Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 1:02 PM
Subject: DEBATE JAMES WHITE? [04/01/04]

In the morning's email, I received the following comment from a Southern Baptist seminary professor:

Amen on your quotes! Godís Word creates something out of nothing.   He didnít need to start with a germ before saying, ďLet there be. . .Ē  in Genesis one.  Nor did Lazarus need to spend a nanosecond alive in the dark tomb before he could hear the Word of God the Son!  Theistic evolutionists and pre-faith regenerationists both err, not knowing the Power or the Word of God.

I appreciate this comment, for it comes from one on the "seminary level" holding to conservative views in contrast to the situation in SBC seminaries in the mid to latter 1900s.

Also, another party has suggested a debate with James White on his pre-faith new birth theory. Well, I would have no objection to debating Brother James in a formal debate format, with Moderators and the normal order and procedures according to Hedge's Rules of Debate.

I doubt serioiusly that James would be interested in such a debate, however, as he is not accustomed to debating Calvinists. It appears that most if not all of his debates have been with a different type opponent, such as Romanists, Mormons, Oneness, Open Theists, Pedopbaptists, Arminians, King James Onlyites, etc. I think these are "easier" targets, for in such debates with these types James has the weight of Baptist orthodoxy in his corner. I am sure he has debated very capable representatives of these heterodox or aberrant theological views, but they are all severely theologically handicapped by their divergence from historic Baptist doctrine.

Also, in the recent past, I have been a somewhat "touch not, taste not, handle not" item with James, as he seems to be more comfortable with simply ignoring my critiques of his views. In fact, ever since he got a "black eye" after getting onto my case in regard to my writings about the "incarnational Sonship" theory that used to be taught by John MacArthur, I have had little to no communication with James. I think I last saw him at a CBA Convention, but other than that I don't think I have either seen or heard from him since.

My sincere hope for James is that he won't wind up among the Hardshell Primitive Baptists, like what happened to Lassere Bradley Jr. in the late 1950s and some other very capable young preachers who "went to seed" on the theory of "pre-faith regeneration." It's sad to recall that over my 50 years of observing the Calvinist camp of persuasion in various sections of the country, several young men became obsessed with a metaphysical-type interest in the internal mystery of the Holy Spirit's work in the new birth and they wound up going into Hardshellism. In fact, a Georgia Hardshell minister once told me that they "got most of their preachers from missionary Baptists" who went from Calvinism into Hardshellism, just like the Hardshells got started in the 1830s.

When Bradley and some of his young preacher-companions in the Cincinnati area first departed into the Hardshell or Primitive Baptist camp, I made it a point to give a careful study to the question of why they he did so. I concluded that it was the "pre-faith regeneration" theory which seduced them, and I have since seen the same type of thing happen with some others. The views now being advocated by James White are the very same views which ultimately led these men to shipwreck into Hardshellism. My booklet on "The Killing Effects of Hyper-Calvinism" grew out of my observations about why these young men departed from the faith into Hardshellism. Nothing will kill evangelistic, missionary, and soul-winning efforts any more thoroughly than the theories involved in hyper-Calvinism. The Hardshell movement of today is as dead as a doornail as to evangelism of the unsaved, and they only stay alive by making proselytes primarily from Calvinists who adopt the "pre-faith regeneration" theory.

The following is a short article I wrote sometime ago about early Hardshell history. It may be of interest to those of you who may not be acquainted with this 19th century development.

Posted on the Forum, Aug. 16, 2000

The anti-missionary movement of the 1820-30s period, which gave rise to the "Hardshell" movement, known as "Primitive Baptists," did not originally develop from hyper-Calvinistic theological issues but from hotly contested missions "methodology." The departure from orthodox Calvinism came later.

For instance --

The Kehukee Association [in Virginia], which eventually "went Hardshell," is said to have objected to "the modern missionary movement and other institutions of men," and it specified "Missionary Societies, Bible Societies, Tract Societies, Sunday Schools, Dorcas Societies, Mite Societies, Religious Fairs and Theological Seminaries" (Kehukee Declaration, October 1827). This Declaration makes no objection at that time to any theological differences with the missionary Baptists on the new birth.

Even the famous "Black Rock Address" put together by Gilbert Beebe (1800-1881), focused on mission methods, not on theological differences. In fact, that address defends the use of "means" as presented in the Philadelphia Confession, charging that the new innovations in missionary methods "would make believers of their converts without presenting any fixed TRUTHS to their minds to believe. Whereas God has chosen his people to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the TRUTH.-- 2 Thess. 2:13"  (Black Rock Address, pp. 35, 36, Primitive Publications reprint edition).

This position, however, would be later abandoned by the Primitives in favor of a novel theory concocted by Gilbert Beebe on regeneration (which I will soon explain).

The leaders of the anti-mission movement, John Taylor of Kentucky, Daniel Parker of Illinois, and Alexander Campbell of Virginia were all opposed to mission methodology and they sought to prejudice people against missions by focusing on the alleged evil campaigns to raise "monies," impeaching the motives of the promoters of the missionary movement.

Alexander Campbell, of course, was nowhere close to being a Calvinist and was very outspoken against Calvinism, as seen in his debates with Presbyterian debaters. But he was perceived by B. H. Carroll Jr. as being the most outspoken critic of the missions cause (Genesis of American Anti-Missionism, pages 93, 95).

A "theological" defense of anti-missionism, however, was developed by the anti's AFTER the 1832 split with the missionaries over methodology. Once the anti-missionaries had split from the missionaries, Gilbert Beebe and Samuel Trott (1783-1866) combined to develop a theological basis for anti-missions, with Beebe's invention of the "Direct Voice Regeneration" theory becoming the most prominent feature of Primitive Baptist theology (Signs of the Times, Editorials, Volume 4, pages 21, 22; 9/11/1833).

According to Beebe, The "voice" of Christ is spoken "directly" to the lost sinner's soul, and the sinner is thereby born again, with no "instrumental means" such as the Gospel, or the written and spoken Wor of God, having any part to play in this experience. Hence, there no need for preachers or missionaries to evangelize the unregenerate.

When the Hardshells later split into "Absoluter" and "Conditionalist" factions, both factions continued to hold to the "Direct Voice Regeneration" theory and used it to deprecate the preaching the Gospel to the unregenerate. The Cayces (S. F., father, and son, Claud H.) in "The Primitive Baptist" magazine were the chief advocates of that view for the "conditionalist" camp, which eventually became the most predominant group.

Hardshells therefore repudiate Calvinism as much as the Campbellites. Hardshells brand Calvinists as "means Baptists" and they reject the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.

Not having a Confession of Faith for many years [they got their theology from the leading papers of the predominant leaders], a group of 51 of the choicest scribes of the "conditionalist" faction gathered together in Fulton, Kentucky, November 1900, to "clarify" and "add some explanations to" the London Confession, and published their disfiguration of the Confession under the title of "A Comprehensive Confession of Faith," having whittled away the "means" Calvinism of the Confession. Yet even this work by their most distinguished "rabbis" has never been quite satisfactory, and some have since called for the setting forth of another Confession.

R. V. Sarrels, who wrote a Systematic Theology for the Primitives, says that the Fulton group tried to make the London Confession "say what it did not say" on certain doctrine, and that their effort was a "literary effort of torturing of language" (pages 109, 110). He alleges that Primitives should "repudiate" the London Confession on certain doctrine which Primitives do not believe (page 111). -- Bob L. Ross

NOTE: We have an entire series of articles on the History and Heresies of Hardshellism
available for $8 plus $3 shipping.

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