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Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow Debate On Church Identity--Chapter 3
Debate On Church Identity--Chapter 3 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Thompson/Lawson   


 Respected Opponent, Friendly Readers: I anticipate disap­pointment for the careful, thoughtful investigator who will expect Elder Lawson to examine my proof texts and arguments. In view of the endorsements received I hoped for a close en­gagement, but evasion, assumption, denial and assertions, char­acterize his rejoinder. I believe it will be apparent that he regards my positions impregnable. So I shall depend upon the impartial judgment of intelligent investigators.

He denies that I am a member of the church to which be­lievers were added; (Acts 2: 47.) This presents the issue. We both believe that body was the Church of God. That it was scriptural in origin, doctrine and practice. Jesus said the gates of hell should not prevail against it. Daniel prophesied that it should never be destroyed.

We also agree that, “Church of God” is the scriptural name. The church to which I belong as a member is the “Church of God” as I have proven. The name “PRIMITIVE BAPTIST” is to designate the true “Church” from heretical bodies.

Elder, is there a command for the church to assemble and break bread the first day of each successive week?

The Lord adds to our church. We only decide between those the Lord adds and imposters. We welcome all who give evidence that the Lord is adding them. Their faith is a fruit of the Spirit; Galatians 5:22. Jesus is the author and finisher of their faith; Hebrews 12:2. They are given to believe on Christ; Philippians 1:29. They believe according to the working of God’s mighty power; Ephesians 1:19.

The mighty power of God gave some to see visions and others to dream dreams; Acts 2: 17. Peculiar feelings are common to God’s regenerated people, before and after faith comes; Mat., 5 : 3—6. If the Elder has never experienced the peculiar feelings described in these verses, he should not conclude that those who say they have are deceived or dishonest.

Believers were baptized because of the remission of their sins; Acts 2: 38—41. We baptize those who have by faith received the atonement.

I did not affirm that the name Primitive Baptist is a scrip­tural name. I affirmed that the church to which I belong is scriptural.

The Elder says the name “BAPTIST” was not applied to churches prior to 1607. Hear Elder Campbell, the head and founder of Elder Lawson’s church! “Thirteenth Century—In this century Jacob Meringus says that he had in his hand in the German tongue a confession of the faith of the Baptist called Waldenses,” Christian Baptism, p. 362. On page 363: “Twisk says, in his Chronology, page 930       * * * the Waldenses who were BAPTIST were much spread in Hungary.” On page 409, “hence it is that the Baptist denomination in all ages and in all countries has been as a body the constant asserters * * * of liberty of conscience.” Again Mr. Campbell remarks: “From the apostolic age to the present time the sentiments of the Baptist * * * have had a con­tinued chain of advocates,” Campbell and Maccelia Debate, p. 378.

Elder, you only repeated a part of the quotation I gave from Elder Campbell’s statement. I embraced the entire state­ment in the question as to whether you believed the Elder. Is your evasive answer fair?

You say that Elder Campbell does not use the name Bap­tist as I do. I give book and page where he uses the name as I do.

I maintain that the summary I gave of the statements of Robison, Campbell, and Burgess is correct regardless of the de­nial and uncharitable insinuation of Elder Lawson. Elder Thompson traced the succession of the church called “BAPTIST” and Elder Burgess admitted that he was correct, as seen in the quotation.

“Who added the word ‘BAPTIST’ found in parenthesis?” Answer: Encyclopedia Religious Knowledge, page 198, Mr. Robison * * * says expressly, “All this time they were Baptist churches.” I suppose Mr. Robison put BAPTIST there. You say Cook’s story is in harmony with all other histor­ies. Cook said the Novatians derived their origin from Nova­tian. Robison contradicts Cook’s statement in Ecclesiastical Researches, page 127. Neither does Brown harmonize with Cook: “Novatians, a numerous body of Protestant dissen­ters from the church of Rome in the third century, who, notwithstanding the representations of their adversaries, have some just claims to be regarded as the pure, uncorrupted and apostolic Church of Christ,” Religious Encyclopedia, p. 877. On page 1147 he remarks of the Waldenses: “The evidence is now ample that so far from being a new sect at that period (1170) they had existed under various names, as a distinct class of dissenters from the established churches of Greece and Rome, in the earliest ages.” Here we have the Novatians and Wal­denses connected as dissenters from the church of Rome.

