Thursday, November 6, 2008
"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some." ( I Corinthians 9: 19-22 NASB)
These verses help us to identify the class of people whom Paul, in I Corinthians, identified as being "weak"; And, conversely, in doing so, they also help us to identify the class of people whom Paul called "strong." The "strong" are they who have been "saved" and "won" to Christ by the preaching of the gospel and faith in it. But, the "weak" are they who are NOT saved, but lost, and who have NOT been "won" to Christ, people who have NOT been converted, people who are NOT Christians.
It is therefore a great error to identify the "weak" with those who are saved, with those who are converted Christians. Yet, this is the predominant view, even among the authors of the leading commentaries.
The verses cited above, from Paul in the ninth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, disprove this theory. I have therefore placed them in the beginning of this exposition, and put the verses in the forefront; And, my thesis is simply this - "the weak are the non-Christians, or the lost, while the strong are the Christians, or the saved."
The term "weak" is a term appropritate for all those who are lost and without Christ. The term "strong" is a term appropriate for all those who are saved and possessed of Christ.
In this exposition, I shall show further exegetical and syntactical reasons for identifying the "weak" with the Pagan, or non-Christian, and "strong" with the Christian. But, these reasons will only confirm what is plainly stated by Paul in the verses above. The "weak" are such who need to be "won" to Christ, who need to be "saved."
Once in a public debate with an Arminian on "once saved always saved," he tried to make the "weak brothers" out to be Christians, or saved people. When I cited the above words to him, he responded - "well, it just shows that the weak were those who were once saved and lost their salvation."
His response at least was an admission that the "weak" are they who are not saved. Yet, he had already argued that "weak brothers" meant "weak Christians," or saved people who are in error in certain points of doctrine.
Of course, the "weak" are not those who were once saved and then lost their salvation, and not those who were once Christian and then recanted. First, the general context of scripture is against such a view, it teaching rather that all the truly saved remain saved. Second, the context of the epistle demonstrates that the "weak" are not those who were saved and lost it, but persons who were never saved, and never converted to Christ.
Why do all, or nearly all, the major commentators err in identifying the "weak brother" with a saved, born again, Christian? Why when there is very little evidence for this conclusion? Why when the apostle says just the opposite?
These and other questions I will be answering in forthcoming chapters in this series.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The term "hot potato" has become a familiar metaphor to describe tense or urgent, often political, "hot topics" of dispute, ones that people would rather avoid dealing with if they could.
It should become apparent, after this series has been completed, how fitting a metaphor is this term to represent the history of the discussion of the "Great Commission" among the "Ant-Mission," "Hardshell," "Primitive," "Old School," or "Old Regular Baptists."
This topic was a leading stated cause of the "Old School" or "Primitive" Baptists separating themselves from the main body of the Baptist denomination. The questions discussed and debated were - "to whom was the Great Commission given?" Is it still binding upon any? Upon the present day ministry? Upon the church? Upon the individual disciple?
Standing in an imaginary circle of hot potato game players, are the leading apologists of the Hardshell Denomination. The "hot potato" is the subject of the "Great Commission." Each of these "apologists" have passed around this "hot potato" for the past two hundred years, each giving forth a different reason for "passing on to someone else" the responsibility and duty of the "Great Commission." They all seem to hope that it does not "fall upon" them to personally fulfill the great command of Christ!
The topic of the Great Commission is not one that the typical Hardshell proselyter wants to discuss with an "Arminian." They had rather talk to the Arminian about Calvinism and election, and limited atonement, and such things, but the subject of the "Great Commission" is one that the Hardshells would just soon leave till a much later time, when the prospective proselyte has "taken the bait" on other hybrid Hardshell propositions.
One of the "arguments" that the Hardshells make on the Commission, in support of their refusal to obey it, is to say--"The Lord said, 'GO ye,' not 'SEND ye.'" Only the apostles, they say, were to "go." If he had given this Commission to any besides the apostles, or to the church, they argue, then the command would say "SEND," and not say "GO".
Wrote a group of "Primitive Baptist" elders of recent years:
"We find no scriptural basis for the belief that the "great commission" was given to the church and that the church is responsible for the spread of the gospel in the world today and therefore is justified in organizing programs and raising funds for this purpose. What saith the scriptures? Mark 16:14-15; Acts 1:2, 8; Col. 1:6, 23."
This is clear and to the point. The Hardshells, as a people, believe that they have no responsibility to keep the commandments given in the "Great Commission." But, more on this shortly.
"Shortly before His ascension, Christ commanded His apostles to "go...into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature" (Mark 16:15). (This command is commonly referred to as the "great commission," although this term is not found in the Scriptures). The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the apostles did indeed fulfill this command. Several years after the command was given, the apostle Paul reported that the gospel had come into "all the world" (Col. 1:6) and had been "preached to every creature which is under heaven" (Col. 1:23)."
"Moreover, when Christ placed this "great commission" upon His apostles, He promised them that great signs and wonders would accompany the fulfilling of this commission. These signs would be in the form of special apostolic powers, such as the ability to cast out demons and the ability to drink any sort of deadly poison and remain unharmed (Mark 16:17-18). We take the fact that these special powers are no longer with us as further proof that the "great commission" has been fulfilled."
"We stand with our Baptist forefathers in rejecting the heresy that the "great commission" was given to the church body. Elder John R. Daily (one of our Baptist forefathers) explained: "None of us believe that the commission given by Christ to His apostles was intended to be laid upon the church as a body, which false idea has been the parent of all Missionary machinery that has ever been invented" (Advocate and Messenger, "More Specificity Requested," July 1996, pg. 149)." (Addendum to the "Pitt's Resolution of the Old Line Primitive Baptists," Item VIII, "That The 'Great Commission' Was Given To The Church") (All emphasis mine - SMG)
We may summarize now the leading arguments put forth by today's Hardshells. We can presume that this modern apologetic statement reflects the position and arguments that seem to have survived and gained the overwhelming ascendency among the Hardshells. We may take this modern apologetic as itself a summation of the reasons offered by the Hardshells for their historical non-compliance, as a religious denomination, with the terms of the "great commission."
"Iron sharpens iron," and it is apparent that the more learned of today's Hardshells, the ones most familiar with their history and heritage, and with the historic debate on the subject of the "Great Commission," have "weeded out" the "arguments" that have not "passed muster" and now only use those few remaining arguments, as listed above by those who signed the "Pitt's Resolution" (against Elder Lasserre Bradley Jr., and those alligned with him and his "liberal movement.") But, more on this in other upcoming series.
Besides summarizing the major arguments as given by the elders who wrote the "Pitt's Resolution," and of those who spoke apologetically on this "hot potato" issue, I will also relate other minor arguments and "interpretations" that have been given by leading Hardshells, over the past two hundred years, and whose apologetic intent has been to try to prove that the Hardshells are not guilty of violating the "great commission."
1) The "Great Commission" was fulfilled by the apostles and ended with the death of the apostles.
A) The scriptures expressly say that it was fulfilled.
B) The "signs" and miraculous gifts were to be co-extensive with the fulfilling of the "Great Commission," and since the signs and gifts ceased, then the commission must have been fulfilled.
2) Baptist history (teachings of our forefathers) held the Hardshell view on the "Great Commission."
Besides these "arguments," we will list these other ones that have been put forth in an apologetic effort to uphold the Hardshell position on the "Great Commission."
1) The "Great Commission" was given strictly to the eleven remaining apostles. All other ministers receive a special and separate commission.
2) "Every creature" means "every new creature in Christ," and therefore the gospel is not to be preached to "every creature," but only to the already "regenerated."
3) The "Great Commission" was given to the ministry as a separate entity from the church.
In addition to these apologetic arguments, I will mention other related issues and questions, such as:
1) Is the church ever authorized to send out men as missionaries of the gospel?
2) Is the church ever authorized to financially support roving evangelists and church sponsored missionaries?
3) What is the relationship of preachers of the gospel to the churches in regard to missionary and evangelistic work?
Now, let me cite from Hardshell "founding father," Elder Gilbert Beebe, one of the very first to have the "hot potato" tossed to him, and see what he said while he had the issue in his possession. He wrote:
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark xvi. 15.
"TRUE to the promise made to our correspondent at Burdett, in our last number, we will give a brief expression of our views upon the above text. We regret the want of room to give our mind more fully on this important subject, as we conceive it to be most awfully and wickedly perverted by the popular theologians of our day. It is by them perverted to mean anything and everything but the truth. They quote it as a full and sufficient warrant for theological seminaries and colleges; they profess to be governed by it in the formation of Mission Societies, and profess obedience to it in getting up and sustaining Sunday Schools; they inscribe these words as a motto upon the frontlet of their tracts, and other popular religious publications; and in short they would use it to sustain any practice they may choose to adopt. And yet how very simple and plain the language is, when stripped of the sophistry and confusion into which the subject is thrown by the artful management of those who handle the word of God deceitfully..."
Ironically, one can truly see, from the above citation, the "sophistry" of Elder Beebe himself as he handles this "hot potato"! In his ranting he does not deal with the real meat issue, but begins by appealing to popular prejudices among his "Hyper Calvinistic" brethren, and by throwing out "red herrings." He is also clearly attempting to "poison the well" when it comes to the "hot potato" issue of the "Great Commission."
He wants to attack first what he perceives to be "perversions" on the topic, and thus his intent, from the very outset of his apologetic writing on the topic, is to "cast in a bad light" all who believed that the "Great Commission" gave warrant to the churches to labor to promote the spread of the gospel.
He also wants to build the proverbial "straw man" and attack it, insinuating all the time that those who believe the "Great Commission" is not fulfilled, but still in force, are gross "perverters" of the great commission, guilty of usurping authority that was not given to ordinary ministers, but to the eleven apostles alone.
Whether or not the "Great Commission" gives warrant to theological schools or other methods of training disciples and young preachers will be taken up in future chapters dealing with ministerial education and related topics. The same with the issue of "mission societies," and with "Sunday Schools," and with the distribution of tracts and bibles.
It is even more ironic that Elder Beebe speaks of how those who believe that the "great commission" is still binding, and not fulfilled, as being those who, on this passage, "handle the word of God deceitfully"!
But, by the time this series on the "Great Commission" is completed, it will be obvious that the very reverse is the actual case, for it is Beebe and the Hardshells who have, on this topic, "handled the word of God (relative to the great commission) deceitfully"!
What is wrong with having the words of the "Great Commission" as a "motto" or "banner" for the church? for every disciple? for every gospel minister? What kind of spirit is driving Elder Beebe when he harshly criticizes and judges those who take as a motto the words - "go preach the gospel to everyone"? Certainly the words of the "Great Commission" make a better motto than some mottos the Hardshells use! Recall the one I mentioned in earlier chapters, where Elder C. M. Mills stated that the Primitive Baptist motto was "give us our bible and leave us alone"!
Those old "wicked perverters" of the words of the great commission, the apostate "Missionary Baptists," take the bible to everyone and believe the commission warrants them doing so. But, the Hardshells, who affirm that they are the "only ones" who properly understand the "Great Commission," believing that they are warranted in "staying put," in going nowhere, and in keeping the bible to themselves!No wonder the Hardshells, who have so vehemently opposed churches involving themselves with trying to fulfill the "Great Commission," were often styled as "do-nothings," and as "Old Ironsides," and as "Anti-Mission Baptists."
Elder Beebe spoke of some who"use" the words of the commission "to sustain any practice they may choose to adopt."
This accusation of Elder Beebe was made against his Baptists brethren who were "professing obedience" to the "Great Commission"!
Does the abuse of a thing make the use of the thing itself wrong? The logic and argumentation of Elder Beebe is precisely just that! Now, who is the real "Sophist"?
Amazingly, as will be seen, it is the Hardshells who "handle" the words of the great commission "deceitfully."
Elder Beebe continues in his "diatribe":
"Who is the commander? This is a very important question in the consideration of the subject in our estimation; for we hold that there is but one being in existence, either in heaven or on earth, who is clothed with such authority to give such commands; hence should we -, should an angel from heaven, or a Missionary Society on earth, say to any of the sons of Adam, Go ye and preach the gospel, it would me most daring presumption, and woe to the wretch who would obey our command. The commander in this case is none other than the Lord from heaven..."
Who in the world denies that Jesus is the "commander" in the giving of the great commission? Elder Beebe continues, in this next paragraph, to use old worn out Sophist tactics in discussing this "hot potato" issue! Beebe charges more on his opponents than they affirm. He may have believed that some of the missionary practices of his day, by logical deduction, brought a logical consequence that in effect made someone else, other than Christ, the Commander, but this is not what he says. He arrogantly charges all who believe that the commission is not fulfilled, and is yet binding upon all the followers of Christ, as actually believing that Christ is not the one who commissions, sends, or commands!
For one Christian to tell another Christian that it is his duty and privilege to go and tell others the gospel, according to Beebe, is a "daring presumption"! As for some other things that Beebe says in the above paragraph, I will address later.
"The people to whom this command was addressed. It has been very common with christians to suppose that this text was addressed to all those who in every age are divinely called to preach the gospel; and that a very similar commission, in may respects, is given by our Lord Jesus Christ to every one whom he has called to that work, we do not doubt; but those words were addressed exclusively to the eleven disciples whom it was his pleasure to name apostles. We have already shown that many at this degenerate age attempt to apply this commission to the various schemes and inventions of the day. We recollect seeing some twelve months ago, if our recollection serves correctly, an advertisement in the Baptist Repository of New York, calling for six hundred persons to distribute tracts in that city, in obedience to the command "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel!" We are persuaded that every candid child of God is fully prepared to say with us that this commission belongs to none but such as are specially called and chosen of God to that work."
The view of Elder Beebe is the strictest interpretation of the view put forth by those who first rose up to oppose the widespread missionary work and zeal that was at work among the Baptists, and other denominations, in the first half of the 19th century.
Most of the first generation of Hardshells, in the 1820-1860 period, believed that the "great commission" was "given chiefly to the apostles, and secondarily to gospel ministers in every age."
Beebe does not believe or promote this apologetic, but argues that the "great commission" was given strictly to the "eleven" apostles who were assembled together when Christ uttered the words "go ye into all the world and preach..." He then holds the view that every other minister or apostle, other than the original eleven, all received special and particular commissions, rather than simply being called to fulfill the original commission. But, I will address this line of argument later also.
As far as "every candid child of God" being able to see the Hardshell interpretation of Christ's words in the commission, that will be shown to be a false charge, for the case is just the opposite, for "every candid" and honest student of the words of Christ will see that the duties connected with the great commission are not fulfilled and are yet binding upon all the disciples, to one degree or another, and not only upon eleven disciples!
"We come thirdly to notice the command, Go ye - not send others; this would certainly be an awful perversion of the word of God. Who does not know the sense of language better than to ignorantly fall into so fatal a blunder? Go ye, i.e., yourselves, those to whom our Lord addressed the command, into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature. The extent of the divine command is not to be restricted for want of funds..."
"But this command not only designates the men, and points out to them the field of their labor, but it directs them what to do: preach the gospel. There is no authority here given to play off seminary airs, read notes or beg money, for after all these things do the Gentiles seek, but preach the gospel. The term gospel means now precisely what it always did...In short, they taught the disciples to observe all things whatsoever Christ had commanded, and to let any and every man or angel be accursed who should preach any other gospel."
Beebe's statement that the "eleven apostles taught the disciples to observe all things whatsoever Christ had commanded" goes against him, as I will show shortly. Notice that Beebe says that "preaching the gospel" includes "teaching disciples to observe" the commands given to the apostles.
But, he writes further, in his conclusion, saying:
"In conclusion, we were to note some few plain inferences. 1st. As all the power in heaven and in earth was indispensably involved in qualifying the great Redeemer for the work of calling, qualifying, sending forth and sustaining the ministers of the gospel; there are, and can be none of his ministers on earth at this day but what are so called, qualified, sustained, &c., and consequently all such as do arrogantly assume this work, and pretend to call, qualify or send forth ministers, or to do any part of this work, are anti-christ. Second, Inasmuch as Christ has all power, he can, and does call into the ministry whomsoever he pleaseth, independently of all the schemes of men. If, therefore, he has occasion for learned men, the learned are at his command; and the only reason why the church has not a more plentiful supply of faithful and talented ministers, is not occasioned by bankruptcy on his part, but is simply because he has not seen fit at present to call them to the work. Again, as the work is wholly his own, he is as able to raise up the natives of Burmah, Hindostan, or the Indians of our woods, as any of those whom human wisdom might suggest."
What Elder Beebe says about the use of theological schools to train and "qualify" men to preach and teach disciples will be addressed when I get to the question of Ministerial Education, but I want to respond now to what Elder Beebe says about the "Lord not sending" or "calling" any learned men into the ministry. Does he not put the blame on the Lord? Does he not say that the reason why the Primitive Baptist clergy is unlearned and uneducated is because the Lord does not want any who are such?
I said earlier in this writing that the atmosphere in the Hardshell Baptist cult is one that scandolizes education and a learned ministry. A man is not judged a "good" or "called" or "qualified" man to teach and preach unless he can show himself ignorant!
The Hardshells have glorified ignorance and there is much more evidence to prove this that can and will be given. He calls any person who helps train preachers and teachers as being "anti-christ"!
He then attacks again the "peddling of tracts," as though it was wrong to pass out biblical literature! But, Elder Beebe and his brethren did not live up to their own standard for he and they began an immense publication crusade in writing diatribes against the anti Christian practice of spreading the gospel!
Elder Beebe writes further:
"As this commission was addressed to none but such as were designated by our Lord, and can apply to none others without manifest violation of its proper sense or meaning, it is insulting to the divine majesty for us to so far abuse its meaning as to apply it to the peddling of tracts, and the promulgation of error, or the building up of the various inventions of men or devils, whether they be called benevolent or otherwise."
It is unbelievable that Elder Beebe would say that the "commission was addressed to none but such as were designated by our Lord, and can apply to none others without manifest violation of its proper sense or meaning..."
This statement is absurd and I fully intend to overthrow it in this series of articles on the "Great Commission." But, I will just say this much, just now; by this line of argument, Matthias, Paul, and even Thomas perhaps, were all excluded from this commission, for they were not part of the "eleven" to whom Christ gave the original commission! Were they, as Elder Beebe affirmed, all given different commissions? But, I will expound upon this rebuttal argument in upcoming chapters in this series. I will say this, however - It is a rather manifest violation of the words of the great commission to restrict them to just the original eleven!
But, Elder Beebe continues:
"As the command plainly expresses what those unto whom a divine application of it is made are to do, there can be no place found in the sense of this, or any other bible arrant, for building or sustaining of theological institutions for that purpose of teaching such as are so called what their Lord and Master would have them do. As their calling is of God - and the King's business always requires haste - it would amount ot rebellion, if not treason, for any one of his called ministers to spend any time to learn, in any humanly contrived school, how or what to preach in his name. We are unavoidably driven to the conclusion, that no minister of Jesus Christ ever has or will be detained any longer in such a place than he could be in the belly of hell." ("The Gospel Commission," NEW VERNON, N. Y., July 22, 1835)
It is again unbelievable that Elder Beebe would argue against theological training because the work is "urgent" and therefore the called minister ought to just go preach immediately! This "argument" would have some "teeth" in it if it were backed up by a history of Hardshell "urgency" as regards preaching! But, the fact is, such is not the case at all.
This "argument" does not seem to "hold good," however, with Paul, for immediately after he was converted and called to preach, he went and spent three years in solitude in Arabia! Looks like the Lord thought he needed three years of training in the desert before sending him off to preach! (See Galatians 1: 16-18)
In concluding this first article in this series, I will first ask this most important (compound) question of every Hardshell who may either read or respond to what I am here writing - "What duties, in the Great Commission, do you believe are now forbidden or wrong for any Christian to do? And, "why are those duties now wrong?"
"Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28: 16-20 NIV)
"Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16: 14-16 NIV)
Here are the things that Jesus commanded the "eleven" to do, in the above accounts of Matthew and Mark.
1. Go everywhere and announce the gospel to everyone
2. Disciple all nations in the truths of the gospel
3. Preach remission of sins to everyone in the name of Christ
4. Preach repentance to everyone in the name of Christ
5. Tell everyone that those who believe the gospel will be saved and those who believe not will be condemned.
6. Baptize all those who believe and repent, every disciple, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
7. Teach believers and disciples to obey every command I give to you.
Now, which of these duties are Christians exempt from doing today? Will the Hardshells tell us? Which one do they not do? Which one of these "commands" was only for the original eleven? Which ones were the eleven not to teach others to do?
To prove "right from the very start" that it is the duty of all Christians to do what they can, providentially, to fulfill all the commands in the Great Commission, I can do no better than to emphasize and point to the very words of Christ as given in the Commission.
"Teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you."
The Hardshell must twist the verse to say and mean - "Teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you, EXCEPT for this very command to go and to preach and to teach the gospel to every creature."
Did Jesus command the eleven to "go everywhere" and preach? Did Jesus tell the eleven to teach others to observe this command? or was it excluded? The Hardshells say no! They do not teach disciples to observe this first directive! No Christian is under obligation to go! Did Jesus command the eleven to teach, disciple, and baptize? Did they teach their disciples to do the same?
Did the Lord command Peter to "go"? Did the Lord tell Peter to teach other disciples to observe the same command to "go"? Well, no, not according to Hardshellism. They believe that Peter was not to teach other disciples to "0bserve" the same command to "go"! Isn't their blindness amazing?
The Elders who wrote the "Pitt's Resolution" said further:
"It was recommended and urged that the commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel was given to the church. It has been the position of the Primitive Baptists that the commission was given to the ministers. If the command had been given to the church she would have been told to send her preachers into all the world. As it was not said to the apostles to send into the world but to go, we have always held that the commission was given to the ministry. That the minister must have the sanction of the church is not disputed. The church ordains the minister to administer the ordinances, and approves of the call made by the Lord, but that call to preach he receives from the Lord alone, and the church can only sanction the gift she sees the Lord has bestowed. But the commission to go and preach is one thing, and an approval or sanction of that commission is quite another. This has been the bone of contention between the Missionary or New School Baptists and the Primitive Baptists. We here quote the following statement from the Throgmorton-Potter Debate, as made by Elder Lemuel Potter in his first speech on the affirmative of his question: "I object to it (the foreign missionary work) on another ground. I do not believe it is warranted in God's word. Because in order to find even a shadow of authority for it in the Scriptures its advocates say that the great commission was given to the church, instead of to the apostles and ministers. Remember, the position that I am here to prove is that the Missionary Baptists believe that doctrine, and that the advocates of modern missions say that the great commission was given to the church, instead of to the apostles and ministers."
)"A Loving Appeal to the Primitive Baptists" By Elder John R. Daily
Elder Daily was a 2nd and 3rd generation Hardshell. He differs slightly from Elder Beebe in that he believes the great commission was not given to the apostles alone, but to every minister in every age, and this is truly the leading view of the first Hardshells, and the view that has "held sway" since that time, although more and more neo-Hardshells are going back and adopting the view of Elder Beebe.
Recently my father had a written debate with Thomas N. Thrasher of the "Church of Christ" on the subject of the "Great Commission." In that debate, dad argued just as Elder Beebe and the men who signed the "Pitt's resolution."
I will address all these points in the remainder of articles on the "Great Commission." It is hoped that this chapter at least helps clarify the points of debate, the crux of the matter in dispute.
Chpt. 67 - The Great Commission II
Did each of "the eleven" personally "go into all the world"? Or, did each of "the eleven" go into a different direction and part of the world? Did their separate and independent goings into different parts of the world fulfill the great command? Or, did the command necessitate that each one of them personally go into all parts of the world? If the former is the answer given (dad gave this answer when I asked him), then how does this "jive with" their strict views on who is to do the "going" and where each are to go?
One might think this is not an important issue, but it becomes such in light of the argumentation and twisting of the words of the "Great Commission" done by the Hardshells (see previous chapter), who insist that the command to "go" was made to "the eleven" and that no one else is included. Further, such argumentation has further forced them to argue that what was said to the eleven apostles were said to them individually.
Did he say this to "the eleven" as a group or as individuals?
Obviously, "the eleven" did not interpret his words to mean that they must stay together as a group, and as a group travel into all the world.
History, both inspired and not, shows that no single apostle went into all the parts of the world. Yes, together, they did go into all the then known civilized world, the world of the Roman Empire, but this was fulfilled by one apostle going to one part of the world and another into another part.
It is also to be observed that Christ did not tell each of the eleven into which parts of the world each of them would personally go. He surely did lead them in their minds and in their deliberations about their fulfilling of the work, but he gave no such specific instructions in the general words to the group of eleven.
It is more than just probable that "the eleven" (at least) discussed among themselves how they might fulfill this command.
Certainly they had the later added instruction from the Lord, in Acts chapter one, just prior to his Ascension, "after forty days," wherein he gave them a more specific missionary plan for the fulfilling of the general command. He said to them -
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1: 8 KJV)
I will discuss, in this series, whether the post-resurrection appearances to the disciples, were made strictly to the apostles, and whether the several commissions he gave for the spreading of the gospel were made solely to the small apostolic group of eleven, or whether they were made to several groups of disciples. But, for the present time, it will be noted, from the above passage, how the "witnesses" were the same in number with those who would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, on the Day of Pentecost, and be empowered to witness, and this was the entire "one hundred twenty" who were in the upper room with the apostles. As one reads the story of the Book of Acts, from Pentecost, it is obvious that those who "went out everywhere" to witness to the gospel were more than just the eleven apostles. So, the argument of the Hardshells that restricts the fulfilling of the "Great Commission" to only the eleven, is false. But, as I said, I will enlarge upon this later in this series.
"It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also." (Acts 12: 1-3 NIV)
The apostle James was one of the original eleven who was told to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." He did not personally do this. In the context of Acts 12, the gospel was just in its second and third stages, of having gone into Samaria and into Judea, but not yet "unto the uttermost parts of the earth."
Thus, if the Lord only spoke to the eleven apostles as individuals, then it could only be "fulfilled" by them as individuals, and not collectively as a group, and thus the death of James presents a serious problem for the Hardshell paradigm on the "Great Commission." If the Hardshells argue that the "Great Commission" is fulfilled, then they must admit that it was fulfilled without each one of them individually doing exactly as he said.
So, two reasons have been given to show that the "Great Commission" was given to "the eleven" (and others, as I shall show) as a group, and not as strictly individuals.
First, each did not "go" into all the parts of the world! James did not even go into any "uttermost part."
Secondly, history confirms scripture in showing that no single apostle went personally into all the parts of the world.
Other arguments also show that the "Great Commission" was given to the eleven and to others as well, and all as a group, and these will be enlarged upon in this series, as I said, howbeit not in this chapter. For now let me simply state, in brief, those other arguments.
Third, the "signs" that were to follow "those who believe," and the apostles who were admittedly under the "Great Commission," were said to belong to them as a class of people, or as a group. But, more on this in this series.
Fourth, Matthias and Paul, and many others, clearly were under this same "Great Commission," as the Book of Acts especially evidences.
As one looks at a sampling of what has been written by the Hardshells on the topic of the "Great Commission," since the days of Beebe and the "Black Rock Address," it will be obvious that the "doctrinal argumentation" has had one clear practical objective, although it is not always honestly acknowledged by many Hardshell apologists, and that is to give a "defense" and "apologetic" against the charge of being against "spreading the gospel," and of being against "preaching the gospel to every creature," and against "missions" and "missionaries," and against nearly every method of telling others about Jesus.
It is as if the Hardshell denomination has been "on trial" ever since they declared non-fellowship for all Baptists who believed they were under obligation to "preach and teach the gospel to every creature." It is as if they have been trying to come up with the "best case" in the court of Christian public opinion, for why they do not do as Jesus commanded in the "Great Commission."
It is as I said in the previous chapter - "what precisely is it in the "Great Commission" that is no longer something Christians ought to be doing?" Obviously too, as has been shown, and will be more fully shown in the rest of the chapters in this series, after two hundreds of years of trying, as "doctors of the law (scripture)" trying to figure out the "best defense" for why they do not believe in obeying the commandments of Christ as given in the Great Commission, their "excuses" and "cases for non-compliance" are very weak indeed!
So, in the remainder of this chapter I will be citing some lengthy interrogations of the attorneys from the famous "Trial of Mt. Carmel Old School Baptist Church" of Luray, Virginia. The case was tried in Luray, Virginia, 1909. According to the records of the court, the following were involved as either complainants or as defendants.
WITNESSES FOR COMPLAINANTS - Elder E. H. Burnam, Elder John Huff, Elder J. B. McInturff, Elder Wm. Huff, Elder W. T. Pence, Elder J. L. Paris, W. F. Keyser, Herbert Barbee, Mrs. May S. Thompson, Mrs. Laura C. Perry.
WITNESSES FOR DEFENDANTS - Elder T. S. Dalton, Elder C. H. Waters, Elder R. H. Pittman, Elder J. R. Daily, J. W. Grove, J. B. Compton, I. C. Bumgardner, Mrs. J. K. Booten, John H. Booten, Mrs. Mary A. Miller, M. V. Gander, Rev. H. M. Strickler, Dr. J. F. Long, E. T. Brumback, D. H. Gander, E. L. Yates, J. B. Ruffner, W. E. Grayson, T. R. Campbell, A. M. Hite, David Spitler,C. J. Mauck, John W. Long, B. F. Coffman, Isaac Spitler, J. B. Aleshire, F. H. Tharp, F. W. Weaver, Milton Moyer, Martin Strickler, V. H. Ford.
THE DECISION - The Judge’s decision was in favor of the Defendants. An appeal was contemplated, and notice of same entered, but the case was never taken to a higher court.
I will be citing quite a bit from this trial, as it is a famous one, and occurring at a critical time in the history of the Primitive Baptist denomination, and one in which a number of leading figures in the Hardshell church took a part. I wish to cite from several Hardshells, both elders and laymen, to show just how opposed they are to obeying the command to go into all the world and preach to every creature.
I will begin with some excerpts from the questioning of Elder R. H. Pittman, who's credentials are widely recognized and accepted among the Hardshells.
Q. You preach the gospel, don’t you?
A. I try to.
Is this not amazing? Is it not the "pretended humility" that I have mentioned in earlier chapters as characteristic of this cult? I "try" to preach the gospel? Does he not know whether he does or not?
I think he has the idea that the question involves him judging himself on whether or not he is called or gifted to preach, and shows that he has this idea that no one can tell another person about the gospel except ordained ministers of the gospel and then only when they are blessed with "preaching grace."
Q. You believe that anybody can preach the gospel, don’t you, ordained or not ordained?
A. I don’t believe that it is the duty of all men to preach the gospel.
Can you believe that a man who claims to be a believer of the Bible and a minister of the gospel, and a Baptist, can say such things? I am sure that nearly everyone outside of this cult will find Elder Pittman's remarks truly amazing and bewildering.
Q. But the right, isn’t it?
A. No; I believe it is the duty of some men to preach the gospel.
This all seems such a contradiction to the historic plea of the Hardshells who have so regularly and loudly decried a "professional clergy," and "priestcraft"! More irony! No one can preach or tell the simple gospel story to another but an ordained clergy? Then, how in the name of reason, can unordained Christian parents teach the gospel to their children? To get the "gospel" one must go to an ordained Hardshell preacher! No other one can preach it to you!Q. Is there any reason then why good women should not preach the gospel to little children, gathered together for that purpose, on the Sabbath or any other day?
A. The Apostle says, “I suffer not a woman to teach or to usurp authority.”
Q. Then you draw the line---
A. And therefore we today in our churches take the position of the Apostle, and do not suffer women to become teachers in spiritual things.
Q. You are drawing the line then between male and female teachers of Sunday Schools, is that what you mean?
A. Teaching entirely and altogether.
This is unbelievable! A Christian woman cannot teach anyone anything about spiritual truths! But, I will enlarge upon this later in this series.
Q. Suppose the case of a child without a parent---and there are many of them---who have no means of knowing the gospel, do you think it would be a sin, or an antagonism to the Calvinistic doctrine of the Baptist Church for good women to teach such bereft children?
A. I think, sir, in the days of the Apostles, there were perhaps, according to the population, as many children without parents as there are today, and if the Lord and His Apostles had thought it necessary for a Sabbath School, or any other school of that kind, to be established in the church, they would have established it.
Q. Do you think that the teaching of a Sabbath School on Sunday or any other day to children by good men the doctrine of the Baptist Church as laid down in the deed of 1849, would be contrary to that doctrine?
A. It would be contrary to the New Testament.
These Hardshells are not going to preach the gospel except under the most rigid rules! All these citations just prove how much opposed they are to preaching the gospel to every creature!
Q. Well, sir, missionaries that go to preach the gospel, do you know who God sends and who he does not send?
A. No; I don’t know.
Again, it is unbelievable that a man who professes to be a preacher of the gospel does not even know how to recognize one!Q. How can you judge then between a man who is sent by God and one who is not sent by God?
A. I judge this way, in my own mind, one who is sent by God is willing to trust God in his going and don’t wait to go until the money is raised by his friends here to pay his way.
