Nov 11, 2009

Hardshells on the Heathen

In 1957 Elder G. E. Griffin held a four night debate with famed Campbellite debater Guy N. Woods on "the subject of eternal salvation" in Lovington, New Mexico. In this debate Elder Griffin gave the Hardshell view on the untaught, unbelieving heathen, and on whether sinners can be saved apart from believing in Christ. Here is the answer of Elder Griffin.

"Now, he's got some questions he wants me to answer.

Are there any saved people among the heathen who live and die without the knowledge of Christ? Yes, that's easy to answer. He would not have asked such a question unless his doctrine or he believes that every last heathen that he or some of his brethren don't get to or someone of like faith are doomed for hell, every last one of them.

Let me tell you something about the heathen right now.

There are at present time some two thousand million people on the earth according to statistics, there are one thousand million who have never heard any kind of preaching. A thousand million! thousands are dying every day, doomed to an endless hell, because they can't hear him or some preacher. (laughter) How do you like it? I want that to soak in.

Now, I'm going to prove by God's Book that the heathen will be saved whether I, Mr. Woods, or any other preacher gets there. I want you to turn with me first to Psalms, 2: 7,8. Here David is speaking as though he were Jesus Himself. He said: "I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, ask me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Mr. Woods no doubt believes that He did that, but they may never be in peace with God. I'm going to prove now how they get in peace with God. Turn with me to Zachariah 9: 10: Here is (sic) the prophet's words. I want you to notice this. Please let it sink in. This is inspiration. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The prophet said: "He shall speak peace to the heathen." He--a personal pronoun in the singular. God is going to do this. This is what the prophet said. Do we believe He will? This is what He said about it. A man of God said that God "shall" speak peace to the heathen.

May one be regenerated, born again without faith in Christ? Yes. John 14: 1: "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me." Jesus said there were some believers in God. Will the believers in God be lost in a devil's hell? Are the believers in God alien sinners? Would you call a believer in God an alien sinner?" (pages 20, 21)

There you have it! A man is saved without faith! This became the Hardshell position in the late 1800's and nothing could be more unbiblical than this! It flies in the face of numerous passages which state that those who do not believe in Christ are condemned.

It is ironic that the Hardshells call themselves "Primitive" or "Original" Baptists! No Baptist who signed the London Confession held to such a view! John Gill repudiated it. The true "Old Baptists" held that those who die without faith in Christ are eternally lost!


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Anonymous said...

This really was a great debate in Christian history with thousands present and I think the comments made here on Griffin are off so I want to set the record straight for those who have not fully read the debate. The comment quoted was that "May one be regenerated, born again without faith in Christ? Yes." What I question is Stephen Garrett's response: "There you have it, a man saved without faith in Christ." and "nothing could be more unbiblical than this! It flies in the face of numerous passages which state that those who do not believe in Christ are condemned."

Griffin is not talking about eternal salvation and eternal condemnation. The point being made here is prior to the "quickening of the heart", the "re-birth", or being "born-again", that person is in a state without faith or anything of God. The person is essentially dead spiritually. He is not making the point that a person is eternally saved without faith, merely that the process of getting that faith and being born again is given to you from God and by no other means. And the scriptures support that argument.

Griffin describes throughout this entire debate that your faith in Christ is not by your choice. His stance is that all men are by nature evil after Adam disobeyed God in the garden. Man is dead to God and in darkness. He says that a dead soul has no hope of making any choice. No matter how much a preacher preaches to someone or how many missionaries we perform for people that are not born again, they will not be able to comprehend it. He doesn't say whether that person will ever be born again in the future or not, just that man will have no part in that transformation if it occurs. The basis of the argument is backed effectively in the Bible at Eph 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." This states that your eternal salvation is by grace through faith and that it is not of yourself or anything you have done, it is given to you from God.

