Sunday, April 23, 2006

History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 1

Brother Bob Ross has been greatly used of the Lord in publishing the works of the famed London Baptist pastor, Charles H. Spurgeon. In addition to his publishing work, Brother Bob is also an accomplished writer who has penned notable works on many subjects, including the Trinity and the errors of Campbellism.

In this series, Brother Bob will expose the history and the heresies of the Hardshell Baptist movement. I cannot image a more timely or more needed set of articles. We live in a day when some Southern Baptists have tossed overboard the traditional, biblical doctrine of regeneration for the strange belief that a person is born again before placing their trust in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this doctrine is taught and celebrated in Southern Baptist seminaries. This "born again before faith" theory is part-and-parcel of Hardshellism and there is no one more qualified to expose it than Brother Bob Ross.

You will want others to read this important series. Click on the envelope icon at the end of each article in order to easily email the article to a friend or pastor.





In the 1800s, the Baptists suffered at least three major schisms -- the Campbelllite schism of the 1830s, the Hardshell schism of the 1830s, and the Landmark schism in the latter half of the century.

I have written four small books on the Campbellite sect, a small book on the Landmark schism, and a series of articles on Hardshellism which we hope to publish in book form soon. I am still adding materials to this series.

In the light of the current trend of some Southern Baptists to tilt in the direction of "Hardshellism" on the subject of the New Birth, I think it would be interest to my readers to be acquainted with the background of the Hardshell heresy which split the Baptists in the 1830s and led to an anti-evangelism, anti-missionary, anti-soul winning, and anti-outreach of any type to the "unregenerate."

C. H. Spurgeon had to counteract similar theological heresy of this sort in his day, for hyperism and ultra Calvinism were in England in the period of time he pastored in London. He referred to some who "have fallen into one-sided views of gospel doctrines" (MTP, #1170, page 249), and it is to be feared that such is the case with some today in the Southern Baptist Convention.

We are being told today by some -- even by faculty members in the highest halls of theological studies -- that the neo-Presbyterian doctrine of "regeneration precedes faith," or "born again before faith" is in fact a "return" to the faith of our fathers. But we view it differently. Rather, we contend it is the same theological ditch into which some Baptists leaped back in the 19th century and resulted in the formation of the "Primitive Baptist Church," or as they are commonly called, "Hardshell Baptists."

I hope my articles on the History and Heresies of Hardshellism may serve to show both the unscriptural nature of this theory on the New Birth, as well as show to what tragic ends the doctrine leads. -- Bob L. Ross

By Bob L. Ross

Introduction: Through the years, every time I have observed a revival of interest in some part of the country in what is often called the "Doctrines of Grace" or "Calvinism," there has also been a noticeable drift on the part of some to go into the ditch of "Hardshellism." This seems to have always been the case in Baptist history.

Those who have known me for a long time know that I have been writing and publishing materials against Hardshellism as far back as in the 1950s. C. H. Spurgeon confronted the same type of "hyperism" during his day, and he preached a great sermon entitled "The Warrant of Faith," which was directed against the hyperism of some of the contemporaries of his day.

Falling into the ditch of this serious doctrinal error is always a danger. Some people think Hardshells are "Calvinists," but this is not the case. Even the Hardshells will deny they are Calvinists. In fact, they did some torture work on the old Baptist Confession in 1900 to change it in such a way that they could identify with it, but this did not prove to be satisfactory to them, as I shall point out in one of my chapters.

In a word, Hardshells are ANTI-MEANS so far as the New Birth is concerned -- they teach that this is an act of the Holy Spirit wholly apart from the use of "means" such as the Gospel, or the Word of God. This accounts for their anti-missionism across the years since they split from the Baptist denomination in 1832 and formed the "Primitive Baptists" or "Old School Baptists."

Due to the heavy presence of Hardshells and near-Hardshells on the Internet, I think it might be of some value to current readers to have the information in this series on Hardshellism which was published and mailed across the country a few years ago. I have done a little revision on the material as it is here presented. You are invited to reproduce and use this material in any way you find it practical within the bounds of copyright. You might like to print it out on ringed paper and make a notebook of it. -- Bob L. Ross




I lived in Jackson, Tennessee during my school years, and our house was within a very few blocks of the Primitive Baptist Church, located at the corners of Robins and Williams streets. Not once during the many years I lived in Jackson did the "Hardshells" [as they are commonly called in Tennessee and other parts of the South] call on our family to inquire of our spiritual state. And so far as I know, they didn't call on any of our neighbors.

This is the tendency of their doctrine -- a lack of concern for and outreach to the unregenerate.

