Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Blunders of Gene M. Bridges

This article is a series of comments offered by Bob Ross on Gene M. Bridges. Gene is possibly the most prolific "born again before faith" Reformed Calvinist blogger on the Internet.

He posts frequently on issues in the Southern Baptist Convention yet by his own admission he belongs to a church which is "denominationally unaffiliated" and which has for its confession not the Baptist Faith and Message but the "1646 London Baptist Confession."

In a short time, Gene has made a name for himself. Despite his lack of SBC affiliation, Founders Ministries (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry) will soon publish a journal article by Gene. He is also a frequent contributor of comments on blogs of The Founders and others.

Even a cursory examination of Gene M. Bridge's writing will reveal more smoke than substance. In this article, Bob Ross answers some of Gene's strange assertions and erroneous allegations.



Bob to Charles:

I am aware, Charles, that Gene Bridges made a very lame attempt at replying to my comments about his blog, but the man is so discombobulating in his thinking and so pointless in the mass of materials which he quotes, there is little need to reply to his second article. It is an exercise in futility.

To illustrate the man's deficiency, he made the following remark:
Apparently Mr. Ross is confused about semi-Pelagianism and what the confessions say about the freedom of the will as well as what I wrote to him last time. Either that, or his interlocutors in the past are correct, he sees what he wants to see.

Now, any man who could read my materials and make such a nonsensical comment as that is obviously so far removed from polemical ability that "Yogisms" make much more sense.

Here is a case in point to illustrate his deficient of understanding, as he further says --

Andrew Fuller . . . against General Baptist Dan Taylor, who affirms that it [regeneration] is the result of faith (just like Mr. Ross it seems) . . . .

Charles, I assume you read everything that goes up on this blog, and I will stand corrected if you -- or even Gene Bridges -- can show a single statement where I ever said that "it [regeneration] is the result of faith."

I have consistently presented the Creedal Calvinist view that the Holy Spirit by use of the instrumentality of the Word of God is the sole efficient power whichcreates faith. If Gene reads my writings at all, he must read them as carelessly and with as little understanding as he reads the Baptist Confessions and Baptist writers.

In numerous posts I have affirmed this view. I have demonstrated that all the Confessions teach this view, and that it was the view of men such as John Gill, C. H. Spurgeon, John L. Dagg, B. H. Carroll, and numerous others who have been mentioned. Even in materials that Gene quotes, this view is taught, yet he evidently does not even see it!

As for Andrew Fuller, he taught that all the efficient power in the New Birth is by the "immediate agency" of the Holy Spirit, and that this "regeneration is by the Word of God" and the sinner is both "passive" (as to the efficient power) and "active" (in believing) at the very same time the Spirit does His work.

Fuller taught that the terms "regeneration" and "conversion" are "NOT DESIGNED to express the different STAGES of God's work upon the soul, but the SAME DIVINE WORK under different IDEAS or representations."

Fuller said that (1) the "passivity" of the sinner in regeneration as to efficient power and (2) the "activity" of the sinner's faith in regeneration are BOTH "INCLUDED IN REGENERATION."

Fuller says, "It does not therefore seem perfectly accurate to say we are first endued with spiritual life, and then we become active; no otherwise, at least, than as by the order of nature, seeing that ACTIVITY IS OF THE VERY ESSENSE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE." In other words, ACTIVE FAITH and SPIRITUAL LIFE exist TOGETHER.

He also says, "Now, considering regeneration as expressive of that entire change by which we enter as it were a new moral world, and possess a new kind of being (and in this sense I think it is ALWAYS to be understood in the New Testament) it is as proper to say WE ARE REGENERATED BY THE WORD OF GOD, as it is to say that 'Abraham begat Isaac;' though in Isaac's coming into the world he was the subject of a Divine agency in which Abraham has no concern." (Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, on "Regeneration by the Word of God," 1 Peter 1:23, page 529).

Therefore, Fuller affirms, as we have consistently affirmed, that the New Birth and the sinner's faith are the "same Divine work" OF the Spirit as the sole "efficient cause," and the sinner is "regenerated [BEGOTTEN] BY the Word of God" as the Spirit's instrumentality, and the sinner is not regenerated separate and apart from faith, and faith is not separate and apart from regeneration.

Gene Bridges needs to learn "how to think" and "how to read" to go along with his ability to copy an abundance of materials, as if "the mostest on the leastest is the bestest."
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 12:23:02 AM


Bob to Charles:

Gene Bridges demonstrates a sad case of "Attention Deficient Disorder" when he attempts to align himself with the late B. H. CARROLL, Founder of the Southwestern Theological Seminary.

Gene gives a short quote from Carroll and asks a few rhetorical questions as if it is I who has a difference with B. H. Carroll rather than Gene. In this, Gene reminds me of Campbellites I have debated who have quoted Baptists as if they supported the Campbellite view on baptism in opposition to me!
Come to think of it, with his view that the sinner is "born again" without faith in Christ, Gene might make a good Campbellite, for this is at least consistent with the Campbellite contention which denies that one experiences the new birth at the point of God-given faith in Christ.

Just prior to the short quote Gene gives from Carroll are these words from B. H. Carroll which appear in his Interpretation of the English Bible, Volume 10, page 287. I call it CARROLL'S IMPECCABLE SYLLOGISM, which no Hybrid Calvinist can refute. Gene Bridges did not even make a stab at refuting it:

This teaching may be put into a syllogism, thus:

Every one born of God has the right to be called a child of God.

But no one has the right until he believes in Jesus.

Therefore the new birth is NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT FAITH

Despite those plain words from Carroll, Gene Bridges nevertheless contends that the new birth takes place before, without, and apart from faith in Christ. In other words, he has a "born again" unbeliever -- such as F. H. Kerfoot described in the first part of this thread.

B. H. Carroll did not hold the "pre-faith regeneration" theory, as can be clearly seen from his discussion of Regeneration on pages 285-288 of chapter 10 on the Four Gospels, Interpretation of the English Bible, Part 1, Volume 10 of the 17 volume set, Broadman Press, 1913 edition published by BP in 1947.

Carroll not only shows the unscriptural nature of this idea, but even states that it is "philosophically impossible" to hold to the idea that one is regenerated "before the subject is penitent and believing" (page 286).

Thus, Carroll lampoons the Hardshell Baptist / Pedo-regenerationist theory of Berkhof-Shedd-Frame-Sproul-Duncan-Murray-James White-Gene Bridges-Mark Dever-Tom Schreiner-Scott Morgan-Tom Nettles-the Founders, etc. at its very heart.

Carroll goes on to say, on page 288 -- which Gene Bridges conveniently failed to quote:

"The Holy Spirit then is the agent in regeneration and the instrumental means of regeneration is the Word of God, or the preaching of Christ and Him crucified, yet the power of the Spirit does not reside in the word as inspired, but the agency is positive and active in the use of the Word."

Obviously, Carroll repudiates the Pedo-regenerationist theory of regeneration "without means," and states that if one should hold that preliminary influences by the Spirit in the soul "is NOT what the Scriptures call the new birth HE WOULD BE ABLE TO SUPPORT HIS VIEW BY MANY SCRIPTURES" (page 286).

Even in the short quotation that Gene uses, there is enough to destroy Gene's theory of "born again before faith." Notice:

Dr. Carroll says, "There is, first of all, a direct influence of the Holy Spirit on the passive spirit of the sinner, quickening him or making him sensitive to the preaching of the Word. In this the sinner is passive. But he is NOT A SUBJECT OF THE NEW BIRTH WITHOUT CONTRITION, REPENTANCE AND FAITH."

This plainly shows that Dr. Carroll did not believe that the preliminary "quickening" work of the Spirit constituted the new birth, for although "quickened" the sinner "is not a subject of the new birth without contritition, repentance and faith" -- contrary to the "born again before faith" heresy advocated by Gene Bridges and other Hybrid Calvinists.

How on earth could anyone who believes what Gene Bridges believes -- which clearly contradicts B. H. Carroll's view -- be so vain as to think he could "pull the wool over the eyes" of even a child who is capable of simply reading Carroll's writings?

