Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Heretical Twins

B. H. Caroll Jr., wrote a section of his book, on the "Anti-Mission Movement," titled "Rise of the Hardshells." In that chapter he showed that Alexander Campbell was the "father of twins," the "twins" being "Hardshellism" and "Campbellism."

Anyone familiar with the history of these two sects knows how true is this description. I will be writing upon this in future chapters of my book on the "Primitive Baptist Church."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


This web site is dedicated to refuting Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism.


The Hardshell Baptist Cult

Already Published

Chapter 1 - The Primitive Baptist Church
Chapter 2 - Personal Experiences
Chapter 3 - The Hardshell Cult
Chapter 4 - Hardshell History
Chapter 5 - Hardshell Extremism
Chapter 6 - Hardshell Hypocrisy & Peculiarities
Chapter 7 - Time Salvation - A Novel Idea
Chapter 8 - The Spirit Alone Theory of Regeneration
Chapter 9 - Hardshell Logic on Regeneration
Chapter 10 - Hardshellism & The Infant & Idiot
Chapter 11 - Saved By Money?
Chapter 12 - Hardshells on Faith (A Primer)
Chapter 13 - Hardshells On Faith (Conclusion)
Chapter 14 - Hard-Shell Busters (First Cracking)
Chapter 15 - Hardshells On Repentance (Primer)
Chapter 16 - Hardshells On Repentance (Conclusion)
Chapter 17 - Hard-Shell Busters (Second Cracking)
Chapter 18 - Hardshells on Conversion
Chapter 19 - Coming To Christ
Chapter 20 - Direct Voice Speaking (Historical)
Chapter 21 - Direct Voice Speaking (Doctrinal)
Chapter 22 - More On The Voice Of Christ
Chapter 23 - I Peter 1:23
Chapter 24 - James 1:18
Chapter 25 - I Cor. 4:15
Chapter 26 - Hot Shots Returned (1st Volley)
Chapter 27 - Hot Shots Returned (2nd Volley)
Chapter 28 - Hot Shots Returned (3rd Volley)
Chapter 29 - Hot Shots Returned (4th Volley)
Chapter 30 - Hot Shots Returned (5th Volley)
Chapter 31 - Hot Shots Returned (6th Volley)
Chapter 32 - Hot Shots Returned (7th Volley)
Chapter 33 - Romans 10 & Gospel Means
Chapter 34 - Romans 10 (cont.)
Chapter 35 - Parable of the Sower & Seed
Chapter 36 - Pray for the Salvation of your Children?
Chapter 37 - Eternal Children Doctrine
Chapter 38 - Eternal Children Doctrine II
Chapter 39 - Hollow Log Doctrine
Chapter 40 - Biblical Regeneration
Chapter 41 - Infant Regeneration
Chapter 42 - Addresses To The Lost I
Chapter 43 - Addresses To The Lost II
Chapter 44 - Addresses To The Lost III
Chapter 45 - Addresses To The Lost IV
Chapter 46 - Addresses To The Lost V
Chapter 47 - Addresses To The Lost VI
Chapter 48 - Addresses To The Lost VII
Chapter 49 - Elder Leland's Preaching
Chapter 50 - From Law to Grace?
Chapter 51 - Regenerated AND Converted?
Chapter 52 - Beebe-Trott Model
Chapter 53 - Regeneration Evidence?
Chapter 54 - On Conviction I
Chapter 55 - On Conviction II
Chapter 56 - On Conviction III
Chapter 57 - The Original Paradigm
Chapter 58 - Hardshells on Gill I
Chapter 59 - Hardshells on Gill II
Chapter 60 - Hardshells on Gill III
Chapter 61 - Hardshells on Gill IV
Chapter 62 - Hardshells on Gill V
Chapter 63 - Hardshells on Gill VI
Chapter 64 - Hardshells on Gill VII
Chapter 65 - Hardshells on Gill VIII
Chapter 66 - The Great Commission I
Chapter 67 - The Great Commission II
Chapter 68 - The Great Commission III
Chapter 69 - The Great Commission IV
Chapter 70 - The Great Commission V
Chapter 71 - The Great Commission VI
Chapter 72 - The Great Commission VII
Chapter 73 - The Great Commission VIII
Chapter 74 - The Great Commission IX
Chapter 75 - The Great Commission X
Chapter 76 - The Great Commission XI

Chapter 77 - The Great Commission XII (not yet published)
Chapter 78 - The Great Commission XIII (not yet published)

Chapter 79 - Hardshell Proof Texts I
Chapter 80 - Hardshell Proof Texts II
Chapter 81 - Hardshell Proof Textx III
Chapter 82 - Hardshell Proof Texts IV
Chapter 83 - Hardshell Proof Texts V
Chapter 84 - Hardshell Proof Texts VI
Chapter 85 - Hardshell Proof Texts VII
Chapter 86 - Hardshell Proof Texts VIII
Chapter 87 - Hardshell Proof Texts IX
Chapter 88 - Hardshell Proof Texts X
Chapter 89 - Hardshell Proof Texts XI
Chapter 90 - Hardshell Proof Texts XII
Chapter 91 - Hardshell Proof Texts XIII
Chapter 92 - Hardshells & Perseverence I
Chapter 93 - Hardshells & Perseverence II
Chapter 94 - Hardshells & Perseverence III
Chapter 95 - Hardshells & Perseverence IV
Chapter 96 - Hardshells & Perseverence V
Chapter 97 - Hardshells & Perseverence VI
Chapter 98 - Hardshells & Predestination I
Chapter 99 - Hardshells & Predestination II
Chapter 100 - Hardshells & Predestination III
Chapter 101 - Hardshells & Predestination IV
Chapter 102 - Hardshells & Predestination V
Chapter 103 - Hardshells & Predestination VI
Chapter 104 - Hardshells & Predestination VII
Chapter 105 - Hardshells & Predestination VIII
Chapter 106 - Hardshells & Predestination IX
Chapter 107 - Hardshells & Predestination X
Chapter 108 - Hardshells & Predestination XI
Chapter 109 - Hardshells & Predestination XII
Chapter 110 - Mediate or Immediate?
Chapter 111 - Mediate or Immediate?
Chapter 112 - Mediate or Immediate?

