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Written by J.S. Newman   

The Bonham Council

Introduction by Elder J.S. Newman 

In July 1901, "A suggestion was made by Brother J.M. Holland, that the church pass resolutions against the doctrine that is being advocated that God predestinated all the sinful actions of men, which was deferred till next meeting for consideration."

In August 1901, the church reference of last meeting was taken up and, by motion and second, the church unanimously agreed that the following resolution be adopted: "Whereas, the doctrine of the absolute predestination of all the wicked acts of men in time is being agitated in some sections of the country and, believing it to be heresy, we therefore will not allow it preached in our church or advocated by our members. We also declare against Arminianism, Antinomianism, and all other heresies of whatever character, and believe it to be disorder to knowingly affiliate with these heresies to the extent of partaking with their disorder."

Six months after the above resolution was unanimously passed by the church, I find the following in the February conference of 1902: Called for miscellaneous business, when it was reported that Brother W.M. Davis, had been advocating the unlimited predestination of all things including sin and wickedness. Brother Davis, being present, was asked the question if he believed that God predestinated all the wicked acts of men that take place in the world, and he said he did. By motion and second, the church agreed to prefer charges against Brother Davis for heresy and, by motion and second, agreed to withdraw fellowship from him. Elder James West then asked the church to include him in the same charges with Brother Davis, but stated that he did not believe God was the author of sin. The church then withdrew fellowship from Elder James West for not submitting to the exclusion of W.M. Davis. The exclusion of W.M. Davis and Elder James West caused some dissatisfaction where the real facts in the matter was not known.

Harmony Church called up all the orderly churches in Texas, or elsewhere, to meet with her in council on Thursday before the fourth Sunday in June 1902.

T.L. Webb was ordained to the ministry April 27, 1902, by Elders P.D. Ausmus, J.W. Herriage, J.W. Segler, J.G. Webb, M.G. Johnson, M.L. Barrett, R.C. Taylor of Tennessee, and Willie L. Barrett.

According to the request of Harmony Church the council was held at the time and place agreed upon by the churches. As it has been charged that the Bonham Council put up bars against the predestination of all things, I think it right to copy verbatum et literarum the findings of said council, that the readers may read and be convinced.

FINDINGS OF THE BONHAM COUNCIL

"In answer to a call of the Primitive Baptist church at Bonham, Texas, called Harmony, messengers from churches composing the Red River Association and other orderly Primitive Baptist churches, met in council in Bonham, Texas, at 3:00 p.m. June 19, 1902.

"After singing "How Firm a Foundation," and prayer by Elder Wm. Guess, Elder R.A. Biggs was appointed moderator protem, and W.T. Flowers, clerk protem, Elder S.A. Paine assistant clerk.

