Jan 28, 2007

Chapter 39 -- Hollow Log Doctrine

Hollow Log & Whole Man Doctrines

Elder Gowens, Neo-Hardshell, wrote:

"I am as concerned as some of my brethren at the creeping antinomianism that has plagued our people...Nevertheless, let us be careful that we handle Scripture with integrity lest we repeat the old "hollow log” distortion that a person may be born again and show no sign of it. That is certainly not true." (Sovgrace.net)

Elder Hulan Bass, another present day PB, wrote:

"There has (sic) been more fractures, splinters and splits in the Baptist Church over new fangled concepts, i.e. Hollow Log Doctrines, Soul Sleeping, Two seedism, No bodily resurrection, No literal hell, gospel means, [and as of late this attitude "well, the gospel is not the means, but it does Assist.] no eternal sonship of Christ, sheep and goats, Jacob and Esau, Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Judas Iscariot, on and on." (By Elder Hulan Bass, June 1996, Banner of Love)

That was an honest statement by Elder Hulan Bass (a preacher I have known since the 1970's when I filled appointments in churches he pastored in Texas). It is also an honest statement from Elder Gowens.

Just what is the "Hollow Log Doctrine"?

"Do the scriptures also teach that all of God's children will come to believe on Jesus Christ in the sense that they will have an understanding of some of the principles of the gospel? If not, do the scriptures support the so called "Hollow Log Doctrine" which essentially teaches that an individual can be born of the spirit and yet be completely unchanged by it in the same way a rabbit can run through a hollow log and have no effect on the log? I contend that both positions are extreme views which are contrary to the overall teaching of the word of God. Furthermore, failure to embrace one of the two views does not force one to embrace the other extreme. I do not believe that all of God's children will come to believe on Jesus in the sense that they will all possess a particular level of understanding about what he did for them. However, such a view does not force me to embrace the "Hollow Log Doctrine". Jesus made it clear that all of His people will know him in the sense that they will come to possess the new nature which is of God (2 Cor. 5:17, John 10:27-28, 6:37, John 17:2-3, 1 Cor. 10:4 & 12:13). The new birth is a permanent, radical internal transformation from death in sins to life in Christ. However, the Bible also makes it clear that, for a number of reasons, God's children may never know Jesus in the sense of understanding who he is as Savior."


Abernathy says "failure to embrace one of the two views does not force one to embrace the other extreme." Yes, that is what many Hardshells have tried to do, take a "middle ground" position on this topic of what is the nature of the "change" wrought in the sinner when he is "born again" and "regenerated." In order to distance themselves from the "no change" view of "regeneration," and the "Hollow Log" doctrine, today's Hardshells try to advocate that there is some "drastic constitutional change" made in the person who is "born again." But, in doing so, they will have to take elements of conversion and apply them to regeneration, and they will also have to distance themselves from the view of "regeneration" that makes it all on the "sub-conscious level." Look at Abernathy's attempt to do this. Does he not want to say that the regenerated "learn" something about Jesus and truth in the new birth?

He says:

"Jesus made it clear that all of His people will know him in the sense that they will come to possess the new nature which is of God..."

How can the word "knowing" be used in the sense of receiving a nature? "Knowing Jesus" simply means receiving a new nature? It does not involve any kind of cognition of truth?

Daniel Parker & "The Hollow Log Doctrine"

"This brief sketch is not intended to be complete; it is only for the purpose of introducing the man recognized as the father of two-seedism (Daniel Parker), soul sleeping, the “hollow log-whole man” controversy, and a whole host of other views that may or may not have vexed the church the last century and a half. We submit then, to that end, the following for a better look at the man and his doctrine."

(J. F. Poole, "The Remnant," - www.asweetsavor.150m.com/ejp/2seedism.html)

Here Elder Poole identifies the leading "founding father" of Hardshellism with the invention of the "Hollow Log Doctrine."

Wrote Elder Potter:

"I claim that in the work of the new birth, the sinner is changed. He was dead, but he now has eternal life. His heart was evil, and it spoke evil things..."

"The natural man is made a saint in the work of regeneration, and the saint knows the things of the Spirit of God, but the natural man does not. So, it is inevitably true that the man is changed in the new birth; not merely changed as to his state and surroundings, but he is changed in his nature. He himself is changed. The apostle Peter intimates that he partakes of the divine nature. He was fleshly before regeneration; he is spiritual after regeneration."

Here Elder Potter states that a man who is "regenerated" comes to "know the things of the Spirit of God." How can this be on the "sub-conscious level"? How can a man "know" something and not "know" it at the same time?

Again he writes:

"He is in the hearts of his people by his Spirit and grace. In the new birth he takes possession of them, and the Father reveals him in them, and he manifests himself to them, and to them he communicates his grace, and grants them communion with himself. All this, and perhaps more is meant by the inspired apostle in the expression, "If Christ be in you." The saints are told that they are reprobates except Christ is in them."

Again, this is not the view of Neo-Hardshells and it just shows that the farther one goes back in time the more the Hardshells speak of regeneration in terms of conversion. Yes, today's Hardshells are more consistent, in taking the no change" and "Hollow Log" view of "regeneration," making it something that is all on the "sub-conscious level," but they are less scriptural and Baptistic. Potter and those like him, in describing "regeneration" as a coming to "know about Christ" and truth, do not represent the thinking of modern PB's. Today's PB's will admit that any learning or knowledge of Christ and gospel truth can only come through the gospel message being delivered to the heart of the sinner. So, those who are supposedly "regenerated" apart from the communication of gospel truth do not have, as Elder Potter believed, knowledge of Christ. "How can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?"

Potter continues:

"If this text has reference to regeneration, then we ask, what is done for the sinner in the new birth? His spirit is not made alive, and his body is still dead because of sin. Such theorizing denies that the sinner is born again. If the body is dead, with Christ in the man, and his spirit is not born again in time, or if he has no spirit to be born, then for Christ to be in a man simply does nothing for him, but the Spirit of God is life because of righteousness."

Here Potter acknowledges the problem that the new Hardshell views on "regeneration" have produced, that being that there is "no change" made to the person who experiences it. He rejects the "no change" view, but if he is consistent, he will have to go there himself.

Again he writes:

" A writer said very recently, "Now, the Old Baptists, so far as my acquaintance extends, either believe that all or some part of the earthly or Adamic man, is the subject of the new birth. Those, however, who believe that only a part is born again, differ as regards the part. One says it is his mortal soul part; another it is his immortal soul part; another it is his mind part; another it is his heart part; and so on to the end of the chapter; while some hold that the man who is composed of parts, is born again in time, and will be changed in the resurrection."

"Another idea in the above quotation is, that they are born of God in time but they are not changed in time."

Who but those who rejected the means of gospel preaching, the means of truth, would have come up with the "no change" view? No Mission Baptists ever had that problem!

He continues:

"We are told that some Old Baptists hold that the man who is composed of parts, is born of God in time, and changed in the resurrection. Are we to understand that to be born of God is not to be changed? Or that in the new birth no part of the man is changed? That is the way we understand the writer."

("Regeneration, Christian Warfare & State of the Dead," by Elder Lemuel Potter, CHAPTER 8, "Is Man Changed in the New Birth?" and CHAPTER 9, "Is the Resurrection a Birth?" and taken from - http://www.paradisepbc.org/Articles/regenpotter.htm)

I have all the volumes of "Cayce's Editorials," from the leading paper called "The Primitive Baptist," wherein these controversies raged, not only in the 1800's, but well into the 20th century, and I would like to quote extensively from them.

Elder Claud Cayce

"It seems to us that we have been plain enough in the foregoing for anyone to know that we do not believe the "whole man" doctrine; but for fear of some person might not remember, we will say, most emphatically, that WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE "WHOLE MAN" DOCTRINE...WE do not believe the "whole man" doctrine, and that we were not going to allow any quarrel in The Primitive Baptist on the question. While we do not believe the "whole man" doctrine, we wish it also understood that we do not believe what has been called the "hollow log" doctrine. Both are wrong and we will not accept either." (Editorial Writings, Volume II, page 418,419)

In the next issue of the paper, "The Primitive Baptist" Elder Cayce announces that Elder Walter Cash (a leading 2nd and 3rd generation Hardshell), editor of the paper, "The Messenger of Peace," endorses his views, citing him as follows:

"Like Elder Cayce, we have no use for what is known as the "whole man doctrine," as some have described it; neither do we believe it a safe and Scriptural way to treat it, as some have done, from the question, What part of man is born again in regeneration? (page 422)

In the editorial for his "Introduction To Volume Thirty-One," Cayce is still battling this issue as to what "part" is "born again" in a man. He writes:

"If you want to tell the benefits of regeneration to a poor sinner of Adam's race, that is all right; but if you want to argue the question as to what part or how much of the sinner is born again, you will have to excuse us. We do not believe that there is any material difference among our people on that matter, and we do not intend to lend any aid to an unprofitable war on the question...We have learned that some are still trying to make it appear that we believe the "whole man" doctrine; and some have even gone so far as to say that we said some things which we did not say, and never even thought of saying." (Volume III, page 9)

Following the above articles by Cayce, the issue continued to be agitated, especially in Texas, and so Cayce begins to discuss the issue further under articles entitled "The Curtain Raised."

Cayce's "Notice"

"Notice.--The following articles on this question which we reproduce from our writings are not put in this book with any desire to wound the feelings of any brother, or to dig up these old matters, or to make any brother feel bad. We reproduce them because we do not feel that we would be dealing honestly or in sincereity to leave them out. At that time there was a war on among the brethren. Since then the trouble has been adjusted between many of them or most of them, and at this time they are together and dwelling in peace, so far as that old war is concerned. The putting these articles in this book, and what may follow in additional volumes, since those matters have been settled, will show that Primitive Baptists can adjust and settle their differences when they try." (page 68)

He says further:

"Our readers are well aware of the fact that a war has been waged in some sections for some time. In Texas the war has been on for quite awhile. One side charging the other side with believing what they term the "whole man" doctrine. Elder J.S. Newman and those who are in line with him, or who affilitate with him, have been charged with believing that doctrine, although he and others have repeatedly denied believing it. For some time there have been some who have been charging the same upon us...For a good while those who are in line with Elders Webb, Redford & Co., of Texas, would not say whether they endorsed our editorial or not." (pages 68,69)

Elder Cayce goes on to call this an "unholy war" but he will, nevertheless, he says, "take up our pen to enter the fight." (pages 69,70)

Cayce says:

"A denial that the body is a part of the child of God is eternal Two-Seedism." (page 77)

In this "unholy war," there were some Hardshell "greats" combating. Elder Sarrels, whom I have cited many times already, was involved in this controversy (year 1914), although he was a young minister at the time (age 24 and preaching seven years). Sarrels was lined up with Redford. Redford and Newman were two of the leading ministers in Texas at the time.

