May 16, 2010

Hardshell David Pyles

Two leading elders in the "Primitive Baptist" church are Sonny Pyles and his son David Pyles. I know the father better than the son. When I was with the Hardshells, I spent lots of time with Sonny. He stayed in my home for a night and I visited his home in Texas for several nights back in the late 70's. Sonny Pyles and Lasserre Bradley, Jr., have been the two most popular preachers for the Primitives over the last forty years. Lasserre and Sonny have been in close fellowship nearly all those years, but the "liberal movement" has driven a wedge between them.

The "liberal movement" that I recently wrote about has been the topic of much discussion and pulpit discourse over the past several years. In this posting I will be examining what the son has said about issues in the movement.

Elder David Pyles wrote the following in "Extent of the Gospel." (emphasis mine - SG)

"This post concerns the question of whether all of the elect will hear the gospel. I contend they will not, yet at the same time, I contend that we have no authority to offer the hope of eternal life to anyone who has not heard the gospel and believed it."

The fact that David wrote at all on the topic "extent of the gospel," and on the question of whether all the elect will hear the gospel, and posted it on the Internet, demonstrates how this topic is being hotly debated among today's Hardshells.

David's response to "the question" is interesting. It seems to represent a moderated position between the "liberals" and the "hardliners" or "conservatives." His response represents a view intended to hold the Hardshells together and to avoid further division. It seems David wants to find common or middle ground. Yet, I am told by some of my Hardshell friends, that David fellowships with the brethren in the "liberal movement," preaching in their churches, and that the hardliners are not happy with him over it. Yet, because of his name of "Plyles," and the reputation of his father, the hardliners probably are reluctant to "come down hard" on him as they have others. David has supported the "liberal" movement's efforts in the Philippines, the modern Hardshell "mission" and "benevolent" work, supported mostly by the "liberal" brethren, such as Gus Harter, one of Bradley's close friends of long standing, a leading man in the movement, and a chief proponent of "missions," religious schools and bible classes, etc. He seems to be able to fellowship, to some extent, those in the liberal movement who believe in means and the necessity of faith and perseverance to be eternally saved.

When he denies that the elect will all hear and believe the gospel, he gets the applause of the "ultraists," or typical Hardshell, who argue that hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel has nothing to do with eternal salvation. When David contends that he has no scriptural "authority to offer the hope of eternal life to anyone who has not heard the gospel and believed it," he gets the applause of the "liberal movement" brothers.

David is in a "tight spot" on this issue, as are most Hardshells. He, and many of the "liberal" brethren, have seen and felt it, I am certain. They know, or should know, that the Bible holds out no hope of salvation to those who die in evangelic unbelief. They've read such verses as "except you believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins," and realized that salvation is only promised to the believer. The Bible gives David no authority to affirm the salvation of any unbeliever, as David is willing to admit. But, he refuses to see the consequences of his admission, for he continues to affirm that many of the elect will not hear and believe the gospel. He says he has no authority from the Bible to say any unbeliever is saved, and yet he will argue, as did his father, that the Bible does teach it. He can't have it both ways. But, more on this as we look at other things David has said.

David wrote:

"First let me say that while Primitive Baptists may have differing concepts as to how many of the elect will hear the gospel, practically none take the extreme view that all of the elect will hear the gospel. This is not a matter of interpretation. Right or wrong, scriptural or unscriptural, it is verifiable fact that practically all Primitive Baptists allow the possibility that some elect will never be brought to a complete belief of the true gospel in this life. I hope that my position and defense will be a fair and respectable representation of common Primitive Baptist views."

If one allows the regeneration of infants in the womb, or of those who die in infancy (some moment before they die), as did those who wrote and endorsed the London Confession of faith (1689), then all the elect may not hear the gospel. I say "may not" because it is certainly possible, even as many Hardshells themselves acknowledge, that "God is able" to teach them the gospel himself. So, it is really not a proof to affirm that regeneration must always be without truth taught, as a means, from the case of infants, or mentally incapacitated persons, for God is just as able to increase their mental powers, and teach them the gospel, as he is to "regenerate" them.

On the other hand, if we are talking about people who are old enough to sin, and about those who are mentally capacitated enough to sin, can we say that God "regenerates" them in the same manner as an infant or an idiot? Are they "regenerate" and yet still unbelieving and impenitent? Are they ignorant of Christ? Without love and commitment to him?

This question - "will all the elect hear and believe the gospel?" - Is similar to another question being debated, once again, by today's Hardshells - "Is there any truth knowledge given in the new birth?"

These questions are tough nuts for Hardshells. They do not believe that gospel truth, or knowledge about Christ, is part of that "revelation" given in the new birth. So, what knowledge is given when one is born again, according to Hardshellism? Most will affirm that it is a knowledge of sin and guilt before God. But, there is a problem here for them. Ask them "what God?" Sin against Allah? Against the Hindu elephant god? Against Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva? Also, if conviction knowledge is part of the new birth, does the infant in the womb become convicted of sin, and penitent, when it is supposedly regenerated? If "revelation" is part of the new birth, then does the infant possess this revelation?

Most Hardshells, when one cites passages of scripture that affirm that the gospel "saves" the "believer" (Rom. 1: 16), will affirm that the person is already a "believer" before he hears the gospel. But, "believer," in such passages, is not a believer in Jesus or the gospel, for they are "believers," we are told, BEFORE they ever hear the gospel. But, if not a "believer" in Jesus by new birth, a "believer" in what?

Sarrels, who wrote the only Hardshell "systematic theology," affirms that it is a belief in a Creator, thus affirming the salvation of all except atheists. But, here again, they still have problems. I simply ask them - "so, infants, who are regenerated in the womb, believe in God as Creator?" It seems to me, that their views on this topic are contradictory. They affirm the regeneration of infants and yet affirm that some knowledge of God is given in regeneration. It is argued by the Hardshells that regeneration is apart from knowledge of Christ because infants are regenerated without such knowledge. They thus imply that the infant can have no knowledge and yet insist that some knowledge is given in the new birth! There are very contradictory on this matter.

I ask them - "will all the elect hear and learn of the Father and come to Christ" according to John 6: 37? What do they "learn" in new birth?

David wrote:

"Next, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I am not making a statement as to how many of the elect will be deprived of the gospel. I really don't care if it is one or one billion, and I certainly don't claim to know. I am objecting to the extreme view that absolutely all will hear it. There is a fundamental difference between saying this and saying that most of the elect will hear the gospel, or saying that exceptions are very rare. Once we have committed ourselves to the absolute extreme, then we must necessarily assert that God has *predestined* all of the elect hear the gospel. How else could we be absolutely sure of it? In the opinion of nearly all Primitive Baptists, such an assertion is contradicted by scripture (what scripture? SMG), reason, and observation. As we shall shortly show, even if one were to take the erroneous position that God has predestined all events, there still would not be reasonable grounds to conclude that He has predestined this event."

David probably doesn't object to all the elect "hearing" and "learning" of the Father, but will have difficulty with this "learning" involving evangelical faith in Jesus.

Is it an "extreme" view to say they will all hear the gospel? David believes they will all hear the "voice" of Christ (John 5: 25, etc.), but not learn anything by it! They will not even know it is Christ who has spoken to them, for they, according to his admission, have no knowledge of Christ in the new birth.

David has no scripture that says that some of the elect will die without having come to trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He said earlier that he had no scripture that gave him authority to say any unbeliever was saved, and yet now he says that the scriptures, together with "reason," teach that the unbeliever is saved! Is this not talking out of both sides on one's mouth? Also, how is it proven by "observation"? How does he observe which unbelievers in Jesus are "regenerated"?

Why is it any more difficult to believe that God has "predestined" that all the elect hear the gospel and believe it than to believe he has "predestined" all to hear of the Father, learn of him, come to Jesus, hear his voice, and be called?

Besides, how does God "call" his elect? We know all the elect will be "called." (Rom. 8: 29) Paul said - "whereunto he called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thess. 2: 14) And is one a believer in Jesus before a "preacher" announces the good news? Or, does one become a believer in Jesus after hearing the gospel proclaimed by a "preacher," men with blessed feet? Wrote Paul:

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom. 10: 14, 16)

Obviously, these words of the apostle are opposed to Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism. Hardshellism says people are believers before they hear the gospel. Paul says people cannot believe in a person who has not been previously preached to them. The only legitimate thing for the Hardshells to do is to rebut the apostle by their saying - "no Paul, people don't need a preacher to become believers in Jesus for God is preaching it himself to most of them."

David wrote:

"We allow that God has every right and all ability to preach the gospel himself without the aid of man. According to Galations 3:8, God preached to gospel to Abraham long before there ever was an apostle, elder, or missionary. It is presumptuous for us to take any position asserting that only man can preach the gospel."

Who takes the position that God cannot preach the gospel himself to a sinner in heathendom? But, is this what God regularly does? And, if he did so preach to one in heathendom, would that sinner not be a believer in Jesus by the preaching of the gospel? If the American Indians had the gospel preached to them by God himself, would there not have been believers in Jesus among them, prior to Christians preaching it to them? Besides, Paul destroys their view in the passage cited above.