When you read the debate in the correct context, you can see that it is true that those who do not have faith in Christ are eternally lost. Griffin is not arguing that. But he is saying that those who are born again and eternally saved must have faith in Christ, and that faith was actually given to them by God himself. That is the third Godhead, the Spirit within us, put there by God when He calls His children. Without God, we are lost.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 response:

In the debate, Mr. Woods makes the comment that if all this is the case, then men have free reign to do whatever they want with no consequence. Paul specifically addresses this in Gal 2:16-21 - "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." This basically asks that after knowing your works have nothing to with your works of the law, that allows you to walk in sin? Did Christ walk in sin? No. So don't do it as it's not in harmony with God and not of God. Also, don't forget the previous Eph passage when you read the Gal passage, the faith spoke of is first given to you by God, it must be in order to harmonize will all scriptures in the Bible.

You see, Satan would have you believe it's all about you, it's your choice, it's your life to do what you want, simply because eventually you will realize you can't attain salvation on your own, that you can't be good enough for God so why bother? Unfortunately that process is working on many of God's children, robbing them of the wonderful truths and rest in God while here in this world, but it DOES NOT effect their eternal salvation in any way because Christ has already taken care of that for us. God has not left that to chance on man, every i has been dotted and every t has been crossed. Once God gives the spiritual gift and his children are born-again, it is impossible to loose your eternal salvation. Rom 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Anonymous said...

Part 3 response:

The Bible makes a lot more sense when you take man out of anything regarding eternal salvation. I personally have realized it all begins with, is with and ends with God, nothing else. It is much sweeter that way. When I first read the Bible this way I realized that the Old Testament laws were perfect, but man failed in obedience. The purpose of the Old Testament was to demonstrate to man that it is impossible for man to live a perfect life and therefore, is unable to achieve eternal salvation on his own. God then sent his son to live that perfect life for us, on our behalf. And give himself as a perfect sacrifice to God the Father in our place. God essentially adopted His children through that act. Man certainly didn't have any part in it, and anyone who thinks they would be there for Christ in that time of need is sadly mistaken, even the apostles denied him for fear of death. The New Testament law is also perfect, but once again, man is still not. But in the very end, in Heaven, all will be perfect as all things of this world which cause us pain and divide us will be gone. There will no longer be needs for debates because we will all be of one mind in the sound truths of God and we will hear of what He did for us every day. What a wonderful day that will be.

I would suggest going back and re-reading this debate fully. I think you may have missed the whole point of why it was published. In the end, Woods begins to alter the word of God to fit his stance. Griffin actually wins this debate in the end and reminds us of the real truths we have all missed out on. It is quite sweet once you realize it's all about God, and not you.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Anon:

Surely you must be a Hardshell.

I did not misread the debate. Griffin taught that one did not have to believe in Christ to be saved eternally. He believed that you could be "heathen," worship idols, and still be "regenerated." That is unscriptural nonsense and certainly is not Old Baptist doctrine.



Anonymous said...

There are not many of us left :) but yes, I am.

I agree with you, if by definition "heathen" is someone who is not chosen of God before the world began. The Bible clearly states that the heathen are unknown of God and will not be regenerated or eternally saved. For those that are known and called of God, prior to that calling can certianly do awful things such as killing and worshiping idols (money). The best example was Saul, who was a mass murderer, was struck down on the road to Damascus, reborn and quickened, and became a great apostle and advocate for God. Even God's reborn children can be lead astray and do bad things obviously, I am certainly not perfect and have made bad decisions before directly defying God, but God broke my legs like a sheep and carried me, showing me the way. For this reason it's important to never spend too much time judging whether someone is going to heaven or hell on their actions. It's obviously never black and white. You never know what God has in store for someone's future.

I personally felt this was what Griffin was referring to. Now, if I am right, I will say it was a poor choice of words as "heathen" can be taken to mean the non-elect of God. To say they will be regenerated and taken to Heaven is indead un-Biblical and impossible since the Bible indicates they are unknown to God in the first place.

This is what I meant by missing the point of Griffin's arguement, but I can see how it can be interpreted that way. If Griffin truely believed as you have commented then yes, it was un-Biblical and not in line with any doctrines that I know of. But I doubt that was his intention and I certinaly didn't get that impression. Like Woods, I'm sure Griffin was a good man, loved the Lord, and studied the Bible intently.

God bless in all your endeavors.