Chapter 113 - Mediate or Immediate?
Chapter 114 - Mediate or Immediate?
Chapter 115 - Mediate or Immediate?
Chapter 116 - Mediate or Immediate?
Chapter 117 - Passive or Active?
Chapter 118 - Passive or Active?
Chapter 119 - Conditional or Unconditional?
Chapter 120 - Conditional or Unconditional?
Chapter 121 - Conditional or Unconditional?
Chapter 122 - Conditional or Unconditional?
Chapter 123 - Hardshells & Justification I

Chapter 124 - Hardshells & Justification II
Chapter 125 - Hardshells & Justification III
Chapter 126 - Hardshells & The London Confession I
Chapter 127 - Hardshells & The London Confession II
Chapter 128 - Hardshells & The London Confession III
Chapter 129 - Hardshells & The London Confession IV
Chapter 130 - Hardshells & The London Confession V
Chapter 131 - Hardshells & The London Confession VI
Chapter 132 - Hardshells & The London Confession VII
Chapter 133 - Hardshells & The London Confession VIII
Chapter 134 - Hardshells & The London Confession IX
Chapter 135 - Hardshell Landmarkism I
Chapter 136 - Hardshell Landmarkism II
Chapter 137 - Hardshell Landmarkism III
Chapter 138 - Hardshell Pelagianism I
Chapter 139 - Hardshell Pelagianism II
Chapter 140 - Hardshell Pelagianism III
Chapter 141 - Hardshell Pelagianism IV
Chapter 142 - Hardshell Pelagianism V
Chapter 143 - Hardshell Pelagianism VI
Chapter 144 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition I
Chapter 145 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition II
Chapter 146 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition III
Chapter 147 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition IV
Chapter 148 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition V
Chapter 149 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition VI
Chapter 150 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition VII
Chapter 151 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition VIII
Chapter 152 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition IX
Chapter 153 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition X
Chapter 154 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XI
Chapter 155 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XII
Chapter 156 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XIII
Chapter 157 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XIV
Chapter 158 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XV
Chapter 159 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XVI
Chapter 160 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XVII
Chapter 161 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XVIII
Chapter 162 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XIX
Chapter 163 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XX
Chapter 164 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XXI
Chapter 165 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XXII
Chapter 166 - Hardshells & Mission Opposition XXIII
Chapter 167 - History of Baptist Seminaries I
Chapter 168 - History of Baptist Seminaries II
Chapter 169 - History of Baptist Seminaries III
Chapter 170 - History of Baptist Mission Work I
Chapter 171 - History of Baptist Mission Work II
Chapter 172 - History of Baptist Mission Work III
Chapter 173 - History of Baptist Mission Work IV
Chapter 174 - History of Baptist Mission Work V
Chapter 175 - Hardshell Antinomianism I
Chapter 176 - Hardshell Antinomianism II
Chapter 177 - Hardshell Antinomianism III
Chapter 178 - Hardshell Antinomianism IV
Chapter 179 - Hardshell Antinomianism V
Chapter 180 - Hardshell Antinomianism VI
Chapter 181 - What the First Hardshells Believed I
Chapter 182 - What the First Hardshells Believed II

Chapter 1 - The Primitive Baptist Church

The Hardshell Cult - By Stephen M. Garrett

This is the general name of a denomination or sect of Baptists that owes its origin to the anti missionary spirit among Baptists in the early 1800's in America. They are also known by other names, such as Old School Baptists, or as Hardshells. They are primarily based in the South, both presently and historically.

"Primitive Baptists" are a group of Baptists that sprang out of the missionary controversy that split American Baptists in the first part of the 19th century.

Those today who call themselves "Primitive Baptists" are descendants of churches and ministers that opposed the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions (organized in 1814), and who also opposed other "innovations" such as seminaries, tract societies, missions, temperance societies, and a host of other things.

Early leaders and founding fathers include Joshua Lawrence, John Leland, Daniel Parker, Samuel Trott, John Taylor, Thomas P. Dudley, Wilson Thompson, James Osbourn, Dr. John Watson, Gilbert Beebe, John Clark, Stephen Gard, C. B. Hassell, Richard Newport, Joel Hume, and several others of lessor import.

Other names by which "Primitive Baptists" are generally known are Predestinarian Baptists, Old School Baptists, Regular Baptists, Particular Baptists and Hardshells, besides other names, as "Old Ironsides," and "Do-Nothings," and "Ignoramuses," and "Anti Effort Baptists," and "feet washing Baptists," etc.