Is David saying that he believes that all the elect will hear the gospel, some by God preaching it himself to them, and some by evangelists sent by God? This is not the standard Hardshell view on this matter. Most will not allow that gospel knowledge is integral to the new birth experience. Hardshell history will demonstrate that some of their leading ministers, in the latter half of the 19th century, also often argued that God would personally preach the gospel to all his people.

I applaud some of today's PB's, to those in the "liberal movement," who are at least arguing 1) that all the elect will hear the gospel and believe it, though not affirming that it is always done by a human evangelist, and 2) that some knowledge of the one true God and his Son Jesus Christ is given in the new birth. It is the hardliners who argue that very few of the elect will hear and believe the gospel, nearly all of them remaining heathens. These hardliners, like my own father, will say, in response, that the view that God visits millions of sinners today in heathen lands and personally preaches the gospel to them (and they all believe it), is foolishness. I agree that it is foolishness, and to use the words of David, believe it is also proven by "observation." When missionaries first arrive in a heathen land, They do not find people who have already become believers in Jesus by the personal preaching of God.

Those who argue that many of the Lord's people have God personally preaching in heathen lands, "where Christ is not known," are at least closer to the truth of the Bible and of their forefathers because they are at least affirming that "faith comes by hearing," and that some gospel knowledge and faith in Jesus are required for one to be "regenerated." That is one step back towards the faith of their fathers. What they need to do is go further. They 1) need to throw out the view that God personally appears to many of his elect and personally preaches to them and 2) see that God's "normal" and "ordinary" manner of regenerating sinners and revealing Christ is by speaking through the preaching of his witnesses, through the gospel message as it is proclaimed. Further, they need to quit opposing "methods" and "means" of spreading the gospel, since this is God's ordained and ordinary way of saving his people.

David wrote:

"Now, there will be different opinions about how much information is conveyed by direct revelation from God, or as to how this revelation will manifest itself in the lives of those affected, and it is certain that God directly reveals more to some than to others; however, I believe I speak for all Primitive Baptists by saying that God will reveal Himself, in His own chosen way and degree, to all of His elect people here in time. In this sense it could be said that the gospel will reach all of the elect."

No wonder that hardliners, like my dad, say that David is "fence straddling," but clearly he is leaning more towards the "liberals" than to the hardliners by his acknowledging that, in some "sense," at least, "the gospel will reach all of the elect." He does, like nearly all PB's, affirm that a "revelation" is involved in the experience of regeneration. That is good. But, the next question is, revelation of what? What truth is learned by it? What knowledge is gained by it? What do they now know that they did not know before? Since PB's argue so much from the supposed cases of regenerated infants and idiots, they have created another tough spot for themselves, for they avow on one hand, that no knowledge of the gospel is necessary for the new birth experience, but on the other hand, that some "revelation" and knowledge is part and parcel of the new birth. David says that he believes God will reveal himself in "his own chosen way," but will not allow this "way" to be "through the gospel" preached by evangelists. Plus, David never told us what minimal knowledge one obtains in regeneration.

David wrote:


"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." - Mt 16:17
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." - John 6:44 45

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." - Hebrews 8:10,1 1

"And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not." - John 5:38 (Highlights mine - SMG)

"These texts also show that without the "gospel" preached by God, one will never receive the gospel as preached by man. Observe that in the last verse, it is asserted that the Jews would not receive the outward word because they did not possess the inward word. Only God can implant this inward word, and He will do it to all of His chosen in time."

Here is a good example of Hardshell "hermeneutics"! How one can honestly read the above verses and come away with the ideas of two separate and distinct kinds of "preaching the gospel," one by God himself and one by an evangelist, and that the first is required for the latter, is bewildering.

This argumentation takes us back to one of the founding fathers of the PB denomination, to Elder Gilbert Beebe. Wrote Bob Ross:

"Gilbert Beebe (1800-1881), editor of the Signs of the Times magazine, the foremost Anti-mission periodical following the 1832 split, was perhaps the first one -- at least, one of the first -- to propagate this new theory of "direct speaking" regeneration. He says: "The word of the Lord, which is Spirit, and which is life, which liveth and abideth forever, is that by which regeneration is affected; not MERELY by the Scriptures in their LETTER, not reading or preaching them, but the words which Jesus himself SPEAKS to the individual persons who are made to hear and live." [Compilation of Editorial Articles, Vol. IV, pages 21, 22]. This theory gives precedence of power to the spoken words of Christ, which He supposedly speaks directly to the individual. Notice that the "speaking," according to Beebe, PRECEDES the "hearing" and the "life." This would mean that Christ speaks to the "dead alien sinner" BEFORE the sinner is "alive." Therefore, the Word of Christ is addressed to the "dead," yet the Hardshells object to the Baptist position that the Gospel, or Word, is to be preached to the "dead," and is accompanied by the Holy Spirit in pursuance of God's sovereign purpose in effectual calling." (History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 6)

Brother Ross responded well to this "hybrid" and "novel" idea.

Also, see these three chapters in my book where I address the "direct voice" idea of the Hardshells.

David speaks of "implanting" an "inward word" that is universal to all the elect and regenerate, but distinguishes this from the "outward word" of the gospel preached by God through men. Clearly he and the Hardshells are in error regarding calling, about the inward and outward callings. Surely the Lord speaks efficaciously when he speaks in power through the message of the gospel as it is preached by his servants. It is both inward and outward, as our forefathers taught, always in conjunction with each other.

Hardshells attempt to make the Calvinistic doctrine of effectual calling, wherein the call is divided into "inward" and "outward," into a Hardshell paradigm. The divines in effectual calling made such a distinction because they realized that the word alone regenerates no one. It takes the personal operation of the Holy Spirit, his superlative power, to make the external call of the gospel effectual. Sometimes they spoke of this as an immediate calling of the Spirit speaking to the heart and conscience. But, they never completely divorced the external and general calling of the Spirit, through the gospel's proclamation, but conjoined the two, as in the London Confession, "called by his Word and Spirit." One of the verses often cited to show all this is this:

"Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost." (I Thess. 1: 4-6)

Here is another tough spot for today's Hardshells. This verse was one of many that were the focus of debate among the Hardshells when they were dividing over the issue of "time salvation" and "absolute predestination" in the late 1800's. The reasons are these:

1) The first Hardshells, the founding fathers of the "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptists, spoke of "conversion," under and by the gospel, as being "effectual," "irresistable," and "certain," just as much so as "regeneration."

2) Though believing that "regeneration" was immediate, by direct speaking of Christ, apart from the gospel, and that it was distinct and prior to "conversion," they nevertheless believed that all the elect would not only be "regenerated" but "converted." They did not allow means in the former, but they did in the latter. They divided up the whole process by analogy to human birth. Just as in human birth, there is first the planting of the seed (regeneration), then life begotten, but still in darkness, as in the womb (conviction of sin), and then "deliverance" from the womb (conversion, repentance and faith).

Thus, they saw the conversion experience, what today's Hardshells call "time salvation," as being the same as the new birth. A person may be "regenerated" apart from the gospel but he will not be "born" until he believes the gospel. That is why Gilbert Beebe, Samuel Trott, and other first generation Hardshells looked upon themselves as spiritual "midwives," assisting God, through their preaching ministry, to bring to "full birth" those whom God has spiritually impregnated. They separated conversion from "regeneration" but not from "birth." To them conversion was the new birth.

The first Hardshells would have answered "yes" to the question - "will all the elect hear and believe the gospel (be converted)?" They would be considered "Absoluters" by David and his neo Hardshell brethren. David would argue that this deliverance and conversion, this "salvation" resulting from it, is not a "birth" or an absolute necessary experience for being eternally saved.

That is why one does not see the term "time salvation" generally used among Hardshells in the first half of the 19th century. Not until the rise of the Cayces (S.F. and C.H.), the later Thompson preachers (J.M. and R.W.), J.R. Daily, Lemuel Potter, J.H. Oliphant, C.H. Waters, Walter Cash, etc., did this term gain usage and the doctrine intended by the term become the leading Hardshell position. The men named above are second generation Hardshells and are the founding fathers of Hardshellism as we generally know it today. The first generation Hardshells did not use the term "time salvation" because they did not see gospel salvation as that which is unnecessary for being finally saved, as do today's Hardshells.

The first Hardshells, correctly, and in agreement with Gill and the London Confession brethren, would have interpreted the words of Paul, cited above, as dealing with regeneration and conversion, they being the same experience.

How do we know that one is "elect"? It is by the gospel effecting a person in the manner described by the apostle. Did superlative power attend the preaching of the gospel to make it effectual? Yes. The Spirit's power + the word preached = salvation (regeneration or conversion). That is Paul's equation.

Today's Hardshells are in a tight spot with their making conversion non-effectual (something that occurs after an Arminian paradigm of free will and effort), because the same type of language used, in the Bible, to describe the effectualness of God's work in "regeneration" is also used to describe God's work in "conversion." The passage cited demonstrates this.

David wrote:

"The gospel minister can give one the *words* of Jesus, but only Jesus himself can give His *voice*. And we contend that all the elect will hear this voice in time. Again, we contend that this is the only sense in which all of the elect will hear the "gospel."

