Friday, April 28, 2006

Is Al Mohler Responsible for the SBC's Drop in Baptisms?

I believe Dr. Al Mohler at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary may be one reason why baptisms are down in the Convention.

Baptist press outlets report that baptisms among Southern Baptists are down 4.15%. LifeWay President Thom Rainer said, "Southern Baptists should view this report as a wakeup call.”

Dr. Rainer is right. However, the first "wakeup" might need to be at Southern Seminary, Dr. Rainer's old employer. Dr. Mohler has been president of the seminary for over ten years.

Mohler has done a marvelous job in some ways. He has hired faculty that actually believe the Bible instead of paying lip service to it. I commend him for this.

Unfortunately, Mohler went outside the SBC for much of his faculty hiring, and retained several professors who adhere to the heresy that a person must be born again before placing faith in Jesus Christ. Bob Ross and I have written about this extensively on this blog. Consider the following facts.

  • Dr. Tom Schreiner is a Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern who teaches the "born again before faith" heresy. Dr. Schreiner is one example, there are other professors at Southern who teach the same thing. Luckily for Mohler, Southern Baptist churches have not yet discovered that this "interpretation" of the new birth at Southern Seminary is rejected by nearly all Southern Baptist churches. It will be interesting to find out what happens once the truth gets out.

  • Mark Dever, another "born again before faith" advocate, is a trustee at the Seminary. Dever is a strong promoter of the "born again before faith" heresy.

  • Dr. Mohler had R. C. Sproul, a Presbyterian and chief proponent of the "born again before faith" view, to speak at Southern Seminary. Dr. Mohler had great praise for Sproul's ministry. In Sproul's study Bible, he says that "Regeneration precedes faith. Infants can be born again, although the faith that they exercise cannot be as visible as that of adults"

  • Dr. Mohler preached for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) at their 1999 meeting. Most PCA pastors strongly adhere to the theology that a person is regenerated before placing faith in Jesus.

  • Extreme/hybrid/hyper Calvinism as typified by the "born again before faith in Christ" theology taught at Southern Seminary, produces small, dead churches. Bob Ross has written extensively about this.

Dr. Mohler is the man responsible for what is being taught at Southern Seminary. As president, he had to put his stamp of approval on faculty hiring. In some cases, he and his staff recruited extreme Calvinists from outside the Southern Baptist Convention. These men were not Southern Baptists but became one in order to get a job.

The Southern Baptist Convention is now bearing the fruits of Dr. Mohler's tenure. His professors have been turning out "preacher boys" for several years now. Following the lead of Dr. Mohler himself, these "preacher boys" are good at blogging but not so good at building Southern Baptist churches. (A prime example is Timmy Brister, a SBTS student and United Parcel Service employee who blogs about Calvinism and Reformed theology almost every day but rarely about his preaching and witnessing activities. The SBTS has so many student bloggers it even allowed Timmy to sponsor his very own blog conference).

For verification, visit the blogs of Mohler's graduates. They are skilled at arguing the ordo salutis but have trouble baptizing more than a few a year. They are concerned about church discipline but cannot discipline themselves to use the Word of Life to bring faith to sinners in order that they might believe and be saved! They go on mission trips for the "glory of God," a la John Piper, and have little or no results when they get back. They trash Southern Baptist presidents who have large churches such as Bobby Welch and Jack Graham but praise "Dr." James White, a Reformed Baptist who preaches for Hardshell Baptists.

In my opinion, Mohler's tenure has been a disaster for the Convention. He is praised for turning the seminary from liberalism to a more conservative theology, but it takes no real skill to hire professors who believe the Bible. What is needed at Southern is a president who hires professors that believe the Bible, are right on the theology of the new birth, and know how to grow churches.

Dr. Mohler's seminary is churning out Blogging Calvinists and Reforming Calvinists but where are the church growing Southern Baptists? For the answer to why baptisms are down, Southern Baptists need to examine Southern Seminary and Dr. Al Mohler.


(To email a copy of this article to a pastor or friend, click on the envelope icon at the end of this article).

History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 3

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


Subject: #3 -- HARDSHELLISM: THE ORIGINAL ISSUE [04/27--2006]

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

Chapter Three:


Hardshell "Spirit Alone" Regeneration Theory Was of Later Development

The very heart of the PRIMITIVE BAPTIST religious denomination is its opposition to the Gospel's being preached to the unregenerate as a means providentially and sovereignly used by the Holy Spirit in bringing lost souls to Christ for salvation. The Hardshells contend that regeneration, or the New Birth, is a work performed by the Holy Spirit apart from and without the necessary use of any means whatsoever.

[This is the heresy adopted in the 1950s by Lassere Bradley, Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio, and he has been its most notable advocate ever since. It is a matter of concern to Southern Baptists that Bradley has reported that he was "invited" to visit the campus at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. Is the Seminary in sympathy with the anti-Gospel heresy of Bradley, or what?]

Originally, at the rise of "anti-missionism" in the early 1800's, this does not appear to have been the case. If the Baptist histories can be relied upon, the original issues in the anti-missionism schism focused upon MISSION METHODOLOGY. The Kehukee Declaration, set forth by the Kehukee Association (North Carolina) in October 1827, objected to "the modern missionary movement and other institutions of men," and it specified "Missionary Societies, Bible Societies, Tract Societies, Sunday Schools, Dorcas Societies, Mite Societies, Religious Fairs and Festivals, Temperance Societies, Sectarian Schools and Theological Seminaries" as the objects of their repudiation. [See Note at the end of this article.]

Likewise, the Black Rock Address, put together by GILBERT BEEBE (1800-1881), and set forth at Black Rock meeting-house, Baltimore, Maryland, September 1832, focused on similar mission methods, and not the particular theory of regeneration which later became the central issue with Hardshellism. All references to regeneration, or the new birth, in both the Kehukee Declaration and the Black Rock Address, appear perfectly consistent with the Baptist position set forth on Effectual Calling "by His Word and Spirit" in the London Confession of Faith. For example, note this statement:

"The plans of these [protracted or 'revival'] meetings are equally as objectionable; for, in the first place, all doctrinal preaching, or in other words, all illustrations of God's plan of salvation, are excluded from these meetings. Hence they would make believers of their converts without presenting any fixed TRUTHS to their minds to believe. Whereas God has chosen his people to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the TRUTH.--2 Thess. 2:13." (Black Rock Address, pp. 35, 36, Primitive Publications' reprint).

This objection sounds more like a Calvinist objection to Hardshellism than vice versa. It emphasizes the importance of "truth" in God's saving of His people.

