Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Questions on Regeneration

The following is from December, 2008, and from my Baptist Gadfly blog. (See Here For The Original Posting) I attempted to answer questions about the born again before faith error.

Dear Sir

"I just ran across your comments in your bio. Am attaching an illustration of salvation as I understand it. It is proper to say "believe ..and you will be saved". It seems to me to be un-Biblical to say believe and you will be regenerated. It is Biblical to say repent and you will be saved. Unbiblical to say repent and you will be regenerated."

Dear Cap:

The "hermeneutic" propositions you give are not to be found in the Bible. Where does the Bible give these premises? Did you look at all the places in the Bible where "saved" is used and come to this conclusion? Or, did you come to believe your propositions on the "ordo salutis" and then take them to the Bible? There is no scripture that commands men to believe for the new birth?

I am going to suppose that when you say "it is PROPER to say," or not to "say," that you include what we as evangelists are to "say" to the dead alien sinners? To the totally depraved and unregenerate sinners?

If what you say is true, then are you guilty of affirming that only the regenerated are commanded to believe and repent for "salvation"?

You are also guilty of affirming the non-Biblical premise that says "every aspect of salvation, except regeneration, is commanded of men to obtain by faith."

Thus, with these unbiblical man-made premises in your head, you go to the Bible, and "hook or crook," make them "square with" your premises.

Thus, if you read a passage where a person is said to be "saved" or receive a blessing for "believing" and for "repenting," you conclude that it cannot be connected with "regeneration" or the "new birth," and you therefore make it something, regardless of context, to do with a post regeneration experience, in sanctification, justification, or perseverence.

Your faulty premises also make you to affirm that no one is commanded to be regenerated and renewed, or to do anything to be regenerated, and yet the scriptures are replete with such commands.

I believe it is "biblical" to say "believe and live"! And, "repent and live," or words of similar import. Let me give you some examples.

"Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 18: 31 KJV)

"Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." (Deuteronomy 10: 16 KJV)

"Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." (Jeremiah 4: 4 KJV)

"For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!" (Ezekiel 18: 32 NIV)

"When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11: 18 KJV)

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1: 12 KJV)

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19 KJV)

"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3: 26 KJV)

"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3: 2 KJV)

"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,." (Ephesians 1: 13 KJV)

"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5: 40 KJV)

You then asked me about some wording in some confessions.

You asked:

"As to the new birth not preceding repentance and faith, how do you understand the New Hampshire confession chapter "Of grace in regeneration, where the proper evidence of the new birth appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life?"

Are you saying that these brethren advocated the idea that men were "regenerated" who lacked faith and repentance?

Can a man be said to be regenereted who is dead? Well, the confession says that "life" itself is a "fruit" of regeneration, meaning what is a constituent part of it. As one cannot be said to be "regenerated" who lacks the fruit of a "new life," then also one cannot be said to be "regenerated" who lacks the fruit of "faith" and of "repentance."

Besides, "repentance" is all the same as "regeneration" or "conversion." These terms, as Jonathan Edwards taught, were all virtually words denoting the same experience of grace.

Regarding the London confession see my entry here

You then write:

"Or article 4a of the BFM as the "new birth..to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?"

On this see my entry here

You then cite the "third article of the Arminian Remonstrance." I am not familar with this document but would assume it is not affirming that one can be born again who is in unbelief.

You then write:

"Not knowing you, I am not trying to argue, just to see how you would deal with these sources if you have the time.

I attended NOBTS in the late 1980s and the Greek professor ,who appeared to be Pelagian, admitted that John 1:13 was ep exegetical to verse 12, i.e. explains that those who believe are those who have been born of God."

John 1:10-13 destroys the "born again before faith" view. I have written on this passage numerous times, but see here.

Am I blind or does the apostle not say that Christ is received and believed in prior to becoming the children of God? What is said in verse 13 only states that the believing and receiving were all the same as their being begotten. "They receive/believe to become the children of God" compared with "they were begotten to become the children of God."