The word “Primitive” does not mean “backward,” but “original,” for it was the claim of the first Hardshells that they, and they alone, were holding to the original and historic Baptist teaching by their opposing the things enumerated above, and that the other churches, adopting them, were apostates from the bible and historic Baptist teaching.

The first Hardshells saw themselves as both "restorers" and "preservers" of the "true faith." They were dedicated Landmarkers, and they believed that they alone had proper right to the title of "church of Christ."

They attempted to retain and/or restore "primitive" (or original) "patterns" of the church, such as unsalaried ministers, a capella singing, and feet washing.

Their history cannot be fully understood without also understanding the history of Alexander Campbell and of his movement, called the "Restoration Movement," and which culminated in his leaving the Baptists and founding a new denomination, with the help of others.

Campell has rightly been noted as one of the leading opponents, with the Hardshells, of missions, salaried ministry, seminaries, and such like, although he was opposed to the Calvinism, yea, the Hyper Calvinism, of the Harshell segment of the "Anti Mission Movement." In fact, as we shall see in future chapters, Campbellism and Hardshellism are "twin brothers."

The Primitive Baptists can be sub-divided into four main groups:

1)Absolute Predestinarians (known as "Absoluters")

2) Limited Predestinarians (known as "Conditionalists")

3) Progressive (known as "Progressives")

(4) Universalists. This last group is the smallest and consists of 5 or 6 small associations in Appalachia that adapted the theory of universal atonement to the doctrines of Primitive Baptists.

The Progressive Primitive Baptists separated from the main body around the turn of the 20th century, adopting such practices as Sunday School, instrumental music, seminaries, missions, etc.

The division of “Primitive Baptists” and “Missionary Baptists” cannot be recognized as occurring at any one particular time. The Baptists of the early 19th century were separated by distance and lack of communication, and each congregation was independent and autonomous.

The declaration now known as the "Black Rock Address" (1832) delineated the issues and marked the time of official separation of the two different factions.

The Primitive Baptist Church has had an interesting history. I am familiar with it, having been an ordained minister and pastor in that denomination from 1974-1982. My father is still a leading elder in that denomination. I have read most of their literature, know most of their leading ministers, both present and past, and am familiar with their theology and peculiarities.

The PB Church is a cult, a Baptist cult, a rare thing. What it is that constitutes them a cult will be the substance of this book. There are several key essential elements necessary to constitute one a cult and thus a serious danger to religious souls. One of those elements is what the Bible calls heresy.

All error in Bible doctrine and interpretation is not heresy and worthy of anathemas. It has been said – “In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity.” Heresy concerns essential teachings of the Bible, the very bedrock of fundamental truth. To be a heretic is to be guilty of believing and teaching contrary to the essentials of the faith.

The PB Church, or “Hardshells,” are heretics on several matters relative to essential articles of faith of the Bible and of the real Old Baptists. This will become clear from the evidence presented in this volume.

Not only will I show evidence from the Scriptures that the Hardshells are heretics on essential Bible teaching, answering all their arguments in support of their heresies, and also correcting all their false statements regarding their own and Baptist history, but will also show that the Hardshells are infamous for their distortions, both of the sacred record of Scripture and of the records of Baptist history.

I will also record my personal experiences among them, noting their peculiarities, sociologically and psychologically, and of their other characteristics as a cult and heresy.

The Hardshells are indeed an odd sort, having their own peculiar social mentality, as a group; for instance, they view themselves as peculiarly favored above all other Christians, being a veritable “elect within the elect,” or super elect. This too is characteristic of a cult; cult followers view themselves as the elite of the elite, the “we be Abraham’s seed” or “we be the only ones” self view (or self portrait).

The Hardshells, as a cult group, are egocentric and a certain fleshly pride is often pervasive in cults and heresies. Some cult groups will seek to identify the exclusivity of the cult by labeling them or otherwise identifying the group with a special group in the Bible, like the “144,000" of the Book of Revelation.

The Hardshells are Calvinists of a sort, or believers in the Doctrines of Grace. Some are High Calvinists (“Absoluters”), others Low Calvinists (“Conditionalists” or believers in “time salvation”), but all factions are Hyper (or Hybrid) Calvinists. What is a Hyper Calvinist?

In my studies in theology and its history, including systems commonly and traditionally known as Calvinism and Arminianism, I accept these definitions regarding variants of Calvinism.

High Calvinism - the belief in absolute predestination of all things, the belief that everything that exists or comes to pass does so due to the will and decree of God. High Calvinists are often known as supralapsarians, and some supralapsarians are Hyper Calvinists, but not all. I am a supralapsarian Calvinist, like other great Baptists theologians, as John Gill and A.W. Pink, and I believe in the proclamation of the gospel to all men and that Christ invites, yea, commands all men to receive him and to acknowledge him and his salvation.

Low Calvinism - the belief in either conditional or limited predestination or the absolute predestination of some things only, certainly not of all things. Low Calvinists are always infralapsarians.

Hyper (or Hybrid) Calvinism - The belief that God works independently of human means in the saving of sinners, the belief that regeneration precedes faith in Christ, that faith in Christ or conversion to the Christian religion are not necessary for regeneration.

Hardshells have a sect that are High Calvinists (Absoluters) and a sect that are Low Calvinists. But, they all are Hyper Calvinists.

