History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 2Here is chapter two of the series on Hardshell Baptists by Brother Bob Ross.
Subject: #2 -- HARDSHELLISM: WHICH FACTION? [04/24--2006]
HISTORY AND HERESIES OF HARDSHELLISM, #2 [04/24--2006]
WHICH PRIMITIVE BAPTIST FACTION IS THE "ORIGINAL CHURCH"?
The "Hardshells" Developed in the Midst of Controversy and Turmoil, and Have Continued to War, Split, and Factionalize.
Whenever a writer sets forth an unsympathetic treatment of a religious group, it is highly unlikely that he will be applauded by the affiliates of that group as having been fair, honest, and objective. Shortly after I published my first introductory article on the "Hardshells," I immediately began to be informed by some of these "sweet brethren" ["sweet" is the most common adjective used in relation to all Hardshell items] that I am ignorant, dishonest, misled, a free-willer, unobjective, a vehement persecutor, writing for personal gain, and similar accolades.
But I have gone through all of this type of response in the past from Campbellites, and this is only to be expected, especially when you are dealing with an extremely factionalized movement which is torn asunder by differences within.
Years ago, in the early 1960's, when I began to write on my little book, History and Heresies of Campbellism, I was greeted with the same type of response. One Campbellite faction did not agree with something I presented, as the source used was allegedly "not sound in the faith;" -- meaning, the source was from another Campbellite faction. I found that there were so many factions it would have been impossible to please them all.
Later on, in the mid-1960's, when I started doing some writing on Landmarkism, one faction did not want to accept what I had quoted from another faction. I had allegedly used an "unsound" source. It seemed that each individual party wanted me to refrain from saying anything, unless I could present it exactly from his perspective.
This characteristic seems to be of the nature of those who are given to the type of exclusivism, patternism, and sectarianism of the cultic mentality.
Primitive Baptist Divisions
After the Baptist denomination began to be influenced to extend its efforts of Gospel ministry beyond the English-speaking countries of England and America, in the late 1700's and early 1800's there was opposition from some in the denomination, especially targeting ministers such as Andrew Fuller, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Luther Rice. If you favored the efforts of these men to reach the unregenerate with the Gospel, you were depicted by their enemies as one who supported the work of the Devil. If you have the "stomach" for reading material which degrades the "missionaries," just get any of the "Old School" or "Primitive Baptist" magazines and books of the 1800's and you will be in "hog heaven."
For several years, in the 1820's and 1830's especially, the common bond of "anti-missionism" seemed to be the great essential that held the Hardshells together. As long as they were "shooting down" the innovators and the newfangled "inventions," they didn't have a lot of time and thought left for fomenting strife and division among themselves.
In due time, however, after the "dust had settled" from the various splits, with the churches and associations aligned with either the "New School" (missionaries) or the "Old School" (anti-missionaries) the spirit of divisiveness began to rip and tear the flesh of the Old Schoolers.
The same thing was happening in the Campbellite movement as well. After the union of the Barton W. Stone "Christian" movement with "Disciples" movement led by Alexander Campbell in the year 1832, the succeeding years have witnessed continual strife and division over various issues within this self-styled "Restoration Movement." As of today, the controversies and splintering continue to thrive. It seems that most of these wars derive from issues created by the ministers who edit "journals" and those who are promoters of "lectureships."
Taking a broad view of the strife and division among the Hardshells, it is apparent from their associational minutes, magazines, and other writings that certain of the preachers, editors, and associational moderators have been at the root of such turmoil. Some Hardshells have been known to have had "Peace Meetings" [Nashville; Donaldson] as a means of trying to settle their differences. The Hardshell "associations" in some areas are infamous for some of the fued'n, fuss'n, and fight'n that they have carried on over various and sundry issues. In Alabama, for example, a couple of the more famous disputes were the George F. Ballew--DeForest Allgood dispute and the Ballew--J. C. Shelton issue, both in the latter 1800's, as presented in A History of Primitive Baptists in Alabama by E. B. Watts. The issue of "predestination" has been the occasion of the unending strife across Primitive Baptist territory and it continues to this day.
During the career of Claud Cayce as editor of The Primitive Baptist magazine, there seemed to be "one-thing-after-another" by way of controversy coming to light on the pages of his journal. For example, there was a great deal of heat generated over what was called the "whole man doctrine" and the "hollow log doctrine." Cayce referred to the controversy as "an unholy war" (9/5/16 TPB).