The "means" to which the original anti-mission Baptists objected was not the Gospel as such, but to the METHODS which were being devised and used in various mission efforts. The objectors do not focus their opposition upon the Gospel as a "means" as presented in the London Confession which affirms that the elect are effectually called out of their state of sin and death "by His Word and Spirit" (London Confession, chapter 10, para. 1).

In the Potter-Throgmorton Debate, held at Fulton, Kentucky in 1887, Elder Lemuel Potter of the Primitive Baptists insisted upon the fact it was over the missionary methods, such as boards, and such things as Sunday Schools, that the "split" occurred in the year 1832 between the anti-missionaries and the missionaries. He says:

"I wish to notice some things in the speech we have just listened to. The first thing Mr. Throgmorton does is to say that he is not bound to show that the Baptists had Sunday Schools, missionary boards, etc., during all the ages. He is under no obligation to show that they always had them. He admits that. He is begging the question. I challenge him to tell what divided us except these very things. It was after the introduction of these things among us that we divided. If we never had them we would not have been divided yet." (Potter-Throgmorton Debate, page 86; published in 1888 in St. Louis by J. N. Hall and J. H. Milburn, representing Missionary Baptists, and by H. C. Roberts and S. F. Cayce, representing the Primitive Baptists).

In addition to objecting to "mission methods," the anti-mission people focused their attacks upon the MOTIVES of those who favored missions. Greed, avarice, and other such carnal, worldly, and money-centered motives were the motivation of the "means Baptists," according to the anti-mission leaders and magazines.

However, this ad hominem charge evidently began to "wear thin;" in time, the common Baptist membership did not generally respond to character assassination and unsubstantiated broadside incriminations of Baptists who promoted missions. The Hardshells wanted people to believe the worst about the missionary leaders, even applying prophetic Scriptures on the "apostasy" and the "Man of Sin." There just were not enough gullible people among the Baptists for such extremism to continuously find much acceptance.

As time passed, and the Hardshells found it more difficult to defend anti missionism by harping against methodology and motives, they eventually developed their "Spirit alone" regeneration theory, a more doctrinal approach than the original pure negativism. This, too, was very similar to the type of evolutionary development of theology in their anti-missions "brother," the Campbellite movement.

Campbellism, at the first, ridiculed the "hireling clergy," "aspiring priesthood," "missionary schemes," and other victims of Alexander Campbell's choosing, which were featured in his magazines [The Christian Baptist in the 1820's and The Millennial Harbinger from 1830]. But Campbellism, also, had to have something other than pure negativism with which to beguile the naive and gullible, and they developed the baptismal remission of sins hobby-horse. Around this "Kaaba" they have marched ever since.

Taylor, Parker, and Campbell

In 1819, John Taylor of Kentucky became one of the first -- if not the first -- to publish against the missionary cause, writing his Thoughts on Missions. [Passages are quoted in A Baptist Sourcebook by Robert A. Baker and A Sourcebook For Baptist Heritage by H. Leon McBeth]. A short biographical sketch of Taylor describes the rugged, pioneer life which this remarkable preacher fulfilled in the early years of the Kentucky settlement. There is no evidence that Taylor was ever of the Hardshell mindset on the new birth, but was truly evangelical in his spirit and work, preaching to the conversion of multitudes and the establishment of several churches. [On Taylor, see Spencer's History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 1, chapter 6].

In his later years, Taylor was upset by a couple of young mission enthusiasts who sought to enlist his support in behalf of the missions cause under the leadership of Luther Rice, the friend of Adoniram Judson, the missionary in Burma. Taylor developed an antipathy to the missions cause, seeing "money" as its primary interest. He thought of Rice as "a modern Tetzel" and uttered other rather premature and extreme accusations. However, one will search in vain to find the Hardshell theory on regeneration in Taylor; his opposition focused upon methods, not on the doctrine of the London Confession on "means."

Taylor's pamphlet, however, went forth and helped serve the cause of anti-missionism. Spencer says Taylor "changed his mind on the subject" later, but "his pamphlet had gone forth on its pernicious mission, and probably did more to check the cause of missions, in Kentucky, than any other publication of the period." He died January 1836 in his eighty-fourth year.

Daniel Parker (1781-1844) published his Public Address on the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions in 1820. [A PUBLIC ADDRESS TO THE BAPTIST SOCIETY, AND FRIENDS OF RELIGION IN GENERAL, ON THE PRINCIPLE AND PRACTICE OF THE BAPTIST BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, by Elder Daniel Parker (1781-1844), 1988 PBL reprint of 1820 edition, 69 pp., Primitive Baptist Library, Carthage, IL].

"It makes me shudder," wrote Parker, "when I think I am the first one, (that I have knowledge of) among the thousands of zealous religions of America, that have ventured to draw the sword against the error, or to shoot at it and spare no arrows" -- referring, of course, to the "mission plan" (page 1 of the reprint of Parker's Address).

Parker was the chief opponent of missions from among the Baptists during the 1820's. In addition to all the usual objections to mission methods and the ad hominem allegations, Parker developed his "Two Seeds" theology and wrote treatises on the subject, the first in 1826. He also established The Church Advocate magazine, devoted to opposing missions. According to Spencer, Parker exerted a wide influence in the Mississippi Valley and managed to split two associations in the state of Kentucky. He and his small church left Illinois and moved to Texas (then under Mexican control); this was 1833-34. J. M. Carroll has an interesting account of Parker and "The Pilgrim Church" in his History of Texas Baptists (Chapter IX).

In all of the writings I have seen about Parker, or by him, there is no trace of the current Hardshell view on regeneration. In fact, I can find no evidence that modern Hardshells have any respect for Parker's "Two Seedism." Despite his opposition to missions in the 1820's and 1830's, modern Hardshells "distance" themselves from Parker's peculiar teaching as to the "Two Seeds."

Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) was very astute at observing the "winds" blowing among the Baptists, as he sought to capitalize on any element which would promote his divisive and proselyting movement. Sensing the developing divisiveness among Baptists, which had been engendered by the likes of Taylor and Parker, Campbell became the most outspoken critic of the missions cause.

B. H. Carroll Jr. says Campbell was the "greatest opposer" of missions, and says, "The truth is, Alexander Campbell was the father of twins, Hardshellism and Campbellism" (The Genesis of American Anti-Missionism, pages 93, 95). Certainly, Campbell possessed one of the most caustic and critical pens of the age, and his educational advantages surpassed Taylor's and Parker's by a great degree. He, too, focused his attack on mission methods and monies, and did not oppose missions on the grounds of a regeneration theory.

