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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Interpreting the Scriptures-The “Two Seed” Heresy
Interpreting the Scriptures-The “Two Seed” Heresy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sylvester Hassell   

The Gospel Messenger--March 1894
In Acts xx. 30, the Apostle Paul, speaking to the elders of the Church at Ephesus, says: "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse (twisted, distorted, misrepresented) things, to draw away disciples after them." Whether with such a design or not, the heathenish perversions of Scriptural truth set forth by Eld. Daniel Parker, of Tennessee, about 1835, in his pamphlet called "My Views on the Two Seeds," have corrupted Primitive Baptist doctrine more, and rent off more members and churches from our fellowship, than any and all other causes combined. In the census of 1890, the Two-Seed Baptists claim to have 333 churches and 9,932 members in 33 States, the largest membership being 2,019 in Texas, 1,270 in Tennessee, 1,230 in Arkansas, 965 in Kentucky, 840 in Mississippi, 668 in Missouri, 641 in West Virginia, 538 in Alabama, 330 in Georgia, and from 10 to 194 in each of 14 other States. (The entire number of Primitive Baptists in the United States is probably about 100,000.) I am glad to have evidences that, at least in some sections, there is a strong tendency among the Two-Seed Baptists to renounce all the Parkerite corruptions of truth, and to return to the simple faith of the gospel. May it please the God of Israel soon to dispossess all their minds of the blighting Satanic delusions with which their churches have been cursed for nearly sixty years.

It would be impossible to tell how many changes and forms, each one inconsistent with itself, with the others, and with the Scriptures, Two-Seedism has assumed during that period. Error is always thus serpentive and Protean. In its most logical form this wild pagan philosophy begins, in the past eternity, with an Eternal, Self-Existent, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent God, the Author of all good, and an Eternal, Self-Existent, Omnipresent and almost Omnipotent Devil, the Author of all evil, and ends, in the future eternity, with the same two and only two Beings--all created beings, both good and evil, having emanated, in time, from these two Beings respectively, and having at last returned into them; the whole speculation, therefore, so far as human beings are concerned, is an impractical and worthless theory. The author of the system was Zoroaster a heathen philosopher, who lived in Iran or Persia, about 1000 B C.; and those who first sought to incorporate this doctrine of an Eternal Devil into Christianity were the Gnostics of the first and second centuries, and the Manichees of the third century of the Christian era, who also denied the real humanity of Christ, and the real resurrection of the body, which errors were denounced as antichristian heresies by the Apostles John and Paul (I John iv. 3; 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18). Two-Seedism is the baldest fatalism--not a religion at all, but an unscriptural and blasphemous method of relieving God from the responsibility for sin by deifying the Devil and making him its author; ignoring the great Bible truths that Jehovah is the only Eternal, Self-Existent and Uncreated Being, and that He is the Creator of all other things, making them, in the beginning, sinless, but suffering the non-elect angels, including their leader, Satan, and men to transgress the law under which they were placed, and thus became sinners by their voluntary rebellion against Him (Deut. xxxiii. 27 ; Isa. lvii. 15; 1 Tim. i. 17; Rom. i. 20; Exod. iii. 14; Gen. i. 1, 2, 7, 31; Eccles. vii. 29; 1 Tim. v. 21; 2 Pet. ii. 4; Jude 6; John viii. 44; Matt. xxv. 41; 1 John iii. 4; Rom. v. 12, 19).

It is said that, in all other respects, Eld. Parker was orthodox, but what is known as his system of "Two-Seeds" is a somewhat refined, but still very crude, mystic, unintelligible and inconsistent modification of Manicheeism--that all the descendants of Adam and Eve are elect and will be saved (being a part of God); that their individual spirits had an eternal pre-existence in Christ, and an eternal vital union with Him, before the world began (somewhat like the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls maintained by the heathen philosophers, Pythagoras and Plato, and by the Hindoos, the Egyptians, the Gnostics, and the Caballists, and the Universalist professor, Orgin); that these souls were infused into Adam, and pass, by ordinary generation, into the persons of the elect, and at death ascend to glory in mystic bodies, leaving the material body in the grave; while this monstrous, incomprehensible and inexplicable theory imagines that there were born, "as an extra production" (whatever that means) of Adam and Eve, "through the Serpent" (however that was) "by reason of sin," other human bodies, without souls, but recipients of a Satanic seed, or spirits, uncreated and eternal (perpetuated after the flood by the wife of Ham), who are the non-elect and will be all damned and will finally return to Satan (whence they came) not in material, but in mystic bodies. I see no more reason than Scripture in these obscure and obscene speculations.

Besides refutations of Two-Seedism published in our periodicals, able pamphlets, puncturing and dissipating the wretched bubble, were published by Eld. Gilbert Beebe, of New York, in 1841; Eld. John M. Watson, of Tennessee, in 1855; and Eld. George Y. Stipp, of Illinois, in 1879.