There must be some type of "Attention Deficicent Disorder" -- not be be confused with the normal "A. D. D."
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 5:58:26 PM


Bob to Charles:

"London Bridge is falling down . . . "

And Gene Bridges has fallen down -- again!

In his deficient effort to reply to my materials, Gene Bridges says the following:

No, sir, I simply interpret the NHC on its own terms in its own context. The NHC is a recapitulation of Calvinistic doctrine as expressed at that time. We see what that context was in statements like:

Daniel Marshall:
"We believe that all those who were chosen in Christ, will be effectually called, regenerated, converted, sanctified, and supported by the spirit and power of God, so that they shall persevere in grace and not one of them be finally lost." Marshall, Article 6, Confession of the Georgia Association)

Notice [says Gene] where he places regeneration in his order of salvation. One is called, regenerated, converted, sanctified, and caused to persevere. (Marshall, Article 6, Confession of the Georgia Association)

I did "notice" that "order," and I see that "EFFECTUALLY CALLED" PRECEDES REGENERATION, according to Daniel Marshall as quoted by Gene Bridges.

Now, if that Article 6 by Marshall means the same thing as the 1689 London Confession, and the Philadelphia Confession, in the use of "Effectual Calling," then this Article 6 is opposed to Gene Bridges and those who teach "born again before faith."

This article has "Effectual Calling" preceding "regeneration" in the "order." Did Gene somehow fail to take note of that?

EFFECTUAL CALLING in the 1689 London Confession is "by His WORD and SPIRIT, (1) out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, (2) to grace of salvation by Jesus Christ; (3) enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to (4) understand the things of God," etc. All of that is categorized under "Effectual Calling" in the 1689 Confession.

Furthermore, those same souls are described as being "united to Christ" (Chapter 13), and they have been "enabled to believe to the saving of their souls," which is said to be "the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word" (Chapter 14).

Now, ALL OF THAT is categorized under "Effectual Calling" by the Word and Spirit, in the 1689 Confession, and according to Daniel Marshall, Effectual Calling was listed in the "order" BEFORE regeneration, according to the quotation from Gene Bridges.

I'm sure Gene may want to take another look at that and somehow figure out some scheme whereby to get the "order" explained in accordance with Hybrid Calvinism which dares not have one born again other than "before faith."
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 9:13:37 PM


Bob to Charles:

Gene Bridges is really "stretching" and "grabbing at straws" when he tries to use A. H. Srrong. Years ago, I wrote an entire pamphlet entitled "Regeneration: Strong vs. Berkhof" in which a contrast is shown between the Baptist position of Strong and the pedo-regenerationist Hybrid Calvinism of Louis Berkhof who advocated "born again before faith."

Bridges must really be in a dizzy spin to try to align with Strong, one of the great theological opponents of the idea of "born again before faith" (Strong's Systematic Theology, pages 809-829).

Bridges says:
A.H. Strong says that regeneration is the efficient cause of conversion and names the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit upon the sinner's heart as the efficient cause (Theology, 625)

Bridges' reference to Strong is altogether superfluous. All Creedal Calvinists affirm that the Holy Spirit is the sole "efficient cause" of the new birth and all of the necessary elements or ingredients involved in the new birth. They likewise affirm that the Holy Spirit uses INSTRUMENTALITY in accomplishing the new birth. Strong is no exception.

Here is what Strong taught -- and whether one agrees with him or not, he clearly is against the "born again before faith" idea:

II. REGENERATION. Regeneration is that act of God by which the governing disposition of the soul is made holy, and by which, through the truth as a means, the first holy exercise of this disposition is secured.

Regeneration, or the new birth, is the divine side of that change of heart or which we call conversion if viewed from the human side. It is God’s turning the soul to himself, conversion being the soul’s turning itself to God; God’s turning it is both the accompaniment and cause. It will be observed from the above definition, that there are two aspects of regeneration, in the first of which the soul is passive, in the second of which the soul is active. God changes the governing disposition, in this change the soul is simply acted upon. God secures the initial exercise of this disposition in view of the truth, in this change the soul itself acts. Yet these two parts of God’s operation are SIMULTANEOUS. At the same moment that he makes the soul sensitive, he pours in the light of his truth and induces the exercise of the holy disposition he has imparted.

By this statement within itself Strong refutes the "born again before faith" idea. The power that regenerates is God's power, and SIMULTANEOUSLY the sinner turns to God, accomplished "through truth as a means," according to Strong. "Simultaneous" means "at the same moment," so there is no "time" for "born again before faith."

>>C. The immediate agency of the Holy Spirit, as the efficient cause of regeneration.

In ascribing to the Holy Spirit the authorship of regeneration, we do not affirm that the divine Spirit accomplishes his work without any accompanying instrumentality. We simply assert that the power, which regenerates, is the power of God and that although conjoined with the use of means, there is a direct operation of this power upon the sinner’s heart, which changes its moral character. . . .

4. The Instrumentality used in Regeneration. . . .

B. The Scriptural view is that regeneration, so far as it secures an activity of man, is accomplished through the instrumentality of the truth. . . .

Here we perceive the link between the efficiency of God and the activity of man. Only as the sinner’s mind is brought into contact with the truth, does God complete his regenerating work. . . .

Conviction of sin is an ordinary, if not an invariable, antecedent of regeneration. It results from the contemplation of truth. It is often accompanied by fear, remorse and cries for mercy. But these desires and fears are not signs of regeneration. They are selfish. They are quite consistent with manifest and dreadful enmity to God.

They have a hopeful aspect, simply because they are evidence that the Holy Spirit is striving with the soul. But this work of the Spirit is not yet regeneration. At most, it is preparation for regeneration. So far as the sinner is concerned, he is more of a sinner than ever before. Because, under more light, than has ever before been given him, he is still rejecting Christ and resisting the Spirit. . . .

And so long as these preliminary motives rule, regeneration has not yet taken place. Bible reading and prayers, and church attendance and partial reformations are certainly better than apathy or out breaking sin. They may be signs that God is working in the soul. But without complete surrender to God, they may be accompanied with the greatest guilt and the greatest danger. Simply because, under such influences, the withholding of submission implies the most active hatred to God and opposition to his will. Instance cases of outward reformation that preceded regeneration, like that of John Bunyan, who left off swearing before his conversion. Park: “The soul is a monad and must turn all at once. If we are standing on the line, we are yet unregenerate. We are regenerate only when we cross it.” There is a prevenient grace as well as a regenerating grace. Wendelius indeed distinguished five kinds of grace, namely, prevenient, preparatory, operant, cooperative and perfecting. . . .

Since the relation between the divine and the human activity is not one of chronological succession, man is never to wait for God’s working. If he is ever regenerated, it must be in and through a movement of his own will, in which he turns to God as unconstrained and with as little consciousness of God’s operation upon him, as if no such operation of God were involved in the change. And in preaching, we are to press upon men the claims of God and their duty of immediate submission to Christ. It is with the certainty that they who do so submit will subsequently recognize this new and holy activity of their own wills as due to a working within them of divine power.

Once again, we see how Gene Bridges has failed to enlist a Baptist theologian into the "born again before faith" camp.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 10:53:45 PM


Bob to Charles:

If you have read the mass of materials by Gene Bridges, I am sure, Charles, that you have noted how Gene never seems to find exactly what he wants it to say, so he says it himself.

For example, he quotes some confessions of faith and tells you what you did not read in the confessions themselves, namely that "those confessions affirm that regeneration precedes faith."

Sounds a lot like our friend, Scott Morgan, doesn't he? Didn't I offer some financial rewards for confessions which say that "regeneration precedes faith"?

Gene can't find a single Baptist confession of faith which says "regeneration precedes faith." So he has to "fill in" what the confessions dod not say.

Did you notice how many of the pedo-regenerationists Gene used in his article? He is simply re-affirming what the pedos have been teaching for years, the idea that the elect get "born again before faith," the vast majority of them when they are babies.

Of course, if they get regenerated when they are babies when they are not even capable of believing, regeneration would necessarily be "before faith," wouldn't it?

I wonder when Gene got regenerated -- before he believed on Christ? Did he walk an aisle to accept Christ?