Briefly recalling the foregoing events and names which are related to the original anti-missionism movement serves to emphasize that the current Hardshell theory of "Spirit alone" -- regeneration was not really the issue. The original issue was METHODOLOGY, not theology.

In fact, except for a strong emphasis upon what is called "preparationalism," which is traceable to certain Puritan writers of the 17th century, such as Joseph Alleine and Richard Baxter, one would be hard-pressed to find any pre-1800 evidence for the elements of the current Hardshell theory on regeneration apart from the Gospel, at least among the Baptists. I find it rather obvious and amusing that Hardshells who dabble with history manage to "skirt around, over, and under" references in Baptist history which militate against the Hardshell theory.

C. B. Hassell

For example: HASSELL'S HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF GOD by C. B. Hassell (revised by Sylvester Hassell, published by Beebe's Sons Publishers in 1866 and reprinted by Turner Lassetter in 1948) is the "Bible of church history" for most Hardshells. It is very definitely written with a propagandist motive against the missions cause and the use of "means" in regeneration.

Hassell devotes a few pages to WILLIAM FRISTOE (1742-1828) who pastored churches in the Ketocton Association, the first Baptist association formed in Virginia (1766). Fristoe established several new churches in Virginia, many preachers regarded him as their "spiritual father" in the faith, and he promoted domestic and foreign missions (See Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia). He wrote a little book, The History of the Ketocton Baptist Association (1808), and Hassell excerpts several statements from the book and refers to the Ketocton Association as a "Primitive Baptist Association." The truth is, during Fristoe's lifetime there was not a single "Primitive Baptist Association" on the face of the earth. You could have as easily found a Campbellite "Church of Christ" as you could have found a "Primitive Baptist Association."

Conveniently enough, Hassell fails to make any quotations from Fristoe's little book which emphasize "means" in the new birth, such as can be often found (example: pages 39, 53, 67, 108). Pages 106-109 of Fristoe's book are "On the doctrine of Regeneration" and the article covers (1) the necessity thereof, (2) what it is, or where it doth consist, and (3) the causes or means that effect the same.

The following material is a quotation from pages 108, 109 of this old book, a copy of which was graciously furnished to me in 1973 by William Revis, a Baptist pastor of Fairfax Station, Virginia:

"Now, lastly, the cause or means that effect this divine change. God is the only efficient cause -- his love the moving cause -- his Spirit and his Word the ministering cause. Thus we are said to be begotten by the word of his truth through the gospel, born again to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away; reserved in Heaven for you; who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.
"Oh, brethren! What a rich display of infinite wisdom, sovereign power and unmerited love, in devising and accomplishing such a glorious system of redemption and deliverance for the wretched self-ruined race, that they may partake of this divine blessing here in time, and receive precious faith, and precious promises, all flowing from the more precious Christ! O, beloved brethren! What infinite obligations are we under unto the adorable Jehovah, who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, from the dead. O let us prize that blessed gospel, that reveals such a glorious hope -- that accomplishes such divine purposes -- and turns from darkness to light, from the power of sin and Satan, to serve the living God. Let us manifest in our lives, that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, and that by the power of the Holy Ghost.

We wonder if Elder S. T. Tolley's observation would not apply with regard to the above material as equally as it applies to the London Confession? Elder Tolley said:

"If a Primitive Baptist preacher should set forth such a statement [from the London Confession] from his pulpit you would clearly see the clamor that it would justly provoke" ( The Christian Baptist, June 1971, page 1).

So we do not marvel that Hassell failed to note the material in his pages which are devoted to William Fristoe, a true Baptist preacher, but NEVER a "Primitive Baptist" who repudiated "means" in regeneration.
Chapters previously mailed:

#1: "Hardshellism" - A Modern Cult
#2: Which Primitive Baptist Faction is the "Original Church"?

NOTE: In the current drift toward Hardshell doctrine on regeneration, it is similarly the case that methods are under attack by the rigid Hybrid Calvinists. They are opposing public invitations a the end of sermons, appeals for "decisions," use of the "sinner's prayer," early professions by children, aggressive personal soul winning, and any other method which urges sinners to an immediate response to the Gospel.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Alan Kurschner has egg on his face

Alan Kurschner has egg on his face.

Around the middle of February, 2006, the blogging Flounders and hyper/hybrid/Reformed Calvinists rejoiced when "Dr." James White challenged Ergun Caner, dean of Liberty Baptist Seminary, to a debate. This was a chance for their hero James to hit it big time.

By February 22, 2006, Caner had not yet agreed to debate White. Alan Kurschner, all around cool guy and James White wannabe, decided to jump into the fray. Alan commented,

I would like to coin a new term to this phenomenon, Whitephobia. This is not a fear of the color of white, nor the fear of the white man. This is the fear of debating James White on a particular subject.
Alan is so funny! What could be more funny, more witty, than that! Other hybrid/hyper Calvinists such as Gene M. Bridges, David Hewitt, and Mike Ratliff chimed in with love and “attaboys” for Alan.

Tragically for Alan, shortly after his love fest, Caner finalized the date with White and the debate was on. Alan Kurschner, all around cool guy and self-professed Calvinist Gadfly, ended up with egg on his face.

Looking back on Alan’s post, I can't explain why he thought that a converted Muslim who debates Muslims could possibly have Whitephobia. Was Alan’s brain in neutral that day? That wouldn't be unusual, but I believe it shows how desperate Alan is for James’ love and approval. Alan will write anything to make James look good no matter how asinine.

Alan’s egg face was not a total loss. Something good came out of it. Shortly after Alan coined Whitephobia on the Calvinist Gadfly, I visited his blog and suggested a new term, Rossphobia, or the fear of Bob Ross. As I have written before, James has run from Bob like a scalded dog and still refuses to debate him on the issue of regeneration and creedal Calvinism!

I posted my new word, Rossphobia on The Calvinist Gadfly. Knowing that Alan was such a wild-and-crazy gadfly, I expected him to have a good laugh.

Instead he deleted my posts and banned me from posting on his blog!

I know what you’re thinking: How could Alan Kurschner, all around cool gadfly, not have a good laugh over my posts?

The answer is found in one word: Rossphobia.

Alan Kurschner: Color him egg faced.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 2

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


Subject: #2 -- HARDSHELLISM: WHICH FACTION? [04/24--2006]

Chapter Two:


The "Hardshells" Developed in the Midst of Controversy and Turmoil, and Have Continued to War, Split, and Factionalize.