Here is another tough spot for the Hardshells. They will not allow that God can give his voice through the spoken word! They certainly cannot say this is so in the case of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Dead Bones. God spoke through the preaching of his servant and the dead came to life. When they heard the words of Ezekiel they were, at the same time, hearing the words and the voice of God.

But let us consider what this "hearing the VOICE of Jesus" effects, in the Hardshell understanding of "regeneration." Remember, the PB's are anxious to keep some "revelation" in the experience of the new birth, because there are many passages, that they have historically acknowledged as describing regeneration, even ones cited by David Pyles, that teach it. First, let us ask some important questions.

1) Do those who hear the voice of God (or Jesus) in "regeneration," remember it?

2) What knowledge about God, the speaker, is revealed by this direct speaking?

3) What knowledge about self is revealed by this direct speaking?

4) What knowledge about Jesus is revealed by this direct speaking?

The "voice" of a person, according to Hardshellism, cannot be heard through the words of that person rehearsed by another. It is one of those logical impossibilities, like making a square circle, impotence making a stone heavier than he can move, etc. To Hardshells, it is logically impossible to say that you are hearing a person's "voice" by hearing his words repeated by a messenger. But, to show this to be false reasoning, one need only cite one passage of scripture.

At least, in some sense, David will allow the expression as being true, "in some sense," that "all the elect will have the gospel preached to them in a revelatory manner." The hardliners will reject the fact that it can be said, "in any sense," that all the elect will hear and believe the gospel. I was greatly troubled years ago, after hearing this Hardshell "argument" and then reading the following inspired words.

"For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him." (Acts 13: 27)

Notice that in the hearing of the words of the prophets, read from the scriptures in the synagogue, the people were hearing the "voice" of the prophets. However, according to Hardshell "logic" this cannot be! In hearing the "words" of the prophets from preachers the people were hearing the "voice" of the prophets! Notice what John Gill wrote on hearing the "voice" of Christ and see if the Hardshells still want to claim him as "one of us."

" "the voice" of Christ is intended his Gospel, which is a voice of love, grace, and mercy, of life and liberty, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by him; and which being attended with his power, is the means of quickening dead sinners; who may be said to hear it, when it comes not in word only, but in power, and works effectually in them; and is spirit and life, and the power of God unto salvation to them; when they receive it, understand, believe, and obey it: and such persons "shall live"; comfortably, pleasantly, and delightfully, a life of faith on Christ, a life of communion with him, and shall live eternally with him hereafter." (Commentary on John 5: 25)

John Gill was the real "Old" or "Primitive" Baptist. John Gill is "Old School." He spoke the language of Keach and the brethren who wrote the London Confession of 1689, his predesessors, and of Spurgeon, his successor, when he commented on what it means to hear the "voice" of Christ. It meant that one savingly hears the gospel.

Gill's interpretation goes against Beebe's and Trott's view, for they did not allow the means of the preached word in initial spiritual impregnation, or quickening, "regeneration," but did allow them in the "birthing" or "deliverance" of the already quickened soul.

David wrote:

"While we allow that God may, in His own sovereign pleasure, quicken whom He will, where He will, and when He will, and while we allow that God may do all of these even among those who are, and shall remain, deprived of the true gospel as preached by man, the scriptures deny that uninspired man can identify the presence of a regenerate heart in the absence of belief in the Lord Jesus. Accordingly, we have no authority to offer the promises of the gospel to anyone who has not accepted it."

David is here stating speculation when he speaks of God regenerating heathen apart from the gospel. He says "God may" do it. Yes, and we might say that God "can" and "may" raise up children unto Abraham of stones, but we would not be thereby affirming that any child of Abraham or regenerate person was ever a stone or ever regenerated apart from the gospel in actuality.

David wants to say "yes, all the elect will hear and believe the gospel," in one sense, but not in another sense. He then repeats a proposition he is convinced is scriptural. He believes that the scriptures give no warrant for saying a man is born again who is not a believer in the gospel. He says this, as I have said, but he does not practice what he preaches. His brethren will argue that men like Cornelius (Acts 10) were born again before they believed the gospel, and in doing so they violate their own confession about saying one is born again who is not a believer. In other words, they contradict themselves or speak out of both sides of their mouths.

David wrote:

"It is true that certain texts in the Bible describe the redeemed family of God to be very large, but one cannot decisively infer from this that the present heathen world contains multitudes of elect."

Here David reveals himself as a "moderator" of the ongoing debate between the hardliners and the "liberals." He agrees that the Bible teaches that God's regenerated children represent a large number. He realizes that Hardshells have traditionally used this as an argument against means in regeneration, against the idea that all the elect will be converted, or come to faith and repentance. Their argument says that since most people are going to be saved (the "elect many" in contrast to the traditional "elect few"), this cannot be said of those who have heard the gospel. We cannot say that most of the human race have heard the gospel, but we can say that most of the human race are born again children of God. Ergo, the gospel cannot be a means. But, Moderator, David Pyles, cautions the hardliners and warns them about "inferring" too much from their reasoning on this point, even seeming to distance himself from their inferences and conclusions, for he says that one cannot use the numbers argument to disprove that any of today's heathen have multitudes of elect. He also shows a reluctance to take the popular neo Hardshell view that affirms that most people will be saved, even most of the heathen who worship false gods, and wants to distance himself from "No-Hellism" and "Universalism."

David wrote:

"Now allow me to present the case that God has not predestined all the elect to hear the gospel as preached by man.

Certainly if universality of the gospel is false, then gospel regeneration must also be false, but the converse does not necessarily hold.

The fact of regenerate infants and the possibility of such dying in infancy destroys the principle that all of the elect will hear the gospel."

David has a poor "case" to offer in attempting to prove that the Bible teaches that some of the elect will be saved apart from faith in Christ and in the gospel. Insurmountable!

David's first apologetic argument basically says that if one of the elect is regenerated apart from the gospel being preach and believed, then "gospel regeneration is false." But, that is invalid reasoning. If one elect person was regenerated apart from hearing and believing the gospel, that does not automatically mean that the other 99.9% were not regenerated by the gospel.

Also, the "converse" does "neccessarily hold." If all the elect do hear the voice of Christ, or the gospel, and live, then regeneration through the gospel is a valid conclusion or deduction.

David's next argument regards the "regeneration" of infants and idiots. His argument goes like this: Since infants in the womb and idiots are "regenerated," without any faith, understanding, or repentance, without hearing the gospel preached, then it must be so with all the elect. Yet, he can still maintain that there is "a sense" in which all the regenerated, infants and idiots included, will have Jesus give them that inward word, make them hear his voice, preach the gospel to them personally, and be given some knowledge of Christ. If he is affirming that hearing the "voice" of Christ involves having Jesus personally preach the gospel to a person, then he must be affirming that Jesus preaches the gospel to those who are born again while in mother's womb. How can he consistently argue, on one hand, that "regeneration" or hearing the voice of Christ, produces any knowledge or faith, seeing he argues, on the other hand, that they cannot have any knowledge or faith?

David is limiting the power of God. Is God not able to regenerate through the preached word? Is God not able to preach the gospel to the infant and impart knowledge of Christ? Actually, he has already affirmed that there is a "sense" in which all the elect will hear the voice of Christ, or have Christ preach to them personally, so he already believes what he is objecting to! Besides, David and his brethren often refer to the case of John the Baptist to prove infant regeneration, but it "proves too much" for them, for John was miraculously given greater mental powers of apprehension and understanding, far beyond his years, and so was made a believer in Jesus even in his womb, for he rejoiced at the good news, leaping for joy in his mother's womb. So, their argumentation on the infant being incapable of hearing and believing the gospel, does "not hold water."

David wrote:

"The common claim that these are exceptional cases is totally without scriptural foundation. The scriptures never indicate that God has made any exceptions in His providential dealings with infants. The fact that there are regenerate infants is clearly implied by Mt 1 1:25, Mt 21:16, and Lk 1:15. The fact that such can die in infancy is revealed in ll Sam 12:23."

David is wrong here. If he argues this way, then he clearly cannot be an "Old" or "Primitive" Baptist because his forefathers endorsed the London Confession of Faith and it clearly says infants and idiots are regenerated extraordinarily, while adults are regenerated "ordinarily" by the gospel. David argues that all the elect are born again the same way and have the same effects of it produced in them. But, he has no scripture to sustain his objection. It is a mere assertion. This is all invalid reasoning. Let us use it on him, turning it around by some searching questions. John the Baptist was regenerated, according to you, while in his mother's womb. This being so, and using your reasoning, then all the elect will be regenerated while in the womb. Paul was regenerated by Christ personally and corporeally appearing to him and speaking to him with human voice. This being so, and using your reasoning, then all the elect will be regenerated in such a manner.

David wrote:

"A similar problem exits in the case of Old Testament saints. Many heard truth, but few today would classify what they heard as "gospel." Certainly, few would say that one today had heard the gospel if the information at their disposal was limited to what Old Testament saints generally understood."

First of all, the Old Testament saints knew much more "gospel" than David wants to allow. Even David himself has referred us to God preaching the gospel to Abraham! Yet, he wants now to say that no OT saint knew and believed the gospel of Christ. "Oh consistency, thou art a jewel!"

