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.

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