Jul 29, 2006

Debate By Religious Twins (Garrett-Donahue Debate)

My dad, Elder Eddie K. Garrett, "Primitive Baptist" ("Hardshell") preacher (Ohio), and Patrick Donahue, "Church of Christ ("Campbellite") preacher (Alabama) concluded a one night debate in Middletown, Ohio this past Monday night. I have just listened to the audio of the debate from Patrick's web page (http://bibledebates.info). The topic dealt with the subject of "Unconditional Election," with dad affirming the Bible teaches such while Patrick argued for a "conditional election."

I want to give my analysis of this discussion and have titled it "Debate By Religious Twins." The reason for this? Well, that is what popped into my head as I listened to both these gentlemen debate their disagreements. As B.H. Carroll, Jr. said, the Hardshells and the Campbellites are "twin brothers." I have also mentioned the same in my writings on Hardshellism, as has Brother Bob Ross. (See his "History and Heresies of Hardshellism." ) I will be expanding upon this idea (of these sects being "twins") in a later chapter in my book, a chapter to be titled "The Twins." In that chapter I will deal with the oddities, similarities, and differences between these two sets of apostate sects from the Baptists.

Both these Twins have been debating with each other ever since they were born. Like Jacob and Esau, these two groups have fought with each other since their births. I have read many of the historic debates between these two groups. I have always found it interesting that most of the debates, since the birth of these two groups, have been with each other, and very few with the Baptists who remained where the Baptists had always stood (where I stand today, by the grace of God). Yes, men like J.R. Graves, and W.P. Throgmorton, and others, did debate with these two groups, but the bulk of the debating took place between these two twins, more than with their mother, the Old Baptists (of the Confessions). When they get together and debate it is never without some excitement and hilarity. This debate continued that tradition. I had several good laughs listening to both of them.

Agreement With The Hardshells

I agree with the proposition that the Bible teaches "unconditional election." I agree with Dad and the Hardshells on that proposition of truth. God choosing us was not in response to an act of ours, but was God's free, sovereign, and independent choice, out of his own good pleasure, and teleologically, for his own glory. Patrick, of course, denied that "election" was "unconditional," believing rather that God chose on a "conditional basis," in other words, that "God chooses those who choose him." (More on that later)

I had talked to Dad on several occasions prior to this debate and knew what arguments he was going to use. We even had our own little debates on some of those verses (more on that later too). I agree with Dad that II Thess: 2:13 is definitely talking about election unto eternal salvation, and not some election to something strictly temporal. Some Hardshells are denying that this verse talks about eternal salvation, but Dad sees "red flags" when he hears reports of some Hardshells taking this view. But, more on this later also.

I agree with Dad that "election is UNTO salvation." Patrick argued that people must get saved first and then God will choose to save them. Yes, yes, I know, that is laughable! It is Campbellite "logic" side by side with that infamous Hardshell "logic"! You will see why I would naturally think of Brother Carroll and his description of these sects as "twins."

Disgreement With The Hardshells

Where I disagree with Dad and the Hardshells concerns their not understanding salvation, the thing the Scriptures say we are "chosen unto." What is it that, to borrow a scriptural expression, "accompanies salvation?" (Hebrews 6:9) The Hardshells, as I have been showing in my book on Hardshellism, do not believe anything accompanies salvation. Oh yes, they will talk about God giving the "regenerated" sinner "life" (that really is no "life" for it has no activity) and some kind of "implanted faith" (that really is no "faith," for it believes nothing), and they will also speak of people being "born again" without knowing it, being something that occurs on the "sub-conscious level."

So, they know that election is a free act of God, pure unconditional love, but they err in not knowing what we have been chosen to when we are said to be "chosen unto salvation." In being chosen and predestined to salvation, what kind of a state is this, this state of salvation?

II Thess. 2:13,14)

"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you TO salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The error the "firstborn twin" (Hardshell Dad) made was to say that the "belief of the truth," in the passage, has nothing to do with anything, not with the election, nor with the salvation. This brings me to the matter I alluded to earlier in regarding some Hardshells beginning to believe that the election and salvation of this passage must not, after all, concern eternal salvation but a "time salvation." These Hardshells will end up like a lot of other Hardshells and become "Universalists." On the other hand, there is the problem that some Hardshells have, who do not want to make the passage deal with "time salvation," but still have to explain how to fit "belief of the truth" into the paradigm of the passage's structure. They feel like they can handle the first part of the passage, dealing with "sanctification of the Spirit," and would be willing to admit that this is a description of the salvation men are chosen unto. Thus, just like I do, they would say that we are "chosen unto salvation," and that this equally means to be "chosen unto sanctification." But, why would they be willing to do that? Because there is only the mention of the work of the Spirit, in this "sanctifying of the elect," in this part of the passage, following the word en, (through) and they feel safe, with that expression, as it seems to harmonize with their Hardshell views on "regeneration." But, they cannot handle the second part, "in belief of the truth." Dad never did address this difficulty.

Another difficulty for the Hardshell brotherhood, on this passage, is verse 14 -- "Whereunto he called you BY our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

What does "whereunto" look back to in the passage? Does it not look back to "salvation" and its constituent characteristics, holiness and faith? We are "called to holiness by the gospel." We are "called to belief of the truth by the gospel," we are "called to salvation by the gospel," and we are "called by the gospel to the obtaining of the eternal glory of Christ."

You can see why Hardshells, though believers in "unconditional election," nevertheless do not see how the Lord saves (in execution of his decree of election) through the means of faith in the gospel message.

The error of Patrick, (a religious descendant of the "second born twin," Alexander Campbell) concerns his interpreting "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" to mean "because of," which it obviously does not. His interpretation was that God chose those who got themselves sanctified first, who believed and obeyed the truth first, and then God chose them "to salvation." The absurdity of this is that THE PASSAGE SAYS CHOSEN TO SALVATION, NOT CHOSEN BECAUSE OF SALVATION, which it would have to say if Patrick's interpretation was correct. If Patrick's interpretation is correct we would have the following construction:

"Because you are sanctified, and because you believe and obey the truth, I will choose you to salvation."

But, are not those who are sanctified, and who believe and obey the truth, ALREADY SAVED? Yes, obviously. How can election be unto salvation if God chooses those who are saved already? How can he choose us to be holy if he chooses those who are already holy? How can he choose a person to a state where we are "saved" and "believe the truth" if these things are the cause of election?

We are "chosen to faith." We are "chosen to repentance," and we are "chosen to every evangelical grace." We are predestined to do good works and the good works we do are a result of God's election, not the cause of God's choosing us.

Here is what the Bible teaches.

1. We “love him because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19)
2. We “chose him because he first chose us.” (John 15:16)
3. We “know him because he first knew us.” (Romans 8:29)

My friend Patrick simply believes the reverse. He believes God will love us if we first love God. He believes that God will come to know us intimately if we come to know him first. He believes God will choose us if we first choose him. I believe the Bible truth on election and salvation is a simple proposition (and one that Patrick and I are discussing in regard to some possible debates between us in the coming months, but more on that later). It can be stated this way:

"The Bible teaches that election is UNTO regeneration." Regeneration is the effect of election, NOT the cause of election. "Election unto regeneration" is all the same as saying, "election unto faith," and "unto repentance," and "unto gospel obedience," etc. Those whom God has "chosen to salvation" he actually saves in time by calling them by his word and Spirit and creating in them faith and repentance, and causing them to obey the gospel and live a holy life. Every good deed we do is the result of this divine election.

