Saturday, May 13, 2006

History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 6

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


Charles

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
From: Pilgrimpub@aol.com
Subject: #6 -HARDSHELLISM: IT IS PELAGIANISM [05/11--2006]

HISTORY AND HERESIES OF HARDSHELLISM, #6   [05/11--2006]

Chapter Six: HARDSHELL DOCTRINE IS PELAGIANISM IN A 19TH CENTURY PACKAGE

The "Command Implies Ability" Theory Strips God's Word of Power


   The original ground on which Anti-Missionism arose was the rejection of "Missions methodology." 

   Even Daniel Parker denied that he was "opposed to the spread of the gospel among the heathen" or the translation of the Scriptures and their distribution.  Parker simply viewed "the mission system" as the "evil," as "God never required it," and it was "an unscriptural plan."  He said "there could be a better plan;" and he proposed the idea that "it should be conducted under the direction of moral government, and not at the expense of religion," referring to translating the Bible and "educating the heathen" in its teachings.

   Parker relied upon the "patternism" approach, saying, "The mission system has neither precept nor example to justify its principle and practice," and therefore was "error" [A Public Address to the Baptist Society, pages 5-15]. 

   Parker's "Two Seedism" and Gilbert Beebe's "Spirit Alone" (or "Direct Voice")  regeneration theory were to come later.  If either of these theories even existed in 1820 when Parker wrote against mission methodology, they were kept in abeyance, for none of the literature of that time raises them as related issues.  They are certainly not delineated in any of the pre-1800 Confessions of Faith, nor are they to be found in writings of Baptist authors.

Pelagianism:  What Is It?

   What was to develop in the Anti-Mission movement, after the 1827 Kehukee Declaration and the 1832 Black Rock Address, was the subtle use of an old philosophy known as "PELAGIANISM."  [For a study of Pelagianism, see B. B. Warfield's Two Studies in the History of Doctrine and Augustine's Anti-Pelagian Writings in the fifth volume of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series, Eerdmans' edition].

   Pelagianism held that God bestowed on man the "capacity for his will and work" and that man's capacity, or ability, "come from God alone."  This "capacity" was "implanted in us by God," according to Pelagius, a fifth century British monk after whom this school of thought is named. 

   While Hardshellism is certainly not Pelagian on the matter of man's nature in relation to the effect of the Fall of Man, it has adorned the old Pelagian concept of "command implies ability" in a new garb, format, or "package."  What Pelagianism says of man in his natural state, Hardshellism merely shifts to man in a supposed "regenerated" state, before faith.

   Basically, this is the same view being advocated by some today who called themselves "Reformed." They have the sinner "capacitated" with an "ability" prior to faith so as to be "enabled" to become a believer. They therefore say "regeneration precedes faith," for it is allegedly necessary for the sinner to be "alive" in order to have the "ability" to believe.

   In effect, this logically denies that the power of the Word of God is suficient, in the hands of the Spirit, to resurrect the "dead" sinner, as illustrated by Ezekiel's dry bones (Ez. 37). It makes faith the act by the "regenerated" sinner's "ability" rather than the creative gift of the Holy Spirit.

   CAMPBELLISM, the "twin" of the Hardshells, in essence also holds to Pelagianism and is more in line with pure Pelagianism on the natural state of man, as Campbellism denies inherited depravity.  But Campbellism holds, in common with Hardshellism, the basic, practical theory of Pelagianism that "command implies ability."

   In both Pelagianism and Campbellism, man naturally has the capacity and ability from the Creator to do whatever is commanded, the fall of Adam notwithstanding.  In Hardshellism and in the "Reformed" camp, man is similarly endowed by God, but not naturally; according to the Hardshells and the Reformed, this ability is imparted in what they regard as "regeneration" which allegedly capacitates the person with the "ability" to believe. Faith is consequently the act of the "regenerated" person's "ability," and is not the creative work of the Spirit in using the Word of God to raise the "dead."

  The practical application made by Hardshells of various commands, such as repentance and faith, is consistent with the Pelagian theory that the command implies the ability to fulfill the command.

  Logically, then, according to Hardshellism, the "dead alien sinner" is so disabled that he must have "life" implanted in him so as to capacitate the sinner with the ability to obey the commands.  This is their rationale for denying that the Gospel is to be addressed to "dead alien sinners." 

    S. T. Tolley, The Christian Baptist (June '85, page 5):

"For it is through the grace and mercy of God that one is CAPACITATED to either hear or believe the message of the gospel, and be saved by and through its influence."