Whenever a writer sets forth an unsympathetic treatment of a religious group, it is highly unlikely that he will be applauded by the affiliates of that group as having been fair, honest, and objective. Shortly after I published my first introductory article on the "Hardshells," I immediately began to be informed by some of these "sweet brethren" ["sweet" is the most common adjective used in relation to all Hardshell items] that I am ignorant, dishonest, misled, a free-willer, unobjective, a vehement persecutor, writing for personal gain, and similar accolades.

But I have gone through all of this type of response in the past from Campbellites, and this is only to be expected, especially when you are dealing with an extremely factionalized movement which is torn asunder by differences within.

Years ago, in the early 1960's, when I began to write on my little book, History and Heresies of Campbellism, I was greeted with the same type of response. One Campbellite faction did not agree with something I presented, as the source used was allegedly "not sound in the faith;" -- meaning, the source was from another Campbellite faction. I found that there were so many factions it would have been impossible to please them all.

Later on, in the mid-1960's, when I started doing some writing on Landmarkism, one faction did not want to accept what I had quoted from another faction. I had allegedly used an "unsound" source. It seemed that each individual party wanted me to refrain from saying anything, unless I could present it exactly from his perspective.

This characteristic seems to be of the nature of those who are given to the type of exclusivism, patternism, and sectarianism of the cultic mentality.

Primitive Baptist Divisions

After the Baptist denomination began to be influenced to extend its efforts of Gospel ministry beyond the English-speaking countries of England and America, in the late 1700's and early 1800's there was opposition from some in the denomination, especially targeting ministers such as Andrew Fuller, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Luther Rice. If you favored the efforts of these men to reach the unregenerate with the Gospel, you were depicted by their enemies as one who supported the work of the Devil. If you have the "stomach" for reading material which degrades the "missionaries," just get any of the "Old School" or "Primitive Baptist" magazines and books of the 1800's and you will be in "hog heaven."

For several years, in the 1820's and 1830's especially, the common bond of "anti-missionism" seemed to be the great essential that held the Hardshells together. As long as they were "shooting down" the innovators and the newfangled "inventions," they didn't have a lot of time and thought left for fomenting strife and division among themselves.

In due time, however, after the "dust had settled" from the various splits, with the churches and associations aligned with either the "New School" (missionaries) or the "Old School" (anti-missionaries) the spirit of divisiveness began to rip and tear the flesh of the Old Schoolers.

The same thing was happening in the Campbellite movement as well. After the union of the Barton W. Stone "Christian" movement with "Disciples" movement led by Alexander Campbell in the year 1832, the succeeding years have witnessed continual strife and division over various issues within this self-styled "Restoration Movement." As of today, the controversies and splintering continue to thrive. It seems that most of these wars derive from issues created by the ministers who edit "journals" and those who are promoters of "lectureships."

Taking a broad view of the strife and division among the Hardshells, it is apparent from their associational minutes, magazines, and other writings that certain of the preachers, editors, and associational moderators have been at the root of such turmoil. Some Hardshells have been known to have had "Peace Meetings" [Nashville; Donaldson] as a means of trying to settle their differences. The Hardshell "associations" in some areas are infamous for some of the fued'n, fuss'n, and fight'n that they have carried on over various and sundry issues. In Alabama, for example, a couple of the more famous disputes were the George F. Ballew--DeForest Allgood dispute and the Ballew--J. C. Shelton issue, both in the latter 1800's, as presented in A History of Primitive Baptists in Alabama by E. B. Watts. The issue of "predestination" has been the occasion of the unending strife across Primitive Baptist territory and it continues to this day.

During the career of Claud Cayce as editor of The Primitive Baptist magazine, there seemed to be "one-thing-after-another" by way of controversy coming to light on the pages of his journal. For example, there was a great deal of heat generated over what was called the "whole man doctrine" and the "hollow log doctrine." Cayce referred to the controversy as "an unholy war" (9/5/16 TPB).

In more recent times (1973-1975), there was an example of Hardshell bickering over what was called "the devil doctrine." This was in the Powell Valley Association (East Tennessee-Kentucky). The Powell Valley Association's ministerial overlords would not tolerate the view of one of the ministers, and consequently "bars of fellowship" were erected, which is a common practice among some of the Hardshell factions.

In very recent years, even Lassere Bradley, Jr., the celebrated proselyte from the missionary Baptists in the late 1950s, has been put on the grill by some of the more strict Hardshells. There are also reports that Bradley has been having "fellowship" with some of the Southern Baptist theological leaders in Kentucky who are among the "born again before faith" element. Bradley is reportedly "well-heeled" financially, and he may be needed to support those SBC leaders if they continue to follow the downgrade toward Hardshellism.

Such happenings as this are mainly due to the strong emphasis the Hardshells place on "patternism," an attribute which is also found among the more sectarian Campbellites and the Landmark Baptists.

In fact, Elder S. T. Tolley of The Christian Baptist magazine even uses the same terminology of the Campbellites on this "patternism." In his paper of May 1992, page 5, Tolley refers to "direct command, scriptural example, and necessary inference" -- the very same identical "hermeneutic" which was set forth by Thomas Campbell when he launched his "Christian union" movement which ultimately brought about the so-called "Restoration Movement."

Tolley also has borrowed Campbell's slogan, "We speak where the Bible speaks, and we are silent where the Bible is silent" (May 1969, page 1). Tolley claims this is a "very old expression which the Baptist family has made use of," but to our knowledge, it was hatched by Thomas Campbell. For years I have refuted this claim to an infallibility similar to papal infallibility, and Campbellite debaters have been unable to justify it. Contrary to Tolley, Baptists HAVE NOT been the propagators of such rank nonsense as this slogan sets forth. [For a refutation of the slogan, see my book on Campbellism--Its History and Heresies, pages 168, 169].

Three Major Primitive Baptist Divisions

THE THREE PRIMARY DIVISIONS among Primitive Baptists -- all of which teach that sinners are "born again before faith," that "regeneration precedes faith," the same idea propagated by the pedo-regenerationists and hybrid Calvinists of our time -- are:

(1) THE "ABSOLUTERS," including the successors of Gilbert Beebe and his Signs of the Times,

(2) THE "CONDITIONALISTS," represented in part by the heirs of Claud Cayce, and --

(3) THE PROGRESSIVES, a faction which has Sunday Schools and some other "innovations." Hybrid Calvinist James White has preached for this group. Presumably, they agree with White's teaching of "regeneration precedes faith."