"The following messengers from churches composing Red River Association were enrolled: Elder P.D. Ausmus, James Bunch, A.J. Thomas from Little Vine church; Elder B. Carter, John Williams and Jim Wilkins, from Sardis church; S.W. Monk, C. Aubry, Monroe Stephens, from Blossom Prairie church; J.E. Bowers, Elders J.W. Segler, M.L. Barrett, W.L. Barrett, from Philadelphia church; J.W. Baker, from Antioch church; J.P. Whitaker, J.N. Drake from Hopewell church; A.M. Aikin, Elder T.J. Taylor from Pilgrims' Rest church; P.W. Hanks, F.R. Garrett from Sycamore church; M.J. McDow, G. Moran, Jim Newberry from Salem church; Elder J.W. Herriage, J.E. Stegall, J.F. Louden, B.A. Smith, J.H. Millford from Corinth church; and the following messengers from churches composing the Pilot Grove Association: Elder D.M. Sawyer from Smyrna church; J.H. Ball, W.H. Ledbetter from Lone Star church, W.M. Russell, John Hendricks, A.J. Lucas, J.P. Seigler from Little Flock church; Elder J.K. Gotcher, E. Williams, W.R. Johnson from Pleasant Hill church; W.N. Butler from Pleasant Garden church; E.B. Bass from East Fork church; W.D. Kirby, B.A. Scott from Orchard Gap church; N.B. White, J.E. Schrimsher, J.A. Webb from Providence church; and the following messengers from churches composing the Salem Association: Elder P.M. Lancaster from Friendship church; Elder H.C. Curington, Z.M. Wilson from Mt. Zion church; Wm. Dulaney, J.E. Langley from Cornish church,Indian Territory; and the following messengers from churches belonging to the Village Creek Association: Elder B.L. Throneberry, J.S. Portwood from Garrett Creek church; Elder Thomas Clark from Village Creek and County Line churches; J.R. Clark from Elm Grove church, belonging to Friendship Association; Elder J.W. Griffin from Enon church, Enon Association; Licentiate W.J.D. Bradford from Bethel church, Little Flock Association; with Elder A.V. Atkins, G.M. Holbert from Little Flock church; and Elder M.C.C. Maples from Mt. Vernon church; and Elder Wm. Guess, F.B. Reed from Philadelphia church, of Little Flock Association; Elder T.J. Moore from New Hope church Primitive Baptist Association; also W.T. Meadow from Zion church; J.W. Jackson from Bethlehem church; Elder W.H. Richards, J.H. Lea from Little Flock church; Elder H.L. Collings from Little Flock church No. 1, Unity Association; Elder A.B. Chambers from Bethlehem church; J.J. Warren from Bethany church, Elder S.A. Paine from Hopewell church, Old Harmony Association; Elder A.F. Grafton from Chambers Creek church, Chambers Creek Association; Elder J.M. Creel from Shiloh Church; J.J. Johnson from Cedar Creek church; Elder E.R. Robinson and B.D. Owen from Little Zion church; Elder R.A. Biggs from Culp church, all of Hill County Association; Elder R.A. Biggs from Bosque church; Elder J.S. Newman from Mineral Springs church; J.B. Garrett, Elder S.A. Paine from Providence church; Elder B.J. Driver from Ebenezer, Philadelphia and Bethel churches; Elder J.W. Poe, from Damascus and Little Hope churches, Duffau Association; A.B. Jeffrey from Tennis Creek church, Southwest Texas Association; W.W. Goolsby, J.W. Phelps from Union church, Timber Creek Association; Elder J.C. Reed, Daniel Monk from Antioch church, Shiloh Association, Indian Territory.

"The churches belonging to no association were represented as follows: J.S. Newman from Prairie View church, in Bosque county; W.T. Flowers from Liberty church in Grayson county; Elder W.H. Richards, J.H. Lea from Bethlehem church Knox county; Elder H.C. Marcum, T.A. Johnson, T.J. Johnson from Providence church in Dallas county.

"By motion and second Elder R.A. Biggs was unanimously elected moderator, with W.T. Flowers and Elder S.A. Paine, clerks.

The council then proceeded to business, inviting visiting brethren who are in good standing and order at home to seats with us, and aid us in council. The following visiting brethren were enrolled: Elder J.A. Paine from Village Creek Association; Elder D.B. Koen from Salem Association; Elder J.T. Huckaby and L.H. Taylor from Pilot Grove Association; Elder L.M. Gordon from Timber Creek Association.

The minutes of the meeting of Harmony church, fourth Sunday in April, 1902, were called for and read. By motion and second committee of twelve were appointed for the purpose of investigating the action of Harmony church in regards to the exclusion of certain members of her church at her regular meeting 4th Sunday in April, 1902, as follows: Elder R.A. Biggs, W.T. Flowers, Elders S.A. Paine, M.L. Barrett, Thomas Clark, B.L. Throneberry, T.J. Moore, W.H. Richards, A.B. Chambers, J.S. Newman, A.V. Atkins, Wm. Guess, said committee to report Friday, June 19, at 9:00 a.m.

The council adjourned.

 

FRIDAY

"The council was called together by singing, Friday morning, June 20 at 8:30. Prayer by Elder Throneberry. By motion and second, at request of moderator, Elder Biggs,

Elder Wm. Guess was unanimously elected moderator to act during this morning's session.

"The roll of messengers was called.

"By motion and second the committee appointed yesterday for the purpose of investigating the action of Harmony church in regard to the exclusion of certain members of said church made their report as follows, and were discharged.

"We, the committee, find and submit our findings as follows:

"1st. In July, 1901, conference there was a suggestion made to pass resolutions against the doctrine that God predestinated all the sinful actions of men.

"2nd. In August we find that reference was brought up and unanimously adopted against unlimited predestination and also against other heresies as specified therein.