One of their oldest members was a former farmer who knew my Dad from their past acquaintance back in the farming "country" in West Tennessee where I was born. This very elderly gentleman regularly dropped by the house and chatted about the past with Dad as he passed-by on foot, going to or coming from the Primitive Baptist Church. Yet, it was not to talk about anything to do with Christ or salvation. He was a good old man, and we always appreciated his stopping by; but he never brought up anything about the state of our souls. He always had a garden, raised turnips, and he sometimes offered some of them to us. I enjoyed his visits, and even have some cassette recordings of him and my Dad talking about events and people in their lives in the early 1900s. But he never said anything to us about our souls or the need of salvation.

You see, the Hardshells don't believe that witnessing and preaching are of any use as "means" in bringing the unregenerate to Christ. They oppose the position of the old Baptist Confession which affirms that the Word, or Gospel, is used by the Holy Spirit in bringing forth the new birth London Confession of Faith, chapters 10 and 14). They teach that the sinner is "regenerated before faith" directly by the Holy Spirit, therefore means are not essential.

A few months after I graduated from High School, I was converted during an evangelistic meeting sponsored by the Baptists. Shortly thereafter, efforts were made by the local Hardshells to proselyte me to Hardshellism. It was rather amusing to me to see the Hardshells, who did not believe the Gospel was of any value for me in my unregenerate state, NOW wanted me to adopt their doctrine! I had been converted under Gospel preaching, but now they wanted me to come in with them and stand against preaching the Gospel to the lost! As little as I then knew of the Bible, I had learned enough to recognize Hardshell heresy.

Proselytism is perhaps the primary way whereby Hardshells obtain members (other than from their own families), as they have for years been referred to in the past as "Do Nothings" when it comes to making any effort to reach the unregenerate with the Gospel. Their idea of "missions"
is when one of their preachers lines-up some "appointments" for a preaching tour amongst their churches. They claim that the Commission of Christ was for the apostles only, and we have no commission today to preach the Gospel to the unregenerate. They claim that the Gospel today is only for those who are already "alive," having supposedly been regenerated by the Holy Spirit separate and apart from the Spirit's use of any "means." They often talk about "fishing for live fish, not dead fish."

Many of their proselyted members confess to having come over to the Hardshells from "Calvinistic" groups. They latch-on to someone who believes that New Birth takes place apart from faith rather than being the creation of faith by the Holy Spirit's blessing the Word of God, and by the use of "logic," the Hardshells are often able to convince that person of Hardshell doctrine.

Awhile back, I engaged in corresponding with a Hardshell preacher who years before had been ordained by a Kentucky church ("missionary") where I was once a member. He had been in the Bible Baptist Fellowship, attended their Springfield, Missouri school, and then later had become a Calvinist. He came to our church, wanting to be ordained, and then he was going to start a new work in southern Ohio. He didn't have much success in this effort, and somehow he fell under the influence of the Hardshells in the Cincinnati area. These Cincinnati Hardshells were pastored by Lassere Bradley Jr., another preacher, who was once a missionary Calvinistic Baptist pastor but had been proselyted from the missionary Baptists to the Hardshells in the late 1950s.

Bradley had gone to school at Clarence Walker's Lexington Baptist College and in the mid-1950's was pastoring the New Testament Baptist Church in St. Bernard [Cincinnati], Ohio, and was an independent Landmark Calvinist. I knew Bradley personally, often corresponded with him, and he even used some of my writings in his Baptist Witness paper. I first
met him at Pastor Henry Mahan's parsonage at Pollard Baptist Church in Ashland, Kentucky. At that time, Bradley agreed with the Baptist Confession of Faith and quoted it in his Doctrines of Grace booklet. However, he soon began to depart into hyper-Calvinism, became an "anti-Sunday schooler," and eventually wound up going to the Hardshells in October of 1958 (The Primitive Baptist, 10/58, p. 210, 211). Thereafter, he reprinted his booklet and removed the quotes from the Baptist Confession which he no longer believed.

The service at which Bradley was baptized was described as "Another Pentecost" by The Primitive Baptist magazine. Preachers from 15 states were in attendance as an estimated 900 Hardshells gathered for what seems to have been the greatest event in Hardshellism during my lifetime. "Big name" preachers among the Hardshells were on hand, such as Monsees, Lord, Darity, Daily, and many more. Bradley and several of the other young preachers [Norbert Ward, Paul Trautner, Ellis Randall] were said to be "liberated for the work of the ministry."

Since that Hardshell "Pentecost," Bradley has gone on to be somewhat of a national "voice" for the cause of Hardshellism. According to his paper, he is on multitudes of radio stations in a large number of states, and he published the Primitive Baptist Church Directory which lists the churches, preachers, and publications which I assume are of the same order of Hardshellism as Bradley. He is constantly on the go, filling "appointments" at Hardshell churches all over the country where there are such churches. But this is not for evangelism to the unregenerate, for Bradley's ministry is strictly to "feed the sheep" with Hardshell doctrine. Some of the Primitive Baptists ["Absoluters" faction] refer to the Bradley following as "Bradleyites."