That is Pittman's and the Hardshell's rule for judging whether a man is called to preach the gospel, and who's heart is burdened to take it to a destitute people? But, again I will enlarge upon this later in this series.
Q. How do you know any of them wait until the money is raised by his friends?
A. I think the evidence I have submitted here today by Fuller brings out the fact that Carey waited until he got a promise from those who were at home, not to let the rope go while they lived.
I will also be enlarging upon this point in this series. This is just a bunch of nonsense. If the Hardshells lived up to their own standards, one might take them seriously, but the sad fact is, very few of them have had the kind of faith to pick up and go "without money" and without a paid ticket!
Q. Y ou have spoken of Mr. Carey: How many hundred thousands of men are there who have been for many years and are now preaching the gospel in foreign parts and in this land and in these mountains here?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Do you believe that those men, Mr. Pittman, would leave their homes and sacrifice all their comforts and their ambitions and their expectations of worldly happiness and go and preach the gospel in foreign parts and in the mountains of this country, unless they believed they were called of God to do so?
A. I am free to say that I believe many of them are God’s servants. At the same time I desire to say that I believe they are in error, and instead of showing faith in God, they show lack of faith in him, from the very fact that people who believe in no God and who believe in no doctrine will go to the same extremes of personal trials and sacrifices for worldly attainments and honors. For instance, how many thousand people have lost their lives in trying to reach the North Pole.
Yes, but those people who risk all to go to the North Pole did not go naked and without food, clothes, gear of all kinds, and provisions! Oh the hypocrisy here in Pittman's testimony! When one of his preaching brothers leaves home to go to another location to preach, and without a promise of help from his brothers at home, then he is "trusting in the Lord," and showing that he is truly called to preach, but when a Missionary does far much more in the way of sacrifice, to take the gospel to a place further away, and to a place where Christ is not known, then he does it selfishly and with no better motives than explorers!
Q. Now tell me, sir, which it is you think is a denial of, and inconsistent with, the doctrine of the deed of 1849, the persons going to preach the gospel or the contribution of money to send them there, which?
A. As I have before stated, believing that God sends his people to preach his truth, he is their guide, has promised to be with them even to the end of the world, that they manifest faith in him in going whether the money is forthcoming or not, and that they show forth a lack of faith in him in not going without the money is produced before they leave.
Q. Well, I will ask you this, as to whether the instruction of children in the Bible outside of a church building is incompatible with the deed of 1849?
A. In organized Sunday schools.
Q. In Monday schools or Tuesday schools?
A. And Sunday schools?
Q. Leave out Sunday schools. On Monday and Tuesday?
A. Anybody have such a school as that?
Q. I ask you that question?
A. I don’t know. Organize some and I will give you my views.
Q. You don’t know whether the instruction of children on Monday in the Bible in classes in incompatible with the deed or not; do you?
A. I would say this, that I understand and believe that catechetical instruction in Sunday schools would be incompatible with the deed, from the fact that I believe that those people who worshipped in Mount Carmel church for forty years after the deed was written were the best construers of the meaning of that doctrine.
Q. Well, now then; you object to the word Sunday school don’t you---isn’t that your main objection to these classes, the word Sunday school?
A. I object to Sunday schools; and I have reason to object to what I personally know has been taught in Sunday schools, from personal attendance upon Sunday schools.
Q. Now I will ask you this question: Can you conceive in your mind of a Sunday school conducted on right principles?
A. I could not, taking the New Testament as a basis of my doctrine and practices.
These people are simply not going to teach and preach the gospel except in their singular straight-laced manner! They are going to oppose all teaching of the bible in classes on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.!
Q. Now I want to read you from Zion’s Advocate, published in 1877, an editorial written at the time Elder John Clark was editor, on the first page, August 1, 1877. Elder John Clark says there, in this editorial :
“As to a ‘Sunday School,’ there can be no reasonable objection to it on account of the day. One man esteemeth one day above another, and another esteemeth every day alike, and the difference was a matter of no vital importance. With us, the objection is not to the day, or to the school for children, but to what is taught in the Sunday Schools of this day and generation.”
Do your views now coincide with Elder John Clark who you dote on as being a follower of him. Do your views coincide with him on that point?
Q. In what respect do they not?
A. I have just told you in regard to the teaching, I agree with him about what is taught in the Sunday schools.
Q. You don’t believe in Sunday schools at all, under any consideration, do you?
A. I told you that that was one objection which Elder Clark objects to.
Q. I want to ask you---
A. If Elder John Clark meant there that he advocated the establishment of Sunday schools, I cannot understand why he didn’t establish them in his own churches.
Q. Then you don’t believe with Elder Clark in that view?
A. Not entirely, if that is what he believes.
Q. Well, Mr. Pittman, you don’t believe in Sunday schools at all do you?
A. Not as they are organized, and taught and practiced at the present time among the people whom I have had opportunity to mingle with and that have Sunday schools.
Q. Do you believe in a Sunday school taught as you would teach one yourself?
A. I think, sir, as the Sunday school was first organized by Robert Raikes and the purpose for which it was organized, as he states himself, to teach ignorant children their letters and how to read---
Q. How to read the Bible?
A. How to read the Bible as well as other books, and other books as well as the Bible---that there was no one in the Baptist denomination at that time objected to them on that ground, but when they became seemingly engines of priest craft, each denomination vying with the other to bring children under their influence and church government, and further, teaching doctrines that seem to be Arminianism in opposition to Calvinism, I think the Baptists, a great portion of them, objected to the Sunday schools from then on, and have always done so.
Q. Now Mr. Pittman, I will ask you one more question on this. Do you think that the article here as written by Elder Clark, the portion I have quoted, is incompatible with the doctrine as laid down in the deed of 1849?
A. I would say so---if he intends there to say that he would advocate organizing Sunday schools among the Baptist churches, I would say it is incompatible with the doctrine of that deed.
Q. Mount Carmel has no prayer meeting, has she?
A. I don’t think what you might call a regular prayer meeting.
Q. Would you undertake to say they don’t believe in prayer meetings?
A. No, indeed. We have been discussing frequently the possibility of having prayer meetings, not only at the church but at our own homes, from one time to another.
Q. I am glad to see you coming our way?
A. No; it isn’t your way. We were there before you came.
Q. Then if your church here believes in prayer meetings and does not have them, isn’t it just as reasonable to believe that Elder Clark believed in Sunday schools, and yet didn’t have them in his church?
A. No; I don’t think that’s reasonable, , from the fact that Sunday schools had been non-fellowshipped by the Old School Baptists, as plainly brought out in the evidence, in the Black Rock convention, which Elder John Clark stood upon.
Anyone with one eye can see that the attorney here had Elder Pittman in the "hot seat" on the question of his "historical example" argumentation. One can believe in something and yet not practice it!
Elder Pittman thinks what the attorney says is "not reasonable," but it clearly is so. Many Hardshell churches do not regularly practice "prayer meetings," but they are not opposed to them! So, Elder Clark also was not opposed to Sunday Schools, though he did not practice them. But more on this in chapters dealing with Sunday Schools, bible classes, and the "Black Rock Address."
Q. Do you believe in Bible classes in Old School Baptist churches?
A. I have never attended what you might call a Bible class, perhaps.
Q. Mr. Pittman, you are a Missionary Baptist of some sort, aren’t you?
A. Well, suppose you state the sort.
Q. On Bible plans?
A. I think, sir, that I advocate preaching the gospel for the purposes laid down in the Bible.
Now Elder Pittman, do you endorse the portion of the article that I have just read?
A. I understand the reference there is to what was taught those benighted heathen, taught to read, that they might read the Bible. I think that is all right, if it is properly conducted, according to the plans of the New Testament; whether that was done, I don’t know. Elder Dalton knew the circumstances better than I, and I would not say that I fully endorse any position unless I was competent to understand the circumstances.
"If properly conducted"? He really does not believe you can properly conduct a bible class! He really believes you cannot properly teach the bible in a class! How do I know that? One, from his previous answers. Second, from the fact that he and the Hardshells have never shown the Christian world how to do it "properly" and "on the plan of the bible"! Truly, the "legs of the lame are not equal" here!
Q. Now if I understand you, then you are a missionary Baptist, if missions are conducted in a proper manner; is that right?
A. I would say this, that our position---and when I say our position, I mean the position of the Old School Baptists, so far as I am able to understand, and especially the people with whom I am identified---take a view of the missionary question something like this: When Christ in the commission, so-called commission, says “Go,” we believe in going; and when He says “preach,” we believe in preaching; and when He says the gospel, we believe ill preaching the gospel, and at the same time we further believe that Christ set an example, by sending his own apostles and disciples to preach, of how to go, telling them how to go, telling them not to take script and purse, but go alone depending “upon me;” that the laborer is worthy of his hire...
I will be dealing with this hypocrisy and sophistry further in this series but will call attention just now how Elder Pittman does not have any problem putting missionaries and gospel preachers under the commission given to the seventy, which commission is truly fulfilled and abolished, the commision given after Christ's resurrection now superseding it! But, more on this point later in this series.
Q. Well, Mr. Pittman, when I ask you if you believe in missions on the Bible plan, can’t you answer that question yes or no?
A. I don’t believe the word “mission” is used in the New Testament.
Obstinate! Hard-headed! Stubborn! Opposed to preaching the gospel, though pretending otherwise!
Q. Well, I will change it this way: Are you a missionary or do you believe in missionaries on the Bible plan?
A. Suppose you also define what you believe the Bible plan is.
Q. No; can’t you answer my question yes or no.
Oh how squirmy and wormy these Hardshells can get when hard-pressed on this matter of preaching and teaching the gospel to every creature! They cannot give you a simple yes and no to themost simplest questions of the bible! And, of this, we shall see more shortly, from other Hardshell witnesses!
Q. I will ask you, Mr. Pittman, this question: Do you believe in missionaries on any plan at all?
A. Just read my answer to that question.
Q. It is not necessary to read that. You adopt your previous answer as an answer to this question?
A. Yes sir. I will further say in enlarging that answer---
Q. Well, its pretty large now; but if you want to enlarge it?
One can only chuckle in a spiritual way at all this! It would be truly "funny" if it were not serious!
A. You seem to want it large. I will further say in enlarging that answer that inasmuch as there is no organization of any kind in the New Testament by Christ and the apostles, except the direct sending of ministers of Jesus by Him alone, and the support of those ministers by those to whom they preach, we today are not favorable to any other plan or organization.
Laughable! No, no, Elder Pittman! The attorney just wants a simple yes or no! He does not want a sermon! He does not want it large!
Q. Now when Paul was preaching to the Corinthians wasn’t he supplied by other churches?
A. I think that to understand this there is an explanation needful. For instance, Paul says he robbed other churches. I don’t believe you would contend he robbed other churches in the sense we look upon the word rob.Q. No; but don’t you think the other churches supplied him with means?
>A. I think that it is possible that they did; and that it is also possible that the Apostle wanted to bring out the fact especially that he did not want to be a burden to them, as it goes on further and says, in opposition to, or rather, condemning the practice of other preachers who were making themselves a charge to these people. He wanted to be without charge to them; and I think perhaps in this same connection, you will find that he labored with his own hands that he might not be a burden.
Q. He did; but the fact remains, nevertheless, very prominently there, that other churches contributed towards his expenses when he was preaching to these Corinthians?
A. I think so, I think that is an exception to the rule.
Q. But there is one Bible exception then that we can tie to anyway; isn’t that true?
A. I think you can tie to the exception.
Pittman has admitted all! He has admitted that other churches supplied Paul with funds while he was a missionary preaching to the Corinthians!
Q. Then Mr. Pittman, you will not answer this question, or cannot answer this question, when I ask you if you are a Missionary Baptist in any sense of the word, by yes or no?
A. I have before stated, and as plain as I could, that I did not believe the word “mission” or “missionary” is used in the New Testament; but that we Old School Baptists today preach and claim to be sent of the Lord for that purpose, and are willing to depend upon Him for our support. Personally, I will say this, that when I moved to Virginia in order to serve churches that I am now serving, I was engaged in business, as well as serving one church in town, that business of a secular nature paying me between $1200 and $1500 a year; and that I came to this country without any guarantee or any promise of any ministerial support, but feeling a desire to preach the truth as I believed the truth and believing there was a field for that purpose here for me, I felt disposed to come trusting the Lord for my maintenance among the people with whom I labored. This I believe is my definition, as you might say, of missionary work.
Questioning of Elder Dalton
Q. I believe those depositions refer to you in several places. Please state whether or not Mr. Burnam has correctly quoted you or interpreted your view.
A. Mr. Burnam did not undertake to quote me, but simply made a statement in which he said that he and I stood together on the mission question at one time; that’s as far as he quoted me.
Q. Well, is it a fact that you and Mr. Burnam stood together on the mission question; and if it is a fact, how did you stand with reference to missions?
A. I really thought we did at one time.
Q. Well, please explain what you mean, giving your version of the agreement?
A. I simply mean this, that Elder Burnam once stood with the Old School Baptists, and his doctrine and his practice were endorsed by the Old School Baptists, as far as my knowledge extended; and if at that time, he held any views contrary to what the Old School Baptists believe generally, none of us knew it.
Q. Are his views now different from what his views were years ago?
A. I cannot say positively, because I have not heard him, but from his writings, I think they are. I will say they are.
Q. Have you any---
A. I would like here, Mr. Downing, if you please, as he has stated that he and I stood together on the mission question along about 1883, to read a little article that I wrote on that subject, and if Elder Burnam still stands there, there is no need of this division.
Q. Well, you have a right to read that.
A. If he is still there, there is no need of this law suit, and no need of the trouble.
Mr. Keyser: What is the date of that article?
The Witness: This article was in 1883, February 15th, published in the Herald of Truth, at the time I was editor of it, and published in Union City, Tennessee.
“One of the strongest features connected with it all, is, they never seem to notice what the Bible says upon the subject of giving, ‘Let him that is taught, communicate to him that teaches, in all good thing.’ They seem to have gotten the thing backwards; they want the people here in this country to communicate in order that they may teach someone away in some foreign country; those preachers in China or Burma and other foreign countries are not teaching the people here; then the Bible no where requires that the people here, should communicate to them there; but it does require that those who are taught here, should communicate to those who teach here, and those who are taught there, should communicate to those who teach there, this is the Bible rule.”
Now if he stands with that on missionism, then we are together yet.
Q. I will ask you another question: Do you believe in preaching repentance to those who are dead in sin?
A. Now then, it would take me an hour to answer that question; but if you want a sermon, Will, you can get it.
Again, your typical Hardshell answer to a simple question! He needs an hour's sermon to answer it! Typical of heretics.
Q. I merely ask you if you are opposed to preaching repentance to those who are dead in sin?
A. I will say that there are two ways I would have to answer that question.
Q. You can answer that question, if it takes you from now until tomorrow morning; I have no objection?
A. I will answer it this way, first, Will: The Bible teaches me, in the last chapter of Luke, 24th chapter of Luke it says:
“Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day. “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. “And ye are witnesses of these things.”
We believe as a people, in carrying out the mission of the Saviour, Go into all the world, and we go. We do not wait to be sent; and when we go we preach repentance to everybody that will listen to us; but we preach it in the name of Jesus Christ; and we claim that Jesus is exalted, a Prince and a saviour, to give repentance to the sinner and the forgiveness of sins; and we claim this, that a Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of. It is not an act of man; it is the product of the divine Spirit of God that produces that sorrow in the sinner’s heart that turns him away from sin, and hence it is repentance to salvation not to be repented of. But the sorrow of the world, as Paul says, worketh death. Now you understand what we understand in preaching the gospel to every creature. Wherever God, in his providence, casts our lot we preach, but we preach in the name of Christ, and none of it in the name of the sinner, and leave the event of it to God.
So, blame it all on God! Why have the Hardshells not sent out a single missionary? Why have none of their preachers gone on their own, "without money," to a foreign land? Well, it is because the Lord did not put it on the heart of any of them! It's God's fault for not burdening the hearts of the Hardshell preachers! It's God's fault for not providing miraculous means for them to do so!
Q. But you believe in preaching the gospel then to those outside of God’s church?
A. I do, Will, as strong as anybody in the church.
Q. You believe in the spread of the gospel?
A. I don’t know that you can spread it. It is a kind that won’t spread.
What an answer! Elder Dalton is just trying to be cute and funny about an issue that is serious! He simply, like his Hardshell brothers, do not see the seriously of their obligation to tell others the good news!
Q. But you believe in preaching the gospel everywhere?
A. I certainly do.
Q. At home and abroad?
A. I certainly do.
But, the fact is, the history of the Hardshells shows that they only talk the talk of a missionary, of a spreader and promoter of the gospel! They do not "practice what they preach," nor "walk the walk"! The question is obvious - "why have you not done it? why have you not preached the gospel to every creature?"
Q. To that extent you are a missionary?
A. Yes sir; when God sends a man, I say “Go and preach with all your might.”
Q. Would you help to support one that would go, if he needed support?
A. If he was sent here in my country, I would do my best because God says so. If I was over in Japan I would help there, but I do not believe it is my duty to help him here in order to send him over there.
Q. You would not help send him there?
A. I have no right to do it. My Bible don’t teach me to do it.
Q. You would not help send him there, but you would help him after he got there?
A. I certainly would, if I was over there.
Q. The only difference is this: if you were over there you would help to support him, but being here you would not help to support him?
A. I claim this, Will, that the Bible does not authorize my helping to support a man way off yonder.
Q. That is exactly what I mean?
A. That is what I mean.
Q. Then the only difference in the world is, as to whether you would support that man over there, whether you were living here or living there; isn’t that right?
A. Yes sir; that is about it.
All this needs little commentary. Were I still a Hardshell preacher, I would be ashamed of being identified with such "gospel ministers"! Does all this testimony, thus far, not evince a cultic mentality? Such a deep-seated opposition to "spreading" the gospel?
Q. Don’t you know that you and I are pretty nearly together on the mission question?
A. Well, we ought to be.
Q. With all that you are a pretty good missionary, didn’t you know that? And you are not an anti-mission Baptist are you?
A. No; I don’t like that expression a bit, and none of my brethren are. If you will pick out one, I will help to kill him.
Q. You are a missionary Baptist, too, is that right?
A. Of the Bible order; yes sir.
Q. You also believe in the preaching of God’s word everywhere, don’t you?
A. I certainly do.
Q. At the meeting of the Ebenezer Association held in Mount Carmel church, I believe it was, last August, there is one extract taken from the circular letter, as published in the Page News which reads this way:
“Since we believe it is impossible for the sinner to choose eternal life before he has been created anew by the Holy Spirit, and since this recreation by the spirit is a creation anew to eternal life, and since the employment of a fallible agent would make possible the failure of God’s purpose, we cannot believe that God employs the preached word or any other human agency as a means of salvation.”
I have addressed the absurdity of these Hardshell "man-made" propositions that have no biblical foundation. Does he quote scripture to prove his propositions? Where does the Bible say - "no fallible agent can be employed in a means of salvation without making the purpose of God a failure"? If that proposition is such an integral proposition to biblical truth, where is it in the bible? Also, have I not already overcome this argumentation in earlier chapters?
Notice too the "Pelagianism" in the above words of the great Hardshell debater and apologist! He argues that since no one is able to obey the gospel, therefore, he is not obligated to do so! and he argues that no one therefore can be called upon to be saved, or born again, or converted! Again, where is this stated in the bible?
Do you believe that the preached word employed by God in the sense used here is a human means or a divine means?
A. I think he means there human means, sir.
Q. You think that he means human means?
A. Yes; I think that is the idea he had in view.
Q. What would have been necessary to have made it a divine means?
A. Well sir, I have just said---
Q. How would you have worded it to make the preached gospel a divine means?
A. I would make that the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ himself.
Q. In other words you would add, “when attended by the Holy Spirit” in order to make it a divine means?
A. You will let me answer that in my own way. I will say that where the Spirit of God goes before the preaching and opens the understanding, that which opens the understanding is a divine means and not human; that is the point.
Q. Now I will ask you just one question: Does the Spirit of God ever attend the preached word, or does it always go before it?
A. Well, the Bible very clearly shows, Will, that it goes before, and it is utterly impossible to understand the gospel---the natural man---until the Spirit of God opens his understanding, and that must be before. It is foolishness to him until that. The word preached, as I said just now, quoting from Hebrews, did not profit them---there is no profit in it, not being mixed with faith in them that hear it. The man that hears it must possess faith in order that it be profitable to him to hear the gospel; that is the point. That is Paul’s point.
There are several erroneous points made here, some of which I have addressed in earlier chapters. But, the question of the precise meaning of the terms "divine" versus "human" means, is one that needs much time to address, both from scripture and from the history of the Hardshells. I will therefore address this issue in upcoming chapters. I have also addressed the argumentation of Elder Dalton on the definition of saving faith, and have shown his statements to be utterly false and unscriptural.
Q. You believe in salvation by grace through faith?
>A. I certainly do.
Q. You believe that faith is necessary to salvation?
A. It is the gift of God.
Q. I mean a God given faith?
A. It is a grace implanted by the Spirit of God and is called the divine evidence of things not seen.
Q. You believe that this God given faith is essential to the salvation of God’s people; do you not?
A. Now, Will, that is going to involve a point that I would not like to take the time for; but I will say this, that there is a belief produced through the preaching of the gospel and there is a belief of the sacred truth of God; but that belief which is produced through the preaching of the gospel is not a necessary adjunct in the eternal salvation of the sinner. But there is a faith that is implanted by the Spirit of God in the soul of every man that will ever enter heaven, and no man will ever go to heaven without that divine eternal faith implanted by the Spirit of God.
Q: You believe, Brother Dalton, in two faiths like Elder Dailey, I believe?
A. I do not call it two faiths. I simply call one belief and the other is faith; one is the product of the other.
Q. Now let us take faith: Do you believe that faith is essential or necessary to the salvation of God’s people?
A. That implanted faith?
Q. I don’t care which---it is the only faith I know anything about?
A. The revealed faith in the heart of man---no man will ever go to heaven without that.
Q. Will any child go to heaven without that faith?
A. The Bible teaches that except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, and the word “man” there is used in a generic sense and means everybody, no man will ever go to heaven that is not born of God.
Q. It means the idiot and the lunatic?
A. It means everybody that will go there. God saves the idiot and the infant just like he does you and I.
Q. Mr. Dalton, in reply to a question by Mr. Keyser, I believe I understood you to say that you were a missionary of the Bible order. I wish you would explain just what you mean by that, please sir?
A. I mean, sir, a missionary called by the God of heaven to preach and sent by the power and authority of God of heaven to preach the gospel; and not sent of men or bodies of men, nor churches. That is what I mean.
Q. Are you opposed to churches sending missionaries to foreign lands and supporting them?
A. I am.
Q. Please state whether or not the Old School Baptist church is opposed to that doctrine?
A. If I have rightly understood them; they are.
What testimony from Elder Dalton! We will surely hear more from this great Hardshell apologist in upcoming chapters. But, he surely has revealed himself in this testimony, has he not?
Questioning of layman Grove
Q. Mr. Grove, please state your age, residence and occupation?
A. My age is 64; my occupation is that of merchant; my place of residence is Luray, Virginia.
Q. Are you a member of any religious organization, if so, what; and how long have you been a member?
A. Yes sir; I am a member of Mount Carmel Old School Baptist Church in Luray, and have been for 41 years.
Q. Do you believe in teaching children the scriptures?
A. Yes sir; I believe it is a good book to teach children.
Q. Anybody’s children?
A. I believe it is my duty to try to teach my own children the bible.
Q. Well, would you be so selfish as not to endeavor to teach anybody else’s children?
A. I never have tried that. Never have endeavored to do it.
Q. Would you hesitate to do it, if an opportunity presented?
A. In a Sunday school in a Baptist church; yes.
Q. Do you believe it would be wrong or unscriptural to read and explain the bible to any other person’s child outside of your own anywhere?
A. I don’t know that it would unless I would be intruding myself upon other parents and other children.
Q. Then if you do not believe that it would be improper or unscriptural to read and explain the bible to any person’s children outside of your own, do you think it would make any difference when and where you read and explained the bible?
A. I believe it would make a considerable difference if I were to go to an Old School Baptist church and engage in a Sunday school contrary to the practice---faith and practice---of the Old School Baptists, when they did not have any of that kind of thing when I joined them; that was not their practice and custom when I joined them, I believe it would be wrong for me to do something that would mar the peace and fellowship of that church.
Q. Regardless of what your belief might be?
A. Yes sir; I believe that would be wrong regardless of what my belief might be.
Q. Now I am asking you what is your belief individually in the matter?
A. I believe it would be wrong for me to go and organize a Sunday school in an Old Baptist church, or any other church, with my understanding of scripture.
Q. You believe it would be wrong to organize a bible class in which nothing but the bible itself was used?
A. Yes sir, I do; if it would mar the peace and fellowship of the body to which I belong.
Q. Is the practice of Sunday schools or bible classes incompatible with the doctrine of unconditional and eternal election?
A. Well, according to the common acceptance of the term, the object of Sunday schools, I would say it is incompatible with that doctrine.
Q. In what respect?
A. Because the object of Sunday schools, the main and prime object of Sunday schools, as I understand it, is to feed the church, a nursery to the church, to build up the church, and to retain our children, to keep them from going off to other denominations, which is not trusting the Lord fully as to their salvation.
Q. Mr. Grove, I will ask you the same question that was asked Elder Dalton. You believe in teaching your own children the bible; do you not?
A. I try to teach my children to read the bible. I tell them that frequently.
Q. What is your purpose in trying to teach your children to read the Bible?
A. It is a good rule of life. It is a good, moral code. It teaches them their duty to parents, and their duty to everybody else; and their duties in this life as moral men and women.
Q. And it is also a fact that you teach them that in order to bring them up in the nature and admonition of the Lord.
A. Yes sir; I try to do that. Even outside of the bible, I try to do that.
Q. Now we have plenty fatherless and motherless children in this world, do you believe it is wrong for anybody else to teach them what you teach your children?
A. I cannot see, Mr. Keyser, what relevancy there is to this point in that question at all. We are talking about a Sunday school in an Old Baptist church.
Q. I understand that, Mr. Grove, but I want to get your views on teaching children the scriptures at all anywhere; and I want to then differentiate between that teaching that you believe in and the teaching that we believe in, and see, after all, if there is much difference. Now then the point is this: if here is a fatherless and motherless child, the scripture cannot apply to that child, when it says “Parents, bring your children up in the nature and admonition of the Lord.” Now the point I want to ask you is this: Take that fatherless and motherless child, would it be wrong or improper for any other person to teach that child and to endeavor to bring it up in the nature and admonition of the Lord?
A. As far as I am concerned, I do not feel called upon to bring up that child.
Q. You do not believe that any person ought to extend the same privilege or the same duty to that child that you conceive to be the duty to your own children?
A. I do not believe it to be my duty to bring up another man’s child, in that sense. I see no scripture for it.
Q. Now Mr. Grove, what difference would it make to teaching your child at your home the. scriptures, and teaching your child in the church building the same scriptures. What difference would it make?
A. Well, so far as teaching my own child is concerned, it would not make any difference. I am simply required to teach my own children, bring up my own children, and no one else.
Q. Then if I understand you, after all, the only objection you have to teaching children at any time or at any place, is this: That the bible requires only parents to teach their own children, and you do not think it is right for anybody else to teach those children but the parents?
Q. Do you believe in bible classes in the church?
A. Well, sir, we have never had a bible class in our church to any extent, except that little class you refer to here, which was about 1868.
Q. You would not object to members of your church meeting at your house and reading and discussing the Bible, could you, in the presence of your children, or anyone else’s children?
A. No, sir.
Q. You would not consider that wrong, would you?
A. I would not object to it, or make any fuss about it.
Q. Well, would you consider it wrong?
A. Well, if I didn’t invite them there, I would consider it a little breach of etiquette.
Q. Then if they were to go to the church for the same purpose, would you consider that wrong, necessarily so?
A. I would consider it wrong to have a Sunday school in an Old Baptist church.
Q. Would you consider that a Sunday school, such as I have named?
A. Well, yes, if you would have it on Sunday.
Q. Well, suppose it was on a week night or a week day?
A. Then I would hardly call it a Sunday school.
Q. Then would you object to it, during any week day in the church?
A. No sir; I would not object to meeting at the church---the membership to meet at the church on Wednesday night or Thursday night and study the bible.
Q. In the presence of children who may come there?
A. Wouldn’t keep anybody out that wanted to come in.
Q. Then, after all, it is the day you object to?
A. It is a Sunday school in Old School Baptist churches, we never had them, and it disturbed our peace and union.
Q. Do you believe in any sort of missions or missionaries?
A. I do not exactly approve of the word mission, in any way, or missionism.
Q. You are prejudiced as to the word “missions;” is that right? A. Well, yes, to some extent. On the common acceptation of the term, I may be somewhat prejudiced. But I do not like the mission term, or mission system.
Q. Just as you are prejudiced to the term “Sunday school”?
A. I believe that the Holy Spirit sends out his own missionaries, and that the Lord calls preachers to go to certain places to preach the gospel.
Q. And they are missionaries?
A. When sent by Him, they are.
Q. Now then you believe that those missionaries are called by God to go; do you not?
A. I believe certain of them are called. They are impressed by His Spirit, and they so understand it and so interpret it, and they do go.
Q. And you believe that the Lord or that God also selects the field for those missionaries to go to; do you not?
A. Well, it seems he sent Paul to certain places.
Q. Now you believe that if the Holy Spirit were to send, or to put it in the heart of Brother Dalton to go to China and preach the gospel, you believe that it would be the duty of Brother Dalton to go; do you not?
A. Yes; I believe if he was fully impressed and convinced in his own mind to go anywhere to preach the gospel, he ought to go.
Q. And wouldn’t you encourage Brother Dalton in that?
A. Well, Brother Dalton would have to settle that matter between himself and his God.
Q. Would you render Brother Dalton any assistance along that line to send him?
A. No; I don’t know that I would.
Q. Would you render him any assistance on the field when he got there?
A. I wouldn’t be there.
Q. If he were there and you were here, would you render him any assistance?
A. No sir.
Q. If you were there after he got there, would you render him any assistance?
A. If I appreciated what preached, no doubt I would.
Q. Then to that extent you believe in God-sent missionaries?
A. I believe he sends men.
Q. To foreign lands?
A. I don’t know whether or not.
Q. You just said---
A. I didn’t say to foreign lands.
Q. Well, I asked you a moment ago that if Brother Dalton believed in his heart that God had directed him to go to the Chinese or the Japanese or any foreign land, to preach the gospel, if you believed that Brother Dalton ought to obey that command or that call?
A. Well, Brother Dalton would have to decide that matter himself as his own cause; and he would have to depend upon the Lord to get there.
Q. Well, but suppose Brother Dalton were to tell you he felt impressed that way, wouldn’t you believe he ought to go then?
A. Why, certainly, if I thought he was an honest man. That isn’t saying I ought to help to get him there.
Q. You spoke of Paul going somewhere to preach. Where was that?
A. Well, he went to different places. I don’t remember now.
Q. Wasn’t he helped on the way?
A. Yes; as he went he was helped. I don’t know that he was helped before he started.
Q. But if Brother Dalton were to start to China for that purpose, and you were to meet him on the way, then you would help him, wouldn’t you. You would help him on his way, wouldn’t you?
A. If he were to ask me to help him, I might. If he asked me, I might, and tell me he needed it, and couldn’t depend on the Lord.
Q. Now, Mr. Grove, I hand you a copy of Zion’s Advocate, dated April 15th, 1882, and I ask you to read the last paragraph on page 307, being an editorial headed, “The Relation of Churches and Associations” of which John Clark appears to have been the editor at that time?
A. (Reading:) “But, say some, this is missionary operations. Very well. Are not God’s ministers missionaries? We contend that they are the only true Gospel missionaries on earth. The root of the Word is one sent; and they are sent of God, for, how can they preach except they be sent? and the Church is to pray to Christ to send forth laborers into his harvest. They are not sent of men, neither called nor qualified of men, but of God. Ought not the Churches then to hold up the hands of such, help them on their journey, and contribute to their necessities to enable them to preach to the destitute? Can any among us forbid this? We protest against conceding the copyright to the New School and Arminian societies, to the word missionary. In a Gospel sense, our people have the exclusive right to it. Our doctrine is that God’s ministers are called and qualified of God, and put into the work. That they received it not of men, neither were they taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. And they go depending upon God, to support them through his people; without looking to Mission Boards for their support. The difference is, one class is sent of God, the other of men; and so let each one to his own master stand or fall.”
Q. Now, Mr. Grove, don’t you subscribe to that?
A. I said awhile ago, that I believed the Lord, or the Holy Ghost, did send out men to preach, and He would provide for their support. I say that now, that he would provide for their support.
Q. Then, after all, you believe like Brother Clark that nobody had a better right to the word “Missionary” than the Old School Baptists at that time; that you are Missionary Baptists too, on the gospel plan; isn’t that true---or on the bible plan?
A. Yes sir; we have always believed-that is, we have always practiced home missions to a great extent. On home missions our preachers have been missionaries to a great extent. We had not a greater missionary in our denomination than Elder T. N. Alderton. He traveled throughout the country, in distant places, even where there were no churches, and he was always cared for.