Some of the "born again before faith" group will attempt to say that the "becoming sons (children) of God" by faith, in verse 12, is the already regenerated person becoming a child of God by adoption. But, this cannot be the case. For, had John "adoption" in mind, he would not have used the Greek word "teknon" "children," which he did, but would have used the word "huios" (adolescent "sons") instead. So, we become the children of God by receiving Christ, which receiving is equated with believing and with being begotten.

Yours in Christ,


The Primitive Baptist 1838

"I do believe God has chosen his people in Christ before the world was, and that according to his own purpose. And as he has made the choice of the characters that shall inherit his kingdom above, he has - so ordained the means by which they shall be prepared and qualified for that eternal world. He has not chosen his people in Christ and left the means to be used necessary to bring them there in the hands of men. No, sir, he has ordained the preaching of the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, as his own method of saving his elect." 

"Therefore we need no other means now than were needed eighteen hundred years ago; it then required the power of God to quicken a dead sinner and make him alive, it requires the same now and nothing short of that will effect the salvation of the soul. God saved his chosen before missionary societies were introduced, by the ministers he chose, by the means he ordained, and not by plans devised by mortals; consequently they were indebted to him alone for that salvation, he was entitled to all the praise and glory: Not unto us, but unto thy name give glory." (VOL. 3. No. 10 - SEE HERE)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Where is it in Hassell's History?

I want any Hardshell who is thoroughly versed in "Hassell's History" to show me where in that history the authors said that the 1832 split was over the issue of means in the new birth. I bet you they will not find it! They can find where the split was over evangelistic methodologies, and such like, but they cannot find where the issue was over means in the new birth.

It was not till the first generation Hardshell leaders had passed away that the second generation Hardshells altered their creed on this and kindred issues and gave an historical apology for doing so.

My Conversations With Father (IV)

A couple years ago I called dad on the telephone to inform him about an interesting piece of information I uncovered in reading parts of Purefoy's History of the Sandy Creek Association* that I thought he would like to know. I did not call him to argue, just to give him this piece of information. It related to the fall of Satan and the "non elect angels," a subject upon which he and I agreed totally and suffered for it. I found it, as an historian, quite interesting and one that left me wanting to do more research upon this subject.


Purefoy wrote:

"In 1805, this association convened at Chambers M.H., Montgomery county, on the 26th day of October. Up to this time this body had transacted its business without a moderator, which must have subjected them to great inconvenience.

 5. Query from Little River church:

“Was the devil ever an angel of glory?”

 This query was withdrawn without an answer."

Knowing that controversy over the origin of Satan and the fall of the angels has characterized the Hardshells and the Two Seeders, in the decades following the anti mission split, and in the Powell's Valley Association in the 1970s, involving my dad and me, I thought dad would be interested in this piece of historical information. After all, historians are always delighted when they find rare records and documents. I said to dad, after reading this piece of historical information, "notice that the subject of the origin of Satan was a kind of taboo topic as early as 1805 among the Sandy Creek churches. I had always assumed that this only became a forbidden topic after Parker's introduction of two seed theology, which of course focuses on the origin of Satan and his "seed.""

Well, what do you think was dad's reaction to this information? He said to me - "that doesn't help me." At hearing this I was shocked and disturbed. I responded by saying - "what does that matter? I don't think we should ignore information that may appear to go against our views." I said "you know I agree with you on the origin of Satan and on the fall of the angels, and this bit of information does not change that." I also said - "The citation only shows that this subject was a taboo issue among some Baptists before the time of Daniel Parker and the Two Seeders and does not affect what is the teaching of Scripture nor of what has been the generally accepted belief of the church on the subject."

What his reaction showed was the Hardshell "spirit." It was a spirit or attitude or state of mind wherein facts that oppose any of our ideas or beliefs are ignored, or otherwise swept aside and forgotten.

I loved my father, have great respect for him, and know he is with the Lord. But, these things cannot be ignored. He was not perfect. Nor are any of us. We should welcome the honest scrutiny of others.

My Own Failures at Interpretation

"Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing?" (Eccl. 8:1)

My failures at "interpretation" are not so much in interpreting Scripture, or historical records, or laws and statutes, but events, both in my life and in the world. I have often misinterpreted God's providence, or what he is doing in my life, or how he is answering prayer.

