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Letter to Elder Kirkland PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.A. Paine   

Dear Friends,

Read below an interesting letter, written by Elder (DR.) J. A. Paine to Elder J. V. Kirkland. Elder Paine was the father of Elder S. A. Paine, and pastored churches in the Dallas/Forth Worth area of Texas in the early part of the 20th century. Elder Kirkland of Fulton KY, was the instigator of the nefarious St. Louis Council which attempted to formulate a headquarters and ruling council for the Primitive Baptists, consolidate all church papers into one, consolidate all local associational meetings into one national association, and make it the church's policy that the (so called) great commission was given to the church as a whole. As can be expected, the council suggestions fell on deaf ears and resulted in Elder Kirkland being disfellowshipped to a large degree among the Primitives. Eventually, he would be preaching for the Missionaries. A sad end to Elder J. V. Kirkland.


The Primitive Monitor--February 1909


Dear Brother Kirkland:-I have been reading your paper ever since I met you at Hollow Rock, in West Tennessee, last summer. I notice you seem to be at a great loss to know why the Baptists have fallen out with you. You also seem much grieved because they have declared against you. Now I wish to say, Brother John, I have ever believed you to be a child of God. I also believe you have been called to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, which you have in the past done to the perfect satis­faction of the brethren. But you remember, Brother John, “A certain man went from Jerusalem DOWN to Jerico.” Notice the text does not say, A certain man started, or desired, or thought of going, but, “went down to Jerico.” I have never yet known an Old Baptist to get his admirations centered on Jerico, (from any view point), but what he landed either in the center or suburbs, at least he always goes “down from Jerusalem.” It is always delight­ful sailing, you know, for one to go down grade, but to return it is generally a difficult task. Now my brother, this is where you are at among the “chance fellows.” You will just have to suffer on, my brother, until the “Good Samaritan” “on his journey” lifts you out of your miserable environ­ments.

I had ever recognized you as one of our able gifts and often expressed myself that way. But now, I have “somewhat against you” and feel duty bound to tell you just exactly what it is. I will first express to you my objections in the aggregate, and then delineate somewhat.

First, I don’t consider you a safe man, a true genuine Primitive Baptist. I think, however, you are reasonably sound in the fundamental doctrine as believed by these people. But I notice you are standing in, with every little “Soft, Sore-head” thing that calls itself a Primitive Baptist church. With such men as Pence, Burnam, Mullins, Bostick, Hall, Scarboroh and the Lord only knows who else. All of these you know, or should know, are individually and collectively the most inveterate enemies the dear Old Baptists ever had. Some of them, as you know, have been excluded from the Old Baptists for twenty or more years, and the remainder, old sore headed, disgruntled, pessimistic, rotten Arminian (to my own knowledge) Missionaries, who are on the warpath because they failed to secure unto them­selves a “fat job.” Don’t you know, that we know, you lived right there in the town of Fulton, with Hall, Scarboroh, & Co? And don’t you know, that we know, that J. N. Hall (during his life time) was the most bitter enemy our people ever had in the South? And don’t you know that J. A. Scarboroh was a regular Old Baptist hater, and one of the rot­tenest Arminians I ever met in debate (Campbell­ites not excepted), knowing less about Baptist doc­trine than any man I ever saw, claiming to be a Bap­tist. And don’t you know these fellows were ever and anon dumping their poisonous slang and vituper­ations on the dear Old Baptists? And if ever you answered them a word I failed to see it. Don’t you know that in your report of the Cayce-Penick debate, that you criticized Brother Cayce as much as you did Penick, and eulogized Penick as much as you did Cayce? Now this proves one of three things, viz., that you were either an enemy of Cayce, not a true Baptist, or out of your place, either of which would render (one of your talent) unworthy the confidence of genuine Primitive Baptists. Oh, no, Brother John, we prefer to let our hearts go out in thankful­ness to God, for such men as Potter, Cayce, and other battle scarred veterans of the cross, who have gone down to their graves bearing with them the full confidence of their brethren for whom they gave full proof of their unmitigated love, even down to the bitter end, proving that they had fought a good fight and had kept the faith; men who were ever ready to beard the lion in his den, and were never even once suspected (much less accused) of alliance with such men as Hall, Scarboroh, & Co. All this, my brother, you could and should have done. If you had un­furled your colors like these noble men of God, and had been more defensive and less suggestive in those stormy days, you would now have no occasion to be grieving over your deplorable condition. Yes, if you had acted thus, Brother John, instead of trying to compromise with these the greatest enemies the old church has ever had since she took her flight “into the wilderness” from that old dragon, who in diversified forms has been on her track ever since, and would have long since blotted her out (by com­promise if no other way) had not God, raised up such men as we have mentioned to defend her divine and sacred rights. But when we ask where you were during the battle cry, “echo answers, where?”

 You are wrong, my brother, in attributing your troubles to preacher jealousy. That might be true in a few instances, but not throughout the country. You have been too suggestive and too little defens­ive. The Old Baptists need no suggestions con­cerning matters relative to which they have ever agreed, but they need to be defended against this subtle foe, relative to the tenets that have always characterized them as the true church of God.

Now Brother John, as concerning your troubles, I ask, “Is there not a cause?” You will say, Yes; then I think I have given some of them at least.


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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.