It's too late tonight, but I will have more to say on this.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 1:22:57 AM

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tom Nettles Relies on Theologian Who Rejected Regeneration Before Faith Theology

In the article, Brother Bob Ross provides another piece of evidence refuting the "born again before faith" theology held by James White, many of The Founders, and many professors at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Isn't it strange that Dr. Tom Nettles quotes Kerfoot when Kerfoot so clearly rejected the theology promoted by Nettles, Mark Dever, and many of The Founders?



Bob to Charles:

I came upon the following statement by Tom Nettles of Southern Seminary in an article at --

F. H. Kerfoot, a Southern Baptist theologian and pastor at the turn of the 20th Century, highlighted this doctrine when he wrote, "Nearly all Baptists believe what are usually termed the 'doctrines of grace': the absolute sovereignty and foreknowledge of God; His eternal and unchangeable purposes or decrees; that salvation in its beginning, continuance and completion, is God's free gift; that, in Christ, we are elected or chosen, personally or individually, from eternity, saved and called out from the world, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; ... Read Rom 8, 9, 10, 11; Acts 13:48; Eph 1:4-5; 2:1-10; 1 Peter 1:2-5; Jude 24; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5."

Is this another instance of a Founders' associate trying to identify with a well-known Baptist of the past, as if he held to Hybrid Calvinism? Is Nettles trying to imply a lot more than was actually taught by Kerfoot?

Being the student that he is, does Nettles probably know very well that F. H. Kerfoot (1847-1901), who succeeded James Boyce as Professor of Systematic Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, did not hold to the Hybrid Calvinism idea of "born again before faith" as held by at least some at SBTS?

Contrary to the "born again before faith" heresy, Kerfoot reasoned that if the New Birth actually took place before faith, "then one could be a regenerated person without repentance and faith. For repentance and faith are the elements of conversion. But one cannot be a saved person without these. How can one be regenerated, in point of time, BEFORE one has faith or repentance? Can a regenerated person be an unsaved person?" (Boyce's Abstract of Systematic Theology, revised by F. H. Kerfoot, page 348).

In his revision of J. P. Boyce's Systematic Theology, Kerfoot included the following, which conflicts with Hybrid Calvinism on "regeneration" (pages 329, 330). He shows that the convicting, awakening work of the Spirit in the lost soul before repentance and faith does not constitute "regeneration" or the New Birth:

"II. Nature of Conviction.
1. Not Regeneration.
Conviction is not regeneration. No one ever thinks of speaking of a soul under conviction of sin as a regenerated soul. As we have seen, a soul may experience conviction without ever being brought to regeneration. Some of the non-elect have been under terrible conviction of sin. We are apt to be misled here by our ideas of "death." Conviction is a certain sort of quickening, or making alive so to speak. And there is a tendency to think that when this is the case the souls is no longer dead, but alive, regenerated. But spiritual death is not, like bodily death, a state in which there can be no sort of feeling or activity. The Bible shows that in spiritual death there may be intense feeling and activity of certain kinds. At the judgment and in perdition those who are dead spiritually are keenly alive to suffering and convicted of sin. The same may be true of a soul here. The Spirit of God may do much work upon a soul and produce much movement in a soul before that soul is brought to regeneration. There may be intense conviction without regeneration.

2. Awakening to its true condition. A convicted soul is a soul awakened by the Spirit of God to a sense of its true condition. The eyes of the understanding are opened to appreciate the truths of God's Word, and to see its own lost condition; the conscience is quickened so that it experiences a sense of sin; the feelings are aroused; and the cry comes, "What must I do to be saved?"

3. Always antecedent to regeneration. This conviction of the souls is always antecedent to regeneration so far as adults are concerned. It may, as we have seen, stop short of regeneration. But regeneration never takes place without it.

Kerfoot goes on to affirm that in His work, he Spirit not only operates in preliminary conviction on the soul prior to regeneration, and He works "mediately through the Word," and he cites various other elements in God's providence which serve as "means of awakening, or of giving deeper conviction, or of enforcing the SCRIPTURE TRUTHS which LEAD TO regeneration and conversion" (pages 331-333).

Not only so, but Kerfoot specifically denied that there is any "chronological sequence" to "regeneration" and "conversion" (page 347). He simply refers to the Spirit's work as "regeneration" and the sinner's simultaneous repentance and faith as "conversion," without any "chronological" sequence involved.

Kerfoot argues that if there were a chronological order, "then one could be a regenerated person without repentance and faith. For repentance and faith are the elements of conversion. But one cannot be a saved person without these. How can one be regenerated, in point of time, before one has faith or repentance? Can a regenerated person be an unsaved person?" (page 348).

This conflicts with the Hybrid Calvinism theory of "born again before faith" or that "regeneration" is chronologically separate from conversion -- a heresy which is perhaps best illustrated by the consistent pedo-regenerationists such as Shedd, Berkhof, Sproul, Duncan, and Frame who have babies "regenerated" long before they supposedly come to repentance and faith in later years. -- Bob L. Ross

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 7

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


Subject: #7 -- JOHN GILL -- NOT A HARDSHELL or HYBRID CALVINIST [05/19/06]

Chapter Seven:


Famous Baptist Pastor, Scholar, and Commentator Lived Before "Primitive Baptist Church" Originated

Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) pastored in London at the church later pastored by C. H. Spurgeon. He is one of the most famous Baptists in English history.

In recent years, the massive works of John Gill, a tremendous Baptist figure of the 18th century, have been republished. Gill's large multi-volume COMMENTARY and his 1023-page, double-column, BODY OF DIVINITY, have been on the market for quite sometime, and his answer to the Arminian system's champion, Daniel Whitby, entitled, CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH, was reprinted several years ago. We consider all three of these works to be of great value and usefulness.

Some few men have brought charges against Gill that are inaccurate. Some have alleged that he advocates Hardshellism. In fact, one brother published a paper in which he said that Gill "might well be called the father of that anti-missionary movement which we sometimes term hardshellism."

Another brother has copied and published this statement, giving it wider circulation. I questioned one of these brethren as to these attacks on Gill, and found that they have been made because certain men have supposedly been "led into Hardshellism" as a result of reading Gill's works. But this appears to be a "non sequitur," for I know many others who have read Gill and have no Hardshellism in their views. The fact is, some Hardshells who turned away somewhat from regular Hardshellism about the use of "means" referred to Dr. Gill in support of their views. This was the case with Elder W. E. Screws in the last century, who was taken to task for his views and his use of Dr. Gill by William Crouse, a defender of the anti-means Hardshell position. (See Crouse on Regeneration).

William Crouse said: "The purpose Elder Screws had in making quotations from Gill's commentary was to show that Gill believed and taught that God uses the ministry and the gospel as means and instrumentalities in the work of regeneration. That this was Dr. Gill's teaching in the above quotation there can be no doubt. Indeed he says that Paul's ministry was made 'an effectual means OF their regeneration.'"

Further, in chapter two of his book, William Crouse opens the chapter by saying:

"Dr. John Gill, when he wrote his commentary of the Bible, held to the doctrine of gospel regeneration -- that God regenerates His elect through the means or instrumentality of the preached word. After careful investigation we feel sure his interpretation of certain scriptures relative to the gospel and regeneration will admit of no other construction.

"In every effort that has been made to reform our faith Dr. Gill's Commentary has been used against us to prove that American Primitive Baptists have departed from old time Baptist faith and have therefore ceased to be the 'original' Baptists. If it were necessary for us to accept all interpretations given by Dr. Gill in his commentary in order for us to be 'original' or Primitive Baptists, there might be some merit in the contention of our adversaries. But the faith of Primitive Baptists of America does not rest upon the belief of Dr. Gill. And the fact that our opponents are always driven to his commentary for proof is evidence that American Primitive Baptists have NOT held the idea of the gospel as a means, or that sinners are regenerated by, with, or through the preached word."

This is plainly a concession on the part of William Crouse that Dr. Gill's Commentary was contrary to the views of Hardshells.