What weak argumentation is all this! Where is his clear plain statements from scripture that says not all will be called by the gospel? Where is the plain statement that says we are born again apart from the word of truth? Where is his scripture that says many unbelievers in Jesus are of the elect?

David wrote:

"Scriptures indicate that if we do not care and if we do not pray, the gospel will not reach all those for whom it is intended.

Do these texts indicate that God has predestined the gospel to reach all the elect? They certainly do not suggest this at all. Some have said that the prayers commanded by these texts are God's instrumental means of ensuring that the gospel will reach the elect. This reasoning only compounds the error, because it logically reduces the implied human responsibility in these texts to nonsense."

David and his Hardshell brethren object to the practice of praying for the eternal salvation of sinners. Yet, the Bible and his Baptist forefathers upheld the practice. Paul prayed for the salvation of his fellow Israelites in Romans 10: 1. Of course, David will say that Paul was praying for the "time" salvation of the Israelites, not their eternal salvation. But, the context is very clear that it is eternal salvation that is under consideration. David speaks of "human responsibility," but it is he and his Hardshell brethren who do not properly understand it. They are the ones who think, like the Pelagians, that a "command implies ability," and that "where there is no ability there is no responsibility." He is the one who denies that all men are responsible to believe the gospel and repent of sins, because they are not able to do it.

David wrote:

"Besides this, compare this allegedly predestined event with events which are known to be predestined: Does the Bible command us to pray that none will fall from the eternal covenant, or that more will be added to it? Of course not, because the contents of this covenant are predestined. Does the Bible command us to make graves easy to unearth so as to facilitate the resurrection? Again, this is ridiculous. The resurrection is a predestined event, and all the powers of man and hell can neither aid it nor hinder it. Does the Bible call upon us to affect the date of Jesus' return. Of course not. We are to prepare for it, but the date itself is fixed by God."

David believes it is foolish and unscriptural to pray for what we know is certain and predestined. He thinks prayer only involves things God has not fixed or predestined. But this is clearly false. We find many prayers offered in scripture, both by Christ and his people, concerning things that are certain and predestined. In fact, when Paul prayed for the salvation of the Israelites (Rom. 10: 1), he later wrote - "and so all Israel shall be saved." (11: 26) Also, the church prays "even so come Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22: 20)

Besides, when we pray for a sinner to be saved, it is often the case that we do not know that they are of the elect.

Also, men like Elder (Dr.) John Watson and Elder Grigg Thompson, both first generation Hardshells, both affirmed how it is proper to pray for the eternal salvation of others. Of course, I have addressed these issues quite extensively in my book on the Hardshells.

David wrote:

"Our own consciences teach us that not all the elect will hear the true gospel, because we know within ourselves that our speech and actions can prove as stumbling blocks and deterrents to the truth. We are under constant convictions about our behavior before children and unconverted individuals because we know that they may be caused to reject the truth if we represent it with guile and hypocrisy."

David believes that the scriptures teach that one can hinder God from saving a man, in a timely sense, but not in an eternal sense. He thinks it destroys Calvinism and the sovereignty of God for one to affirm that others can be a means (stumblingblock) in keeping a sinner from being saved. He reasons that since all the elect are certain to be saved, then it is nonsense to speak of being a hindrance to the salvation of anyone. But, what David fails to understand is how the scriptures speak in the language of means, from a human perspective, and in the context of human responsibility when it says such and such a thing keeps souls from being saved. If one cites scripture to these brethren, to disprove their theory, they will attempt to make the scriptures to concern only temporal deliverances or losses. For instance, notice these passages.

"But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matt. 23: 13)

"And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?" (I Cor. 8: 11)

David and his Hardshell brethren cannot say that these verses are talking about eternal salvation and perishing, for if they did, it would destroy his supposition and false proposition. So, they make the verses, and the context, to deal with "time salvation" and "temporal perishing." Yet, clearly, the context of these passages concern what is eternal.

David does not see his inconsistency in saying that a person can hinder God in saving temporally but not eternally. David's Hardshell forefathers, all the first generation ones, and many of the second generation ones, denied such reasoning, for they would not allow that God could be hindered in any way from saving, either temporally or eternally.

David then appeals to the witness of his "conscience" and to what he knows within himself, as proof of his supposition. His conscience tells him that he can be a hindrance to God temporally saving a man, but not to God eternally saving him. Oh glorious Hardshell logic!

David wrote:

"Yet we feel no such convictions about affecting the contents of the eternal covenant, affecting the resurrection, affecting the return of Jesus, or affecting any event which God is known to have predestined. A principle purpose of predestination is to eliminate all vulnerabilities and uncertainties that would otherwise be created by the vagaries of man."

David again argues from his personal experience, from his convictions of conscience. But, how is this a proof? It can easily be argued that something is wrong with his convictions and conscience. Also, I have already affirmed how he is in error about praying for things that are certain. I ask David and his brethren these simple questions: 1) When Paul said "and so all Israel shall be saved," was he not stating what was certain and predestined? 2) Was this not the salvation he prayed for in Romans 10: 1?

The Hardshells remind me, as it has others, of the slothful servant. Jesus said:

"Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents." (Matt. 25: 24-28)

This man was a "Do Nothing," and Hardshells have traditionally been called "Do Nothings" due to their lack of labor in spreading the gospel and lack of effort in evangelism. He thinks that he cannot be a means in either a man being saved or not being saved. The slothful man in these words of Jesus is a Hyper Calvinist or Hardshell in his thinking. What was the slothful man's reason for not using his talents? Was it not Hyper Calvinism? Did the man not believe that he had no reason to sow since God did not need him! Why is it difficult for David to see that God has predestined and made certain the fact that all his chosen will hear the gospel preached by man? Why does he falsely reason that since God has predestinated him to preach the gospel to a particular person, for instance, this means he is not "responsible" to do so?

David wrote:

"The world we observe is not consistent with the doctrine asserting that God has ordained all the elect to hear the gospel. Why are so many of God's people hearing a false gospel? If the providence of God brings the gospel to all the elect, then why is it a perverted gospel in more cases than not? Shall we say that it is the providence of God that has exposed modern multitudes to the corruptions of Arminianism?"

David believes that the proposition that affirms that all the elect will hear the gospel (preached by man) is logically "not consistent." But, this is laughable, coming from a Hardshell, for they are often found contradicting themselves and falsely deducing things from the Bible.

David argues by another "if, then" type of argument. If God has predestined that I hear the gospel, then it would have to be a pure gospel, not a false gospel. That is reasonable. But, what David is really arguing is that one is not preaching the gospel if one is preaching Arminianism, and arguing that only preaching Calvinism, or Hardshellism, is preaching the gospel. But, this is false, for when the simple basic gospel is preached, there is no direct proof of either system. Paul defines what it means to preach the gospel in I Cor. 15: 1-6 and there is nothing in the description to uphold either Calvinism nor Arminianism.

Why are there then false gospels? Why does God allow his elect to hear a false gospel as well as the true? The Bible answers these questions. He allows them to "prove" people (Deut. 13: 1-3) and to "manifest" who is genuine and who is false. (I Cor. 11: 19) And so, yes, God does "expose" people to false prophets and false gospels, in his "providence." Also, Paul states that God, as a judgment upon rebels, "send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie" and "that they might be damned." (II Thess. 2: 11, 12)

David wrote:

"The scriptures teach that God did, as a judgment against the nation Israel, blind the eyes of some of His own people so that they did not see the gospel. Consider:

"For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." Rom 11: 32

This case may be exceptional, but it single-handedly destroys the principle that God has predestined all the elect to hear and obey the gospel."

David's error here is simple and it is a wonder that he stumbles at it. It is a common error of both Campbellism and Hardshellism, the infamous "twins." Both of them have the idea that every Israelite was saved. They are styled as "God's people" in the Old Testament and therefore they must all have been saved. When David refers to "some of His own people," he is implying that this means every Israelite was elect and regenerate! He will argue this way, but will concede that not every Israelite was truly elect or saved, but only the "remnant" Paul referred to in Romans. The Campbellites will do the same, in their argumentation from the Old Testament, when they demonstrate that some Israelites were condemned, or not ultimately saved. They were all "God's people" but some went to Hell, so one can be saved and then lost, is their syllogism. But, Campbellites also, though making such arguments, nevertheless sometimes own that "they are not all Israel which are of Israel," thereby destroying their syllogism. "God's people" was often a term used of the entire nation, to the externally covenanted nation, and had no reference to the individual state of an Israelite. A person likewise might be a professing Christian, a member of a local church, and not be what he professes to be.

David wrote:

"The Primitive Baptist position is often accused of being extreme. However, upon close examination it will be seen that the Primitive Baptist position falls between the extremes. The extremes are Arminianism on the left and classic Calvinism on the right.

This is false. It is denial, psychological or otherwise. Hardshellism is an extreme and it is why it is called "Hyper Calvinism." Hardshellism a doctrine that "falls between the extremes"? Blind Hardshells! What is more "extreme" than their own novel doctrines? What David calls "classic Calvinism" is what is expressed in the old Baptist confessions! What his forefathers endorsed!