So, the Hardshells err in not seeing that the "sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" is descriptive of the state or condition of "salvation" that we have been chosen to obtain or reach. The Greek word en, translated as "through" in the KJV, may mean "in" and may refer to a quality of state or condition. To what does this refer back to? To the word "chosen" or to the word "salvation?" In other words, does God elect "in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth"? Of course not. A "saved state" is what is being talked about. Anyone who reaches a "saved state or condition," will reach it because God chose and predestined him to reach and obtain it. That "saved state" has its characteristics and they are given here and elsewhere in Scripture. A man is not in a "saved state," nor show himself to be one of the "elect," if he has not been "sanctified by the Spirit through the gospel," who has not come to a "knowledge and belief of the truth" (of the gospel), who has not been "called by the gospel."

Patrick's Absurd Statements

"God predestinated that those who would conform themselves to the image of Christ be saved."

This is contrary to the text (Romans 8:29). For it says, "for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son..."

Patrick says if we conform ourselves to the image of Christ then God will predestinate us." But again, this is absurd and against the plain text. His interpretation would be as such:

"Those who conformed themselves to Christ's image God predestined to be conformed to Christ's image"!

Patrick also said:

"Romans nine has nothing to do with Jacob’s and Esau’s salvation (or damnation)." That is about the most blinded statement I have ever heard. Perhaps if Patrick will agree to debate election we can show him how blind it really is to what is said in that glorious chapter.

Patrick then made this unscriptural statement.

"Ordained to walk therein" (Eph. 2:10) means "choose us and ordain us because we walk therein."

Again, how one can read Ephesians 2:8-10 and conclude that God chooses us and predestines us because of our good works is a mystery of iniquity. The text says, "which God foreordained (predestined) that we walk therein" The walking in good works is the result of God's election and predestination, not the cause of it. The passage also says that we are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Good works follow our creation in Christ Jesus and our creation in Christ Jesus follows our election in Christ by the Father.

We have a series of causes and effects, leading to other causes. God is the first cause by choosing, predestining, the fate of every elect person. God's choice causes us to come to Christ, to believe the gospel when we hear it, to stay faithful to Christ.

Patrick seems to have difficulty with the affirmative I sent him on election. It read as follows:

1. "The Scriptures teach that election is unto regeneration."

I suggested the reverse for his negative (so that we could stay on the same topic, just switch places). Here is how it read.

2. "The Scriptures teach that regeneration is unto election."

Patrick wrote back that he did not understand the proposition I had sent to him on election. I was surprised. I told him I did not like to affirm a negative. To affirm that election is unconditional is the same as affirming that it is not conditional. So, I put into positive form what we, as Baptists, believe about what is called in Reformed theology, "unconditional election."

Faith is either the cause of God choosing us or the effect of his choosing us. It is that simple. I am putting "faith" for being regeneration." So, I was not expecting him not to fully understand this. So, I will keep all informed about how he and I progress on our debate negotiations.

This concludes my analysis of the debate by the "twins."

Jul 25, 2006

Chapter Eleven - Saved By Money?

A leading Hardshell "argument" says this:

If sinners are saved eternally by the preaching of the gospel, then that would base salvation not only upon humans, but upon money!

That too is a rediculous idea, an absurdity to the Hardshells, and they do all they can, apologetically, to convince others that the basing of salvation upon preaching makes it based upon money and cannot therefore be correct.

This scheme, they argue, makes it possible to "calculate" the "cost per soul," in dollar amounts. For instance, they will often cite figures from a mission organization that says, "Our missionaries required $100,000 dollars last year and we have 100 souls won to Christ"; then they will say, that calculates out to $1000 per soul! But the Bible says, "Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ..." (I Peter 1:18)

The Hardshell argumentation continues, with loudness, forcefulness, with zeal and an air of superiority (like they are smarter than the Mission Baptists, who are not able to see, as they do, the seeming contradiction in missions for salvation and the above words of Peter), arguing vehemently that the above text says our salvation is not accomplished "with" silver and gold, that is, "not by means of money." Since men require money to go, their going to preach the gospel cannot be a means in salvation (redemption) or the above words of Peter are false, and salvation would become "dependent" on things other than God. Again, we are given another good dose of Hardshell "logic."

How how shall I begin to deal with this type of "logic"? Well, let us see if their premise is corrrect, the one that says basically this:

"Our eternal salvation cannot have any means that involve money in any sense." Why not? They will say that God's doing so puts the heathen in a helpless condition, dependent upon missionaries and preachers, and make saviors of men, and takes glory away from God. But, it is a false conclusion to say that because God has made certain acts of men, both saved and unsaved, to be a means in the plan of salvation, then salvation is uncertain, haphazard, and outside the sovereign control of God, and takes away from the glory due only to God.

This is similar to the other false premise I dealt with in the preceding chapter on Hardshell "logic", the premise that affirmed -- "No aspect of eternal salvation can be certain if based upon any kind of human means."

Let me cite an example from Hardshell "historian" Sylvestor Hassell, and from his "Bible Commentary" that he has included in his book, "History of the Church of God." Keep in mind that this citation is over a hundred years old.

"It is estimated that, of the two hundred and fifty million people in India, one million are Christians; and that, of the one thousand million called heathen in the world, two millions only are Christians. Mr. Bainbridge reckons the actual pecuniary cost of each home convert at $550, and of each foreign convert at $320 or less. Others calculate that each foreign conversion costs $1,000, but that each home conversion costs more.

A recent number of the New York “Examiner” (a publication which claims to be the leading “Missionary” Baptist paper of the world) says that, during the year 1884, it cost $592.03 to make a Pagan an Episcopalian; $248.14, a Congregationalist; $234.91, a Presbyterian; $117.91, a Methodist; $72.88, a Campbellite; and only $37.05, a Baptist; so that the average cost of Protestant conversions being $203.91, the conversions of Pagans into Baptists cost but one-sixth of the average.

In connection with such calculations, how deeply impressive the language of the Apostle Peter in the eighteenth and nineteenth verses of the first chapter of his first epistle!"
(Chapter 10, emphasis mine)

And now hear another echo of this famed (or perhaps, infamous) Hardshell "argument" and "apologetic." It is from none other than the famed debater and Hardshell "advocate", Elder John R. Daily. The citation is quite lengthy but well said by this Hardshell "defender of the faith." I will then show the flaws in the argumentation of Hassell, Daily, and Potter.

"They (Mission or Gospel Means Baptists) are induced to believe that the money they send actually results in the salvation of heathens. The whole scheme stands upon a financial and human basis. Unsupported by the Bible and unknown to the church for more than seventeen hundred years, this Missionary Idol has been reared and stands today as the golden calf to which the people are bowing, and to which they are giving the praise of the salvation of sinners. As proof of this read what was declared in Elder Potter's debate with Throgmorton:

"The heathens are dying at the rate of a hundred thousand a day, and sinking down to hell, because of the neglect of the church in her duty." At this rate in one month of thirty days 3,000,000 heathens go down to an endless hell because the people who could send the gospel to them do not do it. In one year, at the same rate, the enormous number of 36,000,000 heathen are eternally lost for want of the gospel. They are lost because the gospel does not reach them, because the preachers do not take it to them. Preachers do not take it to them because the people do not give them their money. The money causes the preachers to go, their going is the cause of the gospel reaching the heathen, the gospel is the cause of their salvation. The great cause in this series of causes is money, and the causes that follow are the works of men. Mr. J. R. Graves, a New School editor of the "Tennessee Baptist," said in 1860, "any organization which has for its foundation a money basis is unscriptural."

