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Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow Interpreting the Scriptures-The Error of Eternal Vital Unionism
Interpreting the Scriptures-The Error of Eternal Vital Unionism PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sylvester Hassell   

The Gospel Messenger—September, 1894
The ancient pantheistic Hindoos taught, and their modern descendants believe that the souls of men are emanations from God, and will, after transmigrations, sufferings, and purifications in other bodies, return to an unconscious identity with Him. The ancient Egyptians held that the soul of man after death entered successively the bodies of all the animals that live on earth, and at the end of 3,000 years returned to the same human body; hence arose their great care in embalming and preserving the bodies of the dead. The Pythagoreans, Platonists, Neo-Platonists, Gnostics, Manichaeans, and Cabalists held views somewhat similar to those of the Hindoos. Origen, of Alexandria (A. D. 185-254), considering the Mosaic narrative of the temptation and fall of man a myth and allegory, taught that all finite spirits were created at the beginning of creation, and that all human souls were at first angelic spirits, and sinned and were transferred, as a punishment, into material bodies, and, after sufficient discipline here, are all to be restored to their pre-existent original angelic condition. Other ancient and modern philosophers have advocated the pre-existence of the soul in some nearly or quite forgotten state of being.

Eld. Daniel Parker, in his Two-Seed Heresy, makes the Devil, with all his seed or children in him, as eternal as God, and also makes all the children of God existing as an eternal seed in Him--thus making the Devil and all the human race eternal gods! And for forty years there have been a few Primitive Baptists, otherwise sound, who have held that part of the Two-Seed Heresy which affirms that all the people of God had an actual existence as eternal spirits or eternal children, in Christ, and an actual union with Him from eternity, which doctrine has been called Eternal Vital Unionism; and its advocates have represented all the elect of God as spiritual subjects descending from God out of heaven (Rev. xxi. 2, 10), regenerated or begotten or quickened or raised together with Christ at His resurrection (Eph. ii. 5, 6; 1 Pet. i. 3), and, in the new birth, born of God, born of the Spirit and are spirit, born not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God (John i. 13; iii. 6; 1 Pet. i. 23). This theory and its phrase, Eternal Vital Unionism, makes poor sinners gods as eternal as the only living and true God, who is declared in the Scriptures to be the only eternal Being, the only God (Gen. i. 1; Exod. iii. 14; Deut. xxxiii. 27; Isa. xliv. 6; lvii. 15; Rom. i. 20; 1 Tim. i. 17; 1 Thess. i. 9); it makes a distinction between being begotten and being born of God, when this distinction exists only in the English Scriptures, and not at all in the original, where the same word is used by the Holy Ghost; it strains some of the figures used in Scriptures to denote the union between Christ and His people and runs them into absurdities, while it ignores other such figures, and also ignores the fore-knowledge and pre-destination of God (Rom. viii. 29, 30; Eph. i. 5, 11; 1 Pet. i. 2), and such Scriptures as, "He (Christ) is before all things" (Colos. i. 17); "God calleth those things which be not, as though they were" (Rom. iv. 17); declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done" (Isa, xivi. 10); "in Thy book all My members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none or them" (Psalm cxxxix. 16); "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. xiii. 8); "that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. iv. 5, 6; Eph. i. 4; Rom. viii. 15); "who also were in Christ before me" (Rom. xvi. 7).

The expression, "eternal vital union," is not in the Scriptures; vital unity is an improvement upon this expression; a union is a junction of two or more into one, but a unity is a oneness; the life that the children of God had in Christ before they were born again was simply His life, which also was their life, in the mind and foreknowledge and predestination of God, long before they themselves had any actual being in either soul or body, but when they had only a representative being in Christ (John xi. 25, 26; xiv. 6, 19; Colos. iii. 3, 4; 1 John v. 11, 12; 2 Tim. i. 9, 10). This life or Spirit was the very life and Spirit of Christ, and was ours by God's predestination love before the foundation of the world; it was not at that time a child of God or a spirit distinct from the Spirit of God; but in the new birth this life or Sprit is imparted to us, poor sinful creatures, and we then become children of God, and we shall finally be saved, both in soul and body, entirely from sin by the Spirit of Christ. In Prov. viii. 31, Gal. iv. 6, and Heb. ii. 14, the "sons" and "children" were such, not in actual being, but in the foreknowledge and purpose of God. To simple minds, not poisoned by human philosophy, the Scriptures are clear enough on these points.

Just as there is a natural and federal (or legal or representative) union between Adam and all his posterity (Gal. v. 3: 1 Cor. xv. 49; Rom. v. 12-19), so is there a spiritual and federal (or legal or representative) union between Christ and all His people (1 Co. xv. 22; Rom. v. 19). This union does not confuse the person of Christ with the persons of His people; but it is far more than even the closest association of human beings in the present life. It is founded in the eternal purpose of the Triune God, expressed in the electing love of the Father, the redeeming love of the Son, and the renewing love of the Spirit (Eph. i., ii; John xvii; 1 Pet. i., ii.); and different aspects of this fountain of all our spiritual blessings are partially illustrated, in the Scriptures, by many analogies drawn from earthly relations, as the union of the stones in a house to their foundation corner-stone (1 Cor. iii. 11-16; 1 Pet. ii. 4-6); the union of a vine or a tree with its branches (John xv. 1-5; Rom. xi. 16-24); the union between the head and the members of a body (Eph. iv. 15, 16); the union between husband and wife (Eph. v. 31, 32; Rev. xix. 7-9;) and the union between Adam and his descendants (Rom. v.; 1 Cor. xv.); and also by the union between the Divine Father and Son (John xvii. 21). And the glorious results of this heavenly union are our justification by the righteousness of Christ (Rom. vii. 1, 33, 34; 1 Cor. i. 30, 31; Philip. iii. 9); our regeneration and sanctification by His Spirit (Eph. i. ii.; 1 Pet. i., ii.), and our communion or fellowship with His people (John x. 16; xvii. 20-26; 1 John i. 1-7; Acts ii. 42; Eph. iii. 15; iv. 1-16). This union can never be dissolved (John x. 28; Rom. viii. 25-39; 1 Thess. iv. 14-17).

The controversy among genuine Primitive Baptists on this mysterious and highly important subject is nothing but an unwholesome and unprofitable strife of words (1 Tim. vi. 4; 2 Tim. ii. 14).

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.