But then Crouse goes on in his book to concoct the allegation that Dr. Gill later "forsook that position" when he wrote his Body of Divinity. In order to attempt the substantiation of this allegation, he quotes Dr. Gill in a piecemeal manner, stopping just at the point where Dr. Gill was about to comment on the instrumental "means" used by the Holy Spirit. Here is the part Crouse failed to quote from page 534 of Gill's Body of Divinity:

"Though after all it seems plain, 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; then faith comes by hearing, and ministers are instruments by whom, at least, men are encouraged to believe: 'received ye the Spirit', says the apostle, 'by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith': #Ga 3:2 that is, by the preaching of the law, or by the preaching of the gospel? by the latter, no doubt."

I wrote to the Hardshells who have the piecemeal quotation by Crouse on their website, and the gentleman who replied said, "I do not have time at present to formulate a proper response but I hope to do so, shortly." So far, he has not explained why William Crouse did not give the complete view of John Gill on the matter of "means," and that was several years ago.

Some Hardshells may think they find Hardshellism in Gill's writings, but such thinking is the same as that which thinks it finds Hardshellism in the Bible. If they read Gill in a piecemeal manner, like he was quoted by William Crouse, then those who believe Hardshellism may find something with which they can agree; but that is the only way.

John Gill was a Creedal Calvinist, not a Hardshell or Hybrid Calvinist. The Hardshells deny that the Gospel has anything to do with calling sinners unto salvation. They say that the Gospel is to be preached to those already "regenerated" for the purpose of saving their lives, and not to dead sinners in order to bring them by faith to life in Christ. Hardshellism teaches that men are called by the Spirit alone, apart from the preaching or reading of the Word of God.

Creedal Calvinists teach that the Gospel is used of God in calling people to salvation. II Thessalonians 2:14 states that those "chosen" are those who are "called by the Gospel." It is the Spirit alone who is the "efficient cause," yes; but the Bible teaches that the preaching of the Gospel is used of the Spirit in performing His work.

This is what John Gill taught. And to vindicate Gill of these false charges, I have selected a few comments from Gill's works to show his true position. These quotations have to do with the place of the gospel and ministers in bringing sinners to salvation.

It will be seen from these quotations that Gill, and the Baptists of his time, were not of the "Primitive Baptist order." He uses both "regeneration" and "conversion" in referring to the new birth, not to two distinct experiences. Despite the fact some Hardshells say they like Gill, he is not in their "camp."

From Gill's Commentary

There are an innumerable number of clear statements in Gill's massive commentary that could be quoted to show his position. But our pages could not contain all that he has said on this point, so we must content ourselves with only a select few. Note carefully these quotations.

Commenting on Proverbs 11:30:
Again Christ's ministers are called 'fishers' of men, and are said to 'catch' men, Matt. 4:19, Luke 4:10; and which they do by casting and spreading the net of the Gospel; the Gospel is the net; the world is the sea into which it is cast: where natural men are in their element, as fishes in the sea; the casting of the net is the preaching of the Gospel; and by means of this souls are caught and gathered in to Christ and his churches, Matt. 13:47 (Volume 3, page 28).

Commenting on Mark 16:16:
'To every creature,' that is, to every man; and particularly the Gentiles, as distinguished from the Jews, are often intended by this phase . . . Now to these, Christ would have the Gospel preached, as well as to the Jews; even to all, without distinction of people, Jews and Gentiles, Barbarians, Scythians, bond and free, male and female, rich and poor, greater or lesser sinners, even to all mankind (Volume 5, page 401).

Romans 1:16:
It (the gospel) is the power of God organically or instrumentally; as it is a means made use of by God in quickening DEAD sinners, enlightening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, softening hard hearts, and making of enemies friends (Volume 6, pages 5, 6).

Romans 10:14:
On this passage, Gill says that "it was absolutely necessary that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews." He goes on to say, "There is no hearing of Christ, and salvation by him, without the preaching of the Gospel; the usual and ordinary way of hearing from God, and of Christ, is by the ministry of the word: this shows not only the necessity and usefulness of the Gospel ministry, but also points out the subject-matter of it, which is Christ, and him crucified" (Vol. 6, page 90).

Romans 10:17:
'So then faith cometh by hearing' & c. That is, by preaching; for the word hearing is used in the same sense as in the preceding verse; and designs the report of the Gospel, or the preaching of the word, which is the means God makes use of to convey faith into the hearts of his people; for preachers are ministers, or instruments, by whom others believe (Vol. 6, p. 9).

I Corinthians 1:18:
'It (the Gospel) is the power of God;' organically or instrumentally; it being the means of quickening them when DEAD in sin, of enlightening their dark minds, or unstopping their deaf ears, of softening their hard hearts, and of enemies making them friends to God, Christ, and his people: and it is likewise so declaratively, there being a wonderful display of the power of God in the ministration of it; as may be seen when observed who were the first preachers of it, men of no figure in life, of no education, illiterate mechanics, very mean and abject; into these earthen vessels were put the treasure of the Gospel, that the excellency of the power might appear to be of God, and not man (Volume 6, page 155).

I Corinthians 4:15:
'For in Christ Jesus have I begotten you through the Gospel;' which is to be understood of regeneration, a being born again, and from above; of being quickened when dead in trespasses and sins; of having Christ formed in the soul; of being made a partaker of the Divine nature, and a new creature: which the apostle ascribes to himself, not as the efficient cause thereof, for regeneration is not of men but of God; not of the will of the flesh, of a man's own free-will and power, nor of the will of any other man, or minister; but of the sovereign will, grace, and mercy of God, Father, Son, and Spirit.

The Father of Christ begets us again according to his abundant mercy; and the Son quickens whom he will; and we are born again of water and of the Spirit, of the grace of the Spirit; hence the washing of regeneration, and renewing work, are ascribed to him; but the apostle speaks this of himself, only as the instrument or means, which God made use of in doing this work upon the hearts of his people; and which the other phrases show; for he is said to do it 'in Christ;' he preached Christ unto them, and salvation by him, and the necessity of faith in him; he directed them to him to believe in him, and was the means of bringing of them to the faith of Christ:
And it was the power and grace of Christ accompanying his ministry, which made it an effectual means of their regeneration and conversion; and which were brought about 'through the Gospel;' not through the preaching of the law; for though by that is the knowledge of sin, and convictions may be wrought by such means; yet these leave nothing but a sense of wrath and damnation; nor is the law any other than a killing letter; no regeneration, no quickening grace, no faith nor holiness come this way, but through the preaching the Gospel; in and through which, as a vehicle, the Spirit of God conveys himself into the heart, as a Spirit of regeneration and faith; and God of his own will and rich mercy, by the word of truth, by the Gospel of grace and truth, which came by Christ, so called in distinction from the law which came by Moses, begets us again as his new creatures; which shows the usefulness of the Gospel ministry, and in what account Gospel ministers are to be had, who are spiritual fathers, or the instruments of the conversion of men (Volume 6, page 174).

I Corinthians 1:21:
This (preaching), through efficacious grace, becomes the means of regenerating and quickening men, showing them their need of salvation, and where it is, and of working faith in them to look to Christ for it (Vol. 6, p. 156).

I Corinthians 4:20:
Gill says that the "power" spoken of in this verse has reference to "the powerful efficacy of the Spirit, attending the preaching of the Gospel to the quickening of dead sinners, the enlightening of blind eyes, and unstopping of deaf ears; the softening of hard hearts, the delivering of persons from the slavery of sin and Satan, the transforming and renewing of them both inwardly and outwardly (Vol. 6, p. 176).

I Corinthians 9:22:
'That I might by all means save some;' that is, that he might be the means of saving some of Jews and Gentiles, and of all sorts of men; by preaching the Gospel of salvation to them, and by directing them to Christ, the only Saviour of lost sinners; thus he explains what he means by so often saying that he might 'gain' them (Volume 6, page 208).

I Corinthians 15:2:
It (the Gospel) was the means of their salvation, and had been made the power of God unto salvation to them. Salvation is inseparably connected with true faith in Christ as a Saviour, etc. (Volume 6, page 255).

II Corinthians 3:6:
It (the Gospel) is a means in the hand of the Spirit of God, of quickening dead sinners, of healing the deadly wounds of sin, of showing the way of life by Christ, and of working faith in the soul, to look to him, and live upon him; etc. (Vol. 6, p. 293).