What has the death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ to do in the matter of salvation according to this theory? Simply nothing. Christ may have died for a sinner, may have been exalted as his advocate, and yet that sinner will sink down to endless torment if money and men be not employed, for upon these hinges his eternal salvation! The theory we are now considering supposes it impossible for the Spirit to regenerate a sinner where the gospel is not preached. In a conversation with a New School Baptist minister we asked him if all who never hear the gospel preached will be lost. To this question he gave what was intended as an evasive answer, saying, "I am not going to say they will all be lost, but I have no authority to say any will be saved who never hear the gospel preached." While he thought to escape the conclusion he knew I would force upon him if he took the stand that they would all be lost, he unwittingly admitted that to be his position. For if he had no authority for saying that any will be saved who never hear the gospel preached, he believed they would all be lost though he seemed afraid to say so. Now if they are lost it is without any chance of being saved, which all Arminians declare to be unjust. Also they are lost because of the disobedience of those who are "enlightened," who could have taken or sent the gospel to them if they would have done so, which is adding injustice to injustice. This is the heresy which was introduced into the Baptist church by the leaders in this new movement, causing those who were in favor of standing by the old landmarks to declare non-fellowship for them, which resulted in a division into what became known as Old School and New School Baptists. Which of these two is the primitive denomination? Is it those who have introduced and adopted the new order of things, or those who are contending for the old doctrine and practice? Our brethren in fellowship know which is, and our New School brethren know also."

(From an article titled "Missionary or New School Baptists". Zion's Advocate, Vol. 40, No. 8, August 1901. www.carthage.lib.il.us -- Emphasis mine)

Now, who cannot but admit that this "line of reasoning," upon first hearing, might "sound good"? It certainly relies less on "logic", however, than it does on an appeal to human rationality and sentimentality (pathos), to depraved man's intuitive sense of what is "just" or "unjust" for God to do or not do. People do feel "pity" for the lost, for those who have not heard the "glorious gospel of Christ," who "had no chance to be saved."

It is more than a little ironic that Daily, within the same citation, given above, speaks of the Hardshells as being the truly "Old" or "Primitive" Baptists, and then speaks as he does for the heathen peoples, as an advocate for the salvation of those who do not know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I cited earlier what the truly Old Baptists believed about the state of the heathen who die without the means of faith. They are all lost and "without hope." That is their stated position from the confession, as I cited earlier. Daily is deceitful, like his brethren were who did the "hatchet job" on the Old "London Confession of Faith," in his day (1900), in Fulton, Kentucky, when they came together to discuss and "reaffirm their belief in the London Confession of Faith," BUT with their explanations attached, which is, as I shall show in later chapters, and as Brother Ross has shown, and even some Hardshells candidly confess, is nothing but a "torturing of the English language," trying to make that Old Confession say what it absolutely does not say. They handle this Old Confession of the Baptist faith like they do the Holy Scriptures, twisting and distorting plain and unequivocal statements in the Bible.

For the length of the writing above, from Hassell, Daily, and Potter,to formally state the "argument" proper, did you see any Scripture citations to prove the point they wanted to make? Seeing this is such an important point, a veritable piller in the Hardshell"doctrinal foundation," and supposedly of the Bible, why is there only one passage of scripture cited? (the one in I Peter 1:18, and which I will address shortly)

Here are the falsehoods that are stated in the above citations, and which I will rebut.

1. "The theory we are now considering supposes it impossible for the Spirit to regenerate a sinner where the gospel is not preached."

2. "The whole scheme stands upon a financial and human basis."

3. "Unsupported by the Bible and unknown to the church for more than seventeen hundred years."

4. "Now if they are lost it is without any chance of being saved, which all Arminians declare to be unjust."

5. "This is the heresy which was introduced into the Baptist church by the leaders in this new movement..."

6. "...this Missionary Idol has been reared and stands today as the golden calf to which the people are bowing, and to which they are giving the praise of the salvation of sinners."

7. "What has the death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ to do in the matter of salvation according to this theory? Simply nothing."

What I am going to show is that it is false to say that our eternal salvation does not in any sense depend upon men and money.

Money (or its equivalent) was involved in getting Christ from the cradle to the cross. Money was involved in getting Christ crucified. All the money and goods that Joseph and Mary spent to raise Christ, to send him to school, to buy him food and clothes, was that not all made necessary by the will of God? Did not the money that Christ himself gave to the temple, his own tithes and offerings, as a law abiding Jew, part of the law he had to keep in order to become perfect and be "without sin"?

Notice these words from Luke.

"And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." (8:1-3)

Many of the followers of Jesus supported the ministry of Jesus. His traveling about "throughout" Palestine required financial resources. Yes, he could have gotten by without any financial support, for he could "turn stones into bread," and get money from the mouth of a fish, BUT he chose to be supported by money from his followers. Can we not say that this money was used by Christ to fulfill his mission? If Christ went to a village and regenerated a sinner, even by speaking directly, without preachers, was it not still the case that this financial support by "many others," besides the three named female supporters mentioned by Luke, was still a means in bringing Christ to sinners so he could speak directly to them? Christ could have gotten around miraculously, as did the prophet Elijah, who was often instantly transported by the Spirit of God, and so too, as it seems was Philip the Evangelist (See Acts 8:39), but Christ chose to get around like other people, by human means and money.

Even the Hardshells must admit that their conversions to Christ are based upon money. They will have to admit that their churches are "money based" too. Why? Because it requires money to have a building in which to worship, to print song books, to support the preacher and the poor saints, etc. So, though they will say it is absurd to think that our eternal salvation can include "men and money" as a means yet they will have to admit that the same arguments they use here can apply to their own "making disciples." If we add up the cost of a particular Hardshell church for a year, then divide that number by the number of converts, then we too can "calculate" the "cost per soul," and so they have the same supposed difficulty in regard to their coming to be converted, to know Christ, to come to have their "gospel faith."

"Based upon men and money" is in essence, "based upon men." What does "based upon" mean? If God uses a means to accomplish an end, is that end then "based upon" that "means"?

These Hardshell advocates say that a belief in means for regeneration "...supposes it impossible for the Spirit to regenerate a sinner where the gospel is not preached." But, do not the Hardshells have the same "problem" here? Cannot I not say of the Hardshells, relative to their beliefs concerning conversions, that their view thereon likewise "supposes it impossible for the Spirit to CONVERT a sinner where the gospel is not preached?"

It is also not true that we, who believe the Scriptures clearly teach regeneration and faith by the means of the preached word, affirm the "impossibility" of God regenerating men without means, as the Hardshells teach. No, as John the Baptist said, "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." (Matthew 3:9) Is God making children out of stones? No, but he is able! He too is able to regenerate without human means, of course, but the question is, "what saith the scriptures?"

One can see how not only do the Hardshells err on such doctrines as "Election," "Regeneration," "Perseverance," "Faith," etc., but also on
"Predestination" and the "Sovereignty of God." They seem to think that God does not control men and their means, including their money. They have departed from the faith of the Old Baptists, for they wrote, in the Old Confessions, that "NOT ONLY had God PREDESTINED the salvation of the elect, but also had PREDESTINED ALL THE MEANS THEREUNTO." Those "means" were the the gospel and word of God, and the lessor or intermediate means, such things as are naturally required to keep men alive and in order to provide them with the material means they needed to travel and preach.

