The following is the e-mail correspondence I had with Elder Jeff Patterson of the "Primitive Baptist Church". He initiated the correspondence in response to my "open challenge" to debate the issues respecting Hardshellism. "Hello Steve,
I don't know if any Primitive Baptists are willing to take you up on your challenge, but I believe a fellow named Crosby could handle you quite well. His website address is http://www.letgodbetrue.com/index.htm
His sight (sic) is much better, more informative and persuasive than your and Ross' blog-sights. From listening to some of Crosby's sermons I really believe he could trounce you and Ross both together. I really don't think the two of you would have much of a chance. Lovetruth"
Here is my first letter to Jeff.
Dear Brother Jeff:
It was good to hear from you. It has been many years since we have seen or talked, hasn’t it? I hope you are doing well. Do you associate with Elder Bradley?
I want to respond to your e-mail and do hope that you will be pleased to communicate further.
You say – “I don't know if any Primitive Baptists are willing to take you up on your challenge.”
Yes, and one must question the reason for this, right? I do not think that the first Hardshells nor the leading ones of the 19th century would be characterized in this manner. Modern Hardshells may not want to debate their history and heresies but they only show how unlike they are to their founders and forefathers, yes?
If I were still a Hardshell, I would not have ignored someone writing against them, as Bob Ross and I have done, but would have engaged them in debate, as would Elder Daily or Elder Cayce. I think it was Elder Tolley, one of my old fathers in the ministry, who said, “Primitive Baptists have debated every denomination who has issued a sincere challenge to debate their differences.” Is that not true any more?
Of what are the neo-Hardshells afraid?
You then say – “but I believe a fellow named Crosby could handle you quite well.”
I do not know this man nor his church. I notice that he and his church do not call themselves “Primitive Baptists.”
Why is this?
Are you in fellowship with him and his church? With what “faction” is he and his church in league? Would the Hardshells here in Monroe (Bear Creek Association) support him if he came to debate here at the seminary and Baptist Churches with which I am connected?
Are you speaking for him? Do you plan to contact him to see if he will take up the challenge I have published in my blog?
There is only one way to see if Crosby can handle such a debate, is there not? Why don’t you contact him to see if he will come to Monroe the coming year to debate the propositions I have published?
I do not think you are a prophet in the matter of how such a debate would conclude. I do not have any doubt that there is a Hardshell in all the world who can overcome the avalanche of Scripture and historical records that refute Hardshell false teachings on the new birth, predestination, perseverance, etc. But, bring it on!
Hoping to hear from you soon, I am,
Yours in Christ,
Stephen M. Garrett
Emmanuel Theological Seminary (Monroe Campus)
And here is a short follow-up e-mail I sent.
I will add this to my previous e-mail.
On Crosby's web site, he says these things:
"Without Scripture, we cannot know Jesus Christ."
I suppose then his view of the new birth is that one does not come to know Christ?
He says further, on his web page,
"Are there any established church creeds to which you hold? We hold to the Bible, as the Holy Spirit leads us to understand it. But if you want to see some historical Baptist creeds with which we find much agreement, we recommend you look at these two:
Old London Confession of 1646 (Second Edition)
The Midlands Baptist Confession of faith of 1655
Who believes the Old London Confession, you Hardshells or Baptists as myself?
Who are the true “Primitive” Baptist?
In Jeff's next e-mail response he simply says "no" in answer to the question as to whether he associates with Elder Bradley. I have since found out that Jeff is with the conservatives who have opposed Bradley and the "liberal movement."
He then writes:"I stated "I don't know if any Primitive Baptists are willing to take you up on your challenge" because of the person and not the challenge. You are an excluded member of the Primitive Baptist Church. You are basically unknown and have very little influence on other people. Why debate an unknown? What profit would there be in it, except for some type of mental exercise."
And then further, he says:"Crosby is not a Primitive Baptist, I believe he is a disciple of Conrad Jarrell and Ben Mott. While I don't know of any Primitive Baptists who will debate you, perhaps he will."
And,"Sound PBs have no fellowship with Crosby. I sent him your challenge via email. I really don't know if he will take you on. Crosby is an intellectual and gifted in making arguments."Here is my response to the above.
Dear Brother Jeff:
I was a little surprised by the contents and spirit of your latest correspondence. You say: “I stated ‘I don't know if any Primitive Baptists are willing to take you up on your challenge" because of the person and not the challenge.’”
Is that a personal attack? Why then did you even write to me suggesting a debate? What kind of a person will the Hardshells debate? Give me the criteria, okay?
You seem to be under the impression that I am out eagerly looking for a debate with the Hardshells. My challenge to debate the Hardshells still stands, but it does not represent an eagerness to do so without any conditions. I think I have written that I would myself not debate just anyone in the Hardshell Denomination. The person would have to meet some qualifications. I have listed some of those to you. That person would need the support of the Primitive Baptists to the same extent that I have support from the Baptists with whom I am in fellowship.
I also will require that any would be debater of Hardshellism first give some attempt at answering just a little of what I have already written against Hardshell history and heresies. Why not try to answer some of those “Hardshell Buster Questions”? Instead of a debate, why don’t one of you Hardshells come forward and just try to answer what I have already written?