II Corinthians 10:16:
'To preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you,' etc. Here the apostle clearly expresses what he hoped for, and explains what he meant by being enlarged according to rule; namely, that he should be at liberty to preach the Gospel elsewhere; and hoped he should be directed by the providence of God, to carry it into the more remote and distant parts of the world, whereas yet Christ had not been named," etc. (Volume 6, page 336).

Galatians 4:13:
'I preached the Gospel unto you at the first;' not the law, but the Gospel; and this he did at his first entrance among them, and was the first that preached it to them; and was the means of their conversion: and therefore, being their spiritual father, they ought to be as he was, and follow him as they had for an example (Volume 6, page 394).

James 1:18:
Gill says that "the Word of truth" of this passage means "The Gospel, which is the word of truth, and truth itself, and contains nothing but truth; and by this souls are begotten and born again; see Eph. 1:13, I Pet. 1:23; and hence ministers of it are accounted spiritual fathers. Faith, and every other grace in regeneration, and even the Spirit himself, the Regenerator, come this way (Volume 6, page 783).

I Peter 1:23:
Gill says that "the word of God" of this verse is "the Gospel, the word of truth, which is made use of as a means of begetting souls again (Volume 6, page 783).
From Other Works

On page 372 of Gill's Body of Divinity, in his discussion of the Gospel, the third point of his outline is, "The effects of the gospel when attended with the power and Spirit of God." Under this point, Gill says:

1. The regeneration of men, who are said to be born again by the word of God, and to be begotten again with the word of truth, I Pet. 1:23, James 1:18; hence ministers of the gospel are represented as spiritual fathers, I Cor. 4:15.
2. As in regeneration, souls are quickened by the Spirit and grace of God, this is ascribed to the gospel as an instrument, hence it is called the Spirit which giveth life, and said to be the savor of life unto life, 2 Cor. 2:16 and 3:6.
3. The gospel is frequently spoken of as a light, a great light, a glorious light; and so is in the hands of the Spirit a means of enlightening the dark minds of men into the mysteries of grace, and the method of salvation; 'the entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple,' Psalm 119:130. The Spirit of God gives the gospel an entrance into the heart, being opened by him to attend unto it; and when it has an entrance, it gives light into a man's self, his state and condition, and into the way of life by Christ; it is a glass in which the glory of Christ, and of the riches of his grace, may be seen.

In his discussion of effectual calling (Body of Divinity, page 539), Gill clearly states that the ministry of the Word and the call by it "have to do with unregenerate sinners." He explains this is as follows:

They may, and should be called upon to attend the outward means of grace, and to make use of them; to read the holy scriptures, which have been the means of conversion of some; to hear the word, and wait on the ministry of it, which may be blessed unto them, for the effectual calling of them. And it is a part of the ministry of the word to lay before men their fallen, miserable, lost, and undone estate by nature; to open to them the nature of sin, its pollution and guilt, and the sad consequences of it; to inform them of their incapacity to make atonement for it; and of their impotence and inability to do what is spiritually good; and of the insufficiency of their own righteousness to justify them in the sight of God; and they are to be made acquainted, that salvation is alone by Christ, and not other ways; and the fullness, freeness, and suitableness of this salvation, are to be preached before them; and the whole to be left to the Spirit of God, to make application of it as he shall think fit.

In his article on the public ministry of the Word (Body of Divinity, page 926), Gill states:

This (the ministry) is not a device of men for sinister ends, and with selfish and lucrative views; but is by the appointment of Christ, who ordered his disciples, that what they heard in the ear, they should 'preach upon the housetops;' that is, in the most public manner; and therefore sent them into all the world, to preach the gospel to every creature under heaven; and accordingly the apostle Paul, that eminent minister of the word, preached it publicly, as well as from house to house, and even from Jerusalem about to Illyricum.

In this same article, on page 931, Gill makes this strong statement as to the ministry of the Word:

2. The ministry of the word is for the conversion of sinners; without which churches would not be increased nor supported, and must in course fail, and come to nothing: but the hand of the Lord being with his ministers, many in every age believe and turn to the Lord, and are added to the churches; by which means they are kept up and preserved: and hence it is necessary in the ministers of the word, to set forth the lost and miserable estate and condition of men by nature, the danger they are in, the necessity of regeneration and repentance, and of a better righteousness than their own, and of faith in Christ; which things are blessed for the turning of men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.

On pages 533 and 534 of his Body of Divinity, this mighty writer, dealing with the subject of regeneration, says:

Fourthly, The instrumental cause of regeneration, if it may be so called, are the word of God, and the ministers of it; hence regenerate persons are said to be 'born again by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever,' I Pet. 1:23; and again, 'of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,' Jam. 1:18 . . . ministers of the gospel are not only represented as ministers and instruments by whom others believe, but as spiritual fathers; 'though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ,' says the apostle to the Corinthians, I Cor. 4:15, 'yet have ye not many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.'

This refutes the Hardshell distinction between "regeneration" and "conversion." Gill's view makes both terms apply to the "new birth."
Under the discussion entitled, "Of Faith in God and in Christ," our worthy author, referring to faith in God the Father as the one who chose His people to salvation, says:

This election of God is to be known by the gospel coming not in word only, but in power, by being effectually called, for 'whom he did predestinate, them he also called,' and by their having the faith of God's elect, for 'as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,' Rom. 8:30, Act 13:48 (page 733).

On page 741 of the same chapter, Gill makes the following remark:

'The belief of the truth,' of Christ, who is the truth, and of the gospel of truth, that comes by him, is the means through which God has chosen men to salvation.

Again, in the same chapter, on page 743:

Thirdly, the Word and ministers of it are the usual means and instruments of faith in the hand of God, and are used by him; the end of the word being written is, that men 'might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.' John 20:31; and the word preached is, 'the word of faith;' and so called, with other reasons, because faith comes by it, Rom. 10:8, 17; this has often been the effect and consequence of hearing the word preached, Acts 17:4 and 18:8, and the ministers of it are the instruments by whom and through whose word, doctrine, and ministry, others believe, John 1:17, 20, I Cor. 3:5, but this is only when it is attended with the power and Spirit of God, I Cor. 2:4, 5.

On page 871, Gill refers to the ministry of the word or preaching of the Gospel as "the means appointed of God for the gathering in his elect ones, for the number of them in conversion."
In his answer to the Arminian Whitby (Cause of God and Truth, page 87), this notable advocate of Creedal Calvinism, remarks on a statement by the free-willer:

Which observations are very just; but are so far from militating against the doctrine of absolute election, that they establish it; since according to them, not only the end but the means, the death of Christ, the preaching of the gospel, and calling men by it, are appointed and fixed, which infallibly succeed to bring about the end, eternal salvation.

These quotations make it quite clear that Gill's position regarding the place of the gospel and the gospel ministry is the position of Creedal Calvinism and not the position taken by the "Primitive Baptist" denomination nor by the advocates of Hybrid Calvinism.

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
#6 - Hardshell Doctrine is Pelagianism in a 19th Century Package

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Southern Seminary Welcomed Wayne Grudem Who Believes Regeneration Can Occur Before Physical Birth

On February 13, 2001, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, owned and operated by the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, had Dr. Wayne Grudem to speak at the seminary.

Dr. Grudem is a theologian known for his Systematic Theology, published by Zondervan in 1994, and in which Grudem advances the heresy that people are regenerated before they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

He writes on page 500,
Yet it certainly is possible for God to bring regeneration (that is, new spiritual life) to an infant even before he or she is born. This was true of John the Baptist, for the angel Gabriel, before John was born said, "He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15). We might say that John the Baptist was "born again" before he was born!

As incredible as it sounds, Dr. Grudem believes that the new birth occurs before hearing the word of God and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ! This is not what Southern Baptist churches believe and yet their seminary invites and honors a man to come, speak, and influence young men who will one day fill the pulpits of these same churches. Grudem is also at odds with the word of God. When asked by the Philippian jailer, "What must I do to be saved," Paul responded, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Acts 16:31.

The seminary’s connection to the "born again before faith" heresy is not limited to a visit by Dr. Grudem. I have it on good authority that some theology professors at Southern use Grudem's Systematic Theology as the primary class textbook.