Why do these same Hardshells, who argue this point, not have a problem with realizing the fact that all the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul required money and means, and must therefore confess that every convert of Paul to Christ, by the gospel, was in some sense, "money based?" Why is that not a problem? Why do they make regeneration so important, so important that even God dare not risk using "human means?" Why do they argue that "in basing regeneration on means, God is thus giving the whole redemption scheme over to chance and indeterminate means? Why do they argue, on one hand, that "God would not base the "regeneration" of his elect, its success, on human means and agencies to carry out his will in "regeneration," but "conversion", coming to "know Jesus," on the other hand, they must admit, has nevertheless based the "conversions" of the elect upon them? Does God value so little the "converting" of his people then, Brother Hardshell, that he would suspend conversion upon "means and money?"

Hardshell soteriology places little importance on "conversion," making "regeneration" to be the all important matter. But, why is their idea of "regeneration" more important than their idea of "conversion"? It seems to me, if you understand how they define these terms, it ought to be the other way around. Let me enlarge upon that.

According to Hardshell descriptions of what happens when a soul is regenerated versus when he is converted, one cannot imagine putting more importance upon the former than on the latter, as the Hardshells do.

Let us give the attributes and characteristics of these two experiences.

Hardshell Regeneration

Hardshell Regeneration has a so-called life, but it is unrecognizable. It has "no internal sensations" connected with it, "no conscious awareness," nor any change of mind, nor any new truths apprehended (enlightenment), no conviction of sin nor penitance of heart, no knowledge of the true God nor of Jesus and his atonement for sin, no freedom from sin, nor willing obedience to the Lord; In fact, it lacks every evangelical grace! A "regenerated man," according to Hardshell soteriology, has no spiritual activity! He has no evangelical hope, no love for or knowledge of Christ, no fellowship with the Apostles and their doctrine, no prayers offered in Christ's name, thus still an idolator, etc.

Conversion, on the other hand, by any honest admission, does far more for a person than their so-call regeneration.

Notice these words of Paul:

"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." (Philippians 1:15-18)

To "preach Christ," especially to those who have never heard of him, even for the first time, ought to be the foremost aim of every preacher and Christian. Yes, some do it for evil reasons, impure motives, but who can deny that God does, in spite of this, make that gospel effective? Is it not also true that though an unregenerate man may contribute money to a preacher, we ought to rejoice that the money was used for good, for spreading the message of Christ, the means of begetting faith and life, rather than on something base?

Again, notice these words of the Apostle.

"And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." (II Cor. 12:15)

Paul "spent" his own money and labors to bring the gospel to the elect. The early Christians at Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, and other Gentile cities all owed their conversions and salvation to the labors spent by the Apostle Paul. Was Paul simply sent to convert people but not to regenerate them? Was he sent simply to "save" a few elect ones from some "timely burdens and trials"? Listen to these verses.

"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, THAT they may receive forgiveness of sins, and (that they may receive) inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith (thus through preaching and preachers -- Romans 10:13-17) that is in me." (Acts 26:16-18)

"Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." (II Tim. 2:10)

So Paul "labored," and was "spent," in order that the glorious gospel of Christ be preached and sinners called to Christ and salvation. So too did other Christians also "spend" time and money so that the message could go into all the world. What was the end of all this? To be saved simply from timely ills? No, absolutely not. Look at the passages I cited. Any honest Hardshell must admit that the terms used in these passages to describe the salvation experience that resulted from Paul's preaching the gospel cannot possibly refer to anything but eternal salvation.

"And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace (the grace of giving, the evidence of which consisted in monetary contributions from the church at Corinth), which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." (II Cor. 8: 18-21)

Second Corinthians chapters eight and nine ought to be looked at as a whole and compared with Hardshell teaching regarding giving money for the support of missionaries, poor saints, and other honest and good things. I have selected the above portion only, but the entirety of both chapters will answer many of the things Hardshells say about the evil of money being used in the service of God.

Paul's use and administration of the funds given to him was used "for honest things." Certainly the "preaching of the gospel to every creature" is such an honest and good thing, is it not? Was the use of money an evil thing, something that degraded his glorious salvation? No, no, no! Paul said his administration of the money given to him was "administered by us to the glory of the same Lord." What greater "glory" is there than the "glory" the Godhead receives from "redemption"? So, if Paul says that the money used by him was used to the glory of God, it is so because it was a lessor means in bringing the benefits of redemption to the elect.

Paul pointedly asked this question to the Church at Corinth, one that ought to be asked just as pointedly to the Hardshells who are against preaching the gospel to all men.

"What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?" (I Cor. 14:36)

Missionary Baptists, like Spurgeon, took the gospel and word of God to others, as far as they could, always saying, like Isaiah, "here I am, Lord, send me" (Isa. 6:8), not like the Hardshells, to whom the word has only come to them, but has not gone out from them.

Now, let me enumerate those errors I mentioned earlier, from the writings of Hassell, Daily, and Potter and recap my rebuttal.


The first falsehood I rebutted was -- "The theory we are now considering supposes it impossible for the Spirit to regenerate a sinner where the gospel is not preached." I showed this to be totally unfounded and a brash judgment.

The next falsehood I overthrew was -- "The whole scheme stands upon a financial and human basis." I showed that, although money is involved as a "lessor means," in some aspect of salvation, but I showed that this does not interpret out to mean that salvation stands on anything other than omnipotence, or make the means ineffective, or uncertain. If the Hardshells could come back to the Old Baptist position on predestination and divine sovereignty then they too would not see their argumentation here to be of any great weight or moment.

The next falsehood denied is the statement -- "Unsupported by the Bible and unknown to the church for more than seventeen hundred years."

I have already overthrown this in my earlier chapter on "Hardshell History," but I hope to do some again in later chapters on the general history of missions in church history. Needless to say, this is a totally unfounded statement, having no factual proof. Missions and mission organizations have been present during those "seventeen hundred years."

The next falsehood I addressed was -- "Now if they are lost it is without any chance of being saved, which all Arminians declare to be unjust."

I addressed this in my former chapter on Hardshell "logic", citing Elder Cayce's statement to Shryggley. No, it is not the "Arminians" who say that God is unjust to damn those who died without having a chance to be saved, but IT IS THE HARDSHELLS WHO AFFIRM THIS! Ironic, is it not? Why would the "Arminians" be so laborious in mission work if they believed that the heathen were all already saved?

The next falsehood said -- "This is the heresy which was introduced into the Baptist church by the leaders in this new movement..."

Yes, and I have shown how baseless is this statement. I have repeatedly said to the Hardshells -- "Produce any document, prior to 1800, from a church or association, that expounds Hardshell views on regeneration." There have been no takers, nor do I expect any. Yet, they will continue to spout the lie that what they preach on regeneration is what all Baptists believed prior to 1814!

The next falsehood that came from the above named famous Hardshells was -- "...this Missionary Idol has been reared and stands today as the golden calf to which the people are bowing, and to which they are giving the praise of the salvation of sinners."