David wrote:

"Arminianism places more responsibility on the minister than he can possibly bear, because this doctrine necessarily implies that others will surely go to hell because of the minister's failures."

David is repeating his former argumentation. But, let me add to my rebuttal. First, a particular minister may indeed "fail," but this will not hinder God to get a replacement. Second, God's ministry will not fail. A particular minister may fail, but not the ministry itself. It is true "in some sense," to use the very words of David, that keeping the gospel from people will keep them from being saved. This is clear from scripture, which I shall show in my next posting, where I examine David's father "two cents worth" on "the extent" and "use of" the preaching of the gospel, even by the father's own admission.

David wrote:

"Calvinism maintains that the gospel is predestined to reach all the elect. There is a logical sense in which this doctrine has removed the responsibility of man. This is not to say that Calvinists fail to teach responsibility. They generally do. But they themselves concede an apparent contradiction between such teachings and their views of predestination. They generally dismiss this apparent contradiction to mystery."

What, according to David, is the great "contradiction" among most Calvinists and Predestinarians? David's false reasoning is seen by examining his false premise, the one that says - "if an action of man has been predestined, then that person is not responsible" for the action. This is a good example of Hardshell "logic." But, one scripture overthrows his reasoning and propositions.

"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel (predestination) and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (Acts 2: 23)

The murder of Christ was predestined by God and the murderers were "responsible." God predestined that Paul be a means in saving his people and Paul was responsible for doing it. True, he could claim no credit for it, for it was God working in him by his grace. Notice this testimony.

"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26: 16-18)

This is a big red hot cannon ball at the heart of Hardshellism. Like the story of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones.

It is amazing to read and hear the Hardshells do a "hatchet job" on these verses in order to uphold their hybrid theology on the new birth. They feel the force of these words. They sense how they destroy his aberrant views on God's means and methods. And, when he senses how he is wrong, he must either acknowledge his errors, turn from Hardshellism, or decide to make the verses say what they don't say, that is to say, he must twist the meaning of the words in an attempt to make them mean something than the obvious. So, those who chose the latter course, were forced to develop an "interpretation" of them that would conform to Hardshell premises and propositions. So, what is their "apologetic" on these verses? How are they against Hardshellism?

Clearly, the apostle Paul is being ordained by Christ to preach the gospel and thereby save the elect. Who will being doing the saving? God, as the efficient cause, and Paul, as the instrumental cause. Is it a merely "time salvation," a temporal deliverance, and not regeneration, conversion, and what pertains to eternal salvation? Let us see.

Through Paul's preaching the gospel, sinners will "receive remission of sins." Is that not dealing with eternal pardon and justification? Not, according to staunch Hardshellism. It cannot mean that, because it would indicate that eternal salvation, is in some sense, was dependent upon "second causes," upon "human means" and "human action," and they cannot accept that idea at all. This is their reasoning. But, clearly, "remission of sins" cannot be talking about a "time salvation" that has no bearing on eternal salvation. "Turning from darkness to light," and "turning from Satan unto God," and "inheritance" among the "sanctified", that is a "time salvation," what is not neccessary for eternal salvation?

David wrote:

"It is certain that the providence of God is a strong and necessary force in the spread of the gospel. In the absence of God's providential intervention, the gates of hell would surely prevail against the church. But this force is not necessarily exerted to such degree that it completely corrects or offsets the failures of man to spread the truth in this world. There is no doubt that Almighty God has the ability to direct gospel preachers to all of his elect, but the evidence does not support the claim that He has purposed to do so in time."

See here for David's full writing.

Earlier, David criticized the view that the Providence of God was involved in seeing that all the elect hear the gospel, because he thought it took away from "responsibility," but now he confesses that "the providence of God is a strong and necessary force in the spread of the gospel." Let us ask David - "does this providential working of God take away the responsibility of man?" David also answers his own questions and conclusions by saying - "this force" (divine action or providence), however, is not sufficient to "completely correct or offset the failures of man to spread" the gospel.

Next, David admits that God has the ability to get gospel preachers to all his elect! Well, then why does he elsewhere argue that it is not possible, or likely, or reasonable, or observable?

The "evidence" does not show that all the elect hear the gospel? What Bible is he reading? He shgould read my book on the Hardshells where I thoroughly overthrow all this Hardshell "logic."

May 7, 2010

Hardshell Liberal Movement

Since I began writing my book against those today who call themselves "Primitive Baptists" (see the link titled "Hardshellism" for chapters published in my ongoing book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult"), I have had several interactions with elders in the PB church. Some of the discussions have involved the "liberal movement," which began among the Hardshells in the 1990's, chiefly as a result of Elder Lasserre Bradley Jr., pastor of the Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church.

Elder Bradley began his ministry as a young teenager among Sovereign Grace Baptists until the late 50's when he and his flock became converted to "Primitive Baptist" teachings and were re-baptized and reconstituted as a Hardshell Church. This event was heralded and applauded by the "Primitive Baptists" as a second Pentecost. Elder Bradley became an overnight sensation among the Hardshells and was the most popular preacher among them, travelling far and wide to hold meetings for them. His radio program, the Baptist Bible Hour, became a leading voice in promoting the denomination.

I know Elder Bradley personally. I have been in his home and have had several telephone conversations with him during the years when I preached for the PB's. I was invited by him to stand in for him at the Cincinnati church. When a young preacher, living in the Cincinnati area, in the mid 70's, I use to visit the Cincinnati church frequently.

Elder Bradley and the Cincinnati church were instrumental in constituting my dad's church, which had also formerly been a Sovereign Grace Missionary Baptist church, into a Hardshell church in the mid 60's. They re-baptized my dad and his small church, after they united with the Cincinnati church, and then reconstituted them into a church.

What led Elder Bradley, and my father, and some other Sovereign Grace Missionary Baptists, to join the Hardshells was their coming to see that regeneration precedes conversion (faith and repentance). This led them to believe that the gospel, and faith and repentance, were not means or accompaniments in regeneration, and were therefore not necessary for regeneration. They embraced the idea that regeneration was distinct from conversion, that the former was necessary for salvation, but the latter was not. They were also led to believe that this view was the view of the Baptists prior to 1832, the formal date when the Hardshells declared non-fellowship with Mission Baptists and became a distinct denomination.

This view also led Elder Bradley to take an unbiblical view of what constitutes the experience of regeneration and what it means to "persevere." He was given the Hardshell hermeneutic regarding passages which seem to teach the necessity of faith in Christ, and the means of the gospel, in order to be eternally saved. He was told that those passages which teach the necessity of faith in Christ for "salvation" did not relate to "eternal" salvation from sin and eternal hell, but to a "timely" salvation from errors, a topic I have addressed exhaustively in my book on the Hardshells.

After several years of preaching for the Hardshells, however, Elder Bradley seems to have become disillusioned with the Hardshells, just as I had in the early 80's. He began to swing back to his older views.

His turning back seems to have started when he organized a "preacher's school" at the Cincinnati church, at first designed for the benefit of young preachers, to help them counsel with their members on many social and spiritual issues. He at once began to be attacked by the hardliners, they accusing him of being "liberal" and departing from the faith and practice of PB's, who had stood against the practice of having anything akin to a seminary, Sunday School, or bible classes.

See here and here for more information by the hardliners against Elder Bradley.

In time he also became disillusioned with their teaching regarding "time salvation," believing that the Hardshells were twisting scripture in order to uphold their false theories. He also apparently began to do more research on their history and began to see how there had been intense debates over this new teaching, in the late 1800's, and that the first PB's did not make a distinction between time and eternal salvation, and that those who did so were simply refusing to see their errors regarding means in salvation, and of the necessity of faith and repentance. He also began to see how the PB's had changed in their view regarding the "perseverance" of the saints, a doctrine that modern PB's reject, although their forefathers embraced the teaching. Thus he began to assert the perseverance of believers, and to gently reject the idea of "time salvation."

At some point, Elder Bradley asked Elder Thomas Mann of West Virginia to come to Cincinnati and assist him with the editing and publishing of his paper, The Baptist Witness. I know Thomas Mann. His father, Norvel Mann, was in my second ordination as a Hardshell and invited me to preach in West Virginia back in the late 70's. At a service of the Cincinnati church, Elder Thomas Mann taught the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation, and of the means of the gospel in regeneration. This sermon was one of the leading catalysts in spurring the controversy over means in regeneration, over faith and repentance as necessary constituents in the new birth, and over the matter of perseverance.

One of the churches that split in the 90's, over these things, was the Lexington PB church, in Kentucky. Elder Bradley had started this church soon after he joined the Hardshells. When I was a young preacher with the Hardshells I used to visit this church frequently, when Elder Paul Trautner was its pastor. Elder Trautner was one of several young Missionary preachers who joined the PB's with Elder Bradley. After serving this church for many years, Elder Trautner resigned to serve another church in Kentucky and the church called a young man to serve as pastor whose name was Ernie Fletcher. Ernie, together with his parents, were members of the Lexington church. Ernie, who later became Governor of Kentucky, began to teach means in regeneration, the necessity of faith and repentance for salvation, and the doctrine of perseverance, and also began to promote bible classes and such like. After three years this church divided over these issues. I am told that Ernie and his group joined the Southern Baptists and the few who were left and remained Hardshells called Elder Michael Gowens as pastor (whom I cite frequently in my book on the Hardshells).