You say: “The Waldenses were founded by Peter Waldo.” But Mr. Jones says,” It is also proved by their books that they existed as Waldenses before the time of Peter Waldo,” Jones History, p. 301. And on same page he presents evidence that the Waldenses flourished five hundred years before the time of Peter Waldo. You should investigate your histories before you deny facts and make wild assertions.

Dr. Allix in his history, page 192 remarks: “I say first that it is absolutely false that these churches were ever founded by Peter Waldo.” Dr. Alexes Munston testifies: “ The Van­dois (Waldenses) of the Alps are in our view primitive Chris­tians or inheritors of the primitive church. * * * It is not they who separated from Catholicism, but Catholicism which separated from them;” The Israel of the Alps, p. 1.

A summary of history:

1st. Novatian was not the founder of the churches who opposed the apostles at Rome.

2nd. They have just claims to be regarded as the pure, uncorrupted and apostolic Church of Christ.

3rd. The dissenters from the apostates at Rome were also called Waldenses.

4th. The Wal­denses were the very seed of the purer Christian church.

5th. The Menanites were the original Waldenses and they planted the standard of truth in England.

6th. John Clark of Eng­land organized the first Baptist church in America.

7th. The churches in this line of succession are known in history as BABTIST.

8th. They have preserved the truth of Christ in its purity.

9th. The truth preserved is preached by the Primitive Baptist of today, as opposed to all Arminianism. See confessions of Waldenses. Therefore the church called Primitive Baptist is the Church of God. Her origin is proven by an un­broken chain of testimony identifying her with the apostolic church.

Why did you treat with silence the quotations from the con­fession of the Waldenses which identify us with those ancient witnesses for the truth?

You make an assertion relative to the government of the Waldenses. Assertions unsupported by proof are of no force.

You ask: “Do you affirm that God arranged for Adam to eat?” No sir! Why did you deny it before I affirmed it? Why do you assume positions for me and violently deny them? Do you affirm that God arranged that Adam should not eat?

It appears that you are afraid to debate the doctrine of election. I showed, that the election of Jacob was illustra­tive of the Bible doctrine of election. That the people given to Christ were promised children before they had being, as Isaac was promised to Abraham. That they were predestinated unto the adoption of children, and chosen in Christ before the foun­dation of the world that they should be holy. That they are counted for the seed whom David said should serve the Lord, and be accounted unto him for a generation. That they are a chosen generation that they should shew forth the praise of God. That Jesus came to save his elect people who stood as the church in covenant with him. That he loved the church in covenant and gave himself for it. That they were chosen to salvation from the beginning. That they are saved according to the purpose and grace of God given them in Christ, but not accord­ing to their works.

You try to disprove this view by quoting: “Make your calling and election sure.” You do not understand Peter. Peter addressed elect people. He admonished scattered saints to give proof of their election by adding to their faith virtue, etc. For so an abundant entrance would be administered into the kingdom or church here. They were chosen that they should shew forth the praise of the Lord.

Paul was sure the Thessalonian saints were elected, because the Gospel came unto them in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; 1 Thessalonians 1: 4, 5. This was evidence of their election, for they received the Gospel, which natural men do not receive; 1 Corinthians 2:14.

The reader will observe that you throw aside, evade and pass by proof texts, and arguments, and your denial is against you.

I did not confess that the illustration in the choice of Jacob was not in support of my position, and you know I did not.

