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Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow Debate On Church Identity--Chapter 5
Debate On Church Identity--Chapter 5 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Thompson/Lawson   


Respected Opponent, Friendly Readers: It appears to be the opinion of Elder Lawson that the most successful way to escape the three of unanswerable arguments is to impress the readers, if possible, that I have failed to present arguments worthy of his attention. This I leave to the judgment of those who, with minds unbiased, are seeking to know the truth.

Elder, I have not tried to prove that my church under the name “Primitive Baptist” has a historical record from the apostolic day. As Elder Campbell and numerous historians testify, the Church of God has been designated by a variety of names —Anabaptist, Novatians, Waldenses, etc. I have proven that the church to which I belong, as a member is the Church of God, by establishing an unbroken chain of succession and posi­tive identity. The most eminent historians and some of the brightest lights of the Elder’s church are my witnesses. They identify the Baptist church as the apostolic Church of Christ.

Again Elder Campbell testifies,” that as it was with the Jews in the times of the Messiah and his apostles, so it is now with the Baptist.” “The nation, as such, continued to be the kingdom of God until they rejected the offered salvation;” Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 7, pp. 57, 58. Hear him further: From the apostolic age to the present time the sentiments of Baptist and their practice of baptism have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced;” Campbell and Maccalla Debate, p. 378. Elder, do you believe this witness? Elder Campbell boldly proclaims, that as the Jews as a nation was the kingdom of God until they rejected the offered salvation, so the Baptist were the kingdom of God until they rejected the call in the eighteenth century to reformation, as it pleased Campbell to name his heresy. That the sentiments of the Baptist, who were perpetually the kingdom of God to that time, had a continued chain of advocates from the apostolic age.

Elder Campbell says, “The communities collected and set in order by time apostles were called the congregations or Christ, and all these taken together are sometimes called the kingdom of God. * * * As these communities possess the oracles of God, are under the laws and institutions of the King, and there­fore enjoy the blessings of the present salvation, they are in the records of the kingdom regarded as the only constitutional citizens of the kingdom of heaven. * * * All these families or congregations thus organized constitute the present kingdom of God in the world;” Christian System, pp. 172, 173. Do you accept this definition of the kingdom or Church of God?

Elder, you say,” The Novatians believed in baptism for the remission of sins; the Primitive Baptist do not.” But I say the Primitive Baptists do believe in baptism “for” the remission of sins, but not in order to the remission of sins.

The Novatians stated their reason for refusing to readmit idolatrous heretics to their communion. They could give the reason more correctly than Buck, or any other malignant enemy. Hear them! “You can never be readmitted to our community, without our giving up the last and only coercive guardian we have of the purity of our fellowship;” Jones, p. 181.       Elder, read what the Novatians said, as recorded by Rob­inson, and reproduced by Jones on the page cited. Then if you can conscientiously charge the Novatians with the heresy “that they remitted sins by baptism,” it will be marvelous.

You assert that the Primitive Baptist church is not in faith and practice identical with the apostolic church, but you fail to prove your assertion true, and you will finally fail.

I argued that Paul presented God’s choice of Jacob, to possess the greater blessing, as a clear illustration of the doc­trine of election ; that election was not based on any good or evil done by those who were elected, as Paul illustrated; Romans 9:11, 12. That the elect were children of promise as Isaac was a child of promise; Galatians 4:28. That the prom­ise was, “ Sarah shall have a son,” which promise was contrary to nature and human expectation, and was made before Isaac had a being; that the elect who were children of promise, as Isaac was promised, were accounted for the seed; Romans 9:8. That this seed, elected, chosen, promised, was the seed that should serve the Lord, and be accounted to him for a genera­tion ; Psalm 22:30. That they were a chosen generation, that they should show forth the praise of the Lord ; 1 Peter 2:9. That they stood as the church in covenant, and in need of redemption, and that Jesus loved the covenant church and gave himself for it; Ephesians 5:25. That his blood was cove­nant blood, and atoned for covenant, elect people only, as seen in the type when Aaron offered blood which atoned for the sins of Israel. That Paul’s illustration (given) shows that the election of a people for Christ antedated all sin and righteous­ness of either the elect or non-elect, and was in no way predi­cated upon the acts of either. I quoted the passages given in proof; gave chapter and verse, and made my arguments, and yet you say I did riot. Do you suppose time reader will be deceived by your bare assertions?

“Where and by whom is the Church of God called Primi­tive Baptist? “ It is called “Primitive Baptist” by Eld. J. H. Lawson.

