Aug 24, 2011

James Leo Garrett on Hardshell Origins


In his book "Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study," James Leo Garrett (no relation) wrote the following about Hardshell denominational origins. See here

"Those Baptist churches in the United States which deliberately opposed the Trienniel Convention and its related societies, the Baptist state conventions, and Baptist colleges and seminaries between 1820 and 1840 came to have a separate existence and chose to be called Primitive Baptists on the assumption that Missionary Baptists were innovators, whereas they represented the original Baptist movement."

"The Kehukee Primitive Baptist Association in North Carolina in 1827 circulated Joshua Lawrence's (1778-1843) "Declaration of the Reformed Baptist Churches in the state of North Carolina." It anticipated or expressed "virtually all Primitive Baptist arguments against Missionary Baptist practice: lack of a definite biblical mandate, overemphasis on money, overevaluation of secular learning, large and potentially subversive organizations, and friendship with 'the world.'" Yet Primitive Baptists have been reluctant to frame and adopt new confessions of faith. Some have been prone to cite or quote from the Philadelphia Confession, whereas others have reckoned as parallel to and reflective of Primitive Baptist beliefs three confessions: the 1655 Midland Confession of England, the 1777 Kehukee Confession of Faith, and the principles of Faith of the Sandy Creek Association. Normally Primitive Baptists have held to the existence of a succession of Primitive Baptist churches from the New Testament era, especially through the Waldenses or the Welsh Baptists." ("Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study," pgs. 209, 210)

What is interesting is the fact that the first Hardshells called themselves "Reformed Baptists," and not "Primitive" or "Old School." This does not mean that Joshua Lawrence and his "Reformed Baptists of North Carolina" would identify today with those who call themselves "Reform Baptists," men like James White of Alpha and Omega ministries. They would no doubt agree with the reformed "ordo salutis" that avers that "regeneration precedes faith," but they would disagree that faith is instantly the automatic result of regeneration as taught by most of today's "Reformed Baptists."

The fact that the first Hardshells selected the term "Reformed Baptist" is interesting and revealing. First, it demonstrates that they recognized that they were a minority, and that their views were not the traditional views of Particular or Regular Baptists. Why "reform" the Baptists if they were already Hardshell in faith and practice? Second, the term "reformed" was also adopted by Alexander Campbell, the founder of Campbellism. He too looked to "reform" the old Baptist.

Bob Ross, a preacher friend of mine, has written extensively on both Campbellism and Hardshellism. He cites B.H. Carroll who, in writing on the history of the anti-mission Baptists, said that Campbellism and Hardshellism were "twins." Bob Ross has elaborated on this, writing:

"On this point of doctrine, the Hardshells are much like their Campbellite "twin," while the Campbellites are also divided into many factions, they are generally united in their "Word alone" theory, just as the Hardshells are generally united in their "Spirit alone" theory.

While on the idea of "similarities" between Campbellism and Hardshellism, consider the following:

1. Both were "born" in the early 1800's, apostatizing from "Calvinism."

2. Both systems obtained their "followings" primarily from Presbyterians and unstable Baptists.

3. Both held to a non-Baptist position on the new birth, Campbellism teaching the "Word alone" theory and Hardshellism teaching the "Spirit alone" theory.

4. Both had significant events in 1827 and 1832:

---1827: First Campbellite baptism by Walter Scott "in order to remission of sins."
---1827: Kehukee Declaration in opposition to missionary methods.
---1832: Union of Campbellites and Stoneites as one "movement."
---1832: Black Rock Address in opposition to missionary methods.

These are "watershed" events in the early development of both schisms.

1. Both were molded by magazines -- Campbellism by Campbell's Millennial Harbinger and Hardshellism by Beebe's Signs of the Times and Cayce's Primitive Baptist.

2. Both were adamantly opposed to the "mission methods" used to send the Gospel abroad.

3. Both attributed the most contemptible motives and purposes to those who were engaged in the missionary cause.

4. Both departed from the Baptist Confession of Faith in regard to the Gospel in the Effectual Calling of the elect to Christ.

5. Both, in the course of time, fragmentized over internal controversies and leaders (usually those who published magazines). "Patternism" produced "factions."

6. Both made a major issue over "instrumental music in worship."

7. Both became "exclusivists," claiming that they were the "only" church of Christ, they only held "scriptural" baptism, and they only practiced "scriptural" worship and church order.

8. Both adopted the "command, example, inference" hermeneutic.

9. Both developed a strong anti-premillennialist eschatology.

10. Both promoted the Pelagian philosophy that "command implies ability." They both appeal to "logic" to set aside the plain statements of Scripture, denying that the power of the Holy Spirit accompanies the Gospel in the new birth.

See here

We can add that they both considered themselves "reformers."

Garrett mentions the attempt by some Hardshells, like Michael Ivey, to find a "succession" of their churches and sentiments through the Welsh Baptists of the Midlands Association, but this effort is a dismal failure, as I have recently shown in my online debate with Hardshell Jason Brown. I also plan to do a more extensive review of Ivey's work in the near future.