    Also, Tolley says:

"Accountability necessarily implies capability".  (TCB, 2/85/ p. 4)

    This is classic Pelagian philosophy which permeates all forms of "Free Willism" - Pelagian, Romanist, Arminian, Campbellite, or whatever the "camp."

    E. D. McCutcheon, Primitive Baptist minister:

   "He equips him (the sinner) with ABILITY to repent . . . He  gives  us  the ABILITY to do so . . . "(This We Believe, page 42).

    Eddie Garrett, The Hardshell Baptist (March '92, page 4):

    "When he Lord gives us life we then have the ABILITY to believe the gospel, even though we may not."

    So, according to the Hardshells, "regeneration" is an act by the Holy Spirit which "capacitates" a man with the "ability" to repent and believe.  The Spirit does this WITHOUT the Gospel, and not conjunctively with the Gospel as a "means," according to Hardshellism.

    R. V. Sarrels, Systematic Theology (page 429):

    "The gospel is never the power of God to the unbeliever, or the unregenerate."

    Thus, Hardshellism separates God's efficient power (the Holy Spirit) from the Word, or Gospel, in the call of the unregenerate to Christ. This is why they repudiate missions and evangelism and are comparatively "dead" to such efforts.
 
    This accounts for the constant Hardshell emphasis upon the position that "life" must be imparted to the "dead alien sinner" before the sinner can do anything in response to commands to repent and believe.  They "fish" for "live fish," they often say -- meaning that the "fish" are "regenerated" before they can take the "bait."  They make a big play on the figure of "death," emphasizing the  spiritual inability of the sinner by comparing him to a physical corpse.  [For a refutation of this concept of the "dead" state of the sinner, see Augustus H. Strong's Systematic Theology, chapter II, section II].

   Hardshellism defends its theory on the grounds of carnal "logic" (see Sarrels' Systematic Theology, page 328).  And on the grounds of purely physical logic, without a consideration for Divine Revelation, who can deny their "logic" that the "dead" must be made alive BEFORE they can give any evidence of life?  Who denies that you won't get a "dead fish" to bite the bait?
 
   But -- if we incorporate Divine Revelation, as given in the Scriptures, are we shut up to the Hardshell version of Pelagianism?  We trow not, for there are numerous instances of commands which do not imply ability.  Also, command often is simply indicative of responsibility and divine purpose, and does not necessarily imply ability.

   The case of Ezekiel's "dry bones" in chapter 37 does not imply the ability of the dead, dry bones to hear and respond to the preaching Ezekiel.  Rather, the design of this scene is to focus on God's power resting upon or accompanying His preached Word.

   The case of Lazarus' being commanded to "Come forth" from the dead did not imply ability in dead Lazarus (John 11).  This case demonstrates that God's Word, accompanied by His efficient power, can raise the dead thru His command. 

   The case of the man with the withered hand being told to "stretch forth thine hand" did not imply ability on his part (Matt. 12:13).  This again shows that God's power rests upon His Word and has creative results.

   The case of the Law as defining man's moral responsibility does not imply man's moral and spiritual ability to comply.  Though man is fallen and is under the influence of his depravity, he is nonetheless responsbible to be righteous.   

   The exhortation for believers to "be perfect" as the Father in Heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48) is a statement of our "standard," not a statement of ability.

   Illustrations such as this could be multiplied.  They are contradictory to the Hardshell "logic" which is applied to Gospel-related commands.  Based on numerous Scriptures which assert the "connection" between the Holy Spirit and the Word, the Gospel, and the Truth, the Power of God is upon His Revelation and it brings to pass His purpose (Isa. 55:11).  God's commands become God's enablings under His own efficient power.

   God's blessings upon His Word are not conditonal upon anything other than His own ability to make the Word effectual (Isaiah 55:11). The wind and waters obey Him, and as He speaks, so it comes to pass. To make the effects of the Gospel conditional upon man's ability is to deny the power of the Word of God to subdue all to its power.

   The error of Hardshellism and Campbellism is SEPARATING the Holy Spirit from the Word of God. 

   They "strip" the power of God from His Word, as if it is only a "dead letter," and is not used by the Holy Spirit.  The written Word and the preached Word are powerless, according to Hardshellism, because the sinner is "dead."  They do not accept the relationship between the Word and the efficient power of the Holy Spirit being in, with, and through that Word.  Until the sinner is made to "live," they do not see the Word as being of any effect, as they fail to see that the Holy Spirit works conjunctively with that Word. This is to make the power of the Word depend upon the power of the sinner.