This movement in doctrine and practice began to be called the "liberal movement" by the hardliners. I am told, as of this date, that about two dozen well known preachers are now part of this movement and that the movement is growing.

Through my writings against the Hardshells I have been contacted by several elders in the PB's regarding this movement and I am glad to be informed of it. It is my hope and prayer that this movement grows and that more PB elders and churches will repent of their errors in doctrine and practice and join this movement.

It is a misnomer to call it a "liberal movement," because, as I have shown in my book on the Hardshells (still in progress), the views of these men in the movement represents no new doctrine, but the ones that Baptists have always believed, even by those who were the founding fathers of the PB denomination. Actually, today's "conservatives," as history shows, became the "liberal" innovators, in the mid to late 1800's, when they began to depart from the faith of their fathers, in denying the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation, the necessity of means in the new birth, and of the necessity of perseverance.

Elder Gowens published, in 2009, his views regarding this "liberal movement," and it is his view and writing that I now wish to examine. It was sent to me by one who has come to see the truth on these issues and is in sympathy with the movement.

The writing by Elder Gowens is titled - "Q & A regarding recent PB tensions" and was published and sent out in April 2009. I will first quote from Elder Gowens and then respond to his comments.

Elder Gowens wrote (all emphasis mine - SG):

"The following is an attempt to answer the most frequently asked questions I’ve received regarding various theological tensions among Primitive Baptists during the past eight years.

Q. How did you get involved in the present crisis?

MG: I pastor a church (Lexington, Ky., PB Church - SG) that was sadly disturbed in the early 1990’s over these very issues. The previous pastor (who has since left the PB’s and joined the Southern Baptists) (Elder and Governor Ernie Fletcher - SG) became disenchanted with the “exclusivity” of PB’s and wanted to give the church here a more positive image in the community. This ecumenical objective translated, first, into some changes in church practice, like having children’s church, women’s groups, etc. Though some in the church “raised an eyebrow” to these changes, they didn’t say much about them. Soon, however, he began to preach “bullet-in-the-hole” Calvinismthe idea that an evangelical belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and eternal life are inseparably connected, just like a bullet and the hole that it makes are inseparably connected. A few in the church actually agreed with his new emphasis, and some recognized it at once as a departure from the truth concerning the purpose of the gospel and the hallmark PB distinction between regeneration and conversion. Most were simply confused and disillusioned by the controversy."

It would be nice if Elder Gowens and his hardline brethren, the "ultraists," as Elder John Watson called them, in the 1860's, would come forward and debate these matters. I would love to demonstrate to them their errors, in two respects.

First, I would show, as I have done in my book on the Hardshells, how the Bible does not distinguish between regeneration and conversion, and secondly, show how the old confessions and articles of faith of Baptists, all teach that regeneration and conversion refer to the same experience. I would also show how the founding fathers of the Hardshell denomination taught against the view held to by their descendents. Both the Bible and the founding fathers of the Hardshells taught the necessity of faith and of the gospel in the new birth.

Gowens wrote:

"These men were ridiculing the practice of distinguishing between eternal salvation and temporal or gospel salvation. They mocked the ignorance of Primitive Baptists who believed this way and expressed how embarrassing it was that we were so different in this regard to other Christians. I saw their desire to remove this classic PB distinction and to push the idea that the present life has eternal significance – that is, to teach only “one” salvation – as the kind of classic reformed theology popularized by MacArthur, Piper, Sproul, Mohler, and Nettles in our day. It soon became evident that an effort to modify PB doctrine, particularly in regard to this distinction between unconditional eternal salvation and conditional temporal salvation, was gaining momentum in a few PB circles..."

Gowens calls the dividing of salvation passages into the categories of "time" and "eternal," a "hallmark PB distinction." He may be able to cite Hardshells of the late 1800's who taught this arbitrary distinction, but he will not be able to find anyone among the first Hardshells who espoused it. It is an invention designed to circumvent those passages which teach the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation and of means. He may think that this is "rightly dividing the word of truth," but it is not, but is rather an example of twisting scripture to uphold a false proposition.

Gowens wrote:

"Now, PB’s have characteristically held, not to “Lordship Salvation” but, to “Temporal Salvation”. That is to say, our position has been that there is a distinction to be made between Sonship and Discipleship—between being a child of God and being a follower of Jesus Christ. In the Lordship Salvation paradigm, regeneration and discipleship are so intertwined that one does not exist without the other. In 2002, a PB preacher in Virginia (Thomas Mann - SG) preached a sermon in which he labored to prove that “belief in Jesus Christ and eternal life are married—you cannot put asunder what God has joined together.” That’s the “Lordship Salvation” position. But Primitive Baptists do not believe that regeneration automatically produces discipleship."

When Gowens speaks of what has "characterized" the PB's regarding salvation and discipleship, he means his modern brethren, for clearly the first Hardshells did not make such a distinction between time and eternal salvation, or between sonship and discipleship.

When Gowens proclaims how his Hardshell brethren do not believe that one has to be a disciple of Jesus in order to be saved, he surely is teaching unbiblical and unBaptistic doctrine. His brethren actually teach that one can be a rejecter of Christ, an antiChrist, and yet be "born again"! He cannot cite a single Baptist, prior to the 1850's, who held to such a view.

Gowens wrote:

"This practice of distinguishing between eternal salvation and time salvation, between union with Christ and communion with Him, between regeneration and gospel conversion, between preservation and perseverance, between predestination and providence, etc. is crucial to the correct interpretation of God’s word. God’s child may in fact live in disobedience to God’s revealed will for his life, and fail to glorify the Lord who redeemed him in this world..."

Again, this is rank heresy! Elder Gowens and his Hardshell brethren must be blind not to see how their views are against the plain teachings of scripture. I answer this nonsense in my book on the Hardshells. One passage is all I need to cite to disprove it.

Wrote Paul:

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." (II Thess. 1: 7-9)

Gowens and his Hardshell brethren do not believe what Paul wrote! They will twist and distort it and try to make it say something other than what it plainly says. Does Paul affirm Hardshell doctrine? Does he affirm that many of God's born again people reject and live outside of the gospel? Does he affirm that obedience and disobedience to the gospel are merely temporal matters?

Gowens wrote:

"When these ministers began to circulate these views among the Old Baptists and sought to implement a new paradigm of Biblical interpretation that blurred the classic distinctions between sonship and discipleship—that is, when they married both concepts and taught that regeneration inevitably leads to gospel repentance, faith, and obedience—they stirred confusion among the PB’s. They began to apply passages that Old Baptists had characteristically interpreted in the context of Christian discipleship and the “salvation” that is to be found in obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ in terms of eternal salvation..."

No. Bradley, Mann, and his "liberal brethren," were not implementing a "new paradigm" or doctrine, when they coupled regeneration and conversion, sonship and discipleship, but were rather teaching the Old Baptist doctrine as believed prior to the 1850's, what is expressed in the Philadelphia and London Confessions of faith. They were teaching the same thing Paul taught in the above citation.

Gowens wrote:

"Passages such as Mt. 7:13-14 (i.e. the narrow way vs the broad way), Romans 10:1ff (Paul’s prayer for Israel to be saved), Mr. 16:16 (the salvation in believing and being baptized), Acts 16:31 (Paul’s counsel to the Philippian jailor) and others that had almost, without exception, been viewed in terms of discipleship among mainstream PB’s were now reinterpreted by these men in terms of eternal salvation. This blurring of distinctions that PB’s have deemed crucial to hermeneutical integrity posed a threat to the very heart and soul of the gospel of grace, as we believe it."

Gowens reveals the manner in which Hardshells approach holy scripture. They take their doctrines to the Bible rather getting them from it. He could just as well include the above words of the apostle Paul about "such passages"! Gowens and his hardliner brethren would try to say that the verse has nothing to do with eternal salvation! He believes that many of the Lord's "born again" people are walking the "broad way" that leads to death! He cannot find a Baptist who taught such nonsense prior to the formation of the modern Hardshell church! He believes that Paul was only praying for the temporal deliverance of the Israelites in Romans 10: 1, 2! He believes Paul was not discussing eternal salvation in Romans!

Bradley, Mann, and the "liberal brethren," are not "reinterpretting" the Bible or historic "Old" Baptist faith, in interpreting the above passages, and many more like them, when they see them dealing with eternal salvation, rather than what is merely temporal.

"Hermeneutical integrity"? That is a joke! Laughable if it weren't serious! To preach that faith in Christ is necessary for eternal salvation and new birth, that is a "threat" to the "gospel of God's grace"? No, what is a real "threat" go the gospel and the salvation of souls, is the teaching of Hardshellism, the teaching that you can be an unbeliever, a Christ rejecter, and still be saved in heaven! Hyper Calvinism is the real "threat"!

