History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 4Here is chapter four of the series on Hardshell Baptists by Brother Bob Ross.
Subject: #4 - HARDSHELLISM: DISTORTING THE BAPTIST CONFESSION [04/29--2006]
HISTORY AND HERESIES OF HARDSHELLISM, #4 [04/29--2006]
[Note: These articles are being posted on the Internet at this link:
THE 'OLD BAPTISTS' AND THE OLD BAPTIST FAITH
The Distortion and Repudiation of the Old
Baptist London Confession of Faith of 1689
In 1861, when C. H. Spurgeon opened the newly-built Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England, he preached in a structure which had a cornerstone in which a copy of The Baptist Confession of Faith had been deposited along with the Bible and a few other items (C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, Vol. 2, p. 323).
This Confession had been signed by such notable 17th century Baptists as Hanserd Knollys, William Kiffin, Benjamin Keach, and thirty-four other Baptist ministers at the "first English Baptist General Assembly" at which one hundred and seven churches of England and Wales were represented by "messengers." The meeting was held September 3-12, 1689.
The Confession had been written in 1677. Later, after England passed the "Act of Toleration" in 1689, "upwards of one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales (denying Arminianism)" met together in London, adopted and published this Confession. For many years thereafter, this was the standard summary of the Baptist faith in both England and America. In the American colonies, the Confession became known as The Philadelphia Confession and was printed in this country for the first time in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin. [Baptist Confessions of Faith by W. L. Lumpkin pp. 235-295; 349].
The Primitive Baptist denomination, or "Hardshells," reject much of this Confession, yet they acclaim themselves to be the "primitive," or "old," Baptists. This is a farcical and spurious claim, as is obvious in considering the Hardshells' antipathy to the most widely used Confession in Baptist history prior to the 19th century division between the so-called "Old School" and "New School" Baptists.
Modern Hardshells Repudiate the Baptist Confession of 1689
Elder S. T. Tolley, a Primitive Baptist leading minister of Atwood, Tennessee has long been the Editor and Publisher of The Christian Baptist magazine, a periodical which obviously speaks the views of many Primitive Baptist churches and preachers. A few years ago, I had a cordial visit with Bro. Tolley at his address and briefly toured the "Christian Baptist Library" which houses quite a collection of books, minutes, and other historical materials. I was a subscriber to this magazine, and have a collection of Elder Tolley's publication going back many years.
In one of them -- the June 1971 issue -- Elder Tolley headlines a front-page article entitled A Re-Statement of Our Faith Needed. One of the primary targets of the article is the London Confession of 1689. Here are a few excerpts from Bro. Tolley's remarks:
Although the "London Confession" does set forth much of what we believe -- it does not clearly set forth our full and proper views on several points of doctrine.
Although we do accept most of the London Confession of Faith, we certainly do NOT agree with ALL of it! And we would not agree with the wording on some of the points even though we would agree with the sentiments.
To show that the "London Confession" does not set forth the beliefs of Primitive Baptists in full I will here give some excerpts from it: [then follows quotes from chapters 2, 10, 14, and 15].
This quote [from chapter seven of the Confession] has overtones of "Arminianism" in it . . . If a Primitive Baptist preacher should set forth such a statement from his pulpit you would clearly see the clamor that it would justly provoke.
They [signatories of the London Confession] believed that the "elect" are ordinarily called to regeneration and salvation by the medium of the preached word. Primitive Baptists do NOT believe this.
This [chapter 10] is NOT the concept that Primitive Baptists hold relative to "Effectual Calling."
Does this [chapter 14] sound like Primitive Baptists sentiment? It is not.
We believe that there will be millions of the "elect" saved in heaven who have never, nor will they ever, hear the gospel of the Son of God. [Tolley's comment on chapter 15, paragraph 5 of the Confession].
There are several similar expressions in the "London Confession" that we do not agree with, and some statements that need to be more fully explained in order to show just what is intended.
In Elder Tolley's "Library News," in this same issue, he says:
I have for several years talked with many ministers and other interested individuals about this ["a statement (confession) of faith of the Primitive Baptists of our times"] and there has been much interest in this long needed work.