Why deny that the Ephesian saints were saved before they were born. I did not say they were. I said they were predes­tinated unto the adoption of children, and chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.

On the passage: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” you ask: “If God has selected this means of choosing, why should Eld. Thompson claim that God had chosen them unto salvation independent of these conditions?” The language does not imply that God selected means of choos­ing them, but that God had chosen them unto salvation, and had predetermined the way by which they should be saved from pollution and error.

You miss my argument entirely on Ephesians 5:25. I pre­sented in that passage the church in covenant, embracing all for whom the atonement was made. I admit that the Jews were an elect people, but they were also a type of the portion given to Christ, both of the Jews and of the Gentiles, Rom., 8:33. And you did not understand me to mean the Jews as a nation, where I said, “We believe that Jesus made atonement for his elect people.” You understood me to argue that a def­inite number of Adam’s race, including both Jews and Gentiles, were the children of the promise, chosen in covenant, and that the election or predestination of them unto the adoption of children, the gift of them to Jesus, and all that pertains to their eternal salvation is in no way conditional or dependent upon their obedience to any command of God.

Can you explain the following texts which I have presented and show that they do not support my proposition? Ephesians 3:10, 11; 2d Timothy 1:9; John 3:38,39; Deuteronomy 32:9; John 17:2; Romans 11:26; Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 8:31-33 and 9:11, 12; Romans 9:7-9; Galatians 4:28; Psalm 22:30; 1st Peter 2:9; Ephesians 5:25.

If you can show that these scriptures do not teach our view of election, (choice) and the gift to Christ of a definite portion of Adam’s posterity as the exact number to be saved through the mediatorial work of Christ, I want you to make it clear and conclusive. We desire the closest investigation of our views. We hold that the atonement is specific, limited to the elect, definite.

Paul testifies of Christ: “Who was delivered for our offen­ses, and was raised again for our justification.” The Emphatic Diaglott reads : “Who was delivered up on account of the offences of us, and was raised up on account of the justification of us.” It is forcibly expressed here, that Jesus was raised because of the justification of his people. They were justified by his blood; Romans 5:9. The atonement was made, satisfaction rendered, and their justification secured by his blood prior to his resurrection.

All who were justified by his blood shall be saved from wrath through him. See last reference.

Respectfully, J. M. THOMPSON




Respected Opponent, Dear Readers: Eld. Thompson com­plains that I do not examine his proof texts.

I am not sensible of any failure to do so, but when he quotes scripture without making an application, he must ex­cuse me from an examination. I have no reply to make until he makes an “ address.” Talk about fearing an issue! If Eld. Thompson will take a position, and try to examine it by pre­senting proof texts; I assure him that they shall be fairly ex­amined. I am sure that I have answered every argument so far. It seems to me that Eld. Thompson has given up the “origin” part of his proposition. If you did not intend to discuss “origin,” why did you not leave it out of your propo­sition? I shall treat it as a settled fact that Eld. Thompson knows not of the origin of the church to which he belongs as a member. If he does not know when it began, how does he know that it is scriptural in origin?

If he could trace the church of which he is a member step by step through the dark ages that would not prove that it is the Church of Christ. But this he can’t do, as I have shown. When historians speak of Baptists, they mean no more than opposers to infant baptism, just as Pedo-Baptist means those who practice infant baptism, though they be Catholics, Episco­palians, Presbyterians, etc. lie says: “The name ‘Primitive Baptist’ is to designate this true church from heretical bodies.” Then the term “ Primitive Baptist Church of God” would be to distinguish you from the Church of God, which is not Primi­tive. The Chinch of God needs nothing more, so far as name is concerned, to distinguish it from other bodies, for they are known as “Baptists,” “ Primitive Baptists,” “Free Will Bap­tists,” etc.

