Saturday, April 2, 2016

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."

1 comment:

Kevin Fralick said...

Spot on! I never knew of this particular quote of Hassell until now, but it describes their situation perfectly. I read a comment somewhere that in their attempt to escape duty-faith they adopted a position even worse, by claiming sinners don't have to repent and believe at all. EVER!

How true.