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?

1 comment:

Kevin Fralick said...

Biased interpretation? How about a stubborn refusal to admit what is as clear as day! The Powell Valley brethren believed that the unbeliever WAS subject to the gospel address, an indictment of the very ministers who were reading it!!! They don't "fish for dead fish".

The question is this. What words could the Powell Valley brethren have chosen to convey 'eternal' salvation if repeated explicit use of the exact term would not suffice?

Since they believed that the gospel was to be preached to the unregenerate, the calling they have in mind is that which delivers from that condition. It is regeneration, and not some Arminian transaction called 'gospel time salvation', wherein the fictional unconverted regenerate man "saves himself". Some Calvinists would in fact refer to it as conversion, but they have in mind an experience yoked with regeneration or occurring shortly thereafter, a far cry from something that the Hardshells say occurs months or years after the new birth, or in most cases, not at all!

That is what these ministers meant by conversion. I hope your friend understands all of this.