You can tell how heated and "unholy" this war became when we see what came forth from the pen of Cayce as he "entered the fight." He wrote the following about Sarrels.

"Poor Sarrels! This young "smart Alex" is wise above what is written. That is what is the matter with the Old Baptists--they have some young preachers who are too smart. They have learned more than is written, and more than our fathers knew." (page 87)

Next he attacks Elder J. M. Thompson, saying:

"We have some letters from Elder John M. Thompson which we will publish soon, in which he denies that regeneration makes a man better. We will publish his letters so our readers can see for themselves what he says. We want no man to preach in our churches who is not made better by regeneration. We now drop the curtain, and let you think a while on the scene. We will raise it again soon, and may raise it higher if it is necessary." (page 87)

Elder Thompson Replies To Cayce

"Dear Brother--In sorrow I write to you owing to the strange position you have taken on the vital subject of regeneration. Regeneration is one of the essentials in the eternal salvation of sinners, on which there should be agreement."

And again, from his open letter to Cayce, he says:

"Man prior to regeneration is a good man if regeneration makes him a better man--good, better, best. He has to be good before he can be made better. So the Newman-Collings contention cannot be true." (page 90)

"I feel constrained to request that my name be discontinued and your paper to me discontinued. " (ibid)

Then Cayce responds to the open letter of Thompson, saying:

"I have today had your name taken off the editorial staff, and also had your name dropped from the mailing list, as you requested."

This controversy became so "unholy" that Thompson responded to the letter of Cayce saying:

"Elder C. H. Cayce--In as much as you impertinently charge me with insincerity, with making a false statement, and misrepresent me, I do not consider it proper that I address you as I would otherwise have done."

Here Thompson refused to address Cayce as a brother in Christ, due to this issue. After some more open correspondence in the pages of the "Primitive Baptist" paper, Thompson says to Cayce:

"If you see your error and scripturally confess it will correct your unjust offense." (page 91)

Cayce makes this comment upon the whole issue:

"There are mysteries about this thing that no man on earth can explain, and all this effort to explain an inexplainable thing only serves to mystify the matter all the more. And that is what causes the trouble among the Old Baptists, too." (page 96)

And again he says:

"We would not want a man to preach in our church who is not made better by regeneration, for we would not think regeneration had done anyting for him if it had not made him better." (page 99)

The issue continued to be a matter of intense "warfare," and we next find a long time contributing editor of the paper follow Elder Thompson and requesting Cayce to have his name also removed from the editorial staff and to have his subscription cancelled from the paper. His name was Elder W.E. Brush. He sends a letter to Cayce and which Cayce published in the paper, and here are some excerpts from that letter.

"My Dear Brother--After long and due and prayerful consideration, as I hope, have decided that it would be best for me to come off the staff of THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST paper...my reason for coming off the corresponding staff of the P.B. is because I feel that you are in sentiment lined up with the Primitive Baptist Signal, of Texas, edited by Elder Collings, in which such statements as the following are found..." (page 105) He then cites the statement that is the heresy, made by Elder Miracle of the staff of the paper.

"I am forced to the conclusion that man in his completeness or complexity is born again in the change we call from nature to grace. No man can arrive at any other logical fact from the context. It is easy to say that man is born again in spirit, but such an expression does violence to the whole tenor of the Scriptures. Just as well say that a man is out of debt in part." (ibid)

In response to all this Cayce responds, saying:

"Again, it seems that these brethren would have us drop Elder Miracle, and have nothing to do with him or with Elders Newman and Collings because some expressions have been used by them, or by some brethren on that side, which they do not endorse. What would they have us do? Evidently the only course they would have us pursue is the one they are pursuing, which is to "line up" with Webb, Redford, Sarrels & Co. This is what Elder Brush and those with him are doing." (Page 113)

In a letter that Cayce publishes in a subsequent issue of the paper, he cites a lengthy letter by Elder Brush to Elder Sarrels. I will cite some things from that letter.

"My brother, is it not a fact that it takes soul, body and spirit to make a MAN? If it does, and the MAN is in Christ, is not the body in Christ in some sense of the word? If not, please explain how the MAN could in in Christ, and at the same time the body, which is one of the component parts of MAN (in fact, if it were not for the body there would be no man); is not changed in any way at all--no not so much as to be under the commandments of Christ, for I not that you say in your article that no living man can prove by God's word that we serve God in our flesh or body relation. Now I suppose that you mean by this statement that we don't serve God in, or with, our bodies." (page 118)

"My dear young brother...I know that young men are often led by Satan to think more higly of themselves than they ought to think, and to decide that "I am able to explain matters better than men who have been in the ministry longer than I have been living, but of course have not had the opportunity to know things as I have, and are therefore not able, like me, to explain matters." (pages 118, 119)

And again, in the same letter, he continues:

"I note in your same article you say, "I think it is not safe to say that the body is not part of the new creature." Now, how could the body be a part of the new creature without having been changed in some sense? Please answer the question, for it is one of great importance. Could not the soul or spirit just as well be a part of the new creature without a change as the body? If not, why not?" (page 119)

Then again:

"Then I believe just as Elder J. S. Newman expressed himself to me in a letter, "I believe that eternal life is implanted in the heart or soul of man, but it so affects his whole being that it makes him hate the things he once loved and love the things he once hated. Yes, the very lips that we used to curse with, we now praise God with; and the feet that once carried us to the ballroom now carry us to the church of God." My dear brother, if you had a neighbor that had been a wicked man, and he claims to have been changed from nature to grace, and yet he sitll lives the same wicked life that he has been living heretofore, what evidence have you that he has met with any change?"(Ibid)

And again:

"Elder Sarrels, it does seem to me such a pity for the Baptists of Texas to divide over nothing but preacher jealousy. I feel sure that if there were, or had been, one-half dozen preachers taken away from Texas, and not allowed to return, that you would have had NO trouble over the WHOLE MAN DOCTRINE as it is called." (page 120)

Then he says, "One of the hardest struggles of a preacher's life is to keep off of extremes." (ibid)

Cayce then jumps in and comments on all the above, saying:

"We would now plead with you, Brother Brush, and with others who are doing like you are, to lay these vain speculations and notions down--quit this eternal fault-finding, speculating, hair-splitting, and striving about words, and stop going farther from the truth, and come back to the ground that you once occupied, and let us live in that peace and fellowship which was left us by our blessed Master, and which is destroyed by nothing else only our own striving for the mastery, envy, hatred, malice, jealousy, and wrong doing." (pages 121, 122)

Elder S. F. Cayce From 1894

Under an article titled "The New Birth--Man Born Again"

"There appears in this issue...an article from Brother P.J. Howard, headed, "The Dalby Doctrine," in which he seems to object to the idea of dividing up man by arguing that one part of another "part of man" is born again, for he says, "The question is not what part of man is born again." But while he objects to the idea of dividing man he makes two men out of one. Nor does he wait until after man is "born again" to make him two men, but he presents the unregenerate man, the man who has been born of Adam only, as two men, i.e., a flesh man and a spirit man."

Claud Cayce

"We have never felt disposed to quarrel with our brethren about what part of the man is born again in the work of regeneration...We do not think the brethren should be engaging in a war on this question." (Page 145)

In the next issue of the paper, Claud republishes an old editorial of his father, S.F. Cayce, wherein he and the famed Hardshell debater Elder Lemuel Potter, became at odds.

S. F. Cayce Editorial On Lemuel Potter (1894)

"Brother Potter, in the Church Advocate of October 1, certainly does us an injustice, whether intentional on his part or not. It will be remembered that in our issue of July 5, current volume, there appeared an article from Brother P. J. Howard, of Benton, Ill., under heading, "The Dalby Doctrine," in which Brother Howard labored to show who or what it is that is "born again," and in so doing said:

The question is not, what part of man is "born again," but what man is it that is born again? Is it the man we see, the flesh man, or is it the man we don't see, the spirit man? This is the question. That it is "man" that is "born again," no one questions; but which on of them, "the inner man" or "the inward man," or "the outward man?"

This position was upheld and elaborated upon by the elder Cayce. He then says:

"Brother Potter, in the face of all this says:

"We have seen men who seemed to try to go around the word "soul," as though it was dangerous to even say "soul." We repeat that here is the real issue. The question is not whether it is the man that is born again, but has man a soul that lives after the body dies? This is the question. Some men say "no" to this question, and we say "yes." We do not believe as some we have heard talk. Elder Skeeters said to us at one time, that we were commanded to pray, lifting up holy hands, and he wanted to know where we got holy hands unless they were made holy in the work of regeneration, in time. This is the Dalby doctrine, and Skeeters and Dalby were fellow-advocates of that doctrine, and in the division of the Baptists of three or four associations on that question, and some other troubles, Skeeters and Dalby stood together. Elder Payne stood with them, and we knew all three of these men personally, and have talked with them, and Payne, at one time, in correspondence with us, admitted that there was a distinction of soul and body, so we asked him where the soul went to when the body died, and his reply was, that if we would tell where light went to when we blew out the lamp, he would tell us. He fought the very idea of any part of man going to heaven when the body died. All that it took to constitute man, they claimed, went to the grave, and slept until the resurrection. Those fellows are very noisy in preaching that MAN is born again. This is the Dalby doctrine. Does Brother Cayce believe that doctrine? He declared that what Brother Howard thought to be the Dably doctrine was the apostle's doctrine, and referred to Dr. Gill to disprove Brother Howard's position, and then afterwards stated that he had learned that Dalby was not in good standing, and that he did not wish to defend a man that was not in good standing, as though he must defend a man in order to defend his doctrine."
(Pages 148, 149)

To all this Cayce responded, saying:

"Doesn't he know that we simply argued that the apostles taught that it is "man" that is born again?" (Ibid)

Elder Grigg Thompson

"In the work of regeneration, the stranger is made a citizen, the enemy is made a friend, and those who know not God, are made to know Him and love Him...The change is great...The change was so great in Saul, the vilest persecutor, that he became the humble follower of the Lord Jesus Christ..." (ibid)

Here Elder Grigg Thompson is already, in his day, having to combat the growing error of the "no change" view of "regeneration." After giving argumentation against the "no change" view, he concludes by saying, "then the new birth is a farce," a "useless nothing." ("The New Birth") I affirm that the "Hollow Log" conception of the "New Birth" is a direct result of the Hardshell error of taking the means of the gospel and truth out of the experience.