Is the Word Spoken by Christ More Powerful Than
Other Inspired Revelation?


   According to various Hardshell sources, the new birth (regeneration) is performed by the direct Word of Christ, spoken to the "dead alien sinner;" allegedly, there is power in that Word, but there is no such power in, with, through, or by the Written Word or preached Word, according to this view. 

    The position of the Baptists who wrote the London Confession of 1644 [articles 14, 15] and the London Confession of 1689 [articles 10, 14] is rejected by the Hardshells, as both of those Confessions conjoin the Gospel, or Word, and the Spirit, creating the immediate, simultaneous repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ by the sinner. 

   R. V. Sarrels wrote the only book by a Primitive Baptist which is represented as a "systematic theology."  He does not quote a SINGLE Baptist Confession of Faith to represent the historic Baptist position.  Rather, he repudiates what he calls the "Reformed" doctrine, which is set forth in the Westminster (Presbyterian), London (Baptist), and Philadelphia (Baptist) Confessions of Faith (pages 303-359).  He didn't quote a single Baptist confession because Sarrels was not a historic Baptist; he was part of the modern "Primitive Baptist" CULT which at HEART is opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ being preached to the unregenerate.  This malice against preaching to the unregenerate is the "axle" on which the wobbly wheel of the "Old School" turns in its BACKWARD path.

   According to Hardshellism, the historic Baptist position would make regeneration "conditional" on the sinner, despite the fact that this position by Creedal Baptists asserts that the SPIRIT ALONE is the "efficient cause" of both repentance and faith.  Irrespective of the Hardshell allegation, this was the position of 17th century Baptists, William Kiffin, Benjamin Keach, Elias Keach, John Bunyan, John Myles, John Gill, and the Baptists of the Philadelphia Association, the first association in America.

   Gilbert Beebe (1800-1881), editor of the Signs of the Times magazine, the foremost Anti-mission periodical following the 1832 split, was perhaps the first one -- at least, one of the first -- to propagate this new theory of "direct speaking" regeneration.  He says:

   "The word of the Lord, which is Spirit, and which is life, which liveth and abideth forever, is that by which regeneration is affected; not MERELY by the Scriptures in their LETTER, not reading or preaching them, but the words which Jesus himself SPEAKS to the individual persons who are made to hear and live."  [Compilation of Editorial Articles, Vol. IV, pages 21, 22].

   This theory gives precedence of power to the spoken words of Christ, which He supposedly speaks directly to the individual.  Notice that the "speaking," according to Beebe, PRECEDES the "hearing" and the "life."  This would mean that Christ speaks to the "dead alien sinner" BEFORE the sinner is "alive."  Therefore, the Word of Christ is addressed to the "dead," yet the Hardshells object to the Baptist position that the Gospel, or Word, is to be preached to the "dead," and is accompanied by the Holy Spirit in pursuance of God's sovereign purpose in effectual calling.

   This can only mean that Hardshellism believes the written Word, or Gospel, is "merely" the "letter" (per Beebe's terms quoted above), and the written or preached Word of God is void of the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit!

   This means that the INSPIRED written Word of God does not have the same power of the Holy Spirit in, upon, or with that Word to the same extent as the Word spoken by Christ has power!

   Claud H. Cayce, editor of The Primitive Baptist in the first part of the 20th century, would represent the view of the "conditionalist" faction of Primitives, or "Old Schoolers," when he says:

   "Sinners receive eternal life, are regenerated, just one way.  The Lord SPEAKS to them as He did to Saul of Tarsus when he was on his journey from Jerusalem to Damascus, and when He SPEAKS to the dead sinner he IMPARTS LIFE.  He regenerates the sinner.  'The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life,' says the Redeemer."  [Selected Editorials From The Primitive Baptist, Vol. I, page 194].

   According to the Scriptures, Jesus preached the Gospel (Luke 4:16-21).  Is the Gospel a part of the "WORDS" spoken by Christ which are "SPIRIT" and "LIFE"?  Is this not the SAME Gospel that was preached by Peter, Paul, and the Apostles -- the "Words" of Christ which are "SPIRIT" and "LIFE"?  Is not this SAME Gospel recorded in the Scriptures by the INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit?  Is not this Gospel "the WORD that goeth forth out of My mouth" (Isa. 55:11)?  Is this Word void of spirit and life in its SPIRIT-INSPIRED WRITTEN FORM?

