Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 7:52 PM

Back in August of 2005, I happened upon something which indicated that James White was a speaker for a Primitive Baptist, or Hardshell Baptist Church.

Primitive Baptists, frequently referred to as "Hardshells," teach that the elect are born again before they believe. In other words, they teach that "regeneration precedes faith in Christ."

If James White is not advocating something akin to Hardshellism -- which teaches that men are born again before faith -- why would a Hardshell Baptist church invite him to speak?

Hardshells have always been known to be very restrictive about who occupies their pulpits, and they are known for their stringent opposition to the "Means Baptists," or those who teach that the confession view that the Gospel. or Word of God, is used by the Holy Spirit as the instrumental means in the New Birth.

I hope this speaking engagement by James White at a Hardshell church is not an indication of the direction in which James White is headed -- after the past example of Lassere Bradley Jr. of Cincinnati and some other young preachers who left the "Means Baptists" to align themselves with the Hardshell Baptist sect which teaches the non-creedal view of the New Birth, that "regeneration precedes faith."

Here is that information, from James White himself:

A Great Time at Ephesus Church in Georgia

   Back from ministering in Georgia this weekend. Had a wonderful time with the elders and people of the Ephesus Progressive Primitive Baptist Church. They have a good bit of fun with their own name, actually, since "Progressive Primitive" sorta sounds like "tall short" or "fat skinny" or "happy sad" or some such pairing. But the folks were warm and encouraging and seemed to really enjoy the ministry. One of the elders even called me shortly after I landed back here in Phoenix (I did the "let's see the whole continent while we are at it" route, Savannah to Chicago; Chicago to Phoenix thing) to make sure I had arrived safely. Great bunch of folks! I look forward to visiting with them again.

The difference between the Old School Primitives and the Progressive Primitives is explained as follows by the Primitive Baptists:

About the year 1909 there arose a division among the Primitive Baptists, or Old School Baptists, concerning the use of musical instruments in the church and "protracted meetings." Any meeting that continued more than three days was considered a "protracted meeting." These two things were the main issues, but from all appearances preacher jealousy was the real cause of the division. Those abstaining from the use of musical instruments and declining to go beyond three days in a meeting named themselves "Old Liners" and branded those whom they opposed as "Progressive." Progressive Primitive Baptists do have Bible Study classes, Youth Fellowship meetings and musical instruments in their churches whereas the Old Line Baptists do not.


To my knowledge, Progressives still hold the same Primitive Baptist view that the New Birth takes place before faith, just as James White teaches.

These Primitive Baptists, or Hardshells, originally became a separate movement or denomination in the 1820s-1830s in opposition to the "innovations" in missionary methods adopted by the "Means Baptists" such as Luther Rice for the promotion of foreign missions. A theory of "pre-faith regeneration" was developed by men such as Gilbert Beebe and adopted as a theological basis for their opposition to the necessity of preaching the Gospel to the unregenerate. We have a series of articles in print on the history and heresies of the Hardshells.-- Bob L. Ross


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