Q. Now, Mr. Grove, the article that you just read in Zion’s Advocate; do you not know that Regular Baptists subscribe to that, and that that is the kind of missions they also believe in?
A. Well, we have never had a foreign missionary, and as I understand, you do. You have them and contribute to their support, foreign missionaries---what we term foreign missionaries in heathen countries. We have never had them that I have ever heard of, and never contributed toward their support. We have our preachers, our home missionaries that travel through this country, where necessary.
Q. Now, I hand you Zion’s Advocate, dated August 1, 1877, the time that Elder John Clark was editor, a part of an editorial on the first page. It is really on page 65, and ask you to read the article marked there with reference to Sunday schools?
A. (Reading:) As to a “Sunday school,” there can be no reasonable objection to it on account of the day. One man esteemeth one day above another, and another esteemeth every day alike, and the difference was a matter of no vital importance. With us, the objection is not to the day, or to the school for children, but to what is taught in the Sunday schools of this day and generation.”
Q. Now then do you subscribe to the doctrine there laid down by Brother John Clarke?
A. No sir; not that.
Q. Now, Mr. Grove, do you believe in God’s ministers preaching the gospel to everybody?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You believe then in preaching to the unconverted; do you not?
A. The command was given to preach the gospel to every creature, not making any distinction, Jew or Gentile, bondman or free, male or female.
Q. Then you believe in preaching the gospel to the dead in trespass and sin; do you not?
A. Yes sir; I believe in preaching indiscriminately to a mixed crowd or congregation.
Q. Then you believe, as I say, in preaching the gospel to the dead in trespasses and sins; isn’t that true?
A. Yes sir; I believe in rightly dividing the word of truth, the law for the ungodly; the promises of the gospel to believers.
Q. What should the preachers methods be to the unconverted or the dead in trespasses and sins?
A. Well, he should preach whatsoever he is commanded, and Jesus says, “Lo, I am with you always; even unto the end of the world.”
Q. Are they not commanded to preach repentance?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Then you believe in preaching repentance to the dead in trespasses and sins; is that right?
A. I believe in preaching repentance to a mixed crowd.
Q. Well, if the crowd is not mixed, would it make any difference?
A. Well, he should preach both law and gospel.
I read some of the above testimony of brother Groves to my dad a few months back, and I asked him after reading it to him - "what kind of preaching and teaching produced this kind of attitude and stubborn opposition to spreading the gospel?" Will anyone want to answer it? Is it not the teaching of men like Pittman and Dalton that produced members like Groves?
Chpt. 68 - The Great Commission III
Hardshells cannot agree among themselves in answering the question - "to whom does the Great Commission apply?" In spite of this, they want to tell everyone else, supposedly with a united voice, who it does not apply to, and how it does not apply to every Christian, and how it does not apply to any missionary sent out by a Baptist church; And, they also argue that IF it did in fact apply to any today, it would and could only apply to the Hardshell ministry!
IF this "Great Commission" does in fact apply to the Hardshell ministry, and to them alone (since the days of the apostles), which is, as I have said, the majority opinion, THEN how can they say THEY fit the description? Has the Hardshell ministry "fulfilled" the "Great Commission"? Even IF we allow their argumentation, which says that "this commission applies to every gospel minister in the Hardshell church," then the question becomes - "has the Hardshell ministry fulfilled the command?" No! And, why not?
First, when Hardshells read the words of the "Great Commission," they interpret it to say - "go ye into those parts of the world and preach the gospel to every creature IF you will feel an impression to go." Further, as their history demonstrates, none of their preachers have done this, at least not, until today, and with the "Bradleyites." But, there will be much more on this in upcoming chapters.
Obviously, none of them "felt burdened to go" beyond the borders of their own country. Thus, IF the "great command" is addressed to the Hardshell ministry, THEN why has not a single one done it? Will they blame it on the Lord and say - "he did not burden any to go"? Like they say he has "not called any more learned Pauls into the ministry?"
So, though the command to the Hardshell ministry is - "go into all the world," none have done so because none have "felt burdened of the Lord" to do so! And, further, the Lord has not mirculously made it possible for any to go! But again, much more on all this later.
So, though the Hardshells may say that the "Great Commission" does apply "secondarily" to the Hardshell ministry, it certainly does not apply to them historically, nor is it descriptive of THEIR actual missionary work! Again, more on this in upcoming chapters.
There is no question that the overwhelming majority of those who accepted the "Black Rock Address," with its opposition to missions and varied other things, were united in their denial that the "Great Commission," as given in Matthew and Mark, was given, in any sense, to the eleven as a group representing the church or disciples in general.
The Hardshells are also all united in saying that the "Great Commission" was given "chiefly to" the "eleven" individual apostles as addressed in Matthew's and Mark's accounts of the giving of the "Great Commission."
In summary, let me list the points upon which Hardshells have not been united in their apologetic statements regarding the "Great Commission."
1) The "Great Commission" was fulfilled by the apostles.
2) The "Great Commission" was given "secondarily" to the Hardshell ministry in all ages.
3) Other apostles besides the eleven were later incorporated into the work of fulfilling the commands in the "Great Commission."
It is very easy to pit one view against another here, in much the same way Paul set the Pharisees against the Sadducees. How is that?
If the arguments of the strict view, like Beebe and dad, are correct, then the "Great Commission" has not in any sense, not even "secondarily," been given to any other minister after the apostles.
Thus, those Hardshells who have argued that the "Great Commission" was given to the ministry, in a "secondary" manner, are all wrong, according to Beebe and dad, and according to all those who promote the "strict view," for it was given to none others but to the eleven.
Thus, if the arguments of the "fulfilled" view are correct, then those Hardshells who say that the "Great Commission" was ALSO given to the ministry, throughout the ages, are incorrect.
The majority view, which says that the "Great Commission," though spoken only to eleven apostles, was not restricted to them, but included every minister who is called to preach, are therefore forced to say, against the "strict view":
1) Your argument on the "signs" being coextensive with the fulfilling of the "Great Commission" is not tenable because that would mean:
A) That it was not given also to the ministry in every age, and we are wrong in saying it has been given to us as ministers, and
B) That no one today is, therefore, preaching in fulfillment of the commission, for the signs follow none of our ministers today, and we cannot be under the "Great Commission," no, not even in a "secondary," or any other sense!
Those who hold to the majority and traditional view (which says that the "Great Commission" was also given to the ministry as a separate entity from the church or general band of disciples, against the view that advocates that it was only given to the eleven apostles, or perhaps to the larger circle of apostles) MUST therefore, if they are honest, decry the arguments put forth to prove the "Great Commission" has been "fulfilled"; For, if their "arguments" are valid, then it cannot refer to the ministry after the fulfillment.
Sadly, I have never read where those who advocate the majority view decry the arguments put forth by men like Beebe and like dad! Are they dishonest? Apparently, yes; For we see those who hold to the majority view actually use the arguments of Beebe and affirm it was indeed fulfilled by the apostles!
Does Colossians 1: 26 teach or not teach, that the "Great Commission" has been "fulfilled"? How can those who hold to the majority view honestly say this seeing they believe they are ministers under it? "Oh consistency, thou art a jewel!"
Those of the majority view should join me in saying to those, like Beebe (who advocate the fulfillment of the "Great Commission") that - "Your argument on the passages cited, in an attempt to prove that the "Great Commision" has been fulfilled, in toto, prove too much, for that would also prove that the ministry is not under the "Great Commission," no, not even in a "secondary" sense"! Will those who hold to the majority view today, who believe that the "Great Commision" was given to the ministry, stand up and decry the argumentation of Beebe and of all those who hold to the strict view? And, will those who advocate both views, out of doctrinal hypocrisy, quit doing so?
I mean, there are many Hardshells who will cite their forefathers, approvingly, where they say the bible teaches that the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled, and THEN also cite their forefathers, again with approval, who say that the ministry IS under it in a "secondary sense"? Do they not see how they are "speaking out of both sides of their mouths"? How they again have the "legs of the lame unequal"?
So, the arguments on 1) the sign gifts, and 2) on the passages that say the "Great Commission" is supposedly "fulfilled," if valid, would prove too much, for it would prove that all the Hardshell forefathers who believed the "Great Commission" was given to the ministry, throughout the age of the church, were all wrong!
So, do you see how one sectarian view on the "Great Commission" has pit one sub sect against another sub sect, as Paul set the Pharisees against the Sadducees?
Why is it that those who believe the "Great Commission" was ALSO given to the ministry not denounce these "arguments," on its supposed "fulfillment," as vain? If the arguments on the "signs following," and of the passages that speak of the "Great Commission" as being supposedly "fulfilled," are correct, then it absolutely disproves the majority view that says the "Great Commission" applies to every gospel minister in every age!
When the Lord addressed "the eleven," in Matthew's and in Mark's accounts of the giving of the "Great Commission," did he address them
1) Strictly as a group or collective?
2) Strictly as eleven individuals and not at all as a group?
3) Both as individuals and as a group?
If one asks the typical Hardshell apologist these questions, then you will see all kinds of evasion and attempts to preach a sermon in answer to the simple question, as we saw in the preceding chapter from the excerpts from the "Mt. Carmel Church Trial."
So, was the "Great Commission" truly in fact "fulfilled" or not?
What does the Bible say? What do our Baptist forefathers say? What does history in general say? What do the Hardshell 'founding fathers' say? What does the history of the Hardshells in particular say?
Enough surely has been presented thus far in these three chapters in this series to demonstrate how fitting a metaphor is the term "hot potato" for describing the history and writings of the Hardshells on this topic.
Let me now summarize what I have thus far accomplished and demonstrated, in these three initial chapters in our series, and what I intend to address in the remaining chapters in this important series.
The issue of the "Great Commission" is a "hot potato" topic for the Hardshells. The topic makes them extremely uncomfortable! This is evident from the citations offered from the "Mt. Carmel Church Trial" and will be further shown in this series.
Their leading spokesmen and apologists, on the "Great Commission," have not been united. There have been two leading views among the Hardshells; one says the "Great Commission" was given solely to the eleven or solely to the apostles, and the other says that it was also given to the ministry.
Even though the "strict view" (with its "arguments" on the "signs," and with its "arguments" on passages which supposedly affirm that the "Great Commission" was "fulfilled") militates against the majority view being correct, those of the "majority view" nevertheless do not speak out against the false argumentation of the "strict view," but rather promote it! It is, as I said, "doctrinal hypocrisy."
From the preceding chapter especially, it can be readily be seen how and why the Hardshells got some of their nicknames, like "Hardshell," and "Old Ironsides," and "Do-Nothings," and "Anti-Missionary," and "Ignoramuses," and "Anti-Effort Baptists," and how they got to be known as possessing, as a cult group, certain traits, like arrogance, and pride, and mule-headedness and bull-headedness, and stubborness, etc.
I have also already offered reasons that prove absolutely that the "Great Commission" has not been fulfilled, and will not be fulfilled till "the end of the age," and I did that by simply pointing out the most simplest point in the words of Christ in the "Great Commission," and yet a point that every Hardshell is blinded in seeing! I myself was blind to it till the Lord delivered me from this cult. Notice these simple words of Christ:
"Teaching them (the disciples of the apostles) to OBSERVE ALL THINGS I have (personally) COMMANDED YOU (apostles)..."
Christ told the eleven apostles to command the disciples, all of them, to obey the command to go! But, you see, the Hardshells read the text and in their perverted minds read the words as follows:
"Teaching them to obey every command I am giving to you, EXCEPT FOR THE COMMAND TO GO"!
Do they not exclude this "command" to "GO" in their teaching of their disciples? Do they teach them to obey the command to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature"?
In the upcoming chapters I will prove that the "Great Commission" was given to others besides to the eleven apostles, and also prove that it was the will of Christ that all disciples be instructed in "going," and in spreading the gospel, and in "making disciples" of others, etc. I will also be looking at the topic historically.
Chpt. 69 - The Great Commission IV
Elder John R. Daily wrote:
"The commission is still made (1906) a bone of contention. Eld. J. V. Kirkland continues to advocate what the Missionary Baptists have held since their separation from us, agreeing with Throgmorton and differing from Potter in the position those leading men took in their discussion on church identity.
We affirm that the Scriptures teach that the commission, as recorded in Matthew xxviii. 18-20, was not given to the church, but directly to those called and sent forth to preach the gospel."
Why does Elder Daily only mention the commission to evangelize as given in Matthew 28: 18-20? Believe me when I say that this is probably no accident, but was what was carefully worded and intended. Why then does he not mention the commission as given by Mark, or by Luke, or by John? But, I will enlarge upon this point shortly.
Why does Elder Daily say that the Missionary Baptist "separated from us"? Is that the way it was? Or, is he trying to "re-write" history like many of his brethren? Actually, many of his brethren have not shunned to admit that they withdrew from the Baptist denomination, and formed their own, and not vice versa.
Who declared non-fellowship against whom? Who assembled brethren together to make a formal declaration of non-fellowship? Who refused to recognize the other as having valid baptisms? Who became a separate denomination with a new name? Who went across the country in the 1800's getting churches, ministers, and associations to take up formal declarations of non-fellowship? Was it the "Missionary Baptists" or the "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptists?
Daily knows better (or should), but he is just trying to either convince himself, or his owned blinded brotherhood, of what is clearly not the historical truth. Again, as I have said, you have to watch these slick and wily Hardshells in how they cite people (often in a deceptive 'piece-meal fashion'), and in how they phrase things, in how they distort facts, both of scripture and of history, and how they redefine words.
Daily speaks of how the issue of the "Great Commission" was a "bone of contention" (or "hot potato"?) in splits with those Primitive Baptist, like Elders J. V. Kirkland, E. H. Burnam, and many others, who did not believe the "Great Commission" was as limited as Elder Daily believed it was. Then why do the Hardshells, at other times, write as if they have always been united on their understanding of the "Great Commission"?
What they do is "cover up" all the historical information that shows that there were far more Hardshells, particularly in the 1800's, that held to the view that the "Great Commission" was not fulfilled, nor binding only upon the apostles, nor only upon ordained ministers, but upon all disciples. Such information, as it is discovered and revealed, will further show that the view of Elder Daily, the "traditional view," was not the "only one" that was believed. But, I will have more to say on these divisions later when we take up more historical issues.
Who cares what Elder Potter or Throgmorton believed? Daily uses an ad hominem argument, for use only with his Hardshell brothers, over which view, on the "Great Commission," is the "primordial view" of their "forefathers," Elder Daily saying that Elder Potter (his protege, by the way, but more on this later) is a criterion for judging whether a view is correct and Baptistic. In other words, if you agree with what Potter believed and taught, then you are "old liner," and have the "right" to the "claim" of being "correct," and of being truly "Primitive" or "Old School"!
Oh is not this "argument" convincing?! Why has it not historically "won over" many more Missionary Baptists? Why did Elder Daily not mention Elder Clark as a "criterion" for judging soundness and orthodoxy on the matter of evangelism and on the "Great Commision"? especially seeing that Elder Clark was the "forefather" who began the famed "Zion's Advocate" periodical, and which he later took editorship, after Elder Clark's death, and at the turn of the 20th century?
Why did he not mention Elder John Watson as a criterion, one who was there at the beginning of the division in 1832, and before Elder Potter? Could it be because Elder Watson wrote, before he died, in his famous book, "The Old Baptist Test," how he and his Hardshell brothers in the ministry had "violated our commission"? Why does Daily not go back and quote the first Particular Baptists? Why not cite Spilsbury, or Richardson, or Knollys, or Kiffin? Why not cite Keach? But, more on this too in upcoming chapters.
Daily says it very loudly and emphatically - The "Great Commision" was "not given to the church"! It was "given directly" to someone, he affirms, but to whom? He says it was "to those called and sent forth to preach the gospel."
Well, that would certainly be at odds with Elder Beebe, clearly one of the "fathers" of Hardshellism! So, where would that put Elder Daily if he were alive today to answer? Where does it put those today who agree with him? Where does it put dad, and the men who signed the "Pitts Resolution"? Where does it put Elder Ralph Harris, whom I shall cite shortly on this matter, and who presents other arguments to uphold the "strict view" of Elder Beebe and many of today's neo sophisticated Hardshells, but one that is against the traditional view as reflected by men like Elder Daily?
If Elder Daily is right in saying that the "Great Commission" is "given directly to" every ordained gospel minister, then the view that says it has been annulled, or fulfilled, and that it is "no longer binding upon any," in any sense, is clearly false! Elder Daily must have realized this when he wrote this treatise on the "Great Commision" because he does not advocate the view that says the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled," nor advocate the view that says that it is "no longer binding in any respect," but argues rather that it was given to the ministry, albeit not to the church.
Daily believed, like Potter, that the "Great Commission" was not "fulfilled," but still in force and operative, and that every gospel minister is under it, in some measure at least. Thus, the view that says it was "fulfilled" is not correct nor "primitive" teaching, if one uses them as criteria. On the other hand, if one takes Beebe as a criterion, then the view of Daily and of most Hardshells, is not correct nor primitive. Now, which "faction" today is correct on the "Great Commission"?
Daily, and other Hardshell apologists like him, have no problem saying that the "Great Commission" was given to a group (although they might squirm on this point, it being a "hot potato" you know), but they will be careful to qualify exactly which group he gave the Commission, they being sure that all understand that they mean the "apostolic group," or the "ministerial group," but certainly not the general group of disciples, or the church. Why are the Hardshells so determined to eliminate the ordinary disciple from this Commission? Are thet for or against what they have traditionally decried as "priestcraft"? Which?
Elder Daily, after giving us the negative proposition he intends to affirm, i.e., proposing that the "Great Commission" was not given to the church, no not, in any sense, he then continues with his "proofs" of that proposition, affirming that the "Great Commission" does not apply to any and every disciple, but only to the ordained clergy of the Hardshell cult.
"Our first argument we deduce from the language of the commission itself. The Saviour said, "Go teach all nations," not send and teach them. We insist that if the commission had been given to the church, as an organic body, the Saviour would have said, Send teachers into all the world. If the commission had been given to the church, the Saviour would have used language susceptible of such an interpretation. To parry the force of this argument, the Missionary Baptists insist that, "as the Lord's Supper was instituted for the whole church to observe, so the commission, 'Go teach all nations,' was in like manner intended wholly for the church." But the church was then in session, and so this ordinance was given as a church ordinance for all to partake of it, because it was a commemorative service. The Saviour gave laws and ordinances for the whole church, but he likewise gave a special command to his ministers to go and preach his gospel, and they only are sent forth under it into all the world."
Elder Daily here repeats the one argument that probably "gets the most play" from Hardshell "defenders of the faith." It is the one "argument" that gets "played" and repeated by both views, by the "strict view" and by the "traditional view," by both those who believed the "Great Commission" has been "fulfilled" and by those who say it is still binding upon all those called into the ministry. He says the "language" of the Savior, in the words "go ye," absolutely cannot, by any laws of philology or linguistics, be made to include any idea of "sending" others, no, not in the least.
He admits his "argument" is merely a presumed logical "deduction" from the words "go ye," and affirms that it is a great violation of language to suggest that those words could possibly include any kind "sending" being done, either by the apostles, or by the ministry, or by the church. But, I have already shown how faulty is Hardshell "logic," have I not? So, what they might think is proper and valid "logical deduction," is not always so. As a side note, recall how I mentioned in an earlier chapter how Elder Daily, in his many debates, often used the term "reductio ad absurdum," being very fond of it, but yet, ironically, he did not always use good logic, as I have shown, and will show yet further.
I will deal with this oft repeated "argument" later in this series, but wish to call attention now, however, to a few things in the above citation, that call for dealing with now while it is fresh in the reader's memory. In dealing with this "argument," I wish to deal with it fully and adequately, and so will not address it fully as yet.
Elder Daily says that the rebuttal argument that had been raised historically against the novel Hardshell view on the "Great Commission," by the "Missionary Baptists," or by those who rejected the hybrid Hardshell interpretation on the "Great Commission," in regard to similar language given to the same group in regard to the Lord's Supper. Recall that Jesus, the night before his was crucified, said to "the eleven" - "take ye" and "eat ye" and "drink ye." It is similar to "go ye," is it not? The rebuttal argument is simple. If Elder Daily's "argument" is correct, then when the Lord said to "the eleven," "eat ye," he meant to exclude all except apostles! Or, perhaps he meant to exclude all except the ministry! Clearly, by Daily's logic and argumentation, the term "eat ye," like the term "go ye," absolutely MUST exclude the ordinary disciple, or the church!
How does Daily deal with this mighty argument, one that absolutely overthrows the Hardshell view? He says - "the church was then (at the time of the Lord's Supper) in session," and therefore it was not for the apostles as apostles, or as assembled, or for them alone, but as a church group!
Well, how does he know that the church was not "in session" when the Lord uttered the words to "the eleven" in Matthew 28? Is there something in the passages, dealing with the Lord's Supper and with the "Great Commission," which make it necessary for the honest exegete to make such a distinction? Or, is it rather a sophisticated tactic of a wily debater, who is not concerned with finding the truth on this subject, but one who simply wishes to defend his cult's hybrid views?
So, let me summarize, before proceeding further with this review of Elder Daily's "arguments" against the idea that the "Great Commission," as given in Matthew at least, was restricted to the ordained clergy, the leading arguments that have been thus far presented in this series and which annihilates the Hardshell hybrid view on the "Great Commission."
1) "Teach them (the discples) to obey (observe) the command to 'go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'"
2) "Eat ye" the Lord's Supper.
So, really, all the mustered "argumentation" of Daily, and all the other "leading lights" and "apologists" of the Hardshell denomination, against the "Great Commission" being binding upon the church, and upon every disciple, mean absolutely nothing! Nothing they say can overthrow the two arguments above. I still repeat what I said earlier in this regard.
The Hardshells read the words of the "Great Commission" and see it with added words (as they often do), and as saying - "teach every disciple, yea, the whole church, to obey every command I am personally giving to you, EXCEPT FOR THE COMMAND TO GO AND PREACH the gospel, for this command is given alone to you eleven, and applies to no one else, and so don't teach others to obey this command to go." But, as I said, I will enlarge later upon the argument about the words "go ye" necessarily excluding any idea of the apostles or church "sending" anyone to fulfill the "Great Commission."
Elder Daily continues with his next "argument," saying:
"Our second argument we deduce from the fact that women are forbidden by the Scriptures to teach in public. Now if the commission was given to the church, it necessarily follows that all the church, including women, are thereby commissioned to preach the gospel. See I. Cor. xiv. 34, 35. But this the Scriptures contradict, for the apostle says, "Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, and if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." See also, I. Tim. ii, 11, 13. The fact that the Missionary Baptists send forth female preachers grows out of their view of the great commission, for if the commission was given to the church, (then) they cannot consistently refuse to ordain them to the work.
What silly argumentation! He is really deficient if this is the best he can come up with, hey? Again, it is obvious that the hybrid and extreme view of the Hardshells has forced (logically, ironically!) them into practicing and promoting the very thing, as I have said, that they have historically decried as being characteristic of Missionary Baptists, which is "priestcraft"!
One can only get the saving gospel from an ordained Hardshell elder! No one else can tell others about Jesus, or announce the good news! According to Daily's interpretation on those passages that forbid women teachers in the assemblies, as leaders and chief spokespersons, a woman cannot even tell her children the story of the gospel! According to Daily and the Hardshells, a woman cannot even witness to her sister!
Daily also "shows his colors" and his extreme hatred for those who believe in preaching the gospel to every creature when he says that it is a "fact" that "Missionary Baptists send forth female preachers," if he means that they ordain them and send them out as formal pastors and evangelists.
But, he is not so careful in his language when he is talking about the wicked Missionary Baptists, as when he tries to speak apologetically for his cult. He knew that the Missionary Baptists, at least in his day, did not ordain women as pastors and formal ministers of the gospel. He also knew that the Missionary Baptists taught all their members, every disciple, male and female, young or old, to "go and tell others about Jesus!" He knew that Missionary Baptists taught disciples to obey the apostolic command to go! But, I will also enlarge upon this also later in this series.
"Our third argument we deduce from the fact, that, after his resurrection, and after the church was fully organized, by the installation of Deacons, and thousands had joined it, Christ sent forth preachers who traveled and preached extensively and successfully before they were authorized by the church to baptize. Paul and Barnabas both traveled and preached extensively before they were ordained at Antioch. Compare Acts ix. 20-29 and Acts xi. 23-25, with Acts xiii. 2-4. By no other than the immediate authority of Christ did they thus travel and preach the gospel. Paul said, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." I. Cor. i. 17. May it not be concluded from this that the authority to preach the gospel is not to be confounded with the authority delegated to the church?"
How does all this prove that no disciple has either the authority or privilege to announce the good news to others? Also, does the "Great Commission" not give the right to baptize to the same ones to whom he gave the commission to preach and to teach?
I heard Elder Sonny Pyles, one of the most famous of Hardshell preachers of the last 5o years, say in a sermon one time - "the ones Jesus commanded to do the preaching are the same ones that Jesus commanded to do the baptizing."
He was surely stating Hardshell and Landmarker views when he said that; however, does that statement not contradict what Elder Daily says above? To whom did Christ command to authorize baptisms? Elder Daily says the church has the final authority on the matter. Elder Daily says that the ministry was given the commission to do all the teaching and the preaching and the church was to do the baptizing!
Pyles and other Hardshells who share his view are apparently at odds with their forefather, Elder Daily, on this point. But I will deal with this further in my series on "Hardshell Landmarkism." But, the question is - Did the Lord command the ministry or the church to do the baptizing? And I can but repeat again, "consistency thou art a jewel"!
All this reveals how the Hardshell departures in soteriology have led to departures in other areas of bible doctrine, like in ecclesiology, and in eschatology, but of this more in a planned series on "Hardshell Hermeneutics" and on "Hardshell Landmarkism."
Is the church part of the ministry or is the ministry part of the church? Is a church wholly subject to a minister but not vice versa? If the authority to administer baptisms was given to the church, and yet in some sense to the ministry as well, then obviously one does not exclude the other, at least in the area of having authority to baptize; And, if the authority to baptize could be given to the ministry and the church, then why can't the authority to teach and preach the gospel not also be what is jointly shared?
Notice also, from the last citation, how Daily continues to "deduce" Hardshell premises and propositions from scripture rather than just citing plain and express scripture statements to prove them!
Daily, however continues:
"Our fourth argument we deduce from the fact that the church of Christ is merely the executive body in the kingdom of Christ, hence it cannot be said with propriety that it has authority to send forth ambassadors abroad. There never was an instance in the history of nations where a subordinate body, such as the executive or judiciary department, was authorized to send forth ambassadors. The king or chief executive always retains this authority in his own immediate hands. He sends them when and where he pleases without consulting any subordinate body in his kingdom. Christ, who alone is the King in Zion, sends forth his ambassadors into all the world to preach his everlasting gospel."
The church is merely an "executive body"? Well, what about his Hardshell ministry? That group that he and his brethren are always wanting to completely divorce from the church? Is it too merely an "executive body"? What about the apostolic group, was it too merely an "executive body"?
What is an "ambassador"? Is this term restricted only to ordained elders in the bible? To ordained pastors alone? Or, is it not like the words "minister," and "servant," and "messenger," in that they are used in scripture to sometimes refer to all the Lord's people, and then sometimes more narrowly to particular officers in the church?Did not Daily already say that the Church at Antioch "sent out" Paul and Barnabas? Is an "ambassador" not one who is "sent out," one who has been "commissioned"?
"As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ." (II Corinthians 8: 23 New American Standard Bible)
On this verse John Gill wrote:
"They (messengers of the churches) were chosen and sent forth by the churches, not only to preach the Gospel, but particularly to take care of the ministration to the poor saints. They were messengers appointed by the churches for this service, and were also appointed to the service of the churches..."
It is good to be able to pit Gill against Daily once again, seeing he is the one who grossly misrepresented the writings of the good doctor in his famous debate with Elder Throgmorton! Would he take Gill on this point today? No! Oh yes, but Gill is the "father of Hardshellism"!What is the Hardshell church doing when it "ordains" a man to the "ministry" IF it is not in order to send him forth to preach? And to baptize? The authority to authorize baptisms they seem willing to admit, as Daily does, is what belongs to the church to grant to the minister, but not to authorize the preaching and teaching of the gospel?! The thing that precedes baptism, and is an essential requisite to baptism?!
Daily wants to say that only the Lord can send out preachers to preach, and in his mind, this excludes the church, in any way, "sending" them out! Oh glorious Hardshell logic again!
Okay, let us try that "logic" in other similar areas. If the Lord "ordains" a man to preach the gospel, does this exclude the church from "ordaining" him? Well, Daily's "logic" would say yes!
If the "chief executive" of our country (president) "sends" out an ambassador to represent him, does that exclude others from "sending" the ambassador? Does it exclude the Secretary of State also "sending" him? Does it also exclude the citizens from having "sent" him out? No! Stupid "logic"! Again, I say in regard to this argument, like others the Hardshells put forth, "that dog just won't hunt"!
Besides, does Elder Daily and the Hardshells really want to affirm that no ordinary disciple represents Christ and his word? How then can ordinary disciples even teach their children then?
I have said it before in this book - "you fight one extreme, and if you are not careful, you will go into the opposite extreme"! This has been true, in large measure, in reviewing the history of the Hardshells. The Hardshells will end up forcing themselves into saying that parents cannot even teach their own children, if they stay with this kind of perverted logic and flaky argumentation.
Oh, please note again how Daily again "deduces" this his fourth argument! Yes, good deduction there!
But, Daily continues:
"Our fifth argument is deduced from the following words of the commission, "Go teach all nations, " "go ye into all the world." If the Saviour had delegated the church to send forth the ambassadors, then the church could limit the field of their operations (like the Hardshell ministry?!) to certain countries, as China or the South Sea Islands, as many churches of the world are now doing. Thus the church could abrogate the commission given by Christ, and substitute one of her own in its stead. As Christ's commission is unlimited, in its extent of territory, no church has the right to nullify, repeal or abrogate it by limiting it to some definite country (again, like the Hardshells have done?!). The very fact that the church dare not interfere with the field of labor which Christ has assigned his ministers, is proof positive and certain that the act of ordaining a man confers no authority respecting the work of preaching the gospel." ("A Loving Appeal To Primitive Baptists" 1906)
Well, besides the comments I put in parentheses behind Daily's false statements, I really need say no more. Has Daily proven his case for the Hardshell "traditional view"? I trow not.
In my next chapter I will continue to cite the Hardshell forefathers and leading apologists and demonstrate their grave error. I will take up an interesting article on the "Great Commission" by Elder Ralph Harris, an Elder I met in my younger days in the Hardshell cult. He wrote his article on the "Great Commision" for the same reason the brethren did who wrote the "Pitt's Resolution" against those Hardshells today ("Bradleyites") who are making some attempt to finally do as the Great Commission requires of them. Stay tuned!
Chpt. 70 - The Great Commission V
In the chapters written thus far I have given the stated views of the Hardshells in regard to their interpretation of the words of the "Great Commission" and have identified the views of their leading spokesmen on the subject. I have pointed out where they were mostly unified on this topic and where they were not.
In my last chapter I looked at the argumentation of the great Hardshell debater and apologist, Elder John R. Daily, wherein he attempted to prove that the "Great Commission" was not given to any but to the clergy, and that it contains no commands that are general for the body of Christ.
Elder Daily was of course upholding the "traditional view," or the majority view. This view says that the "Great Commission," though not given to the church, was nevertheless given to the ministry (in a "secondary sense" to that of the apostles).
So, Elder Daily did not argue for its fulfillment or annulment, as did Elder Beebe, and as others have since his day. In this chapter I will begin to look at what neo Hardshell, Elder Ralph Harris, and others, have written in defense of the "strict view" of Beebe and others.
Harris's defense was written to uphold the "Pitt's Resolution" with its stated opposition to the belief that the "Great Commission" is yet operative (not fulfilled), and was also written to convince all Hardshells that the observing of the Great Commission's command to go and preach and teach all the heathen nations (which is now newly being done by those who are alligned with Elder Lasserre Bradley Jr. - or the "Bradleyites") is "heresy," and is not to be suffered nor allowed, certainly not supported or applauded.
If you support a missionary in preaching the gospel to the heathen, then you are a heretic! "Hear oh Heavens and give ear oh earth!" Who hath heard such things as these?
Elder Ralph Harris wrote:
"I am persuaded that if what is commonly called "The Great Commission" was not fulfilled in the days of the apostles, unto whom it was given by Christ (Matt 28:16-20 & Mark 16:14-16) then it will never be fulfilled, for since their day, and since the withdrawal of the gift of tongues, the conditions have never again been in place that would be necessary for any group of ministers or any religious organization to go into all the world and preach the gospel as the Commission required."
Where in the bible is the spread of the gospel made to depend upon the gift of tongues? Elder Harris cites scripture to show that Christ commissioned disciples to go announce the glad tidings, but where did he cite any scripture that made the fulfilling of the "Great Commission" to depend upon the supernatural gift of tongues? He must have gotten that out of II Harris 2:15, for it is not in the bible. It is Elder Harris' attempt to try to add another argument to the arsenal of weapons forged to fight the belief that the disciples at large or church in general is under obligation to spread the gospel of Christ.