One of Bradley's fellow-ministers, C. E. Darity, says that Bradley's Baptist Bible Hour broadcast and Baptist Witness paper are "two of the strongest and most effective means" for propagating the Hardshell doctrine, and he makes a plea for "regular support" of these "means." I have my doubts that these "means" and this plea to "divide our substance" in "promotion of the kingdom of God" would have set too well with the original Hardshells back in the 1820-1840 era when the "missionaries" and "means Baptists" were the ultimate scourge, according to the Hardshell leaders of that age. In those years, they opposed tract publishers, Bible societies, evangelists, revival meetings, mission societies, and anything they regarded as "human inventions." About the only thing they would tolerate that had no "biblical precedent" was a Hardshell "association" and a Hardshell publication such as the fabled "Signs of the Times." But now they can peddle their papers, cassettes, videos, books, hymnals, Bibles, and even church directories through Bradley's paper without the necessity of "biblical precedent."

Recalling Bradley's apostasy, I remember that one of his first steps toward Hardshellism was his "anti-Sunday Schoolism." This started in about 1956, and due to Bradley's influence, several independent Baptist churches had "splits." I attended a meeting in Chesapeake, Ohio where Bradley was holding a meeting, and he made an effort to sow seeds of discord about the Sunday School in this church (Mt. Pleasant Baptist). After I received a number of letters and communications from Baptist pastors and other members, thru our weekly independent Baptist paper I took the "anti-Sunday Schoolers" to task on their views and the dissension which they were causing. These efforts had a settling effect upon most of the Baptists that we reached, and the "anti-Sunday Schoolers" began to wane in their efforts.

The next thing I noticed about Bradley was his change on the New Birth. On his radio program and in his paper, he began to advocate the theory of the Hardshells that one is "born again" apart from "means" (the Gospel) and apart from faith, rather than teaching that the New Birth is the work of the Holy Spirit's using the Gospel, or Word, as a "means" in the creation of repentance and faith. He began to teach that "spiritual life" was sort of a "deposit" that the Spirit puts into the sinner and he is born again before and without knowing, believing in, or having love for Christ. This is usually the error that is first swallowed by those who apostatize from the confessional Baptist position to Hardshellism.

I mention these men for they are examples of where the Hardshells obtain many members and preachers. I have found evidence in publications and personal testimonies that a large percentage are proselytes. In fact, I was visited by a couple of Hardshell preachers several years ago - - Elder Cook from Georgia and Elder Keaton from Catlettsburg, Kentucky - -and they candidly told me that many of their preachers were converts from the missionary Baptists. They were in my bookstore, and when they saw the John Gill Commentary on the shelves for sale, they claimed that Gill was of their "faith and order."

I was rather young, and I suppose they thought I would not have read enough to know what Gill believed about salvation, but I soon disabused their minds. I took down a few of the volumes and read a few quotes to them. They had to acknowledge that they did not agree with John Gill. Like our Baptist Confession, Gill affirms that the Holy Spirit uses the Gospel in doing the work of the new birth.

In his Body of Divinity, Gill says "that the ministry of the word is the vehicle in which the Spirit of God conveys himself and his grace into the hearts of men; which is done when the word comes not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost; and works effectually, and is the power of God unto salvation" (Body of Divinity, Chapter XI, Book VI).

Back to the preacher I mentioned earlier - - the former BBF man; a good while after he had gone over to the Hardshells, he wrote me a letter and told me how "sweet" it was among them, how much "love" they had, and what a sweet "home" he had found with them. Sad to say, however, things have changed. This man published a paper which he called The Hardshell Baptist, and he has to be among the most severe critics the Hardshells have ever had in their midst. In his issue of February 1985, Elder Eddie Garrett [to whom I have been referring], editorializes on the evils which he perceives "among us." He asserts that the Hardshells need a "purging," and that "Satan has had a profitable time among our people." In a more recent issue [August 1992], he is complaining of "liberalism among us." He writes of a perceived evil among the Hardshells, and says, "Brethren, this scares me!"

Garrett says, "the great need of the hour is that our preachers become better preachers." That certainly "hit the nail on the head;" but how can they become better preachers when they preach against the Gospel rather than preaching it?

He also complains that the Hardshells "have lost their zeal for faithful service." Well, we never knew them to have any zeal for reaching the lost with the Gospel, and it doesn't surprise me that they have lost their zeal for anything else . . . except perhaps for "adultery," if we can believe the report in Garrett's paper. According to Garrett, "there is an ever increasing number among us that no longer keeps adultery out of the church."

Garrett says, "there is something behind it all." In the 1800's, they blamed everything on the greedy missionaries who were allegedly interested in "filthy lucre." The missionary system was called the "Man of Sin." Will the missionaries also get the blame for the poor preaching, lack of zeal, and adultery about which Garrett is complaining?