In Gen. iii. 14, 15, the language of God, in pronouncing the curse upon the serpent, has both a literal and spiritual (or figurative) meaning. The literal serpent, used as an instrument by the Old Serpent, the Devil or Satan (Rom. xii. 9; xx. 2), in tempting Eve, was cursed and condemned to go prostrate on the ground, and eat dust, and to hate and be hated by the woman, and its seed to hate and be hated by her seed, and to bruise the heel of her seed, while its head should be bruised by her seed--all of which has been literally fulfilled in the condition of the serpent, and in the perpetual hatred and conflict between mankind and serpents, until the latter shall finally become extinct. But to Adam and Eve, in their changed condition of rebellion and fear of the righteous and terrible judgment of God, the literal prediction of the ultimate painful triumph of their posterity over serpents, could not have given much consolation; and though enigmatical and indefinite--not telling the when or where or how--yet God's curse upon the serpent must have conveyed, to their awakened hearts, a comforting promise of their and their seed's final triumph, through suffering, over their spiritual enemy who occupied the body of the literal serpent. In this spiritual meaning of the deep and comprehensive words of God, Satan is, in the 14th verse, declared to be the most cursed and degraded of all beings, and in the 15th verse (corruptly used as the fountain and chief proof-text of Two-Seedism), God, before any repentance or prayers on the part of the woman, graciously (Rom. v. 8; Eph. ii. 4, 5) takes her part against His and her enemy, Satan, and declares that, instead of a ruinous friendship, He will put a salutary enmity between her and Satan, and between her seed and Satan's seed, and that her seed should bruise Satan's head, while Satan should bruise the heel of her seed. In the language "it (the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy (the serpent's) head," the Hebrew pronoun rendered "it," and the verb rendered "shall bruise" are in the singular number and masculine gender, and are so rendered in the two oldest versions, the Septuagint and the Syriac, and refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, the only seed of the woman that never had a human father, as is implied by Isa. vii. 14, and infallibly explained by Paul (Gal. iii. 16; Rom. xvi. 20; Heb. ii. 14), and John (I John iii. 8); and, as shown by these and other passages (Eph. i. 19-23; iv. 15, 16 ; vi. 23-27), Christ, in this conflict and victory over Satan, is the Head and Representative of His church, His spiritual seed (Isa. liii. 10, 11; Psalm xxii. 30; xlv. 16, 17; cx. 3; John xii. 24; Heb. ii. 13), who were chosen in Him, according to God's foreknowledge and purpose, before the world began (Eph. i. 4; 1 Pet. i. 1-5), and who enter His kingdom not as the seed of Adam, but as new creatures, His own heavenly seed, born of His Holy Spirit from above (2 Cor. v. 17-21; Eph. ii. 1-10; John i. 12, 13; iii. 3-8). By "the seed of the serpent," in Gen. iii. 15, are plainly meant, as shown by other Scriptures (Matt. iii. 7; xiii. 38-42; xxiii. 33; John viii. 44; 1 John iii. 8-19), those descendants of Adam and Eve, those human beings, who are the servants of the Devil, and are influenced by his spirit, who hate God, His holy law and His people, and who shall finally be overwhelmed with the same everlasting condemnation and curse as the Devil (Matt. xxv. 41-46; xiii. 42; Gal. iii. 10; Mark ix. 43-48; Rev. xiv. 10, 11; xx. 10-15). The Devil and his seed are nowhere in the Scriptures contrasted with Adam and his seed, but are always contrasted with Christ (called the woman's seed in Gen. iii. 15) and His people. All human beings are of the same blood (Acts xvii. 26), and were represented in Adam, and made sinners by his disobedience (and not by Eve's sin or Satan's temptation), just as Christ's people are all represented in Him, and are made righteous by His obedience (Rom. v. 12-2l)--Adam being the head of all his natural seed, and Christ the Head of all His spiritual seed. As Eld. J. R. Respess says, in the GOSPEL MESSENGER of January, 1889: "No sound Baptist believes that there is any natural difference in the human family, but that they are all, elect and non-elect, the seed or offspring of Adam, and all, by Adam's disobedience, made sinners and are children of wrath--the elect as well as the non-elect. And that the only difference between a saint and an unregenerate sinner is the difference made by grace, and not by nature. And when an elect vessel of mercy is born again, he is changed by that work of the Spirit and becomes by grace a child of God, though be is still a child of Adam, and in him are two seeds or spirits, so to speak, the seed of Christ and the seed of Adam, and this is what makes a Christian." His daily experience, as well as the Bible (Cant. vii. 13; Rom. vii. 14-25; Gal. v. 17-25; 1 John i. 5-10) proves to every child of God that he has both of these two contrary spirits in himself. In Gen. iii. 16, "sorrow and conception" (by hendiadis a common figure of speech in ancient languages) means "sorrow of or in conception or in parturition," as shown by the next clause, and also by the Septuagint translation (made 300 years before heathen philosophy corrupted Christianity)--"I will greatly multiply thy pains and thy groanings" (above what they would have been but for sin, and above what the females of the lower animals suffer).

Parkerism, while professing to establish grace and election, really do away with both, making salvation dependent on natural birth instead of grace, and offering it to all Adam's posterity, instead of to a part.

Eld. Daniel Parker seems to me to give up his whole system when, in his "Supplement," he says, on the third page, that "sin is the serpent's seed;" and, on the eleventh page, that "the eternal condemnation of the lost will not be because they were of the serpent's seed, or non-elect, but because of their sin against God in His divine law and their unbelief in Christ;" and, on the thirteenth page, that "the Baptist doctrine of salvation by the sovereign distinguishing grace of God stands completely established by the authority of the word of God, as well as by Christian experience, independent of his own views as to the origin of the two seeds." When the author of this system makes these broad confessions, how can a single one of his followers hesitate to abandon forever this worthless human invention--this heathen corruption of the gospel that has, for sixty years, poisoned, hardened, chilled, confused, and divided the Church of God?

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