In more recent times (1973-1975), there was an example of Hardshell bickering over what was called "the devil doctrine." This was in the Powell Valley Association (East Tennessee-Kentucky). The Powell Valley Association's ministerial overlords would not tolerate the view of one of the ministers, and consequently "bars of fellowship" were erected, which is a common practice among some of the Hardshell factions.
In very recent years, even Lassere Bradley, Jr., the celebrated proselyte from the missionary Baptists in the late 1950s, has been put on the grill by some of the more strict Hardshells. There are also reports that Bradley has been having "fellowship" with some of the Southern Baptist theological leaders in Kentucky who are among the "born again before faith" element. Bradley is reportedly "well-heeled" financially, and he may be needed to support those SBC leaders if they continue to follow the downgrade toward Hardshellism.
Such happenings as this are mainly due to the strong emphasis the Hardshells place on "patternism," an attribute which is also found among the more sectarian Campbellites and the Landmark Baptists.
In fact, Elder S. T. Tolley of The Christian Baptist magazine even uses the same terminology of the Campbellites on this "patternism." In his paper of May 1992, page 5, Tolley refers to "direct command, scriptural example, and necessary inference" -- the very same identical "hermeneutic" which was set forth by Thomas Campbell when he launched his "Christian union" movement which ultimately brought about the so-called "Restoration Movement."
Tolley also has borrowed Campbell's slogan, "We speak where the Bible speaks, and we are silent where the Bible is silent" (May 1969, page 1). Tolley claims this is a "very old expression which the Baptist family has made use of," but to our knowledge, it was hatched by Thomas Campbell. For years I have refuted this claim to an infallibility similar to papal infallibility, and Campbellite debaters have been unable to justify it. Contrary to Tolley, Baptists HAVE NOT been the propagators of such rank nonsense as this slogan sets forth. [For a refutation of the slogan, see my book on Campbellism--Its History and Heresies, pages 168, 169].
Three Major Primitive Baptist Divisions
THE THREE PRIMARY DIVISIONS among Primitive Baptists -- all of which teach that sinners are "born again before faith," that "regeneration precedes faith," the same idea propagated by the pedo-regenerationists and hybrid Calvinists of our time -- are:
(1) THE "ABSOLUTERS," including the successors of Gilbert Beebe and his Signs of the Times,
(2) THE "CONDITIONALISTS," represented in part by the heirs of Claud Cayce, and --
(3) THE PROGRESSIVES, a faction which has Sunday Schools and some other "innovations." Hybrid Calvinist James White has preached for this group. Presumably, they agree with White's teaching of "regeneration precedes faith."
There are other Primitive Baptists, however, which do not affiliate with these three categories. I have heard from some along the eastern seaboard who repudiate all ties with these factions or groups, except maybe on some points of doctrine. [For a concise delineation of various "Primitive Baptists," see the May 1971, Volume XLII, No. 5 issue of Concordia Theological Monthly, The Primitive Baptists of North America by A. C. Piepkorn, page 297-314 -- published by Concordia Publishing House, 3558 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, Mo.]
It seems only fitting, or perhaps paradoxical, that predestination, which was used effectively by Gilbert Beebe (1800-1881), Samuel Trott (1783-1866), and Joshua Lawrence (1778-1843) to bash the missions' cause, should later become the primary "bone of contention" within the Hardshell brotherhood. From the "Conditionalist" faction's point of view, most of the blame for the controversy must fall upon the shoulders of Mr. Beebe who, according to Hardshell historian J. S. Newman, wrote "the first article that was ever put forth by the Baptists purporting to be Old Baptist doctrine that contained universal predestination," and the article appeared in Beebe's Editorials, Vol. 1, p. 7 [The Baptists in all Ages by J. S. Newman, pages 126, 127].
Within the Hardshell ranks, Elder Newman may be right in his assertion; he also asserts that Daniel Parker (1781-1844) introduced "Two Seedism" among the Primitive Baptists. While "Two Seedism" never secured an extensive following in Hardshell ranks, it has certainly made its "dent" in creating wide disturbances, and frequent references are made to "Two-Seeders" and "Two-Seedism" in Hardshell histories, minutes, and writings. Dr. John H. Watson (1798-1866), in particular, took the "Manicheo Parkerite Heresy" to task in his book, The Old Baptist Test (pages 243-342). To the discomfort of modern Hardshells, Dr. Watson attributes blame to Parkerism for the opposition to "means" that became "part and parcel" of the "Hardshell" image across the country.
