brainwashing, threatening, shunning, etc.

You know as well as I do, brother Sonny, although you might not say so publicly, that many divisions among the Hardshells have been over feuding preachers fighting for the supremacy. If you think that dad was guilty of this to the degree that it justified his ill treatment by many, was he not simply following in the Hardshell tradition in this regards? I write in my book about Elders John Robbins and C.M. Mills, who I think clearly show them to be supremacy seekers, or little popes in their region of influence. You knew them. They were cult leaders. Even W.J. Berry, who you also know about, testified of these things being the case with the Hardshells historically.

Who can doubt that Cayce was a cult leader? Even you and Elder Bradley have become such. I am not saying that you openly sought it like the ones I am talking about, but you are such nonetheless.


Again Stephen you paint with too wide a brush being too harsh in your criticisms. We have had our Diotrephes like people But, that does not prove that we are not the true church of Christ by the presence of these things. You cannot judge the whole by the few. God will take care of these kinds of troublemakers in the church, whether we do it or not. They will sooner or later eat the fruit of their own ways.

As regards our preachers being guilty of over spiriualizing or allegorizing the scriptures, many of them are guilty of this and I battle this whenever I can like Hassell.


Now let me respond to your questions about my prolonged writings against the Hardshells and why I do not stop my apologetic writings against them and your accusation that I write out of anger against the Hardshells, being disgruntled, and that this is the only reason I do it.

Jason Brown asked sarcastically "Did Brother Garrett, while among the Primitive Baptists, approach these issues with humility and patience? Or was he as much as a firebrand then as he appears to be on his blog now? As a young Elder among the PB's in the early 80's, did Elder Stephen Garrett intreat the older Elders with the same respect he would his father, as the Scripture commands?"

Sonny, I must confess, that when I first read this from brother Jason that I immediately thought that this sounds like Sonny Pyles. I thought, is Jason repeating the substance of Sonny's view of my situation with the Hardshells. Only you know for sure brother Sonny. But, it really does not matter. Jason got this view of me from somewhere. He was no eyewitness to it so got it hearsay. But, from what source or sources?

Now, Sonny, you know in truth that though this may be true to some extent, for I am fallible, especially in those youthful years, yet you also personally witnessed to me, during our years of fellowship and correspondence together in the late seventies and early eighties, during those very times when I was supposedly a firebrand, proud, and impatient, etc.? Did you not say such things to me personally by way of commendation that contradicts this story?


What Jason says is pretty much my view of your situation, but it was not my estimation alone but that of many others. Of course I spoke well of you. You did not have all bad qualities. You were always cerebral and intellectual, and studied the scriptures diligently, and you did exercise some good common sense at times, as well as patience, in much of your tribulations while with us. I am not excusing the guilt of anyone who sought to do you no good. All I am saying is that things might have turned out better for you, as far as your future with us was concerned, had you had those qualities mentioned by Jason.


Well, brother, I am glad that I was not coddled by the Hardshells. I might be with them to this day. But, thankfully, my years of praying for the Lord to show me the truth, no matter what it cost me with my standing in the Hardshell cult, was rewarded by God providentially weaning me away from the cult. He did this, as I said, by first showing me how they lacked that Christian love that characterizes the church of Christ, or faithful disciples, and by showing me how they were dishonest with the holy scriptures in perverting them without the least degree of guilt in doing so. So, my difficulties with the Hardshells were used by God to detach me emotionally from this cult group. And, I look back on it all with tears of joy and thanksgiving. I am so much happier now. I am more careful with how I handle the word of God after years of being with those who had little respect for it by their interpretations.

You Sonny, like Lasserre, have been coddled by the Hardshells. They put you both forward as examples of the state of their ministry, proudly saying "see there, our preachers are superior to seminary preachers." See how they became great preachers without a theological education! It is no wonder that you all are careful not to preach anything that will hurt your superior standing among the cult fellowship.


Again, Stephen, that is a lot to respond to. Can we take a short break and resume?


Yes, surely. Let us take a walk around the yard, if you like, seeing the weather is pleasant, and then sit on the porch and have some refreshments. What time is brother ## coming to pick you up?


In a couple hours.