There are other Primitive Baptists, however, which do not affiliate with these three categories. I have heard from some along the eastern seaboard who repudiate all ties with these factions or groups, except maybe on some points of doctrine. [For a concise delineation of various "Primitive Baptists," see the May 1971, Volume XLII, No. 5 issue of Concordia Theological Monthly, The Primitive Baptists of North America by A. C. Piepkorn, page 297-314 -- published by Concordia Publishing House, 3558 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, Mo.]

It seems only fitting, or perhaps paradoxical, that predestination, which was used effectively by Gilbert Beebe (1800-1881), Samuel Trott (1783-1866), and Joshua Lawrence (1778-1843) to bash the missions' cause, should later become the primary "bone of contention" within the Hardshell brotherhood. From the "Conditionalist" faction's point of view, most of the blame for the controversy must fall upon the shoulders of Mr. Beebe who, according to Hardshell historian J. S. Newman, wrote "the first article that was ever put forth by the Baptists purporting to be Old Baptist doctrine that contained universal predestination," and the article appeared in Beebe's Editorials, Vol. 1, p. 7 [The Baptists in all Ages by J. S. Newman, pages 126, 127].

Within the Hardshell ranks, Elder Newman may be right in his assertion; he also asserts that Daniel Parker (1781-1844) introduced "Two Seedism" among the Primitive Baptists. While "Two Seedism" never secured an extensive following in Hardshell ranks, it has certainly made its "dent" in creating wide disturbances, and frequent references are made to "Two-Seeders" and "Two-Seedism" in Hardshell histories, minutes, and writings. Dr. John H. Watson (1798-1866), in particular, took the "Manicheo Parkerite Heresy" to task in his book, The Old Baptist Test (pages 243-342). To the discomfort of modern Hardshells, Dr. Watson attributes blame to Parkerism for the opposition to "means" that became "part and parcel" of the "Hardshell" image across the country.

"Direct Voice" Regeneration Theory

While Hardshells such as the Cayces (S. F. and Claud H.) swung away from Parker on "Two-Seedism" and Beebe on "absolutism," it seems that all Hardshellism was successfully inoculated against missions to the unregenerate by Beebe's novel theory of DIRECT VOICE or DIRECT SPEAKING REGENERATION. From my own research, I have no doubt that J. S. Newman could have truthfully asserted that GILBERT BEEBE was the FIRST to spawn this theory among the anti-mission movement.

Dr. John Gill (1697-1771), who was called "the soundest, the most learned, and the most able Baptist theologian since the death of the Apostle John -- the author of a complete critical Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, and a Complete Body of Divinity--the only man that ever hunted and drove out Arminianism from the explanation of every verse in the Bible, from the beginning of Genesis" [Hassell's History of the Church of God, page 651], was already "on record" as expounding John 5:25 ("the dead shall hear the VOICE of the Son of God") as being "HIS GOSPEL, which is a voice of love, grace, and mercy, of life and liberty, of peace, pardon, righteousness, salvation by him; and which being attended with his power, is THE MEANS OF QUICKENING DEAD SINNERS: who may be said to hear it, when it comes not in word only, but in power, and works effectually in them; and is spirit and life, and the power of God unto salvation to them; when they receive it, understand, believe and obey it: and such persons shall live; comfortably, pleasantly, and delightfully, a life of faith in Christ, a life of communion with him, and shall live eternally with him hereafter." [Gill's Commentary on John 5:25].

While the Hardshells take a liking to Dr. Gill in his anti-Arminianism, they part company with him in his "Calvinism." Contrary to a popular misconception, the larger percentage of Primitive Baptists are not Calvinists, neither on predestination nor effectual calling. The "Conditionalists" limit predestination to the matter of "eternal salvation," and they believe in calling apart from "means." They teach what they call "time salvation" which "only you can do and God is not going to do that salvation for you" [Frank Buttrey, For the Poor magazine, May 1992, page 69].

This "time salvation" has to do with life after the new birth; many Hardshells apply all commands to this "time salvation," as their "logic" dictates the Pelagian philosophy that "command implies ability," therefore the commands "must" be addressed to the "living." I will have more to say on this in subsequent material.

Dr. Gill was "set aside" as a "contradictory witness" by the Hardshell debater John R. Daily in his debate with W. P. Throgmorton. To his own way of thinking, Daily considered Gill contradictory in what Gill says in his Body of Divinity when compared to the Gill Commentary. Had Daily simply left it at that -- alleging what he himself considered to be a "contradiction" -- it would at least have been an honest appraisal, although erroneous on Daily's part; however, Daily concocted the bemeaning notion that Gill wrote the Commentary when he was immature ["Was it written when he was a boy and didn't know?" Daily asks in relation to the Body of Divinity. "By no means," says Daily, implying immaturity in Gill when he wrote the Commentary.] Daily attributes the Body of Divinity to Gill's "mature years." But the fact is, the only "contradiction" is in Daily's mind, not in Dr. John Gill! The Calvinist sees no contradiction, as Calvinism affirms with Dr. Gill that the sole efficient power in regeneration is the Holy Spirit (not the means themselves), but in doing His supernatural work, means are instrumentally used.

For example, the Bible was inspired by the efficient power of the Holy Spirit of God, yet every word of it was instrumentally penned by men. The Spirit used "means," therefore, to give us the inspired Word of God. The use of men as the instrumental "means" does not mean that the efficient power was of men. This might appear to be a contradiction according to the logic of men such as Daily who see contradictions in Dr. Gill, but in such minds the contradiction was born and died. [For Elder Daily's remarks, see the Daily-Throgmorton DEBATE, pages 240-243].

In the course of these chapters, it will be noted, Hardshells have no Baptist writings prior to the 1800's which affirm the type of doctrine they believe as to the New Birth, Effectual Calling, the Work of the Holy Spirit, and the "Place of the Gospel," or the Truth, in relation to the Spirit's work. Particular notice will be taken of how the Hardshells have tampered with the old London Confession of 1689 and have openly repudiated many of its teachings, especially concerning Effectual Calling.

I have one Hardshell book, written by Elder Lee Hanks, entitled The Church of God; it is a reprint edition by the Christian Baptist Publishing Company of the "Conditionalist" faction. This reprint edition contains a reproduction of the London Confession to which a "hatchet-job"> was done by way of making OMISSIONS. Also, I have before me a copy of the 1900 "footnoted" edition of the London Confession, which was the concoction of an assembly of "Conditionalist" Hardshell divines which met in Fulton, Kentucky. The obvious purpose of the "footnoting" by these Hardshells was to "explain away" the points in the London Confession which the Hardshells did not really believe.