PB’s or Hardshell Baptists believe that the gospel is not a means used by God to regenerate, birth or save his elect. They believe that regeneration is something that happens to men on the “sub-conscious level.” Men are regenerated, born again, according to Hardshellism, who are heathen and pagan worshipers and who have no knowledge of, or allegiance to, the God of Abraham or to the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a fantastic idea, and one that has no foundation is holy scripture, nor in true primitive Baptist history. They are, therefore, appropriately known as Anti-Mission and Anti-Means Baptists.

I will deal with these things in greater detail in later chapters, going into a deeper discussion of their peculiar beliefs and practices, the things that are distinctive about them and which constitutes them as an heretical cult.

I will take notice of their leading figures, their founding fathers and leading apologists, as well as their outlandish claims and unfounded assertions relative to their heresies and their history. In doing so I will be judging their claim to being the truly Primitive or Original Baptists, and whether they are in line with the Old Baptist Confessions of Faith.

In other words, Who are the REAL Primitive Baptists? Also, how did the “primitives” get the nickname of “Hardshells”? And, what is meant by the terms “Old School” or “New School” in relation to Baptist history and theology?

I too will show, thanks to B.H. Carroll, and Brother Bob Ross, that Hardshellism is but the “Twin Brother” of Campbellism and that their descendants, religiously speaking, are of the same mold as their theological parents, namely, Daniel Parker and Alexander Campbell.

Brother Bob Ross and I have issued challenges to the PB’s to come forth and debate these issues. Some of their forefathers did it (far more with the Campbellites than with those Baptists who remain believers in the Old Confessions, which is an interesting fact in itself, very revealing). Will any of them stand up today and defend their positions on their novel, heretical views?

Will any of them come forth and debate the question, “Who are the real Primitive Baptists?” As Hardshell forefathers John Daily and Lemuel Potter were willing to do? It is hoped and believed, nevertheless, that many of the Hardshells will read what Brother Ross and I have written and make an attempt to “face the music.”

Definition of the word “cult.”

“In Religion and Sociology a cult is a cohesive group of people (often a relatively small and recently founded religious movement) devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture or society considers to be far outside the mainstream. Its separate status may come about either due to its novel belief system, because of its idiosyncratic practices or because it opposes the interests of the mainstream culture. Other non-religious groups may also display cult-like characteristics. In common usage, "cult" has a negative connotation, and is generally applied to a group by its opponents, for a variety of reasons.” (Ibid)

An internet web site by a Hardshell seeks to answer the question, “WHAT IS MEANT BY "OLD SCHOOL BAPTISTS" OR "HARDSHELLS"?” The Elder Writes:

“These terms were given to Primitive Baptists after the division among Baptists in 1832. The term Old School does not refer to a college or university, but to a school of thought or belief. The missionary Baptists were referred to as New School because of their new beliefs. The term Hardshell is a colloquial expression given to Primitive Baptists in certain sections. Ideas about the origin of this term vary. Some believe it is derived from the emphasis that Primitive Baptist preachers placed on the "shalls" of the Bible. They emphasized greatly the word shall as in "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me" (John 6:37). Eventually the expression hard shall changed to the term Hardshells.”

And again:

“At one time only one group of Baptists was in existence, with all Baptists holding similar beliefs concerning the basic doctrine of the Bible, especially those Bible teachings relating to the salvation of sinners. About 1832 the first division of Baptists occurred with one group becoming known as "Primitive Baptists" and the other as "Missionary Baptists." Since that time the Primitive Baptists have held to the original beliefs of Baptists while other Baptist groups have divided many times until a great many different Baptist factions are now in existence.”


Of course this Elder makes numerous false assertions, parroting what he has been told by his Hardshell forefathers and Hardshell “historians”. I will deal with these falsities and the “revisionist histories” put forth by the Hardshells in detail in the appropriate sections of this book. But, now I want to call attention to how many Hardshells view their nickname of “HARDSHELL.”

Is it true, regarding this nickname, that “ideas about the origin of this term vary,” as the Elder says? He offers one explanation that I have heard some Hardshells spout. It is a cute twist.

Hardshells are such because they emphasize, in their preaching, the “shalls” of the Bible?! I can, of course, think about several “shalls” in the New Testament dealing with preaching the gospel to all men, but these “shalls” the Hardshells emphasize not at all!

Where did this Elder get any proof at all for his vain assertion that “eventually the expression hard shall changed to the term Hardshells”? Did he cite any works on word etymology? Actually, as will become more evident, this is the same type of bold unfounded assertions that Hardshells make about many things relative to history.

I have heard other Hardshells argue that the term denotes someone who is “stedfast, unmoveable, and unwavering” in his views on Bible doctrine. I even remember reading a defense of the term (a virtual proud acceptance of the nickname) by Elder S. T. Tolley (to be referred to again in this book and also referred to by Brother Ross in his book on the “History and Heresies of Hardshellism”) where he equated the term “Hardshell” with stedfastness in the faith. He cited Paul’s command, “be you stedfast, unmoveable,” as being all the same as saying, Be you Hardshell.”

My dad even published a periodical for years called “The Hardshell Baptist.” Not all PB’s are so fond of the nickname and therefore do not like to be called Hardshells. These few view the use of the term in the same way the followers of Alexander Campbell don’t like the term Campbellites.