Southern Seminary seems to also have a love and affinity for those who teach that the word of God and faith are unnecessary for regeneration. I previously revealed that one seminary professor openly teaches this heretical doctrine: Southern Baptist seminary professor affirms "regeneration before faith" heterodoxy. In another article, I wrote about the seminary rolling out the red carpet for another Reformed theology professor: Southern Seminary Welcomed John Frame Who Teaches Salvation Occurs By Believing Nothing. Dr. R. C. Sproul has also visited the seminary and his theology was praised by seminary president Dr. Al Mohler.

Given the seminary's strong affection for those who teach that faith is unnecessary for regeneration, could Southern Seminary be one reason that baptisms are down in the SBC? I asked this question in, Is Al Mohler Responsible for the SBC's Drop in Baptisms?

In my opinion, Southern Seminary seems to blatantly set itself at odds with the beliefs of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. It may only be a matter of time before the churches find out and do something about it.


(For more information, read Brother Bob Ross' article on Regeneration, which reveals the origins of the "born again before faith" view. "Born again before faith" is generally associated with a "Reformed Calvinism" theology but in actuality is more Calvinistic than Calvin because John Calvin never held this view.)

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Dangers In Not Giving Public Invitations

Brother Bob Ross has been a champion in defending the time honored Southern Baptist practice of extending altar calls. In this article, he not only defends the public invitation but says there may be dangers in not giving them.

You will also benefit from reading another of Brother Bob's articles, Public Invitation Used in 1809 During the Life of Baptist Leader, J. L. Dagg.




Two years ago [May 2004] I was engaged in publishing rebuttals to every major article and objection which I found on the Internet against public invitations, or what some call "altar calls."

While writing these rebuttals, it occurred to me that there are serious dangers in not giving invitations in contrast to those alleged dangers about which I was writing.

While it may not be the foremost danger, several writers falsely aligned C. H. Spurgeon on invitations. For instance, one writer alleges that "Charles Spurgeon often warned against the invitation system, even in his public preaching to the lost."

We clearly expressed our opinion about that claim, and even offered a $100 reward for anyone who could substantiate it. That unclaimed reward and offer now appear on our website at the following URL:

At that same link is our article entitled, "C. H. Spurgeon & the "PUBLIC INVITATION SYSTEM" -- DID HE OPPOSE IT'S USE?" as well as another article I wrote in response to Mr. Iain Murray's anti-invitation booklet.

I have clearly demonstrated that it is not justifiable to attach the name of "Spurgeon" to the extreme anti-invitationalism of the likes of Murray, Ernest Reisinger, Fred Zaspel, Erroll Hulse, Jim Ehrhard, Darryl Erkel, G. I. Williamson, Carey Hardy, and other brethren of like thinking.

I believe there are more potential dangers involved in anti-invitationalism than merely the misuse of Spurgeon and the misrepresentation of his practices whereby he obtained professions of faith.

1. The Danger of Division.

Benjamin Keach, in the 1600s, introduced singing in his church. Isaac Marlow was so disturbed by the "innovation" that he published an item against singing, and Keach published a reply to Marlow. Singing prevailed but not without a lot of heated controversy and distasteful division among Baptist brethren.

John Rippon, the successor of Dr. John Gill, introduced the first Baptist Hymnal. Again, there was controversy and division.

William Carey and Andrew Fuller introduced innovative means of implementing foreign missions; again, controversy and division. The same occurred later during the time of Luther Rice.

Some Baptists in the past had division over the use of instrumental music.

I have known of churches and preachers who had splits on such things as women's head coverings, offering plates, communion cups, wine or grape juice in the Lord's Supper, mission boards -- pro and con, Sunday schools -- pro and con, church kitchens -- pro and con, and other alleged "innovations."

Now here comes the anti-public invitation brethren with a similar hobbyhorse. They use the same arguments against public invitations as used against these other alleged "innovations." That leads to the next danger --

2. The Danger of "Canonizing" One Particular Method Which Has No More Biblical Precedent than Other Methods.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones used the "office system" as opposed to the "public invitation system" for people to confess Christ as Saviour. The invitation system was alleged to be "without biblical precedent," but how would Dr. Jones prove that the "office system" is the scriptural procedure? Does it have biblical precedent?

A student of Christian church history informed me that George Whitefield passed out small pieces of paper to collect the names of those who wanted to confess faith in Christ? Was this the "scriptural procedure"?

If one opposes the public invitation system as being "without precedent in Scripture," is he able to give "book, chapter, and verse" for the particular method he favors? How can one system be rejected if the Scripture is silent in regard to authorizing a particular method?

3. The Danger of Promoting Pharisaism.

The Pharisees made laws where God had not made laws, especially in what they were against. They imposed their own conclusions upon issues on which God had not spoken.
They taught "for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mark 7:7).

Jesus said, "Ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in" (Matthew 23:13).

He said they "strained at a gnat, and swallowed a camel" (Matthew 23:24). The anti-public invitation brethren "strain" at public invitations and swallow the camel of the "born again before faith" theory taught by the likes of Berkhof, Sproul, and Murray.

If there is indeed a LAW that establishes a particular method, where is it found? If there is no such law, then why be like the Pharisees and make one? Is there not a danger of doing this on the part of the anti-public invitation brethren?

4. The Danger of Denying Scriptural Liberty.

There are a number of things believed and practiced by believers which are simply matters of Christian liberty, as taught in Acts 15:28, 29, Romans 14, and elsewhere.

For example, as a matter of liberty (not by commandment) some of the brethren have formed the Founders Ministries.

But can one not inquire, "Where is there a scriptural precedent for the creation of the Founders Ministries, which is an extra-scriptural, post-apostolic organization, said to be formed to 'promote both doctrine and devotion expressed in the Doctrines of Grace,' with a 'Chairman of the Board,' and a Board composed of nine men. Where is this incorporated organization commissioned by the Lord or in Holy Scripture? Who was authorized by precedent in Scripture to select these board members and the Chairman of the Board?"

And may not one ask why is this organization presuming to do the work that the Lord commissioned His own churches to do? If they charge that public invitations are wrong and erroneously select Charles Finney as the innovator, who was the innovator who instigated the Founders? Brother Reisinger?

Do you see the contradiction here? These very brethren are committed to oppose public invitations on the grounds that there is no scriptural precedent for them, but where can they can show scriptural precedent for the Founders organization, officers, and purpose?

If they have the liberty to incorporate such a body, have such a purpose, and select such a board, where is my liberty to practice a public invitation without having them apply their "touch not, taste not, handle not" law against public invitations? Are they not encroaching upon my liberty?

5. They Danger of Creating a Sect.

Sects and cults generally get started by some influential man and his close friends who have placed emphasis upon certain distinguishing peccadilloes and peculiarities regarding doctrine and practice.

Usually, they write a "manual" of some sort -- which of course they deny that it constitutes an authoritative "binding creed." Of course, what they deny in word they nevertheless find a way to put into practice. I could cite example after example of the historical record of such sects and cults. Campbellites, Mormons, Hardshells, and others got started that way.

Are not some of the anti-invitation brethren inviting and encouraging this same type of drift?

The Founders, for instance, have published something on the order of a manual, "Worship, The Regulative Principle and the Biblical Principle of Accommodation," which is defined to be "a must-read for those seeking to bring reformation to the worship of the local church."

I have neither read nor seen the manual (or whatever it is), but I am told by those who have that it more or less "tells the church the right doctrine to believe and how to do things in worship the right way."

Well, if it lives up to that billing, who would dare question it? It is of the same reputation as the "Christian System" production of Mr. Campbell in the 1800s.

And, pray tell, who are the "authorities" who deemed themselves qualified to compose such a manual of faith and practice? -- which allegedly "masterfully defines, explains, and defends the Reformed principle of worship -- the regulative principle. Moreover, the principle is not left in the realm of theory."

Why, the two "Masters in Israel" who were more than mere "theorists" were the authors, Brothers Ernest Reisinger and D. Matthew Allen. Of course, the manual is no doubt endorsed and sanctioned by all the friends of the Founders Ministries.

Is there any danger that such a manual of the "Reformed" faith and order could eventually become another "Christian System," like unto that manual of doctrine and practice composed by Alexander Campbell?

Or, another "Doctrines and Covenant" and "Pearl of Great Price" by Joseph Smith?