Gowns wrote:

"And this current controversy deals with an issue of equal importance. In fact, it deals with the very heart and soul of who we are as Primitive Baptists. It is this very practice of distinguishing between Unconditional Eternal Salvation and Conditional Gospel Salvation that separates PB’s from virtually every other group, even those that profess to believe in the Doctrines of Grace."

Here is evidence that demonstrates the cultic nature of the Primitive Baptists. They see themselves as the only ones who properly interpret scripture in the area of salvation. In my book on the Hardshells I give the reasons why the PB's are a cult. The "very heart and soul" of PB's is to condemn all efforts to preach the gospel to the lost.

Gowens wrote:

"I know of no other group whose message is as consistent as the Old Baptist message. I heartily believe that it is the truth. To understand that certain passages refer to eternal salvation and that others have to do with how the child of God is supposed to walk and serve God in this life as a grateful response to His amazing grace—to understand that God’s gift of salvation is wholly unconditional on man’s part but that glorifying Him by a life of faith and obedience involves man’s will and deliberate effort—to understand that discipleship does not affect or determine whether or not a person will live in heaven after they die—is to make sense of the Bible in a way that no other group besides Primitive Baptists can do. I don’t think that is a matter of trivial or minor importance at all."

The Hardshells have a cultic view of themselves. They have the "we be Abraham's seed" mentality. They see themselves as the Christian "elite," the "elect within the elect." You can see the arrogance in the above statements. Only they "make sense of the Bible."

Again Gowens repeats his assertion that obeying the gospel and following Christ "does not affect or determine whether a person" is saved or lost. How a person can read the Bible and make such a statement is incredible. Gowens says this is a critical matter, one of major importance. One wonders why? If what a person believes does not affect his eternal standing with God, but only affects his temporal blessings, then who, we may ask, makes believing and obeying the gospel a "trivial" matter?Is it not the Hardshells? It is no wonder that the Hardshells have had numerous divisions over the subject of "No-Hellism" and universalism.

Gowens wrote:

"These are the actual statements from various PB ministers that started this great crisis. But as some of our ministers recognized these statements as a hybrid form of “bullet-in-the-hole Calvinism” and these brethren were challenged on the claim that the gospel is instrumental to eternal salvation, they retreated to other ground. They then began to espouse that “everything happens in the new birth”, that is, when a person is born again, he automatically believes in Christ, repents of his sins, grows in grace, and perseveres in holiness...They were saying that if a person has truly been born again, he will repent, he will believe, he will persevere; those who do not give evidence by their disobedience that they have never truly been born again."

Gowens cited statements from those elders in the "liberal movement" in making his charges. But, the making of the preaching of the gospel an instrument of God in eternally saving his elect, is taught clearly in scripture, so those who preach it are preaching Bible. They are also preaching what was the Baptist faith prior to the rise of neo Hardshellism. Notice how Gowens denies that one must repent and believe in Christ to be eternally saved! How unscriptural! Obviously, the preaching of this Hardshell doctrine is the real "threat"! How absurd to affirm that unrepentant, Christ and gospel rejecting sinners, are "born again"! Why won't Gowens and his hardline "ultraist" brethren come forth and debate these things?

Gowens wrote:

"It all stems from an effort to dismiss the practice of distinguishing between eternal and temporal salvation, the one feature in Biblical interpretation that makes PB theology more consistent than any other theological grid."

It is ironic that Gowens and his Hardshell brethren claim to be "Primitive," or "Original," or "Old" Baptists, when they say such things! Gowens should give us the historical proof that any Baptist (of the Calvinistic or Particular ones), espoused such propositions of falsehood, prior to the 19th century! This he cannot do, however. The true "Primitive" Baptists endorsed the London and Philadelphia confessions of faith and clearly stated their views further in their individual church "articles of faith." I would love to have a debate with them on "Who Are The Primitive Baptist?"

"Theological grid"? That is laughable, and ironic. They, it can easily be shown, are the ones who have taken theological "grids" TO scripture and made the scriptures void by their traditions. What a Hardshell "grid"! They are the ones who claim to "rightly divide the word of truth," yet they are the only ones who sub-divide into neat little categories! I challenge Gowens to tell us where he got the category of "regenerated unbeliever"? Who added to the matrix grid then? It was not Paul, Peter, or John. Not Jesus. Who divided the Bible up by saying "there are two kinds of salvation in the Bible" and "there are two kinds of believing in the Bible" and "there are two kinds of repentance in the Bible," and "there are two kinds of" this, that, and the other?

Gowens wrote:

"But now it seems that this evolving view is returning full circle to where it began. One of these men recently said regarding his labors in a foreign country, “We held up Christ to them in the gospel; they turned to Him and He saved them.” (again, a direct quote). In all candor, that sounds more like Missionary Baptist doctrine to me than Primitive Baptist doctrine. So, to make a long story short, it appears that their position is again morphing back into its original form."

Fascinating! How he can legitimately claim to know and believe holy scripture and yet condemn people who testify of Christ and who speak of those who "turn to him" and whose jargon is - "the Lord saved such and such a man"? Who talks more scripturally in this regard? The "Primitive" or the "Missionary" Baptists?

"Morphing back into its original form"? But, if that is so, then the original form is the one expressed in the old confessions and articles. Gowen's Hardshellism is not historic among Baptists but is a late 1800's creation "hybrid." But, it is clear that the "orginal form" of Gowen's brethren began in the mid to late 1800's with the likes of Potter, Cayce, Daily, and Thompson.

"Where it began"? Well, "it" began in the mid to late 1800's, if "it" is modern Hardshellism. It "began" with those whom John Watson called "ultraist" brethren (in his book "The Old Baptist Test"). It began with Hardshell leaders like Lemuel Potter, S.F. and C.H. Cayce, some of the famous Thompson preachers, in the mid to late 1800's.

"Evolving"? I would call it "reforming." It can be shown, historically, that Gowen's "ultraist" brethren are the ones who have been "evolving" over the past 150 years or so. Will he come forward and demonstrate how his group of Hardshells can trace themselves, unchanged, over the past 150 years?

Gowens wrote:

"Ask yourself “Is there any context in which a real, died-in-the-wool Primitive Baptist would accept the statement ‘The gospel minister is God’s instrument in the eternal salvation of the elect’?” Is there any context in which a PB could endorse that quote? How about, ‘A certain amount of Christian orthodoxy is necessary to final salvation’? Is that what Primitive Baptists believe? No. That’s what Calvinism asserts. Such a claim is a smokescreen – a rhetorical trick – designed to distract people from what was actually said."

The true original Baptists taught that "the gospel minister" is an instrument of God in the salvation of the elect. Can Gowens give us some citation of our forefathers, prior to the 1850 (1840? 1830? etc.)? Why doesn't Gowens give us some citations from Baptists, prior to the 19th century, who taught as he and his brethren?

Gowens wrote:

"We’re not talking about novices here; we’re not talking about immature, impressionable beginners in the faith, but about some of the most respected and trusted ministers among the PB’s."

Well, that surely ought to cause Gowens and his brethren to think seriously! Their ablest ministers acknowledging their departures from the true Old Baptist faith! Men who know their Bibles best are repudiating the Hardshell's departures from historic Baptist faith!

Gowens wrote:

" of the leading preachers of this movement wrote that there are “REAL, VITAL differences” (emphasis his) and that we are experiencing a “revival of the truth among Primitive Baptists” in these days."

A "revival"! Yes, that is what the Hardshell "hardliners," like Gowens, need. They need to see how their views are not historic Baptist teaching and confess the Hardshell departures from the faith. The reason why the Hardshells have been dwindling and dieing out for years. The only hope for Hardshells is to follow the lead of these trusted ministers and return to the faith of their fathers. Yes, they are "vital differences."

Gowens wrote:

"Q: What troubles you most about the Calvinistic view of perseverance?

MG: Without any hesitation, I would say that this view fosters a climate of condescension and judgmentalism. It creates a culture of super-saints, who do everything right—from homeschooling, to raising organic vegetables, to taking notes in church and repeating a catechism—and then proceed to scrutinize the rest of us under a cloak of “concern”. It is not a gospel for sinners, but for the righteous – for people who have all the boxes checked. It sets a person up as a judge to determine whether or not another individual has truly been saved. Probably two decades ago, a fellow minister boasted to me that he had been preaching on the marks of the unregenerate and had over half of his church members questioning whether or not they had ever been born again."

When Gowens condemns those who believe in perseverance, he is condemning his own forefathers! Gospel for the righteous? Ironic that Gowens cannot see how his accusation is more suitable to himself. Who refuses to preach to the unregenerate? Who denies the present responsibility to obey the Great Commission? Who doesn't have any concern for the lost?

I doubt that the "fellow minister" did any "boasting" about discovering that many of his church members were unregenerate. I rather think he was stating grief and acknowledging the fact that the preaching of Hardshellism has caused people to think they are saved when they are not, a charge I fully substantiate in my book on the Hardshells.

Gowens wrote:

"I have to admit that this preoccupation with the question of whether a person is born again or not is completely foreign to my frame of reference. It never even enters my mind when I go to a ball game or a school concert to question whether the person beside me is a child of God or not."