I rather think that the term was given to the anti mission Baptists to signify their stubbornness and hardheadedness, their unwillingness to listen to reason.

I think it is also connected with a kind of ignorance and false humility, willing or not, and a cantankerousness that is often seen in those who, though having little real knowledge of truth and things, nevertheless boast great things. Truly, with the Hardshells, as a cult, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

On the term “Hard-shell” (hyphenated) Webster says:


“Unyielding; insensible to argument; uncompromising; strict.” Some of the Synonyms given for the adjective are:

“severe, strict, hard, harsh, dour, rigid, stiff, stern, rigorous, uncompromising, exacting, exigent, inexorable, inflexible, obdurate, austere, hard-headed, hard-nosed, hard-shell, relentless, Spartan, Draconian, stringent, strait-laced, searching, unsparing, iron-handed, peremptory, absolute, positive, arbitrary, imperative; coercive; tyrannical, extortionate, grinding, withering, oppressive, inquisitorial; inclement; (ruthless) a; cruel; (malevolent); haughty, arrogant...”

I affirm, by both personal experience within the cult, and by a thorough examination of the beliefs and practices of this sect, that they fit these words.

Such a people will naturally draw a circle around themselves and have inflated views of themselves. With such it will always be a question of us versus them. Cults practice exclusivity to a very high degree and this is true of the Hardshells. They also use methods of intimidation and mind control over each other to keep the group cohesive and secretive.

One of the famous mottos of the Hardshells has been – “Give us our Bible and leave us alone.” They practice it too, putting their churches as far away from communities as possible, often locating in some backwoods hollow.

Rather than following the example of the truly Old Sovereign Grace Missionary Baptists, of the pre-Hardshell period, who took the Bible to heathen peoples who did not have it, the Hardshells want to keep it to themselves!

Not all of the original Hardshell forefathers, in the late 1700's and early 1800's, objected to the mission movement, then sweeping the Baptists with great fervor, for doctrinal reasons, or because they believed in “Spirit Alone Regeneration,” or “Pre-Faith Regeneration,” (that would become a later novel idea, intended to justify the movement, by mostly second generation Hardshells), but rather, as Brother Bob Ross has pointed out, was mainly due to “mission methodology”.

Brother Ross stated it very clearly when he said,

“The ORIGINAL issue in the Anti-Missionism Movement was METHODOLOGY, NOT THEOLOGY”.

He also was correct in saying that the “Hardshell "Spirit Alone" Regeneration Theory Was of Later Development”.

As I will show also, this novel idea, with others to follow, were reactionary views created to justify opposition to some of the methods being practiced by some Baptists in the area of missions.

Brother Ross states further:

“The very heart of the PRIMITIVE BAPTIST religious denomination is its opposition to the Gospel's being preached to the unregenerate as a means providentially and sovereignly used by the Holy Spirit in bringing lost souls to Christ for salvation. The Hardshells contend that regeneration, or the New Birth, is a work performed by the Holy Spirit apart from and without the necessary use of any means whatsoever.”

And further:

“Originally, at the rise of "anti-missionism" in the early 1800's, this does not appear to have been the case. If the Baptist histories can be relied upon, the original issues in the anti-missionism schism focused upon MISSION METHODOLOGY. The Kehukee Declaration, set forth by the Kehukee Association (North Carolina) in October 1827, objected to "the modern missionary movement and other institutions of men," and it specified "Missionary Societies, Bible Societies, Tract Societies, Sunday Schools, Dorcas Societies, Mite Societies, Religious Fairs and Festivals, Temperance Societies, Sectarian Schools and Theological Seminaries" as the objects of their repudiation.”

“Likewise, the Black Rock Address, put together by GILBERT BEEBE (1800-1881), and set forth at Black Rock meeting-house, Baltimore, Maryland, September 1832, focused on similar mission methods, and not the particular theory of regeneration which later became the central issue with Hardshellism. All references to regeneration, or the new birth, in both the Kehukee Declaration and the Black Rock Address, appear perfectly consistent with the Baptist position set forth on Effectual Calling "by His Word and Spirit" in the London Confession of Faith. For example, note this statement:

"The plans of these [protracted or 'revival'] meetings are equally as objectionable; for, in the first place, all doctrinal preaching, or in other words, all illustrations of God's plan of salvation, are excluded from these meetings. Hence they would make believers of their converts without presenting any fixed TRUTHS to their minds to believe. Whereas God has chosen his people to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the TRUTH.--2 Thess. 2:13." (Black Rock Address, pp. 35, 36, Primitive Publications' reprint).

This objection sounds more like a Calvinist objection to Hardshellism than vice versa. It emphasizes the importance of "truth" in God's saving of His people.

The "means" to which the original anti-mission Baptists objected was not the Gospel as such, but to the METHODS which were being devised and used in various mission efforts. The objectors do not focus their opposition upon the Gospel as a "means" as presented in the London Confession which affirms that the elect are effectually called out of their state of sin and death "by His Word and Spirit" (London Confession, chapter 10, para. 1).”

(Chapter 3 in “History and Heresies of Hardshellism” - emphasis mine)

Brother Ross makes some very important points here; points, I might add, that no Hardshell has come forward to dispute. Why did the first anti mission Baptists, or Hardshells, not oppose the mission enterprises based upon a doctrinal departure on the subject of regeneration? Because it was not a departure at all but was rather the faith of the Baptists generally, except for some few closet Hyper Calvinists, prior to what B.H. Carroll, Jr. called the “rise of the Hardshells.”