I am busy enough already. I plan to have over a hundred chapters in this book on Hardshellism before it is finished and put into book form. Besides this I teach in a seminary and have other books and essays that I am heavily involved in writing. So, I am not looking for ways to fill my time. I expect to have at least another debate this coming year.
Brother Jeff, you next say:“Your are an excluded member of the Primitive Baptist Church.”
Where do you get your information? Is this not another example of how Hardshells can twist and distort history as well as Scripture? For your information, I left the Hardshells here in North Carolina in good standing, with letters to move my membership to another Primitive Baptist Church and I have more than fulfilled that in finding the true Primitive Baptist faith.
Next, you say:“You are basically unknown and have very little influence on other people.”
Who are you to know all this? How could you possibly know the extent of my name being known among the Hardshells? How do you know how much influence I have on other people? Are you a prophet or psychic? But, I do hope that more of the Hardshells will come to know my name, once they have had a chance to digest the book I am writing. I fully believe I really have no need to debate orally any Hardshell. Rather, just let any one of them answer the book!
You then say:"Why debate an unknown? What profit would there be in it, except for some type of mental exercise.”
If you cannot think of another reason, then I pity your mental powers, my brother. If you cannot think of another kind of “profit” from such discussions, then again I have sorrow in my heart for you. Again, forget the oral debating – JUST ANSWER THE BOOK! I think this book, together with the writings of Brother Ross (who is very well known, by the way), give you Hardshells plenty to think about, much to stimulate you all in “mental exercise.”
You then write:“Crosby is not a Primitive Baptist, I believe he is a disciple of Conrad Jarrell and Ben Mott. While I don't know of any Primitive Baptists who will debate you, perhaps he will.”
I remember both the Elders you mentioned, from my early days as a Hardshell. Yes, they are renegades, especially in that they deny the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ. So, they are of course not “primitive” on that point, right? But, you agree that their view that men are born again apart from any knowledge of Christ or through the gospel, is “primitive,” which I have proved is not the true primitive Baptist position as expressed in the oldest confessions. I have a standing challenge for any Hardshell to come forward and produce one document that sets forth Hardshell views on the new birth prior to the 1800's. Why don’t you, Jeff Patterson, simply do that for them?
Why do you want another non-Primitive Baptist to do your debating? Are you joking? Are you wasting my time? Playing games? What is your motive in this correspondence? What are you seeking to accomplish?
You then write:“Sound PBs have no fellowship with Crosby.”
And just what criteria do you use to judge what it means to be a “sound” or “primitive” Baptist? My challenge was to debate Hardshells who claim to be the “original” Baptists on the point relative to whether the Holy Spirit uses the means of gospel preaching to regenerate his elect. And, before any actual oral debate, why not first take a stab at just answering in writing what I have thus far written regarding Hardshells distortions of history and Scripture?
You next say: “I sent him your challenge via email. I really don't know if he will take you on. Crosby is an intellectual and gifted in making arguments.”
Well, surely he can read well, and can look over the almost forty chapters that I have already written and give his time to refuting it. Can he not? Are you not just saying simply this – “ignore what Steve Garrett is writing”? Do you think that tactic will work very long?
I have visited Crosby’s web site and yes, he does have a nice web site. He wins hands down on that score. Take it for what it is worth. But, I have already cited a couple things from his web site’s confession of faith, which show that he contradicts the Hardshellism he spouts elsewhere in some of his sermons. He contradicts himself frequently in the sermons I have heard and the writings I have read already from his mouth and hand.
Brother, I don’t care if Crosby does not “take me on,” if by that statement, you mean an oral debate. Why does he not just first try and “take me on” relative to what I have already written? He has a web page. Is he not just as gifted a writer as a speaker? Can he not put his argumentation skills at work in writing as well as in oral sermons?
About Crosby being an “intellectual” and “gifted in making arguments,” that really matters little, in the end, doesn’t it? Why are you saying such things as these? What are you insinuating? What are you trying to accomplish with me? Do you just want to condemn me by ad hominem arguments and do you not have any desire to “win me back” to Harshellism?
Again, yours for the truth’s sake, and in Christ Jesus our Lord, I am, truly yours,
Stephen M. Garrett
Asst. Professor at Emmanuel Theological Seminary (Monroe, N.C.)
Copy: Bob Ross
In the latest e-mail Jeff writes these words:"Steve, Let me speak frankly and please answer truly.
Did you receive baptism when you claimed to have found "the true Primitive Baptist faith".
If not, then the baptism you currently have is from the so called "Hardshell Cult" you are writing against.
If you have received baptism from the group you state as "the true Primitive Baptist faith", then what was the purpose of the letter of good standing?
You ask for my motivation. I will tell you plainly. I was hoping, as the Apostle Paul set the Pharisees against the Sadducees, that you and Crosby would lock horns and give the PBs a little rest. I wish you no ill. I do wish you would remove your blog-book from the internet for it is an embarrassment. Especially to you. While you may pride yourself in your shallow arguments that beguile unstable souls, those arguments are no match for many an elder within the gates of Zion. Frankly, I believe the fear of the Lord has left you and that God has turned you over to a reprobate mind. Anyone who writes so vehemently and spitefully against the church of the living God will answer for it...either in time or in eternity. It is doubtful that anything I say will cause you to lay aside your rancor against the saints in light.