Does not this confession prove that he has no gospel for the lost? No word to speak to them? Does it not show how he has no concern for the lost? He has no gospel for the sick! He is the one who only has a gospel for the righteous, for that one whom he thinks has been born again.

Said Gowens:

"When people adopt an “I’m-more-spiritual-than-you-because-I-tithe…or homeschool…or wear a bonnet…or make my own bread…or don’t have a television…or take notes in church” mindset, a culture of legalism prevails."

Again, this is highly ironic. It is the Hardshells, the ones represented by Gowens, who have such an attitude. Don't the Hardshlls claim that "they only" preach the truth of the gospel? That they are they "only ones" who have remained uncorrupted and the "only ones" entitled to be judged the "church of Christ" and "kingdom of God"?

I doubt that the reformed "liberal" brethren are being properly represented in this description. Probably the message of the "liberal" brethren has been to affirm that good works and persevering and growing are the only sure evidences of regeneration and the lazy "do nothing" Hardshells feel condemned in themselves.

Gowens wrote:

"Years ago when I was reading the Puritans, I lost the peace and joy and assurance of my salvation, for I could never feel that I had attained the point that I could say that I was persevering. Try as I might, I could never seem to measure up. The more I examined myself, the more corruption I could see within."

Gowens here reflects the mentality of the Hardshells. They assume everyone is regenerate and do not feel any obligation to prove themselves. Gowens does not want to examine himself. Gowens wants to obtain his assurance by convincing himself that he is saved simply because he has religious interests. A universalist finds assurance in a different place than other Christians. Hardshells, like Gowens, have so narrowed the definition of what it means to be regenerated and born again, that nearly all of humanity can be assured of salvation.

Gowens wrote:

"Q: The argument has been made that modern PB’s, with their insistence on the practice of distinguishing between eternal salvation and temporal salvation, have departed from their roots and that these brethren are simply attempting to take the Old Baptists back to the faith of their forefathers—that this emphasis on “perseverance” is what Primitive Baptists originally believed. How do you answer that claim?

MG: Well, that is the very same argument made by the “missionary” Baptist Throgmorton in the Throgmorton-Potter debate of July 12, 1887. They debated the question “Who Are the Primitive Baptists?” for four days at Fulton, KY, with Elder Throgmorton claiming that the “missionaries” were holding true to the faith of their fathers, and Elder Potter claiming that the “hardshells” were the original Baptists. Both quoted extensively from history, finding ample evidence for their respective views in ancient Creeds and Confessions. Of course, both sides claimed victory after the discussion. I think that the premise of this claim is the assumption that the 1689 London Baptist Confession is the standard of orthodoxy—the “litmus test” of what our Baptist forefathers believed. That premise is arguable—in fact, it is very suspect. Elder Harold Hunt has written at length on this issue; he does a masterful job of showing that the 1689 was an attempt to construct an ecumenical document for the sake of unifying the English Baptists, but that it was unsuccessful. I believe that the use of Confessions as an instrument to promote unity tends toward credalism. Confessions can promote uniformity, but uniformity is not the same thing as “the unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4)."

Two things are worth noting from these words, from the question and answer. Gowens, in order to convince his brethren that their views on salvation are original and primitive, cites from the debate that Lemuel Potter had with W. P. Throgmorton, in the late 1880's. Why does he not go further back than Potter? Potter and company were the ones who created the modern Hardshell denomination.

Notice how Gowens, like his modern brethren, repudiate the London Confession of Faith, and yet this is the document (via Philadelphia Confession) that all his forefathers embraced as stating what is the "Primitive" or "Old" Baptist faith. Why did his forefathers not reject it as he does? Is it not because Gowens and his brethren have departed from it and cannot therefore legitimately claim to be "orginal" or "primitive"?

Gowens wrote:

"Q: Another common criticism is that the terminology of “temporal salvation” and the practice of what you call “rightly dividing the word of truth” in distinguishing between an unconditional eternal salvation and a conditional gospel salvation is a relatively new hermeneutic, or manner of interpreting Scripture – that it’s only been around since about 1900.

MG: I answer that by saying, first, (1) It is not true. John Gill distinguished between eternal salvation and temporal salvation, and actually used the terminology, numerous times in his commentaries. He lived and ministered in the 1700’s. Furthermore, quotes could be produced from C. H. Cayce showing that his PB grandfather made such distinctions, early in the 1800’s. I would answer secondly, as I just stated, (2) Controversy tends to refine theological precision."

The question posed to Gowens is a good one, indicting his Hardshell brethren. He attemps to prove that his making all verses that use the word "saved" (or one of its forms) and speak of conditions, like faith and repentance, refer to temporal salvation, and not to eternal salvation. He thinks John Gill agrees with him. He does not, a point I have proven clearly in my book on the Hardshells, devoting several chapters to Gill and the Hardshells. Did Gill ever think that the word "saved" ever meant "temporal" salvation? Yes, and so do all other Christians. No Christian, that I know, believes that the words of Paul - "except these abide in the ship, you cannot be saved," thinks that this was dealing with eternal salvation, but a salvation from physical death. But, does this mean that Gill and others believe that all passages that speak of being saved by faith in the gospel, and by repentance, is dealing, likewise, with a temporal salvation?

Gowens can well cite C. H. Cayce, for he is the one who promoted this view and gave it prominence among Hardshells, but I deny that this doctrine of "time salvation," as it has evolved since the days of Cayce, was the view of his Hardshell "anti mission" brethren of the first part of the 19th century. It surely was not a view held by any prior to the 19th century.

Gowens wrote:

"Men like J. H. Oliphant saw that this view bypassed the moral will of a child of God. That’s why he and other notable ministers in our ranks stated “We believe there is a time salvation, separate and distinct from eternal salvation” in the footnotes to the Fulton documents. I concede that the use of the terminology became more prevalent around 1900, but it was only because the need to make the distinction was forced by the absoluter controversy."

Again, Gowens cites a Hardshell leader from the late 1800's! Why not go further back than Potter, C. H. Cayce, or Oliphant? By citing authors from the late 1800's he is showing that this is as far back as he can go with his novel views.

Next, Gowens refers to the "Fulton documents." These were the results of nearly a hundred Hardshells who got together in Fulton, Kentucky, at the start of the 20th century, to affirm their historic allegiance to the London Confession of faith, the very one now condemned by Gowens and his brethren! Granted, the Hardshells, in the Fulton meeting, though confessing that the old confession was their history and heritage, nevertheless began to do a "hatchet job" on the old confession, making it, by their attached "footnotes," to say what it didn't say on matters which Hardshells could not endorse. Many Hardshells, since the Fulton meeting, have confessed the dishonesty of the brethren who met at Fulton.

Gowens wrote:

"Usually a sincere inquirer will ask what you mean and you can then say that it is important in interpreting scripture to distinguish between a person’s sonship or relation to God, which is wholly unconditional, and a person’s discipleship or fellowship with God, which is conditional on the part of the child of God. If you don’t make such a distinction in interpreting Scripture, you will be more confused than a termite in a yo-yo."

This is a joke. It is Hardshell doctrine that confuses! It is the Hardshell intention to make all verses, dealing with means and conditions, to deal only with "time salvation," that confuses!

Gowens wrote:

" for God must supersede neighbor-love. This current quest to maintain the integrity of PB doctrine is too.

If you ask me, there is nothing more unloving than to take a church that was living together in peace and unity and to split it into sawdust by foisting “reformed theology” upon it.

I’ve told several people, “If you don’t like the tension, don’t get mad at me. I didn’t start it. Be upset with the men who have changed their position and are trying to change the Old Baptists. Tell them that you don’t appreciate the strife that has been caused by the attempt to convince PB’s that they’ve been wrong for the past 100 years.”

Gowens believes that his "liberal" brethren are not showing love to neighbors by their attempting to reform their brethren and by restoring them to the truth and to the faith of their fathers, but I would argue that it is he and his brethren who are not showing love to their neighbors when they refuse to witness to them or show an interest in their salvation.

Gowens wrote:

"Q: Hasn’t the tension died down some in the past couple of years?

MG: As a matter of fact, no – it has increased.

This is good news! I hope and pray that the effort to reform the PB's will continue and that it will be blessed by God. I hope more and more of their trusted ministers will search their Bibles and their Baptist history and see their errors and become truly "Primitive."

Gowens wrote:

"Q: Where do you think this will lead? Where is it heading? Is a “division” in the making?

MG: No. There is no “division” here. There is a “departure” – a departure from the faith -- by a relatively small group of PB’s. People sometimes have the impression that PB’s are pretty well evenly divided. That’s not true. There are really only about two dozen ministers who are intrigued by reformed theology. People may have the impression that it is more widespread, but they shouldn’t mistake the circulation of a single media ministry as evidence that PB’s endorse these outlandish views. It is not representative of where PB’s are.

In fact, in any State you might name, I could name perhaps one or two churches that are caught up in this attempt to remake the Old Baptists, but scores, or even hundreds, that are still committed to walking in the old paths, wherein is the good way."

Actually, there have been several divisions over these things among the Hardshells. The "means question" has always been a thorn in the side of this cult.

No, Gowens, it is you and your brethren who have "departed from the faith." Want to come forth and debate it, as did your founders, like Potter and Daily?