Nothing is more contradictory to the Hardshell claim of being the "original" Baptists than the unseemly torture work they have enacted upon the London Confession of 1689. In material to follow, their disgrace will be thoroughly documented, and there will be no room for doubt that their claim of being the "Primitive Baptists" is farcical and spurious.

Chapter previously published:

#1 -- "Hardshellism" - A Modern Cult

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"?

Why Does Alan Kurschner Have Egg On His Face?

Ya gotta love Alan Kurschner. He's an all around cool guy, a self-proclaimed Calvinist Gadfly, and lover of a good cigar shop.

Then why does Alan have egg on his face? Find out this THURSDAY, MAY 4, on The Calvinist Flyswatter.

Don't be late.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Al Mohler and R.C. Sproul

Yesterday, in an email to his readers, Brother Bob Ross commented on Dr. Al Mohler's opinion of R. C. Sproul. I am reprinting his email for The Calvinist Flyswatter readers.



Subject: MOHLER PRAISES SPROUL [04/19--2006]

Two readers on my email list "ruffled my Baptist feathers" recently when they sent me some information about the Presbyterian Pedo-regenerationist R. C. SPROUL.

Don't misunderstand -- it is not the fault of these two readers. It was simply a case like when one of your kind, good neighbors phones you up and says, "I think I saw termites swarming outside your house!"

One of these friends on my list gave me a reference to the "Reformation Study Bible" on page 1664. In the short "theological" article on that page, Editor R. C. Sproul -- who is a popular Pedo-regenerationist among some alleged "Baptists" -- writes that "INFANTS" are "born again," and "received new life in childhood."

Of course, this was not "new light" by any means. I have known for years about the heresy of "infant regeneration," for I have studied the subject thoroughly in the Pedo-regenerationist writings -- such as those by the Princeton Presbyterians including Dr. Shedd and the Hodges, as well as the Christian Reformed writer, Louis Berkhof. They are all as "nutty as a fruitcake" on the regeneration of infants.

But this reference to the Reformed Study Bible was especially irritating to me since it came at a period of time in which we have been "weeping, wailing, and gnashing our teeth" over the fact that some professing Baptists of our day -- well known for calling themselves "Southern Baptists" and even "Calvinists" -- are having R. C. Sproul to speak at their significant conferences.

It was bad enough that the Founders Ministries, for example, has had the "baby regenerationist" Sproul on their programs. But now, this morning, another Internet link has been called to my attention which has the following statement by the current Southern Baptist Seminary President prominently displayed, praising the same "baby regenerationist, R. C. Sproul:

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.,
President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"American evangelism is becoming a wasteland of superficiality, pragmatism, and cultural accommodationism. We are experiencing a famine of biblical truth and living in a diet of thin theology mixed with slick marketing. In that context, Ligonier Ministries is a vital corrective to the theological superficiality and biblical illiteracy we now take for granted in so many quarters. R.C. Sproul has set the standard for teaching biblical truth and serious theology to an entire generation of American evangelicals. Ligonier Ministries produces materials that are biblically faithful, rich in theological content, and clear in application. We are living in a time of theological emergency and R.C. Sproul with Ligonier Ministries has come to the rescue! I thank God for this ministry."

In the light of R. C. Sproul's potentially "damnable heresy" on infant regeneration and his false doctrine pertaining to adult regeneration, this endorsement by Dr. R. Albert Mohler is only exceeded, in my recollection, by something on the order of the Southern Seminary's endorsement of the late Nels F. S. Ferre in the 1950s.

Ferre, once at least, suggested that Jesus could have been the "son of a German soldier."

Ferre also was an invited speaker at SBTS when Duke McCall was president and Dale Moody and others taught the Neo-orthodox theology there. At that time, as a young man in the mid-1950s, I did some writing against the Seminary's downgrade movement and the heresies and heretics it was endorsing, and it was published in a magazine called, "The Faith and Southern Baptists," as well as in tract form.

It seems it is "deja vu all over again."

How could R. C. Sproul be "setting the standard for teaching biblical truth" and be so far off base on the theology of regeneration in the case of both infants and adults, is indeed paradoxical if not phantasmagorical. (That last word simply means "imagery," like what one envisages in his mind under the influence of hallucinatory drugs).

To my knowledge, Sproul never preaches the Gospel to lost sinners, probably never engages in personal evangelism to the unsaved, but he does "make disciples" nevertheless, and "win souls" by baptizing the babies. In this for of pedo-regenerationist "evangelism," as long as he has reproductive parents in his church, he is insured of having "regenerated" babies to add to the church as legitimate members. He can therefore dispense with "public invitations" and other forms of soliciting lost sinners to repent of sins and confess Christ as Saviour.

Why would Dr. Mohler endorse Sproul? So far as I know the only "link" is that Sproul teaches that "regeneration precedes faith" (meaning, one is "born again before faith"), which is the primary heresy we have been addressing at The Calvinist Flyswatter website: >><<

Dr. Mohler seems to have a penchant for those who teach this heresy, and at least one of his Faculty members at Southern Seminary, Dr. Tom Schreiner, openly has published that "regeneration precedes faith" ("born again before faith").

This is the same Dr. Mohler who has for some reason seen fit to express reservations and raise questions about the preaching of our good neighbor and television preacher, Joel Osteen. Brother Joel does not baptize babies, but at the end of every sermon he briefly but clearly calls upon unsaved sinners to repent and trust Christ as Lord and Saviour -- but "unfortunately" for Joel, he does not repeat the "shibboleths" and "ordo salutis" palabber which is mandatory by the "Reformed" theological camp so as to pass muster as being called "Gospel." For this reason, you can read dozens of palabbering anti-Joel Internet articles which allege that Joel does not preach the "Gospel."

Although Joel did not attend Southern or any Reformed Seminary, and has only been preaching a few years now, one might "mistakenly" conclude that he perhaps knows far more about what constitutes regeneration than either Dr. Sproul or Dr. Mohler -- if one can form an opinion based upon Sproul's teaching and Dr. Mohler's obvious lack of discernment and concern about that unscriptural teaching. -- Bob L. Ross

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

R.C. Sproul, Jr. has been defrocked

News outlets have reported that R.C. Sproul, Jr. has been defrocked as a minister by his denomination, the Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly.