"3rd. In February, 1902, we find that it was reported that W.M. Davis was advocating unlimited predestination of all things, sin and wickedness included, whereupon he was asked if he believed God predestinated all the wicked acts of men, and he said he did. Charges of heresy was preferred against Brother Davis, and fellowship withdrawn. Whereupon Elder James West and others refusing to acquiesce with action of the church were excluded for not submitting to the action of said church.

"4th. In April, 1902, we find that some of the members had attached themselves to a disorderly body, or faction of said excluded members, and also a letter from Brother L.P. Reece showing there was not harmony existing between him and the church. Then we find that the church withdrew fellowship from six members. And we, your committee, pray that the council ratify the action of Harmony church in those conferences alluded to herein. Signed:

Elder R.A. Biggs

Elder A.V. Atkins

Elder Wm. Guess

Elder J.S. Newman

Elder Thomas Clark

Elder B.L. Throneberry

Elder T.J. Moore

Elder W.H. Richards

Elder A.B. Chambers

Elder S.A. Paine

Elder M.L. Barrett

W.T. Flowers

 

The findings of the committee was unanimously adopted. "Motion and second to appoint a committee on publication of the findings of this council, carried. Elder J.S. Newman, Elder S.A. Paine and W.T. Flowers were appointed; said report to be made to the council at the 3 o'clock session this evening.

"Moved and seconded to appoint a committee to draft resolution on heresies. Elders A.V. Atkins, R.A. Biggs, Thomas Clark, P.M. Lancaster and Wm. Guess were appointed.

"The council adjourned to meet again at 3 p.m.

"The council was called to order by the moderator, Elder R.A. Biggs, at 3 p.m.

"The report from the committee on publication was called for and read, after which it was unanimously adopted with an additional statement from Elder J.G. Webb in regard to the church withdrawing fellowship from Brother Reece, and the committee was discharged.


"We, the committee, find and submit our findings as follows:

"lst. In July conference, 1901, there was a suggestion sade to pass resolutions against the doctrine that God predestinated all the sinful actions of men. The church record reading thus - "A suggestion was made by Brother J.M. Holland that the church pass resolutions against the doctrine that is being advocated that God predestinated all the sinful actions of men, which was deferred until next meeting for consideration. Conference closed.

Elder J.G. Webb, moderator, T.L. Webb, C.C."


"2nd. In August we find that the reference from July was brought up, and the church unanimously adopted resolutions against unlimited predestination, and also against other heresies as specified therein. The resolution on record reading as follows: "By motion and second the church unanimously agreed that the following resolutions be adopted: Whereas the doctrine of the absolute predestination all the wicked acts of men done in time is being agitated in some sections of the country and believing it to be a heresy, we therefore will not allow it preached in our church or advocated by our members. We also declare against arminianism, antinomianism and all other heresies of whatever character and believe it to be disorder to knowingly affiliate with these heresies to the extent of partaking with their disorder. After which conference closed

Elder J.G. Webb, moderator, T.L. Webb, C.C."


"3rd. In February, 1902, we find that it was reported that W.M. Davis was advocating unlimited predestination of all things, sin and wickedness included, whereupon he was asked if he believed God predestinated all the wicked acts of men, and he said he did. Charges of heresy were preferred against Brother Davis and fellowship withdrawn, whereupon Elder James West and others refusing to acquiesce with action of the church were excluded for not submitting to action of church. The church record reads: "Called for miscellaneous business, when it was reported that W.M. Davis had been advocating unlimited predestination of all things, including sin and wickedness, Brother Davis being present was asked the question if he believed that God predestinated all the wicked acts of men that took place in this world, and he said he did. By motion and second the church agreed to prefer charges against Brother Davis for heresy, and by motion and second agreed to withdraw fellowship from him.


"Elder James West then asked the church to include him in the same charge with Brother Davis, but stated that he did not believe that God was the author of sin, and Elder West, his wife, three daughters, Lilly, Levy, and Georgia, and son, Bennett, also Sister Fox and Sister Nancy Clark all refused to submit to the action of the church in withdrawing fellowship from Brother Davis. By motion and second the church withdrew fellowship from them all for not submitting to the action of the church.

"Brother James West, being an ordained minister was called upon for his credentials which he refused to give up, stating that he did not consider that he was excluded by the church. After which conference closed.