I too have shown how false is all this, showing how it is the height of folly for the Hardshells to say 1) Mission Baptists, because they use their money to support those who take the glorious gospel to every creature, are therefore idol worshipers and 2) Mission Baptists, because they use their money to support those who take the glorious gospel to every creature, are therefore giving praise to creatures rather than God. No, Hardshell, giving money for such "honest things," is not idolatry, but "covetousness is idolatry." (Col. 3:5)

The last falsehood was contained in these words -- "What has the death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ to do in the matter of salvation according to this theory? Simply nothing."

Again, I showed this was another baseless charge.

Now, what can I say about the passage in I Peter 1:18?

Certainly the price of redemption was none other than the "blood of Jesus Christ." "Silver and gold" were involved in various "redemptions" in the Old Testament. Men could be redeemed and ransomed from slavery by the payment of money. That money typified the price Christ would pay to liberate sinners from the bondage of sin, in order to "ransom" his elect "from the power of the grave." (Hosea 13:14) This passage is not saying that money is not involved, in any sense, but only that the payment of the sin debt was made by the death of Christ.

Finally, in this chapter, I want to look at Romans 10:13,14, and ask every Hardshell to acknowledge the strength of Paul's question, "How can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?"

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

It was the Apostle Paul who affirmed that hearing the gospel was necessary for coming to faith in Christ. He is the one who expressed the view that men could not be saved unless they hear the gospel. He is the one who expressed the view that men could not hear the gospel unless they hear it from a preacher. So, my brother Hardshells, you need to take your "logic" to these verses and see how they answer all your objections.

This chapter will end my look at Hardshell "logic". I think I have shown how they err in their application of such to the word of God. They ought to simply accept what the Scriptures plainly teach and quit trying to figure it all out by the use of human logic.

In my next chapter I will be dealing with what the Hardshells believe about Faith.

Jul 20, 2006

Chapter Nine - Hardshell Logic on Regeneration

Brother Bob Ross and I, in our discussions on Hardshellism in the early 1990's, often noticed the weird "logic" that the Hardshells often used to prove their heresies. We both felt like something ought to be written about what we both called "Hardshell Logic". Already, in the preceding chapters of this book, I have often referred to the "logic" of the Hardshells. In this chapter I want to repeat and enlarge upon those areas dealing with what is appropriately called "Hardshell Logic".

No Human Means

The Hardshells lay it down as a Biblical maxim of truth, an inspired proposition, about regeneration and salvation, that "God has not conditioned, or suspended, the eternal salvation of sinners upon any human means whatsoever."

Obviously, the Hardshells would love to find a verse of scripture that clearly says this; since they do not, they have created this proposition themselves from their perverted use of "logic."

Somehow, the Hardshells, in their "vain reasonings" (II Cor. 10:5), think that salvation would not be sure and certain, not effectual, if God used any kind of human means in any part of saving sinners.

We have already overthrown the validity of this proposition. First, I showed that the incarnation of Christ, a thing necessary for our eternal salvation, was dependent upon human means, including Mary, the nation of Israel, yea, even all the ancestors of Christ. Second, I referred to those who were guilty in putting to death our Lord and Savior, Judas, the wicked Jews and Gentiles, as being necessary means in bringing about the death of Christ. The death of Christ, like his incarnation, are both necessary means in our salvation. In both instances human agents were means in bringing about those means of salvation.

This does not mean, as the Hardshells falsely reason, that the scheme of salvation was now uncertain of fulfillment.

Brother Ross has also made this rebuttal to this Hardshell proposition:

"For example, the Bible was inspired by the efficient power of the Holy Spirit of God, yet every word of it was instrumentally penned by men. The Spirit used "means," therefore, to give us the inspired Word of God. The use of men as the instrumental "means" does not mean that the efficient power was of men. This might appear to be a contradiction according to the logic of men such as Daily who see contradictions in Dr. Gill, but in such minds the contradiction was born and died." (HISTORY AND HERESIES OF HARDSHELLISM, #2 [04/24--2006])

According to Hardshell "logic" God's giving us the Bible was something that may or may not have occurred. Since God used means in giving the divine breath of Scripture, therefore, it is of man! Because God used human means in giving us the divine revelation, therefore, according to Hardshell "logic," the divine revelation is an accident, yea, not even a revelation of God, but rather, a revelation of men.

So too, the incarnation and the death of Christ, seeing these events were carried out by human agents, were likewise not of God, but of the human agents themselves, and who, as such are to be thanked and praised, rather than God, all according to Hardshell "logic".

Recall too the case of Ezekiel and the "Valley of Dry Bones." (Ezekiel 37). Here was a resurrection, a creation of life, a birth of a living, breathing nation from "dry, dead, bones."

By Hardshell "reasoning" it was not God who raised up the dead in Ezekiel 37! The Hardshells "reason" that if man is involved, as a means or instrument, in creation, birth, and raising the dead, then it cannot be solely by the power of God!

When Elijah, Peter, Paul, and others raised the dead, was it God or the servants of God? Hardshell "logic" says that it cannot be of God, by his power alone, that creates, resurrects, births, etc., if he uses human means!

Of course too, the Holy Scriptures clearly teach that God uses human means in preaching and communicating his word to sinners, that word "which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). The Hardshells cannot refute these verses, only use the above faulty "logic" to try and overthrow what the Scriptures plainly teach us.

Think of all the times the words create, creation, make, etc. are used in the Bible. Are all human agents eliminated in God's work of creation, as the Hardshells reason? Let us look at some passages of Scripture.

"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Colossians 1:15-17)

Is there anything that God creates that he did so by human means? The Hardshells vehemently say no, but let us ask these questions in light of the foregoing words of inspiration dealing explicitly, as they do, with the subject of "creation."

Are there any thrones or dominions that God created through means? Who will affirm that God created every government without human means? Who created the nation of America? The founding fathers? Yes, in a sense (as second causes). But, did not God ultimately create America (as the first cause moving and controlling the second causes to his predetermined ends)? Did he do it through human means or not? What Hardshell will stand up and deny that God has created many nations, powers and authorities, many governments and ruling agencies, through human agents? But, that is what he must affirm as a "logical deduction" of his premise that "God does not use human means in creation."

Notice too that all "powers," whether they be authorities or forces, are the creation of God, even the power of evil.

God said he had used the prophets, the communicators of the words of God, the means of regeneration, to make and shape Israel into a nation. So the passage says:

"Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth." (Hosea 6:5)

It is by the prophets proclaiming the words of God that God used to make Israel. Here the human agent is nothing but a "hewing instrument" in God's hand. If we ask ouselves, "Who hewed the nation? God, the prophets, or both?" Hardshell "logic" would say that since God used human agents, therefore, the product cannot be the product of God, or by his power alone! So, they would have to say the prophets themselves hewed and created the nation, not God. Yet, the truth is, both hewed the nation. One was the efficient cause and the other was the instrumental or second cause, and only the First Cause is to be praised.

You simply cannot exclude anything from Colossians 1:15-17. Creation is not something that is limited to the six days when God created the material world. God has been creating ever since. He must have for the above passage to make sense. All thrones, dominions, principalities, etc., were not created during those six days. God is creating every day. Every time a person is born, he is a creation of God. Will the Hardshells deny this? I suppose they will because God creating me, Stephen Garrett, was by means of my mom and dad, human means. This makes me remember Hardshell preacher "extra ordinaire," Elder Sonny Pyles, who once said, in preaching on Hardshell "evangelism," "sheep make sheep." Does he not then go against his own Hardshell proposition that God never creates through human means and agents? But, back to my point.