From Elder Grigg Thompson says further:

"These two expressions, the passing away of old things, and all things becoming new, comprise the great change wrought in the soul in regeneration, and in other scriptures are expressed by equivalent phrases; sometimes by putting off the old man and putting on the new man; Eph., iv, 24; and sometimes by dying unto sin, and living unto righteousness; Rom., vi, 11; which is evidently the same thing the apostle here intends by the passing away of old things and making all things new. This is the most glorious work of the Spirit wrought in man in this world, and is noted by the apostle by a special remark and observation, "Behold!" Behold this wondrous, surprising, and marvelous change which God has wrought in man, this new and spiritual relation that is now created between the sinner and his God; the stranger and foreigner is now made a child and fellow citizen in the household of God; John, i, 12, Eph., ii, 19. They have come out of darkness into his marvelous light; I Pet., ii, 9; out of the old as it were into a new world. "Behold' all things are become new." They can now call God their Father. What a miraculous work of grace, 0 what a note of wonder. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God;" I John, iii, 1. How is it that any who believe the Bible, and have ever felt the regenerating power of God's Spirit in their souls, can deny that any part of the sinner, either in soul, body, mind, or spirit, is changed in this new creation? When infidels and unbelievers scoff at these things, and call them vain delusions, and the wild fancies of a superstitious mind, we do not marvel; but when they who profess Christianity, and teachers of the Bible, will deny any such change, and ask, "By what the supposed change is effected," and say, "My heart has never been changed; I love sin as well as I ever did," we may wonder, but can come to but one conclusion, and that is, that old things have never passed away, and all things become new with them. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned;" I Cor., ii, 14. Thus the apostle explains why it is that men will deny these solemn truths and call them delusions and vain fancies. This new creation is a super-natural work, the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the man, and is infallible evidence of a saving interest in Jesus Christ. Contradicting those who deny this change, and explanatory of the truth, the apostle uses these words, "But ye have not so learned Christ: if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus; that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt ac cording to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness; Eph., iv, 20-24. Here we have, in other words but of the same import, the self-same description of the man that is in Christ, that the apostle gives us in our text. In further illustrating this subject, I shall try to show, 1st. Why the regenerating work of the Spirit is called a new creation. 2nd. In what respect every soul that is in Christ is renewed or made a new creature. 3rd, What are the remarkable properties of this new creation. 4th. The necessity of this new creation. 5th. How this new creation evidences our interest in Christ."

(From "The Primitive Preacher," and the chapter “A New Creature In Christ”)

Again, this is not how today's PB's view regeneration. You cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, make heathen idol worshipers, fit into these new testament descriptions of the "change" effected in regeneration nor into the descriptions of it that the first generation of Hardshells give.

Thompson continues:

"Every question has its negative and affirmative, and the negative of our text is, "That the elect, as such, eternally existed in God, a holy and spiritual seed, and never fell in Adam." If this be true they could never need any change of nature or condition to prepare them for heaven or spiritual enjoyments. It is not to be wondered at that such vain babblers and blind guides in religion should deny, "That any part of the Adam man, in soul, body, mind, or spirit, is changed in regeneration." The conclusion is irresistible if the premises be true, but the Scriptures upon this subject are so plain that the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein. If you will search them you will find that God has laid the whole stress of man's eternal happiness by Jesus Christ upon this work of the Spirit in the soul. This truth our Savior taught Nicodemus when he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he can not enter into the kingdom of God;" John, iii, 5. Unless we have this change wrought in our souls by the Spirit of God in this new and heavenly birth we can never see God, for the apostle tells us without holiness no man shall see the Lord; Heb., xii, 14. And though some may teach that it is by innate holiness possessed by us in eternity, and others that it is by observing ordinances, professing religion, and observing the externals of Christianity, that we will commend ourselves to God's acceptance without this new creation, we know they are deceivers, and the apostle shows how groundless all such hopes are. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature;" Gal., vi, 15. Christ and heaven, with all the spiritual blessings ever enjoyed by men, are the gifts of God, but man in his unregenerate state is not prepared to receive and enjoy them, for he is a natural man, and, as such, can not receive the things of the Spirit; I Cor., ii. 14. There is no way for him to know and enjoy spiritual things, but by being born of the Spirit, created anew in Christ." (Ibid)

Again, I say, that this is just more evidence of the extent that the doctrines of "eternal vital union" and of "no change regeneration" have plagued the so-call "Primitive Baptists." I have felt that an exhaustive work on the Hardshell denomination must include this phenomena, must show the fruits of their heresy.

Jan 18, 2007

Responding to Hardshell Comments

The following are some recent comments to some of the chapters I have published. I wish now to write a response. I do intend to have a final chapter in this book wherein I post some of the correspondence I have had with Hardshells during its composition. First, I will take up these comments from Brother Joe Nettles.

Joe Nettles said:

”I don't know what flavor of Primitive Baptists you grew up around, but I have been rocked in a cradle of grace and am now trying to preach for them and have never heard an established, sound "hardshell" ever mention praying for the new birth of his seed! I've always prayed (as have all my brethren in like manner to my knowledge) that "if they be thine (already regenerated) then work in them in a special (as opposed to ordinary) and strong way to conviction, fruit, and repentance. But, Lord, as in all things, thy will be done." Just because an old, deceased preacher (bless their hearts!) at one time proclaimed it, doesn't make it automatically scripturally sound. You may continue to degrade and belittle us, but you can't stop us from loving you for Christ's sake and praying for your deliverance from your bitter little agendas!”
Elder Joe Nettles, Vidalia, GA

There are “flavors” now of the “Primitive Baptists”? What “flavor” is Brother Nettles? He is not of the “flavor” of leading Hardshell apologist Elder Grigg Thompson who regularly called upon dead sinners to repent and believe the gospel! I will of course be adding to this topic under chapters dealing with both Elder Grigg Thompson and under chapters titled ”Addresses to the Lost.” He is also not of the "flavor" of Elder John Watson, author of the "Old Baptist Test," and who believed in praying for the lost, believing that the godly prayers of his mother were "means" in his salvation. I think that “flavor” of ”Primitive Baptists,” which refuses to pray for the salvation of their lost children, is a very bitter “flavor” indeed! Elder Grigg Thompson and Elder John Watson were not just common preachers, but leading founding fathers of the Hardshell denomination. Neo-Hardshells may not pray for the elect to be regenerated, sinners saved, but the farther they get back to the year 1832 the more they will see prayers more frequently offered for the lost from the first "Anti-Means" Baptists. Does my friend not also realize that even Grigg's father, Elder Wilson Thompson, also prayed for sinners to be saved from their sins?

Let us ask ourselves this question: Can we find anyone in the Bible praying for the eternal salvation of others? Do the Hardshells really believe such praying is absent from the Bible? Are we reading the same textbook?

”My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” (Romans 10:1)

“Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (II Tim. 2:10)

Paul endured, prayed, and did everything in his power towards the salvation of the elect. It is sad that Brother Nettles misses this important truth. It is a great sin not to pray, especially for the salvation of our neighbors. We are to “edify our neighbors,” and certainly to win them to Christ is the optimal way to do that, as Paul taught. Said the Prophet Samuel:

”Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you...” (I Samuel 12:23)

Did he not pray for their eternal welfare? It is absolutely absurd to say otherwise.

Brother Nettles then says:

”You may continue to degrade and belittle us, but you can't stop us from loving you for Christ's sake and praying for your deliverance from your bitter little agendas!”

It is more than a little ironic (more like hypocrisy) that the Hardshells, who have historically been the most bitter gainsayers of the historic Baptist faith, as expressed in her beloved confessions of faith, and who have regularly and vehemently denounced the ”Mission Baptists,” would now turn around and charge such things on me who simply am trying to answer all the false accusations made, historically, by the Hardshells! Brother, I could cite volumes of bitter language from your Hardshell forefathers that would make my language look lamb like! You all can ”dish it out but can’t take it”? ”If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Again, this is more substantiation of what I have said repeatedly about modern Hardshell attack methods. They ”hit and run”! Anyone who attempts to answer all their charges and accusations is branded as Brother Nettles and others have done. Are the Hardshells not ”sweet” and kind?!

My "little agenda"? And just what has been that agenda? Is it not simply to make a reply to all this baloney the Hardshells have been spouting forth now for almost two hundred years without a let up? And, what can we say about the Hardshell “agenda”? Yes, they have one, and if I had a mind now, I would write further about it. At least my agenda has me praying like the Apostle Paul!

Brother Nettles then says:

"you can't stop us from loving you for Christ's sake and praying for your deliverance..."

Is that what Elder Jeff Patterson felt and communicated in his recent correspondence with me? No, he wished my absence from the church, my eternal damnation! Oh what love that is, hey? Elder Jeff Patterson did not want to win me back to Hardshellism. Is Brother Nettles in disagreement with Elder Patterson?

Here is another comment I got from a Brother and which I will take time to respond.

John Crowley said:

”Like yourself, I am unaware of any author who states a purely anti-instrumental view of regeneration prior to the 19th century. However, it does appear that Dr. Gill in his Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book VI, Chapter XI, under the fourth head, the instrumental cause of regeneration, does seem to anticipate the anti-instrumentalist view, while not denying the "... ministry of the word is the vehicle in which the Spirit of God conveys himself and his grace into the hearts of men...." You seem to hold Dr. Gill in respect, but I think that if your thinking follows its natural tendency you will have to discard him as you have Beebe and Trott. He may not have been what you are pleased to call a "hardshell," but he is the ground from which they grew.

I have followed your writing here with great interest. I have the pleasure to be a hearer among several small Primtive Baptist Churches in Southeastern Georgia which happily lost fellowship with the mainline PBs during the period 1860-1927, and thus enjoyed a degree of preservation from some of the principal errors of which you complain. The majority of our ministers believe in gospel instrumentality and that it is the duty of gospel ministers to "Warn poor careless sinners" of their awful state by nature. They have also of late resolved that candidates for membership who have been previously baptized in other professions will be received on a case by case basis, chiefly determined by the prospective members own conviction of whether he or she was truly converted at the time of their original baptism. Where there are enough interested parties, we also have Bible studies. In all other regards we are traditional "hardshells", our preachers suck wind, our meetinghouses would make good barns, and we sing slowly from the "Primitive Hymns" to fine, dolorous doric melodies.”

"I am unaware of any author who states a purely anti-instrumental view of regeneration prior to the 19th century."