Sproul, Jr. is founder of the Highlands Study Center and is the son of best selling author and Presbyterian theologian, R.C. Sproul, founder of Ligonier Ministries.

R.C. Sproul is a leading promoter of the heresy that a person must be born again before he places his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Sproul also practices infant baptism despite having no biblical support for the practice.

R.C. Sproul's heretical "born again before faith" views are rejected by nearly all Southern Baptists, yet Dr. Al Mohler at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has invited him to speak at the seminary. In the past, Dr. Mohler also spoke at a Ligonier Ministries event. He is also scheduled to appear with Sproul during an upcoming conference in Louisville with Mark Dever and John Piper, both of whom enthusiastically endorse the "born again before faith" heresy.

Dr. Mohler seems quite stricken with R.C. Sproul and recently gave a glowing endorsement of his ministry and theology.

R.C. Sproul has set the standard for teaching biblical truth and serious theology to an entire generation of American evangelicals. Ligonier Ministries produces materials that are biblically faithful, rich in theological content, and clear in application. We are living in a time of theological emergency and R.C. Sproul with Ligonier Ministries has come to the rescue!

A baby baptizing Presbyterian who believes that a person is born again before they place their faith in Jesus Christ is the "standard for teaching biblical truth and serious theology"? If the 1980s and 1990s taught anything, it was that Southern Baptists expect their seminary presidents to promote Southern Baptist beliefs. Yet Dr. Mohler continues to surround himself with men who are not Southern Baptist and who teach the "born again before faith in Jesus" heresy.

Come on, Dr. Mohler! You know better than that.


Monday, April 17, 2006

John Calvin vs. "Born Again Before Faith"

The doctrine that an unbeliever is born again before placing saving faith in Jesus Christ is a heresy held by almost all of today’s Reformed Calvinists. As Bob Ross has decisively proven, this heresy is not taught in any of the historic Baptist confessions. It is likewise not found in the Baptist Faith and Message, the confession of the Southern Baptist Convention. In fact, the BF&M teaches exactly the opposite of "born again before faith."

"Born again before faith" theology is not only rejected by Southern Baptists, it was rejected by John Calvin himself! In the book Theology of the Reformers (Broadman, 1988), Dr. Timothy George, the five-point Calvinist dean of the Beeson School of Divinity, says that John Calvin taught that faith precedes regeneration, which is exactly what the BF&M teaches and what Southern Baptists believe.

"This being placed into Christ (insitio in Christo) occurs in regeneration which, Calvin was careful to point out, follows from faith as the result: Since faith receives Christ, it leads us to the possession of all His benefits. Repentance too, which is part of regeneration, is the consequence of faith." (225-226)

While not accepting his theology in toto, Southern Baptists would certainly agree with John Calvin that regeneration occurs after faith and is the result of saving faith in Jesus Christ. This was the teaching of the real founders of the SBC and as far as I can tell has been the theology of every President of the SBC since the formation of the Convention.

Given the great weight of witnesses: John Calvin, the historic Baptist confessions, the Baptist Faith and Message, the Presidents of the SBC–why then does Dr. Al Mohler have professors at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary which teach just the opposite? Why does he have men like Dr. R. C. Sproul, a baby-baptizing Presbyterian and one of the chief proponents of the "born again before faith" heresy, as a guest speaker at the seminary?

If "born again before faith" theology is diametrically opposed to what Southern Baptists believe and what the Baptist Faith and Message teaches, why are seminary professors teaching it at Southern Baptist seminaries?

(To email a copy of this article to a pastor or friend, click on the envelope icon at the end of this article).

(April 17, 2006 UPDATE: Please read Bob Ross' comments in which he carefully sets forth the origins of the "born again before faith" view. Someone might ask if all this talk about doctrine really matters. Yes, it matters.)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Baptist Faith & Message vs. Pre-faith New Birth

Reformed Calvinists have taken a liking recently to looking at the Baptist Faith and Message for support of their heresy that a person is born again before he is saved. One writer on the subject has been Gene Bridges who blogs here, there, and everywhere. (Where do you find the time, Gene?)

In this article, Brother Bob Ross conclusively refutes this theory. The BF&M does not teach that a person is born again before placing faith in Christ. Bob also proves that if a person believes in "born again before faith," he cannot accept the Baptist Faith and Message as a statement of faith! To quote Brother Bob, "if you hold to the pedo-regenerationist theory, you do not hold the BF&M and therefore are not a Southern Baptist in doctrine!"

Where does this leave Dr. Tom Schreiner and the other professors at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who teach regeneration before faith? They are required to sign the BF&M in order to teach at the seminary. How can they do so in good conscience!




A Pastor in Georgia, who is affiliated with the Founders Ministries, evidently has a serious misunderstanding about the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, the Southern Baptist Convention's Statement of Faith.

The sad fact is, however, he is not alone in this error, for it appears that a number of Founders' affiliates agree with him, and even one or more professors on the Faculty at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Georgia Pastor addressed a comment to The Calvinist Flyswatter blog as follows:
Bob and Charles,

Please read Article 4 of the Baptist Faith and Message (Regeneration or New birth). How do you square dance around this? Regeneration precedes Faith!

I thought perhaps I had "missed" something in the BF&M, so I went to the SBC website to make sure it read as I remembered. The following are --


II. God . . .

C. God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to UNDERSTAND truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the MOMENT of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. . . . .

IV. Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation INCLUDES regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers BECOME new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.
. . .

V. God's Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends ALL THE MEANS in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.


Nothing in this BF&M indicates that Southern Baptists -- including 2-point Calvinist Adrian Rogers -- endorsed the theory of "born again before faith." The 2-point Calvinist, Adrian Rogers, helped draft this BF&M, and he was not as strong on Calvinism as 5-point Calvinist R. Albert Mohler, and Rogers would have NEVER agreed to a statement of faith which affirmed "born again before faith." The Founders Ministries, of all people, know this, for Rogers was often in conflict with the Founders on doctrinal issues.

Furthermore, it is plain that the statement has "regeneration" as "part of "salvation," and it says that "There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."

Therefore, there is "no regeneration" apart from faith, according to the statement of faith.

When we put this statement beside the pedo-regeneration theory of Shedd, Berkhof, and Sproul, THERE IS NO COMPARISON!

These Pedobaptists have BABIES REGENERATED by a "Direct Operation" of the Spirit without the use of Truth as a "Means," and before the babies are even capable of "understanding" and "believing" in Christ.

They also claim that adults are regenerated the same way -- by a "direct operation" without the necessary use of Truth as the "Means" and before the sinner "understands" and "believes" the Gospel.