God said, by Isaiah, "I create the fruit of the lips. (57:19) Here it is affirmed that praise to God, or what a man confesses truthfully, in regard to God, is the "creation of God." Does God use human agents, my Hardshell brethren, to create the praises of his people and their confessions of truth? Does he not use means to do so? Does he not use good preaching and singing to create those praises?

So, creation goes on, as the Bible teaches. As I said, every instance a child is born God has created a soul. Did he use human means? Of course. So too, every time a person is born again, he becomes a "new creation." (See II Cor. 5:17 & Eph. 2:10) Therefore, God's work of creation is an ongoing affair. So too we are aware of this by such plain statements as Revelation 4:11.

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

"...are and were" speaks of creation presently ongoing as well as a past event.

One must be more than a little surprised that the Hardshells can't see the faultiness and unscripturalness of their "logic" and man-made propositions of "truth." For instance, the Hardshells acknowledge that their "conversion" to Christ, their "gospel faith," is not God's creation! Since man was used in their conversions and in the creation of their so-called gospel faith, therefore, by their own "logic," their conversions and their faith is NOT of God! Anything that has a creature as a means cannot be of God! If man is a means, then it is of the man, and not of God.

Now that I have given, in my own words, the Hardshell "logic" on the proposition that God does not use means in creation, resurrection, and birth, let me cite from Elder Michael Gowens, a leading minister in the Hardshell church. I met brother Gowens in 1976 when I was preaching in some Hardshell churches in Texas. I visited his home. His father was a Hardshell minister. Michael was a young boy but had a deep interest in theology even at that age. It would be great if the Lord could deliver him, together with other Hardshells, from their heresy. Today Michael has a web page, www.sovgrace.net. These citations are taken from his web page on his essay on "Regeneration." He pastors Lexington Primitive Baptist Church, founded by Elder Bradley with other Elders such as Paul Trautner, a long time pastor at this church. I visited this church many times, while I was a Hardshell, preaching for them several times.

Here is what Michael wrote on "BORN AGAIN - The Doctrine of Effectual Calling"

"In this essay, I will attempt to explain and defend the following principle of the doctrine of grace: Regeneration is immediate, i. e. without the use of means or media; consequently, regeneration precedes faith and conversion. Birth is the necessary prerequisite of belief, in the same sense that life must come before activity."

"Regeneration, new birth, quickening, effectual calling, and irresistible grace are synonymous theological terms referring to the work of the Holy Spirit in the radical transformation of the soul. When one of God's elect is "born of the Spirit' (Jno. 3:8), he is, at that moment, saved, personally and vitally."

"Regeneration is the personal application of the blood of Christ to the "inner man" so that the soul is cleansed, really and individually, from sin."

The Method of the New Birth

"So what is the method by which men are born again? It is nothing more or less than the sovereign and direct work of the Holy Spirit. Regeneration is immediate. God does not use the works of the sinner, on the one end, neither the efforts of the gospel preacher, on the other end, as either the basis or the method for imparting life to the soul."

"The New Testament writers develop three metaphors to describe the mysterious work of God, which is regeneration. First, as we have already noted, it is a birth (Jno. 3:3-8; Jno. 1:l 3; I Pet. 1:23-25; I Jno. 3:9; I Jno. 5:1). Secondly, it is a creation (Eph. 2:10; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:24), the Divine act of speaking into existence that which previously did not exist. Thirdly, it is a resurrection (Eph. 2:1; I Jno. 3:14; Jno. 5:24), the Divine act of giving life to one who is dead in trespasses and in sins. All three images demonstrate the immediacy of God's work of grace in the soul. Does the baby play an active role in his own birth, or is he a passive party in the work of external factors? What about creation? Did man help God in the creation of the universe or was creation the work of God alone? What about resurrection? Can man raise the dead to life? Does the corpse play an active role in his own resurrection? No, God and God alone is active. He is the only Creator. Just as the universe is the product of special creation, not evolution, so the work of God in the soul is a work of Divine creation, not spiritual evolution. Further, only God can give life to the dead. He and He alone has resurrection power."

I have heard hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sermons where this Hardshell apologetic was put forth in an effort to win people over to the Hardshell heresy called the "Pre-Faith Regeneration" theory. They will boldly assert that no means are used by God in creation, resurrection, and in birth, and therefore he does not use the gospel as a means in regeneration and in the new birth; and yet, both the Bible and science prove them wrong,

It is interesting that Brother Gowens says the same thing as Elder R. V. Sarrels, whom I have already cited (and will be citing further on in this book), in confirmation that "regeneration is below consciousness." Of course, Michael does not see that he says things about regeneration that contradict that premise. But, more on that too in later chapters. I will be citing Brother Gowens again in my continuing examination of Hardshell "logic" on the new birth.

Notice what Hassell said in answer to the question, "Does God use any means in regeneration?"

"None whatever, any more than He does in creation or in resurrection, for regeneration is a creation in Christ (which is all of God, Eph. 2:10; II Cor. 5:17,18), and it is a resurrection from the death in trespasses and sins, which God alone effects by His immediate and irresistible power (Eph. 2:1-10; John 5:25; Ezek. 16:6; Mark 5:41,42; Luke 7:14,15; John 11:43,44). It is being begotten or born of God, with which neither the person born nor any other creature has anything to do (John 1:12,13; 3:3, 5-8; I John 2:29; 5:1). It is a direct quickening by the Three-One God, the Father, Son, and Spirit (Jer. 31:33,34; John 5:21; 6:63). It is the giving of spiritual, eternal, and divine life by God to the sinner who was previously destitute of that life (Rom. 6:23; John 10:28; 17:1-3; I John 5:11,12)." (Elder Sylvester Hassell Copied from the "Gospel Messenger" and from the "Advocate and Messenger" Compiled by R.H. Pittman)

I have already overthrown this Hardshell "logic" regarding God not using means in creation, resurrection, and birth. I want next to address the argument that they make in regard to what they call "The Law of Bio-Genesis," or the principle that Life must precede action."

Life precedes action

Here is what Brother Gowens wrote:

"Birth is the necessary prerequisite of belief, in the same sense that life must come before activity."

Here Brother Gowens is upholding the "Bio-Genesis" argument. Sinners must be regenerated first, apart from means, before they can believe, repent, turn to Christ, etc. Why? Because there are Bible verses that say that? No, but because Hardshells are using human "logic" and applying it to the mysteries of God.

But, Hardshell views on regeneration say that life exists where there is absolutely no activity at all! That just won't wash either. Just as "faith without works (actions) is dead," so too "life without activity is dead." Remember that Sarrels said that regeneration "produces no internal sensations", or no activity! We cannot say, dogmatically, which came first, faith or life, faith or repentance, for the scriptures put them in reverse order. This, combined with the overall commentary of the apostles and New Testament writers, tell us that they occur simultaneously, or as I said earlier, you cannot have one without the other. You cannot have life without faith, nor can you have faith without life. So too we say that one cannot have faith without repentance nor repentance without faith.

Notice these words of Jesus to some who were clearly "dead in tresspassess and sins," and needed life.

"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5:40)

If the Hardshell theory were true, Christ could not speak thusly but would have to say, "And you will not have life that you may come unto me." Coming to Christ precedes the obtaining of life. "Coming" is a verb, and denotes action. So too do we read in Isaiah 45:22: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." It is similar to Numbers 21:8.

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live."

