Aug 30, 2009

Parable of the Soils

I have said before that the parable of the Sower and Seed, or of the Soils, given in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8, with explanations by Christ, is fundamental. If one errs in understanding this parable, he will err in understanding the way of salvation. The Hardshells err on this parable.

All of them affirm that the parable teaches Hardshellism, that men are saved and born again before, apart from, and without the preaching of the gospel. Their contention is that the soil was made "good" (equated with an "honest and good heart") by "regeneration" and this was prior to, and necessary before one could receive by faith the seed that produces fruit. Sadly, some non-Hardshell Hyperists have also held this erroneous view.

The first Hardshells who argued that regeneration precedes faith, and is wrought by God without the means of gospel truth, believed that only the "good ground" hearers were the children of God. As time went on, however, many Hardshells began to preach that not only the "good ground" hearers were children of God, and born again, but the other three also. To these later Hardshells, they were all born again children of God. The purpose of the parable, then became, to show the various reactions the word of God has with the elect. The non-elect, or unregenerate, are not even included or under consideration in the parable, according to these later Hardshell apologists, such as the great debater and Hardshellism defender, Elder C. H. Cayce. Why did later Hardshells come to believe that all four hearers or soil types represented born again children of God, rather than only the "good ground" hearers?

This novel interpretation of the characters in the parable renders totally untenable the leading Hardshell argument on the parable, one made by Hardshell debaters, J. R. Daily and Lemuel Potter, which attempted to prove the Hardshell "born again before faith" error by arguing that the soil was made "good" by "regeneration" before the creation of faith and repentance, and other "fruit," by the sowing of the seed of the gospel. However, making the soil "good" is now not equated with "regeneration" since all the four characters are "regenerate," as the majority of today's Hardshells affirm. All four soils (hearts) were not "good" and "honest," however, as the plain reading shows. Only one was good soil, prepared and equipped for productivity.

However, as I have written previously, in my book on the Hardshell Baptists, and elsewhere in the Gadfly, this view of the parable is unscriptural and not in keeping with historic creedal Baptist teachings on it. Certainly Spurgeon did not believe that the making of the soil "good" was equal to "regeneration" but to "preparations" that precede regeneration.

See here

And here

And here

And here

I have also stated in debate with Campbellites (aka "Church of Christ," "Christian Church," "Disciples of Christ") how both Hardshellism and Campbellism, historical "twins," err on the parable of the Soils.

Today's Hardshells believe all four soils describe born again children of God. Today's Campbellites believe three out of the four were children of God, at least once in their lives.

The most important thing to understand about the parable is that it deals with how one becomes a "child of the kingdom," and thus with salvation.

Another important thing to understand is that the parable tells us who is lost. On this all except today's Hardshells agree. The first hearer, whose heart was like the beaten path, is plainly said to have dismissed the word "lest he should believe and be saved." (See Luke 8: 12) His lost and damned condition is without question, except for today's Hardshell few.

The second hearer, the shallow ground hearer, is also a lost soul. He is the temporary believer, the apostate, and no such person will be finally saved. No "believer," no matter how "joyous" he was at first hearing the gospel, who later became "offended" at Christ and the gospel, and who "falls away," will be finally saved. The only dispute here is really over whether this hearer was ever saved to begin with.

The third hearer, the thorny ground hearer, also is lost. No one who has a faith that can be "choked out" by the "cares of this world" will be saved. Again, none but the few Hardshell heretics disagree. Again, the only difference is over whether this thorny ground hearer was ever saved to begin with.

Another important thing to understand is that none of the "good ground" hearers failed to persevere. None of them fell way. All these began saved and remain saved.

Also, in the New Testament descriptions of people's reactions to the preaching of the gospel, everyone will fit one of these four categories of hearers.

Three of the four hearers became professing Christians, but only one was saved.

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