We do not add a Primitive Baptist to the Church of God by a vote who presents a valid letter, he is a member of the Church of God, and we acknowledge the relationship, and welcome him into the local body.

Elder, you say, “If the Bible establishes any one proposi­tion it is, that belief in Christ is necessary to the new birth.

I say, if the Bible establishes any one proposition it is, that a sinner must be born again (regenerated) in order to belief in Christ. I rest my proposition on this issue. If we are right in this position, we are right in our claim set forth in my proposition. If we are wrong in our belief, that regeneration antedates belief in Christ, we are wrong in our claims set forth in my proposition. Will you accept this issue as the deciding issue? Belief, according to your faith, is the first condition to be complied with by the alien sinner, in order to regeneration. Then when I show, that the Bible establishes the fact, that regeneration antedates belief in Christ, I prove that regeneration, on the part of the alien, is unconditional. If the sinner is born again before the first supposed condition is complied with, then predestination, election, and special atonement, as held by the Primitive Baptists, must be scriptural. Elder, will you tell us in your next reply, that you accept the plain proposition here proposed, as the deciding issue, and that you will rest your negative on the result of the investigation?

I believed on Christ, according to the working of God’s mighty power, which enabled me to receive the gospel relating to Christ; Ephesians 1:19; Philippians 1:29.

Elder. I know that “for,” Romans 4:25, signifies “because of,” as the language will not admit of any other construction. The Emphatic Diaglott reads: “Who was delivered up on account of our offences.”

You are mistaken when you say the Greek preposition “eis” always looks forward, but never looks backward. I offer the following in proof that you are wrong: “he that received a prophet in (eis) the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward;” Matthew 10:41. The Em­phatic Diaglott reads: “he who entertains a prophet because (eis) he is a prophet will obtain a prophet’s reward.” Here the preposition “eis” (from which “for” is derived, Acts 2:38) looks backward, and signifies because of. Do you accept Wilson as authority? This removes the cornerstone of the Gibraltar of Campbellism.

I did not word my denial of your charge against the No­vatians as you represent in your quotation. Quote me correctly.

Buck says, “Novatians denied that the church had the power of remitting sins.”

No people ever have believed in Christ who held that bap­tism was in order to the remission of sins. That was a Catholic heresy.

The Waldenses called the bogus Catholic party “Antichrist,” and charged them with holding the heresy as follows: “He teaches to baptize children into the faith, and attributes to this the work of regeneration; thus confounding the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration with the external rite of baptism;” Jones, p. 328. We continue in opposition to the unscriptural heresy.

Elder, do you verily believe that Barnabas wrote the “Epistle” attributed to him? Do you accept all the teachings of that “Epistle?” If you do not, why did you quote a part of it?

The contradiction found in Mosheim’s history to the quo­tation you gave, immediately follows the charge that Peter Waldus was founder and chief of the Waldenses. Archibald Maclane, D. D., (translator) says, “We may venture to affirm the contrary with the learned Beza and other writers of note; for it seems evident from the best records, that Waldus derived his name from the Valdenses or Peidmont, whose doctrine he adopted.” He says the terms Valdenses, and Waldenses, were used in the place of Vaudois.

As to the government of the church by bishops, deacons and presbyters, I reply that we have bishops, deacons and presbyters, who act in their official capacities, but they are amen­able to the church.

Elder, you argued that the devil in Eden did what God willed him to do or God’s arrangements were frustrated. The argument implies that God arranged that Adam should not eat, and that the devil frustrated the arrangements of God. Why did you make the statement you have quoted, if you did not mean it? What assertion do you refer to that you inti­mate that I made? You asked, “Do you affirm that God arranged for Adam to eat?” I answered, “No Sir!”

You say, “Jesus Christ through his death made it possible for all men to be saved.” how did he make it possible for all to be saved who have never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel?

“Man,” is not found in your proof-text, Hebrews 2:9, in the Greek Testament. The context does not warrant the sup­ply according to the Emphatic Diaglott.

In Romans 5:18,19, the connection shows that all upon whom the free gift came unto justification of life, shall be made righteous. “All” in the 18th verse is put for “many,” as seen in the 19th verse.

The word “all” in 1 Timothy 2:6, embraces all that Jesus obtained eternal redemption for and no more. In Matthew 20:28, and Mark 10:45, it is stated, that Jesus came to give his life a ransom for many. Paul’s statement to Timothy is in harmony with Christ’s statement. Paul said his persecutors were contrary to all men. He certainly meant all good men, and not all wicked men. The adjective “all” is limited.