Or, another "Old Landmarkism" authored by J. R. Graves, the father of "Landmarkism"?

Or, another "Manuscript Evidence" by Peter Ruckman, written to establish "King James Onlyism"? Who knows -- stranger things happened.

One wonders, what ever happened to our dear old Baptist Confession? Is it not sufficient for the day of evil in which we live? How have we survived in the past without the masterful "Regulative Principle" manual? Has it been brought to the Kingdom for such a time as this?

Now, ALL I AM SAYING IS THIS: Some brethren apparently want to put the yoke of bondage of anti-public invitationalism upon others, but they themselves are engaged in practices and organizations for which they have no scriptural precedent. They exercise their liberty in the practice of their own devices but they censure others who use their liberty in the practice of giving a public invitation.

Is this inconsistency not an attribute common to sects and the cults? -- Bob L. Ross

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.


Subject: #6 -HARDSHELLISM: IT IS PELAGIANISM [05/11--2006]



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

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Southern Baptist Founder Refutes Founders Regarding Public Invitations

In this article, Brother Bob Ross refutes another myth put out by the "born again before faith" and/or extreme and/or hyper and/or hybrid and/or Reformed Calvinist crowd, namely, that public invitations were an invention of Charles Finney. These people are the #1 distorters of Baptist history and theology on the scene today and I'm glad Brother Bob is here to set the record straight.

Pity Iain H. Murray and the Founders Ministry (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry). All those books, journals, and web articles have to be recycled thanks to the diligent efforts of Bob Ross.


Subject: PUBLIC INVITATIONS circa 1809 [05/07--2006]


Several months ago, I wrote several replies to anti-public invitation articles which appear on the Internet. Among the objections that some offer is the false claim that "the practice of publicly inviting people to come forward at the conclusion of a Gospel sermon, did not begin until the time of the 19th century revivalist, Charles G. Finney (1792-1895), who was probably the first to employ this method" (Daryl Erkel).

That this is not the case was again reinforced recently when I was reading the Autobiography of John L. Dagg (1794-1884). Here is an account given by Dagg of a church service wherein an "invitation" was given when he was 14 years of age, which would have been in 1809, many years before Finney even started preaching.

From the AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF REV. JOHN L. DAGG, pages 9, 10:

Accordingly, on the first of January, 1809, before I was fifteen years old, I became the master of a neighborhood school. . . .

Sometime afterwards I was present at a meeting of the Long Branch church when invitation was given, to those who had hope in Christ, to come forward, and relate their experience. I felt strongly moved to accept the invitation, with others who presented themselves; but considerations, with the sufficiency of which I was not wholly satisfied, held me back. At length I adopted an unauthorized method of determining my case. Among the persons who had been expected to offer themselves to the church that day, was an individual who had been my school-mate. I decided, if he went forward, to accompany him.

Several related their experiences and were received by the church; but as my school-mate was not of the number, I felt, perhaps with some joy, released from taking up the cross. But when the pastor rose to dismiss the meeting, the young man started from his seat, and asked permission to tell what the Lord had done for him. This was now unexpected to me and I was now unable to rally, for the performance of duty. I left the meeting unhappy; and many an unhappy day of spiritual darkness and conflict followed, before I publicly professed Christ.

While anti-invitationists would no doubt find some "differences" between this invitation and others to which they object, nevertheless the fact remains this was an INVITATION for the purpose of CONFESSING Christ as Savior, and it was practiced by Baptists before the days of Charles G. Finney.

This is just another example of the misinformation which is frequently offered by those who are influenced by Hybrid Calvinists and pedo-regenerationists such as Iain Murray who campaign against certain methods used in evangelism. -- Bob L. Ross

Monday, May 08, 2006

History and Heresies of Hardshell Baptists, chapter 5

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



Chapter Five:


An Examination of How the Hardshells Diluted the London Baptist Confession

One of the most reprehensible acts by a group of Primitive Baptist ministers was perpetrated in November 1900.

From the 14th day to the 18th day -- five days of infamy -- "fifty-one ministers, representing three-hundred and thirty-five churches, aggregating fourteen-thousand five-hundred members in direct correspondence with over one-hundred-thousand Baptists," set themselves -- after adorning their nefarious scheme with all the proper and pious camouflage of the most sanctimonious session of the Scribes and Pharisees -- to the work of "clarifying" and "adding some explanations to" the most highly respected confessional document in the history of English-speaking Baptists, The Baptist Confession, set forth in London, England in 1689.

This 20th century "Sanhedrin" was shepherded in part by a couple of well-known elders of Old School craft, James H. Oliphant and John M. Thompson, who proved to be two veritable Jehudi's (Jeremiah 36:23). Not content with their rejection of the London Confession, they found it more to their liking to distort it and perpetrate the distortion under the "unanimous vote" of their ministerial accessories among which "tears filled eyes," contemplating their deed as "doing God service" (John 16:2). This meeting had all the "holy smoke" of a Papal election. And no one can puff more "sweet" and "comforting" holy smoke than the "little lambs" of Hardshellism.

The hallowed ground on which this holy convocation of Hardshell "rabbis" took place was the meeting-house located in Fulton, Kentucky, and the grand product of this enclave in Zion was published under title of A Comprehensive Confession of Faith. I am the proud possessor of a maroon hardback edition of this blessed creation, published by those professing to be "servants" -- E. D. Speir, R. E. Cagle, and E. D. Speir, Jr. -- in this current form in 1981.

These brethren of the Old School, in a humility worthy of the likes of Madam Guyon and St. Thomas of Assisi, announced that they felt themselves "under profound obligations to thank God and labor faithfully for the prosperity of his holy cause," and with "humble gratitude" to the "gracious and divine providence of God," recognizing that "language naturally undergoes some change," they "deemed prudent" the adding of "some explanations to those sections that seemed ambiguous" in the Baptist Confession of 1689.

The sanctified purpose of the "explanations" and "clarifications" was -- of course -- "increased gladness and the sweetest union," "general prosperity," "establishing union and fellowship," and similar attendant blessings within the sweet Old Baptist "home." Who could possibly have ever entertained the doubt that such "obedient servants" as Thompson, Oliphant and their fellow butchers would prove to be triumphant in behalf of their beloved Zion?

But despite their holy fervor, sweet prayers, tears, explanatory abilities, and unanimous vote, it seems that the old Baptist Confession has proved to be too much of a piece of granite, and their efforts at patching up Zion, where she was "torn into factions in so many places," failed; -- tears, rents, and factions are at this late date greater than at the turn of the century. "For many years, I have seen the spiritual decline approaching . . . The problems have obviously become worse," bemoans Elder S. T. Tolley (The Christian Baptist, 4/92, p.5).

Viewed from our own perspective, it would have been far more the act of honesty and candor had this solemn assembly of Scribes and Pharisees simply acknowledged the fact that their own theology was so far removed from that of the 1689 Baptist Confession they must cease the hypocrisy of claiming the Confession, then they should have composed their own confession. This would have at least relieved them of the necessity of the contemptible spectacle of "clarifying" what they and everyone else understood perfectly to be the doctrinal sentiments of the Baptists who set their names to the 1689 Confession.

THE FACT IS, IT WAS "UNDERSTANDING" THE BAPTIST CONFESSION WHICH MADE IT NECESSARY FOR THIS GATHERING OF HARDSHELLS TO HACK AND HEW ON THE CONFESSION IN THE EFFORT TO MAKE IT ACCEPTABLE. All of their pious reasons notwithstanding, the truth is, these Old School Primitive Baptists DID NOT BELIEVE the doctrines of the London Confession and would have set up "bars of fellowship" against every last one of those who originally signed the 1689 Confession had the signatories arisen from the dead and asked for a "home" among these Hardshell brethren.

We have already called attention to Elder S. T. Tolley's repudiation of the London Confession (chapter four) on those chapters of the Confession which he specified, as he called for the composing of a new confession which would accurately represent Primitive Baptists. Another Hardshell, Elder R. V. Sarrels, who wrote a book presenting Hardshell doctrine, ostensibly called a "Systematic Theology," very candidly confesses that Primitive Baptists "do not believe" chapter three of the London Confession, and he charges that the Fulton Convention of 1900 wrote a footnote "to make this old article MEAN WHAT IT DOES NOT SAY" (Systematic Theology, pages 109, 110).