Further, it was the stated belief of all the Old Baptist confessions. I have asked my dad to produce one Hardshell article of faith, from one leading Baptist preacher or church, prior to the 1800's, who espoused Hardshell views on regeneration. Not one document or historical record has been produced to show that any preacher, prior to Gilbert Beebe, taught “Pre-Faith Regeneration” or “Spirit Alone Regeneration.”

This book, along with Brother Ross’s book, will go forth and hopefully many Hardshells will read it. Will one of them produce the evidence that all Baptists prior to the 1800's believed that regeneration occurred without the gospel as a means, without a person being converted and coming to faith in Christ Jesus? They can no more do it than can the Campbellites find a “Church of Christ” prior to the rise of Alexander Campbell.

Brother Ross writes further:

“In the Potter-Throgmorton Debate, held at Fulton, Kentucky in 1887, Elder Lemuel Potter of the Primitive Baptists insisted upon the fact it was over the missionary methods, such as boards, and such things as Sunday Schools, that the "split" occurred in the year 1832 between the anti-missionaries and the missionaries. He says:

"I wish to notice some things in the speech we have just listened to. The first thing Mr. Throgmorton does is to say that he is not bound to show that the Baptists had Sunday Schools, missionary boards, etc., during all the ages. He is under no obligation to show that they always had them. He admits that. He is begging the question. I challenge him to tell what divided us except these very things. It was after the introduction of these things among us that we divided. If we never had them we would not have been divided yet." (Potter-Throgmorton Debate, page 86; published in 1888 in St. Louis by J. N. Hall and J. H. Milburn, representing Missionary Baptists, and by H. C. Roberts and S. F. Cayce, representing the Primitive Baptists).”

In addition to objecting to "mission methods," the anti-mission people focused their attacks upon the MOTIVES of those who favored missions. Greed, avarice, and other such carnal, worldly, and money-centered motives were the motivation of the "means Baptists," according to the anti-mission leaders and magazines.

However, this ad hominem charge evidently began to "wear thin;" in time, the common Baptist membership did not generally respond to character assassination and unsubstantiated broadside incriminations of Baptists who promoted missions. The Hardshells wanted people to believe the worst about the missionary leaders, even applying prophetic Scriptures on the "apostasy" and the "Man of Sin." There just were not enough gullible people among the Baptists for such extremism to continuously find much acceptance.

As time passed, and the Hardshells found it more difficult to defend anti missionism by harping against methodology and motives, they eventually developed their "Spirit alone" regeneration theory, a more doctrinal approach than the original pure negativism. This, too, was very similar to the type of evolutionary development of theology in their anti-missions "brother," the Campbellite movement.

Campbellism, at the first, ridiculed the "hireling clergy," "aspiring priesthood," "missionary schemes," and other victims of Alexander Campbell's choosing, which were featured in his magazines [The Christian Baptist in the 1820's and The Millennial Harbinger from 1830]. But Campbellism, also, had to have something other than pure negativism with which to beguile the naive and gullible, and they developed the baptismal remission of sins hobby-horse. Around this "Kaaba" they have marched ever since.”


Brother Ross certainly gave a truthful and well written analysis concerning the birth of the Hardshells, or Primitive Baptist Denomination. I consider Brother Ross’s remarks to be in the tradition of the remarks made by the late B.H. Carroll, Jr. who wrote about anti missionism among the Baptists and even had a chapter on “The Rise of the Hardshells.”

Chapter 2 - Personal Experiences

Chapter Two - Personal Experiences

I was eight years old in 1963 and had been exposed to much Christian influence. From 1963-1972 I was primarily under the religious influence of my maternal grandfather (Clyde Rickles) and of my mother. They often witnessed to us children, read and talked the Bible, though they weren't regular church-goers. But during those years, and chiefly between 1970-1972, I began to seek the Lord. I was beginning to ponder my destiny and to see that I was a lost sinner. I attended several Missionary Baptist churches, including the old Lindenwald Baptist Church.

I even "went forward" there at around the age of 13. But the church was so far away, and not having transportation, I didn't get to return to be baptized.

At around the age of 16 I went forward again in a Missionary Baptist Church nearer our home, Mom and grandpa also attending. I received "assurance of salvation" about this time. It was also about this time that Dad started showing a greater interest in talking to me about God and the Bible.

I was awaiting baptism at the local Missionary Baptist Church, but through his influence I began to see the "doctrines of grace." This caused me to wait further before being baptized by the Missionaries.

I remember Dad taking me on a trip to Middlesboro, Kentucky to special services at the local Hardshell church in which they were "dedicating" a new building. During this four-day meeting I was also impressed in many ways with the Hardshells.

My "First Impressions" of "Hardshells"

I remember that the building to be dedicated was a small rectangular brick building with a basement. Hardshell meeting-houses are generally very small and simple. There are no special "choir sections," "Sunday School" rooms, or a "Pastor's study." Just one large room with a slightly elevated "stand" where the pulpit was located. In this building, like many Hardshell meeting-houses, there were two main rows of pews or benches, facing the stand and pulpit, with one main aisle in the middle.

There was the common "amen corner" pews at right angles to the "stand." In many cases, the preachers and deacons sat in one of those "amen corners" while the older females and widows sat in the other.