If any of our readers will read the "London Confession of Faith" (this is the confession of faith that Primitive Baptists are said to believe) you will clearly see the need for re-stating our beliefs -- as we hold today.
In this same issue of The Christian Baptist, Elder Tolley promotes the radio ministry of Lassere Bradley Jr.; refers to Elder Hartsel Cayce's Primitive Baptist magazine as a "good publication" and "recommends" it to his readers; publishes a "directory" of churches in several states; carries news items about associations, ordinations, and several radio ministries; plus numerous letters from ministers and other readers.
At that time, on his editorial staff were several Primitive Baptist ministers -- A. C. Pruett, Conrad Jarrell, Eddie Garrett, E. D. Bryant, Harry Bridgman, and J. E. Barrington. I mention this information to emphasize that Elder Tolley is certainly not alone in his convictions, but is obviously in the company of many Primitive Baptists who share his rejection of the old Confession as suitable for Primitive Baptists of modern days.
The Confession was fine with Knollys, Kiffin, Keach and those early English Baptists, and of course fine with Spurgeon, but modern "Primitives" do not find themselves in agreement with those who were truly "Old" Baptists.
In Elder Tolley's January 1983 issue of The Christian Baptist, he is still "grinding an ax" about the London Confession. He refers to chapters 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, and 15, and says:
It would be hard to understand how any man could fully endorse all that is stated therein and remain in good standing and full fellowship with Primitive Baptists. No one could be well informed on the doctrine and beliefs of the Strict Baptists of England and not understand that they were and are, today, different from Primitive Baptists of America on several important points.
The men who drew up the London Confession of Faith held what we call "absolute" tendencies, and, although they believed in predestination and election, they also believed that the gospel was ordinarily God's ordained means to call the elect to regeneration . . . We have published several articles in THE CHRISTIAN BAPTIST pointing out these discrepancies.
In the September 1991 issue, Elder Tolley continues to distance the Primitive Baptists from the London Confession, saying that there are "branches of Baptists--apart from Primitive Baptists--who hold to the old London Confession and the Philadelphia Confession . . . commonly designated Calvinistic Baptists."
"Primitives" Are NOT the Primitive Baptists
These candid statements by Elder Tolley make it abundantly clear that the "Primitive Baptist Church" is no more "in line" with our Baptist ancestors than the so-called "Church of Christ" of the Campbellites is the church of the New Testament.
In the August 31, 1957 issue of The Baptist Examiner, I wrote a short editorial comment concerning the purpose of the Gospel as viewed by Arminians, Calvinists, and Hardshells. W. J. Berry, then Editor of the Old Faith Contender magazine in Elon College, North Carolina, quoted from the editorial and proposed the question to his readers, "Is this the 'Hardshell' Position?" He gave several issues of his magazine to letters from readers who wished to comment on the question, then he followed-up with his own commentary on the matter. Here is what he wrote:
Now we knew that except for minor variations this editor [Bob L. Ross] has described too accurately the position of present-day Primitive Baptists. We also knew that what he gave as the Arminian position was that generally held by Baptists just prior to 1633 (Hassell's History, p. 335, 336), and that what he gave as the Calvinistic doctrine was held by Presbyterians before Baptists espoused it, and was the position formerly held by all doctrinally sound Baptists in America prior to 1800.>> [As quoted in the Oct. 4, 1958 BAPTIST EXAMINER, p. 2].
In the same article, Elder Berry alleged that Primitive Baptists of this day have "almost completely abandoned" the position of early American Baptists "in actual practice."
So here is a second well-known minister who, in effect, alleged that modern Primitive Baptists are not really "Primitive," so far as having a doctrinal identity with early American Baptists, or the 17th century English Particular Baptists. The Confessions of Faith are the most conclusive "standards" whereby to determine such an issue, and by their own ADMISSION the modern Primitives do not consider the Confessions to be representative of Primitive Baptist doctrine.
