Why the Split Among Baptists in 1832?
By C. H. Wilson (1876-1962)
In 1832 there was a division among Baptists. "What brought it about?" is a question often asked. The following named doctrines are some of the things that brought about the split:
First. The purpose and extent of the gospel. Missionaries said, "The gospel is for every creature under heaven (Mark 16:15) and no lost sinner anywhere will ever be saved without it, and we are under special command to carry it or send it to the whole world." Hardshells said, "It is to be preached to the saved only, and is not essential to the salvation of lost sinners." Thus limiting the power and extent of the gospel.
Second. Election, while both said, "God chose His people in Christ before the foundation of the world," Missionaries said, "God not only chose individuals, but also chose the means to reach individuals, and that the means is the gospel and human instrumentality, therefore, we are His chosen witnesses to testify to Him and His glorious gospel throughout the whole world." Hardshells said, "Not so, God will save the elect, gospel or no gospel, when He gets ready." Thus they deny or eliminate the gospel as a means to this end.
Third. The extent of the Atonement of Christ. Missionaries said, "Christ died for the Adamic sin of all of Adams's descendants, and that He took away the sin of the world (John 1:29; Heb. 2:9) and that He died for all of the sins of all of the elect." Hardshells said, "He died for the elect only." So we hear the statement "there will be infants in Hell not a span long."
Fourth. The extent of Teaching the Word. Missionaries said, "The word should be taught to all young and old. lost and saved," and organized what is called Sunday Schools in the churches for that purpose. Hardshells said, "Teach the word to the saved only." The writer thinks he went with the Missionaries at this point, as he has not missed a Sunday in this his 31st year of attending Sunday School. Praise God for His Grace.
Fifth. As to Prayer Meetings. Missionaries said, "God meant what He said when He said "pray for all men everywhere," and, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer' and that prayer should be made for rulers, our enemies, and those who despitefully use us." These classes surely include lost sinners. Hardshells said; "No use to pray for sinners."
Sixth. As to salvation being conditional. Missionaries said; "There are two conditions that every lost sinner must comply with if he is ever saved, viz. Repentance and Faith in Christ," and "that all who refuse to repent will perish, and all who refuse to believe in Christ will be damned." Hardshells said, "Salvation is as unconditional as election." "The Two Seeders" among them said, "Some men are children of God and some are children of the devil from all eternity." (If that is so, then no one has ever been, saved on earth, for one must first be lost before he can be saved).
Seventh. As to when Regeneration takes place. Missionaries said, "Repentance is unto life, and one must repent before he will ever be made alive, and that we are born again when we believe in Jesus." Hardshells said, "Men are Regenerated and made new creatures in Christ before they repent, that dead men cannot repent." Therefore, they believe in what they call "Pro-regeneration." Missionaries said, "The Lord Jesus told a man with a withered hand, to stretch forth his hand, and he did it, and Peter told a man who had been lame from birth to stand up, and he did it, and that with a command from the Lord to do a thing the power is given to do that thing."
Eighth. As to the New Birth. Missionaries said, "One birth of two elements viz. Word and Spirit." Hardshells said, "One birth of one element, viz. Spirit." thus denying the power of the word in the New Birth.
Ninth. As to how men are saved. Hardshells said," All are saved just alike, infants, idiots, adults at home and abroad, and that adults are no more responsible for their conduct than infants are." Missionaries said; "Babies dying in infancy go to heaven on the ground of the atoning death of Christ, and are not responsible for their acts, but those who live to the years of accountability and willfully choose to do evil, must repent and trust or go to hell forever for their own sins and not Adam's."
Tenth. As to the Saviour's purpose in washing the disciples' feet. Hardshells said, "It is an ordinance" and practice it as such in their churches. Missionaries said, It is an "example" of humility and is to be done by and is to be done for all of God's people when the occasion demands it."
Eleventh. As to the support of the gospel ministry. Missionaries said, "God's people should bring God's tithes and offerings into God's storehouse and His ministers should be paid out of the common fund." Hardshells said, "Let them labor with their hands and support themselves." They also denied the need of an educated ministry while Missionaries favored it.
Now there may be other things that should be mentioned here if space would permit, but these will help the reader to get some of the most important differences between Baptists one hundred and two years ago, and to decide which you are, if either, a Missionary or Hardshell Baptist. We have used these two titles because most every one knows who we are talking about when we use these. We cannot say as some of the other side would say: "Primitive Baptist" because John the Baptist was The Primitive Baptist and he also was a Missionary Baptist. That is: "One sent of God" with a message from God to lost men.
[Originally published in 1934 by C. H. Wilson's Book Store, Murray, KY. Republished by the J. H. Spencer Historical Society, 2011. Scanned by Jim Duvall.]