Though Dad spoke several times during the four-day meeting (protracted?), there were other preachers who also preached. I think the church met for three sessions per day on both Friday and Saturday, then once on Sunday morning. It was a common practice at such meetings to preach two or three preachers at each session. One certainly heard a variety of "preaching styles."

I remember also that the building was filled to overflowing (having about 150 people). This was not due to the fact that the church was large, but because it was in the heart of the "bounds of the Powell's Valley Association" of churches, and also a member of that Association. Many of the Hardshells from the other churches in the area were in attendance. A non-Hardshell visitor might have initially thought that this church had "busted the seams" in growth! But this is the case in many Hardshell churches at such meetings. Many of them have "traditionally" only met "once a month," and in areas where two-or-more Hardshell churches exist, members attend each other's churches. This often gives the impression of being a larger church than it really is. You often hear Hardshells talk of their "off-Sundays," meaning the Sundays that their own particular church doesn't meet. On these Sundays, Hardshells either don't go at all or attend another Hardshell church.

In many areas where there are, say, four churches, with each meeting on a different Sunday, generally the people go from church-to-church, sometimes to hear the same preacher or preachers. This troubled me when I was Hardshell, as I'm sure it did others. From all appearances, they seemed to be "one" church meeting in four buildings and wearing four names. I know that in one case, at least, it became an "entangled mess."

I pastored two churches at the same time in the early 80's near Wilmington, N.C. called "Grassy" and "Haws Run" Primitive Baptist churches, and I was a member and assistant pastor at Bethel Primitive Baptist Church near Shallote, N.C.

When I first started serving these churches, I would preach at one "church" on one Sunday a month and then at the other church and its building on a different Sunday. But it was basically the same body of people.

I, of course, began to ask each of the group of members "which church" they were members of, and many could not tell. They would try to recall which building they were in at the time they "joined the church," but could not. To them, they had simply joined that group of people. Seeing this, I tried to get the group to sell one building and choose a single name. I was making some progress before I left, but the "tradition" was too deeply imbedded.

But let's get back to my first meeting in a Hardshell church and of my "first impressions" in Middlesboro, Kentucky. Let me say one other thing about the "stand," or pulpit area, in this and most Hardshell churches. Most of the "stands" have chairs in them, behind the pulpit, for visiting preachers. It is the usual custom for pastors to "invite into the stand" the preaching brethren who are present for the given occasion. Those chairs are for them. There's generally a small table with two chairs on either side, just in front of the "stand" and pulpit. This is used for flowers, placing and collecting money, the Lord's Supper, and for the moderator and clerk to use at the monthly or quarterly "business meetings."

At this meeting in Middlesboro, I did enjoy most of the preaching. It was, as I remember, mostly on the glories of Christ and of the "old church." They also spoke much about the "doctrines of grace," with an occasional reference to the "Arminians".

This particular church was in the coal mining area of eastern Kentucky. They were emotional and almost "pentecostal" in their "shouting" and "liveliness."

About half of the preachers spoke very fast or else "sang" out their sermons in some rhythm. You often heard the usual "uh" or "ah" between phrases.

I was impressed, however, with how the people enjoyed the service. They sang loudly and with rather good harmony. The songs were simple, old-time Christian tunes.

I remember being a little disturbed when one "lay preacher" began to talk and cry wildly while walking around the building and shaking hands with everyone. He did this while the scheduled preacher was in the stand preaching. This walking lay-preacher was later "ordained" as an "Elder" and began "serving the churches." His outburst was believed to be an "evidence" of his "call to preach."

A few short months after this first visit to a Hardshell church, I went on another trip with Dad to visit other Hardshell churches. That was in August of 1972. Dad had a ten-day trip arranged. On the second week-end he was to be at the annual session of the Sequachie Valley - Blue Ridge Association, then meeting at Tickanetly Church in Elijay, Georgia.

On the Monday through Friday following this association, Dad was scheduled to have a "debate" with Thomas Thrasher, of the so-called "Church of Christ," with whom I have since also had two debates. The debate was held at the Campbellite meeting-house in Decatur, Alabama and the proposition was, "The scriptures teach that the church of which I am a member is scriptural in origin, doctrine and practice." Elder S.T. Tolley acted as Moderator for Dad. This was the first time I had met brother Tolley and we became close friends.

Joining the Hardshells

It was actually through this debate that I came to the decision to "join the church." I had already been saved. Now I was ready to be baptized and become a member of the church. It was through this debate that I came to believe the "doctrines of grace" and to repudiate Arminianism.

We left the debate that Thursday night in order to attend the annual session of the Powell's Valley Association, then being held in the Middlesboro, Kentucky area. Our church in Middletown, Ohio was a recent new addition to the Association; it had churches in four states. I united with the Hardshells at that Associational meeting, being voted upon by the few members of the Middletown Church who were present. I was baptized by my father the next day in a creek in the foothills of the Smokies, near the Cumberland Gap.

Licensed to Preach

During this trip I was introduced to "associations." Of these, I will have some more to say later in this book. Over the next two years I studied the Bible exhaustively, and I began to be schooled in the Hardshell faith under the direct tutorship of my father.

I also began to travel extensively among the Hardshells, visiting their associations, the leading churches, and becoming acquainted with their beliefs, customs and practices.

I had been "licensed to preach" by the Middletown Church just shortly after being baptized. This enabled me to preach anywhere among the "Primitive Baptists." During those first two years among the Hardshell, I preached and visited over a wide area of the country.