You ask if those spoken of (2 Peter 2:1) were saved peo­ple? I believe they were redeemed by the blood of Christ. I believe they were covenant people. I believe they had been in the right way, for they had “forsaken” the right way. They perished in their own corruption, when swift destruction came upon them, as it did upon David, Solomon, Peter and others. They followed the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness. He was greedy of filthy lucre. Heresy and covetousness are the principle charges alleged against them. These are not greater sins than are charged to Abraham, Noah, David, Solomon and Peter, whom we believe were children of God, and who are now blest in his presence.





Respected Opponent, Dear Readers: Eld. Thompson pre­sents about the same arguments in his fifth address that we find in his first. he seems to realize that his succession theory has been exploded, so he keeps on trying to patch it up. He quotes Campbell as follows: “From the apostolic age to the present time the sentiments of Baptists and their practice of baptism have had a continued chain of advocates and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced.” Camp­bell-Maccalla Debate, p. 378. He then asks: “Elder, do you believe this?” If you mean by the word “Baptist” those who opposed infant baptism and immersed believers, I would say yes.” The people with whom I stand identified do that. But if you mean such people as are now called Baptists, I say no. They were not known prior to 1607.

Campbell, in his debate with Maccalla, tried to defend the Baptist idea of succession, but made a failure in that, but showed that in all ages immersion had been practiced, and infant baptism rejected, by different denominations. Campbell was affiliating with the Baptist denomination at that time, and had many erroneous ideas. Eld. Thompson next gives Bro. Campbell’s definition of kingdom, and asks if I accept it. In part, I do; but I don’t think he includes as much as is warranted by the Scriptures.

The kingdom of Christ consists of every Christian, whether meeting with other Christians or not. If a citizen of Christ’s kingdom should move to where there are no other Christians, -he would still be in the kingdom of Christ. Do you deny it? I think not. But that is not according to your theory, yet you can’t deny it. I have carefully read Jones, page 181, as requested by Eld. Thompson, and there is not a statement on that page that contradicts one thing stated by Buck. But on page 180 we learn that Novatian was a member of the Catholic church, but when he saw no prospects of purity in that church, he withdrew from it, with a number of others, and established churches (congregations) on New Testament principles. Which was in the “succession line,” Novatian or the Catholics? Novatian withdrew from the practice and communion of the Catholics and established churches on purely New Testament principles. Neither were the churches established by him called Novatians or Puritans only by their enemies. They called themselves Christians, and had strong aversions to any other name. But in this they differed greatly from Primitive Baptists, for they call themselves Primitive Baptists and have strong aversions to the name Christian.

Eld. Thompson again runs his line of “election,” without giving a quotation from the Bible. He can prove it, I sup­pose, more satisfactory to his mind by referring to the Scripture where he thinks it can be found, than by quoting it, and show that it says it. I deny that any passage referred to says one word about unconditional election to salvation. I deny that Paul gives the election of Jacob to illustrate our election in Christ. If such a thing is mentioned, Eld. Thompson ought to produce it, and that would end that matter. Eld. Thompson asks if I will base all on the proposition that “regeneration antedates belief in Christ.” I am willing to base it all on that proposition, as far as regeneration is concerned, but there are other points I desire you to try to prove, such as “Hereditary total depravity,” “Close communion,” “‘Voting on men before baptism,” “Experiences,” etc. “Regeneration antedates belief in Christ,” is the proposition I deny, and so far as your proposition is concerned, if you prove that, you prove unconditional election to salvation. Don’t fail to give quotations in full.

Eld. Thompson says I am wrong in saying the Greek preposition eis, always looks forward but never backward. Has he given an authority? Certainly not. But he quotes Matt. 10:41, as follows: “He that receiveth a prophet in (eis) the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.” He then quotes the Emphatic Diaglott, which translates it as follows: “He who entertains a prophet because (eis) he is a prophet, will obtain a prophet’s reward.” Does not the entertaining the prophet look to the future?  Is he not speaking of future actions and future rewards? Certainly he is. You can’t find an authority but that says the Greek preposition eis is prospective. Ek is opposed to eis and looks back, meaning motion from, but eis looks forward and means, to, toward, into, unto, etc. But we will examine more carefully when Eld. Thomp­son introduces some authorities on the use of the preposition eis.

The Elder again introduces Mosheim, and says: “The contradiction found in Mosheim’s History to the quotation you gave, immediately follows the charge, that Peter Waldus was founder and chief of the Waldenses.”