On adding to the church Eld. Thompson says: “The Lord adds to our church. We only decide between those the Lord adds and imposters.” This was brought out by my charge, in reply to Eld. Thompson that he was not a member of the church spoken of in Acts, 2:47. I claimed that Primitive Baptists do their own “ adding” by a vote of the church, while Eld. Thomp­son says the Lord adds and they only decide between those the Lord adds and imposters. Will Eld. Thompson please answer these questions? Does the Lord add a man to the church before or after baptism? Do you vote on the reception of a man before or after baptism? Eld. Thompson says: “Peculiar feelings are common to God’s regenerated people, before and after faith comes.”

Are we to understand by this that God has a regenerated people without faith? But those “ peculiar feelings” he speaks of. He says: “If the Elder never experienced the peculiar feelings described in those verses, he should not conclude that those who say they have are deceived or dishonest.” Eld. Thompson, will you tell us just how a man should feel who is regenerated but does not believe? and then how he feels after he believes? Are feelings an evidence of pardon? Will the Elder please give his “ experience” and describe his feelings before, during, and after regeneration? But he says that be­lievers are baptized because of the remission of sins, and refers to Acts, 2:38, where Peter said: “Repent and be baptized *       * * for the remission of sins.” There is no “ because of” in it, my dear sir.

He then gives a number of quotations from Bro. Campbell to try to support the name Baptist in all ages. But Bro. Camp­bell used the term “ Baptist “ in the sense of opposers to infant baptism, just as lie used the term “Pedo-Baptist” to designate those who practiced infant baptism. He spoke of the religious world as divided into two classes, so far as infant baptism was concerned, and called the two classes “Baptists” and “Pedo-­Baptist.”




Eld. Thompson says that Novatian was not the founder of the Novatian church; but has he given any evidence to support his assumption? I think not. I showed that the Novatians held to baptism for the remission of sins. Does he deny it? Can a body of people be true Primitive Baptists and hold the doctrine of remitting sins by baptism? But he also says that Peter Waldo was not the founder of the Waldenses. We will see about that. I call your attention to Mosheim’s church his­tory, p. 290. “ Of all the sects that arose in this century, not one was more distinguished by the reputation it acquired, by the multitude of its votaries, and the testimony which its bit­terest enemies bore to the probity and innocence of its members, than that of the Waldenses, so called from their parent and founder, Peter Waldo.” On page 291 of the same history Mosheim says: “ Certain writers give different accounts of the origin of the Waldenses, and suppose they were so called from the valleys in which they had resided for many ages before the birth of Peter Waldus.”

“But these writers have no authority to support this asser­tion, and besides this, they are amply refuted by the best his­torians. I do not mean to deny that there were in the valleys of Piedmont long before this period, a set of men who differed widely from the opinion adopted and inculcated by the church of Rome, and whose doctrine resembled, in many respects, that of the Waldenses; all that I maintain is that these inhabitants of the valleys above mentioned are to be carefully distinguished from the Waldenses, who, according to the unanimous voice of history, were originally inhabitants of Lyons, and derived their name from Peter Waldus, their founder and chief.” Will Eld. Thompson receive this, or will he want me to relegate Mosheim to the background, as he suggested I should “Cook’s story of the Baptists?” I am confident that many of the Waldenses were good men, and that the work of Peter Waldo was a grand work, but his was a work of restoration, in which he restored to the people many things that had been covered up by the Catholic church. But the Waldenses, as a people, were far from being up to the Bible standard in work and worship.

I stated in my last article that the government of the Wal­denses was committed to their elders, bishops and deacons, and Eld. Thompson called it in question. Mosheim’s history, page 291, says: “The government of the church was committed, by the Waldenses, to bishops, presbyters and deacons, for they ac­knowledged that these three orders were instituted by Christ himself.” Is this Baptistic? I am sure it is not. He then gives a summary of historical statements with regard to these different bodies of religious people, and tries to connect them so as to form a chain from the Novatians to the Primitive Bap­tists. But in this he makes a total failure. There were Waldenses and Primitive Baptists in the eighteenth century. There are Waldenses and Primitive Baptists now. If the Waldenses were the Church of Christ in the twelfth, thirteenth and four­teenth centuries and apostasy impossible, why are they not Churches of Christ now? If the Waldenses were Churches of Christ, and apostasy impossible, then Eld. Thompson has lost his proposition. The Elder asks: “Why did you treat with silence, the quotations from the confession of the Waldenses, which identify us with those ancient witnesses for the truth?” I reply that the statements taken from the confession of the Waldenses does not apply to the Primitive Baptists, any more than to the Missionaries; Free Wills, Methodists, or any other sect of religionists.