Now, that is a wonderful admission, isn't it? Maybe there is hope for some honest Hardshells, hey? Why do not other honest Hardshells come up and "shell down the corn" and admit that they are not "Primitive" nor "Original" Baptists after all!

Yet, one can sense that Brother Crowley makes this admission reluctantly and sadly. So, what does he do? He clings to the belief that men like John Gill, later in life became more of an "anti-means" Hardshell. Now, I have addressed this already somewhat, showing, as has Brother Ross, that John Gill did not believe the "anti-means" position, not in his Commentaries nor in his Body of Divinity. I will have a later chapter on Gill and seek to enlarge upon what both Brother Ross and I have already written upon this subject. Yes, I admit that Gill had Hyper-Calvinistic tendencies, but they were kept in check and he never embraced what he merely speculated upon.

He does admit, however, that Gill was "not denying the '... ministry of the word is the vehicle in which the Spirit of God conveys himself and his grace into the hearts of men....'" Wonderful admission!

He says next:

"You seem to hold Dr. Gill in respect." Yes, and so did the first Baptists in America! The Philadelphia Baptist Association, the oldest and mother of all the others, recommended, early in its history, that all Baptist ministers read and study Gill's Commentaries and it became a test of orthodoxy in that association as to whether one was in agreement with him on essential doctrine. As far as the teachings of Gill having tendencies towards Hardshellism, I will have more to say in later chapters, as I said.

He next says:

Gill "is the ground from which they grew." Well, yes, but the Hardshells took Gill's speculations and "went to seed" with it, taking his speculations much farther than he himself wanted to go. Hardshells have gone way beyond Gill!

He then says:

"I have followed your writing here with great interest."

I hope my brother will continue to follow them and also the writings of Brother Ross. He then speaks of a group of "Primitive Baptists" that he is associated with (and I assume, from his other remarks, that he is with that "flavor" of PB's known as "Progressives" ) where the majority believe in gospel means, have Bible studies, etc. That is good news. It is to be hoped that they will all agree and not be split on this issue. It is also good news to know that some of his "flavor" of PB's are rejecting the tenets of Landmarkism and not rejecting all alien baptisms. It is also good news to hear that some Hardshells are addressing sinners about their depravity and need of salvation.

It is good to know that a large segment of this brother's group of Hardshells agree with much of what I have written here! Can we get Elder Bradley and the liberal brothers to "come around" on these things? They seem to be getting closer.

Another commenter, Mike McInnis said:

"Greetings Steve, you are indeed a slayer of "Hardshells" if nowhere else but in your own mind. I am not a fan of labels and especially when they are applied as epithets and not for the edification of the brethren. Your exposure to "hardshells" seems to be limited to those who are often called "conditionalists" by those who have a more "absolute" view of GOD's purpose. This conditional teaching has almost been the death knell of Primitive Baptists as to their historical theology and has probably done more to confuse the issues that you raise than any other error that ever crept in among them. Though Bradley and Gowens are indeed spokesmen for large numbers of those who call themselves Primitive Baptists (which you lovingly refer to as Hardshells) I can assure you that they do not speak for the historical position of the Primitive Baptists in general. Like all denominations, the PB's have strayed from their moorings but their errors are no greater than those of the great "missionary" endeavors. I am not formally associated with the PB's but have a great deal of respect for many who have walked in faith among them and have ably contended for truth when others have been swept away in the religious practices of the world. I would not at this time comment on your "theological" leanings but would point out that your arrogant attitude is exactly the spirit that brought about the division among the "hardshells" and the "missionarys" to start with. You boast of desiring to debate "a leading Hardshell" rather than some of the "ignorant and unlearned" ones. It is interesting that you use this choice of words since it was used to describe some of the apostles. It is a very common mistake that is often made by the "learned" that the things of GOD can be understood by such "learning". The Pharisees were quite convinced and satisfied in their "learning" but nonetheless were bankrupt of spiritual understanding. You boast that "they probably wouldn't want to touch us with a ten foot pole" and in this you are probably correct. To answer a fool in his folly is generally a waste of time. I hope that you will examine your attitude as closely as you do your great "theological learning." I remain one of the ignorant and unlearned, a sinner in search of that better country through the merits of CHRIST alone."

I think a better "label" than "Hardshell slayer" would be "Hardshell mouth stopper." I wrote a recent article upon this, citing the words of Paul, in regard to the false teachers, "whose mouths must be stopped." Apparently I am doing a fairly good job as I have not heard much from the mouths of the Hardshells.

Brother McInnis next says:

"Your exposure to "hardshells" seems to be limited to those who are often called "conditionalists" by those who have a more "absolute" view of GOD's purpose."

My membership was originally with those who are called Conditionalists" but I embraced the historic confessions relative to the "Absolute Predestination of all things" and so would probably be in league with Brother McInnis on that point. But, the "Absoluters" are in league with the Hardshells in their view that regeneration is without means of truth being conveyed to the mind, or by the gospel. Perhaps Brother McInnis will enjoy the later chapter on "The Hardshells and Predestination"!

He says further:

"...the PB's have strayed from their moorings..." Well, that is all I have been trying to show in this book! So, why take offence? He then says:

"I am not formally associated with the PB's"! Well, what does that say? I am not formally associated with them. Today I am with a group who are truly Primitive Baptists, not with a group who erroneously and arrogantly say that of themselves when they have no evidence to the contrary to prove they are "Original"!

He then says:

"You boast of desiring to debate "a leading Hardshell" rather than some of the "ignorant and unlearned" ones. It is interesting that you use this choice of words since it was used to describe some of the apostles."

Yes, I know that some viewed the apostles as "ignorant and unlearned men," but they were not what they were perceived to be! I will not debate a Hardshell who is not a leading apologist for their faith. I spent too many years with this group and they have a large number of ignorant and arrogant preachers, who cannot even speak correct English. The apostles spoke proper grammar. There are times when we are to "answer the fool" and there are times when he ought to be ignored. I think this brother is judging my heart without proper evidence or authority to do so. I think I have already alluded to much of the kind of ignorance I am talking about. My dad and others, for many years now, have publicly decried the kind of ignorance I am talking about.

He next says:

"I hope that you will examine your attitude as closely as you do your great "theological learning."

The more learned readers of this book will notice the various faulty arguments in my brother's comments. He puts forth a clear ad hominem argument in the above. What I teach is wrong because I have a "bad attitude." Also, where is the evidence, from my writings, that I am "arrogant"? Does my learned brother know what the word means? I certainly would not want to debate someone who accuses me of such things without giving evidence to the contrary.

My brother next says:

"I remain one of the ignorant and unlearned..."

Well, I don't see anything in the word of God to provoke us to be ignorant and unlearned. The Apostles, as I said, were not so, even though they were perceived as being so by the "worldly wiseman."

I guess Brother McInnis and I will not be debating Hardshellism, seeing he confesses he is "ignorant and unlearned." Perhaps if he keeps reading our writings he will become "wise unto salvation," for that is truly my prayer.

Jan 9, 2007

Chapter 38 - Eternal Children Doctrine II

The following is from the book "Life and Travels of William Conrad," and was written in the year 1875. It has much information about the "eternal children doctrine," and which is of great value in knowing the history of this heresy among the Hardshells. It was written later in his life and recorded the errors in Eld. Thos. P. Dudley's "Circular on the Christian Warfare" wherein Dudley sought to defend the view of "eternal vital union." Elder Conrad was a Hardshell. He preached for old Ray's Fork church in Kentucky, a church I myself visited more than once and where I also preached. One of my old fathers in the ministry, Elder Rice Bolender, pastored this church in the 70's.

First, let me begin with this statement of Conrad's relative to unity in Baptist doctrine in ages past.

"Now, in the present age of the church it is like as in ages past, that a great diversity of opinion exists in regard to doctrine;" (How can Hardshells, out of one side of their mouths, say that the Baptists were all one in doctrine in the 1700's (and early 1800's) and then make such statements out of the other side of their mouths?) "and among other items the doctrine of union has become a source of strife and sometimes of angry contentions, and it is mostly because brethren do not give words their proper bearing and take into consideration that with which it stands associated." (we might put this statement into a future chapter on "Hardshell Hermenuetics") "When it is rightly explained it will readily appear there is no sufficient ground to become alienated, especially in church relations. It is certainly a matter of great imbecility for brethren to create dissentions in the church about the application of a mere term;" (Amen to that! The Hardshells are infamous for this! They give to terms, relative to the new birth, strange and unsound definitions!) "for it is contended that the term actual must always be associated with eternal union.

Much confusion has and always will arise about unqualified assertions in reference to actual eternal union; we must therefore absolutely explain what we mean by the term, for the words are not set down in the Bible in an abstract form; and to use the term in an unqualified sense is to confound the eternal infinite existence of God with finite and created beings. It is certainly a sober and acknowledged truth that nothing existed before it was created unless there was something co-evil and co-eternal with God, and if that; something did so exist, we have no evidence in the Bible of its actual union with God; but yet, if it did so exist, then it embodies some of the highest and brightest traits of the divine Jehovah, and of course there would be more than one eternal being. This assumption may do heathens and deists, but a child of God will never acknowledge it,"
(I seriously doubt that modern Hardshells will say that all who believe in this are lost, for they have many idol worshiping heathens born again, by their heresy, who worship a false God and believe false teachings about him) "for the apostle says: "To us there is but one God-he the only wise God, and God our Saviour." (But, this verse cannot be used to talk about what is true of all the "born again," by Hardshell definition of what constitutes the experience of "regeneration," for they learn no doctrine in it!) "This item has been a matter of faith in every age, from the days of Enoch with the holy seers of Israel, the Church in the Jewish dispensation in the apostolic age-even up to the year 1850 they have never deviated nor can they falter in this all-important point. Men, angels, nor demons can not show from the Revelations any other actual eternal being; two seedism or any other extraism" (as "Hyper-Calvinism"?) "to the contrary notwithstanding.

Now, in the investigation of truth we must always keep this point in our minds that the great Jehovah is the only actual self-existent being, and that other beings in heaven, earth, or hell, are created and of course derivative, and therefore not actual eternal beings. It seems superfluous to labor this topic, for surely no Christian can for a moment indulge the thought that there is any other actual eternal being; but should a contrary position be assumed, then its advocates would have to prove that-first, there is more than one actual eternal being; and, second, that these actual eternal beings were united...You may very easily see how God could give them grace, etc., on the principle of a surety, and not on the principle of an actual eternal union."