Sarrels indicates that the sweet brethren who gathered at Fulton, Ky. in 1900 were engaged in a "literary effort of TORTURING of language" when they tried to "clarify" and "explain" the London Confession. He says, "Moderate or Non-fatalist Calvinists must either repudiate this statement [in the London Confession] or resign themselves to the endless task of trying to make it mean what it does not say" (page 111).

Why didn't the 1900 Fulton Convention do the honest thing and simply repudiate the London Confession and write their own separate confession? Because they are of the "We-be-Abraham's Seed" progeny, claiming they are the "true," "only," "legitimate" church and ministry in succession back to the 17th century Baptists. To come out and honestly state the truth of the matter, they would thereby be giving up their farcical and spurious claim. To avoid this humiliation, they took the route of adding "clarifications" and "explanations" in footnotes, presuming that naive Baptists didn't have enough sense to read and understand what the 17th century Baptists plainly stated.

Throughout the Confession, significant places were selected by the Hardshell scribes for "footnoting," wherein they have placed their leaven of Hardshell aberrations. The two primary doctrines which merit the most attention are (1) predestination, and (2) "means" in the new birth. On these, the reader is treated to the views of the Hardshells which are clearly in opposition to the views of the 17th century Baptists. The modern Hardshells deny these doctrines as they were believed by the Baptists of the London Assembly of 1689.

The Theory of "Patternism"

Three major "schisms" divided the professing Baptist community in the 1800's, and all three had certain philosophies in common. These three schisms were (1) the Campbellite movement, led by Alexander Campbell; (2) the Anti-Mission movement, promoted by John Taylor, Daniel Parker, Joshua Lawrence, and Gilbert Beebe; and (3) the Landmark movement developed on the principles advocated by James Robinson Graves.

Accounts of these movements are available in Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, with regard to Campbellism; History of the Church of God, on "Primitive Baptists" (Anti-Missionism) by Hassell; and Old Landmarkism - What is it? by James R. Graves. My books (1) Campbellism -- Its History and Heresies, and (2) Old Landmarkism and the Baptists, are exposures of the errors of these schisms, and (3) these current writings on Hardshellism are similarly designed.

One of the notions shared in common by all three of these schisms is what is sometimes called "patternism."

PATTTERNISM is the idea that the Bible presents a specific pattern, plan, method, procedure, or precedent, given for the purpose of subsequent conformity by succeeding generations of Christians. Campbellites are fond of the term "pattern," the Hardshells like the word "order," and Landmarkers like the term "scriptural." Of course, these are not the only terms used by these various groups, but whatever the term used, the concept is the same -- the idea of a "Divine Pattern" given in the Scriptures designed for our conformity.

If any one of these groups "lived up" to their own contention, there might at least be one incentive for us to give their teaching a moment's serious consideration; however, the only thing to result from the theory of "patternism" is open hypocrisy, endless contentions, and crystallized, sectarian legalism. In every instance wherein the alleged "divine pattern" is defined and applied, it comes down to being whatever the strongest "leader"of the sect holds to be the "truth." When two or more "leaders" butt heads over some point of doctrine and practice in the "pattern," then factions develop, and non-fellowship is declared. This accounts for many of the endless controversies and divisions which have taken place in the history of Campbellism, Hardshellism, and Landmarkism.

Among the Hardshells, the curse of "patternism" was very well demonstrated in their history in the state of Alabama. Reading the history of the Alabama Hardshells is akin to reading the history of gang warfare. Arminianism, Missionism, New Schoolism, nor any other outside "ism" has done as much damage to Hardshellism in Alabama as their own committal to "patternism," with its natural consequences. A trip through Alabama Hardshell history is like a visit to a leper's colony or some plaque-stricken area of the world -- conflict, division, dissolution, and death abound.

Elder E. B. Watts' A History of the Primitive Baptists in Alabama depicts the most notable internal troubles, issues, splits, and personality clashes which afflicted Hardshellism in that state. Most notorious among these were the Shelton - Ballew controversy and the Allgood - Ballew controversy, being situations where Hardshell "leaders" differed on something in the "pattern," or "order," and the natural result was division, splitting both churches and associations. Setting up so-called "bars of fellowship" was common to Alabama Hardshell "associations," which is just one example of contradicting their own "patternism" philosophy. One will find a "convention" in the same passage he finds an Old School "association," an "ordination council of ministers," or "singing school."

If nothing else refuted the theory of "patternism," the changes that invariably take place over a period of time would be sufficient. Among the Hardshells, the changes have been many, despite their congratulating themselves as being one with the "Old Baptists." Elder Watts says:

Whether we accept it willingly or not, the first hundred years of the Primitive Baptists in Alabama, and elsewhere, saw several drastic changes of policy in churches and in associations. The first of these was the revolt against systematic missions which came about in the 1830's and early 1840's. Up to this time, most, if not all, Baptist churches respected "domestic missions" or to be more specific, "itinerant preaching" within the bounds of the associations. It was not until the churches and associations became agents of the Baptist State Convention, did they abandon the support of missions in every form . . . revivals and protracted meetings were commonplace among most, if not all, the Baptists before the division (page 113).

"Orthodoxy" among the "patternists" is generally determined by those who become the virtual "popes" over those who permit such "lordship."

Elder W. J. Berry was one of the few editors among the Hardshells who saw the evil tendencies and consequences of "patternism" as it manifested itself through "associations" and their virtual "popes." In the November 1958 issue of his Old Faith Contender magazine, Elder Berry published one of the most scathing and incisive articles on Hardshell ecclesiasticism I have read in my lifetime. Here are excerpts from the remarks by Brother Berry:

"Now, all things honestly and carefully considered, in respect to church life and government, the Primitive Baptists are no longer under the government of grace, but have fallen under the old yoke of a law bondage, by the power and fear of man-controlled church orders (page 297).
"In the last one hundred years Primitive Baptists have been extremely active in establishing new doctrines and new church orders, each faction claiming theirs to be 'orthodox' and all others as 'heretical.' While they are not able to burn the heretics at the stake, or send them to jail, they do go the limit in other means of pressure, ostracizing, 'cutting off,' etc. (page 298).
"The various factions of Old School, or Primitive Baptists have, by their leaders conjured an endless list of standards for orthodoxy [the same is true of the Campbellite and Landmark factions -- BLR], withdrawing from all as 'heretics' who do not submit to their particular mode of orthodoxy . . . The various factions over the land today manifest by their attitude and actions that they know ALL the truth and have ALL the truth . . . How dried up have we become! and how lean and naked, to be satisfied with a little brass sounding and tinkling cymbals! (page 298).
So today, that people known as Primitive Baptists have been brought into the bondage and power of religious politicians, and have followed their regulations and traditions until they have been shattered into many factions, each one of which is in the firm grip of the system that has brought them into bondage (page 293).

[On "associationalism" among the Hardshells, Berry says:] "They drew up many rules and regulations of what -- to the leaders -- was doctrine, order and disorder. They drew up resolutions of non-fellowship, and each time a division came, another set of rules, and another set of non-fellowship resolutions were added. Each faction published itself as the 'original' and the other side the 'so-called,' or 'disorderly' side . . . Each faction and each leadership calling what they believed and practiced 'the old order,' when really all of them combined had departed from the principles of truth and the gospel of Christ!" [page 293].

Bro. Berry could have pointed out that the Hardshells were only repeating the spirit and divisiveness which were responsible for the original movement when certain "leaders" pressed the churches and associations to declare against their Baptist brethren with whom they differed on mission methods. It appears they gave birth to a beast which in time turned upon the parent and rent it in pieces, all in the name of the "Old Order."

Berry alleges "there are now [1958] not more than nine men whose dictates control all the principle groups of Primitive Baptists throughout the United States." He says, "It is the most ruthless tyrannical machine ever developed among Baptists."

Chapters previously mailed:

#1: "Hardshellism" - A Modern Cult
#2: Which Primitive Baptist Faction is the "Original Church"?
#3: The Original Issue in the Anti-Missions Movement
#4: Distortion and Repudiation of the London Confession of Faith of 1689