In his May 1992 issue, Garrett bemoans that "our beloved Zion is torn into factions over different questions" and "in many instances one faction will not recognize another faction." But he assures his readers that "the Primitive Baptists are the only ones that truly stand for salvation by grace." What a shame that the "only ones" are becoming so factionalized; we may soon be left doubting as to "which one" of the "only ones" is the one-and-only "true one." [For information about some of the current divisions and controversies among the PBs, see this website]


The Hardshells and Campbellites have Presbyterian and Baptist backgrounds, and were both "born" in the approximate 1820-1840 period. Both of the movements used opposition to evangelistic and "mission methods" as a means to seduce gullible, naive Baptists of that age. They both went wrong on the New Birth, separating the Word and Spirit in relation to the New Birth, contrary to the Baptist Confession, chapter 10.

The Campbellite theory on the work of the Holy Spirit in the New Birth is simple: The Spirit does not really "do" anything. Their idea is that the Spirit inspired the Word of God and the sinner is to obey the "five steps" of hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, and being baptized. They teach that baptism culminates in the New Birth; however, by "new birth," they do not mean what Baptists mean. With the Campbellites, there is no "new birth" in the sense that Baptists teach, for they do not believe there is any additional internal work of the Spirit within the sinner.

Alexander Campbell taught that the word "regeneration" is just another term for baptism. They DO NOT teach "baptismal regeneration," in the usually theological sense, for there is actually no internal "regeneration." With Campbellism, it is all a matter of obeying, or following the "plan." You do certain things and you are regarded as a child of God in status; but if you disobey, you will lose your standing as "saved."

The Campbellite view has been called "the Word alone" theory, as the Spirit does not perform what they call a "direct operation." In other words, the Spirit personally does not really act within the sinner. His work is confined to the influence of the Word.

The Hardshell theory is just the opposite and has been called "the Spirit alone" position. While the Hardshells admittedly have a number of factions and serious differences among them, they have generally been "one" in their opposition to the preaching of the Gospel to the unregenerate, at least for the last 150 years (or more) of their existence. In fact, according to Hardshellism, "many of them [the elect] will NEVER HEAR THE GOSPEL," yet they will be regenerated and eternally saved (Garrett, 2/92, p. 3).

In more recent years, however, in some areas Hardshellism is being fractured with controversy over the matter of "means."

Another Hardshell paper from the "Progressive" faction, says, "All the elect have not and will not hear the Gospel" (The Trumpet of Truth, 9/91, p. 2). James White was invited to preach for a Progressive Primitive Baptist Church in Georgia, which seems to suggest that the Prorgressives evidently agree with James on "regeneration."

Such statements are constantly published in Hardshell papers, and have been since the 1800's. Gilbert Beebe (1800-1881), perhaps the leading writer among the "Absoluters" faction, started his Signs of the Times magazine in 1832 and the main thrust of his work from 1832 to his death in 1881 was to oppose those called the "Means" Baptists, or those who believed it their duty and privilege to preach the Gospel to the unregenerate.

Beebe so divorced the Spirit from the Word that he taught the novel idea that it was not by the Scriptures, nor reading and preaching them, "but the words which Jesus speaks to the individual persons who are made to hear and live" (Editorials, Vol. 4, pages 21, 22). According to this view, the written or preached Word, or Gospel, has no place whatsoever in the effectual calling of the unregenerate by the Holy Spirit. Beebe asks, "Why talk about the use of means to produce it" [the new birth]? (Editorial, 9/11/1833).

Despite his theory, Beebe testifies of a personal experience which plainly reveals the use of "means" prior to his having been born again. He says, "At a very early period, and as far back as memory extends, I was seriously impressed with a solemn conviction of my sinful and lost condition as a sinner, and of the necessity of being 'born again,' to qualify me to see the Kingdom of God" (Hassell's History of the Church of God, p. 934).

Beebe says he "had been taught" during the first seven years of his life and "had made some progress in the Westminster [Presbyterian] Catechism." This early exposure to Christian truth produced serious conviction in the youngster and he made a profession of having "the love of God shed abroad in his heart" in his seventh year (EDITORIALS, Vol. I, pages 135-137). Thus, Beebe was exposed to "means," rather than
hearing a "direct voice."

Another example of this sort: I was reading a little Church History book by a Hardshell, the late S. N. Redford. In relating his experience, Redford tells how he "often heard them [his parents] speak of God." His father was a Primitive Baptist preacher, so he was exposed to the Bible very early. "My dear mother," he says, "often talked to me of Jesus." Thus he was under the influence of "means" before he claims to have been born again. He says, "the time did come when I rejoiced in the truth that Jesus rose a conqueror over death and the grave" (page 91).

Redford's testimony actually supports the theological position that Baptists have stated in their Confessions of Faith and the position maintained by non-Hardshell Baptists since the Hardshell "split" in the 1800's. These Baptists hold that Truth is used by the Holy Spirit in producing repentance and faith in Christ, and that such a work constitutes the New Birth. Accepting Redford's testimony as valid, his experience is consistent with the position of Baptists who believe the Holy Spirit uses "means" in doing His work of bringing the lost to Christ, which is the New Birth.