"Now, to make this matter more plain we will introduce a scriptural example: Andronicus, Junia, and Paul were all elected in Christ at one and the same time; were all chosen in Christ before the world began, and there was no space of time between the gift of these by the Father to the son, and yet in the reception and actual enjoyment of them there was a difference of time; and hence, Paul says: "Andronicus and Junia were in Christ before me; were actually born of God before me.""

"We will venture to remark that there is not a Christian in all the universe but was shown by the spirit of grace in due time that he was in league with Satan, and that his soul and body was sunk under the destruction of sin, and so far from being actually united to Christ. He saw under the light of grace that he was condemned by the very law he expected justification by, and therefore, in great anguish of heart with a deep-felt sensibility cries: "O Lord undertake thou for me." The spirit of life awakened this person from the sleep of death, he sees his danger, bewails his case as a sinner united to destruction and no hope of a union according to law. When he fully realizes his entire helplessness, this same spirit of grace which brought him to see himself thus justly condemned shows him that Jesus bore his sins in his own body on the tree of the cross, and infuses in him a faith and hope that Jesus died for his sins, and under the light of this grace he can understand how his sins was imputed or placed to the account of Christ, and for which Christ died. On the other hand he can, with the same light see how he can be justified and actually united and eternally saved by the imputation of Christ's righteousness unto him; he now understands but never before how Christ bore him and carried him all the days of old; and on this point every Christian in the world stands and rejoices in hope of the glory of God."

The last paragraph above cries out for some observations to be made. First, the writer is arguing against the idea that we were actually children of God before we were "born again" and argues that in being "born again" one is taught (in conviction) that he is not a child of God, not saved, not born again, and the argument is that the Holy Spirit could not witness these things to them in the new birth if they were not true. Wonderful! Recall then my argument earlier in this book where I asked the question whether the Holy Spirit, when convicting a sinner that he is condemned, was telling a truth. In other words, if by Hardshell views, this person being convicted is already born again, then the Holy Spirit would be telling them they are lost when they are really saved! I showed how Elder Sarrels saw this difficulty and stated that the Holy Spirit is not convicting of actual sin, but hypothetical sin!

Second, the way Elder Conrad described the "new birth" experience makes it foreign to modern Hardshell views which do not allow for the "regenerated" soul to "learn" anything, all "learning" coming after "regeneration"! To them the "new birth" experience is all on the "sub-conscious level"!

Elder Conrad continues:

"The foregoing sentiments entirely harmonize with our circular of 1847, which says: "Our broad principles are salvation from first to last through Christ alone, which necessarily embraces election, effectual calling, final perseverance," etc.; this covers the entire ground. And God viewed the sinner justified in Christ virtually but not actually. Union we consider eternally virtual but not actual; in the second place actual union arises from the sufferings and death of Christ; then there is a vital or actual union between Christ and these souls and a declarative and actual justification; but so far as time is concerned it requires all this in time, etc. we pass. The actual existence of anything excludes the idea of predestination...God can give them grace in Christ before they had an actual being, union, or existence, and thus bear them and carry them all the days of old."

This is of course the Baptist view relative to this new innovation in doctrine.

Elder Conrad continues:

"David, the prophet of God, in reviewing and discanting on the works of creation at large, as bespeaking the power of God, had also a prophetic view of the Church of God in Jesus, and says: "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect, and in thy book were all my members written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them...figurative language designed to show the ultimate formation or visibility of the Church of Christ as forever existing in the eternal mind when as yet there was none of them."

Again he continues:

"We think no Christian will dispute this point, but if they should, then the next step is to enter the wild chimerical field of the ancient heathen philosophers who maintained, 4,000 years ago, that there was two self-existent eternal spirits-one said to be good, and the other said to be evil, and that each governs its own dominions and subject. Two-seedism rightly explained approximates this...But, if there be eternal souls there may exist an actual eternal union, but unless there be souls in actual eternal existence, there can not be an actual or vital eternal union; for to say that a thing is actually united when it does not exist is talking at random and outside of the Bible, and to say that a soul or sinner is actually united when that soul or sinner does not exist is preposterous to an extreme. There must be an actual existence of the person before there can be an actual union between them.

Again, if there is (sic) actual beings in eternal existence, a capital vein of divine revelation is destroyed, which vein is that God is the only eternal self-existent being, for the former system multiplies eternal beings, ad infinitum.

And further, it destroys those Scriptures that speaks of being created in Christ, begotten, born, etc."
(Amen to that! The new birth becomes a bunch of nothing in Parker's, Beebe's and Dudley's novel idea of eternal children). Creation hath a beginning, whether the thing be one year or twenty millions old, otherwise it is uncreated and eternal. There is also a begetting and being born, but our being born does not give us life; we are born because we have life; but there is a begetting, and previous to this begetting there is no vital or actual existence; but there is eternal decreed, purposed or treasured in Christ before it is given, and in due time we are said to receive it according to the election of grace; and therefore we are said to be the Temple of God, which is holy, which temple ye are."

I must pause and observe here that though Elder Conrad objects to the views of Parker, Beebe, Dudley, and others, relative to the "eternal seed," he does share the view of Beebe wherein he breaks down the new birth into separate aspects, the initial begetting (conception, when the sperm and egg unite), and gestation (the period between begetting and being delivered from the womb), and the final birth (deliverance) of the begotten child from the womb. I have addressed this idea before but only note how it was a common view among the first and second generation of Hardshells.

Elder Conrad continues:

"We have yet to learn where the topic of vital or actual eternal union was ever an item of faith set down in the confession of the Church of Christ. We have looked through every century from John the Baptist until the beginning of the present one, and we can not see any traces of it anywhere...Now, our commentators and ecclesiastic historians have been much at fault if the point of vital or actual eternal union was ever an item of faith for not setting it down. But the whole tenor of the ecclesiasticals and commentators go to demonstrate and make plain the position we assume. Indeed we do but follow in the old beaten paths of our fathers for near 1800 years."

Yes, that may be true relative to the novel idea of eternal vital union, but can he say the same relative to the Hardshell views on the new birth, what it is, how it is connected with conversion and discipleship, and how it involves coming to know the truth of the gospel?

He continues:

"There have been, however, of late, a few writers in England and America who have played off their talents and bent all their energies on this point. But, although 1800 years have rolled by, and every point of doctrine has been contested, disputed, and strongly controverted, yet this point seems not to have been thought of until recently."

He then writes:

"Now, the different sentiments on this point may be classed thus, and we stand on one or the other:

1st. There is a vital, actual eternal union; not virtual, treasured, or purposed in Christ before the world began, but a real, actual eternal union, and of course those who are thus united are in actual eternal existence, and are as old as eternity, and a transplantation is substituted in the state of regeneration, and that-the infusion of a new eternal creature does not change the person in soul or spirit; does not illuminate, make rejoice, make hope, make believe in Christ to the saving of the soul; does not produce faith, hope, nor charity, but its production is a war between itself and the old man, soul and spirit; and that Jesus Christ died and arose again for the purpose of resurrecting this body and soul, which has never been renewed in the spirit of the mind nor tasted of the grace of God, a vital or actual eternal union, and a new eternal creature are collateral or equal terms; they both stand or fall together.
This position is outside of the bible, and therefore cannot be admitted."

The above should be enough to show the reader how the strange views of the Hardshells relative to the new birth, eventually ended up evolving into a belief that the "new birth" or "regeneration" did not produce any change in a person, nor any knowledge of truth, nor any faith in God or his Son Jesus Christ. It does not, as he said, produce any hope or love, in the Christian sense, in the Hardshell "regenerated" soul!

"3rd and lastly. That union is one of the graces of spirit, one of the covenanted blessings treasured Christ before the world began, according to foreseen persons, which foreknowledge and election gave us a representative existence, which existence was in the eternal mind and purpose of Jehovah; but just as complete as though all these things had an actual eternal existence in us, for God speaks of and calleth those things which be not as though they were. And the course of these blessings result in their being conferred, given, made known to the heirs of grace, and they, the elect, are said to receive them, and of course they could not be said to be forever in actual possession of them.

Union then is only one of the links in the great chain of doctrine fastened to the throne of God by eternal love, and all the graces of salvation have their existence in the eternal Lord, and are revealed to the elect upon earth."

Again, please note how the farther back one goes in reading the view of Hardshells on the "new birth," the more they describe the experience under terms of "conversion." The later you get away from the Hardshell founding fathers the less "regeneration" connects with the elements of "conversion."

He continues:

"That part of my history which relates to doctrines and heresies that are and have been troubling God's dear circumcised children in these last days-these days of darkness and gloom that hath overtaken the Zion of our God near the close of this nineteenth century, with the great departures in life and in practice from the old landmarks, of which we have made mention in the above; that which did not come under our own personal observation as eye witnesses. We have given and have in our possession the printed documents to which we referred, as well as those documents, of which we have copied a part of what we have written."

And again:

"And lastly, that I am now among the oldest in profession that claims to be an Old School Baptist in our part of Kentucky, and feeling deeply impressed in mind from what I have seen and observed for over twenty years of the various and repeated efforts being made to introduce false doctrines or heresies among the Zion of our God during that long period of time."

And again:

"And, as above, having lived near fifty-five years an unworthy member among them, that these, these considerations connected with my own personal knowledge, while thus to mingle and commingle among the people with whom we have been so long identified."

"These things have led us to use great plainness of speech in writing the above biography or short history; for while I have narrowly watched the approach of the innovations in their approach and introductions among the dear people of God and the windings and various coils of those and their adherents who were and are still using their remaining powers to spread as well as make fast those already within their coils, and to strive in the mean time in a covert course of procedure to hesitate to speak out in words as they teach and preach in that plain manner in which they have written out their new doctrines, or what we call heresies, as they well know that what they have written in pamphlet form or otherwise will, in this day of novelty, if read at all are soon cast aside, and no more noticed, and so die out of the minds of the reader. While, if they should preach everywhere they went, both at their regular meetings or otherwise in the same plain manner in which they have written out those new doctrines, as a matter of course, those heretical sentiments would be up before the people afresh from time to time, as often as those preachers preached, whether to great or small congregations (if they preached the same things wherever they went), which the faithful minister of God does as he knows that the Gospel of God is one."

"Now, to us it is made manifest from what we, ourselves know that the recent or late heresy in its original shape, as first published in 1849, by Elder Thomas P. Dudley, in his circular on the origin, nature, and effects of the Christian Warfare, will not again appear. When it was first published, Elder Dudley sent me three or four copies of his circular. I soon parted with all the copies but one, wishing all to read and see for themselves; that the worst of all heresies to me it was plain."

