Feb 26, 2009

Hardshells - Gideon's Few?

In the old Hardshell or "Old School" periodical "The Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," from 1841, I found the following interesting remark from a Hardshell, one that was "seconded" or given "amens" by the readers in the months that followed. I found the remark quite interesting as an historian and former minister of the "Primitive Baptist" denomination.

The author wrote:

"Now as one, and a poor sinner too, I fear that it may be with the Old Sch. Baptist, as it was with Gideon's army, even that there are yet too many in name. The church, of which I am an unworthy member, have been as yet quite particular in ascertaining the views of candidates for membership, especially upon the great doctrinal points. Would it not be well for all the churches to receive such and such only, as come in the unity of that faith, which was once delivered to the saints?" (page 312, May 1841, written by Martin Salmon in the "The Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor")

See here

Friends, this is an example of Hyper Calvinistic "elitism"! It manifests one of the leading traits of a cult. Cults see themselves as an "elect" or "special" group of Christians, highly favored above all. They have the "we be the only ones" attitude, one that says "Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou." (Isaiah 65: 5 KJV)

I have dealt with this Hardshell hyperist "spirit" and attitude in my book on the Hardshell Baptist Cult and in other writings. They sometimes see themselves as "the elect within the elect," or the "elect of the elect," or the "highly favored," the "very elect." Sometimes as represented not only by Gideon's army but also by the 144,000 of the Apocalypse.

This elitist attitude on the part of the original "Old School" Baptists caused them to separate themselves from most others, declaring themselves as the "simon pures" of Baptist faith and their former brethren as followers of "Antichrist" and members of "Babylon." In their ranting against their missionary brethren, they could be heard to say "we be Abraham's seed and were never..." or "we be the true Baptist seed and were never for missionary societies, theological schools, Sunday schools, protracted meetings, Bible distribution, benevolent work, etc."

These "Old School" and Hyper Calvinists are examples of what Adrian Rogers called "wine and cheese theologians."

There are some today among those in the "Reformed" camp theologically, and who are Hyper Calvinists in their view of "regeneration before faith" and apart from gospel means, and in other ways, who also manifest this same "holier than thou" and "elitist" attitude and I hate to see it. True Calvinists ought to be the humblest of all people and know not only "grace" theologically but experimentally.

What of "Gideon's army"? What great things did they do for the Lord? Did they take the gospel to one foreign country? Did they distribute one Bible and hand it out? Did they support one missionary?

Are their preachers now supported? Are they now educated? Are the Old School Baptists now prosperous?


Bruce Oyen said...

Brother Garrett,
I am relatively new to your blogsite. I think I learned about it through Bob Ross. Anyway, I want to say your writings are worthwhile. I will tell others about the site, just as I have done with brother Bob's. Keep up the good work.
Bruce Oyen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

Thanks and welcome!