This is the crux of Hardshellism. Anytime they preach or write on the Gospel they use most of their energies to oppose the Baptist position that the Gospel message is "worthy of all acceptation" and that the responsibility of mankind is to believe the testimony which God has given of His Son (I Timothy 1:15; Romans 1:1-5; II Thessalonians 1:8-10). -- Bob L. Ross

Chapter Two: Which Primitive Baptist Faction is the "Original Church"?


At Monday, April 24, 2006 12:56:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...


Bob to Charles

In due course in my articles on Hardshellism, it will be demonstrated that Hardshells are in reality "Pelagians."

In fact, this is the case with the Hybrid Calvinists all across the board.

Did you notice, Charles, that Gene Bridges seemed to be taken aback by my referring to his view as "semi-Pelagianism"? Yet, in fact, this is the case, and it the same view which is held by James White and R. C. Sproul, not to mention other Hybrid Calvinists who agree with them.

None of them believes that faith is actually created in the DEAD sinner by the Holy Spirit's blessing of the Word of God in raising the DEAD sinner to life, making the sinner a new creation.

Since I have already expounded on this matter in reviewing James White's view, I will use that former material to comment here. The very same truth applies to all Hybrid Calvinists who teach "born again before faith," including Blogger Bridges.



A reader on my regular email list who receives my writings, informed me of James White's comments about my comments on his debate book with Dave Hunt.

Hi Bob,

In case you haven't already been made aware of it, Dr. White posted a blog re. your comments about his debate book with Hunt. You can see it here.

Your brother, Tony

James White, on his website, has the following comments:

>>3/27/04: Bob Ross and Debating Calvinism
I received at least three copies of Bob L. Ross's "review" of Debating Calvinism over the past 24 hours or so. I recall Bob Ross going after The Potter's Freedom as well. Despite how often I say "God ordains the ends as well as the means," or "God uses the proclamation of the gospel as the means by which he draws His elect to Himself," Ross insists on not seeing this, or accepting it, and writes that I promote the idea of "regeneration apart from means." And sorry, but saying I hold to a form of Pelagianism of any kind is just silly (I guess taking Romans 8:7-8 seriously is somehow akin to holding to a form of Pelagianism). Oh well, that's OK. Bob's a nice guy. Just a tad confused is all.

I want to address Brother James White's objection to my statement about Pelagianism. In my review of the Hunt-White debate book, I said the following:

Both Hunt and White also agree or share a degree of Pelagianism, for both think that a sinner must have the "ability" to believe in order to believe in Christ. Hunt thinks this just comes "natural" as a part of man's alleged "free will," while White takes a position akin to the Hardshell Baptist view that a sinner must first be "made alive" in order to be "able" to believe. Both of these views smack of the Pelagian theory of "command implies ability." Both seem to lack faith in the fact that the Word of God blessed by Holy Spirit is able to create faith in the depraved, lost, unregenerate [DEAD] sinner and thus give that sinner a new birth.

The reason I said that both Hunt and White "share a degree of Pelagianism" is because of the fact they both have the unbeliever ALIVE AND ABLE TO BELIEVE before he actually believes. This is consistent with the Pelagian theory that "command implies ability," that one could not logically be commanded to do something if he was not able to do it. Hunt arrives at this position one way, whereas White arrives at it from another direction.

That the Pelagian theory is consistent with White's view so far as the necessity of "ability" is concerned, consider the fact that in his book on "The Potter's Freedom," White uses the case of Lazarus to teach his view. He says,

"No, before Lazarus can respond to Christ's command to come forth, something must happen. Corpses do not obey commands, corpses do not move. Jesus changed Lazarus' condition first . . . what was once dead is now alive and CAN NOW HEAR the voice of his beloved Lord, 'Come forth'" (page 285).

James offers the case of Lazarus as an example of how God raises dead sinners to life.

Since White has Lazarus already alive BEFORE Christ spoke to him, this puts a question mark about White's claim that he really believes in the use of "means" in the new birth.

What "means" were used in the case of Lazarus? According to James, Lazarus was already alive BEFORE Jesus spoke the Word to him. Since James has Lazarus alive before he heard the Word of Christ, this apparently rules out the Word as the "means," so what "means" does James believe was used?

According to James' view, it was not at the Word spoken by Christ that Lazarus was supernaturally revived to life, but somehow Lazarus was already alive before Christ spoke. In fact, if he was already alive before Christ spoke, this made the Word of Christ unnecessary to restore Lazarus to life. In fact, if Lazarus was already alive before Christ spoke, then he could have probably gotten up and come out of the tomb without Christ's saying anything!