"The holding those circulars fast by the members of Licking Association, and not letting them out to those outside their connection, I am led to judge, tells to me plain that there is an object for withholding them, and it is now over twenty-five years since the circular on the warfare was published. Hence, we feel as above, that it will no more appear in its original shape as first published, unless copied and published by some one else besides its original writer. That we have and can see in subsequent documents and minutes of Licking the same sentiments in different shape or expressed by different words, and as before hinted, I am quite confident I know more about the introduction of above heresy as embraced in the circular on the warfare-so often named in this history, than any other now living except its author. And, besides my own personal knowledge I have in possession the printed minutes, circulars, and other printed documents, mostly from 1808, before Licking was organized."

"While as yet not separated from Elkhorn Association, and feeling a conviction that unless I made some record-history of said heresy as above named, it might not be known, certainly fifty years hence, how introduced and by whom.

And hence, the historians that may be writing up church history and showing of the strange doctrines and heresies that troubled the Zion of our God near the middle of the nineteenth century,
(as Brother Ross and myself?) and still continues to be a matter or subject preached and taught in some of the many forms hitherto presented to the hearers.

As we are nearing the last quarter of the present century it would, as we think, be best to copy off and print with this, the circular on the warfare as first published.

Touching the heresy above alluded to, we can say in truth of it as Paul said of Alexander, the coppersmith, that the heresy done us, the Old Baptists in Kentucky and elsewhere, much evil. The Lord reward its author according to his works, of whom be thou aware also, for he hath greatly withstood our words."


Near Williamstown, Grant Co. Ky.,

October 23, 1875.


It is quite obvious that Elder Conrad was one of the best witnesses to call forth in a discussion of some of the novel ideas making their way into the ranks of the newly formed "Primitive Baptist Church" and how the views of the founders of Hardshellism, men like Parker and Beebe, led to the view that "regeneration" produced no change in the person "regenerated," a view that came to be known in other circles, while the controversy raged, as the Hollow Log view of this new birth experience, a view in stark contrast to the idea that the "whole man" was "born again" and "regenerated." In the next two chapters I will be discussing this further.

Jan 7, 2007

Chapter 37 - Eternal Children Doctrine

Eternal Children Doctrine or Eternal Vital Union Doctrine

Error begats error. One departure in fundamental doctrine leads to further departures from the truth, an example of theological "slippery slope." Once the Hardshells abandoned the truth, as expressed in the Old Confessions, especially on the new birth and conversion, and began to take extreme and heretical views on essential doctrine, they found the obtaining of unity among them very difficult, especially with such divergent views emerging on the subject of the new birth. One of those new ideas came to be known as the Eternal Children Doctrine or Eternal Vital Union Doctrine. Elder Beebe became a leading spokesman for this novel idea, together with Elder T. P Dudley and others.

Elder Gilbert Beebe wrote:

"We now speak of his spiritual or mystical body. If it be admitted that they are one with Christ, even as is Christ one with God the Father, we can no more deny the eternal vital union of Christ and his members than we can deny the eternal identity of the Father and the Son in the Godhead."

And further he writes:

"As aliens and strangers we are brought nigh by the blood of Christ, together with the impartation to us of the spirit of adoption, while our vital relation to God is far more ancient and eternal, based upon a life given us in Christ which was never alien to God, but forever hid with Christ in him, and this sonship is developed by a spiritual birth."

(Editorials of Gilbert Beebe, Volume 6 pgs 46-63 June 15, 1864)

The idea that the Lord's elect people had a real or actual existence before the world began was clearly believed and advocated by Elder Beebe. It seems to have been one of the leading ideas associated with Daniel Parker's famed "Two Seed" doctrine. The elect, or chosen "seed," were actually "in Christ" before the foundation of the world. Parker did not go into the later errors of soul sleep or non-resurrection, as Elder Potter made clear (as will be seen). But, he did believe in the pre-existance of the elect.

As one can imagine, there soon developed several absurd consequences to this new and novel idea. One of those is mentioned in the above writing by Beebe. He refers to some objections by Elder Pence (to be referred to later), such as, “Was the spiritual family of God ever corrupted in sin?” Further, what is the "new birth," and how could the elect have been born "children of wrath" IF they were already, from eternity, the children of God?

Wrote neo-Hardshell, James Poole, in defending Beebe's view -- "Well,” they say, “you don’t need to be born again if you were already in Christ.”


This topic was hotly debated by the first generation or two of Hardshells. It was very nasty at times. Beebe continued to have difficulties uniting his Hardshell brothers under one umbrella with this odd view (and others) that the bulk of the Hardshells could not accept.

Though Elder Daniel Parker was the father of the "Two-Seed Doctrine," he nevertheless did not become the leading spokesman for one of its main ideas, that of the eternal existance of the children of God as an uncreated "seed." The reason why Elder Parker did not continue to be the leading spokesman for the anti mission cause as well as the idea of "eternal vital union," was due I firmly believe, to the views he took relative to the Devil's origin and things relative to his "seed." Were it not for those "hard to swallow" views of Parker, about the origin of Satan, I believe Parker would have continued to be a leader among the first Hardshells, rather than retiring to Texas in relative obscurity, and why the Hardshells disassociated themselves from him.

I also believe that Parker's heretical views on the origin of Satan created a "stigma" around any preaching or doctrinal discussions respecting the origin of Satan, an issue I have referred to earlier in this work, and concerning which I will yet have more to say.

Historically speaking, the first generation or two of Hardshells were still "staking out positions" on doctrine. Once they had abandoned the teaching of the Bible and the Baptist confessions relative to the new birth and conversion, it was inevitable that such an error would lead to other errors in related doctrine. Some of the men who wrote exhaustively against the "eternal children" doctrine were leading Hardshells like Elder Grigg Thompson, Elder J.H. Oliphant, Elder John Clark, and Elder Lemuel Potter. I will also be citing from Hardshell WM CONRAD who wrote much on this subject, both historically and Biblically, and referring to how both Elder Beebe and Elder T.P. Dudley (of the famous old church Bryan's Station) rode this topic as a "hobby horse," and causing division among the newly formed Hardshell denomination. But, before I give their rebuttals to Beebe and other advocates of this idea of Parker's, let me cite other references to this doctrine by Beebe.


"...the participation of the children of God of flesh and blood, and the incarnation of the Son of God, are placed on the same ground, and based upon the same principle, by the inspired apostle in his epistle to the Hebrews: "Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." [2:14] To our mind, this text is a key to the subject..."

And again Beebe writes:

"It being established that Christ did exist, not only as God, but also as the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, and as the first-born, and before all things, and at the appointed time, when the fulness of that time had come, he was sent forth, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; so the doctrine of the incarnation of his children, together with that of their previous existence in him, is exemplified. They were created in him, chosen in him, preserved in him, saved and called, according to the purpose and grace which was given them in him before the world began. And all spiritual blessings [past, present, or to come, that the saints ever have, or ever will or can enjoy] were given them according as God hath chosen them in him before the foundation of the world. Eph.1:3,4. Their spiritual, eternal life was given them in Christ before the world began, as their earthly, fleshly life was given them in the earthly Adam, in time. John says, "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." I John 5:11,12."

And further:

"These children in Christ were, in the matchless wisdom of God, destined to partake of the life of the natural Adam."

"So, after this example, that life by which God’s people were identified in Christ before all time, is implanted in those persons, by which God’s chosen people were identified in the earthly Adam. The Holy Ghost comes upon them, and the power of the Highest overshadows them. The incorruptible seed, not by the agency of man, but by the word of the Lord, which liveth and abideth forever, implants in them that spiritual, eternal life which was and is hid with Christ in God, by which is given to them "power to become [manifestly] the sons of God;" and they are "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:13."

(From Signs of the Times- September 15, 1856 Vol.24)

This is all quite fantastic of course. It is pure "gnosticism" in Baptist clothing. It is something out of Christian fiction, or something one might expect from those who believe that there are "aliens among us," people with "star seed"! Beebe's and Parker's novel ideas about what constitutes "regeneration" and the "new birth" helped alleviate them from belief that gospel preaching was God's instrument in birthing his people and from their duty to support missions.

Now let us hear Elder Grigg Thompson, who wrote the following with rebuttals against the view of Beebe and Parker, and ironically, even his father, Elder Wilson Thompson." (but more on that later):

"Election is personal, and positive, made in Christ before the world began. "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love;" Eph., i, 4. I have heard some quote this text in a way of triumph, and say, "How could they be chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, if they did not exist in him before the foundation of the world? "And this existence, they say, "is both in essence and substance." So that I can not understand them, unless they mean that the elect existed in him before the foundation of the world as wheat exists in a sack, or a pig in a pen. They who use such expressions, must be careless readers of their Bibles, or ignorant of their own language; for there is no such an idea contained in the text. A bitter fountain can not send forth sweet water: a sinful seed can not exist in a holy parent. If the elect existed in Christ before the foundation of the world in substance or seed, it was a holy substance or seed, and could not be chosen that it "should be holy; "for it was already holy, and could be nothing else but holy while it existed in Christ unless he became corrupted and unholy; the seed would then inherit the corrupt nature of the parent, and all would be sinners together. God the Father chose his people before the foundation of the world, and he made that choice in Christ, and in Christ he blessed them with all spiritual blessings or things. While God in Christ made this choice, he chose them out of the world, out of all nations, and from among men. The choice was made in Christ, and not in Adam; but they were chosen out of Adam's fallen race." ("The Primitive Preacher," section on "Forgiveness of Sins")

Other Hardshells also began to distance themselves from the view that the children of God pre-existed before their natural births.

Elder James H. Oliphant writes:

We think that the doctrine of the two seeds, as taught by Parker, and also the doctrine of eternal vital union, as held by others, are opposed to the doctrine of election as taught by the bible, and that they are equally as objectionable as the doctrine of election as taught by Wesley. Each of these views finds the reasons of one's election in himself. Wesley ascribes our election to our obedience, which is at war with grace. Parker and others find a difference in the origin of men that accounts for the election of some and the reprobation of others, while the bible puts it upon the sovereignty of God. Eld. Lemuel Potter has recently published a pamphlet in which this subject is fully investigated, in which he has shown that all these views are open to the same objections: These pamphlets can yet be had by addressing Eld. Lemuel Potter, Cynthiana, Posey county, Indiana. (This pamphlet is worthy of a general circulation.)

(from the book "Principles and Practices of the Regular Baptists" -- http://www.upbuild.org/article4/page6.html)

Now let us cite from Elder Potter's book against the doctrine of the eternal seed.