John Gill, commenting upon this verse, wrote:

"...this may be understood of the solution of any difficulties in things natural or civil; and of the interpretation of any of the works of God, either in nature or providence, as well as of his word...solve doubts, remove difficulties, interpret nature, the works and word of God."

This verse makes me think of this one:

"We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long." (Psalm 74:9)

Events happen in our lives and they are signs, but often we don't properly "see," perceive, or interpret those signs. I could give many examples of this in my own personal life. You could too.

If God is at work in our lives, can we see it? Are we properly interpreting what he is doing and why? God help us!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Prove Me Wrong, I Dare You

I can prove that all the leading "Primitive Baptist" associations in North Carolina (and in other states too) believed in the gospel means position till near the end of the 19th century. Let me mention these leading associations: The Kehukee Association, The Little River Association, The Bear Creek Association.

Consider that each of the associations were affiliated with "The Primitive Baptist" periodical from about 1838 till the late 1860s and that the writers for this paper were often of men from the above mentioned associations. The leaders in support of that periodical were Elders James Osbourn, Joshua Lawrence, C.B. Hassell, Mark Bennett, John Clark, Burwell Temple, Hosea Preslar, John Watson, etc., all who were in fellowship with the above named associations. These all taught that all the elect would be born again by hearing the gospel.

Even if we look at the second generation Hardshells, at the end of the Civil War, who can doubt that Elder P. D. Gold was the leading spokesman for the Hardshells of the latter part of the 19th century? He preached frequently in the above name associations and he believed that the new birth was gospel conversion.

Elder Temple also was a leader in the Little River Association of Primitive Baptists (which I once attended as a young preacher). So, the Little River was first a believer in gospel means till about the beginning of the 20th century.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Biased Interpretation

After posting An Example Of Biased Interpretation? and giving time for comments, and having received only one comment from brother Fralick (I am not surprised that the Hardshell committed cult member ignores looking at the response to the citation from the 1879 minutes of the Powell's Valley Association of Primitive Baptists - that is to be expected), I will now give my own further thinking about it.

First, let me say that the answer of these elders raises more questions than it answers (in fact, they really give what is a non-sensical answer).

Questions Raised (by the answer of two Hardshell preachers)

The following are initial questions which the "interpretation" given of the statement raises.

Question #1

Did these elders know of the citation, or was it new to them?

Question #2

If they knew of it, being well versed in the history of the Hardshells of east Tennessee, then perhaps they can enlighten us all on that history, and thus give credence to their interpretation of the Association committee's statement.

Question #3

If they did not know of it, how come they were so quick to interpret the statement as they did? Was there anything in the context of the statement, or in other historical materials of the time, that would warrant the Hardshell elders affirming that the statement concerns what Hardshells term "conversion," or "time salvation," or of that which does not connect with "regeneration" or eternal salvation?

Question #4

Assuming that they did not have reason to interpret the committee's statement as they did, then why did they so interpret it? Or rather, misinterpret the statement?

Question #5

Does the fact that the elders refused to "see the obvious" not reveal an inner bias against any facts that overthrow the cult's image of itself? Is it not seeing with blinders, and an extreme form of bias? Is it not a kind of psychological "denial" complex?

Question #6

Is This A Unique Occurrence? Or is it commonplace among Hardshells? Are there other historical writings that they twist and distort, against all reason and evidence to the contrary?

Examples of how Hardshells twist historical writings

Did not the fifty one elders who put out the Fulton Confession not distort the words of the London Confession, even by the admission of many Hardshell leaders? Have they not distorted the words of John Ryland Sr.? Have they not misinterpreted the writings of Benedict the historian, especially his book "Fifty Years Among The Baptists"?

Question #7

Is it possible that the Hardshells twist and misinterpret the plain language of Scripture as they do the above named writings? As the two elders did?