They adhered to the “Apostles Creed.” Is that your doc­trine?

He says he does not affirm that God had arranged for Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and wants me to affirm that he had arranged for him not to eat! He wants me to affirm a negative! Will you tell us, please, the arrangements of God with reference to Adam and the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

But he says: “It appears that you are afraid to debate the doctrine of election.” No, my dear sir, I am not afraid to de­bate that question by any means. But I repeat; the question I propounded to you in my last article, and I want you to an­swer it, please. Is the number of the elect so fixed and certain that it can neither be increased or diminished? I believe in the doctrine of election, but I do riot believe that any one is elected to salvation before believing in Christ. We believe in conditional election unto salvation; Eld. Thompson in uncon­ditional election. Will he state his position clearly, and then try to prove it by the Bible?

But he asks me to examine a number of passages of scrip­ture and show that they do not teach what he claims. He does not tell us clearly what he claims for them. Do you claim that they teach unconditional election unto salvation? I deny that they do and will examine them as to what they do teach. Ephe, 3:10,11 teaches the wisdom of God and his making it known to the people by sending Christ to the world. 2 Tim., 1:9 shows that God purposed to save people in Christ and to call them with an holy calling. Jno. 6:38, 39 teaches that God willed those given to Christ should be saved, but their salvation is conditional as shown in the 40th verse. Deut., 32:9 teaches that Jacob was God’s portion, or more properly, Israel, as a nation had been chosen of God. Jno., 17:2 teaches that God had given Christ power to give eternal life to those given him. But (lid Christ give them eternal life unconditionally? No! Rom., 11: 26 shows that Israel should be saved, but not a word about their salvation being unconditional. Eph., 1: 4, 5 shows that God had elected certain ones (the apostles) to teach the people and had made known to them the mystery of his will, that others might trust in Christ after hearing the word of truth. (Verse 13) Rom., 8: 31—33 shows that God delivered up Christ for the people and that nothing should be charged to God’s elect. Rom. 9:11,12 speaks of election, but that election was not to salvation, as Eld. Thompson admitted in his second article. But why all this? I deny that any man in any age has been elected to salvation unconditionally.

Will Mr. Thompson find the man?

But he says: “ We hold that the atonement is specific, limited to the elect, definite.”

I answer that Christ died for the sins of the whole world, making it possible for any man to be saved, but that the benefits of the atonement are conditional, and, therefore, man must com­ply with the conditions to receive the benefits. Eld. Thompson says that I do not understand Peter when he said “make your calling and election sure.” lie says: “Peter was addressing elect people.” In what sense were they elect? Not in the sense of eternal election, for he here refers to their final election in heaven, and says, “make it sure.” Eld. Thompson says they were to give proof of their election that they might enter the kingdom or church here.

They were already in the kingdom or church here, Eld. Thompson, and Peter was admonishing them as saints to con­tinue faithful to God, that their eternal election might be sure. Eld. Thompson says the Thessalonians had received the Gospel, which was an evidence that they had been elected as natural men could not receive it. He refers us to 1 Cor., 2: 14. Eld. Thompson: Will you please tell us who the natural man is as spoken of in 1 Cor., 2:14? Were you ever a natural man? Is it possible for a natural man to be saved? 

         J. H. LAWSON.

Last Updated ( Friday, 27 October 2006 )
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