James' view also seems to make it appear that Christ is "pulling the leg" of those who saw this take place, for if Lazarus was already alive, why couldn't any one of the others there have said "Lazarus, come forth," with just as much authenticity and effectiveness as Christ? Was Christ simply "putting on a show" here, making people think He had power in His Word to miraculously raise the dead by His voice, just as He had miraculous power to speak and calm the stormy seas?

Actually, the chronology of the record in John 11 does not appear to really support James' idea about when Lazarus came to life. As I read the account, the "ordo salutis" is: (1) the voice: "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43), and then, (2) "He that was dead" (3) "came forth."

I think the words, "was dead," signify that Lazarus was dead BEFORE he heard the voice, and not vice versa as James teaches. Similar to Ezekiel's dry bones (Ez. 37). there were no signs of any life among the bones until the prophet began his prophesying, and in the case of Lazarus there is no indication that he was anything but dead at the time Christ said, "Lazarus, come forth."

Christ Himself indicates the "ordo salutis" in John 5:25: "The hour is coming, and now is, when the DEAD SHALL HEAR the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear SHALL LIVE."

Obviously, the order appears to be hearing the voice as the forerunner of life. This is the same order at the future resurrection. The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and rise up, according to John 5:28, 29.

But James evidently would have us to see it another way. They must be made alive first in order to hear the voice. James says, "Corpses do not obey commands, corpses do not move" (Potter's Freedom, page 285). Does this mean that at the future resurrection, the dead saints will be made alive first, then afterwards they will hear the voice of Christ?

How wrong have I been? All along I have thought that the dead would first hear the voice of Christ, then come forth from their graves! But now, with the help of Brother James White, I am to believe that the dead saints, like Lazarus, will evidently be first made alive in order to be able to hear the voice of Christ!

In conclusion, it seems to me that James has found a way to get into the boat with Pelagius, the Campbellites, and the Hardshells. They all have the sinner "alive" and "able" to obey the commands of God. (1) The Pelagians and Campbellites have the sinner naturally capacitated by God with the ability, while (2) the Hardshells and Brother James have sinners supernaturally given this ability.

Regardless of any intricate differences about how sinners have this ability, the fact is the Pelagians, the Campbellites, the Hardshells and Brother James all teach that a "command" implies an "ability" given by God to the person who is commanded. In this,
Brother James and Dave Hunt are again found to be in basic agreement -- they both teach that the sinner has the God-given "ability" to believe. -- Bob L. Ross

At Monday, April 24, 2006 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...


Charles, the "idea" in Pelagianism is that an unbeliever has "ability" to believe, and in James White's case -- as well as the Hardshell's -- he has this "ability" residing in the "regenerated" unbeliever which is at least semi-Pelagian. Both James and the regular Pelagian believe that faith is something which is exercised by one who has the "ability" to believe -- they simply base their "logic" on slightly different concepts. With the regular Pelagian, the ability is given by God, and with James the ability is given in a supposed "regeneration before faith" scenario.

Brother James alleges in his book, "The Potter's Freedom," that Lazarus was already made alive prior to Jesus' commanding him to "come forth" (pages 284, 285).

James says that "Corpses do not obey commands, corpses do not move." So Lazarus could not have "come forth" unless he was already alive and able to comply with the Lord's command, according to James.

James says this is the same way it is with a lost sinner: namely, he is already born again before he believes. He could not obey the command to believe unless he was already born again and able to do so, according to James.

This is basically the same logical and theoretical argument of the Pelagians, Campbellites, Hardshells, Arminians, and Mormons -- a "command implies ability."

In referring to the case of Lazarus, James says "the unregenerate man is just like Lazarus," so as Lazarus was allegedly made alive to be able to hear Christ's voice, so the dead sinner allegedly has to be made alive in order to obey the command to believe.

Was this view in regard to Lazarus the view of some more prominent, more influential Calvinists? I checked the views of C. H. Spurgeon, John Gill, and Arthur W. Pink to see if they taught the same idea about Lazarus as held by James White, that Lazarus was made alive before he heard the voice of Christ.

I found that these men differ with the view of James, and they believed that Lazarus came to life only upon hearing the voice of Christ, it being the Word of power which restored life to him. They believed this is the way it is with sinners -- sinners become alive upon hearing the Word of God as the Holy Spirit blesses it to the creation of faith.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

The Complete Index to Spurgeon's sermons reveals that he preached at least two sermons on John 11:43, 44, sermons numbered 1776 (Volume 30) and 2554 (Volume 44).

In sermon #1776, page 221, Volume 30, Spurgeon says:

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11:43, 44.