   Evidently, the Hardshell doctrine is that the Gospel is "spirit and life" when Jesus personally speaks the Word, but the Gospel is void of "spirit and life" in its SPIRIT-INSPIRED WRITTEN FORM! 

   If Jesus speaks this Gospel DIRECTLY to the dead alien sinner, then it is "spirit and life;" but when Peter and Paul spoke the SAME Gospel in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit which was "sent down from Heaven" (1 Thess. 1:5; 1 Cor. 2:4; 1 Peter 1:12), this SPIRIT-INSPIRED WORD which proceeded out of the mouth of the Lord (Matt 4:4) does not have "spirit and life," according to the Hardshell theory.  The only time this Gospel has "spirit and life," according to the Hardshells, is when Jesus Himself speaks it directly to the dead alien sinner!  When preached by Peter and Paul it was only to "comfort" those who had already been regenerated -- that is, if Hardshellism is true.

   If Jesus speaks directly to dead alien sinners like He did to Saul of Tarsus, we who hold to the Gospel as a "means," according to the Baptist Confessions of Faith, marvel that the Hardshells who hear the Lord's words do not know their experience as Paul knew his.  I have read numerous "experiences" in various Hardshell literature, and I have yet to read one that relates the details such as Paul recalls of his experience in Acts (chapters 22 and 26) and in the epistles he wrote.
   For example, a current Hardshell elder (preacher) to whom Jesus "spoke" has a testimonial recorded in Elder Wiley Sammon's book, Identity of the True Baptist Church, Vol. I, page xvi.  Elder T. L. Webb, Jr. says:

   "About all I know about an experience of grace is the fact I have loved the Lord since I can remember and have always been fearful of my God -- afraid not to do what was right.  I had a great burden to unite with the Church from my earliest remembrance."

   This is a rather strange statement from one to whom Jesus spoke, as He spoke to Saul.  Saul certainly knew more of his experience of grace than this dear brother says he knows of his experience.  Please do not misunderstand:  I am not questioning the brother's faith in Christ; I am simply showing the incongruity of his knowledge of his experience when compared to the knowledge that Paul had of his experience.  Paul could TELL WHAT JESUS SAID TO HIM and even knew the time and place it was said.  Evidently, Elder Webb has no knowledge of what was allegedly spoken to him, nor does he know when and where it was spoken to him.

   In the same book (by Sammons), there is a testimonial by Elder Guy Hunt, a Primitive Baptist minister and once Governor of the State of Alabama.
   Elder Hunt says:

   "Like many others, I cannot tell the time I first realized I had a love for the Lord.  My first notice was a dear love for the church.  I do not know when I first began to note a fear that I was called to preach" (page xv).

   If Elder Hunt was regenerated by the Lord's speaking directly to him, as Saul of Tarsus was spoken to, isn't it rather strange that Elder Hunt "cannot tell," whereas Paul clearly and often told of what the Lord said, when He said it, and where he was when he heard the Lord speak?

   Examples such as this could be multiplied, and those of my readers who are Primitive Baptists know that I speak the truth.  Hardshells are very "short" of any knowledge of what the Lord spoke to them, where He spoke it, and when He spoke it.

   We believe the fact is, this is merely a distortion of the experience of Paul, misused by Hardshells in their effort to convince themselves and others of their notion that the Holy Spirit of God does not bless the Gospel to the dead alien sinner in producing the new birth.  We who have been born again under Gospel preaching do not have the same identical experiences, but we do know something about how it was that we became Christians.  We hardly had the type of experience that Paul had, nor that the thief on the cross had, nor that Simon Peter had -- and I have yet to meet a Christian who claims such an experience.  We don't believe the Lord speaks directly to the sinner, but we do believe that the SAME GOSPEL comes to us in the SAME POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT that the Gospel came to Paul.  Whether it is spoken by Jesus, by Peter, by Paul, or read in the Bible, it is the SAME WORD OF GOD that is blessed by the SPIRIT OF GOD and it produces the NEW BIRTH.

   This is the Old Baptist doctrine of our Confessions.  This is the true primitive Baptist Gospel.  It is not a theory such as that concocted by those who are given to oppose Gospel preaching to dead alien sinners.  It is not an excuse for avoiding the responsibility and privilege of obeying the Lord in bearing the Gospel message to the world as a means of reaching the elect of God whom He will call to Christ.
   Despite the Hardshells, God will get the message out, and He will use it as a means of calling people to Christ.  Many Hardshells themselves have to admit that their first "feelings" toward God came under the teaching or preaching of the "means Baptists."      Gilbert Beebe, whom we suspect to be the "father" of the "direct voice" theory on regeneration, in an article entitled Personal Reminiscence (Vol. I, pages 135-138), reveals that he had been a "religionist from his birth," that he had "been taught to say prayers," that he "had made some progress in the Westminster [Presbyterian] Catechism," and he engaged daily in "forms of worship."  He had therefore been under the influential teaching of the Bible from birth.