Notice that salvation, the "shall live," is the result of the action of "looking." In the teaching of Christ, this "looking" corresponds to our believing in Christ and seeing him upon the cross, the anti-type of the pole set up by Moses in the wilderness. In the preaching of the gospel people see Christ "set forth" and "crucified." (Gal. 3:1) They see him, his sufferings and death, and they look in faith to that atonement, trusting in it, and are thereby changed and born of the Spirit. The Spirit works through the word in bringing men to Christ. I will have more to say later, in a separate chapter, on "Coming To Christ," wherein I examine Hardshell teaching about what it means to "come to Christ."

Command implies ability

Brother Ross wrote:

"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."

Then again, he continues:

"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."

I don't see how I can add anything to this rebuttal of Brother Ross. It is so cogent and completely overthrows the Hardshell "logic" on this idea that God would not command men to repent if they did not have the ability to repent. Does God not still command all to keep all his commandments? Does this imply that they are able?

The truth is not best expressed by saying that "God must first give the ability to believe before we can believe," but by saying, "God must make us penitent, make us believers, make us obey his commands, must cause us to obey the words "come to me," "receive Christ," "be converted," "give me your heart," "believe the gospel," etc.

The Hardshells are forced to affirm that God does not command any dead sinner to life, through the gospel, that he does not command them to "hear Christ," or "believe in Christ," "repent of your sins," "give your heart and life to God," etc., because he is depraved and cannot do that. But, again, as Brother Ross has shown, they are wrong in inferring that a command implies ability to comply. Did Ezekiel speaking to the dead bones imply that they had ability to obey?

The Hardshell can preach the law to the dead sinner. He can tell him, "Do not lie," and "love the Lord your God with all your heart," but he cannot tell the sinner to believe, repent, confess, and obey Christ?

No justice in damning heathen

Recall that it was Elder Cayce, in debate with the Campbellite Shrygley, affirmed that there was "no principle of justice" in God eternally damning a man for not believing the Gospel when he never had the opportunity to hear it."

Of course, I have heard all kinds of arguments like this regarding the heathen and those who die not having heard the gospel. It is ironic too that Cayce claimed to believe the Old London Confession of faith to be representative of Old Baptist doctrine, saying that those who had left belief in that confession could not be properly called Primitive Baptists.

Here is what the Baptists who wrote the confession believed about the case of the heathen who die without hearing the blessed gospel.

Chapter 20: "Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof"

"1._____ The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.

2._____ This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God; neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ, or of grace by him, so much as in a general or obscure way; much less that men destitute of the revelation of Him by the promise or gospel, should be enabled thereby to attain saving faith or repentance.

3._____ The revelation of the gospel unto sinners, made in divers times and by sundry parts, with the addition of promises and precepts for the obedience required therein, as to the nations and persons to whom it is granted, is merely of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God; not being annexed by virtue of any promise to the due improvement of men's natural abilities, by virtue of common light received without it, which none ever did make, or can do so; and therefore in all ages, the preaching of the gospel has been granted unto persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the counsel of the will of God.

4._____ Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life; without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God.

Here Cayce is in disagreement with the Old Baptists of 1689. Those Old Baptists believed that salvation was not possible for those who died without the "outward means" of grace, the gospel and words of promise concerning Christ, the means of "begetting in them faith and repentance.

"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:12)

What "time"? The time when they were "dead in tresspasses and sins." (2:1) It was also a time when they were unbelievers.

"And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power..." (1:19)

The context makes it clear that the demarcation line where a person becomes alive spiritually, who was previously dead, is the same time one becomes a believer, who previously was an unbeliever. I do not know a single Hardshell who would say that the faith of Ephesians 1:19 is not necessary to salvation. They would allow that this verse is speaking about regeneration, using this verse to prove the doctrine of "irresistable grace" or "effectual calling."

"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints..." (1:13-15)

This faith or belief in Jesus came through the preaching of the gospel. It was this means by which God "quickened" them. Prior to hearing and believing the gospel, according to Paul, the heathen are "without God and without hope." They are "dead in sins," while in unbelief. Paul clearly puts coming to believe in Jesus, by the gospel, as all the same as being resurrected from the dead, receiving hope in God.

According to the "logic" of Cayce,, all the heathen will be saved! If it is not "just," he affirmed, "for God to damn any heathen who died without hearing the gospel," then all such heathen will be saved, born again, or else God is not "just"! Not only have Hardshells preached that some of God's elect are among the heathen, and who nevertheless are "born again" sometime before they die, and go to Heaven, but now their "logic" is forcing them to say all the heathen are saved!

The Hardshells now are no longer opposed simply to mission methods, or any lawful preaching of the gospel to any who have not previously heard it, but they are now advocating not preaching the gospel to anyone! By their "logic" they could insure the salvation of all by keeping the gospel from being preached!

Cayce is against the Old Confession that he says is the criteria for judging whether one is truly Old Baptist!

Cayce, the greatest defender of Hardshell "logic" and "heresies," believes that all the heathen who die without the gospel must be saved or else God is not "just!"

The Hardshells have many errors in their understanding of the first point in Calvinism and in the Doctrines of Grace, that of Total Depravity. Brother Ross has shown their error on the Pelagian idea that a "command implies ability." I have tried to add to his well written rebuttal. I too have shown how the Hardshells, like Cayce, have erred on the doctrine of "Total Depravity" They demonstrate that error when they say that "God would not be just to damn any heathen who died without hearing the gospel!"

Here is what Brother Gowens said about the relationship between Hardshell views on "Regeneration" and "Total Depravity."

"The Gospel-means position does not adequately satisfy the tension between Total Depravity and the act of believing. Because man is totally depraved, he does not have the ability to believe. I Corinthians 2:14 says, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." The context of I Corinthians 2 describes two different types of people, "the natural man" (v. 14) and "he that is spiritual" (v. 15). Because the natural man has no spiritual capacity ("neither can he know them"), he cannot grasp the spiritual message of the gospel. The spiritual man, on the contrary, has the ability to discern spiritual things (v. 15). Paul clearly establishes the principle in this passage that a change of nature must precede the ability to receive the gospel. Spiritual life must be given before one can understand the "spiritual thing" which is the gospel."

Brother Ross and I have already overthrown this "carnal reasoning" and faulty "logic." But, I want to repeat, with greater emphasis, a rebuttal argument I presented in an earlier chapter, on this Hardshell "argument."

But, even in the Hardshell scheme of regeneration, dead people do hear the words of Christ before they are made alive!

The Hardshell says that the dead cannot hear. Yet, they also teach that the dead must hear to be regenerated. They have no problem putting "hearing" before life when it comes to the words Christ himself speaks to the dead, but not those same words he speaks through the preacher of the gospel! I will deal with this other novel idea of the Hardshells, the "Direct Speaking" theory of regeneration, under a separate chapter. Brother Ross has dealt with this novel theory extensively and I hope to cite his remarks and extend upon them.

Did the dead bones in Ezekiel 37 not hear the words of God, through Ezekiel, BEFORE they came to life?

Have I also not shown that coming to Christ PRECEDES regeneration? Do not the Hardshells themselves acknowledge that is what the Scriptures say? "Hearing" and "Coming" both precede the receiving of "LIFE"! They say this order is okay, does not violate their "Law of Bio-Genesis." Why not? What makes the difference? In the one case, they say, Christ is doing the speaking, directly, not through a medium or spokeman, and so in such a case "hearing and "coming" can precede the reception of life! Notice that the Hardshells affirm that the sinner has ability to hear the words that Christ speaks directly to the sinner, but not words he speaks indirectly through the preacher, like Ezekiel?