The voice of him who wept was heard in the chambers of death-shade, and forth came the soul of Lazarus to live again in the body. The weakness of God proved itself to be stronger than death and mightier than the grave. It is a parable of our own case as workers. Sometimes we see the human side of the gospel, and wonder whether it can do many mighty works. When we tell the story, we fear that it will appear to the people as a thrice-told tale. We wonder how it can be that truth so simple, so homely, so common should have any special power about it. Yet it is so. Out of the foolishness of preaching the
wisdom of God shines forth. The glory of the eternal God is seen in that gospel which we preach in much trembling and infirmity. Let us therefore glory in our infirmity, because the power of God doth all the more evidently rest upon us. Let us not despise our day of small things, nor be dismayed because we are manifestly so feeble. This work is not for our
honor, but for the glory of God, and any circumstance which tends to make that glory more evident is to be rejoiced in.

Let us consider for a few moments the instrumental cause of this resurrection. Nothing was used by our Lord but his own word of power.

Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" He simply repeated the dead man's name, and added two commanding words. This was a simple business enough. Dear friends, a miracle seems all the greater when the means used are apparently feeble and little adapted to the working of so great a result. It is so in the salvation of men. It is marvelous that such poor preaching should convert such great sinners. Many are turned unto the Lord by the simplest, plainest, most unadorned preaching of the gospel. They hear little, but that little is from the lip of Jesus.

Many converts find Christ by a single short sentence. The divine life is borne into their hearts upon the wings of a brief text. The preacher owned no eloquence, he made no attempt at it; but the Holy Spirit spoke through him with a power which eloquence could not rival. Thus said the Lord, "Ye dry bones live;" and
they did live.

I delight to preach my Master's gospel in the plainest terms. I would speak still more simply if I could. I would borrow the language of Daniel concerning Belshazzar's robe of scarlet and his chain of gold, and I would say to rhetoric, "Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another." The power to quicken the dead lieth not in the wisdom of words but in the Spirit of the living God. The voice is Christ's voice, and the word is the word of him who is the resurrection and the life, and therefore
men live by it.

Let us rejoice that it is not needful that you and I should become orators in order that the Lord Jesus should speak by us: let the Spirit of God rest upon us, and we shall be endowed with power from on high: so that even the spiritually dead shall through us hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.

In sermon #2554, pages 49, 54, 55, Volume 44, Spurgeon says:

"And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go." John 11:43, 44.

The very fact that Lazarus came from his grave, after he had lain there four days, and was corrupt, and that he was called from the sepulcher by the mighty voice of Jesus, is to us a proof that the dead shall rise at the voice of Jesus at the last great day. . .

Now let us deal with the subject in another manner. The death of Lazarus, his burial in the tomb, and his corruption, are a figure and picture of the spiritual condition of every soul by nature. The voice of Jesus, crying, "Lazarus, come forth," is an emblem of the voice of Jesus, by his Spirit, which quickens the soul;  . . .

II. But now comes the wonder-working process, THE VOICE OF LIFE. Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth."

We commence, then, with this wonder-working process by saying that the giving of life to Lazarus was instantaneous. There lay Lazarus in the grave, dead and corrupt. Jesus cried aloud, "Lazarus, come forth."

We do not read that a single moment elapsed between the time when Christ said the word and when Lazarus came out of his grave.

It did not take the soul an instant to wing its way from Hades into the body of Lazarus; nor did that body need any delay to become alive again. So, if the Lord speaks to a man, and quickens him to spiritual life, it is an instantaneous work.

There are some of you standing there, apparently alive; but you feel, you acknowledge, you confess, that you are dead. Well, if the Lord speaks to you tonight, life will come into you in a moment, in one single instant. The power of grace is shown in this, that it converts a man instantly, and on the spot it does not take hours to justify,-- justification is done in a moment; -- it does not take hours to regenerate, -- regeneration is done in a second.

We are born, and we die, naturally, in instants; and so it is with regard to spiritual death and spiritual life; they occupy no period of time, but are done instanter, whenever Jesus speaks.

Oh! if my Master would tonight cry, -- Lazarus, come forth, -- there is not a Lazarus here -- although covered with the shroud of drunkenness, bound about with the belt of wearing, or surrounded with a huge sarcophagus of evil habit and wickedness, -- who would not burst that sarcophagus, and come forth a living man.

But mark; it was not the disciples, but Jesus, who said, -- Lazarus, come forth. -- . . .  Oh! does not this lower the pride of the minister? What is he? He is a poor little trumpet through which God blows, but nothing else. In vain do I scatter seed, it is on God the harvest depends; and all my brethren in the ministry might preach till they were blind, but they would have no success unless the Spirit attended the quickening Word.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771)

No one was ever a more staunch Calvinist than Dr. Gill, and he always associated the use of means with the power of the Spirit in calling men to Christ. Here is what he says about the case of Lazarus:

Commentary on John 11:43:

Ver. 43. And when he had thus spoken,.... To God his Father, in the presence and hearing of the people; he cried with a loud voice; not on account of the dead, but for the sake of those around him, that all might hear and observe; and chiefly to show his majesty, power and authority, and that what he did was open and above board, and not done by any secret, superstitious, and magical whisper; and as an emblem of the voice and power of his Gospel in quickening dead sinners, and of the voice of the archangel and trumpet of God, at the general resurrection;

Lazarus come forth; he calls him by his name, not only as being his friend, and known by him, but to distinguish him from any other corpse that might lie interred in the same cave; and he bids him come forth out of the cave, he being quickened and raised immediately by the power which went forth from Christ as soon as ever he lifted up his voice; which showed him to be truly and properly God, and to have an absolute dominion over death and the grave.