    Mr. Beebe's own account reveals that he had been thoroughly acquainted with those teachings of Christianity which are generally described by the term "means." Consequently, although Beebe later came to reject such "means" as either essential to, or related to, the Spirit's work of regeneration, he nevertheless is on record as having had a very generous supply of "means" in his life before his professed regeneration at the age of seven.

    In fact, from the perspective of those of us who maintain that "means" are used of the Lord in bringing men to Christ, we might venture the opinion that Beebe is a good example of how children who are taught the Word of God early in life may be subjects of the Lord's regenerating work early in life!  Although we find Beebe's theoretical position on the new birth to be faulty, we see no reason to think he was not born again, and for that he can not only thank the Lord for His mercy, but he can thank the Lord for using the human agents who cared for and presented to him the Word of God which does not return void (Isa. 55:11).

    I have also noticed in many Hardshell publications that many of the people tell of their having been "Missionary" Baptists prior to becoming Primitive Baptists.  They made their initial profession of faith under Gospel-preaching ministries.  Later on, thru "logic," they converted to Hardshellism.

    Even many of their preachers first professed a call to the ministry among the Missionary Baptists.  So the matter of "experience" serves to substantiate our position:  GOD USES MEANS!

Articles previously published:

#1 - "Hardshellism" - A Modern Cult and an Enemy of the Gospel
of Christ
#2 - Which Primitive Baptist Faction is the "Original Church"?
#3 - The Original Issue in the Anti-Missionism Movement Was on
Methods, Not Theology
#4 - The "Old Baptists" and the Old Baptist Faith
#5 - Hardshellism's Diluting the Baptist Confession of Faith

2 Comments:

At Saturday, May 13, 2006 3:46:00 PM, Anonymous Jon said...

With all this talk of Calvinism being anti-evangelistic...I have a question.

How much time did you spend this week on this blog?

Now, contrast that with the amount of time you spent trying to reach sinners for Christ.

I think you might find that all the time spent attacking, name-calling, and "swatting" Calvinists could be better spent. The same goes for anyone who spends time fighting for Calvinism or pedo-baptism.

I am not a Calvinist, but I am a student at SBTS. I know these men you speak so harshly of. I have been with them as they have shared the gospel with complete strangers on their lunch breaks. I have listened to the stories of their mission trips and how hundreds and sometimes thousands were saved and discipled. I am part of the International Center for Youth Ministry which seeks to train indigenous youth workers to reach the young people of their countries. This organization was started and is run by faculty of SBTS, all of whom are Calvinists.

Every week in class we are asked who we shared the gospel with and what happened.

So I ask you...who did you share the Gospel with and what was the outcome?

 
At Monday, May 15, 2006 10:39:00 AM, Anonymous Bob L. Ross said...

OUT OF THE GATE
THE WRONG WAY

Jon said...


With all this talk of Calvinism being anti-evangelistic...I have a question.

Bob to Jon:

You left the gate in the wrong direction, Jon. When has the Flyswatter spoken of "Calvinism" being "anti-evangelistic"? Creedal Calvinism is not anti-evangelistic, but Hybrid Calvinism is, and we have presented evidence thereof.

We have been concentrating on Hybrid Calvinism and the anti-evangelistic tendencies of the heresy of "born afain before faith."

You say you are a student at SBTS and you accuse us of "attacking," etc. The only thing we have attacked about SBTS is the aberrant heresy that sinners are "born again before faith." Or have you really read enough to know what we are attacking?

Your question is apparently designed to simply divert the issue, not for the sake of legitimate inquiry. When you have addressed the aberrant theology of at least some Faculty at SBTS we will know that you are interested in something more than diversionary tactics. Your attempt to whitewash the situation does not address the issues we have raised.

For example, how do you explain the invitation for America's leading Hardshell preacher, Lasserre Bradley, Jr., to visit SBTS' campus?

How do you explain having pedo-regenerationists speak at the Seminary?

No, you will not get the Seminary's leaders off the hook so easily, Jon. We can have no regard for your questions until you have addressed the issues we have raised. -- Bob L. Ross

 

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