"It is not our intention, in this article, to discuss the subject of the "new birth," or to even introduce it for others to discuss, through the ADVOCATE, but simply to let our readers know where we stand. Our reasons for even that much is, that we have recently received two letters, both of which invited controversy on that subject, on the plea that some of our writers had dropped a remark or two that they did not endorse. We claim the right to publish the doctrine of our people on that, or any other subject, without being under any obligations, whatever, to give space to those who may differ, though they be Primitive Baptists, and our personal friends. THE CHURCH ADVOCATE believes that the sinner, the Adam sinner, is the subject of salvation; that it is the man that is the subject of the new birth, and that this man has a soul and a body, and that the soul is born again, in the work of regeneration in time, and that it goes immediately to heaven when the body dies. We believe that in the resurrection, the body will be born again, and go to heaven, and that the soul and body will be reunited in heaven, and thus the sinner will be born again, and saved. This has been the doctrine of our people for the past two hundred years, provided it was our people who first drew up and published the London Confession of Faith, in England, in the year 1689. In chapter 23, of that confession, we have the following, on "THE STATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH, AND OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD."

Note: Did you see the caveat of Elder Potter? "Provide (if) it was our people who first drew up and published the London Confession"! Was it his people, the Hardshells, or not? We will address this later when we discuss Elder Potter further along with Elder Pence, Burnam, and others.

And again, Elder Potter writes:

"In our efforts to identify ourselves with the Old Baptists, against the claims of the missionaries, we claim to be identical with these old English brethren in doctrine. THE ADVOCATE does now stand, and always has stood there, especially on the new birth. We hope that none of our brethren will differ from them, and at the same time claim identity with them. This article is not to controvert the point, but it is intended as a statement of the doctrine of the ADVOCATE, on this subject. It is also intended as an answer to a question, recently, in a letter from Brother J. P. Harris, of Sunfield, Illinois. Prior to this time I had said nothing in the paper on the subject, and yet I knew that our brethren who differed, were preaching on the new birth in almost all their sermons, and that they were trying to intimidate those who opposed them. But I let it all pass, and said nothing for some time afterwards."

There are some very interesting things to observe from the above words of Potter.

1. Potter called into doubt, in the prior quotation, whether the Hardshells were indeed the ones who wrote the Old London Baptist Confession of faith (and just why would he doubt that, except for what it had to say about the new birth and the means used in it?), and yet now says "We hope that none of our brethren will differ from them, and at the same time claim identity with them"!

2. He also affirms that it has been the defense, thus far, of the first generation of Hardshells, in debate with those Baptists who supported missions, and who yet adhered to the Confession on means and the new birth, to not outright deny non-adherance to it, but rather to "twist and distort" what the writers of the old Confession actually said (in much the same way people "twist and distort" the words of holy scripture). This is certainly what was done at the famed "Fulton Convention in 1900 (and of which we will have much more to say later and of which Brother Ross has already addressed in his writings upon this subject).

3. He plainly says that his Hardshells believe the same thing, relative to the new birth, that the Old Baptists believed. This is a total falsehood and one which he was called upon by Elder Pence (and others) to defend in public debate. But, more on that also in later chapters.

Potter went on to say:

"...if we say that in the work of regeneration, the body is born of the Spirit, then we have man in possession of a spiritual body, after regeneration. But Paul still refers to the bodies of the saints as natural, fleshly bodies. If the bodies are not born of the Spirit, in the work of regeneration, in time, then there must, of necessity, be something about man, that really is man, that is not body, that partakes of spirituality, at the time of the new birth, or else no part of man is born of God in time."

This statement partly relates to another controversy swirling about among the first generation of Hardshells. It relates to what part of the man is born again in regeneration? His soul only? Or his body too? What change does this experience bring about in the individual who is born again and regenerated? I will be addressing these issues later.

Potter wrote further:

"I now want my readers to know that the reason I am saying so much on this subject is that there are some who do not believe that man is changed in the new birth, but just a new principle is put into him, and the same old principle that was in him before regeneration, is still in him, and that makes the warfare, and that the whole man, soul, body and spirit, some of them say, is born of God in time, and that the same man, all of him, soul, body and spirit, will die, and remain dead until the resurrection. They make strange of the idea that any part of man goes to heaven at the death of the body. They believe that man is not changed until the resurrection. Then he will be changed. These people, I denominate "No Soulers," and I charge them with believing and preaching heresy. It is not warranted in the Bible, and it antagonizes the Primitive Baptist doctrine. Those who deny the doctrine of a distinction of soul and body have become so intolerant in some localities, that with them a man brother, with whom I am well acquainted, in referring to one of his brethren, who believed as I do, stigmatize him "Doctor of Divinity," with quite a sarcastic air. I think that was a bad spirit."

This all confirms what I said earlier about "error begetting error," about how one departure leads to others and to a "slippery slope," theologically speaking. One can obviously see why the first generation of Hardshells began to "go to seed" on the subject of what constitutes the "new birth." Once you take out conversion and anything connected with knowledge of truth, or cognition, or human choice or activity, you end up with a view of the "new birth" that ends up being a "bunch of nothing"! Hence, you will see how some began to believe in a view of the "new birth" as being one that does not "change" the person, and finally to the view that "regeneration is all on the sub-conscious level" (the view of most modern Hardshells).

Again, Potter writes:

"On account of these facts I have always denied, and do yet deny, that the body is regenerated in time."

And again:

"But I have been often told by good people that the body must be born again, for the Savior said to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again." They claim that he did not say a part of him, nor he did not say that his soul or spirit must be born again, but he, Nicodemus, must be born again. Let me ask, did he tell Nicodemus that his body must be born again? But "no soulers" claim that the body is born again, for it is the body that weeps and cries and feels badly and condemned."

This all respects what later became known as the "Whole Man Doctrine," the opposite idea of the "no change" view of the "new birth." I will have more to say about that in the next chapters.

Potter continues:

"I do not wish to divide the man up, I do not want to dissect man. I believe I am the man, both soul and body, that is born of God, in the work of regeneration, in time.""

Here Potter seems to believe in the whole man doctrine, but in other places, he states that the body is not regenerated till the resurrection, while the soul in the new birth. Here he seems to put them together "in time"

He writes further:

Is Man Changed in the New Birth?

"We have seen hints from some that man is born of God in time, but not changed until the resurrection. This idea, to me, seems to contradict everything that is said on the subject in the Scriptures, as well as in the experience of the saints. The apostle says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." II Corinthians 5: 17. No one has ever explained to me how a man becomes a new creature, and yet undergoes no change. Those who deny any change in the new birth, must necessarily deny that man becomes a new creature by being born of God, it seems to me. Christ is in the man that is born again. Romans 8: 10. He has the mind of Christ. I Corinthians 1: 16. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart. Romans 5: 5. He has been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Colossians 1: 13. Created in Christ Jesus unto with Christ (sic). Ephesians 2: 5. The eyes of their understanding have been enlightened. Ephesians 1: 18. They were sometime darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Ephesians 5: 8. They have passed from death to life. John 5: 24. God dwelleth in them. I John 4:16. All these things are true of the regenerate man, and none of them are true of the unrenewed man. The no change doctrine is not new among some who once stood with us. They believed that in regeneration, something was simply implanted in the man, that did not change the man. If the sinner is not changed he is not born again. He has been translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son, and if he gets into the kingdom of Christ without being changed, he goes into the kingdom while in a state of enmity against God, for that is the condition he was in before. I claim that in the work of the new birth, the sinner is changed. He was dead, but he now has eternal life. His heart was evil, and it spoke evil things, and Jesus said, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things, for of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Luke 6: 45. If man undergoes no change in regeneration, he is just the same in adaptations and in his nature after the new birth that he is before the new birth. Before he is born of God, he is natural, so, if he undergoes no change in the new birth, he is still natural. The apostle says, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." I Corinthians 2: 14. Is it true of the saints that they do not discern the things of the Spirit? Can the saint know the things of the Spirit? We read, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God: that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." The very things that the natural man does not know the saint knows. The natural man is made a saint in the work of regeneration, and the saint knows the things of the Spirit of God, but the natural man does not. So, it is inevitably true that the man is changed in the new birth; not merely changed as to his state and surroundings, but he is changed in his nature. He himself is changed. The apostle Peter intimates that he partakes of the divine nature. He was fleshly before regeneration; he is spiritual after regeneration. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Galatians 6: 1. "Ye that are spiritual." To whom does this important language apply? I hold, and I suppose no one will dispute it, that it applies to the man that has been born of God. Will it apply as truly to the unregenerate? I suppose all will agree with me that it does not. If man was natural before he was born of God, and is spiritual now, since he is born of God, he is certainly changed, is he not? Reader, you say. All these glaring oppositions to the plain teachings of God's word, grow out of the unscriptural idea that all there is of man is body, and we know it is not changed in the new birth; so if we claim that it is born again, we must claim that the sinner is not changed in the..."

In the above, Potter says, "The no change doctrine is not new among some who once stood with us." Yes, and it started with the birth of the Hardshells. Their view of regeneration and the new birth, when looked at fairly and squarely for what it is, is a "no change" view of the subject, in spite of the noble defenses the second generation Hardshells made to the contrary. But, more on all this in later writings.

And again Potter writes:

"But our effort now, is to prove that the very thing we advocate, that, perhaps twenty of our ministers, and a very light sprinkle of brethren in the Mississippi valley, object to, is the very doctrine that Baptists have always believed, and have had in their confession of faith. We shall now call up the late and renowned Elder Daniel Parker, the "Two Seeder." In his Church Advocate , Vol. 2, No. 4, January 1831, page 90, he says: "The soul thus being made immortal by the Spirit of God, is fitted and prepared for the presence of God, and to enjoy him." On the same page he says, "When we turn our attention to the experimental part of the Christian religion, as wrought by the Divine Spirit in the soul, we find it to be the same divine truth, realized by the soul, which is declared in the word of God. The soul is quickened by the Spirit, the dead is made to hear the voice of the Son of God and live." On page 91, he says, "Take away, or deny the work of the Spirit in the internal experimental knowledge of saving grace in or to the soul, and you take away, or deny the truth of the word of God to the soul, the life of the soul, the hope God has wrought in the soul, the comfort of the soul, the love of God in the soul, the divine principle implanted in the soul, the food and clothing of the soul, the warm feeling desires of the soul, the drawing of God's love to the soul, and in fact you take everything that makes religion sweet, the true worship of God delightful, the word of God powerful, the presence of God desirable, and the glory of God as the prime objects of the soul, which stimulates it, in acts of obedience to God from proper and pure motives, for its religion, the life or Spirit of God in the soul, that moves it forward in action, in the service of God at war against sin." We hope the reader will bear in mind that we, in this article, are trying to prove that, upon the subject of what is born again in time, and the state of the dead until the resurrection, we are identical with the Primitive Baptists, not only of the present time, but in all the past.