Another editor could be added to these: I refer to Elder Eddie Garrett of The Hardshell Baptist magazine. Garrett was on Elder Tolley's staff for some time, and from 1982 published his own monthly paper from Thompson Memorial Primitive Baptist Church, Franklin, Ohio. Garrett, who at the time also was in the same faction of Hardshells in Lassere Bradley's "Primitive Baptist Church Directory," stated in his paper some of the differences he has with the London Confession. He disagrees with this Confession on such doctrines as predestination, regeneration, effectual calling, the gospel, "means," and perseverance of the saints. He devotes a lengthy article to discussing "Confessions of Faith" in the May 1992 issue, saying, "There are some things in the London Confession of Faith that I do not agree with." He specifies "absoluter statements" and the "means doctrine." In another issue (June 1992), he specifies that he differs with the London Confession on perseverance of the saints, and he expounds his view on this in the issue of September 1989.
I am certainly aware of the fact that Tolley, Berry, and Garrett do not necessarily speak for ALL the Old School factions or preachers. According to Garrett, "Primitive Baptists are to some extent today separated into larger and smaller factions, each one thinking that they are more orderly than other factions" (The Hardshell Baptist, April 1989). I am also aware that Tolley and Garrett are of the "Conditionalist" faction [relative to the turn-of-the century division over predestination], and would not represent the views of the admirers of Gilbert Beebe and his Signs of the Times. But the fact is, the rejection of the London Confession on the central issue of the place of the Gospel in relation to regeneration is "common" to both the "Conditionalist" faction and the "Absoluter" faction--as well as with the "Progressive" faction.
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:
Both were "born" in the early 1800's, apostatizing from "Calvinism."
Both systems obtained their "followings" primarily from Presbyterians and unstable Baptists.
Both held to a non-Baptist position on the new birth, Campbellism teaching the "Word alone" theory and Hardshellism teaching the "Spirit alone" theory.
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.
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.
Both were adamantly opposed to the "mission methods" used to send the Gospel abroad.
Both attributed the most contemptible motives and purposes to those who were engaged in the missionary cause.
Both departed from the Baptist Confession of Faith in regard to the Gospel in the Effectual Calling of the elect to Christ.
Both, in the course of time, fragmentized over internal controversies and leaders (usually those who published magazines). "Patternism" produced "factions."
Both made a major issue over "instrumental music in worship."
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.
Both adopted the "command, example, inference" hermeneutic.
Both developed a strong anti-premillennialist eschatology.
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.
Claud H. Cayce, Editor of The Primitive Baptist for many years, condemned certain Baptists in his day who were "not like those English Baptists in 1689. They have departed from Baptist faith. They are not Primitive Baptists" (Editorial, June 10, 1913).
Thus, modern "Primitives" are not Primitive Baptists, if Cayce's premise is valid.
"Hatchet-Job" Done to the London Confession
by Hardshell Book
Several years ago, a well-known Hardshell preacher, Elder Lee Hanks, compiled a number of historical items and published them under the title, The Church of God. I have the reprinted edition of 1982, published by Elder S. T. Tolley's Christian Baptist Publishing Company, and I have also examined an original edition.
The book mutilates the London Confession, not only omitting significant words (indicated by a series of dots), but it even cuts-out entire chapters! It omits chapters 5, 14, 15, and 17 thru 25. It is significant that the material which is omitted includes the same points of doctrine which Hardshells such as Tolley admittedly do not believe, particularly those that express the Baptist position on the use of the Word, or Gospel, in regeneration.
At this writing, I have twice written to Elder Tolley and asked him who was responsible for this "hatchet-job" on the London Confession of Faith, but he has not responded. I assume Hanks is responsible until other evidence is presented.
This is simply further evidence that the Hardshells of today are not the "original" Baptists, but in reality they have departed from the Baptist faith and constitute a cult formed around their opposition to the preaching of the Gospel to the unregenerate as a "means" used by the Holy Spirit in bringing about to the New Birth. Some may question my use of the term "cult," but when one becomes acquainted with the exclusivism of the Hardshells and their claims, it is obvious that "cult" is the most appropriate term.