I am not writing you because I am concerned about your soul or have a desire to see you restored as questioned in your reply. I believe we both understand you are where you need to be....on the outside of the church. If you think you are still a member of the Primitive Baptist faith and order, then name the Primitive Baptist Church with whom you take the communion of the Lord Jesus Christ and I will send them some excepts from your diatribe. And again, please answer the questions concerning your baptism or baptisms...whatever the case may be."
Here is my response.
Dear Brother Jeff:
You say, “Let me speak frankly and please answer truly.”
Brother, I have been answering “truly,”
but you admit you have not been “frank”
with me. What do you think that says? You have never even addressed me as “brother.”
I find that very ironic. First, because most Hardshells would say that I have evidence of being “born again” by my faith and works, would they not? If they can call idol worshiping heathens “brothers,” because they have been “regenerated,” why not me? Second, are not even “erring brothers” still to be addressed as “brothers” and not “treated as an enemy”? (II Thess. 3:15) Third, are not those who are “weak in the faith” still called brothers? (Romans 14) Does this not show the state of your heart my brother? Does it not show that you approached me as an “enemy” who “cared not for my soul”? How did this fulfill the holy command to “love” and “edify” your “neighbor”? (Rom. 13:10; 15:2)
You write:“Did you receive baptism when you claimed to have found "the true Primitive Baptist faith". If not, then the baptism you currently have is from the so called "Hardshell Cult" you are writing against. If you have received baptism from the group you state as "the true Primitive Baptist faith", then what was the purpose of the letter of good standing?”
It is obvious from your statements above that you are guilty of two unsound and heretical doctrines, namely, “Landmarkism,” and “Patternism.” Bob Ross has written a book against the former and has treatises on the latter that completely overthrow these two doctrines. Besides this, you show how you are not a truly “Primitive” Baptist in believing that the credibility of baptism depends on who is the “administrator,” a thing which the first London Baptist Confession of faith (1644 & 1646) both denied was the case. The Scriptures clearly teach, and so did the first Old Baptists, that anyone can baptize a believer, and it does not have to be done by the authority of a church, although this is preferable. My baptism is not valid because of who administered it, but because I was immersed as an expression of my faith and allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. Had anyone baptized me, instead of my father, it still would have been the same with the Lord and me. That is what Gill, Keach, Kiffin, and the truly Old Baptists believed. So did John Bunyan. Yes, I admit, many Baptists have been, traditionally, “Landmarkers,” and have imbibed the Catholic and episcopal idea that the sacraments depend an “authorized” clergy to “administer.” But, sound Baptists, like Gill, did not take this view.
Do you realize that I can prove, by your own arguments along this line, that your own baptism is not valid? Can you show the “genealogy” of your baptism? If we could prove that someone in the chain of administrators was not a valid or authorized baptizer, then would that not nullify every baptism after that error? Can you answer that?
Jeff, I am with a group of Baptists who believe the Old London Baptist Confession of Faith. I am with those who believe what all Baptists believed prior to the rise of the Hardshells in the 1820's and 1830's. That makes the group I am with more “Primitive” and more “Original” and more “Old” than you who erroneously and arrogantly call yourselves that! So, does that answer your question?
You then say:“I am not writing you because I am concerned about your soul or have a desire to see you restored as questioned in your reply.”
Again, this admission of yours speaks volumes! You are clearly outside the Spirit of Christ, not having his mind or heart, and so I see no reason to converse further with one with such a spirit. “You know not what manner of spirit you are of”! (Luke 9:55)
Next, you write:"I believe we both understand you are where you need to be....on the outside of the church.”
Brother, that is nothing in the world but wishing my damnation. What a spirit! I am lost if I am outside the church, doomed to eternal destruction.
You next write:"If you think you are still a member of the Primitive Baptist faith and order, then name the Primitive Baptist Church with whom you take the communion of the Lord Jesus Christ and I will send them some excepts from your diatribe. And again, please answer the questions concerning your baptism or baptisms...whatever the case may be.”
I have answered all the above.
You say you want me to “give the PBs a little rest.” Brother, I do not plan on letting up one whit.
You then say, “I wish you no ill. I do wish you would remove your blog-book from the internet for it is an embarrassment...Especially to you.”
I think the previous statements show that you do wish me ill, so this is a glaring contradiction. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
Remove it? Yes, you would like that, right? And why? because you care about me being embarrassed? Do you really care that much for my reputation after having impugned it? You are slick, are you not? Brother, my exposing of the hypocrisies of the Hardshells in their heresies is an embarrassment, but not to me, but to those who, like you, arrogantly claim to be the “original” Baptists in spite of all the evidence to the contrary!
Now brother, I thank you for your correspondence but believe it has now come to the point where I must leave you to yourself and to the Lord and now not allow you to distract me from my work in the Lord.
I do plan on posting our correspondence in my blog.
Yours in Christ,
Stephen M. Garrett