I believe that the elders undoubtedly handle many passages of Scripture just like they did the statement of the 1879 committee concerning "the heresy of two seedism." They take presuppositions to the Bible just like they do to the historical records. The presupposition that the statement overthrew was the one that said "our denomination has always believed in the anti means view." (or "is no new view")

Finally, let me cite the statement again and see if the statement concerns only a temporal salvation (which is what evangelical 'conversion' is to the Hardshell) or not.

"We as an association advise our sister churches to have no fellowship with what is generally known as the two-Seed Heresy or those who teach the doctrine of an Eternally damned or Eternally Justified outside of the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God and teach that the unbeliever is no subject of gospel address.We believe that God makes use of the Gospel as a means of calling his Elect and this means is the work of the Spirit in the church."

More Questions

1. Where is "conversion" or "time salvation" alluded to in the statement?
2. What does it mean to teach that people are eternally justified apart from the preaching of the gospel?
3. Who teaches that people are eternally justified apart from hearing and believing the gospel?
4. Who teaches that "the unbeliever is no subject of gospel address"?
5. Who is it that denies that God uses "means" in "calling his elect" and in "the work of the Spirit in the church"?

Final Observation

The "interpretation" of the two elders to the committee's statement forces one to conclude that the two seed heresy involved a denial that God uses means in conversion and time salvation! Did they not think of that? But, since when has anyone, two seeders included, ever denied that means were necessary in conversion and time salvation? The answer of the two elders assumes that the dispute was over whether the Lord used means in conversion, and yet that has never been a disputed matter among the Hardshells who deny means in eternal salvation. Notice how the word "means" is used more than once, the committee wanting all to know that they did not believe "the two seed heresy" which denied that one must hear and believe the gospel to be eternally saved. All the first Hardshells rejected the anti means view of the two seeders, but their children, esteeming themselves wiser than their fathers, accepted that heresy.

Facts are stubborn things.

Friday, April 8, 2016

An Example of Biased Interpretation?

Recently I asked a friend of mine who has just attended the Annual Smokey Mountain Meeting of Primitive Baptists in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to take the following citation with him. It is from the 1879 minutes of the Powell's Valley Association of Primitive Baptists (See here for my previous posting). Knowing in advance that he was going to be attending, I wanted him to ask some of the local Hardshell elders what they thought of it, seeing he would be in east Tennessee and in the bounds of said association, and seeing that some preachers from it would be at the meeting.

From the 1879 minutes of the Powell's Valley Association of Primitive Baptists, given by Edwards in his book "The History of the Baptists of Tennessee," we have this statement from the committee appointed to deal with tenets of "the two-Seed Heresy."

"We as an association advise our sister churches to have no fellowship with what is generally known as the two-Seed Heresy or those who teach the doctrine of an Eternally damned or Eternally Justified outside of the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God and teach that the unbeliever is no subject of gospel address.We believe that God makes use of the Gospel as a means of calling his Elect and this means is the work of the Spirit in the church." (emphasis mine)

My Hardshell brother showed this to some ministers at the meeting and sent me this message:

"I showed what you wrote to a couple preachers including brother ****. They all said that quote is referring to conversion and not regeneration."

I wrote this back quickly:

"Conversion? Such involves eternal justification? No one can be eternally justified apart from the preaching of the gospel. How can that be misunderstood? Also, "calling the elect" is not regeneration but only conversion? Doesn't the statement identify the "calling" of the elect with "the work of the Spirit"?

I know PBs don't want to accept the fact, but the truth is, their no means view originated with the Two Seeders, with whom East Tennessee has been greatly troubled."

Before I write further on this, here in this blog, I thought I would give others a chance to make comments. Did the elders properly interpret the words of the Powell's Valley minutes? Or, is it, as I believe, a case of biased interpretation? One that reveals much about the Hardshell psyche?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My Conversations With Father (III)

In a conversation just a few years ago, I read to dad this statement from Elder Sylvester Hassell.