Elder Harris mentions his "necessary conditions" for the "fulfillment" of the "Great Commission" and reasons that one of these is the presence of the gift of tongues! But he implies other "necessary conditions" by speaking of "conditions" (plural) being either "in place" or not "in place," for the "fulfilling" of the "Great Commission."
But history and the obvious present state of things in the world prove him wrong! History proves first that the gospel did not in toto go to every creature and to every "uttermost part" of the earth, the verses cited by the Hardshells notwithstanding. It did go to many parts of the Roman Empire, but there is no reliable historical evidence to prove the gospel was known beyond those borders till many years after the death of the apostles.
Secondly, many Hardshells, like Hassell (both father and son), have correctly pointed out how providence had made things ready for the apostles to take the gospel to a large part of the world as it existed at that time. For instance, the Roman road system was perfectly used by the Lord for his apostles and evangelists to take the message of Christ to the further parts beyond the land of Israel.
But, if such were a providential opening and means existing then, why then is it not even more so now? By Elder Harris's reasoning, there are impossible roadblocks existing now, rather than greater opportunities for taking the message to the "uttermost parts of the world"! Unbelievable!
I mean really, has not modern technology provided a greater way of taking the message of the cross to the heathen nations? Has not better roads? And airplanes and automobiles? And radio and television? Besides, there are far greater means available now for translating the bible into scant and local dialects than ever before. Are we to suppose that these are not superior means, but the supernatural "gift of tongues" are superior means? And not only superior, but what was and is necessary? By Elder Harris' logic, all the modern means for disseminating the gospel of Christ can avail nothing without the supernatural gift of tongues!
But, observation of the facts surrounding us today show him to be in some kind of "fog" for the gospel is now going further by these modern means and without this gift of tongues!
Besides, as I shall more fully develop later, Jesus clearly taught that the "end of the age" would come immediately upon the heels of the fulfillment of the "Great Commission." (Matthew 24: 14) Will he, or is he, a "Preterist" like many of his brethren?
Besides all this, where in the bible is the gift of tongues said to be given for the purpose of translating scripture? Or for the purpose of spreading the gospel to nations that spoke languages unknown to the evangelists?
I really do not think that this hybrid argument of Elder Harris will "pass muster" and stay in the arsenal of "tried weapons" for the Hardshell apologist who defends the Hardshell denomination on the "Great Commission"! Hopefully too, by the time this series is over, there will not be a single "weapon" or "argument" left remaining!
Elder Harris writes further:
"Not even the modern so-called Missionaries have been able to go into all the world, even with all their organizational machinery and fund-raising apparatus. After two centuries of their supposedly trying to "take the world for Christ" over half of the earth’s population has never heard any form of gospel, much less the true gospel. And are we now to imagine that God has laid it upon the shoulders of a few Old Baptists to over-spread the whole world with the gospel?
What can we say to all this?
Before I begin to address particularly what is said by Harris in the above citation, I desire to refer the reader to an interesting exchange that occurred between the editor of the "Baptist Builder," a Missionary Baptist publication, and Elder C. H. Cayce, a well known Hardshell debater, at the beginning of the 20th century.
The first exchange is recorded in Elder Cayce's first volume of his "Editorial Writings," which writings were published within the pages of the famed Hardshell periodical called "The Primitive Baptist" (not to be confused with the first periodical by that same name in the early 19th century).
On page 149 of Volume I Elder Cayce copies the following from the "Baptist Builder," wherein the editor was suggesting propositions for a debate with the Hardshells on "missions," a subject that Elder Cayce was continuously decrying in the pages of his paper, and lambasting the Missionary Baptists in their belief in and support of missions, especially foreign missions. Here is the advertisement that occurred in the "Baptist Builder."
"Notice the following clear cut propositions:
1. "Missions as taught and practiced by the Missionary Baptists are authorized by the word of God."
2. "Missions as taught and practiced by the so-called Old School Baptists are authorized by the word of God."
Did Cayce readily accept? No! And why not? The answer is obvious to anyone who has a smidgeon of information about this cult. But, upon this point I will surely have more to say later.
Here is some of what Elder Cayce wrote in response to the proposed propositions for debate that were published in the Missionary Baptist paper, the "Builder."
"It is evident that the Builder man does not intend to meet the issue. Instead of doing that, he tries to confuse the minds of the people, and throw dust in the air, to draw their minds away from the issue. It is the teaching and practice of the Missionary Baptists on the mission question that has been assailed and called in question."
Why is the historical practice of the Hardshells, regarding their own missionary work, not an integral part of "the issue" in dispute between the Hardshells and the Missionary Baptists?
Could it possibly be because they have been "all talk and no action" in respect to missionary work? Oh how they love to "occupy the negative" when it involves them attacking the missionary practices of others!
But ought not the Hardshells, who have steadily "dished out" criticism of the Missionary Baptists in their missionary endeavors, not be themselves willing to let others "occupy the negative" in regard to their practices regarding the missionary work of their ministers and of their denomination?
If the champion debater of the Hardshells would not sign a proposition which made him defend his brotherhood's record on missionary activity, then I have little doubt that any of today's Hardshells will want to do so! It is more of that "hypocrisy" that characterizes this sect and of which I wrote about in earlier chapters in this book.
Cayce, writing to the Missionary Baptist, who was willing to let him "occupy the negative" on the question of the historical practice of missions, but only so long as Cayce was willing to do the same with the record of his people, said in response:
"However, if you wish us to affirm a proposition, we will affirm this:
"The church of which I (C. H. Cayce) am a member, known as Old School or Primitive Baptists, is Scriptural in doctrine and practice." We will affirm this. Will you deny it? And will you affirm that "Missions as taught and practiced by the Missionary Baptists are authorized by the word of God?" (Page 363, 364)
Look at this glaring hypocrisy and think about what it reveals about this cult group. Cayce wants the Missionary Baptist elder to defend his church's record on Missions but he will not do the same himself for his own Primitive Baptist record on the same!
Why is he so reluctant to do so? Could it be because he must defend such things as were said in the "Mt. Carmel Church Trial"? Such foolish things? Such shameful things in regard to evangelism?
Surely every person wants to ask every Hardshell the same question that the attorney asked Elder Pittman, in regard to missionary and evangelistic work, "What have YOU done?" Surely Christ will ask the same question of every Hardshell in respect to what he or she has done in telling others about Jesus!
He and others testified that they did not even like the term "missionary," casting doubt about its scriptural validity, and clearly showing a distaste for the term, and not really wanting to be considered, in any sense, a "missionary."
Others, however, though speaking more favorably of the term, yea, even claiming that Hardshell preachers are the only "true missionaries," yet they say this when they really have no love or affinity for the words mission, missionary, or commision. It is not a part of Hardshell cult jargon, being rather terms associated with the enemy!
Later Cayce and the editor of the "Builder," Elder Clifton, continue to talk about missions, Cayce continually decrying all the missionary work then in progress among the Baptists. On pages 380 and 381 Cayce writes:
"There are many of the Lord's children who have never heard an Old Baptist sermon delivered...The very best way in the world to let them know what Old Baptists teach is to go into the neighborhood where are and preach the gospel to them, as the Lord opens the way."
Well, he must be very disappointed in his Hardshell ministry on that score!
"The Fuller and Carey plan, as practiced by the New School Baptists, is for a board or society to assign the minister his field of labor and send him out. The Bible plan is that the Lord sends them out and assigns them their field of labor, and they go trusting the Lord for guidance and for support."
What is this "bible plan"? Do you recall how the attorney tried to get Elder Pittman to tell him what that plan was? And, how the Hardshells have historically practiced it? Did he ever get an answer? Did Elder Pittman ever point to some historical practices of his Hardshell minister brothers who were being missionaries on the "bible plan"?
By Cayce's line of reasoning, he puts the blame on the Lord for not assigning Hardshell ministers to any other regions outside of their own neighborhoods!
But, getting back to the flaky reasoning of Elder Harris, and his statement that "Missionaries have not been able to go into all the world" and his "argument" that this non-fulfillment somehow proves that all missionary efforts of the church and ministry thus far to fulfill it, have all been in vain since the apostles. It is such a silly argument that is not hardly worth a response. But, I add it here just so the reader can see the degree of blindness to the truth that is prevalent in the sect and to also demonstrate how stubbornly resistant they are to spreading the gospel of Christ.
He speaks of about half of the present population of the world as now ignorant of Jesus and the precious saving gospel. Does it bother him that many of his idol worshipping yet "regenerated" brothers in heathen land are starving for his "gospel food"? We shall see as we further examine what he wrote!
Plus, according to Harris' reasoning, the half who know the gospel know it 1) without any thanks to him or to the Hardshells! and, 2) without the gift of tongues being a means or reason for it!
And, further, by his distorted reasoning and logic, he makes it absolutely impossible for the other "half," who have not yet heard the gospel, to ever hear it (unless he believes the gift of tongues will be given again)!
Further, seeing he believes that the gospel has already been preached to every creature, then why is there any "half" at all"! "Half" who have never heard the gospel preached by the apostles? How can that be if it has been preached to every creature?
Finally, consider the fact that the "gift of tongues" was not given merely to the apostles, nor simply to the ministry, but to the whole church!
If Elder Harris connects the gift of tongues integrally with the fulfilling of the "Great Commission," then his argument proves too much, for the gift of tongues was given to ordinary disciples, including women!
Elder Harris continues:
"At the time the apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians, the gospel had already come unto "all the world" and had been preached "to every creature which is (was) under heaven" (Colossians 1:5-6 & 1:23), and there is no other period in the history of the church in which this can be said. This clearly shows that the commission Christ gave to His apostles has already been fulfilled by them."
This is but a repetition of a previous argument, except that he throws in his assertion that some verses in Colossians teach that the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled. I will not address the issue of fulfillment at this time, saving that question for a chapter all its own, but I do wish to remark that his statement that "there is no other period in the history of the church in which this can be said" is a gross falsehood.
Today there are more avenues for fulfilling the "Great Commission" than every before, not vice versa as Elder Harris argues.
He then writes:
"If the "Great Commission" was given to the Church as a body, can we suppose that during the Dark Ages when they had to hide in the dens and caves of the earth they were complying with the requirements it laid upon the apostles? I don’t see how anyone can think so. They had to remain as inconspicuous as possible and could not have even attempted such an undertaking."
Let us ask Elder Harris this question in response to his - "was the gift of tongues given to the church?"
And this question also - "did the ministry of the dark ages hide out in caves?" He seems to think that since the church was persecuted to such a state where it could not preach the gospel to every creature, then it must not have been given to them to do! Oh more glorious Hardshell "logic," hey?
The argument I brought up earlier in this series, about the death of the Apostle James, surely destroys this reasoning of Elder Harris. If hiding out in a cave is a hindrance to fulfilling the "Great Commission," then why is his death not a hindrance? Why does Elder Harris not see the death of one of the apostles as proof that the apostles could not fulfill the "Great Commission"?
I might also ask Elder Harris, in view of his argumentation as expressed above, - "when Peter was imprisoned, after the death of James, was he fulfilling the Great Commission"? Was the Apostle John "fulfilling" it while he was an exile on Patmos? Was his writing and sending out the Book of Revelation a fulfillment or a hindrance to the "Great Commission's" fulfillment?
Elder Harris continues:
"It appears to us that if Christ gave the "Great Commission" to the Church, or even to its ministry, then He laid a requirement upon them that it was, and is, impossible for them to fulfill, and I am sure the Lord has never operated that way."
Well then, answer the arguments above about the death of the Apostle James, and about the imprisonment of the Apostle Peter, and about the exile of the Apostle John.
No, he did not lay upon them a task that was impossible for either the apostles or the church to fulfill, but he did give them one that he knew would take "till the end of the age" to fulfill! But, more on this too later.
Elder Harris continues:
In all my study of Old Line Primitive Baptist history I have never found where they have ever undertaken to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to "every creature," whatever that may or may not entail. Why, then, if as some are contending, our Primitive Baptist forefathers believed the Commission was given to the Church, did they not at least try to "go into all the world"… "And teach all nations," etc., and why did they withdraw fellowship from those among them who started advocating such a venture?"
Excellent questions for the Hardshells and, ironically, uttered by a Hardshell himself! So blind are they! That is precisely the point I raised earlier! It is the reason why Elder Cayce did not want to defend in debate the historical record of the Hardshells on how much they have helped to spread the gospel! Recall Elder Dalton's statement that he does not believe that the gospel is something that "spreads" very well!
I don't care if we are considering the Hardshell "church" or the Hardshell "ministry," for neither, as Elder Harris confessed, has done anything to help spread the gospel! They have not helped to print or to pass out one bible! They have not given one cent to a missionary who is taking the gospel to those who have never heard the precious name of Jesus!
Why indeed are the "Bradleyites" now doing what other Hardshells have historically refused to do? Maybe they reject all this devilish opposition to the spread of the gospel? Besides, as I will show in upcoming chapters, Elder Bradley and his movement and attempted reforms, have all been tried before, by others who attempted to "stem the tide" of the "ultras"!
Elder Harris asks this question about his Hardshell forefathers - "why did they not at least try to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature?"
Another excellent question! Since the majority view has been that the "Great Commission" has not been fulfilled, and is yet binding upon all whom God calls into the ministry and whom the church sets apart in ordination, then why has NOT one single minister risen to do it? Does it not make one think of the old proverb that says "actions speak louder than words"? Does it not show that they really do not believe their ministers are under the "Great Commission" no matter what they may say otherwise in their "sophisticated" writings.
Elder Harris continues:
"Are we to conclude that the Old Baptists have been rebelling against the "Great Commission" all these many centuries and that in these last days the Lord is just now impressing a few Old Baptist preachers to start trying to fulfill it? I hardly think so. And if these men are being impressed of God to fulfill a commission that they say applies as much to the Church as it did to the apostles, are they actually going to try to comply with what that commission required of the apostles? Are they now going to "go into all the world and teach all nations," etc.? And are they going to do it like the apostles did it, and not first make up money for the journeys. Unless they do I cannot see how their conduct is going to be consistent with their professed beliefs."
Oh how unwilling is he to admit his and his denomination's errors in regard to their duty under the "Great Commission"! He wants to argue that no Hardshell can be correct today in trying to obey the Great Commision, since his forefathers did not! Is that not some powerful argument? He is really arguing from a premise that affirms that his Hardshell forefathers, like the pope, cannot possibly have erred in their understanding and practice of the "Great Commisssion"!
How does Elder Harris know that the Apostles did not take money with them? Did he cite a verse that said such? No, and further more, there is no such verse! But, upon this point I will also enlarge in future chapters.
"Consistent with" what "professed beliefs"? It certainly doesn't contradict the Old Baptist Confessions of faith, neither the London nor the Philadelphia. It certainly doesn't contradict Calvinism and the doctrines of grace. Even Elder Cayce had to acknowledge this, saying of Missionary Baptists - "There are many of those who are identified with the Missionary Baptists who are sound on the doctrine of salvation by grace." ("A Call For Prayer And For Peace" in Volume IV, page 119)
Elder Harris continues:
"If the commission of Mark 16:14-16 was given to the Church as a body, and if it was given to them for all the ages of its existence, how many times does the Church need to "go into all the world," etc.? A new generation arises about every twenty years, no doubt numbering in the billions. Does God require His Church to go into all the world and preach to every new generation and baptize every believer into their body? Or is just one time around enough? How are we to imagine a few thousand relatively poor Old Baptists coming up with enough money to over-spread the whole earth with the gospel, even one time, much less many times?"
Is this not the silliest argumentation you ever heard? Again, this is another argument that should not "pass muster" and make it into the Hardshell apologetic's arsenal or arguments to defend their non-compliance with the "Great Commission." It is another "argument" that really deserves no response but is included because I want to give "full vent" to what Elder Harris has written, just as I did for the defense that Elder Daily made for the Hardshell denomination.
Every unbiased reader, outside of the cult, ought to be able to see how Elder Harris, while handling this "hot potato" issue, has not done very well while it is in his possession, and so the best he can do is to just yell "hot potato" and pass or toss it to some other better "sophisticated" Hardshell to handle!
Elder Harris continues:
"There are presently over two hundred nations in the world, and a world population of well over five billion people. Many nations will not even allow modern missionaries to enter their borders. How, then, are a few Old Baptists going to penetrate those barriers and overcome innumerable other such impossible hindrances and obstacles?"
Oh the faithlessness of this Elder! Is it not ironic that he is one who "gave up before he even started" or even tried, and yet he condemns others for trying? And ironic also how he has decried Missionary Baptists who tried to get financial support, before leaving on the mission field, as not trusting in God in doing so, and then here are some of his own Hardshell brothers trusting God to help them and all Elder Harris can do is to criticize it and call it a vain and unprofitable enterprise!
"If the Commission was given to the Church as a body, isn’t the Church commanded to "go"? And if the Church is supposed to "go," can they fulfill the commission by sending someone else? And if the whole Church "goes," will they have to vacate their meeting houses and let them stand idle until they get back home? And if so, will there be no church left here in America until they get back? The absurdities multiply more and more the further a person looks into the heresy of the Commission being given to the Church as a body."
No, ironically, the real "absurdity" is in this whole line or argumentation by Elder Harris! No, obviously, as I have already shown, the words "go ye" do not require that those to whom it was spoken must themselves, individually, go into each part of the world and personally speak the gospel to each human being. Not even Elder Harris believes, surely, that any, certainly not all, of the apostles, did exactly as he thinks the words of the "Great Commission" require! But, again, I will enlarge upon this more in upcoming chapters.
He then writes:
"If the ministers of the Church are under the command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, why was the gift of tongues withdrawn before the close of the apostolic age? I do not know how many different languages there are in the world, but I only know one, and I don’t know that one very well. The World Almanac lists over 220 languages that are presently being spoken in the various countries around the world. How many Old Baptist preachers do we know who can fluently speak more than one language?"
He is just being repetitious here in his continued argumentation. I have already overthrown his twisted Hardshell "logic" on this point.
"If we are now under a command to go into all the world and teach all nations, how are we to overcome this barrier? And if we are under such a command does this not require some kind of Divine direction? Does it not require the opening of a great many doors by the Holy Spirit and corresponding impressions on the part of the ministry to "go"? How many preachers would it take; how many leadings, openings and impressions would be necessary for such a commission to be fulfilled now? Where is the evidence that God is opening the prodigious number of doors it would require? Where are the host of preachers it would take, and how many of them are impressed to undertake such an overwhelming task? I personally have never had the slightest desire to go into other nations, not even to go on a vacation to such places, much less to preach to people that don’t want to hear me in the first place. But if I have been commanded to "go" as a result of being under a divine commission, does it not follow that I ought to "go" whether I have any impressions to "go" or not?
Perhaps I should here insert a citation from Elder John Watson and from his famous book, "The Old Baptist Test" which will address some of what Elder Harris has written above. And Elder John Clark also. Both of these men went on record as saying that they believed that the Old Baptist ministry ought to be ever on the alert for openings in divine providence to take the gospel to those who have never heard. Is Elder Harris blind? Does he not see all kinds of doors "open" today or he is blind? Surely he is blind.
Do you also see how Elder Harris seems to put himself in the Lord's place in the way he questions how everything will work? How it will be successful? Why does he not simply do what the Lord says and let the Lord deal with the hurdles and the hindrances, and with the success of it?
Elder Harris has never felt impressed or burdened to be a missionary and to take the gospel to a foreign country. What does this prove? To Elder Harris it proves that no one else should feel impressed or burdened to do so either! After all, no one is more holy, zealous, or evangelistic, than he, right? How does he know the heathen do not want to hear him? I can understand them not wanting to hear him as a man, or to hear his Hardshell errors, or his "anti" preaching, but surely they would want him to tell them some "good news," perhaps?
Elder Harris continues:
"I understand that a number of churches have now been established in the Philippines. When those churches were given a charge, were they told that they are now under the obligation to go into all the world and preach the gospel, etc.? I have been told by reliable sources that those people live in great poverty and that their ministers cannot even come to America unless someone pays their way. In such a case how are they going to comply with the requirements of "the Great Commission"?"
"These are just a few of the problems I find with the contention that the Church is under the obligation to fulfill the "Great Commission." I believe that if Christ had placed His Church under the enormous burden of evangelizing "all nations" He would also have given the Church inspired answers to these and all other questions regarding the matter. The epistles would give clear and detailed instructions as to how such a prodigious work was to be performed and achieved."
"I realize that I cannot express my concerns along this line without being further accused of being opposed to Scriptural evangelism, but that is of no great importance to me. The Lord knows my views on the matter very well, and He also knows how hard I have labored over the last forty-five years in the interest of His cause and the spread of His truth. And, if He ever says to me, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," etc., I will start looking for Him to provide the way. However, until He does I am sure it would be very wrong for me to go presumptuously."
("To Whom was the Great Commission Given?" - Essential Baptist Principles - Volume 4 Current Article June 1, 2005 issue 6)
Well, again, all this needs little comment. Elder Harris mentions modern Hardshell missions in the Philippines and elsewhere, and I will discuss this modern phenomenon in upcoming chapters. He states also that he is not concerned about being accused of not caring about evangelism, and he does not care about this. Why should he? He has already shown that his chief concern is to put roadblocks in the way of any Hardshell who desires to fulfill the "Great Commission."
Elder Harris mentions the "problems" (as he has enumerated them) that those who do not believe the "Great Commission" is fulfilled, have to face. But, I have shown that the supposed "problems" are really no problems at all, but are all in his head and stems from his perverted logic. Actually, it is the fulfilled Commission view of Beebe and Harris that has all the problems associated with it. Besides this, Elder Harris is out of line with most of his Hardshell Baptist forefathers on what he writes.
More on all this in the remaining chapters of this series.
Chpt. 71 - The Great Commission VI
Elder S. Hassell is asked:
"Was the commission or commandment of Christ given to the church and ministry or to the ministry exclusively, and if to the ministry to the exclusion of the church, how can we escape receiving alien baptism if we admit that God has called any man to preach that is not a member of the visible church of Christ? From whom does the minister receive his authority to baptize, from the Church or from Christ, and if, from the church, is she not in some sense included in the commission?"
Excellent questions for every Hardshell "apologist"! How will the great "defender of the Hardshell faith" answer? He says:
"To my mind and to the minds of nearly all the Primitive Baptists, and I think to all intelligent, candid, and unprejudiced minds, it is not more certain that two and two make four than it is certain that Christ’s command in Matt. 28:16-20 and Mark 16:14-16 to go everywhere and preach the Gospel and baptize and teach was, according to His plain and simple language, given to the apostles representing the gospel ministry; certainly He did not command the whole church to go into all the world and preach and baptize believers and teach His commandments. And all the churches in the world cannot now call and qualify one single man to preach the gospel of Christ. We know that this is the work of Christ, as well as we know our own existence. But, when Christ calls and qualifies for the work, the church will see the gift and gladly recognize it, and help him on his way, as in the apostolic times. And if the church can be present, he will certainly prefer for them to be satisfied of the regeneration of an applicant before he baptizes him, and if the church, or men whom she appoints for the purpose, cannot be present, she will be satisfied with the baptism of an applicant by the chosen minister of Christ; but if the minister is not a member of the visible church of God, the church will consider the nominal baptism as no real baptism. The authority to baptize comes from Christ in the commission, and the church will always gladly recognize this authority." (Gospel Messenger - February 1906)
From both the questions and the answers given above we can see how the topic of the "Great Commission" was truly a "hot potato" while it was in the possession of the great Hardshell "historian" and "apologist," Elder S. Hassell.
It is to be wondered whether any Hardshell debater and apologist today can better address the penetrating questions that were asked of Elder Hassell? Will any be more honest, or "candid," or "unprejudiced" than Elder Hassell?
Certainly the questions that the questioner asked of Elder Hassell, relative to the Hardshell "paradigm" structure on the "Great Commission," were not answered by Elder Hassell, for he only "danced around" the questions. The apologetic that Elder Hassell gave to the questions put to him clearly show that he was in the proverbial "tight spot" relative to that "paradigm."
As far as whether it is the Hardshells who have been the "candid" and "intelligent" and "unprejudiced" bible students, as regards properly understanding, interpreting, and teaching the words of Jesus in the "Great Commission," it has already been demonstrated in this book that these adjectives do not fit the Hardshells when it comes to their aberritions in doctrine respecting regeneration and the birth of the Spirit, and respecting those scriptures that deal with this topic and others related to it, like the topic of "gospel addresses to the lost," and another central question involved in it, the question of whether or not all men are commanded to believe and repent.
They "twist" and distort the words of our great Baptist forefathers, men like John Gill and Samuel Richardson, and do not stop there, but also "twist" the words of scripture to uphold their unbiblical man-made propositions. I have demonstrated this throughout the seventy chapters now written.
The early chapters, wherein I dealt with scriptures that clearly overthrow the Hardshell "hybrid" view of regeneration "without means" and "without faith," and "without conviction of sin" and "without repentance," is also the place where I gave the leading Hardshell "twisted views" of those "plain" passages, stated as they are in "simple language," that men are born again through faith, and through the gospel.
I also show how they "twist" and distort other scriptures that clearly contradict their Hardshell soteriological system. In my series on "Addresses to the Lost," I went through many passages where Jesus and the preachers he sent clearly addressed dead alien sinners and called upon them to believe, to repent, and to come to Christ for salvation. I showed where these dead sinners were called, in the gospel, to come forth from the dead, and to make themselves a new heart and spirit thereby. I showed how the apostles urged all men, without distinction, to "be converted." I also showed how the Hardshells are anything but "candid" or "intelligent" or "unprejudiced" in all this!
I certainly did show the "prejudice" of Elders Daily and Crouse, and of other Hardshells, respecting what Dr. John Gill wrote about regeneration in his "Body of Divinity" and in his "Cause of God and Truth."
But let me now more particularly address what Elder Hassell stated in his reply to the questions posed to him. Elder Hassell said:
"His plain and simple language, given to the apostles representing the gospel ministry..."
I have already responded to his cloaked sarcasm, wherein he asserts that all who disagree with him and the Hardshells on the "Great Commission" are people who are not "intelligent" or "candid" or "unprejudiced," clearly inferring that only the Hardshells are "candid" and "intelligent" and "unprejudiced." Again, as I said in earlier chapters, this is characteristic of a cult, to speak of themselves often as being the "only ones."
Where in the "plain language" of the "Great Commission" (as recorded in Matthew and in Mark) is the word "represented" used? On what basis does Elder Hassell assert that the words of the "Great Commission" were made to the apostles "as representing" anyone?
Further, what words or language did he cite to prove that the group of apostles themselves represented the larger group of a "God called ministry in every age"?
Before I respond more particularly to this "argumentation" of Elder Hassell, let me first make the observation how Elder Hassell does not share the view of Elder Beebe, who believed that the "Great Commission" was given only to the "eleven" apostles addressed and included no others, not even Matthias or Paul, teaching that such men received, like every other gospel minister in every other age, separate commissions different from the "Great Commission" as given to the "eleven." I will show shortly also how Hassell tried to "soft-peddle" this difference with Beebe.
But, Hassell did state the historical prevailing view of the Hardshells, not Beebe. Even the Black Rock Address, which Beebe signed, ironically and hypocritically, stated the belief that Hassell affirms. They did not believe the "Great Commission" was "fulfilled," nor that it was only applicable to the "eleven" apostles, but was rather applicable to every minister in the church in every age till Christ returns.
Those ministers today who are going back and embracing Beebe's views on the "Great Commission" are accepting an extreme minority opinion, and not one that has been publicly endorsed by conventions like the "Black Rock Convention" or the "Fulton Convention," for these conventions endorsed the view that the "Great Commission" was still binding upon every minister, and was not fulfilled, although they all shared the view that the church of Jesus Christ was exempted from any part in the matter of executing the "Great Commission." But, more on this later. Let me now return to asking how Elder Hassell can honestly, logically, or biblically say that the group of eleven "represented" the larger group of Hardshell ministers.
I will observe first that Elder Hassell's "argumentation" is similar to that of his contemporary, Elder J. R. Daily, who's writings on the "Great Commission" I have already addressed. Recall that Daily argued that the words "eat ye" and "drink ye," as spoken to the twelve apostles during the institution of the Lord's Supper, was not limited to the twelve but applicable to the church because, he said, the "church was in session" then but not "in session" when Jesus spoke the words of the "Great Commission" to the eleven! We will see how Elder Hassell's argumentation is similarly nonsensical and whimsical. It is the kind of "argumentation" that one would expect from a "Sophist."
Where is the "plain and simple language" that says the "eleven" represented the gospel ministry to the exclusion of all others? Oh yes, Hassell makes what he thinks is a "logical deduction" of the words of Jesus wherein he thinks that the church or an ordinary disciple cannot possibly be included in the "Great Commission," but he cites no plain nor simple language of Jesus to prove it! Logical deduction, valid or not, to discover a true proposition is not the same as a clear and express statement of that premise or proposition. Besides, I have already shown many instances where Hardshell "logic" is twisted and invalid.
So, instead of citing words that say the "eleven represent the gospel ministry," he makes a logical deduction, or what he thinks is a valid logical deduction, in order to prove that it cannot possibly refer to the church, and therefore it must be limited to the gospel ministry. Well, let us "put to the test" this another instance of Hardshell "logic."
This is similar to neo-Hardshell Elder Ralph Harris who argued that the "Great Commission" could not possibly have been given to the church because, during the Dark Ages the church was hiding out in caves and therefore could not fulfill the commands of the "Great Commission"! I showed how this same argument would likewise forbid it being given either to the Apostles or to the ministry, however. I showed that all the apostles did not fulfill the "Great Commission," for the Apostle James was martyred before it had gone into all the world.
"Certainly He did not command the whole church to go into all the world and preach and baptize believers and teach His commandments. And all the churches in the world cannot now call and qualify one single man to preach the gospel of Christ. We know that this is the work of Christ, as well as we know our own existence."
Here are more instances where Hardshells use Sophist tactics by throwing out "Red Herrings" and by building "straw men" to fight. What Missionary Baptist believes that men or a group of men, or the church, are the entities that "call" other men into the bishoprick? None! That is a non issue and certainly a "non-sequiter"! But, while we are on this point, let us consider how the Hardshells have "gone to extremes" in their opposing an extreme, or at least what they thought was an extreme, by their completely eliminating the church from the matter of a its members receiving spiritual gifts, including the gift to preach and to teach.
Paul, in I Corinthians 14:1 said to the whole assembly at Corinth - "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy." And then, in further elaboration of this, he said:
"What then shall we say, brothers? (Notice how he is not addressing only elders and that he does exclude women) When you come together, everyone (not just the elders, but the whole church) has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." (verses 26-39 NIV)
There are a number of important points in this line of instruction from the apostle that bear upon our discussion of the "Great Commission" and on the question of who is "authorized" to preach, and teach, and to baptize in the church and in the community in which they live.
Notice that Paul is addressing the whole church, or at least the male members, when he speaks in this chapter. Those to whom he speaks are addressed as "brothers," and not as "elders." The Corinthian letters were not addressed to the pastors or elders but to the general membership, or at least the general male membership.
"When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church."
Who is the "you" in the above words of Paul? Is the you the ministerial "you" and thus spoken only to the ordained clergy? Clearly not! And, if the "you" refers to the whole church, or at least to all the male membes of the church, then it is obvious that the norm in the New Testament Church was for each member, or each male member, to have opportunity to teach, instruct, and to speak in the assembly, especially as it concerns some new revelation (growth in understanding) a member has recently received from the Lord and the apostle wants each member to have opportunity to share it with other members.
Paul does not forbid or discourage each member coming to the public gathering with a hymn or a word of instuction but rather commends it, saying "all these must be done for the edifying of the body." In fact, Paul is so anxious to encourage member participation in the public teaching of the church that he tells the speaker who has the floor to STOP his speaking if he sees that someone else has just been shown something and needs to immediately share it. How many preachers are willing to do that? To give the floor temporarily to others?
"If a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged."
Who is the "you" in these words? Is the "you" only the ordained eldership? Certainly not. The "you" is either the whole church, or all the "brothers" or male members. But, Hardshell doctrine on the "Great Commission" forces them to exclude any teaching done by any member other than ordained elders! So, they would have to make the "you" in the above verses to be limited to the eldership!
Recall that Elder Pittman, in his testimony in the "Mt. Carmel Church Trial" (cited in this series), affirmed that no one could teach anybody any gospel truth unless he was ordained! How then would he handle the above passages that clearly encourage every member to teach and speak in the church as they feel led of the Lord to do?
Every member, taught Paul, ought to be allowed to share their faith with other members in the public gatherings of the saints, with of course, the restrictions placed on women which he enumerated in this chapter.
"Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored."
What penetrating questions for many cults and apostate churches! Do not the Hardshells have an attitude that says "the word of God originated with us"? The Hardshells think they are the "only ones" who have the "pure unadulterated gospel" and that all others are preaching a false gospel. If you want the gospel, you will have to go to those with whom it "originated" or have remained pure, i.e. the Hardshells! Yes, it reflects the same "haughty spirit" that Paul was condemning, by the above words, in the spirit and attitude of the Corinthians.