ARTHUR W. PINK (1886-1952)

In A. W. Pink's Commentary on John, pages 613, 614, 615, we find the following:

"And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43). . . . It is striking to note that Christ here did nothing except to say, "Lazarus, come forth." It was the last great public witness to Christ as the incarnate Word. And, too, it perfectly illustrated the means which God employs in regeneration. Men are raised spiritually, pass from death unto life, by means of the written Word, and by that alone.

Providences, personal testimonies, loss of loved ones, deeply as these sometimes may stir the natural man, they never "quicken" a soul into newness of life.We are born again, "not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1 Pet. 1:23)."Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth" (John 11:44). At the sound of that Voice the king of terrors at once yielded up his lawful captive, and the insatiable grave gave up its prey. Captivity was led captive and Christ stood forth as the Conqueror of sin, death and Satan. . . .

A most striking figure of this was Lazarus. DEAD, in the grave, his body already gone to corruption. AT THE ALMIGHTY WORD of Christ "he that was DEAD came forth."

It is obvious from these brief quotes from Spurgeon, Gill, and Pink that James White holds a view on Lazarus which is in direct contrast to that of these true Creedal Calvinists.

It seems that James' sole purpose in referring to Lazarus is an effort to support his "ordo salutis" apparatus, borrowed from the pedo-regenerationists such as Berkhof and Sproul, to sustain his Pelagian-like view that "command implies ability," and that this necessitates his theory on the new birth that "life precedes faith."

James must have Lazarus alive before he hears the Word of Christ, for this is the "ordo paludal" view of the new birth which James is determined to prove. -- Bob L. Ross

At Tuesday, April 25, 2006 1:29:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...


Bob to Charles:

Charles, America's most well-known Hardshell preacher may be sizing up the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for extending his opposition to Creedal Calvinism on the Gospel in relation to the New Birth.

I have a report confirmed by an "ear witness" that Bradley, a very well-to-do Hardshell preacher who is also in real estate business, has visited the Chapel at Southern Seminary and "fellowshipped" with some of the Faculty there. I have written to Dr. R. Albert Mohler and Dr. Tom Nettles, inquiring about the significance of Bradley's visit, but have no had a reply from either of them.

My first article on "Hardshellism" gives some detail about Bradley's apostasy from Creedal Calvinism into the Hybrid Calvinism of the Hardshells in the late 1950s. I first covered the apostasy of Bradley in some articles I published in a weekly Baptist paper which I once edited, and my article in the November, 1958 issue gives an extensive record of it.

Bradley's primary doctrine is the same as the current crop of Hybrid Calvinists -- namely, "born again before faith," or "regeneration precedes faith." Here is how it is stated on a Hardshell website:

Bradley's Comments Regarding the Evangelization of the Elect

Concerning the evangelization of the elect, I understand the Scriptures to teach that all who hear the gospel and sincerely believe it give evidence of being God's elect. The elect of God are born again by the DIRECT WORK of God through the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit.

This is the same "direct operation" palabber taught by the pedo-regenerationist theologians Shedd, Berkhof, and R. C. Sproul, and other preachers such as James White, Scott Morgan of the Founders, Gene Bridges, Tom Schreiner of the Southern Seminary, and others who advocate "Reformed" theology according to the Berkhof theology book.

None of them has given evidence that they believe that the Word of God is an instrumentality in the "quickening" work of the Spirit in regeneration or the New Birth, contrary to the Creedal Calvinism of all the Calvinistic Confessions of Faith.

Bradley has his own "preachers school" wherein young preachers are taught how NOT to preach the Gospel to the unregenerate as a necessary "means" in the New Birth, contrary to Chapter 10 of the 1689 London Confession of Faith, which Bradley and all Hardshells reject.

Bradley has spent most of the last half century of his life preaching against the Gospel as a necessary means in the New Birth, both on radio and at thousands of "appointments" at Hardshell churches and other meetings all across the United States.

Since Bradley is in real estate, and reportedly is a rich man, it leads one to wonder if he may be interested in some real estate located on Seminary Drive in Louisville, Kentucky. We can only speculate as to why he is patronizing and courting the Seminary, and I am anxious to hear from Dr. Mohler and Dr. Nettles about this.

Do you suppose he may envision moving his own preachers' school to Louisville, similar to what Lexington Baptist College did a few years ago, which is now called by the name of "Boyce"?

I am anxious to hear what Mohler and Nettles have to say about the anti-Gospel Bradley. -- Bob L. Ross


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