"Jesus is the Great Preacher, and, by His omnipresent Spirit, He preaches His gospel savingly to His people (Isa. 61:1-3,10,11; Luke 4:16-30; Heb. 2:11,12; Psalm 110:3)." (I have cited this numerous times in several postings, giving the larger context)

This was cited by me in the context of our discussion about the question "will all the elect hear the gospel and believe?" That question has been a matter of some discussion in recent years by some. I said to dad - "how can you claim that all the elect will not hear the gospel and be in line with Hassell?" Dad responded - "well I know what Hassell meant." He went on to explain that all Hassell meant was that all the elect, in "regeneration," would "hear" the "voice" of Christ "speaking" to them and calling them out of spiritual death into spiritual life. He would conclude - "that is all Hassell meant."

He would also say the same thing about Elder David Pyles who came close to saying the same thing as Hassell. Both believe that all the elect will hear the gospel spoken to them personally by the Lord, apart from preaching through men or angels. So, they deny that all the elect will hear the gospel as preached through creatures, on the one hand, and yet affirm that they will all hear the gospel and be brought to faith via the direct personal speaking/preaching of Christ,

My retort to dad was to say that at least he could see how Hassell was reflecting the view of his forefathers in uniting elements of "regeneration" with that of "conversion"; And, that he did not make regeneration or the new birth something on the subconscious level, or non-cognitive, an event wherein the person did not "learn" anything of the Father (John 6: 45)

I would often challenge dad to tell me how he could, on the one hand, make "regeneration" to be an experience wherein one learns and believes, and yet make it non-cognitive? I would ask dad - "what do the elect 'learn' when they are 'drawn' by the Father?" He often refused to answer. And, whatever answer he may have given at times, like saying "they learn that there is a supreme being and that he is a sinner." To which I would respond - "so infants who are 'regenerated' learn these things?" Again, he would often avoid answering. Further, in his later years, I tried my best not to push him to raise his blood pressure. In the last few years we both tried not to get into heated arguments, though I must say, I tried harder. It was simply dad's nature not to run from a fight. I would also ask him in response - "so all who believe in a supreme being are elect and regenerated?" And, "so only atheists are lost?" And, "is it a knowledge of facts about just any 'god'?" 

This would often lead me to ask dad - "are all who are 'regenerated' brought to 'love' and 'know' God?" He would often say "yes." I then would reply - "but how can one love and know another on a subconscious level?" And, "how can one love a person they know nothing about?" Generally, at this point, emotions often got involved and the discussion would end.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My Conversations With Father (II)

Over the years I challenged my father on his assertion that the Hardshells of today, represented by the "Conditionalist" faction, with whom he identified, to prove that their peculiar views on "regeneration" and "effectual calling" are the historic teaching of the Predestinarian or Particular Baptists. I challenged him many times, as I have all other Hardshells, to show that their views on the new birth were taught by any leading Baptist spokesman or confession prior to the Hardshells of the mid to late 19th century. He assured me that history shows that the Baptists held to the anti means and "Spirit alone" view prior to the 19th century. I demanded that he send me the proof, and he never did. And why? Because he had the evidence but did not want to produce it, or rather, that no such evidence exists?

Dad, like many Hardshells, accepted things about PB history on the word of others, and he did not act like a noble Berean nor check the veracity of what he was told by Hardshell "historians."

I recall him being stunned into silence just a year ago when I showed him how the Powell's Valley Association held to the means view up till at least 1879 and that this was additional proof that the old Baptist doctrine, prior to that time, even among the Hardshells, advocated the means position.

I would also often tell father - "Dad, I am more old Baptist than you are."

Monday, April 4, 2016

My Conversations with Father

I will with this posting begin a new series (not that I don't have enough already to finish) titled "My Conversations with Father." I hope it will prove to be profitable to some. Many have been interested in my possible conversation with Elder Sonny Pyles, and I have a series to finish titled "My Meeting With Sonny Pyles" wherein I relate a fictional conversation between us. (Perhaps we will one day have an actual dialogue)

Over the past 35-40 years I have had numerous private debates and discussions with dad about many points of doctrine. I am sure that many people would love to have heard them!