"Are you the only people it (the gospel) has reached?" Do not the Hardshells think so? The Campbellites too? All false cults also? Paul was attacking a "know it all" attitude on the part of many of the brethren in Corinth, an attitude that manifested itself in their aloofness from other Christians, and in their arrogant pretensions of superiority over other Christians and other churches?
Besides this, let us look at the questions of Paul in a little different light. He asks (KJV) - "did the word of God come unto you only?" If a group of people have had someone bring the gospel to them, then the question is - "has that same group not taken it to someone else?" I think it is obvious, from the history of the Hardshell cult, that they fit the description of someone who have received something to share but who does not share it. The gospel has come to them, but it has not gone out from them, not being missionary minded.
Also, Paul, to my mind at least, seems to allude to the cult mentality of the Hardshells as respects the "Great Commission." When Paul speaks of what he writes, in this chapter, about all being allowed to speak and to teach a word of instruction to the whole assembly, he says that this is in agreement with the "commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ." Is he excluding those commands given in the "Great Commission"? Hardshells would say that he IS excluding those commands! But what does Paul say about those who disagree with what he has written in this chapter about all being allowed to teach (in keeping with Christ's Commission)? Let him be ignorant or ignored!
Hassell argues that since it is not possible for every member of the church to physically "go into all the world," then it cannot apply to them! Oh more glorious Hardshell "logic"! Does he not see how this "logic" also overthrows his view that the "Great Commission" was given to the entire ministry? Has the Hardshell ministry obeyed the "Great Command" then? Has one even gone outside of the United States till recent times? Has one gone to an foreign area where no one knew who was Jesus?
Recall from the last chapter where I cited these words from Harris and which are similar to that of Hassell.
"Not even the modern so-called Missionaries have been able to go into all the world, even with all their organizational machinery and fund-raising apparatus. After two centuries of their supposedly trying to "take the world for Christ" over half of the earth’s population has never heard any form of gospel, much less the true gospel. And are we now to imagine that God has laid it upon the shoulders of a few Old Baptists to over-spread the whole world with the gospel?"
What were the precise questions asked of Elder Hassell? Let me list them and then see if Elder Hassell truly answered the man's questions.
1. "Was the Great Commission given to the ministry to the exclusion of the church?"
2. "How can we escape receiving alien baptism?"
3. "From whom does the minister receive his authority to baptize?"
4. "If from Christ, then the church is excluded in the matter of baptisms?"
5. "Do we admit that men other than Primitive Baptists are called of God to preach the gospel?"
6. "Does the minister receive his authority to baptize from the Church?"
7. "If authority to baptize is given to the church, then is she not in some sense included in the commission?
None of these questions were answered by Elder Hassell. If we were to guess at "which way he is leaning" then we would have to say that he seems to say that the ministry, and not the church, has the responsibility and commission to do the baptizing. But, then he later seems to reverse that view when he concludes by saying that -
"When Christ calls and qualifies for the work, the church will see the gift and gladly recognize it, and help him on his way, as in the apostolic times. And if the church can be present, he will certainly prefer for them to be satisfied of the regeneration of an applicant before he baptizes him, and if the church, or men whom she appoints for the purpose, cannot be present, she will be satisfied with the baptism of an applicant by the chosen minister of Christ; but if the minister is not a member of the visible church of God, the church will consider the nominal baptism as no real baptism. The authority to baptize comes from Christ in the commission, and the church will always gladly recognize this authority."
There can be no ministry without Christ. Okay, we all agree on that. But, no one can be "ordained" to the ministry apart from the church. Also, has the church no authority over the minister after he has been ordained? If the ordination or appointment by the church is what constitutes one a minister of the gospel with authority to baptize, then how can Elder Hassell exclude the church as he does?
Notice also how Elder Hassell wants to give all the authority for baptizing to the ministry and yet says that "in every case" the church will acquiese in the minister's decision! Really, in every case? What if in one case she does not? Is the man baptized or not? Is the baptized man a member of the church or not? Hassell clearly does not want to even admit the possibility that such could occur! And why would he not want to admit the possibility? Because it reveals the weakness of his "paradigm" on the "Great Commission" wherein he takes all responsibility for authorizing baptisms away from the church and makes it the sole perogative of the minister!
It has been argued historically by the Hardshells that they cannot accept the baptisms of Missionary Baptists and others because those churches are not orderly or sound churches. Is that not saying that baptism's correctness depends upon the soundness of the church that votes on its administration?
The traditional Hardshell apologetic response on this has not been to say that the baptisms of the Missionary Baptists are invalid because of the preacher not being "called," but because the church of which he is a member is not sound. Most Hardshells have allowed that God had indeed "called" men to preach who were Missionary Baptists. In fact, those Missionary Baptist preachers who joined the Hardshells all say that they were called to preach before they became Hardshells.
Elder Hassell, after implying that the minister has the sole authority to decide when to administer baptism, then tries to sweep away any "paradigm problems" that the questions asked of him clearly revealed, by saying there is never a conflict! He says the minister will always want the church's approval, even though this is not necessary, and that the church likewise will always approve of the baptisms of her ministers performed without that acquiesence. Is that not a dodge? An evasion? A slippery way of trying to get out of the "tight spot" he is in?
Many years later Elder Hassell is asked another question relative to the "Great Commission."
"To whom did Christ give the commission or commandment to "teach all nations," and "preach the gospel to every creature" (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15)?"
"Primarily to the Apostles, as shown by the connection, and as fulfilled by them initially - (Acts 1:8; 2:5; Rom. 10:18; Psalm 19:4; Col. 1:23), who went and preached the gospel both to Jews and Gentiles, wherever, in all the world, they were directed by the Spirit and Providence of God; and secondarily to all other true ministers of the first and succeeding centuries, as they are directed by the Spirit and Providence of God; and when the latter shall have preached the gospel of Christ (first preached by the Apostles) "in all the world for a witness unto all nations, then shall the end come," says Christ (Matt. 24:14). The end of the world or the age or the Christian dispensation has not come yet, but even until that time Christ will be with His true ministry (Matt. 28:20). The "every creature" referred to in the above passages evidently does not mean every object of the Divine creation, every human being and beast and bird and fish and insect and plant; nor does it mean, I think, every human being on every continent and island and river and lake and sea and ocean; but it is a general term for all human beings, both Jews and Gentiles to whom the Lord sends His ministers to preach His gospel. There are yet millions of square miles on the earth's surface where we have no reason to think that the gospel has been preached." (Pittman & Hassell- Advocate and Messenger - November 1927)
Notice how in this later writing by Hassell that he adds the statement that the apostles "initially fulfilled" the "Great Commission." That is typical of Hardshell hermeneutics. Have it both ways! It was fulfilled and it wasn't fulfilled! It was given to the apostles "primarily" and to the gospel ministers "secondarily." Oh yes, but according to them, all this is but "rightly dividing the word of truth"!
I suspect that Elder Hassell took that position for two reasons. First, he saw it as a compromise with men like Beebe and others who held to the view that the "Great Commission" was completely fulfilled. Secondly, he no doubt had to explain the passage in Colossians that spoke of the gospel as having been preached in all the world to those men who used it to argue for its complete fulfillment. But, he could not accept the completely "fulfilled" view either, for the reasons he gave, reasons, I might add, that do in fact show that the "Great Commission" has not been fulfilled!
Elder Hassell believed what Jesus said. The end of the age will occur when the gospel has been preached as a witness in all the world!
Hassell then speaks of how so many have not heard the gospel yet. But, one must ask this one question - "what have the Hardshells done to take the gospel to any?" Hassell seems to put his hopes on his Hardshell ministry to bring about this universal witness! On the other hand, Elder Harris did not think that a few "Old Baptists," like those with Elder Bradley, could possibly fulfill it! Hassell hopes the Hardshell ministry can do it so Christ will return soon! Where do modern Hardshells stand on this? With Beebe or Hassell, or with both?
Stay tuned for much more as I attempt to complete this series.
Chpt. 72 - The Great Commission VII
In this chapter I want to address the argumentation of the Hardshells on the use of the word "go" in the "Great Commission" as given in Matthew and in Mark. First let me summarize the arguments that are made relative to the use of the word "go."
1. "Go ye" cannot ever include the idea of "sending" others.
2. "Go ye" demands that all those to whom the words are spoken personally go into every part of the world, either as individuals or as a group.
3. "Go ye" cannot refer to any persons other than the original "eleven" to whom the words in Matthew and Mark were addressed.
4. "Go ye" cannot refer to the church as a body.
5. "Go ye" cannot refer to anyone but only to one who is called to preach.
Some of these points I have already touched upon and shown them to be false. I have shown that it is an extreme minority view that says that the words of the "Great Commission" can only apply to the eleven apostles spoken directly to by Christ. I have shown that most Hardshells do not accept this view, believing that others were intended and included in the pronoun "ye" besides the eleven apostles, and so they would reject the "arguments" of the minority that restrict it to the original eleven and that say it was fulfilled by them.
Recall that we showed how Elder J. R. Daily was unable to answer the argument from the Missionary Baptists that reasoned that since "take ye" and "eat ye," although words spoken by Christ to the eleven in the giving of the Lord's Supper, nevertheless included the whole church, so too do the words "go ye" in the "Great Commission" also apply to the entire church.
So with these points in mind, I will now address more particularly the words as given in Matthew, where the words "disciple all the nations" are used.
In the Greek syntax of the passage the word "disciple" (or "teach" or "make disciples") is both the main thought and the main verb. The other verbs, baptize and teach, are the ways one fulfills the command to "disciple" (or 'make disciples'). The main verb is imperative. The verb "go" is not the main verb and is not necessarily imperative. It may be translated "as you go." Thus, we may translate the verse as follows:
"As you go (depart or proceed) into all the world, disciple the nations as you go, and baptizing them as you go, and continue to teach them as you go."
The root word for "go" is poreuō, and according to Strong means:
1) to lead over, carry over, transfer
a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue one's journey
b) to depart from life
c) to follow one, that is: become his adherent
1) to lead or order one's life
The Greek word poreuo itself is from that base root word "peira" and means, according to Strong:
1) a trial, experience, attempt
2) to attempt a thing, to make trial of a thing or of a person
3) to have a trial of a thing
4) to experience, learn to know by experience
On these points a writer says:
"It is a well-known fact that the Greek text of Matthew 28:19-20 does not include an imperative verb that must be translated "go." Instead, the Greek text has a participle from which the command to go has been translated."
"The verb that is translated "go" (if transliterated exclusively from the English alphabet and without accent marks) is "poreuthente" which is an aorist particle of "poreuo." In A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Second Edition, Copyright 1958, page 692, the lexicographers make this double-pronged comment:
"The aorist participle (of poreuo) is often used pleonastically to enliven the narrative...in any case the idea of going or traveling is not emphasized."
Referring to the root verb, and not to the aorist participle in particular, also on page 692, the lexicographers describe two other ways that the verb is used: (1) "conduct oneself, live, walk" and (2) "of life generally" (page 692).
Why then is Matthew 28:19 translated "go," as if the Greek New Testament included an explicit command to go? It may be because of the command to disciple all nations. However, the command to disciple all nations may not have been given to command "going."
In Matthew 10: 7 the same word is translated "as you go preach." (KJV) So, I am not translating the word differently than how it was translated elsewhere in the King James Version.
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And AS YOU GO, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10: 5-7 KJV)
This was the first formal commission that Christ gave to the twelve apostles and the first use of the word "go" in reference to preaching and teaching the gospel. Notice how the first and second uses of the word "go" initiate action, action that had not previously commenced. But, the third use of the word "go" or "as you go" implies that the going has already commenced, and so the appropriate translation of "poreuo" is now "as you go."
Some time had elapsed since the giving of the above limited commission and the giving of the greater commission in Matthew 28. When Christ appears to the eleven, after his resurrection, on the first day of the week, he told them AGAIN to "go," and thus this latter command to "go" could not be a command to begin preaching or teaching, for they were already doing this. They only change in the command to "go" respected the area and people to whom they were to "go." They were no longer restricted to the nation of Israel.
Another meaning of the word poreuo is to "pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one's journey."
Another writer commented on the use of "poreuo" in the "Great Commission" as given by Matthew, saying:
"The primary command of the commission, therefore, is to disciple all the nations.
The other three verbs in this passage, all participles, speak to the "how." We must understand the significance of the participles if we are to interpret properly Matthew’s account of the Great Commission. The two participles, baptizontev (baptizontes), "baptizing," and didaskontev (didaskontes), "teaching," are both nominative plural, present tense, active voice. The use of the present tense in participles indicates that the described action takes place simultaneously with the action described by the main verb. Thus, "discipling" (the primary command) would be defined in this passage as, "baptizing people and teaching them to keep the commands of Christ."
In a departure from Classical Greek, the Koine Greek sometimes used a participle as an imperative, although the use is rare. Because these two participles are tied to the main verb, which is in the imperative mood, they would be examples of the imperative use of participles. The remaining participle in this passage is the opening word of verse. This participle, poreuqentev (poreuthentes), is the nominative plural, masculine, aorist participle of poreuomai (poreuomai), meaning, "to go." The aorist tense in a participle indicates that the action described occurs prior to the action of the main verb. So, the "going" precedes the "discipling."
"Of special importance to the topic of this study is the question of what Matthew intended to convey by the use of this participle (poreuthentes). Participles have varied uses in Koine Greek. There are several ways that this participle can be understood. The three most obvious are:
1. As a simple participle, poreuthentes would be translated, "going," or, "as you go," meaning that as one moves about in the natural intercourse of life, he should be discipling those about him, by baptizing them and teaching them to observe the commandments of Christ. This understanding of the participle would imply that if every Christian did this in his own place of residence, then the nations would be discipled.
2. On the other hand, if this participle is translated as a conditional participle, it would be translated, "if you go," or "when you go." The idea being, "Should you go out among the nations, disciple them." This rendering of the participle says nothing about discipling in the routine intercourse of life, nor about a deliberate going forth for the purpose of discipling.
3. The third possibility would be that this participle, like the two other participles in this passage (baptizing and teaching), is imperative. If the participle is so used here, it would be translated, "Go." As an imperative, it would be either a command or an appeal to go to the nations of the world and make disciples of them. This is the manner in which most English versions have rendered this passage.
Thus, verse 19 can be interpreted in two ways:
· as a command to go out for the explicit purpose of discipling nations;
· as a command to be involved in discipling in a "bloom where you are planted" sense (If one stays at home, he should be discipling. If he travels on business or holiday, he should be discipling).
There are two means of determining whether the introductory participle of the commission is simple, conditional, or imperative. These are (1) immediate context and (2) how the eleven disciples responded to the commission.
In all honesty, the context provides little help. Some feel that since the main verb is an imperative, and the two present participles are used in an imperative sense (baptizing them and teaching them), then the opening participle (expressing some sort of going) also must be an imperative.
This assumption, of course, begs the question. The command could begin with discipling (the main verb), rather than going, i.e. Disciple all nations, as you go or when you go, baptizing, etc.
An examination of the response of the eleven, and the Church under their leadership, is more enlightening."
"In both Mark and Matthew, the opening verb of the commission is the participle (poreuthentes). So we face the same question concerning the use of participles in Mark that we face in Matthew: “Is Jesus commanding the eleven to go into all the world, or is He telling them that as they go they are to preach?”"
"In the early to middle 1970's, ministries arose that called all believers to quit their jobs, sell their houses, cars, etc., and travel about the nation and the world evangelizing. In their preaching, some of these groups made sarcastic remarks about Christians "who would rather deliver milk for a dairy than deliver the Gospel to the lost world." In the early 1980's, musician Keith Green caught the vision of missions and began to teach that every Christian is called "to go" unless God calls him "to stay." Such views do not fit either the language of the Great Commission nor the example of the Apostolic Church. Only those Christians called of God to leave their homes and go into world evangelism are to do so. Everyone else is to "study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you" (I Thessalonians 4:11 KJV).
While living this quiet life, each believer is to be witnessing and making disciples of Jesus Christ through relationships."
Some might wonder what importance is all this Greek analysis. However, in the context of what the Hardshells have erroneously taught on the "Great Commission" as respects the word "go," it's importance should be readily seen.
The Hardshells make several arguments on how the word "go" cannot possibly refer to anyone other than those to whom the words were directly addressed, nor to any group who were unable to fulfill it. At least this is the view of those who hold to the "strict view," promoted by Elder Gilbert Beebe, a leading Hardshell founding father, that the "Great Commission" was only given to the eleven apostles and that they fulfilled it. He also took the view that every other evangelist or minister of the gospel received an individualized commission, with specific territory assigned to them in their calling and commissioning.
Others expand this view and allow that the words, though spoken to the eleven, nevertheless included the other apostles, such as Matthias, Paul, and Barnabas. These will say that the "ye" refers to an apostolic "ye." Still others expand the view further and say that every other minister who is called of God is included in the "ye," making it a ministerial "ye." Most of these would either say all ministers are called by Christ in this evangelistic command and need not a special command, as Elder Beebe taught.
But, as I said, the one unifying principle that all the various factious views have in common is their belief that no one is included in the "Great Commission" who is not an apostle or a called and ordained minister of the gospel.
If one insists that the verb "go" placed an imperative on those to whom it was addressed to physically go into all the parts of the globe, then none of the apostles can be said to have fulfilled it. The only apostle to come close to it would be the apostle Paul. Here then is another "paradigm problem" for many Hardshells. If Paul was not addressed, not being one of the "eleven" to whom the words were directly spoken, then how can Hardshells legitimately claim that he helped to fulfill it?
If the verb "go" placed an imperative on all the apostles to each go into all parts of the world, then the apostle James certainly did not fulfill it.
If the verb "go" placed an imperative on every minister in every age, then why are they all NOT doing it? Consider how the Hardshells argue that the word "go" CANNOT refer to every church member for this, they say, would reguire each to go into all the world. Well, why does that same argument not work with those to whom most Hardshells say that it DOES apply? In other words, if the command to "go" applies to every Hardshell minister in every age, which is the traditional majority view, then why do they not SAY that they are each under the command to go into all the world? Further, why have none done it?
If the command means to "physically go," and it applies to every Hardshell minister today, then, by their own argument against it applying to the average church member, they each ought to leave the country where they are now!
Yes, the absurdity that was mentioned earlier, in the citation, about Keith Green's advocating that every church member is to physically go, is the very thing that Hardshells have said was not possible. I certainly do agree with the rebuttal against Green, and also argue that though the "Great Commission" applies to every disciple, it does not require the physical removal of every disciple into all the world, and for them to never "settle down," nor does it require it of every apostle or every gospel minister.
It is the teaching of the bible and of the Baptist denomination, except for the renegade Hardshells, that every disciple is under a calling to tell others of Jesus, and to announce the gospel to all their friends, family, and neighbors. The Hardshells, however, because of their extremism, have been forced to limit the preaching of the gospel to only those who are called of God to be bishops or elders. This was shown from the testimony I cited from the "Mt. Carmel Church Trial."
To show that scripture teaches the proposition that "every disciple is under duty to tell others the good news" is sufficient evidence to overthrow all the Hardshell "argumentation" on the "Great Commission." If other scripture, besides the passages dealing with the "Great Commission," teach that every disciple may "disciple" others, then the Hardshell misunderstanding of the "Great Commission" and of evangelism will be demonstrated.
"For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth [it]." (Luke 7: 8 AV)
In this passage there is reference to the general "chain of command" that is existent in many organizations, business, military, or otherwise. Who would argue that when a General in the army gives an order to "go" do something, say to a Colonel, that this forbids the Colonel from sending others or calling others to aid in his fulfillment of the order? Only the Hardshell would be forced to argue that the Colonel could not send anyone else to do what the General ordered! Yes, the General may order a Colonel to personally "go" fulfill the order, but the simple order to "go" does not necessarily exclude others being involved in the fulfilling of the order.
The word "go" is often used metaphorically for performing a duty. It is used in this sense when permission is given by saying "go ahead." The word "go" is used in the sense of "proceeding" or of "carrying on." "Go" is a word of warrant for proceeding further in a work. It does not necessarily involve a physical "going."
"What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." (Matthew 10: 27 KJV)
I would ask every Hardshell to answer this question relative to the words of Jesus - "who is designated by the pronoun 'you' in these words?" If he says it is every disciple, then he has admitted that every disciple has a mission to tell others the gospel, to "disciple" others. And, if it does apply to every disciple, man or woman, adult or child, then all the argumentation of the Hardshells on the "Great Commission" becomes meaningless. The sole reason Hardshells restrict the commandments of the "Great Commission" to only the apostles or the ministry is because they do not believe that every disciple has a commission to share the gospel with others. If he did believe that every disciple was under obligation to spread the gospel, then his attempts to limit the "Great Commission" would be overturned.
The giving of the "Great Commission" was but an enlargement upon prior commands and teachings wherein the Lord Jesus called upon all his followers to be ready to share the good news with others, to go tell the gospel.
Will the Hardshells come forward and tell us that they believe that the words "go tell it on the housetops" can only apply to those in the gospel ministry?
"Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." (Mark 5: 19 KJV)
Again, will the Hardshells limit these words to only the ordained ministry? Will he be so stubborn not to see that the words "go" and "tell" are words of command that Jesus gave to every disciple?
"So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14: 21-27 KJV)
Again, who in their right mind spiritually could limit these words to only the ordained clergy? To say that only the ministry may "go out into the highways" and give the gracious invitation is truly a great error. To say this is to deny that any person has been made a disciple simply by a disciple! Is that true in the Hardshell church? Have all their converts been made so only through the efforts of the clergy or of the regular disciples also?
"Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." (Matthew 9: 37, 38 KJV)
Every Hardshell probably has heard this passage preached and have heard it explained in such a way where the "labourers" are interpreted to be gospel ministers. But, this is an error. The elders are not the only ones who are laborers in the vineyard, in the gospel fields, and they are not the only ones who do reaping. Again, it is to be noted how amazing is such a limitation in light of all the historical writing of the Hardshells, wherein they decry what they call "priestcraft." If this view of things is not "priestcraft," then what is it? To limit these passages of scripture to only the ordained clergy is truly priestcraft!
"And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." (Luke 9: 59, 60 AV)
Was Christ calling this new convert to the bishoprick or was he giving a word of instruction and command that is common to every disciple? The Hardshell is forced, due to his aberrant views on the "Great Commission," to say that the words above are not words that Christ says to every new convert.
"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city." (Matthew 23: 33, 34 KJV)
"Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute." (Luke 11: 49 KJV)
All the martyrs are witnesses of Jesus, men and women who have a commission to tell others of Christ and the gospel. These verses cannot be limited to only the ordained clergy. By the sending of "wise men" and "scribes," does he refer only to the clergy? Are they the only wise men?
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." (John 13: 20 KJV)
If a person rejects the gospel as was told him by a disciple, is he then truly and in fact rejecting Christ and the gospel? Or can one only reject it when it is preached by the Hardshell ministry? If one can reject the preaching of an ordinary disciple, then it is obvious that the ordinary disciple was commissioned by Christ to "disciple" others, including teaching and baptizing them.
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17: 16-21 KJV)
These words are applicable to all the elect, to every disciple. They are all "sent" to tell others of the gospel. Paul taught the same thing when he wrote:
"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (II Timothy 2: 2 KJV)
Is this simply ministers teaching other ministers? Are the "faithful men" to be limited to the clergy? This is precisely what the Hardshells are forced into saying due to their extreme views on the "Great Commission" and of their denial that the gospel is to be preached to every person.
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not." (Isaiah 6: 8, 9 KJV)
The Hardshells do not promote this spirit of evangelistic zeal among their membership. They do not teach that it is the duty of every disciple to desire to be sent to disciple others. It is therefore no wonder that coldness is the word that characterizes most Hardshell churches, and why they have historically been "wilting on the vine." This will be further substantiated, not only by the scriptures, but by testimony from leading ones among them, like Elder John Watson, who sadly admitted that the Hardshells had "violated their commission."
Chpt. 73 - The Great Commission VIII
"He that winneth souls is wise."—Proverbs 11:30."
"I have said enough, brethren, I trust, to make some of you desire to occupy the position of soul-winners: but before I further address myself to my text, I should like to remind you that the honour does not belong to ministers only; they may take their full share of it, but it belongs to every one of you who have devoted yourselves to Christ: such honour have all the saints. Every man here, every woman here, every child here, whose heart is right with God, may be a soul-winner. There is no man placed by God's providence where he cannot do some good. There is not a glowworm under a hedge but gives a needed light; and there is not a labouring man, a suffering woman, a servant-girl, a chimney-sweeper, or a crossing-sweeper, but has some opportunities for serving God; and what I have said of soul-winners, belongs not to the learned doctor of divinity, or to the eloquent preacher alone, but to you all who are in Christ Jesus. You can each of you, if grace enables you, be thus wise, and win the happiness of turning souls to Christ through the Holy Spirit." (Soul-Winning Explained)
This is precisely what I showed to be the teaching of the bible in my last chapter. I looked at several key passages of scripture that affirmed it to be both a duty and a privilege for disciples to make other disciples, to witness to them of the saving gospel of Christ. In the first part of this chapter I want to enlarge upon that truth; and in doing so I could do no better than cite the above words of Spurgeon. He certainly did not limit the commands in the "Great Commission" to ministers only, as do the Hardshells.
Recall the question I asked in my first chapter in this series wherein I asked the Hardshells this question - "what command in the Great Commission is no longer binding on disciples or ministers?"
I listed all the commands given and asked which ones are no longer applicable. I have not gotten an answer or reply from any Hardshell, nor do I expect to get one. Do they believe the command to "go and make disciples" is no longer binding upon any? To any disciple? To any minister? To any church? Do they believe that the command to "announce the glad tidings" to be no longer a valid command? Do they believe that the command to "teach" and to "baptize" to be no longer applicable today?
I cited several key passages where the ordinary disciple was told to "go" and to "tell" others about the saving gospel. Each disciple has a commission to "go into the highways and byways" and with the gospel "compel all to come in." Each is commanded to "announce from the roof tops the gospel they have been taught."
One can easily see the difficult place that such questions put the Hardshell apologist! Will they come forward and tell us which of these commands the apostles did NOT teach ordinary disciples to "observe"? Will they come forward and tell us that an ordinary disciple CANNOT make another disciple?
Recall how I cited the words of Hardshell leading apologist, Elder Sonny Pyles, wherein he said in a sermon - "sheep make sheep." I showed that this statement contradicted his "anti-means" view of regeneration, wherein he says that God does not use Christians to regenerate and save other Christians. It also contradicts the idea that ONLY ordained ministers can fulfill the commission to "make disciples"!
I also showed clearly from I Corinthians chapter 14 that every male disciple was encouraged to take part in exhorting and teaching others in the church. Again, such instructions go contrary to the teachings of the Hardshells respecting who may fulfill and practice the commands of the "Great Commission."
Recall too from the first chapters in this series how I mentioned the fact that most of the Hardshell writings against the "Great Commission" restricted themselves to the accounts given by Matthew and Mark. Very few, if any, even take time to talk about the other accounts of similar commissions given by Christ to different sets of disciples during his forty days of post resurrection appearances.
Elder Hassell wrote:
"As I have tried to show, in the GOSPEL MESSENGER for Dec. 1892, the FINAL COMMISSION of Christ to His Disciples seems to have been given, in words somewhat different but having substantially the same meaning, on four different occasions after His resurrection from the dead---1 st , on the night of the first day, when He rose from the grave (Mark xvi. 14, Luke xxiv. 33-48, John xx. 19-23): 2d, at His appearance to seven of His Disciples by the sea of Galilee (John xxi. 15-17); 3d, at His appearance to eleven of His Disciples, and probably to five hundred brethren also, on a mountain in Galilee (Matt. xxviii 16-20, 1 Cor. xv. 6); and 4th , when He met the eleven apostles for the last time in Jerusalem, and led them out to Bethany, and ascended in their sight to heaven (Mark xvi. 15-19; Luke xxiv. 49-53, Acts i. 1-12). Just as the direction which Christ gave to Peter, in John xxi 15-17, to feed His sheep and lambs undoubtedly applied also to all the apostles, and is applied by Peter to all elders---1 Pet. V. 1-4, so I feel sure that (as plainly intimated in His words in Matt. xxviii, 20, 'Lo, I am with you always,' not to the end of each one of your personal earthly lives, but 'even unto the end of the world .') Christ in His words in the Final Commission, commands His true ministers, to the end of time, to go unto all the world, as they may be impressed and directed by His Spirit, and as the way may be opened to them by His providence, and to teach the nations, whether Jew or Gentile..." (THE GOSPEL MESSENGER, Devoted to the Primitive Baptist Cause. Sylvester Hassell, Editor -W. M. Mitchell, Associate Editor. Williamston, N.C., July 1896)
What is important (for now) about this citation from Elder Hassell is the fact that he admits that the words of the "Great Commission" were often repeated by Christ during his forty days with the disciples after his resurrection. What Elder Hassell fails to mention, however, is the fact that these various resurrection appearances, wherein Christ repeated the commands given in the "Great Commission," were NOT made simply to apostles alone.
Many times the gospel accounts will say that Christ appeared to "the eleven," while at other times the text will simply say Christ appeared to the "disciples."
Let us then look at each of these appearances and see who was present when Christ spoke the commands concerning the evangelization of the world.
The first appearance of course was to Mary Magdalene and "the other women." Notice the account given by Matthew.
"After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (28: 1-10 NIV)
There is so much in these verses that overthrow much of the nonsense of the Hardshells in their writings on the "Great Commission."
Let us look at each pertinent counterpoint one by one, from this first appearance of Christ to his "disciples." Such a look will show that these verses rebut the argumentation of the Hardshells on the "Great Commission," wherein they try very hard to show that the words of commissioning were only spoken to "apostles."
First, who will deny that these two Marys were "disciples"? And, that Christ appeared to them?
Second, who can deny that Christ gave these women orders and evangelical commands (either personally himself or through the angel) similar to the orders and commands that he would later give to all the other disciples? He told them to -
1) "Go quickly and tell his disciples (that) 'He has risen from the dead (is that not the gospel?) and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him', and
2) "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee (and) there they will see me."
This clearly shows that women may preach the gospel and have a commission to go, just like every disciple. This does not, of course, suggest that they can occupy the office of a pastor, or serve as an elder, or teach publicly in the general assembly. But, not all preaching is done only in the public assembly nor by formal ministers of the word. Certainly Hardshells will at least teach that women are obligated to teach their own children the gospel. But why limit it to that simply? Will the Hardshells tell us that women CANNOT "make a disciple" or "win a soul" to Christ and the gospel?
We also see how the women fulfilled the words of Christ, for the record says - "So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples."
Should women not still run today to tell others of Jesus and his resurrection? If not, why not?
The verses above are also important for helping us discern who was PRESENT when Christ 1) Appeared later that same day to "the eleven" (and when he gave the words of the "Great Commission" as cited by Matthew), and 2) Appeared later in Galilee (to repeat the Commission in words similar to the other occasions).
The message that these woman were to communicate were to be delivered to "my brothers" and to "his disciples." Which Hardshell wants to come along and say that these two phrases refer ONLY to the eleven apostles? Who wants to come along and say that "my brothers" and "his disciples" only meant the eleven apostles?
"Then go quickly and tell his disciples (that he is) going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him."
"Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
Notice that Christ clearly affirmed that these two Marys would also be present when Christ would later appear to his "brothers" and "disciples"!
This shows that it is an great error for bible commentators, Hardshell or otherwise, to affirm that when the text says that Christ (either later that evening on the first day of the week, or else one week later on the evening of the second Sunday after his resurrection), appeared to "the eleven," that this meant that no other disciples were present but those eleven!
The above passages prove that there were other disciples present when Christ is said to have appeared unto "the eleven"!
So, all the argumentation that the words were spoken solely to "the eleven," is false. The context of all these various Commissions show conclusively that other disciples were present when Christ is said to have "appreared to the eleven."
These two Marys were certainly present with "the eleven" later that evening! Why would we think that they were NOTpresent? Why would we not think that all or most of the disciples were there present with the eleven apostles (or twelve if we count Matthias)? Would not all the events of that first day cause them to stay together? Would also their fear of the Jews also keep them all together in that locked room? Why do the Hardshells create a scenario where all the disciples or brethren are outside of that locked room except for the eleven?
Further, if we read the account of the events of the first day of the week, we will discover that there were two other disciples, two who were NOT of the "eleven," and yet who were clearly present in the locked room on the evening of the first day, and at the time when Christ is said to appear in that room "unto the eleven." But, was it unto them alone? Surely not. Surely he also appeared to others in the room! These "two disciples" were the two who walked with Christ late in the afternoon on the first day of the week, while they walked on the road to Emmaus.
But, before I call attention to these "two Emmaus Road disciples," of "Cleopas" and another unnamed disciple, let me call attention to an afternoon event that took place after the initial appearing to the two Marys and yet before the appearing to the "two disciples" and then later to the "eleven" (and other disciples) in the bolted and barred room, the place where he uttered the words of the "Great Commission" as given by Matthew and Mark.