Food Not A Means In Giving Life

The Hardshells argue that it is impossible for food and water to be means of giving or imparting life. It is another example of their use of "logic" to support their theories on regeneration. Let me address that "argument" next.

"The gospel is food for the hungry soul, the bread of life, the means by which believers "taste the good word of God" (Heb. 6:3)." (Gowens)

Though Michael did not argue much from that, in his essay on the "New Birth," yet he would subscribe, as all Hardshells do, as I have stated the argument.

Now, who can deny, in the natural and physical realm, that a man must be alive before he can drink? But, is that true in the realm of omnipotence, in the realm of the supernatural? Let us apply that "carnal logic" to some passages of Scripture dealing with the metaphor of eating and drinking, and other such figurative language, to see if it is always the case that one cannot eat or drink in order to live.

First of all, let us notice that the Scriptures associate the hearing and receiving of God's words of revelation and promise, with eating and drinking.

"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts." (Jeremiah 15:16)

Brother Gowens cited Hebrews 6. There those who are saved, born again, wrote Paul, are said to have "tasted (eaten or drunk) the good word of God and the powers of the age to come." Eating those words, which are often compared to "bread, water," and "food," in the Scriptures, does give "life."

The Scriptures often speak of people, in dying, "tasting death." It also speaks of "tasting the grace of God." (II Peter 2:3) The latter could easily be called "tasting life," for the words of Christ are life. (John 6:63)

Those "dead in sins" are able to "drink in iniquity," they are able to receive the words of falsehood and unbelief, but can they not, by the power of the Holy Spirit, drink in righteousness, eat the word of God, and live thereby?

Now notice the entirety of the passage in Hebrews.

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." (6:4-8)

The earth is made to "drink water" and this is equivalent to the earth's "receiving blessing from God." All this is said by Paul in the context of being born again and regenerated. It is in drinking in the "water of life," and eating the "bread of life,"
that men "receive" life, a superlative "blessing from God."

The earth passively receives the rain, drinks, and life is produced in the earth by means of drinking that life giving water. That metaphor destroys the above Hardshell "logic" that says a man must be alive first in order to drink.

Notice Revelation 22:16, 17.

"And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

"Water of life" can mean nothing else but "life giving water." The Hardshells do not believe in such a thing. Yes, they will argue, on the above passage, that those being invited to drink the water of life are people who are already alive, their "thirsting" being "evidence" of "life."

Could it not be that people are "thirsty", in the sense of this text, because of sin? Is not our "barrenness," in our relationship to God, one of dire thirst? Did not the "Prodigal Son" exclaim, while in the hog pens, "I perish from hunger"? Are not all sinners dying of thirst and spiritual starvation? Do they not all need to eat and live?

Notice these words of Jesus:

"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." (John 6:27)

"Labour not for the food which perishes" is all the same as saying, "labor not TO EAT the food which perishes BUT DO LABOR TO EAT that food (gospel) whose nourishment and benefit is UNTO life everlasting."

This just goes against Hardshell "logic" that says one cannot eat in order to life.

Also, I recall the scene at "Jacob's well," in John 4:10,11.

"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?"

And further:

"Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw." (vs. 13-15)

Drinking here comes before the receiving of life. So much for Hardshell "logic."

Notice further these words from John 6.

"Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not (have not eaten the bread). All that the Father giveth me shall come to me (eat this bread, believe on me, drink in my words); and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth (receives me, takes me in, like one who drinks in water and takes in food) on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." (vs. 31-40)

These verses equate eating Christ with receiving Christ, coming to him, and with obtaining life thereby. Again, all this flies in the face of Hardshell "logic"; in this matter of affirming that food and drink, the words of the gospel, cannot be a means of imparting life, they are just thinking carnally.

Notice these words of Paul.

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.." (II Cor. 2: 14-17, New KJV)

Notice how the gospel has two different effects upon people, depending upon whether they are elect and effectually called by the Spirit using the gospel, called in this passage the "fragrance (aroma) of Christ." This gospel or aroma of Christ, has life in it, for it is the "aroma of life." But, it not only has life but it does in fact actually give life. The Hardshells wrongly imagine that the gospel can neither have life nor give life, they are therefore opposed to what Paul teaches us in this passage. I will say it again, not only is the gospel possessed of life giving power, but it actually gives life, "life UNTO life," (KJV) as the text clearly says.

Now, on the other hand, the same gospel, to those whom God has not chosen to salvation, when hearing the gospel, without the attending power of the Holy Spirit, becomes "toxic." They esteem the gospel as being what it is not, an "aroma of death." What they imagine is detrimental to them is really the only remedy for their sinful malady. It becomes to them, an "aroma of death unto death."

Is it in accord with "human logic" to believe that the dead can be brought to life by "smelling salts"? We use strong aromas to arouse those who are unconscious, and the word of God, wrote Paul, is able to give life by its supernatural aroma, to those who receive the gospel, not in word only, but in the Holy Spirit.

I have also pointed out how this "argument" on the word of God being food and water, and cannot therefore be a means of giving life to the dead, that this really solves very little for the Hardshells. They still have this imagined heathen unbeliever, to whom God has supposedly given spiritual "life," without the gospel food, in need of that same "gospel food" in order to preserve his "life" and salvation! So, why are the Old Hardshells not more missionary in taking "gospel food" to those spiritually starving souls around the world, who need the "nourishment" of the Hardshell gospel? You got to give credit where credit is due, "honor to whom honor," and so those Hardshells who are supporting "mission work" (sponsored by the churches, and not "boards")in sending money and other kinds of support to "mission work in the Philippines and in Africa, Hardshells like Elder Bradley and Gus Harter, are to be encouraged. I only wish they would go a little further, or in Bradley's case at least, come back to what you use to believe and preach. The same with dad. You missionaries who left the Old Baptist Confession and the historic position of the Particular Baptists, ought to renounce Hardshellism and come back with fresh zeal to preach the gospel to all men, calling upon them to repent and believe the gospel or be eternally lost. But, I will speak more on this "mission work" in the later sections of this book.

The Scriptures use many metaphors and words to describe the work of saving sinners. Hardshells focus in on a few that they think, by the use of their human "logic", proves their "anti means" position. We have pointed these out, those figures and words being, birth, resurrection, creation," etc. But, the Hardshells err in refusing to see that salvation is also a "conversion," a being "made a disciple," being "taught of God," a "making covenant" with God, being "justified," "turning to God," "set free," "enlightened," etc., all which would show the involvement of the will of man in salvation, his coming to Christ involving his understanding, will, and the very seat of his affections and cognitive abilities. These figures of regeneration and salvation do not suit the purpose of the Hardshells, which is to convince all that regeneration is on the "sub conscious level."

In the next two chapters I will also continue my look at Hardshell "logic", dealing with these "arguments" that are all based upon human "logic."

1. Infants are regenerated and therefore regeneration occurs apart from means.

2. Idiots are regenerated but not converted, so also everyone else.

3. Regeneration through means would make saviors of men who preach.

4. Salvation would be based upon money if regeneration is by means.

5. Most professing Christians would be lost if salvation is by knowing truth.

Brother Ross was in agreement with these remarks on Hardshell "logic."

“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?” (HISTORY AND HERESIES OF HARDSHELLISM, #6 [05/11--2006)