Well, in this posting, I want to relate a short part of one conversation that we had about 5-8 years ago when I began writing intensely on PB doctrine. Knowing that dad liked certain kinds of jocular jabs in debate, I said to him about my own personal confrontation with Hardshells - "Dad, I eat Hardshells and Campbellites for breakfast." (Actually I was rephrasing a line from a movie where Swartzeneggar was in a fight with a Green Beret dude and said to him "I eat Green Berets for breakfast")

At my comment my father gave a big laugh. It was a laugh that only he and I could know what it signified. Further, he never showed where my jest was not in fact based upon historical fact. It did not take dad long to realize that he was not going to say things to me without me challenging him to prove his statements of fact.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

John Gill - A Blasphemer?

Hardshell Zack Guess wrote (as cited previously by me in the posting The Gospel - The Means of Grace V.- HERE): (emphasis mine)

"The Apostle Paul is saying here that in some sense he is the father of these Corinthians and they were his children. The instrument by which they were born was the gospel. Many people interpret this to mean that Paul was the father of the Corinthians in the sense that he had caused them to be born again when he preached the gospel to them. But that this is exactly not what the text is teaching can be shown by the following considerations.

In the first place, it would have been blasphemy for the Corinthians to refer to Paul as a father in the sense that He was the means of bringing eternal life to them. No man can receive this honor because God alone is to receive the credit and glory for the salvation of His people."

John Gill a blasphemer? Did Gill not teach the very view that Guess calls "blasphemy"? Yet, his forefathers honored Gill and called him sound in the faith.

They were both born by the instrument of the gospel, but not? Does he not contradict himself?

S. Hassell's Keen Observation on 20th Century Hardshellism

In Avoiding One Extreme, Do Not Fall Into Another
Written by Sylvester Hassell
Williamston, N.C., December 1927 (SEE HERE)

"In the narrow Straits of Messina, between Italy and Sicily, with a strong current, and almost a mile's depth of water, there are two rocks, not far apart, Scylla and Charybdis, and navigation between them was dangerous, so that there was an ancient saying--"In shunning Scylla, do not fall upon Charybdis."  For nearly a hundred years the most of Primitive Baptists have carefully avoided falling upon the Scylla of Fatalism, and, in doing so, I am sorry to learn that a few of them seem to be about to fall upon the Charybdis of Arminianism."

This is so true, and only those who have studied Hardshell history exhaustively can appreciate these insightful words of the renowned historian. Hassell warned that the result of the division over the extent of predestination, i.e. "the absolute predestination of all things," had pushed those who opposed it, those who would later be known as "Conditionalists," into Arminianism. And, his warning and prophecy has proved true since he wrote this about ninety years ago.

Here is what I have previously cited from Elder John Clark on this point. (SEE HERE)

"But some object and say, Why preach repentance to dead sinners? They can neither hear, see nor understand. That is true; that they hear not, see not, understand not, so far as the preacher is concerned or is able to effect them; but why did the prophet call upon the dry bones to hear the word of the Lord? He answered, “And I prophesied as I was commanded.” That was authority then for all who feared God, and it is still the authority for all such. This objection, however, will lie against all the exhortations and admonitions to the saints as it does against addresses to the ungodly, for the Christian has no more power than the unbeliever. The difference between them is not in the power, but in the will; as it written: "To will is present with me, but to perform that which is good I find not.”"

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

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

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

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

Elder (Dr.) John M. Watson wrote this in his "Old Baptist Test":

"In short, we have taught the word of doctrine to our hearers, without stopping to exhort them to be "doers of the word." Such preaching has been a great injury to us as a denomination; it has quenched the spirit of exhortation among us, and the exhorter is afraid to call on sinners to repent, for fear of being called an ArminianParkerites and Antinomians call the things which have been so much neglected Arminianism, and they have thus, in a goodly degree, suppressed them. But, as there is some prospect of our getting clear of that heresywe hope to see the spirit of exhortation revive among us again; to see our ministers take up the long-neglected things just indicated; and to see our Brethren going forth in all the obedience of faith. We had better thus incur the Parkerite’s reproachful term, Arminian, than the Bible penalties for a neglect of them." (Page 330)