Elder J.G. Webb, moderator; T.L. Webb C.C."


"4th. In April, 1902, we find that some of the members had attached themselves to a disorderly body or faction of said excluded members, and also a letter from Brother L.P. Reece, showing that there was not harmony existing between him and the church. Then we find the church withdrew fellowship from six members, and we, your committee, pray that we, the council, ratify the action of Harmony church in those conferences alluded to herein. Church record: "After preaching by Elder R.C. Taylor of Tennessee, Harmony church meet in conference.

1st. Called for peace of church. Answered not in peace on account of some members having attached themselves to a disorderly faction of excluded members, thereby showing contempt for the church, also a letter was read and considered by the church from Brother L.P. Reece which clearly showed that there was no harmony between him and the church; then by motionand second the church agreed to withdraw fellowship from the following brothers and sisters."

For fear of wrong impressions in regard to the exclusion of Brother Reece would say that at the time his letter was received and read to the church, Brother Reece was then identified with those excluded, who published Harmony church as having made a departure from the faith.

Elder J.S. Newman,

W.T. Flowers,

Elder S.A. Paine.


"The report from the committee on heresy was next read and adopted; and committee discharged.

 

CIRCULAR LETTER

Dear Brethren in the Lord Throughout all the Earth,

Greeting and Christian salutation: - It has become necessary in our day, as in former generations, for God's people to give an expression of our faith in regard to doctrine and order. And being assembled at Bonham, Texas, on the 19th and 20th of June, 1902, and being organized into a council, representing fifty-four churches of our faith, with a membership of upward of 2000 from various portions of Texas and Indian Territory. And whereas there are various opinions entertained amongst our people (the Primitive Baptists) on the doctrine of predestination, and some other points herein mentioned: We the said council, feel it to be our duty to give in plain and simple language, what we have and do subscribe to on vital points.

"1. On predestination, we believe that predestnation embraces everything needful in the salvation of His people, from sin, and that God is the author thereof, together with its results, fully establishing His foreknowledge, of all conditions, and events, hormonizing in the effectual calling, justification, and final glorification of His people in heaven.

"2. We believe that Christ Jesus made a specia atonement on the cross for the sins of all His elect people.

"3. That in regeneration the sinner is passive and receives eternal life from God as a free gift.

"4. We believe in the resurrection of the dead, and that our vial bodies will be changed - from natural to spiritual bodies.

"5. We believe sin to be transgression of God's holy law by His creatures.

"6. That obedience to God's law is essential to the happiness and time salvation of God's regenerated people.


HERESY

"Heretical doctrine: we regard such as the following sentiment:

"1. That God predestinated sin and wickedness. That God's predestination bears the same relationship to sin as to holiness and righteousness.

"2. That no part of man is changed in regeneration.

"3. That the whole man is changed in regeneration.

"4. That the bodies of the saints will not be resurrected.

"5. That sin is as pleasing to God as is holiness.

"6. That the saints are as passive in obedience as in regeneration.


"The above intended expressions, we believe as heretical and destructive to the peace and fellowship of the churches.

Dear Brethren, being assembled together and desiring the peace and union of all orderly saints, we submit the foregoing, hoping thereby to kindly and tenderly in the love of God, to place beyond a limit of our borders all offenders and false sentiments not embraced in God's word. And express in wholesome words our sentiments of God's precious and holy word.

"And in regard to the order we would allude to in this article, will say that we regard it very disorderly for any faction of excluded subjects to assemble and declare themselves to be the church proper, apart from the original body without first having proving the action of said church to have departed from the faith and doctrine of Christ, and the order prescribed by Christ for the government of His church. And we regard any and all persons as being in gross disorder who are, or may be, engaged in gathering, or making attempts to gather, any excluded members, and advising that said faction should claim or declare to be the church in order. Committee:

Elder P.M Lancaster  Elder A.D. Atkins

Elder R.A. Biggs        Elder Wm. Guess

Elder Thomas Clark


"By motion and second, it was ordered that the proceedings of this council be published in the "BAPTIST TRUMPET" with request that other Primitive Baptist paper copy.

Elder R.A. Biggs, Moderator,

W.T. Flowers;

Elder S.A. Paine, Clerks

Last Updated ( Sunday, 29 July 2007 )
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