Monday, May 01, 2006

History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 4

Here is chapter four of the series on Hardshell Baptists by Brother Bob Ross.



[Note: These articles are being posted on the Internet at this link:

Chapter Four:


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.


At Tuesday, May 02, 2006 12:22:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Brother Bob Ross wrote, the idea of "similarities" between Campbellism and Hardshellism,

Bob, this is a fine piece of research and analysis. Tom Nettles could learn a lot from you!

This Hardshell series is much needed now. I wish every student at the SBC seminaries would read it.


At Tuesday, May 02, 2006 1:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tom Nettles could learn a lot from Bob Ross? Now that is a " Funny One"! Bob Ross needs some " White Truth"!

At Tuesday, May 02, 2006 4:03:00 PM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...


Charles said...

Brother Bob Ross wrote, the idea of "similarities" between Campbellism and Hardshellism,

Bob, this is a fine piece of research and analysis. Tom Nettles could learn a lot from you!

Nettles is without excuse. He has been exposed to this information before by email. I think he even heard me discuss this briefly at a Spurgeon's Conference at William Jewell College a few years. Instead of learning, he opted for the "hybrid Calvinism" theory of "born again before faith." -- Bob L. Ross

At Tuesday, May 02, 2006 10:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob your ego is not to becoming of you!

At Wednesday, May 03, 2006 3:36:00 AM, Anonymous brittney said...

I've noticed that you criticize the southern Baptist convention in almost everything you write. I was wondering: what do you belong to?? It does not seem fair to offer criticism unless one has a substitute to offer. I also ask you why so many of your responses to comments or posts are not written in a loving fashion?? DO you not follow the bible and believe everything that is written in it to be true?? If SO, I direct your attention to the following verse, 1 Peter 3:15, which states:
"But in you hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope the you have. BUT DO THIS WITH GENTLENESS AND RESPECT,"
I wrote that last part in caps to draw your attention to it. If your purpose in this blog is just, you will heed closely to the words of the Lord.
In reading your posts I find little respect for anyone except your split persona (bob and charles) and nothing but harshness in your words unless it is towards yourselves or those who always agree with you.

How do you expect to further God's kingdom if all you do is berate his children?? It would be wise of you to remember that we are all God's children and are all sinners. Noone is better than anyone else. I don not think that a nonbeliever who might read your blog would ever want to come to you to hear and see an example of God's Love. Rather it looks as though one would be put off by all religion after reading your severe blogs that offer no hope.
You offer up to noone an alternative that meets your approval or is a great example of what you believe.
Now I know that you might say that I am not following the verse I have included by writing this post, but my post is written with the best intentions and love, and with the hope that you might take my comments and use them to change your blog into something fruitful for the Lord. And that you will only continue this blog after much thought and prayer to the One that it is supposed to represent.

At Wednesday, May 03, 2006 10:39:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...


brittney said...

In reading your posts I find little respect for anyone except your split persona (bob and charles) and nothing but harshness in your words unless it is towards yourselves or those who always agree with you.


We will try to work on that, Britney. It does show, doesn't it?

Since "we" hope to become the first two-headed Pope in history, we will have to develope more of a pious, soft, sweet, papal way to be dogmatic and infallible. If I can just get Charles to stop his iMonk act, and move up to a James White type persona, we may improve somewhat. I'm going to try to copy Al Mohler -- find a way to straddle all fences. -- Bob for the both of us.

At Thursday, May 04, 2006 3:24:00 AM, Anonymous brittney said...

Bob said..
"Since "we" hope to become the first two-headed Pope in history, we will have to develope more of a pious, soft, sweet, papal way to be dogmatic and infallible."

Since you are bound an determined to be petty and cynical shoudl I draw your attention to the fact that your little joke would go against what you believe to try to be pope?? Why don't you try to be the next SBC president so you can change everything that bothers you so much and then see what kind of statistics you make?? That is Bob, if you could convince Charles not to run against you, because it would be sooo hard to choose between the two of you since you both share so much in common, in thoughts and beliefs.

At Thursday, May 04, 2006 11:03:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...


brittney said...

Why don't you try to be the next SBC president so you can change everything that bothers you so much and then see what kind of statistics you make?? That is Bob, if you could convince Charles not to run against you, because it would be sooo hard to choose between the two of you since you both share so much in common, in thoughts and beliefs.


You are so discerning, Brittney, that I wonder if you might be open to consider being something like being a "campaign manager" or "advisor" for Charles and Me -- to run for SBC President?

The campaign could be handled from this website, to insure Charles' status as being simply "Charles."
It would be made clear that whenever a public appearance is in order, I will be the only one to do so . . . along with you, of course. Hope you can do one of your song and dance acts . . . this should draw a big crowd. I'm sure anyone who would vote for us for President would go along with that, don't you?

Now, if you still look anything like the Brittney we have known in the past (B. C.), we will want to use your photos on our ads, and not the two-headed shot of Charles and me. Charles' beard is always so scrubby I can hardly tolerate it when he turns his head!

I can tell you from my personal experience with Charles, the pay is great. On top of Charles' private fortune, somehow the word got out on me that I am making oodles of money off of Joel Osteen's books. Anyhow, I'm sure you would be pleased with the pay you would receive -- even if you don't especially need it.

Give it a lot of thought, Britt. Since I have always loved the Grand Ole Opry, it surely would be a blessing to me if I could make Nashville my home for awhile.

Charles, can you tolerate Bluegrass? -- Bob

At Saturday, July 21, 2007 1:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8th. That all men until they be quickened by Christ are dead in trespasses -- Ephesians ii.1; and therefore have no power of themselves to believe savingly -- John xv.5. But faith is the free gift of God, and the mighty work of God in the soul, even like the rising of Christ from the dead -- Ephesians 1.19. Therefore consent not with those who hold that God hath given power to all men to believe to salvation.

1655 Midlands Confession of Faith


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