"There is, strange to say, an error entertained by some brethren, that the minister of the Lord should not call on "all men every where to repent;" of sinners to look to Christ and be saved; nor on unbelievers to believe. They are constantly saying, to preach in this way betrays Arminianism on the part of the ministry which thus exhorts its hearers, and also on the part of the Church which tolerates such preaching! Observe, shall we become Arminians by faithfully preaching according to the commission given by the Savior? Some, indeed seem to think so! For when the minister discharges his duty zealously, faithfully and in a gospel manner, there are certain ones who cry out, he is an Arminian! The great error, that this is one of the varieties of Arminianism, is affecting both our pulpits and Churches; for instead of requiring this kind of preaching, and sustaining it as a Church, we fear some are opposed to it, and use their influence to suppress it? I ask now, in the name of this world-wide commission, including as it does every creature capable of hearing, and which authorizes and commands the ministerial servants of the Lord to preach the gospel to every creature,who does so? with that love, zeal and regard for the sinner, I subjoin to the question, which the Lord enjoins. Further, is it not to be feared that we have in this way grieved and silenced to some extent the spirit of exhortation in our pulpits?The spirit of exhortation which spoke out plainly and fully, through primitive ministers in the great affair of bringing in these "other sheep" we fear is now with us only in a grieved and vexed state! Primitive preachers did not suppress it, nor attempt to confine its word of exhortation to believers only, as some affect to do among us!"(Pages 84,85) (for more)

It is indeed a truth that the extreme opposition to absolute predestination was one of the factors to drive present day Hardshells into Arminianism. Their Arminianism is to be found in several areas, chiefly in what they teach about the life of the Christian after regeneration. Today's Conditionalist Hardshells are nothing but Arminians as regards what they teach about sanctification, perseverance, etc., and in what they teach under the umbrella term "time salvation."

S. Hassell on the 1689 Confession

"The Union Of All True Primitive Baptists"
Williamston, N.C., February 1901 (SEE HERE)

"During the last fifty years, and especially during the last twenty or thirty years, there have been many carnal, human (1 Cor. iii.), distressing, and ruinous strifes and divisions among Primitive Baptists, and for the last two or three years the fleshly biting and devouring of one another (Gal. v. 15) have become worse than ever, so that it almost seems, in some parts of the United States, as though the Lord had forsaken some of our people..."

Notice first that the great historian is talking about the period of time from 1850 to 1900, a most important period in the history of the Hardshell denomination. Hardshells today generally know very little about their history, and certainly do not know about the changes in doctrine and practice that have occurred among them since 1832.

Hassell continued:

"In the 17th century the Particular or Predestinarian Baptists of England and Wales declared, in the London Confession of 1689, what they believed the Scriptures taught in regard to God and man, predestination and election, creation and providence, the fall of man, the covenant of grace, the mediation of Christ, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, repentance and faith, good works, the final perseverance of the saints, the law and the gospel, Christian liberty and liberty of conscience, religious worship, the civil magistrate, marriage, the church, the communion of saints, baptism and the Lord's Supper, the state of man after death, the resurrection of the dead, and the last judgment. In the 18th century the Particular or Predestinarian Baptists of the United States re-affirmed and adopted these same Articles of Faith. In the 19th century all the Primitive Baptist churches of the United States either already had or adopted, substantially, though in a shorter form, these same Articles of Faith; and in the closing year of that century, 1900, the General Meetings of Primitive Baptists at Oakland City, Ind., and Fulton, Ky., unanimously re-affirmed and re-adopted the old London Baptist Confession of Faith." 

"In 1850 Elder Burwell Temple, editor of The Primitive Baptist, the oldest Southern Primitive Baptist periodical, republished at Raleigh, N. C., in pamphlet form, bound in sheep-skin, the London Baptist Confession of Faith. My father, Elder C. B. Hassell, who began the Church History, collected the very oldest editions of the London Confession that he could obtain, and incorporated the full original text, with all the Scripture citations, in our Church History. Thus the London Baptist Confession of Faith is the most fully and widely authorized statement of what Primitive Baptists believe the Scriptures to teach in regard to spiritual and eternal truths. Our fathers were neither fools nor hypocrites; and spiritually we are neither wiser nor better than they were; indeed past and present facts prove that we are their inferiors in spiritual matters."