But, this attempt to find succession through the Welsh Baptists goes against the Hardshell affirmations of the past, who all found their succession through the Philadelphia and London Confessions of Faith.

Aug 21, 2011

Gill on Man's Duty to Believe & Repent

Part I, Section XXX of The Cause of God and Truth

“Though man lies under such a disability and has neither power nor will of himself to come to Christ for life; yet his not coming to Christ, when revealed in the external ministry of the Gospel, as God’s way of salvation, is criminal and blameworthy; since the disability and perverseness of his will are not owing to any decree of God, but to the corruption and vitiosity of his nature through sin. And therefore, since this vitiosity of nature is blameworthy, that which follows upon it, and is the effect of it must be so too .”

Aug 17, 2011

Begotten of God To...?


Scriptures speak of being "born again" of the Spirit (John 3: 3-8), or of being "begotten of God." (I John 5: 18) In this "birth" or "conception" something is begotten or produced. All recognize that "life" is the chief product. Also, that a "person" is created or brought into existence. When a person is "born of God," he becomes a child of God, a "new creature," a spiritual being. But, is "life" and "existence" the only things begotten? Or, are there other things that are "begotten" when life is begotten? What saith the scriptures?

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John 5: 4)

"Faith" is here identified as being that which is "begotten." Faith overcomes because it is born of God. When a person is spiritually begotten life is begotten, but so also is faith "begotten."

Some will argue that this proves that one is born again "before" faith, but this would be an error. It would be wrong because the birth experience does not comprehend merely the cause, but also the effect. If we say that one is "begotten before life" we do not mean that one can be "begotten" who does not live and exist. We cannot say that "begotten" refers to the cause separate from the effect. A person cannot be said to be born until he is actually born.

This is why I have opposed the idea of placing a strict chronology on the relationship between faith and birth. They are concurrent, or simultaneous, and so intimately connected together that one cannot experience one without the other. When a man is born again, he is born "unto" something. Effects are immediate and automatic. Those effects include life, faith, hope, knowledge, and love for God and his Son Jesus Christ.

Men are begotten to life, but there is no gap in time between being begotten and being alive. Likewise, when men are begotten to life, they are at the same time begotten to faith, and there is no gap in time between the two, for there is only one "begetting" and not two separate ones.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (I Peter 1: 3)

Peter says men are "begotten unto a living hope," which is similar to John saying men are begotten to faith. Hope implies faith. They are joined together by an unbreakable bond.

If a person does not have Christian faith and hope, then he has not been "begotten" of God.

Hope and faith also implies knowledge and understanding, and if men are begotten to hope and faith, then they are likewise begotten to saving knowledge. Those who are begotten, in scriptures, instinctly and naturally recognize their Father in Heaven, and their Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, for this too is a part of what it means to have Christian faith and hope begotten in a person.

"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Gal. 4: 6)

The immediate result of the Spirit entering a soul, in this divine begetting, is the soul crying out, in recognition, of their Heavenly Father.

Though there is no verse that says that people are "begotten" unto "love," as it is said of faith and hope, yet the same idea is expressed in other passages that describe this multifaceted miracle of spiritual birth.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal. 5: 22, 23)

"Fruit" here is from the Greek word "karpos" and may denote, besides the fruit of trees, the fruit of one's loins, of what is begotten or produced. The context will determine the precise usage. It often signifies "that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result."

The Hardshells cite this verse and use it to uphold their view that regeneration precedes conversion, and that the former can exist without the latter. To the Hardshells, "faith" being a "fruit of the Spirit" means "faith is an after-effect of being begotten of God." Then, having proven this, they then take giant leaps in logic and argue that since fruit is what comes after the tree is first in existence, and oftentimes many years later, so also is it with one "begotten" of God. A spiritually born soul may be fruitless (without any effects of being begotten) for many years before he possesses faith, hope, love, peace, etc.

Faith, hope, love, and peace, etc., are "begotten" (produced, as immediate effects) when a person is "begotten." Thus, we have shown what we are begotten "unto." These things define the kind of "life" begotten. To affirm that any unbeliever in Jesus, that any who have not repented and converted to Christ, are "begotten of God," is a severe error, a "heresy."

Aug 8, 2011

Edwards on Regeneration & Conversion


J.M. Pendleton, under the heading, "Regeneration, With Its Attendants, Repentance And Faith," cites the great Calvinist Jonathan Edwards as saying:

"If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest that by regeneration, or being BEGOTTEN or BORN AGAIN, the same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the Scripture speaks of as efffected by true REPENTANCE, and CONVERSION. I put repentance and conversion together, because the Scripture puts them together (Acts 3:19), and because they plainly signify much the same thing."

Edwards says that "regeneration" is an experience "effected by" both "repentance" and "conversion." That is a Calvinist "ordo salutis," for not all Calvinists insist that regeneration is distinct from conversion, and on the former preceding the latter.