"When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened." (Luke 24: 9-12 NIV)
When Luke says that the two Marys and Joanna, with "the others with them," went and told "the eleven," did this exclude them telling the other disciples also? Certainly not. Jesus and the angel had told the women to go tell all the disciples and all the brethren!
Are we to imagine, as do the Hardshells, that all these women and other disciples went home early that night? Is it not more likely that they were all together that evening still discussing the events of the day?
"They (the "two disciples," one being named "Cleopas" - vs. 18) got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread." (verses 33-35)
When these "two disciples" walked into the room, Luke first records who was speaking and what was being said. Obviously many of the disciples, other than the apostles, were in that room hearing and giving testimony regarding the resurrection. Once the speaker finished, the "two disciples" then reported what had just happened to them. It was after the giving of their testimony and while all the disciples were pondering the significance of the day's events, that Christ suddenly appears within the room and shows all the disciples in the room his hands and feet, and eats with them. There is just no way that one can conclude that only ten or eleven apostles were in this room when Christ gave the words of the "Great Commission." Rather, it is obvious that many disciples were in the room, both women and men. So, when Christ says "go ye and make disciples" he is not addressing only the apostles, but the whole body, or the church.
The text clearly says - "There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together..." The "they" refers to the "two Emmanus disciples," and "the eleven" refers to the apostles (excluding Thomas but including Matthias), and "those with them" refers to the many other disciples who were present when Christ gave the "Great Commission." Why do the Hardshells, in violation of what the text clearly affirms, state that only ten or eleven apostles were in that room? They therefore cannot say that the "ye" in "go ye" refers only to the apostles. The "ye" refers to all the disciples in that room, including Cleopas, the two Marys, and Joanna, and the "other women," and many "other disciples."
"Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles." (Acts 1: 21-26 NIV)
Certainly Joseph and Matthias were present when Christ gave his various commissions! Certainly others also. They were present with the apostles continuously during the forty days.
Consider also that Jesus said to this band - "I am with you always." Why do the Hardshells want to restrict this pronoun "you" to the apostles, or to the ordained ministry, only?
"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 20: 10-21 KJV)
Again, this is taking place at the same time, on the evening of that first Sunday. John records the "Commission" a little differently, or else is stating simply one of many such "commission utterances" that he gave on that evening, and on subsequent days. Who does Christ send? Every disciple! "Peace unto you." Who is the designated by this pronoun? Are the disciples excluded?
Wrote John Gill:
And it may be observed from hence, that such persons who have a true, spiritual, and saving sight of Christ, of the glory of his person, and the fulness of his grace, cannot but be speaking of him to others, either in private, or in public, as Isaiah here did..." (John Gill on John 12: 41)
It is unbelievable that Elder Beebe would say that the "commission was addressed to none but such as were designated by our Lord, and can apply to none others without manifest violation of its proper sense or meaning"!
In closing this chapter I again ask this important question of every Hardshell Baptist.
"What duties, in the Great Commission, do you believe are now forbidden or wrong for any Christian to do?" And, "why are those duties now wrong?"
Chpt. 74 - The Great Commission IX
Speaking of the words of the "Great Commission," Spurgeon said:
"My ears seemed to hear it as if Christ were then speaking it to me. I could realize His presence by my side. I thought I could see Him lift His pierced hand and hear Him speak, as He was wont to speak, with authority, blended with meekness, “Go you and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the All-glorious God.” Oh, I would that the Church could hear the Savior addressing these words to her now, for the words of Christ are living words, not having power in them yesterday alone, but today also. The injunctions of the Savior are perpetual in their obligation, they were not binding upon Apostles merely, but upon us also and upon every Christian does this yoke fall, “Go you, therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
"We are not exempt today from the service of the first followers of the Lamb—our marching orders are the same as theirs—and our Captain requires from us obedience as prompt and perfect as from them. Oh that His message may not fall upon deaf ears, or be heard by stolid souls! Brethren, the heathen are perishing—shall we let them perish? His name is blasphemed—shall we be quiet and still? The honor of Christ is cast into the dust and His foes revile His Person and resist His Throne, shall we His soldiers suffer this and not find our hands feeling for the hilt of our sword, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God? Our Lord delays His coming—shall we begin to sleep, or to eat, or to be drunk? Shall we not rather gird up the loins of our mind and cry unto Him, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly”?
"I do not know how to begin to preach this morning, but still it seems to me, standing here, as if I heard that voice saying, “Go you, therefore and teach all nations.” And my soul sometimes pants and longs for the liberty to preach Christ where He was never preached before. Not to build upon another man’s foundation, but to go to some untrod land, some waste where the foot of Christ’s minister was never seen, that there “the solitary place might be glad for us and the wilderness rejoice and blossom as the rose.” I have made it a solemn question whether I might not testify in China or India the grace of Jesus and in the sight of God I have answered it. I solemnly feel that my position in England will not permit my leaving the sphere in which I now am, or else tomorrow I would offer myself as a missionary."
"...as one man the entire Church might take the marching orders of her Lord and go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of Israel’s God!"
"It is the voice of love, not of wrath. “Go and teach them the power of My blood to cleanse, the willingness of My arms to embrace, the yearning of My heart to save! “Go and teach them. Teach them no more to despise Me, no more to think My Father an angry and implacable Deity. Teach them to bow the knee and kiss the Son and find peace in Me for all their troubles and a balm for all their woes. Go—speak as I have spoken—weep as I have wept. Invite as I have invited. Exhort, entreat, beseech and pray, as I have done before you. Tell them to come unto Me, if they are weary and heavy laden and I will give them rest. And say unto them, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, but had rather that he should turn unto Me and live.’ ”
"At this day there are Karen (sic?) missionaries preaching among the Koreans with as fervid an eloquence as ever was known by Whitfield. There are Chinese teaching in Borneo, Sumatra and Australia with as much earnestness as Morison or Milne first taught in China."
These are words that express Baptist sentiment! The Hardshell spirit in regard to the "Great Commission" is foreign to true Baptist sentiment! Rather, Spurgeon reflected the spirit of Christ and the apostles, and of our evangelistic forefathers. The Hardshells should really ponder their situation with regard to this Commission!
A.W. Pink wrote:
"Preach the Gospel to Every Creature"
"Now the question arises again, why are we to preach the gospel to every creature?—if God has only elected a certain number to be saved? The reason is, because God commands us to do so. Well, but, you say, it does not seem reasonable to me that he has got nothing to do with it; your business is to obey God and not to argue with Him. God commands us to preach the gospel to every creature and it means what it says—every creature and it is solemn thing. Every Christian in this room tonight has yet to answer to Christ why he has not done everything in his power to send that gospel to every creature! Yes, I believe in missions—probably stronger than most of you do, and if I preached to you on missions perhaps I would hit you harder than you have been hit yet. The great majority of Gods people who profess to believe in missions, are just playing at them—I make so bold as to say of our evangelical denominations today that we are just playing at missions and that is all. Why my friends, there is almost half of the human race—think of it—in this 20th century—travel so easy and cheap. Bibles printed in almost every language under heaven, and as we sit here tonight there is almost half of the human race that never yet heard of Christ, and we have got to answer to Christ for that yet! You have and I have, Oh, yes, I believe in man’s responsibility. I do not believe in man’s "freedom" but I do in man’s responsibility, and I believe in the Christian’s responsibility in a double way, and everyone of us here tonight has yet got to face Christ and look into those eyes as a flame of fire, and He is going to say to us, I entrusted to you My gospel. It was committed as a "trust" to you, (See 1 Thess. 2:4) It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.
Oh, my friends, we are playing at things. We have not begun to take religion seriously, any of us. We profess to believe in the coming of Christ, and we profess to believe that the one reason why Christ has not come back yet is because His Church, His Body, is not yet complete. We believe that when His body is complete He will come back. And my friends, His "body" never, never, will be complete until the last of His elect people will be called out, and His elect people are called out under the preaching of the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, and if you are really anxious for Christ to come back soon, then you had better be more wide awake to your responsibility in connection with taking or sending the gospel to the heathen!
Christ’s word, and it is Christ’s word to us, is "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel", He does not say "Send ye", He says "Go ye", and you have to answer to Christ yet because you have not gone! Well, you say, do you mean by that that everyone of us here tonight ought to go out to the mission field? I have not said that, I am not any man’s judge, many of you here tonight have a good reason which will satisfy Christ why you have not gone. He gave you work to do here. He put you in a position here. He has given you responsibilities to discharge here, but every Christian who is free to go, and does not go, has got to answer to Christ for it yet.
Ah, my friends, we are playing at missions, it is just a farce, that is all! "Go ye" is the first command. Go where? Those around me first. Go what with? The gospel! Well, you say, "Why should I go?" Because God has commanded you to! Well, you say, "What is the use of doing it if He has just elected certain ones?" Because that gospel is the means that God uses to call out His own elect, that is why! You do not know, and I do not know, and nobody here on earth knows, who are God’s elect and who are not. They are scattered over the world, and therefore we are to preach the gospel to every creature, that it may reach the ones that God has marked out among those creatures."
(From a sermon preached in Sydney during his Australian ministry in the 1920’s)
Again, not only Hardshells, but every Southern Baptist, especially those promoting Calvinistic theology, as Spurgeon, truly need to hear! Pink was "right on the money"! Do we desire the soon return of Jesus or not? He will not come until the "gospel has been preached in all the world" and until "the fulness of the Gentiles be come in," until every elect one has been called to life in Christ. This will not be done without our obedience, as disciples, to the "Great Commission."
Elder Wilson Thompson , a leading Hardshell "founding father," and of whom I will have much to say in future chapters, said:
"When I was raised from the water the first thought that I recollect was, “O! that sinners could but see and feel the beauties of a Savior’s love!” Such a weighty and painful sense of their blind and dead condition came over me that I felt a strong desire to speak of the glorious plan of salvation." (Autobiography, chapter three)
That is wonderful to read! A precious story! Sad, however, that this evangelistic spirit was soon lost by this brother! How did he lose this zeal? What happened?
Before I answer those questions, from citations from his "Autobiography," I want to cite statements from him where this early missionary spirit was at work in his heart and conscience. After that I will cite him on the great "ephiphany" that he experienced one day on a lonely dusty road in the wilderness of Kentucky.
From Chapter twelve, a chapter titled - "Conflict and Deliverance," this Elder writes:
"...for I had viewed the missionary scheme only as being a benevolent plan for promoting the spread of the gospel. Whether or not it was a scriptural plan, I had not examined, nor once questioned.
My mind became greatly impressed with the vast importance of preaching the gospel to ALL nations. And as these poor heathen savages were among us (Indians - SG), and we had their land, and had greatly reduced their numbers, I felt that I would seize the opportunity now offered for carrying the gospel among them."
I must stop at this point and ask every Hardshell to answer this simple question about what Thompson has written about his early desires to be a missionary. Was he at this time being led by the Spirit and word of God or by the devil? This is a very important question! They must answer it! If they say yes, then they will not be able, justly or consistently, to say that his later experience, wherein he lost this missionary spirit, was also of God rather than, as I believe, was of the devil and of the flesh.
"I soon made my resolution known to the churches, but I met with strong opposition from all the members. My house soon became crowded, day and night, with my best friends, often pleading with tears in their eyes for me NOT to go. They presented their own destitute condition, if I should leave them; and then they would point out all the horrors and privations that I must endure in spending a life among these superstitious and cruel barbarians. Elder William Jones, whom I regarded as an able teacher in Israel, came, with several others, and stayed most of two days and one night. He labored hard to persuade me to abandon the undertaking, but all to no effect. No one said a word about the enterprise being wrong or anti-scriptural; all seemed to admit that the wonderful movements, the zeal and perseverance now so suddenly and so simultaneously springing up in the United States and Europe did surely give some strong indications that the time was at hand when the gospel was to be preached to every nation. All this was admitted, but I must not leave them to engage in this work."
I must here pause and emphasize several important points from these words of the great "Father Thompson."
First, observe how Thompson, by his narration of the discussions among the Baptists concerning his stated "resolution" to go fulfill the "Great Commission," by going to Indiana and preaching the gospel, with the great Missionary Baptist, Elder Isaac McCoy, that he gives us a picture of what the Baptists believed about missions and the "Great Commission."
Thompson basically admits that there was not an anti-mission Hardshell Baptist in existence! There was no opposition to the sending of missionaries, by the church, to heathens who had never heard the gospel! The only opposition was from friends who wanted him to stay because they wanted him as pastor!
Anyone reading this story, thus far, must be awestruck with the missionary zeal that filled the heart of Wilson Thompson! He came out of the waters of baptism wanting to preach the gospel to dead sinners, and believed that their salvation depended upon it.
He believed, and who can doubt it, that he had been providentially prepared for this mission trip to the Indians, and to join Elder McCoy!
Who can doubt that he was being led by the Spirit of God to do as he had been prepared to do and had been inspired to do? Well, what happened to quench this missionary Spirit that was sent to him by the Lord? Are we not all now anxious to see the "end of the story"?
"This, I thought, looked selfish in them; for if the time had come for the gospel to be preached to those heathen people, some one must go and preach it, and I believed then, as I do now, that God fixes the field of labor for each of His called ministers, and in that place alone will they be profitable. And when He is about to move one of His ministers from one place to another, circumstances and impressions will open up the way. My mind was not decided as yet, as to whether I should finally engage as a missionary or not; this should depend on my impressions and their evidence respecting my duty as presented to my mind. I must be satisfied what was the Lord’s will, and that should govern me without regarding ease or toil, privation or plenty; and for this knowledge I was seeking and praying, fully believing that God would direct me, for I was submissive to His will. This I told to all that talked to me."
I must here pause again to emphasize certain points from his testimony. First, he clearly was not of the view, at this state in his life and ministry, that the "Great Commission" had been fulfilled! So, even though he had fellowship with another Hardshell "founding father," with Elder Gilbert Beebe, he nevertheless disagreed with Beebe, who promoted the idea that it had been fulfilled. Thompson may have later changed his views on the "Great Commission," after he became an "anti-mission" or Hardshell Baptist, but he did not believe such things at the first, nor did the Baptists with whom he was associated.
Second, about going to preach the gospel to the "heathen," he says - "someone must go and do it." Oh that the Hardshells of today would heed these words of their beloved founder!
Third, he says that his "mind was not decided as yet as to whether he should engage as a missionary or not." Obviously then Thompson, at the start, did not believe it was against the bible or Baptist beliefs for him to be a missionary to the heathen!
"My contemplated winter tour to Raccoon Station and thence though the Indian tribes in the Wabash Valley, and so on to Fort Wayne, where Elder McCoy designed a location, would probably show, by the next spring, what the prospect of success was, and what the path of duty would probably be. I met their arguments on privations and hardships by saying: “I was born in the new settlements of Kentucky, which the Indians called the ‘‘bloody ground’’, in the year 1788, and I had been raised to the use of the rifle; the chase of the deer, the bear, the panther, and other wild animals, was the sport of my leisure hours; I had learned most of the habits of the Indians, and was used to camp life; I was a woodsman that could not lose my compass, and I did not know but the Omnipotent Disposer of events might have been superintending my education in the forest as a college far more suitable for an Indian missionary than any school of science could be. These matters time would doubtless develop.” I further told my friends that I hoped to be found submissively waiting and observing the openings of Providence, prayerfully seeking for wisdom to understand them, and for the leadings of the Holy Spirit to guide me in the right way that I might not go astray, for “it was not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
Thompson was clearly in the Spirit with these thoughts! The Holy Spirit was definitely laying out to him clearly his duty. How can anyone reading these words today and not see a beautiful picture of how God both prepares and calls a missionary! But, what happens to stop him?He continues:
"I started home alone on foot, and as I was walking fast and in a thinking mood, suddenly these words came to my mind: “Who hath required this at your hand? ” It thrilled through my whole frame and set me all of a shiver. I stood motionless, except a shaking from head to foot, with eyes bent toward the ground. I could not answer the interrogation, but this inquiry started calmly in my mind: “God ‘‘worketh all things after counsel of His own will"; if He intends to send the gospel to the Indians, or to any other heathen nation, He has not only fixed the time for it but has arranged the system. And have you the evidence that this is either the time or the system which He hath appointed?” I saw myself on the verge of a precipice, and, like a blind man, was about to leap I knew not whither. I stood without moving hand or foot, and trembling with solemn awe! In my mind I said: “Lord, shall I know what Thy system is and whether this is it or not? O, Lord, teach me, and let not my feet be taken in the snare of the crafty.” The reply to my mind was quick and satisfactory: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’’ Search it carefully and you will find the Lord’’s plan.”
During all this time I stood like a statue in the road. It seemed to me that I must have stood there half an hour without raising my eyes from the ground or moving a limb. I often look back to that time as the most solemn period in all my life. When the last-mentioned text came so forcibly to my mind, I was fully satisfied that this new system of missions was of human origin. It was new, and I knew but very little about it; but the text relieved me, by fully convincing me that I would find the Lord’s plan plainly set out in the Scriptures. My trembling left me at once. I felt calm, but still I was anxious to discover the Divine system for the spread of the gospel among the heathen. I proceeded homeward with my mind at ease, and I have never felt that sort of mission fever since."
Lost his "mission fever"! A mission fever that clearly was of the Lord! Here is the story of the Hardshell denomination exemplified in the experience of one man! If one knows the history of this denomination, and of their affection for dreams, visions, and such experiences as Thompson had on that lonely road, he will agree with this observation.
I have already written much about Elder Wilson Thompson and his son Elder Grigg Thompson, and also his descendents and other relatives, Elders R.W. Thompson and Elder J. M. Thompson, all Hardshell debaters and apologists.
If the reader wants to see some things I have written previously on Wilson Thompson, he should read chapter 57 titled "The Original Paradigm." In that chapter I also show how Wilson Thompson seemed to hold to the "Three Stage Model" of the "new birth" as fellow Kentuckian, Elder William Conrad. So, we have Beebe, Trott, Thompson, and Conrad who clearly taught this view.
My dad (Elder Eddie K. Garrett, Sr.) told me recently that when he first came among the Hardshells, and when he had spent a lot of time with Elder S. T. Tolley (editor of the "The Christian Baptist" and whom I know personally, having been in his home several times, and whom both Brother Ross and myself have cited in our writings on the Hardshells), that he asked Elder Tolley about the view that there were "stages" in the new birth after the model I have discussed. He apparently was considering that view when seeking out the Hardshells. He said to me - "Elder Tolly told me - 'the Old Baptists will not have that.'"
Well, Tolley was wrong! In fact, that was the common first view of the Hardshells! Stay tuned! More to come!
Chpt. 75 - The Great Commission X
William Carey wrote in Section One, in "An Enquiry whether the Commission given by our Lord to his disciples be not still binding on us," the following to demonstrate how the "Great Commission" was still binding on all disciples and certainly not "fulfilled" as say many Hardshell Baptists.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, a little before his departure, commissioned his apostles to Go, and teach all nations; or, as another evangelist expresses it, Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. This commission was as extensive as possible, and laid them under obligation to disperse themselves into every country of the habitable globe, and preach to all the inhabitants, without exception or limitation. They accordingly went forth in obedience to the command, and the power of God evidently wrought with them. Many attempts of the same kind have been made since their day, and which have been attended with various success; but the work has not been taken up, or prosecuted of late years (except by a few individuals) with that zeal and perseverance with which the primitive Christians went about it. It seems as if many thought the commission was sufficiently put in execution by what the apostles and others have done; that we have enough to do to attend to the salvation of our own countrymen; and that, if God intends the salvation of the heathen, he will some way or other bring them to the gospel, or the gospel to them. It is thus that multitudes sit at ease, and give themselves no concern about the far greater part of their fellow-sinners, who to this day, are lost in ignorance and idolatry. There seems also to be an opinion existing in the minds of some, that because the apostles were extraordinary officers and have no proper successors, and because many things which were right for them to do would be utterly unwarrantable for us, therefore it may not be immediately binding on us to execute the commission, though it was so upon them. To the consideration of such persons I would offer the following observations."
From the above words of Carey it is clear that Hyper Calvinism was in existence, in some form, within the Baptist denomination of the late 18th century. The Hyperism at that time, however, was more practical than doctrinal.
Notice that Carey speaks of some Baptists who affirmed that 1) The Commission was sufficiently put into effect by the apostles and others (thus no need to fulfill it to today) and 2) The Lord would somehow, without their efforts, get the gospel to the heathen or the heathen to the gospel, and 3) that the Commission "may not be binding on us."
Thus, there is no denial that the seeds of Hyperism, in regards to the fulfilling of the "Great Commission," and of it being the means of bringing in the elect from among the nations, had been sown in the 18th century in England. But, more on this in future chapters.
"FIRST, If the command of Christ to teach all nations be restricted to the apostles, or those under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, then that of baptizing should be so too; and every denomination of Christians, except the Quakers, do wrong in baptizing with water at all."
"An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use means for the Conversion of the Heathens" by William Carey
I have already alluded to how the Hardshells have a serious "paradigm problem" (arising from their twisted views on the "Great Commission," and bias against fulfilling it), with regard to their ecclesiology regarding baptism and its administration. If you ask them who has the authority to baptize, you will not get a straight answer; And if you ask the typical Hardshell apologist questions along this line you will see him squirm and dance around the questions.
From the citations from leading Hardshells already given, one can see how the typical Hardshell wants to say that the authority to baptize is given to the gospel ministry, apart from the church, but then will generally reverse that statement by saying that the church will or must approve of the baptism for it to be legitimate, or affirm that baptism is a "church ordinance."
In actuality they are trying to take both positions, affirming that both the ministry and the church have authority in the matter, although there would be disagreements over the nature of the authority given to each.
Those Hardshells like Elder Harris, Eddie K. Garrett, Sr. (my father) as well as those who, in recent years, signed the "Pitts Resolution" against Elder Lasserre Bradley, Jr., and who say that the "Great Commission" was given only to the eleven apostles, and that it was fulfilled by them in the first century (and thus no longer binding upon either the church or the ministry), truly have a hard paradigm problem in dealing with this first point of Dr. Carey!
This ecclesiology problem, dealing with the question of - "who did Christ command to baptize?" - arises from erroneous views on the "Great Commission." Proof of this has already been demonstrated in previous chapters in this series, especially where a question was put to Elder Hassell regarding these very paradigm problems, and where he gave a wiggly and meaningless answer, one that did not really answer the question nor deal with the obvious paradigm problem.
Speaking of Elder S. Hassell, he wrote many times in defense of the standard Hardshell view on the "Great Commission,"; And, in answer to the question - 'to whom was the Great Commission given?' - said:
"Primarily to the Apostles, as shown by the connection, and as fulfilled by them initially - (Acts 1:8; 2:5; Rom. 10:18; Psalm 19:4; Col. 1:23), who went and preached the gospel both to Jews and Gentiles, wherever, in all the world, they were directed by the Spirit and Providence of God; and secondarily to all other true ministers of the first and succeeding centuries, as they are directed by the Spirit and Providence of God; and when the latter shall have preached the gospel of Christ (first preached by the Apostles) "in all the world for a witness unto all nations, then shall the end come," says Christ (Matt. 24:14). The end of the world or the age or the Christian dispensation has not come yet, but even until that time Christ will be with His true ministry (Matt. 28:20)." (Pittman & Hassell- Advocate and Messenger - November 1927)
I have already indicated how this is typical of Hardshell hermenuetics. Hassell wants to say that it was "initially fulfilled" but that it has never been "FULLY fulfilled"! Perhaps he took this view because it was a compromise position between the opposing views, regarding "fulfillment," being in this case a "fence straddler" of sorts. Again, it is typical of many of their preachers who try to find a "synthesis" (or 'sythetic'!) view.
Still, this leading Hardshell apologist and historian says that the "Great Commission" has not been "fulfilled" for obvious reasons. First, history and present facts about the world show that not all the nations have heard the gospel. Second, Christ has not come, which he must have, had this "Great Commission" been fulfilled.
It is probably the "Preterists" among the Hardshells who would attempt to reply to these arguments by affirming that Christ has already come!
Still, the predominant and historical (traditional) view has been to affirm the "Great Commission" has not been fulfilled, and would therefore be in agreement with Carey on this point, affirming that it is binding upon all ministers, at least.
It is interesting how Elder Hassell leaves the ordinary disciple and the church completely out of any part of fulfilling this Commission! He has the apostles "primarily" fulfilling it, and the ministers "secondarily" fulfilling it, but he will not allow for the average disciple to fulfill it "thirdly"!
Neo-Hardshell Jonathan Crosby wrote:
"Many today believe that this command of our Lord's still awaits fulfillment. It is widely taught that this command was given to all believers, and that all Christians are responsible to carry the gospel to every man, woman, and child in the world."
I wonder why "many" believe that the "Great Commission" is not fulfilled? Conversely, I wonder why only a little few, an extreme minority, believe that it has been fulfilled? As observed, only a splinter group among the Hardshells have, historically, believed that the "Great Commission" has been totally "fulfilled."
I know that there are probably cases in Christian history where only a small "few" held to a correct interpretation of a particular passage of scripture or on or of some minor points of doctrine, but it certainly requires, of those who disagree with 99% of Christian tradition, that they have solid grounds for doing so! After looking at all the evidence presented by those who believe in the "fulfilled" view, it can be safely said that such grounds do not exist, and that the "fulfilled view" begets numerous inconsistencies and contradictions, and other adverse consequences.
Notice what is involved in Elder Crosby's "fulfilled" view. First, it takes away from all believers the duty and privilege to preach (or tell, or announce) the good news to any!
This one statement by Elder Crosby demonstrates that the charge is just that accuses the Hardshells of being opposers of preaching the gospel, except in the few cases where it is preached by an "orderly" Hardshell preacher! I say it is devilish doctrine to teach that no one except preachers can fulfill the command to tell others of the gospel! The previous chapters in this series have totally refuted this nonsense of Elder Crosby.
Elder Crosby continues:
"But the Bible does not teach this false application of Jesus' words at all!"
A "false application" of the words "go and make disciples"? Only ordained Hardshell preachers can make a disciple? Good Lord! Have I not repeatedly said that it is both ironic and hypocritical for the Hardshells to have historically decried "priestcraft" as the worst of all evils, and then practice it to such a degree themselves? But, again, I have cited numerous scriptures that show that Crosby is simply either ignorant of those verses or stubbornly opposed to them.
Besides, many of the members of Hardshell churches, especially those who came from other denominations, were converted to Hardshellism by efforts of other ordinary Hardshell members. These ordinary disciples either taught the Hardshell gospel to the new members or passed out literature to them. So, the question becomes this - "did these ordinary members violate the scriptures in teaching Hardshellism to others?"
"First, notice that Jesus gave this command only to the eleven disciples (v.14). (See also Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:1-8) Nowhere in the Bible are New Testament believers taught that they must go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person."
Again, I have already disproven these false claims of Crosby. First, I have shown that the various "Commissions" to evangelize were not made only to "the eleven."
Crosby references Acts 1: 1-8, but I have shown, from that passage, that the entire church, every disciple, was filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit, and that the purpose of it was for the work of evangelizing. If Crosby's claims are correct, then only the apostles, or "the eleven" should have been empowered and filled.
Did only the "eleven" receive the "gift of tongues" or become "filled with the Spirit" and with "power"? Second, I have cited numerous verses where Christ commands all disciples to "speak from the roof-tops" all that they have heard him teach. Also, consider that the prophecy cited on the Day of Pentecost stated that "sons and daughters" would "prophesy."
"Second, the eleven disciples were specially empowered by the Holy Spirit with miraculous signs and abilities so that they might accomplish Jesus' command (Mark 16:17-20; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 3:1-7)."
ONLY "the eleven" apostles were so empowered? Is this man that ignorant of scripture? First, the ones who began to "fulfill" this Commission were not only the "eleven"! Does Crosby exclude all others in the book of Acts? Those who "went everywhere preaching" were only the "eleven"? Neither Matthias, Joseph, Barnabas, Silas, Philip, nor Paul were empowered to preach in its fulfillment? This is ridiculous.
Was it only the "eleven" that had "signs following" them? That worked miracles? That spoke in tongues? Does not the Book of Acts and the I Corininthian letter not show that these gifts were given to ordinary disciples in the church?
Crosby says further:
"Third, the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished the mission during their lifetimes in the first century A.D. Notice what Mark 16:20 plainly states:
"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
The Apostle Paul confirms the fulfillment of the Great Commission in Colossians 1:23:
"… the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven."
Notice what the Apostle Paul also said in Romans 16:26:
He stated that the gospel of Jesus Christ was "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith."
And so we see by the testimony of Scripture, the Great Commission that Jesus gave to the eleven disciples in Mark 16:15 was fully accomplished by His apostles during their lifetimes in the first century A.D. The Great Commission has been fulfilled!" ("Was the Great Commission fulfilled?")
Do all these verses teach that the "Great Commission" was "fulfilled"? Elder Hassell did not think so! Most of the Hardshells historically have avowed that it was not fulfilled. Elder J. R. Daily did not believe (as we shall see) that is was fulfilled. Did they not properly understand those verses cited by Crosby that supposedly teach that it has been fulfilled?
No doubt it was due to the verses cited by Crosby that lead Elder Hassell to say that the "Great Commission" was "initially" fulfilled. He did NOT, however, believe that these verses taught an actual fulfillment of it.
However, if the "Great Commission" is fulfilled, then Carey's argument stands firm, and so the Hardshells who take this view must deal with it, hopefully, in an honest manner.
If the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled, and no longer binding, then where is warrant for preaching, making disciples, teaching, baptizing, etc.?
If the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled, then why have we not seen the "end of the age"?
If the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled, then the promise of Christ's presence is also no longer valid!
If the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled, then why did Jesus say "I am with you till the end of the age"? Were all our Baptist forefathers in error for believing that these words indicated that the fulfilling of the "Great Commission" would culminate at the same time the world (age) ends?
Now, let us look at the passages offered by Crosby and others of the fulfilled view and see if they teach that the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled.
"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." (Mark 16: 20)
Crosby left out these words that precede the above citation.
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." (verses 17-19)
Who is the group denominated by the various pronouns in the above words? Is it simply the "eleven" (or "ten" as some affirm, seeing Thomas was not present the first Sunday evening of the resurrection)? No, clearly, as I have shown, there were many other disciples present with the "eleven" when the various "commissions" were given.
Also, if Crosby's view was correct, then the passage should say - "and these signs shall follow the eleven apostles" instead of saying "these signs shall follow them who believe." Are the number of "believers" limited to the "eleven"? Did the Lord "confirm the word" of the "eleven" only? Balderdash!
"Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." (Acts 8: 4 KJV)
Who is designated by the pronoun "they" in this verse? Is it "the eleven" only? Obviously not. Were most of these not ordinary disciples? Did they not go out and "preach the word"?
"The Apostle Paul confirms the fulfillment of the Great Commission in Colossians 1:23:
"… the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven."
This is the verse that gets cited the most often by those who believe the "Great Commission" has been fulfilled. However, such a view of the words of Paul is foolish. On this verse John Gill wrote:
"This must be understood not of every individual creature, even human and rational, that was then, or had been in, the world; but that it had been, and was preached far and near, in all places all over the world, to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; who are sometimes styled "every creature", "the creature", "the whole creation", "all men"..." (Commentary)
First, Gill believed that the words of Paul were simply to say that the gospel had been preached to men of every nation, without distinction, as the Lord commanded. Paul is affirming that the gospel had not been restricted to the Jews, as it had been prior to the death of Christ.
Also, the statement does not mean that the gospel had been preached in all parts of the globe, but in all parts of the Roman Empire.
If the view of Crosby and other Hardshells of the "fulfilled" view is correct on this passage, then why did Paul keep right on preaching and evangelizing after he penned those words to the Colossians? Did he stop "preaching" and "teaching"? Did he stop "making disciples" of all the nations? Did he stop baptizing?
Notice too what Paul says just a few verses later in Colossians 1.
"Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." (Verses 28, 29)
On this verse John Gill wrote:
"Ver. 28. Whom we preach,...Under the above considerations; as the riches, the glory, and the mystery of the Gospel; as the hope set before lost sinners to lay hold upon; as the only Saviour and Redeemer, by whose righteousness believers are justified, through whose blood their sins are pardoned, by whose sacrifice and satisfaction atonement is made, and in whose person alone is acceptance with God: Christ and him crucified, and salvation by him, were the subjects of the ministry of the apostles; on this they dwelt, and it was this which was blessed for the conversion of sinners, the edification of saints, the planting of churches, and the setting up and establishing the kingdom and interest of Christ:
warning every man; of his lost state and condition by nature; of the wrath to come, and the danger he is in of it; of the terrors of the Lord, and of an awful judgment; showing sinners that they are unrighteous and unholy, that their nature is corrupt and impure, their best righteousness imperfect, and cannot justify them before God; that they stand guilty before him, and that destruction and misery are in all their ways; and therefore advise them to flee from the wrath to come, to the hope set before them in the Gospel: and teaching every man in all wisdom; not natural, but spiritual and evangelical; the whole Gospel of Christ, the counsel of God, the wisdom of God in a mystery, and all the branches of it; teaching them to believe in Christ for salvation, to lay hold on his righteousness for justification, to deal with his blood for pardon, and with his sacrifice for the atonement of their sins; and to observe all things commanded by Christ, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly: by these two words, "warning" and "teaching", the several parts of the Gospel ministry are expressed; and which extend to all sorts of men, rich and poor, bond and free, greater and lesser sinners, Gentiles as well as Jews; and who are chiefly designed here, and elsewhere, by every man and every creature:
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; not in themselves, in which sense no man is perfect in this life; but in the grace, holiness, and righteousness of Christ, in whom all the saints are complete: or it may regard that ripeness of understanding, and perfection of knowledge, which, when arrived unto, saints become perfect men in Christ; and is the end of the Gospel ministry, and to which men are brought by it; see Eph 4:13; and to be understood of the presentation of the saints, not by Christ to himself, and to his Father, but by the ministers of the Gospel, as their glory and crown of rejoicing in the day of Christ.