Based upon what Hassell here says, are Hardshells correct to say that the London confession has never been a criterion for deciding who is an original Baptist? Also, if conformity to this old confession determines who is and who is not a "Primitive" Baptist, then those Hardshell churches today who reject the confession have no claim to being "old" "primitive" or "original." Further, those Hardshells today, like Michael Ivey and Harold Hunt, who think the 1689 confession is no determiner of who is "old Baptist," think they are wiser than their forefathers, the thing Hassell scoffed at, when they are in fact "their inferiors." I have only one intention in my writings, and that is to get the Hardshells back to the old faith.

It is also a shame that Sylvester would later in his life (in that period when factions were warring as never before), deny what the confession said on the use of means in effectual calling, though his father Cushing Biggs never did. In doing this, Sylvester was going against his own advice and condemning himself, believing that he was superior in this area of doctrine than his own father.

Hassell continued:

"Every Primitive Baptist family ought to have and keep and read the London Baptist Confession of Faith, and, asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to search the Scriptures reverently and diligently to ascertain whether the doctrinal statements of the Confession are true or not, and having learned that these statements are scriptural and eternal truths, they should never, for any earthly consideration, deny or compromise them, nor be moved from them, in the least degree, by any member or minister or editor or author, whether Arminian or Predestinarian."

Well, amen to that!

Friday, April 1, 2016

What I Would Like To Ask Claud Cayce

In reference to the word of Romans 10:17 Elder Claud Cayce once wrote:

"The word here is the speech of God. God speaks to the sinner who is dead in sins, and by the power of that speech the sinner is made alive in Christ, made alive from the dead..." (Cayce's Editorials, Volume 5, pages 123, 124)

But, Elder Cayce, if Romans chapter ten is about “gospel time salvation” how is the word not about…well, you know…the gospel?  And doesn’t the fact that you claim the word to be the speech of God, or the direct voice of the Son of God, prove that you’re treating Romans 10 as if it was speaking of eternal salvation, in particular regeneration?  Otherwise, why the need to give it an anti-means interpretation?

Since the cunning debater is no longer with us to respond, maybe some of his devoted followers will, and tell me whether they think the elder was correct on Romans 10:17, or that he was guilty of one of the most obvious contradictions I have ever seen.

S. Hassell on PB's "Greatest Sin"

"Beware Of Covetousness" (Luke 12:15) 
Written by Sylvester Hassell
Williamston, N. C., September 1924 (SEE HERE)
(emphasis mine)

"Covetousness, as generally used in the scripture, is an eager and inordinate desire for earthly things. It was the sin of Balaam, Achan, and Gehazi; and the besetting sin of ancient and modern Jews, and of many of the children of God. Isaiah says, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins." (Isa. 58:1). 

I am in my 83rd year and have been a member of the Primitive Baptist Church about 64 years, and I testify, in love, that covetousness is the greatest sin of our people, not scripturally helping their pastors, nor their poor and needy members.

And the subscribers to our religious periodicals should promptly pay their little subscription to our brethren, who publish them, and who cannot continue to supply us with this truthful and wholesome and comforting literature unless the subscribers pay them their small dues. Liberality to the poor is wise and profitable; while withholding what we should give them tends to poverty. (Prov. 11:24; 19:17; Acts 20:35)."

But, Sylvester was not the first to say this. Notice these words of Elder Joshua Lawrence, whose credentials as one of the main ringleaders in the division of 1832 is undisputable (as is that of Sylvester Hassell):

"Think for yourselves, and so shall I; but this I know to be a fact, that most of the Old School Baptists are a closefisted and covetous set, or else they would not have treated their ministers as they have done for sixty years."

(See the full citation in Hardshells & Mission Opposition XXII Chapter 165 - HERE)

Whether or not this is the Hardshell's greatest sin may be debatable. It is a great sin, no doubt, and one that characterizes the "Primitive" or "Old School" people generally, and one that their greatest leaders have been honest enough to confess. They have other sins also, but, sadly, few of them will even listen to criticism.