Archibald Maclane, D. D., translator, says: Then fol­lows a statement from the “D. D.” to try to prove that Mosheim was wrong.

Eld. Thompson: Don’t you know the difference between statements made by Mosheim and those made by Maclane? Who was Maclane that he should contradict Mosheim? There are no contradictions in Mosheim’s statements, but he knocks out the Baptist idea of succession. You please come up in your next article and tell the people that Mosheim does not contradict himself, but that Maclane, who translated Mosheim, tried to set aside Mosheim’s statement concerning the origin of the Waldenses, just as you have done, but you have both made a signal failure. As Mosheim states, the Vaudois and Waldenses were separate people, and the Vaudois decreased by going to the Waldenses, until finally there were no Vaudois, for they had gone to the Waldenses. But as to the government of the Waldenses, he now admits that it was by bishops, presbyters and deacons, but says that Primitive Baptists have bishops, presbyters and deacons. Elder, are Primitive Baptist churches governed by bishops, presbyters and deacons? or do you govern by a majority vote?

Do you not boast of being “Democratic” in your govern­ment? “An open confession is good for the soul.” Eld. Thompson still insists that I argued that God arranged for Adam not to eat. I did not do any such thing. You are the one that believes in this “arranging before hand” so “stick to your bush.” But, perhaps, he now sees his wrong. I trust he does and that he will now turn from it.

The Elder tries to show that “all men,” “every man” and kindred expressions, does not include the entire human family. Elder, will you give us a sentence that includes the human family? he acknowledges that those spoken of in 2 Peter 2:1, had been in the right way, and had been saved by the blood of Christ. But of them Peter says: “Cursed children” (verse 14) “to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever,” (verse 17) thus showing that they had apostatized and would finally be lost. So away goes the Baptist idea of the impossibility of apostasy. Elder, that chapter places you in a dilemma from which you can never extricate yourself. I will just leave you “bottled up” there on that proposition, for the present.




       In Eld. Thompson’s last article he failed to mention any­thing of their so-called “experiences.” I believe that a Chris­tian man can give a Christian’s experience if he has lived the Christian life, but he can give no such experiences as those related by Baptists when seeking admission into a Baptist church.

Their so-called experiences are imaginations of their own hearts, and contrary to Bible teaching. In most all those so-called “experiences” the following statements are usually found:

(1)  “I felt that I was the meanest person on earth.”

(2)  “ I felt that I could live no longer.”

(3)  “I felt that every one had forsaken me.”

(4)  “I felt that the Lord could not be just and pardon me.”

(5)  “1 felt that I was doomed to hell.”

(6)  “I felt that God for Christ’s sake had forgiven me.”

In this the “experience” the teller must confess that five of the six statements are false. You might ask: “Were you the worst man on earth? “The answer would be “no, there are other men as mean as myself.” Then your feelings deceived you. When those “experiences” are related, the Baptists measure them by their own, and if in harmony with theirs, they vote on them to admit them to baptism. They vote to see whether the Lord did a good job in converting the man! In this they are unscriptural, for Paul said: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Cor., 10:12.) When a man relates his “experi­ence” to a Primitive Baptist church, they measure it by their own, but Paul said Christians did not do that way. The prophet Jeremiah describes a people who walked after their own hearts as Primitive Baptists do, and you ought to give heed to it, for your “experiences” are exactly as the prophet declares, and he warns you against such. Hear him: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you; they make you vain; they

speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. (Primitive Baptists speak the visions of their own hearts, L.) They say still unto them that despise me, the Lord hath said ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, no evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and bath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word and heard it? * * * I have heard what the prophets said that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own hearts; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.” (Jer. 23:16—27.) Could anything be described more accurately? But one says: “When the darkness of the night had gathered around me, I went to the grove by myself, and there the Lord spoke peace to my soul.”

Listen to what Isaiah saith: “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth.” (Is. 45:19.) So it was only the imagination of the heart you heard, and not the voice of God.

Those who have the kind of religion described are con­stantly in doubt of it. They know not whether it was the voice of God or some other voice. In their experience they express this doubt, and go on through life doubting. It is well for you to doubt for God is not in your conversion. If you doubt, and then read the Bible, you will soon learn that you were walking in the imagination of your own heart, and that God gives a system by which you can come to him and be saved. Read Acts of Apostles to see how the people were con­verted in apostolic days.



Last Updated ( Friday, 27 October 2006 )
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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.