To this end we will continue to quote from Parker.
In the same paper, of July 1831, page 234, six queries were propounded to Elder Parker, and the sixth one was as follows: "Did Adam possess a spirit in his created state superior to animal? As I understand the soul and spirit to be different, dear brother, be pleased to answer these queries, as they are matters of considerable moment to me."

On page 240, after stating that "Adam was certainly a natural being, and not a spiritual one, when created," etc., he concludes his answer, as follows: "There is a controversy as to which is the existing part of man, the soul or spirit, and I have no doubt that both terms are used in the word of truth, as expressive of that part of man, which will eternally exist, but I think you will understand me as to that part of man which I have been pointing out, and as to any thing further on this subject, I 8th number." On page 180, of the same paper, we find his answer in number 8, and in it he says, "I do not consider the bare lump of clay, separate from the soul, to be the man, neither the soul separate from the body, but it took both soul and body to complete the Adam which God created."

We also have before us a circular letter, written in 1849, by the late Elder Joel Hume, in which he treats on the regeneration of the soul, and the resurrection of the body, and he is very pointed, and stands in line with all the foregoing witnesses, on the subject before us. Our next witness will be the late Elder John M. Watson, in Old Baptist Test, page 551: "It is a matter of surprise that any should have supposed that the soul, after the death of the body, passes into a state of insensibility, which will continue until the morning of the resurrection." On page 550, he says, "As the regenerated soul is endowed with eternal life, its destinies extend far beyond the present world, time, and time things." On Page 551, he says, "The renewed soul at death is in a state to enter heaven." On same page, "The soul can exist without a body, but the body can not exist without the soul. The soul can not die." On page 552, he says, "Christ makes a clear distinction of soul and body in the following words. "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Our next witness is the late Elder John Clark, of Virginia, the founder of Zion's Advocat, which is now published by Elder T. S. Dalton. In volume 10, of that paper, Feb. 14, 1871, page 272, he gives his readers a very able article on regeneration, in which he says, "No change takes place in the mental powers of man after regeneration at any time, and the souls of the redeemed go immediately to heaven at death, for which they were fully and effectually prepared in regeneration, as heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, as some one has justly said, and hence the Redeemer said to the malefactor that hung by his side on the cross, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise;" and John saw "the souls of them that were slain for the word of God under the altar." Revelations 6: 9; 20: 4. They were then absent from the body and present with the Lord; and those that had killed their bodies, could do nothing more; they could not kill their souls. Their bodies were, and still are, under the power of the grave, though their ransomed spirits are before the throne." Elder Clark believed that the soul of man was redeemed and renewed in regeneration. He says it in this article. We have now seen that the Waldenses, and the old English Baptists, and the first American Baptists, and our own authors of the present century, as Parker, Hume, Watson, and Clark, have all written that when the body dies the soul goes immediately to heaven or hell.

All these authors believed in the resurrection of the body, and the salvation of the Adam sinner. None of them believed in the doctrine of eternal children. We have others present, but can not quote them in this article, as Elder Jesse Cox, Dr. John Gill, and others who believed as we do. These have been our spiritual fathers; I Corinthians 4: 15, and they have all believed without controversy, that at death the soul left the claims to the name of old Primitive Baptists. We are truly sorry that any of our dear brethren are engaged in opposing this Old Baptist doctrine. Some of them are very near to us, and we do not wish to treat them unkindly, but when they make a fight against the doctrine we, and our church as a denomination, have always believed, it wounds us. Shall we be compelled to be neutral on this point, while others, in almost all their sermons and exhortations, are preaching that the entire man, soul, body, and spirit, dies, and remains dead until the resurrection? We do not believe that doctrine, and we find no comfort in it, and we are sure that wherever it has been advocated, it has caused trouble, and we feel sure that it is neither the doctrine of the Bible, nor of the Baptists. We have been advised by some to let the matter go, and say nothing about it, especially those who teach that all the man dies, say that we are the agitator of the matter. That is just what the Missionary Baptists said about us, that it was our opposition to missionism that caused the division, and not the introduction of missionism. We made no noise about missionism in our churches until it came into our churches; just so, we made no fight on the doctrine that the whole man dies, until it was preached among us."

Note: Potter here claims that Gill is one of their "founding fathers". More on that later.

Potter continues:

" But I wish to call one more witness to this question. Elder G. M. Thompson, in his book called Primitive Preacher, says, on page 144, "It is not that he is a new creature physically; he is the same person he was, his flesh is not changed and immortalized, as it will be in the resurrection, but he is renewed in the spirit of the mind by a gracious principle imparted from above, which changes the affections of the soul, which sways and guides him in another way, and to a different end than he ever acted before."

On page 145, he says, "Our bodies may be said to be new bodies by the change wrought in them, and the endowments bestowed upon them in the resurrection. So the soul is now resurrected from a death in sin, and renewed by imparting new principles to it in the work of regeneration." Again, he says, "This new creation is the first work of the Spirit in the soul of the sinner, preparing it to receive and enjoy the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. Page 170. One more witness to this point is all that I will trouble the reader with to show that I stand, doctrinally, where our people have always stood, and that to elbow me off for advocating the doctrine that the soul lives after the death of the body is to treat me unjustly."

"In the circular letter of the Ketocton Association, of Virginia, in the year 1890, this old time-honored body of Baptists, the fifth association constituted in the United States, said: "The doctrine of regeneration now claims our attention, as this is the pivotal point from which departures are taken when error enters the Baptist fold.

We begin with the statement that we believe in the existence of the human soul, though unable to define it. The words of the Master's warning, "fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell," Matthew 20: 28, are sufficient to justify us in holding this cornerstone of faith.

About half a century ago metaphysics was introduced among the Old School Baptists, and men began to question the existence of the soul; hence, the regeneration of the soul was denied.

Note: I agree with this statement wholeheartedly! It is a characteristic of the Hardshells. In many ways it is pure gnosticism. But, more on this later.

Potter continues:

Among the many theories invented, the most plausible and popular was that of eternal spiritual existence in Christ, as our seminal head; and implantation into the Adam sinner, making no change in soul, body, nor spirit; hence, non-resurrection, and a host of equally fatal heresies, came in a natural course.

Into this error, by the mercy of God, the Ketocton Association did not fall; but through the dark days, when this cloud was most threatening, she declared her belief in the regeneration of the soul, by the Spirit of God; eternal life being the result of begetting by the Holy Ghost, whose presence in the soul is manifested by a change so apparent that even the ungodly take knowledge of the saint that he has been with Jesus." Ever since those new things were introduced among the Baptists there have been little factions here and there whose feelings are so very sensitive on the subject of the regeneration of the soul, or the separate existence of the soul after the death of the body, that the man who still contends for the old doctrine of the church is, to say the least of it, admonished to that subject causes unpleasant feelings in some places."

"...the "no change" doctrine...has caused so much distress among our people in some places..."

This statement ought to be fully weighed. Why has the "no change" view of regeneration been such a prevalent one among the Hardshells? Is it not because they divorced conversion from regeneration? More on this later too.

Potter writes further:

"Those who hold the doctrine of eternal children might tell us, but those who deny that doctrine and who reject the doctrine that any part of the child of God came down from heaven, must have some other idea about it."


Let us pick out, from the above words of Potter, these statements:

"The no change doctrine is not new among some who once stood with us. They believed that in regeneration, something was simply implanted in the man, that did not change the man. If the sinner is not changed he is not born again."

But, after all I have shown of the views of the Hardshells on the "new birth," is it not obvious that their view of what it is amounts to a bunch of nothing? Does it not, in the final analysis, amount to the "no change" view? Oh yes, they will speak of the dead sinner being "alive," and so speak of a "great change," but when you look at all the things absent from that "life," then it becomes a bunch of nothing, actually no change at all.

"I claim that in the work of the new birth, the sinner is changed."

Yes, but in Potter's description he had a man being made to love God and Christ Jesus. He cited scripture passages that referred to regeneration as being "enlightened." These are terms that show that the means of applying gospel truth to the mind and heart are part and parcel of regeneration. Yes, he and the majority of Hardshells did claim to believe in the great change affected in regeneration, but the consistent ones, advocated the "no change" doctrine. Again, I repeat, if you take the elements of "conversion" away from "regeneration" then you have nothing left.

"The very things that the natural man does not know the saint knows...the saint knows the things of the Spirit of God..."

But, what are these things that a regenerated soul "knows"? If "regeneration" is all on the "sub-conscious level," then "knowing" anything, truth or otherwise, is not part and parcel of regeneration. Why then does Potter seem to believe otherwise?

"None of them believed in the doctrine of eternal children."

He says this relative to his Hardshell "founding fathers," leaving out, of course, men like Beebe. This is really not that unusual as most Hardshells will pick and choose which of the first and second generation Hardshells they will accept in their "church geneology." But, it is not true that all the first founding fathers of Hardshellism disbelieved this doctrine, for Beebe, Dudley, Parker, and others, believed it. And, there is much reason for believing that Wilson Thompson also did, although his son Grigg Thomspson did not, as the above citations prove. When he says "these have been our spiritual fathers," and includes Gill. But, I have already cited Gill and shown that he did not believe the Hardshell view. I will have more to say on this later.

"About half a century ago metaphysics was introduced among the Old School Baptists."

What a insightful admission! Have all that I have written thus far not evidence of the truth of that statement? They have made the "faith of God's elect," some kind of "metaphysical spiritual goo," as I have afore written.

"Among the many theories invented, the most plausible and popular was that of eternal spiritual existence in Christ, as our seminal head; and implantation into the Adam sinner, making no change in soul, body, nor spirit; hence, non-resurrection, and a host of equally fatal heresies, came in a natural course.

Notice how there is admission here that the "eternal children doctrine" has been popular among the Hardshells. Sometimes they will deny this, wanting to hide the fact, but other times the facts are honestly presented by someone.

"...the "no change" doctrine...has caused so much distress among our people in some places..."

This again proves what I just said. The Hardshells will often speak as if this error never caused much problem, then at other times you get the honest facts of the case, as in the above.

Seeing this is such an important area to look at, relative to the history and heresies of the PB's, I will split this topic into two chapters.

In the next chapter I will conclude this look at the doctrine of "eternal children," and then go on to talk about the "whole man" versus the "hollow log" view of the new birth.