My brother, if you hold to the pedo-regenerationist theory, you do not hold the BF&M and therefore are not a Southern Baptist in doctrine!

It appears that there are some in the SBC who are unwittingly contributing toward making the Convention a "Hardshell Baptist" organization, and if the BF&M meant what the Georgia Pastor alleges, the SBC would indeed be affirming the Hardshell and Pedo-regenerationist teaching that "Regeneration precedes Faith."

By "regeneration" they mean the NEW BIRTH itself, and the idea is that one is BORN AGAIN BEFORE FAITH is created by the Holy Spirit's blessing on the Word of God as the means of bringing the sinner to faith.

While some few in the past may have broadly used the term "regeneration" to include the pre-faith influence of the Holy Spirit, it is obvious that they never intended to affirm that one is "born again" before faith, but that the initial internal influence of the Holy Spirit was at the most only a preparatory influence to the creation of the faith which is the new birth (1 John 5:4).

All evangelical Christians believe in the pre-faith influences of the Holy Spirit who blesses both the Word and any other Providential "means" to create conviction and concern in the lost sinner. However, the "Hardshell" Baptists and the Pedo-regenerationists are the only professing Christians to my knowledge who actually teach that such pre-faith influences are evidence that the sinner has already been "born again before faith."

Southern Baptists need to oppose this theory so as to preserve the Convention from the killing effects of this theological heterodoxy -- a heresy which helped to split the Baptists in the 1800s and became the theological foundation of anti-missionism and anti-evangelistic activity. Creedal Calvinists and less-than-Calvinists alike should take a stand against this view.

This theory is not as great a threat to the life of Pedobaptist churches inasmuch as the vast majority of the Pedobaptist members are baptized as babies and enrolled as church members. But with Baptists, this theory tends to stifle strong evangelistic efforts, appeals to the lost to come to Christ, and public or open confession Christ as Saviour, as commanded in Scripture.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

An overview of the "Born Again Before Faith" debate

In a recent email, Brother Bob Ross gave an overview of the "born again before faith" debate. I am reprinting his email for readers of The Calvinist Flyswatter. Baptists everywhere should thank Brother Bob for exposing this heresy which threatens to wreck the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, which self-describes itself as the "flagship" Southern Baptist seminary, has professors who are leading proponents of the "born again before faith" heresy, a view which Southern Baptists by and large reject and which is not supported in any of the major historic Baptist confessions of faith.

Southern Seminary is so enamored with the false doctrine that a person is born again before he believes in Jesus that they have invited one of the chief "born again before faith" apostles, Dr. R. C. Sproul, a baby-baptizing Presbyterian, as a guest lecturer at the seminary. No surprise, Dr. Sproul has also lectured for The Flounders. What heresies will Sproul put forth during his lecture at Southern? Stay tuned.




In a message dated 4/11/2006 10:29:03 AM Central Daylight Time, a brother from Kansas writes:

Thank you. I’ve printed all three [i.e. Baptist Confessions] and will start reading. I don’t know why I have such a sudden interest in Calvinism and how it applies to me being a Southern Baptist. It seems that we have within our convention Calvinists ranging from 2 points to all 5 points. Guess I better start reading. Thanks again.

Dear S________:

Let me briefly explain the situation. There has been a renewed interest in the SBC on Calvinism for several years now, but the type that has been emerging in some quarters is the post-17th century "Presbyterian" and "Reformed" type. This type actually is not the same on some things as the Westminster Confession, the Puritans of the 1600s, our Baptist Confessions of 1644 and 1689, and most of our Baptist scholars of the past, including John Gill, Abraham Booth, Andrew Fuller, C. H. Spurgeon, A. H. Strong, James P. Boyce, B. H. Carroll, John L. Dagg, and others.

The post-17th century variety of Calvinism is represented by theologians such as W. G. T. Shedd, Charles and A. A. Hodge, other Princeton men, and Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof and modern pedobaptist R. C. Sproul.

The particular point of primary concern is on REGENERATION, the New Birth, or as the Confession refers to it, "Effectual Calling."

The pre-17th century Calvinists such as Stephen Charnock and Thomas Watson taught that Effectual Calling was by BOTH the "Word" and the "Spirit."

The latter view teaches that regeneration is by a "direct operation" of the Spirit apart from the Word's being involved as an "instrumentality," and that one is therefore "born again" prior to faith.

The former view is that one is not born again until God-given faith is experienced. (1 John 5:4, 5:1; Romans 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2 Thess. 2:13, 14).

The "Reformed" advocates point to the case of the supposed regeneration of the infant offspring of believers as proof of this theory of regeneration before and without faith -- these babies born to believers are supposedly regenerated (born again) in infancy before they are capable of faith, which it is assumed will come later on as they mature.

They likewise teach that in the case of adults, regeneration is by the same type of "direct operation," with the Word's not being an "instrumentality" and with faith supposedly coming AFTER one is born again. One is "born again" in order to subsequently believe, according to this theory..

I am afraid that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville has at least one or more Faculty members who are advocating the post-17th century variety of Calvinism on the subject of regeneration, the new birth, or effectual calling. We also have reason to believe that the "Founders Ministries" within the SBC is shot-through with this same theory.

We are opposing this post-17th century theory on THE CALVINIST FLYSWATTER at the following URL: >><< It is our hope that by agitating this issue, many will come back to the old Calvinism of our Confessions and repudiate the post-17th century pedobaptist variety.

I am taking some "hits" from several brethren who evidently favor the "hybrid" view, but if I am indeed standing for the truth on this, the current attacks upon me will be meaningless in the long run.

I suggest you print out my article -- "Bob Ross: Regeneration - Calvinism" -- at the following URL -- >><<

This article will acquaint you with the particulars involved. I hope this will help you in your understanding of what constitutes "Confessional Calvinism" in contrast to the theory of the pedo-regenerationists which I sometimes refer to as "Hybrid Calvinists," the theory being a mixture of (1) the Confessional view on the Spirit as the sole efficient cause and (2) the Hardshell or Shedd/Berkhof view of "no means" used as an instrumentality in the "direct operation."

Right or wrong, I have stood against the "Hybrid" theory since the 1950s, have written against it over the years, taught against it when we had the Texas College of Theology in Pasadena, and have written several email articles against it the past few years.

When they bury me, if you place material which advocates this view on my grave, if I don't get up and refute it, you will know I am indeed dead!

May God Bless You!

Bob L. Ross, 3 John 2