Ver. 29. Whereunto I also labour,...In the word and doctrine, by preaching Christ, warning sinners of their danger, teaching them the way of salvation, and their duty; with this view, that, in the great day of account, he might bring a large number of them, and set them before Christ as the seals of his ministry, as instances of the grace of Christ, and as perfect in him." (Commentary)
Clearly Paul was not a Hardshell, nor was Dr. Gill! Notice that he seems to say that it is a sinner's "duty" to accept the gospel and the salvation it offers. Note also that Gill says that lost sinners should be "advised" to "flee from the wrath to come" and to "lay hold of salvation" in Christ. He does not sound like a Hyperist here!
Notice also that the words of Paul clearly show that he did not believe that the "Great Commission" was fulfilled because he is still out there "preaching" and "teaching" and "warning" those he calls "every man" or "every creature"!
Besides, by the view of Crosby and others who are insistent upon limiting the command of the "Great Commission" to only "the eleven," this would exclude the preaching of Paul, who was not of "the eleven"! Who did this preaching in all the world that Paul refers to? Is it only "the eleven," or only "apostles"? Was it not mostly by ordinary disciples? A fact that even Hardshells like Hassell admit in their writings? These writers do not limit the words "they went everywhere preaching" to only "the eleven" or to only the "apostles."
Crosby next cites Romans 16:26 where Paul mentions how the gospel had been "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith."
But, again, the same rebuttal arguments made above for the verse in Colossians are applicable here. It is simply a statement that the gospel had been preached to all ethnic groups without hesitation or limitation. It is not saying that the "Great Commission" had been fulfilled.
Elder J. R. Daily wrote:
"In "The Apostolic Herald," for December 1, 1905, Eld. J. V. Kirkland's paper, the editor says, "As to the commission, he (Eld. J. H. Oliphant) says, 'They claim that the commission was given to the apostles as an organic body, and is resting on the church today." Our reason for this is that the supper was given to them and them only in its origin, and it has ever been considered by all Bible scholars as a church ordinance. If the supper is a church ordinance the apostles must have been considered as an organic body or the nucleus of the church. The commission was given to the very same body. If they were an organic body or church when the supper was given to them, they were when the commission was given to them. If they were not an organic body the supper could not have been a church ordinance in its origin, and if not in its origin it is not yet. Jesus commanded the apostles to teach all they baptized to observe all things whatsoever he commanded them. If the apostles must teach the baptized to observe all that Christ had commanded them, and he commanded them to go into all the world and teach all nations, it follows that the command is binding on all the baptized."
In futute chapters dealing with historical information on the Hardshell denomination, I will be giving details about the various divisions that have taken place in the 200 year history of the denomination. The names and careers of men like Elder Kirkland, Elder Burnam, and Elder Pence, will be discussed. Elder Kirkland is an important figure in the history of the Hardshells. He was one who tried to lead the Hardshells away from their "extremism," especially as it related to the carrying out of the "Great Commission."
Elder Kirkland saw the "paradigm problems" that the Hardshells had created for themselves regarding the relationship between the ordinance of baptism and the authority of the church and ministry. He saw the weight of the "Lord's Supper" argument (that I have already mentioned as disproving much of the Hardshell argumentation on the topic) as destructive to the apologetic given by his brethren in their denial that baptism is a church ordinance. Elder Kirkland knew the history of his people, even writing a history of them, and therefore also knew that all his Baptist forefathers held to the view that baptism was a church ordinance and must therefore have been given to the church in the "Great Commission."
Elder Kirkland also mentions the most devastating argument of all, and one that I mentioned in my first chapter in this series. He saw that the words "teach them (the church or body of disciples) to observe all things (including the ordinances of the 'Lord's Supper' and of 'Baptism') I have commanded you (the apostles or original band of disciples)..." Jesus commanded the first disciples to make disciples by teaching and baptizing them and these first disciples taught new disciples to do the same! But more on all this shortly.
Let me now cite further Elder Daily's rebuttal against Elder Kirkland. Daily says:
"Thus Eld. Kirkland takes the same position that Throgmorton did, and uses the same arguments in defence of it. He, like Carpenter, seems to think that "not ministers only, but all Christians, ordained or unordained, male or female, old and young," are bound by the words of Jesus in commanding the apostles to go and preach the gospel. The supper was intended to be eaten by all alike, ordained and unordained, male and female. To say that the commission to go and preach was binding upon all in the same sense implies that all, ordained and unordained, male and female, are to be required to go and preach. This absurd position is taken by New School Baptists, to support their theory of modern missionism. To say that the command to teach the brethren and sisters to observe all things commanded them embraces preaching as well as other duties is absurd, for this would make it the duty of all the brethren and sisters to baptize as well."
There are a few observations that demand stating here. Notice that Daily does not present one argument from scripture to disprove the position of Elder Kirkland. He simply calls it "absurd" and thinks that just saying this makes it so! And he is one of the "great debaters" of the Hardshells?
Second, one can see the proverbial "hot spot" that Elder Daily was occupying in trying to defend his extreme views on the "Great Commission"! How can he deny that not only the scriptures dealing with the "Great Commission," but many other scriptures also, show it to be a duty and privilege for every disciple to be out "making" other "disciples"?
This duty of disciples to spread the gospel does not necessitate that one have the duty also to be pastors! That again is a non sequiter. When Jesus said - "go and make disciples" - he did not intend to restrict this to only the ordained clergy! Also, when Jesus said to his disciples, all of them, to "teach" and "preach" his word, he did not mean do it professionally and formally as ordained clergy! The words "teach" and "preach" are not to be understood in a professional sense as Daily and the Hardshells want to do.
And, again, what kind of "argument" is it to say that Elder Kirkland's position cannot be right because Elder Thorgmorten believed it? Did not Elder Throgmorten have two debates with Hardshells (Potter and then Daily) on the question of "Who Are The Primitive Baptists?" Did not Elder Throgmorton show that he was more "primitive" or "original" on the matter of "means" in the new birth and on the "Great Commission"? Indeed he did. Daily should have seen that he was himself out of line with his forefathers and that Elders Kirkland and Throgmorton were in line with them. But, more on all this shortly.
Daily says that the view of Elder Kirkland (and the Baptist forefathers) cannot be correct, for if it were so, then not only could all disciples "teach" and "preach" or "make disciples," but could "baptize." But, did Elder Daily disprove the proposition that says that any ordinary baptized believer may baptize another? No, he did not. He simply assumes that the readers agree with that view, and to him that is sufficient. But, plainly, the "Great Commission" does authorize any teaching (baptized) disciple to baptize others!
I shall shortly show, however, that this was the view of the first Particular Baptists of 17th century England, of Dr. Gill, and of a large portion of our Baptist forefathers. The most common view among American Particular Baptist was to believe that any one designated by the church, and who is himself a member, could do the baptizing, whether he were ordained or not. They did not believe that there must be a "proper admininistrator" for baptism to be valid. But more on this shortly and also in future chapters on Hardshell Landmarkism and Ecclesiology.
Elder Daily continues:
"D. B. Ray, a missionary Baptist of note, says in his "Baptist Succession," page 34, "But the commission was given to them (the apostles) in their church capacity: and, consequently, it remains with the churches to this day." This position, then, that the commission was given to the church to send her preachers into all the world, and not to the preachers to go, is the position taken by the New School Baptists. It is the bedrock of modern missionism, and is false and dangerous. It shifts the responsibility from the ministers, where it was placed by Christ, to the church, where he never placed it, and lays the foundation for a salaried ministry with all the pernicious evils that follow in its wake. We appeal in love to all our beloved brethren to "beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
Again, let us examine closely the line of reasoning of Elder Daily. First, he says the position that the "Great Commission" was given to the church or to all baptized disciples (the real "Old Baptist" position, I might add), is "false and dangerous"! Oh that is a good one! The actual history of the Hardshell denomination disproves this as being the case, however. Rather, it demonstrates that it is Daily's view that is "false and dangerous."
Which view has done more to spread the gospel and make new disciples? No wonder Elder Cayce, as I observed in previous chapters, did not want to defend the history of his people as regards being obedient to the "Great Commission"!
Which is more "false and dangerous"? To restrict the telling of others about Jesus to only ordained clergy OR to include every baptized disciple?
Which is more "false and dangerous," the view that says the "Great Commission" has been "fulfilled," either "initially" or "fully," OR the one that says it is still binding?
Which is more "false and dangerous," the view that says the authority and oversight of the ordinance of baptism is in the hands of the ministry ALONE, OR one the view that says it is in the hands of the church as well as the ministry?
Which is more "false and dangerous," the view that says the church has no duty to support missionaries OR the view that says that they do have such a duty?
Elder Daily also says that the view that says the "Great Commission" is binding on all the body of Christ, or on every baptized disciple, "shifts responsibility from the ministry to the church." Yet, what has he and his Hardshell brethren done? Have they not done the reverse? Have they not "shifted the responsibility from the ordinary disciple to an ordained clergy?" How is this NOT "priestcraft"? Besides, why does he see this as an "either or" question, as if the "responsibility" to "evangelize" could not be a shared responsibility between the church and the missionary, evangelist, or elder?
He also says that the belief that the "Great Commission" was given to every baptized disciple supports another unscriptural idea, that of a "salaried ministry"! As if that is forbidden in scripture! But more on this point in future chapters.
"That this ordinance is taught in the New Testament no one will question. That it was intended to be perpetuated is evident from the commission given by the Saviour to preach and baptize, and from the fact that the apostles, acting under that commission, did continue to practice it. This commission was given just before Christ ascended to heaven, which shows that it was designed for the dispensation then introduced. No change of dispensation has taken place, so the commission has never been revoked. The promise of the presence of Jesus to the end of the world clearly implies the perpetuity of the commission. True ministers of the gospel, now acting under that commission, are bound by it to preach the gospel and administer baptism. In this investigation of the subject we wish to consider the following points: 1. What baptism is. 2. Who are to be baptized. 3. What its design is. 4. Who are authorized to baptize."
("Water Baptism" - Zion's Advocate, Vol. 39, No. 10, October 1900)
It is all well and good that Elder Daily uprooted the false notion, existing only among his heretical denomination, about the "Great Commission" was fulfilled. Thus, several of the greatest Hardshell debaters and apologists, Elders Daily, Cayce, Hassell, Thompson, Potter, etc., all believed that the "Great Commission" was not fulfilled, just as Dr. Carey pointed out long ago. Daily's error is in limiting the responsibility, duty, and privilege of "discipling" others to only the clergy.
It seems that we again have another "reform" movement within the Hardshell denomination led by Elders Lasserre Bradley, Jr., and Elder Gus Harter. As I have mentioned before, I know these two men personally from my years in the Hardshell church. As I have said before, there have been several attempts by certain leaders in the "anti-mission movement" or "Old School Baptist" denomination to "reform" the denomination, or to "roll back the tide" that was taking the denomination further into extremism.
The "Pence-Burnam" division over "means" and over "Sunday Schools" and "Missions," and over the "Great Commission," has already been mentioned in my book, and was an attempt to "reform" the Hardshells. Kirkland also attempted to "reform" the Hardshells but also met with failure. The churches represented by these "reformers," where are they now? Yes, some became Missionary Baptist, yet surely remained Calvinistic, but whether they remained independent and outside of associations, are questions I cannot answer at this time. But I will have more to say about this in upcoming chapters. Also, I will be having more to say about this modern attempt at "reform" by Bradley and Harter in upcoming chapters later in this book. But, here is what Harter said about the "Great Commission" in writing to his more "conservative" or "hard-headed" brethren.
"In Matthew 28:19-20, baptism was given as a church ordinance and inseparably linked to baptism was the command to teach all nations. You cannot accept baptism as a church ordinance without accepting that the command to teach all nations is also addressed to the church." (Elder Gus Harter, Atlanta Newsletter Jan. 1996)
("Today's Primitive Baptist Missionary Movement Compared with the Black Rock Address" by Elder Claude McKee)
Well, obviously many others have seen the silliness and absurdity of the argumentation of the Hardshells on the "Great Commission." It is really easy to demonstrate the contradictions and inconsistencies in the position that affirms that the "authority to baptize" and to "evangelize" was not given to the church. Kirkland saw it. Pence and Burnam and Todd saw it. I saw it. Harter has seen it. How many others today are seeing it?
Elder Potter wrote:
"I argue that as it (Lord's Supper) is a church ordinance, it necessarily follows that baptism is as truly a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper as that the ordinance of baptism is essential to a gospel church."
"The first text that I will introduce in support of my position is the commission, as recorded by Matthew: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
"Second, to baptize, and afterwards teach them to do all other things that Jesus had commanded them. If he had commanded them to observe the communion at all, which will not be denied, then it is plain that the communion is embraced in "all things whatsoever I have commanded you," and, if so, then baptism is given by the Lord, himself, before the communion. The best way for Christians to prove their loyalty and fidelity to the Savior and His word is to obey him." (Communion Lecture 1)
Again, the inconsistency here is clearly observable. The apostles taught the church to keep the Lord's Supper, as an "ordinance," and this was part of the "all things" mentioned in the Commission. But, why does he not see that the ordinance of baptism was likewise part of the "all things"? I have repeated this rebuttal more than once. Why does Elder Potter EXCLUDE the command to "go" and the command to "teach," and the command to "preach," and the command to "make disciples," and the command to "baptize"?
Most of the original objections to "mission boards" and "societies" and "agencies" were because it took this duty away from the CHURCH. But, if those people, who originally made the objections, believed that this duty was not given to the church, then how could they legitimately argue this way?
Most writings and articles of faith of the Primitive Baptists say that "baptism and the Lord's supper are the two ordinances the Lord GAVE TO THE CHURCH."
"We believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only two ordinances prescribed for the New Testament Church. We practice the washing of the saints’ feet as an example given by the Lord of Christian humility. (See Matthew 26:26-28, 28:18-20, John 13:3-17, I Timothy 5:10, I Peter 3:21.)"
I dare say that old Primitive Baptists documents will all say the same thing. They all show that the Old Baptists all spoke of baptism as being given to the church and as a "church ordinance."
Elder Daily, in other writings, argued that the "ordinances" were delivered to the church, per I Cor. 11: 2. Did this exclude baptism? The "making of disciples"?
Elder Claud Cayce wrote:
"Those who are called of God to preach the gospel are commanded not only to teach or preach and to baptize, but they are to teach them to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Editorial writings, Volume III, page 274)
It is amazing that Elder Cayce could have affirmed that those who were given the commission were to teach new disciples to "observe ALL things" that Christ commanded the apostles and yet turn around and deny it by saying that the commands to "preach (proclaim)," and to "teach," and to "baptize," and to "make disciples" (the main verb), are NOT commands to teach the average disciple to "observe"! Is this not great blindness?
As I said previously in this series, the Hardshells read the words of Jesus in Matthew 28 and interpret it as if it read thusly:
"You (ordained ministers) teach them (the disciples, or non-ministers) to observe all things I have commanded YOU (the ordained ministers) EXCEPT for the COMMAND to GO, and the COMMAND to MAKE DISCIPLES, and the COMMAND to BAPTIZE, and the COMMAND to TEACH"!
No, no, say the Hardshells! DO NOT TEACH them to observe the commands to "go, teach, disciple, or to baptize"!
"All things commanded" to the apostles must include the commands to go, teach, preach, disciple, and baptize, must it not? How can one exclude these commands and then say "we teach disciples to observe every command that Christ gave to the apostles"?
Cayce says further:
"In the days of Gill and Brine there were not disturbances among the Baptists on the question of the commission or missions." ("History Repeats Itself" - Volume I, page 153)
"Gill and Brine were eminent men, they were representative men, of the Baptist Church in their day, and they did not call upon the unregenerate to repent and believe the gospel." (Page 154)
"The churches were having no trouble on the mission question in those days. It is evident that the Baptist ministers and churches of that day did not hold to the idea that the obligation of the commission was resting upon the church, for they were not engaged in mission work." (Ibid)
Cayce is in error when he implies that the Baptists of the 18th century, or even before then, did not believe that the church or average disciple was under solemn obligation to spread the gospel in their communities and in foreign countries. Yes, sure, the Baptists did not practice mass evangelism then to the same extent as in later years. But, Cayce is wrong to infer that this was due to the denomination not believing in them.
First, the denomination did not come out of the wilderness till the 17th century and were still a relatively small denomination and were therefore limited to mission work in England and nearby countries. Second, persecution kept them from doing any evangelism on a widespread scale. When you are being jailed for preaching the gospel, you cannot very well get heavily involved in mission work. Third, yes, there was a spirit of Hyperism existent then in England when Carey and Fuller began to stir the denomination in regard to missions.
Providence had opened the door by growing the denomination and by advances in travel and by other such things.
The Old Baptists in England did not sing in church for a long time. Did this mean that it was wrong? Were they not wrong not to sing and did they not need to be "reformed"?
Cayce cites the "Black Rock Address" which stated - "we do regard as of the first importance the command given of Christ, primarily to the apostles, and through them to His ministers in every age, to ‘Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,’ and do feel an earnest desire to be found acting in obedience thereunto, as the providence of God directs our way, and opens a door of utterance for us." (Page 155)
But why did he not cite this part?
"...the Lord has manifestly established the order, that his ministers should be sent forth by the churches. But the mission plan is to send them out by a mission society."
Cayce says further:
"If you remove the idea from the minds of men that the commission is binding on the church, you would have removed the foundation from under the whole mission theory and the fabric would crumble and fall, having no foundation upon which to stand." (Ibid)
And, that my friends, has been the "mission" of the Hardshell clergy ever since their genesis. They are trying to get disciples to quit their evangelizing of others! They are trying to get them to stop making other Christians! To stop telling others about Jesus and the gospel!
What good has come of this taking away the responsibility of mission work from the church and average disciple? Has the Hardshell "ministry" fulfilled THEIR "responsibility" and executed the "Great Commission"?
Cayce says further:
"These brethren at Black Rock held the original view, that the commission was given primarily to the apostles and through them to the ministry in every age. This was Gill’s view."
Yes, they did apply the "Great Commission" to the ministry, but they did not exclude the church! I have already cited the Black Rock Address to prove that point. Yes, Gill did believe the "Great Commission" was binding on the ministry, but NOT TO THE EXCLUSION OF THE CHURCH. I have already cited Gill where he said that the churches were to "send out evangelists" and to support them financially.
He then cites Gill wherein Gill said - "...and besides, this commission not only included the apostles, but reaches to all the ministers of the gospel in succeeding ages to the end of the world; and since this, one part of the world which was not known, is now discovered: and the order includes that, as well as the then known parts of the world; and the gospel accordingly has been sent into it." (Page 156)
Cayce then comments, saying - "This shows that Gill held that the commission was to the apostles and ministry and not to the church." (Ibid)
But, where did he get that from Gill? Did Gill say that it was not given to the church or to the ordinary disciple? I will shortly cite Gill which shows that Cayce is wrong on this point. But, I have already shown how they misinterpret and misquote the good doctor quite frequently. But, before I do, let me cite a little more from Elder Cayce.
"The ordinances can be administered by those, only, who are authorized by the church to administer them." ("Authority to Ordain" Page 385)
"Authorized by the church to baptize"? I thought he believed that every Hardshell minister got his "commission" directly from Christ? If a minister has to get authority from the church to baptize and to preach, then this destroys his whole apologetic that avers that the church has no responsibility in this matter! But, Cayce, like all others who handle this subject, show how it is indeed a "hot potato" issue! Is baptism an ordinance of the church or the ministry? He cannot have it both ways without denying Hardshellism!
Cayce writes further:
"This is one trouble now in the church of God-preachers control too much. They are too much like lords and masters, instead of "your servants for Jesus’ sake." (Volume IV, page 41 - "A Suggestion")
I wonder why so many Hardshell preachers became "control lords" and "masters"? Could it be because of their views on giving to much "responsibility" on the ministry to the exclusion of the body of disciples?
1644 London Confession - Article XLI.
"The persons designed by Christ, to dispense this ordinance, the Scriptures hold forth to a preaching Disciple, it being no where tied to a particular church, officer, or person extraordinarily sent, the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them under no other consideration, but as considered Disciples. Isa. 8:16; Mat. 28:16-19; John 4:1-2; Acts 20:7; Mat. 26:26."
These words of the first Old Baptists show:
1) That they believed any baptized disciple could baptize another disciple. Thus, Cayce and the Hardshells are not Old Baptists and are against the oldest confessions of the Baptists.
2) They also show that the first Baptists believed that the "Great Commission" (referenced by them) was given to "ordinary disciples," or to the church.
Besdies, it all makes sense that if one disciple can impart to another the substance or reality of the gospel, then surely he can impart to him, or perform upon him, the symbol of it!Article LI.
"Remembering always we ought to obey God rather then men, and grounding upon the commandment, commission, and promise of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, who as He has power in heaven and earth, so also has promised, if we keep His commandments which He has given us, to be with us to the end of the world: and when we have finished our course, and kept the faith, to give us the crown of righteousness, which is laid up for all that love His appearing, and to whom we must give an account of all our actions, no man being able to discharge us of the same.
1) Acts 2:40,41; 4:19; 5:28,29,41; 20:23; 1 Thes. 3:3; Phil. 1:27-29; Dan. 3:16,17; 6:7, 10, 22, 23.
2) Matth. 28:18-20; 1 Tim. 6:13-15; Rom. 12:1.8; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Tim. 4:7,8; Rev. 2:10; Gal 2:4,5 "
This language is clear and unmistakeable. These first Old Baptists believed that the "Great Commission" was given to every disciple and was still binding and would be till the end of the world. There is no way to limit the pronouns used by these brethren to mean only the "clergy" but clearly denote all members of the church.
John Gill wrote:
Baptism: A Public Ordinance of Divine Worship
"As the first covenant, or testament, had ordinances of divine service, which are shaken, removed, and abolished; so the New Testament, or gospel dispensation, has ordinances of divine worship, which cannot be shaken, but will remain until the second coming of Christ: these, as Austin says, are few; and easy to be observed, and of a very expressive signification. Among which, baptism must be reckoned one, and is proper to be treated of in the first place; for though it is not a church ordinance, it is an ordinance of God, and a part and branch of public worship. When I say it is not a church ordinance, I mean it is not an ordinance administered in the church, but out of it, and in order to admission into it, and communion with it; it is preparatory to it, and a qualification for it; it does not make a person a member of a church, or admit him into a visible church; persons must first be baptized, and then added to the church, as the three thousand converts were; a church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied they are baptized before they are admitted into communion with it. Admission to baptism lies solely in the breast of the administrator, who is the only judge of qualifications for it, and has the sole power of receiving to it, and of rejecting from it; if not satisfied, he may reject a person thought fit by a church, and admit a person to baptism not thought fit by a church; but a disagreement is not desirable nor advisable: the orderly, regular, scriptural rule of proceeding seems to be this: a person inclined to submit to baptism, and to join in communion with a church, should first apply to an administrator; and upon giving him satisfaction, be baptized by him; and then should propose to the church for communion; when he would be able to answer all proper questions: if asked, to give a reason of the hope that is in him, he is ready to do it; if a testimony of his life and conversation is required, if none present can give it, he can direct where it is to be had; and if the question is put to him, whether he is a baptized person or not, he can answer in the affirmative, and give proof of it, and so the way is clear for his admission into church fellowship. So Saul, when converted, was immediately baptized by Ananias, without any previous knowledge and consent of the church; and, it was many days after this that he proposed to join himself to the disciples, and was received (Acts 9:18,19,23,26-28), and as it is water baptism which is meant..."
Dr. Gill's position, it seems to me, would be more consistent with the Hardshells who say that baptism was solely given to the ministry. I do see inconsistencies in the view of Dr. Gill, but the above commentary of Dr. Gill does not contradict what was said in the first London Confession. Dr. Gill believed that an "evangelist" or traveling minister, even unordained by a church, may adminster baptism. So, he did not restrict it to only ordained men, men who got their authority from the church. What Gill is saying is that any man who is under a calling to preach and to spread the gospel, and who in fact does so, may baptize others who come to embrace the gospel he preaches. But, I will elaborate on these points in future chapters.
Elder Daily wrote:
"As it was not said to the apostles to send into the world but to go, we have always held that the commission was given to the ministry. That the minister must have the sanction of the church is not disputed...the commission to go and preach is one thing, and an approval or sanction of that commission is quite another."
Is it "quite another thing"? No, only in Daily's twisted mind.Daily said:
"Christ sent forth preachers who traveled and preached extensively and successfully before they were authorized by the church to baptize."
("A Loving Appeal to the Primitive Baptists" By Elder John R. Daily 1906)
But, why must he get authority from the church if the church has no authority in the matter of baptisms? Does the church name and appoint the administrator or not?
He said again:
"Who are authorized to baptize. This is a subject about which there has been much disputing. Many contend that the lack of authority on the part of the administrator does not invalidate the baptism; or rather that no one person has authority to baptize to the exclusion of any others. Mr. A. Campbell laid down the following as a rule of his faith: "There is no law in the christian Scriptures authorizing any one class of citizens in the christian kingdom to immerse to the exclusion of any other class of citizens." He found no precept or example, however, even when pressed by Mr. Rice in their noted debate, in proof that all "citizens of the kingdom," ministers and laity, men and women, adults and children, have equal authority to baptize. We once heard a preacher, who pretended to be a Baptist, outstrip Campbell himself in stating this loose practice. Just before the Pence-Burnam party left the Danville Association, of Indiana, one of their leading preachers, J. W. Shirley, in a session of that Association when this question was being discussed, arose and made this startling statement: "If the devil himself should transform himself into an angel of light, and deceive and baptize one of the Lord's children, that baptism would be valid." We give this merely to show to what extremes people may be led by heresy."
But, Campbell was right on this point! He could state, at times, the proper view of Baptists. He knew their history. And, he was accurately stating the teaching of both the bible and of the Baptists. The question about the validity of baptist administered by the devil is a far cry different from saying, as did the first Confession, that any disciple can baptize. But, our first Baptist forefathers dealt at length with this issue when they debated with other denominations on the validity of their baptisms. They taught that the case of John the Baptist proved that an unbaptized person may adminster baptism. They said that to affirm that only a baptized person could baptize would nullfy all the baptisms of John, for John was himself never baptized! John also did not get his authority for baptizing from a church. So, the case of John the Baptist probably does more to uphold the view of Gill. But, as I said, Gill did not say that baptism administered by an appointed member of the church or a "teaching disciple" was not scriptural.
Daily writes further:
"Our position is that the authority to administer baptism is restricted, by the inspired word, to certain persons to the exclusion of all others. In the first place it is restricted to the church. The commission to preach and to baptize was given by the Saviour to his disciples. Then they constituted his church. On the day of Pentecost "they that gladly receive his word were baptized" and thus added to the church. From that day to the last recorded fact given us in the Acts of the Apostles there is not an instance to be found where this holy rite was performed by any one not connected with the church of Christ. As this was the practice of the Apostles, we must follow their example in order to be apostolic in this respect. Those who tarried at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high received their authority from Christ. The authority to baptize, therefore, was committed to the church, to whom the Lord gave apostles, teachers, prophets, &c., for the work of the ministry. The office of bishop or elder was formed, and to such as were deemed worthy and competent to fill that office was given authority to administer the ordinances of the church."
Here is another contradiction by Daily. Who was "endued with power from on high"? Was it only the "eleven" or only the "apostles" or only the "elders"? No! So, Daily's argumentation goes down the drain! Daily is not handling this "hot potato" very well! He wants to try to say the authority to preach and to baptize comes inititally from the church when it ordains a man, and yet say that the church was never given authority in those areas! Well, as I have said before, "that dog won't hunt."Daily says:
"A plea is sometimes made in behalf of spurious baptisms that it is impossible to prove a regular succession of authorized administrators from the apostles to the present day. This plea assumes that "the gates of hell" have prevailed against the church, which is a palpable contradiction of the Saviour's declaration. If there has been a period, long or short, at which the church set up by Christ became extinct, then the King has been dethroned, his work has been a failure, his purpose has been overturned, his promise has failed, and his word has proved false! How preposterous! This plea assumes that to be true for which there is not only no proof, but which is in direct opposition to all the facts pertaining to the case. The reason the idea of church succession is so bitterly opposed by the Arminian churches is that they know that the proof of it gives them no right to claim authority.
Again, the plea is sometimes made that the candidate is baptized upon a profession of his own faith, and it matters not what the faith and order of the administrator is. It is true that when one is scripturally baptized, he is baptized because he holds right views and sentiments, but it is also true that he is baptized into the faith of the church. His baptism is a public acceptance, on his part, of the doctrine of the church. When a person is baptized into the Methodist church by a Methodist preacher, that act declares him to hold to the doctrine of that church, and so of the Presbyterians, and any other sect. If he does not believe the doctrine of the church into which he is baptized, his baptism declares a falsehood. It follows that the doctrine or faith of the candidate and of the church into which he is baptized must be right to render his baptism valid gospel baptism."
"For centuries the Old Order of Baptists have been hated and derided for their practice of baptizing those who came to them from other churches. How much more popular they would be with the world if they would abandon this distinguishing practice and receive the works of men! But is it not much better to be consistent than popular? Early in the fourth century, and during many subsequent centuries, the Baptists, who were opposed to the Roman Catholic party, were called anabaptists by their enemies, which means re-baptizers. Their practice of baptizing those who came to them from the Catholics gave them this appellation. They denied being re-baptizers, however, asserting that the members thus received had never been baptized. If the Roman Catholic church is not the church of Christ its ministers have no authority to administer an ordinance for the church of Christ. The same is true of any church. We have baptized a great many who came from other churches, not that we thought there were no christian preachers except in our church, but for reasons already stated. We have heard many say they were satisfied with their baptism but not with their church, and that they would join the Baptists if they would receive their baptism. Such are not strong enough Baptists to be Baptists, and they had better wait till they are tired of their Babylonish garment and are ready to throw it off. Joining the wrong church is a step in the wrong direction, and being baptized in that church is a step in the same direction. If two steps are taken in the same direction, both are wrong if the first is wrong."
("Water Baptism" - Zion's Advocate, Vol. 39, No. 12, December, 1900)
Truly Elder Daily did more to help his opposition than he did to help his own cause on the matter of the proper interpretation of the "Great Commission" and of the relationship of individuals to it. Daily's entire argumentation against accepting "alien baptisms" from other non-Hardshell Baptist churches is based upon the supposition that baptism is a church ordinance! If it is not a church ordinance, then all he says in support of his not accepting the immersions of others, becomes of no weight. Certainly Elder Harter and others among today's Hardshells are being honest enough to admit the error of their forefathers on this point, by men like Daily and Hassell.
Yes, the old "Anabaptists" did practice "re-baptizing" but this was mainly in regard to all those who had not been immersed, properly baptizing those who had been "sprinkled" or "baptized" as an infant. But, it remains to be shown that they rebaptized people who were immersed by other groups who likewise immersed upon profession of faith and repentance.
In summing up this chapter, and all the other foregoing chapters on "Hardshells and the Great Commission," I wish to say this.
With the Hardshells the "Great Commission" it is the "Great Omission"!
They have taken the "go" out of "gospel" and all they are left with is a bewitching "spell." (Galatians 3: 1,2)
Chpt. 76 - The Great Commission XI
I began the last chapter with a citation from Dr. Carey in which he was giving argument for why the "Great Commission" had not been fulfilled, and how it was yet binding upon Christians. Let me begin this chapter by citing from him again.
Dr. Carey continues:
"SECONDLY, If the command of Christ to teach all nations be confined to the apostles, then all such ordinary ministers who have endeavoured to carry the gospel to the heathens, have acted without a warrant, and run before they were sent. Yea, and though God has promised the most glorious things to the heathen world by sending his gospel to them, yet whoever goes first, or indeed at all, with that message, unless he have a new and special commission from heaven, must go without any authority for so doing."
Again, it is to be observed how Carey refers to a belief that some had raised, in his day, against attempting to fulfill the Commission. They gave as their reason that the "Great Commission" was given only to the apostles. Thus, the Hardshells can at least claim some in the latter 18th century as favoring their view. In the first chapter in this series I cited Hardshell founding father, Elder Gilbert Beebe, who took this view. He believed that the Commission was given strictly to the apostles, and that they fulfilled it before they died, and that all other ministers since receive a special commission to go and preach and baptize.