"Direct Voice" Regeneration Theory
While Hardshells such as the Cayces (S. F. and Claud H.) swung away from Parker on "Two-Seedism" and Beebe on "absolutism," it seems that all Hardshellism was successfully inoculated against missions to the unregenerate by Beebe's novel theory of DIRECT VOICE or DIRECT SPEAKING REGENERATION. From my own research, I have no doubt that J. S. Newman could have truthfully asserted that GILBERT BEEBE was the FIRST to spawn this theory among the anti-mission movement.
Dr. John Gill (1697-1771), who was called "the soundest, the most learned, and the most able Baptist theologian since the death of the Apostle John -- the author of a complete critical Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, and a Complete Body of Divinity--the only man that ever hunted and drove out Arminianism from the explanation of every verse in the Bible, from the beginning of Genesis" [Hassell's History of the Church of God, page 651], was already "on record" as expounding John 5:25 ("the dead shall hear the VOICE of the Son of God") as being "HIS GOSPEL, which is a voice of love, grace, and mercy, of life and liberty, of peace, pardon, righteousness, 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 in Christ, a life of communion with him, and shall live eternally with him hereafter." [Gill's Commentary on John 5:25].
While the Hardshells take a liking to Dr. Gill in his anti-Arminianism, they part company with him in his "Calvinism." Contrary to a popular misconception, the larger percentage of Primitive Baptists are not Calvinists, neither on predestination nor effectual calling. The "Conditionalists" limit predestination to the matter of "eternal salvation," and they believe in calling apart from "means." They teach what they call "time salvation" which "only you can do and God is not going to do that salvation for you" [Frank Buttrey, For the Poor magazine, May 1992, page 69].
This "time salvation" has to do with life after the new birth; many Hardshells apply all commands to this "time salvation," as their "logic" dictates the Pelagian philosophy that "command implies ability," therefore the commands "must" be addressed to the "living." I will have more to say on this in subsequent material.
Dr. Gill was "set aside" as a "contradictory witness" by the Hardshell debater John R. Daily in his debate with W. P. Throgmorton. To his own way of thinking, Daily considered Gill contradictory in what Gill says in his Body of Divinity when compared to the Gill Commentary. Had Daily simply left it at that -- alleging what he himself considered to be a "contradiction" -- it would at least have been an honest appraisal, although erroneous on Daily's part; however, Daily concocted the bemeaning notion that Gill wrote the Commentary when he was immature ["Was it written when he was a boy and didn't know?" Daily asks in relation to the Body of Divinity. "By no means," says Daily, implying immaturity in Gill when he wrote the Commentary.] Daily attributes the Body of Divinity to Gill's "mature years." But the fact is, the only "contradiction" is in Daily's mind, not in Dr. John Gill! The Calvinist sees no contradiction, as Calvinism affirms with Dr. Gill that the sole efficient power in regeneration is the Holy Spirit (not the means themselves), but in doing His supernatural work, means are instrumentally used.
For example, the Bible was inspired by the efficient power of the Holy Spirit of God, yet every word of it was instrumentally penned by men. The Spirit used "means," therefore, to give us the inspired Word of God. The use of men as the instrumental "means" does not mean that the efficient power was of men. This might appear to be a contradiction according to the logic of men such as Daily who see contradictions in Dr. Gill, but in such minds the contradiction was born and died. [For Elder Daily's remarks, see the Daily-Throgmorton DEBATE, pages 240-243].
In the course of these chapters, it will be noted, Hardshells have no Baptist writings prior to the 1800's which affirm the type of doctrine they believe as to the New Birth, Effectual Calling, the Work of the Holy Spirit, and the "Place of the Gospel," or the Truth, in relation to the Spirit's work. Particular notice will be taken of how the Hardshells have tampered with the old London Confession of 1689 and have openly repudiated many of its teachings, especially concerning Effectual Calling.
I have one Hardshell book, written by Elder Lee Hanks, entitled The Church of God; it is a reprint edition by the Christian Baptist Publishing Company of the "Conditionalist" faction. This reprint edition contains a reproduction of the London Confession to which a "hatchet-job"> was done by way of making OMISSIONS. Also, I have before me a copy of the 1900 "footnoted" edition of the London Confession, which was the concoction of an assembly of "Conditionalist" Hardshell divines which met in Fulton, Kentucky. The obvious purpose of the "footnoting" by these Hardshells was to "explain away" the points in the London Confession which the Hardshells did not really believe.
Nothing is more contradictory to the Hardshell claim of being the "original" Baptists than the unseemly torture work they have enacted upon the London Confession of 1689. In material to follow, their disgrace will be thoroughly documented, and there will be no room for doubt that their claim of being the "Primitive Baptists" is farcical and spurious.
Chapter previously published:
#1 -- "Hardshellism" - A Modern Cult