I suspect that Beebe was well acquainted with the writings of Carey, and even these words. I am sure that Beebe saw, as Carey pointed out, that there are but two possible views regarding having "warrant" to go, preach, teach, make disciples, and to baptize. Either the minister or church receives it from the "Great Commission" or some other personalized Commission. Beebe chose the latter.
Other Hardshells have disagreed with Beebe, for the most part, agreeing with Carey, one of the men they love to hate, believing that the "Great Commission" WAS what gave warrant to ministers to preach, and that they did not all therefore need special Commissions. What the Hardshells have done, for the most part, is to say that the "Great Commission" was given to the "apostles AS REPRESENTING the gospel ministry."
I have already shown how this idea is false. There is much more weight of testimony from scripture and Baptist history to demonstrate that the group spoken to was not a ministerial group, but to a group of disciples.
Hardshells believe that no ordinary disciple has any warrant to preach the gospel, that is, to tell others about the story of Christ. This is a great error on their part and one I have shown to be against scripture and Baptist teachings, the confessions, and writings of our able ministers. I have already cited numerous scriptures that disprove this damnable notion. In the last chapter of the bible it is said - "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." (Revelation 22: 17 KJV) The church, yea, every individual disciple, may say to sinners "come"! And certainly this invitation to "come" to Christ and the "water of life" requires that the one giving the invitation explain a little of the nature of the invitation, or preach the gospel.
"THIRDLY, If the command of Christ to teach all nations extend only to the apostles, then, doubtless, the promise of the divine presence in this work must be so limited; but this is worded in such a manner as expressly precludes such an idea. Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the world."
I think most Hardshells acknowledge the weight of this argument. It is clear that Jesus anticipated that the "Great Commission" would extend till the coming of Christ and the "end of the world (age)."
Next, I wish to cite some excepts from Dr. (Elder) John M. Watson, whom I have already referred to in earlier chapters in this book. Elder Watson, from middle Tennessee, was a leader in the "anti-mission" or "Old School" movement in Tennessee from the very beginning of the division between the so-called New School and the Old School. He was one of several leading Elders in the movement which began with the Kehukee Declaration of 1827 and the Black Rock Address of 1832.
Elder Watson was the second editor of one of the very first religious newspapers that were begun by the anti-mission forces immediately after the "split" with the "Missionaries." From historical records we learn that "The Old Baptist Banner" was commenced in Nashville, in 1838 and was edited at first by Rev. Washington Lowe (who was apparently a lawyer in Springfield), but Elder Watson soon took it over and became its leading promoter.
This paper seems to have been begun to be a counter voice to the previously begun Missionary Baptist publication called "The Baptist Banner." I have searched in vain to find any library that has any copies or information of this periodical. I believe that this periodical, if bound volumns could be found, will reveal much about the genesis of the "anti-missionary movement" and would be of great historical benefit.
Later, towards the end of his life, Dr. Watson published his famous book called "The Old Baptist Test," from which I have already cited (my friend Bob Ross also has cited from this book). I have seen various dates given for its first publication, the earliest information being that it was published in Nashville by Republican Banner Press in 1855. Other dates are nearer the end of his life, around 1865 or 1866. It also appears that Elder R. W. Fain, who wrote the introduction to the book, actually finished the book for the ailing Dr. Watson. But, I will be having more to say about Elder Watson in future chapters dealing with "Hardshell Founding Fathers." I have already cited him to show that many of the first Hardshells did believe in gospel means in regeneration, and their being part of the movement was due to their opposition to "methods" of evangelism, and against mission "boards" and "societies" outside of the control of the local church.
Elder Watson wrote:
"In our separation from the Missionaries about 1836, I had to bear many unkind reproaches and misrepresentations, but, thank God, I was able to bear up under all of them. I was very anxious that we should adopt some plan consonant with the Holy Scriptures by means of which a separation might be avoided. To that end I worked assiduously for sometime, but it became very apparent that it was impracticable, and I then took a decided stand with the Old Order; then came aspersions instead of compliments as before." (Old Baptist Test, page 36)
This is quite interesting and noteworthy. First, when Elder Watson mentions the date of division over the question of missions, in the year 1836, he was referring to the time of the division in the churches in middle Tennessee and parts of Kentucky. Second, when he mentions his efforts at avoiding a division, he shows how unlike he was to the Hardshell "ultraists" who were also part of the movement.
This citation shows that Dr. Watson was not opposed to missions, done by the church and ministry, but was only opposed to certain "methods" then being advanced. Also, as we shall see, all references to "doctrine" being the issue concerned only the question of the extent of the atonement, Watson believing that too many of the "Missionary Baptists" were denying election, limited atonement, and other important "doctrines of grace," and were not preaching predestination as they should. But, he never once denounced the view that sinners were born again and saved through the preaching of the gospel and by faith in it. The fact is, as I have shown in previous chapters, and will demonstrate further in this one, Elder John Watson, together with Elder John Clark, another important early leader in the "anti-mission" movement, believed in means in the eternal salvation of sinners.
Also, the final decision of Elder Watson to "side with the Old Order of Baptists," or with those who came to be better known as "Hardshells," was not one that ultimately brought him peace of mind, as I think anyone familiar with his life can testify. Before he departed this life he left scathing rebukes to the "Old Order Baptists" about their neglect of the "Great Commission."
Did his Hardshell brethren ever show the Mission Baptist how to properly conduct missions according to the "bible plan"? No, sadly, what Elder Watson desired and called upon his Hardshell brethren to do, they rather ignored and spent all their time decrying what others were doing when they were doing nothing themselves.
Elder Watson wrote:
"It has been a constant prediction among the Old Order of Baptists for more than thirty years past, that these institutions would eventually do great injury, by breaking and perverting Gospel truths. The writer can most truthfully say, that he tried again and again to have fellowship for these things, seemingly so expedient, and for those who were so zealously engaged in them, but he could not, and was often tempted to fear that the fault was with himself." (page 70)
Again, this is most interesting. Elder Watson, I am sure, did sincerely try to avoid a division over the question of mission methodology. I really believe that he thought that the "Old Order" could win the war by "leading the way" in showing other Baptists "how to do it." Sadly, in writing his book just shortly before he died, he no doubt felt grief over the failure of his brethren to do this, the thing he was constantly challenging them to do. I think that it was in his last few years, when his health had declined, and when he had lived through thirty years of heartache resulting from the division, that he still felt like the "fault was with himself." He no doubt wondered to himself - "would I have been better off to have sided with the Mission Baptists?"
Elder Watson said:
"History teaches us that all nations which have been favored with the word of God have made far greater advances in civilization than those which have not. The history of those countries where the word of God was not known, is a sad one. They were debased by all kinds of superstition and idolatry." (Pg. 418)
This is also a noteworthy statement by the good doctor. Why is that? Because later defenders of the Hardshell faith, men like Elders Lemuel Potter, Claud Cayce, John Daily, would later argue, in debate with those who promoted missions, that the gospel that the missionaries had taken to heathen countries had made them worse off! All one has to do is to read those old debates and see how these Hardshell elders often spoke of the heathen as "worse off" for having had the gospel taken to them! But, one of their greatest forefathers would not agree with their position.
Elder Watson wrote:
"If nothing had been gotten up among the Old Order of Baptists but what can be found in the scriptures there never would have been a Missionary Baptist! Remove from them such things as are not to be found in the word of God, and they would all be converted at once into primitive baptists, who know no rule of faith and practice besides that which is taught in the Holy Scriptures. They acknowledge no human authority in church affairs, no adjuncts to the church, such as Missionary societies, boards, theological schools and the like." (Pg. 426)
Notice again how Elder Watson defends the view that it is the "church" that has "authority" over the matter of executing the "Great Commission." His rebuttal arguments have no force or weight if he does not believe the church has the right and authority to do what the "adjuncts to the church" were doing! Elder Watson was one of the first of those who are called "anti-board" Baptists, later led by Elder J. R. Graves and those who became known as "Landmark Baptists." In fact, many of those in the "anti-mission movement," in the 19th century, became identified with the Calvinistic and Missionary Landmarkers, rather than with the Hardshells. But more on this in upcoming chapters.
Elder Watson wrote further:
"Some I fear suppose that the great doctrine of sovereign grace, predestination, election, and the like, abate in the commission to preach the Gospel to every creature, and assign more power to ministers preaching under it than the text just quoted will admit of." (Pg. 479)
I am sure that this was the main reason that led Dr. Watson to finally "take sides with" the Hardshells. He loved the doctrines of grace, or the "five points of Calvinism," and he believed that these doctrines were being discarded by many Baptists who were supporting the new missionary activities of the day, and for this reason "sided with" the "Old School." One wonders what would have happened had he lived another twenty years, into the 1880's? How would he have confronted men like Potter, Cayce, and Daily? Would he have left the "Old Order" and gone with the Landmarkers? Would he have supported the efforts of Pence, Burnam, and others to "reform" or call back the "Old Baptists" from their extremism?
Elder Watson wrote:
"The Gospel addresses, in the commission, all men, and the whole world. But the doctrine of the difference between the general outward call, and the holy inward calling of God must be taken into consideration as has been already stated." (Pg. 486)
So, we see why Elder Watson chose to side with the "Old Order." He felt like the Mission Baptists were denying Calvinism and that they were not sound in understanding the 4th point in the Calvinian system.
Elder Watson wrote:
"They ('Old School' or "anti-mission Baptists') are charged with indifference about the state of the heathen, because they do not institute Missionary societies for sending the Gospel to them. The things to be inferred from this objection are:
1. That the Church of God, when fully organized on Gospel principles, does not admit of sympathy for the heathen.
2. That some adventitious society must be maintained for that purpose.
3. That they who do not become members of such societies cannot feel any concern for the state of the heathen.
This transfer of action, from the Church to benevolent institutions, for the conversion of Pagans, implies a want of confidence in the divine organization of the Church–indicating also a belief that human benevolence, in its Missionary allotments, can do more for the conversion of the world, than the means, which God has ordained!" (Pages 230,231)
This confirms what I said in the previous chapter. The first Hardshells objected to the mission "boards" and "societies" because it took this work away from the CHURCH. This was what was said by many "Black Rockers" and "Kehukeeites" in the original objections to the "modern missionary schemes of the day."
But, this objection shows that the first Hardshells believed that the work of missions and the fulfilling of the "Great Commission" did not exempt the church! From the statement of Elder Watson it is clear that he objected to it on the basis that it took it away from the church, who ought to be in charge of it. It is clear that he thought the church ought to be in charge of overseeing mission work! This is the "Old Baptist" position.
He also attempts to defend the Hardshells against the charge that their churches did not have any concern for the heathen. It is not to be doubted that Elder Watson had more concern for the heathen than most Hardshells, but he was in an undesirable condition in trying to prove that his "anti-mission" brothers of had any real concern for the state of the heathen.
Elder Claud Cayce, coming almost a generation after Elder Watson, as I have shown, did not want to defend the actual record of the Hardshells on their concern for the heathen. Surely anyone today is in a far worse condition as a defender and apologist for the Hardshell record on the "Great Commission"! Even Elder Watson was forced to admit this was the case, as we shall see, but in this present citation he tries to say that he and others in the "anti-mission movement" did have a real concern for the heathen and for their salvation by the gospel.
The chief error of the Hardshells is their denial that all men are to be commanded and exhorted to repent and believe in Christ for salvation. Yet, this is precisely what the "Great Commission" enjoins upon all! Elder Watson understood this, for he said:
"That the commission extends to such, is apparent from the fact that some believe, and some do not. Those who believe were unbelievers before, and the unbelieving of others can only be predicated of their hearing."
But this is not how the Hardshells have learned to reason on this point, gravitating away from the view of Watson. They believe that men are "believers" BEFORE they hear the gospel! I have discussed this in earlier chapters of this book. But, Elder Watson did realize that the gospel was to be preached to all men, including unbelievers or unsaved people.
He said further:
"What said the prophet? "O ye dry bones, hear ye the word of the Lord." I would just state here, at once, that I have no idea that sinners, dead in tresspasses and sins, will ever believe through the exhortations of the Lord's ministers, any more than that the dry bones would have lived through the prophesying of the prophet, apart from what the Lord did for them. But that fact does not nullify the commission to preach to them, but on the contrary greatly strengthens it. The divine assurance that God's word will prosper in the thing whereunto He hath sent it, affords great encouragement to preach to sinners. If it be said by the objector that they are deaf and cannot hear it, faith replies God can open their ears; if said they are dead, faith again says God will give them life; and thus faith can meet all the objections which can be urged against preaching to the very chief of sinners, and at the same time exclude that Arminianism which some affect to see in a course of this kind. Where is the Arminianism, I would ask, in doing what the Lord has expressly commanded us to do? unless, however, it be by doing these things without faith. It seems to me that two very opposite errors may be indicated here:
1. The Arminian takes the means out of the hands of God, in toto, or in part, and uses them according to His own strength, and they then degenerate into Arminian powers.
2. The Antinomian will not regard any thing in the light of means, and in his doctrine will not allow even the Lord to employ them, says that the Lord is not dependent on means, and can do all His work without them. Now, the truth is, had it been the will or the way of the Lord, He could have breathed upon the dry bones as well without the prophesying of the prophet as with it, and could have given repentance to John's converts, or to Paul's, without their preaching; but their preaching to such, even to those dead in tresspasses and sins, had been included in the divine plan, and it needs must be done, let it be termed means, the will or way of the Lord, as you please." ("Old Baptist Test," pages 327, 328)
There are several observations that need to be made here. First, let me remind the reader that I cited statements like this in earlier chapters dealing with the gospel means position and in those chapters titled "Addresses to the Lost." I have cited from Dr. Watson many times to show he believed that the elect were called to life and salvation by the gospel and that he recognized the "Hardshell" or "Antinomian" element in the movement as a heresy worse than Arminianism. He repudiated this Hardshell wing of the movement that refused to preach to the dead in sin and who styled such apostolic preaching as "Armininism." He certainly saw how the story of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones destroyed all the "logic" and "argumentation" of the Hardshells regarding means.
Dr. Watson was a man not at home with the Arminian missionaries, or the "board Baptists," but neither was he at home with the "ultraists" or "hyperists," as he called them. The above citation demonstrates this to be the case.
Elder Watson had to fight both the Campbellites and the ultraist Hardshells in his day. You can see where he attacks both heresies. He rejected both the "word alone" and the "Spirit alone" view of the new birth.Elder Watson said:
"Let us learn our duty as ministers, examine our commission, and see how fully it authorizes us, in faith, to exhort the sinner to repent, believing that the Lord can give him repentance; so as to believe, believing that the Lord can give faith." (Pg. 329)
One wonders whether the view of Elder Watson was the majority opinion or the minority? Did the "Antinomians" or "ultraists" compose the majority? If one listens to today's Hardshells, or reads the historical literature that they promote, he would think that all the first opposers of the "mission movement" were just like them in faith and practice. But, the true facts show that this is not true.
What happened in middle Tennessee also happened everywhere else. After the numerous divisions over the "mission question" there were not simply two groups, but three, or perhaps even more. I have emphasized this before in previous chapters. Some who identified themselves with the general movement were opposed more to one thing than to another. Possibly only a third of the first Hardshells were of the "ultraist" variety.
Wrote Elder Wilson Thompson:
"For several years preceding the division in the White-water Association, a difference of opinion was known to exist among the ministry and membership of the association on certain points of doctrine. And as time advanced the differences developed themselves more and more. The point upon which the difference was based, was, “the use and effect of the preached gospel.” One party held the view that the preaching of the gospel was a means of the conversion of sinners; and that it might be effectual to that end, it was necessary that societies and boards of missions should be formed to raise funds and employ and send out men to convert and Christianize the heathen.
Another party believed that in the conversion of sinners God used the preached word as a means or medium through which His spirit operated to that end, but that missionary boards and societies were institutions of men, and had not the sanction of God, and therefore should not be sanctioned by the church and that as the church received all her authority from Christ, as her King, she could not sanction and support institutions of men, as Christian institutions, without a sacrifice of her loyalty to Christ. Neither could the church admit that the institutions of men were adequate to the conversion of sinners or the prosperity of the cause of truth, without impeaching the wisdom of Him who hath declared that He has in the Scriptures throughly furnished the man of God unto all good works.
The other party in the association held the same views as the second on the subject of missions and kindred societies instituted by men, but differed from both the other parties on the use and effect of the preached gospel. They denied that the preaching of the gospel had any power to convert the dead sinner, or to give him life, and declared that man in nature was dead in trespasses and sins, and that as no means could be used to give life to one literally dead, even so no means could be used to give eternal life to those who are dead in sins, that God effects that work of Himself, by His holy Spirit, without means or instruments, and that the gospel is a proclamation of good tidings, of great joy to the soul that is prepared with a hearing ear and an understanding heart to receive it. To those who thus believe it is the power of God unto salvation, and it saves them from the false doctrines of men, and feeds and makes them strong in the truth.
In addition to these differences in views there were some men in the association who had personal difficulties and jealousies that alienated their feelings from each other, who were ready, when the opportunity offered, to seize upon any circumstance to advance their own ends or injure those against whom they held feelings of prejudice. There was nearly an equal number of churches on either side of the parties, after deducting the missionaries, who constituted but a small part of the association. It was ascertained, as the discussion of these differences progressed, that Elder John Sparks and Elder Thompson held different views on the subject of means, Elder Sparks holding the doctrine of means, and in opposition to missions, and Elder Thompson opposing the doctrine of means and missions both." (Autobiography of Wilson Thompson pg. 324,325)
Thus it is a falsehood to say that all those who were part of the "anti-mission movement," and who called themselves "Old School," were united in their beliefs regarding the use of means in regeneration.
From what Thompson has said it can be safely said that less than half of those in the movement were of the "ultraist" variety. From Thompson's own testimony he shows that the majority of those in the Whitewater Association believed in gospel means; And, that only half (or less - SG) of those who rejected the "modern missionary schemes" were "ultraists."
Elder John R. Daily later would write about this division in the Whitewater Association, even including it in the famous "Mt. Carmel Church Trial," although the Hardshells who have transcribed much of excerpts from this trial to the internet, yet they did not include this and other important historical documentation. Nevertheless, I have read in other writings by Elder Daily where he says that the division in the Whitewater Association, between the "Sparks faction" and the "Thompson faction," was one "that should have been avoided." It seems that Daily was saying that the ultraists could fellowship, in the beginning, with their brethren who believed in means as long as they were anti "board" and anti "society."
I have also pointed out how there were sub sects within the anti-mission movement who may have been opposed to theological schools, for instance, and a few other things that were associated with the new mission movement, but who nevertheless did not "throw out the baby with the bath water," and who did not go to an opposite extreme, and who continued to believe in gospel means.Elder Watson wrote:
"And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16: 15, 16. The unscriptural sayings which have been predicated of this text, have done much heretical mischief among the Old Baptists. Some of our ultraists are occasionally heard to say, in our pulpits, that they have no authority to preach to sinners, and they seem to glory in their fancied exemption. Nothing appears to give them greater offence, or savors more of Arminianism with them, than for sinners to be exhorted to repent!" ("Old Baptist Test," pages 327, 328)
"Our not exhorting sinners to repent and believe, is a gross deviation from the gospel rule, and a palpable perversion of the great commission under which we preach. Let us pursue the revealed method of God, and not the assumed one which we now follow. If ultraist, in their blindness, call us Arminians, let us bear it for the truth's sake. We had better suffer ourselves than deviate from our commission. I know I shall have to dispute every inch of ground here; that many are ready to catch at my words, and dispute all I may write; therefore I appeal to "the law and to the testimony."
Again, some observations here are in order. "Many are ready to catch my words and dispute all I may write." I don't doubt this! I wish more historical documents were available that recorded the debate that went on between these various parties!
As I have pointed out in previous chapters, Elder Watson, at the end of his book, called upon all the brothers in the anti-mission movement to come together and debate openly these things in a new paper called "The Herald of Truth." I am guessing that his paper "The Old Baptist Banner" had passed out of existence and this new paper took its place.
After the death of Elder Watson, did this debate take place? Who has any copies of the old "Herald of Truth"? What was Elder Beebe's response to the writings and beliefs of Elder Watson? What did Elder Clark think of Elder Watson's work? These are important questions for any Hardshell "historian" and yet none seem to want to know the answers! Of what are they afraid? We know that Elder Watson and Elder Grigg Thompson were close ministerial associates and thus shared many of these views. We certainly know that Grigg Thompson preached to dead sinners for I have cited him much in my chapters on "Addresses to the Lost."
I will show in upcoming chapters, dealing more with the finer points of the history of the "Primitive Baptists," wherein I review their written histories and historical "claims," and the subsequent divisions over means, Sunday Schools, theological training and financial support, etc., that the two groups, mentioned by Thompson, continued side by side for a number of years, but who were struggling in the womb of the new denomination as Esau and Jacob. Though they were initially together in their opposition to mission methods, yet they were not united on the use of means in the new birth, and they were at odds over whether they were going to go to one extreme themselves. It will be shown that this separation of the twins did not take place till the end of the 19th century, and into the 20th.
Elder Watson continues:
"How did the first Baptist preach? "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." To whom were these words addressed? to the pentitent or impenitent? To the impenitent of course. Who gave repentance? The Lord. How did Christ? "Repent ye and believe the gospel." How did the twelve? "They went out and preached that men shoud repent." (Pg. 517, 518)
"Were all of John's hearers converted before he said, "repent ye"? Were those (already-SG) repenting and believing to who Christ preached repentance and faith? Were those addressed by the twelve? Were the Athenians? What was Simon's state? Were those "quickened" who were bidden and refused to come to the feast? These questions, when properly answered, show most conclusively that we should preach repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, "to every creature"--to "all men everywhere." If we say our preaching is to the (already-SG) called of the Lord, and to them only, and make no distinction between the many called and the few chosen, we will involve the tenet of universalism."
I have pointed out in previous chapters, like Elder Watson, that the teachings of the "ultraists" and "anti-means" Hardshells have in fact been the leading cause of many of their denomination embracing Universalism. But, more on this too in upcoming chapters.
Elder Watson said:
"For if we preach only to the "quickened," all must be in that state, as our commission and work embraces "every creature." The commission includes those who believe not, as subjects of our address, as plainly as those who believe. Mark 16:16" (Pg. 519)
Why are today's Hardshells so blind to this simple argument? It can be put into a simple syllogism.
1. The gospel is only to be preached to the regenerated (Hardshell view).
2. The gospel is to be preached to every creature. (Bible)
3. Therefore every creature is regenerated. (Universalism)Dr. Watson continued:
"The objection is that all such are "dead in tresspasses and sins," and that we know not who they are, and even if we did, our preaching would not reach their state. But our preaching does in one sense, when we preach to all unregenerated persons alike, for with us there are no evidences of distinction, we do so in faith, believing that the Lord knoweth them that are His; hence, our commission includes "every creature," but the calling of the Lord, the chosen few...Their connection with each other involves, in the plainest manner, the duty of preaching to every creature "repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." The Lord has ordained this way; our violation of it in the 19th century will not cause it to fail; others will do the work; it needs must be done; and this may be the cause why so few are coming into our churches! We have violated our commission. "Let us search and try our ways, and turn to the Lord."" (Pgs. 519, 520)
"Our violation of it in the 19th century"! What an indictment! No wonder Elder Throgmorten and others have cited these words from Dr. Watson in their debates with the "ultraists" and in regard to their "claims" of being "primitive" and "original"!
Elder Watson did not think their view was scriptural nor Baptistic! If Elder Watson were alive today his charge would still be the same - "WE HAVE VIOLATED OUR COMMISSION"!
And, what is the ill effect of this grave departure from the faith, and from obedience to the "Great Commission"? Our churches are dying, he says! Does he believe that the "Great Commission" will fail to be fulfilled because of the "ultraist's" failure to do so? No! He affirms that "others will do the work"! And, when we look the wide world over, and record how many today have bibles in their own language, and who have heard the story of Jesus and the cross, can we thank the Hardshell "ultraist" at all? Have not "others" done the work, my Hardshell brothers?
Elder Watson called for a reform, a "return" or a "repentance" on these things. Did any heed his calls? Yes, some did, for some made attempts after his death to continue to call the "ultraists" back to their spiritual senses, and to keep them from the extremism that they were speedily acquiring as their characteristic feature. But, I will talk more about these reform movements and calls to repentance in future chapters, as I have said.Elder Watson wrote further:
"This violation of our commission has engendered a spirit of coldness and indifference about those yet unbrought; by some they are not cared for, prayed for, nor preached unto; this spirit in like manner extends to the "babes" in Christ, the sheep, and the sheep only, are fed. Let us examine our commission again, and search out the things therein included." (Pg. 521)
This seems to contradict what he wrote earlier when he was trying to defend his brethren against not having any real concern for the "heathen." But, here he seems to acknowledge that the charge is true. Notice he says "our commission," showing that he did not believe it to be fulfilled, or for the apostles alone, but for the church and ministry till Jesus returns.
He says further:
"Whenever one of our ministers ventures to call on sinners to repent and believe the gospel (like Elder Grigg Thompson did regularly! - SG), he begins directly afterwards to explain by preaching the strong doctrine of repentance, instead of following up the commandment, with the exhortations, warnings and threatenings of the Bible as he should, in conformity with the divine method. His aim of desire seems to be rather to convince his brethren that he is not an Arminian, than to exhort sinners to repent." (Pg. 522)
No doubt it was this "fear" of being called an "Arminian" that the "ultraists" used in the wars that followed the death of Elder Watson. They used intimidation to rid all preaching of exhortations to the dead in sins.
Elder Watson said:
"These deviations, great, grievous and palpable as they are, do not disprove my propositions, that the Old Baptist ministers preach more divinity than those of all other denominations. With their acknowledged deviations, omissions and faults, they compare more favorably with the ministerial characteristics of the Bible, than all others. The general difference is, that we have omitted a part, without changing, while they have not only omitted many things, but also changed many!" (Pg. 522, 523)
Oh how I am sure that this is what Elder Watson convinced himself was the case! Even though it was not the case! I believe his conscience bothered him to his grave over the split over missions and means. He knew he could not undue what had been done. He at once condemns the movement and justifies it at the same time! But, all said, Elder Watson and Elder Clark were no doubt the sanest and soundest of the first generation of Hardshells.
Elder Watson said further:
"What in conclusion, shall I say? What saith the scriptures? They have already spoken, and what more can I add? Only a prayer that their truths may prevail over the hearts of those who deviate from gospel rules in preaching; that the last call unto them that are without may be found; that the spirit of exhortation so long quenched, may revive; that the literal door of the gospel, so long closed, may be opened; that practical godliness, too much neglected in our pulpits and lives, may be taught and maintained; and that we may all be right willing to work faithfully in our ministry, even at a "peradventure," "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."" (Pg. 523)
Those are some serious departures from the faith that Dr. Watson mentions! He's calling for a Hardshell "revival"! He sees how the apostolic preaching of the gospel to sinners has vanished from their pulpits! What an indictment! Why did he stay connected with such people? Surely he asked himself that in his remaining years? He says these "ultraist" brethren had "literally shut the door of the gospel" to sinners! How could he stay with such people? What did Jesus say of those who "shut up the kingdom of heaven against men"? And, the preaching of "practical godliness" through apostolic exhortation was gone!
Dr. Watson says:
"The twelve went out and also preached, that men should repent. It is to be greatly regretted that any of our preachers should have supposed that their commission did not extend to sinners, and that it was not consonant with sound doctrine to exhort them to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. How could this error ever have been entertained for a moment, with the strong bible precept, the plain example of Christ and his disciples before them?"
Well, amen! Thank God that I was able to see the truth in all those bible precepts and examples! All of which taught contrary to Hardshellism. I fully demonstrated the truth of what Elder Watson here affirmed in my series "Addresses to the Lost."
He wrote further:
"The very commission itself assures us that some would not believe, and yet includes them in the gospel address. It is in this and similar ways that the spirit of exhortation has been grieved and lost in our pulpits. This shows the great propriety of rightly dividing the word of God, and not shunning to declare all of it--to feed the lambs, to feed the sheep, to exhort all, every creature to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ...If our Old Baptist system be right, it will be found in agreement with every text, and if we have to alter or abridge the commission to preach the gospel, it is plain evidence of an error among us." (Pg. 535)
It must be here observed that this was very prophetic of the good doctor. The history of the Hardshell denomination since Elder Watson's death has demonstrated that they did in fact "alter" and "abridge the commission" by coming up with weird and strange interpretations to give to the "Great Commission," some of which I have myself demonstrated thus far in this series, and that this altering and abridging of the Commission was proof that there was serious "error among us." God brought me to a confession of this error. Will any other Hardshells do the same?
Elder Watson said furtrher:
"The Lord has plainly revealed the great truth, that all christians are saved by grace, but in our predestinarian ultraisms we are too little inclined to study the Lord's way of saving His people; His plan as connected with earthly things, signs, means, methods, or what you please to term them. The Antinomian affects to despise them because the Arminian perverts them. Both are wrong. If it be the Lord's method to have us say to sinners dead in tresspasses and sins, repent and believe, we should practice it. Our exhorting sinners to repent and believe, is according to the Lord's plan, and how can we reject it, or neglect it, without the very consequences which have followed. Our commission, alas! brethren, has been narrowed down to the words "feed my sheep."
Again, he is "right on the money"! And, sad to say, the "consequences" of the Hardshells "violating" and perverting the "Great Commission" have increased exponentially over time! Every Hardshell who happens to read these words, writtin about 140 years ago, knows them to be descriptive of the history of the Hardshells.
Dr. Watson continues:
"To exhort sinners to repent does not conflict with the doctrine that God alone can give life and repentance; or to believe does not conflict with the truth that faith is the gift of God; nor do the exhortations, warnings and threatenings oppose the doctrine that the believer is kept by the power of God; no more indeed than if it were now said that the leper's cure was not of God, because he bathed in Jordan; that the bringing forth of fruits meet for repentance was not of God, because John exhorted them to repent. Our ultraists would then have said, why bathe in Jordan, as God only can cure the leprosy?" (Pg. 536)
"The very considerations which in their estimation amount to objections, should, on the contrary, be regarded as inducements to preach in that way. No one should preach the gospel, without the faith of the gospel; he should believe that the Lord gives the blessings of the gospel, even to those who oppose it--God may peradventure give them repentance to the acknowledging of the its truths. We preach according to a peradventure--many are called in that way, but few are chosen--many hear outwardly, but few inwardly." (Pg. 536)
"We call on sinners to awake from the sleep of death by faith, believing that God will give them life; to repent because he has promised to give repentance; to believe because He gives faith, to persevere because He is the finisher of our faith. Shall we give up this part of the work of the ministry because it has been Armianized, and call all Arminians who carry it out? Faith divests all these things of Arminianism; faith which has regard to what the Lord will do, and not a false trust in what we may do ourselves." (Pg. 537)
"Our system should not only embrace the doctrine of salvation by grace, but also the method or way of grace. The way of grace is to call on sinners to live as well as to give life, to exhort them to repent, as well as to give repentance, to exhort unbelievers to believe as well as to give faith. It both leads by the spirit, and exhorts by the word." (Pg. 537)
"But alas! Where are our exhorters? They are characters almost unknown among us. Where is the preacher who stops in his ultra doctrinal course to exhort either saint or sinner? Some particular dogma must be proved by a perversion of revealed truth; the sincere milk of the word is withheld, strong meats are poisoned, and the great spiritual interest of the congregation is disregarded--all this, and even more, the peace and well being of the household of faith is broken up, if necessary, to establish some ultra tenet." (Pg. 537)
"But to return: after all that has been preached and written on the subject of means, the whole doctrine resolves itself into this truth, that means are nothing more or less than the ways or methods of the Lord in doing the things which He has purposed. He could do the same things by any other methods or ways were he disposed so to act, or without any means at all; at least without such as involve human acts." (Pg. 537, 538)
"We believe the Lord can save sinners without our preaching to them, but that does not excuse us from saying to them, repent ye and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; that He can save them without water baptism or the Lord's supper, but that He does not authorize us to dispense with them. But verily we have deviated so far from the Bible in our views and feeling, if one were to call on sinners to repent, in the earnest, warm and emphatic way, which Christ and His disciples did, he would be regarded as an Arminian." (Pg. 538)
"But until the spirit of exhortation shall revive, and cease to be vexed, grieved and quenched, as it has been for a long time, we need not expect much reformation in our mode of preaching. There are, however, a few who have eyes to see, and hearts to deplore the things now under consideration. The errors of preachers are not private ones, but are disseminated from the pulpit among the brethren, and produce among them contentions, divisions, coldness and barrenness; they act on their minds as doth a canker on the body." (Pg. 538, 539)
Again, Dr. Watson clearly and honestly demonstrated the heresy of the Hardshells regarding the execution of the "Great Commission" and on the gospel being the means or "Lord's way" of calling his people to life and salvation in Christ.