I also became well acquainted with Elder Lasserre Bradley of the "Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church." I preached at this church several times during my time with the Hardshells, and whatever comments I might make about that church and Elder Bradley come from this first-hand experience. In fact, it was at this church, shortly after my baptism into the "Old Church," that Dad bought me my copies of "Cayce's Editorials," from Elder Bradley and the Cincinnati Church.

Claud Cayce

Elder Claud Cayce was, during his time (1890 to around 1945), the leading spokesman for Hardshell doctrine and practice. He edited the famed Hardshell periodical, “THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST,” started by his father, Elder S.F. Cayce.

He is reported to have had nearly three-hundred debates with Campbellites and others, and was considered the ablest defender of Hardshell doctrine in modern times. He has had a tremendous impact on Hardshell doctrine and practice. He probably was the primary cause of the Hardshell’s imbibing the doctrine known as "Time Salvation." But more on that later.

Cayce became a recognized "authority" on Hardshellism. Today, a quote from Cayce is of immense authoritative value. In fact, when I moved to North Carolina in 1976, and became a member of one of the churches in the Bear Creek Association, I met the association's "pope," the aged C.M. Mills.

He spoke very highly of "Brother Cayce" and advised me and all young preachers to study his "editorial writings" along side of the Bible. It is ironic that the oldest Baptist Association of America, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, recommended all their young preachers to study John Gill’s commentaries and Body of Divinity. Now, however, Gill has been replaced by Cayce.

Elder Mills himself obtained many of his "views" on Hardshell doctrine and practice from this veritable "patriarch." Elder Cayce was one of those who helped to "chop-up" the Old London Confession of Faith while at the Fulton Convention in 1900 (which brother Ross has discussed in his articles and I will deal with later in this book).

In studying Cayce's Editorials, I recall how troubled I was at some of the views which Cayce had advocated. I particularly remember how he "spiritualized" many plain passages of scripture. For instance, he believed that the story of "The rich man and Lazarus" (Luke 16) was not teaching what happens at death, i.e., about heaven and hell, but taught rather that the Jews were cut-off from the "church kingdom" and the Gentiles grafted in.

I also remember visiting the old home place, in Arkansas, of the Cayce family. Claud’s son, Hartsell, also a Hardshell preacher, still lived in the old home. Dad and I were there in the late 70's on a preaching trip. I remember going into the building where the Cayces published their famed periodical, “The Primitive Baptist,” and admiring the enormous library of books that this family had collected over the years. Truly impressive.

My Father and His Ministry

Dad, in my opinion, has been one of the top "Elders" within the Hardshell denomination for the past 25-30 years. He is one of their most theologically-trained. He attended a Baptist Bible college, prior to becoming a Hardshell, for about two years. He also has one of the largest personal libraries of all their preachers and has been one of the most laborious in his private studies (Cayce, an exception, of course). He has been about the only Hardshell of the last 50 years to engage others, chiefly among the Campbellites, in "debates" to defend Hardshell Doctrine. He certainly is well-read in Hardshell history (although, sadly, not as much as he should be).

For several years my father was the leading writer, among the "contributing editors," of one of the leading Hardshell periodicals of the past thirty years, namely “THE CHRISTIAN BAPTIST,” edited by Dad's and my friend, Elder S. T. Tolley, of Atwood, Tennessee. I too wrote numerous articles for this paper when I was with the Hardshells.

I myself have been "ordained" twice by the Hardshells, once in August of 1974 in Middletown, Ohio and the other time in June of 1979 in Shalotte, North Carolina.

It was in the fall of 1972, within weeks of my baptism, that I began to be called upon, by my Dad, to "introduce the services," as the Hardshells are accustomed to say. This was at the Middletown church. It was a small church with about 30-40 regular attendants, but it was very warm and lively. Both the singing (which was "acapella" and "congregational") and the preaching were very "spirited." But more of that later.

Let me first get back to Dad and his influence on me and of his standing among the Hardshells. I also want to address the question of how both Dad and myself (and later three brothers and one sister) all became Hardshell Baptists. I will also relate some of my personal experiences while among the Hardshell brethren.

Dad and Mom had been married only a few years when Dad was "saved" at a service of the Lindenwald Baptist Church of Hamilton, Ohio. This church was a Missionary Baptist church, of which my maternal grandparents were members. Mom and Dad already had two children and I was on the way. They lived with my grandparents and it was through their encouragement that Dad and Mom attended the Lindenwald church. Grandmother (Eva Rickles) died that year (shortly after seeing Dad "saved") and six months before I was born.

Dad had just ended his "stint" in the Korean War and had been a typical teenage, depraved sinner, as he himself would testify. And indeed Dad had been "saved," or at least his entire life had been drastically changed. His commitment to Christ and the Christian faith was fervent and his zeal was very great.

So, when I was just an infant, Dad quit his job and he and Mom sold their house, packed everything and left with 3 kids to go to Springfield, Missouri so that Dad could attend the Baptist Bible College, which is under the Baptist Bible Fellowship.

After conversion, Dad had felt an almost immediate "call to preach," and so, with reluctance from Mom (God rest her soul), but with money and prayer support from the Lindenwald church, they took off. Mom and Dad both attended the college but Mom soon had to drop-out (because of the birth of my younger sister, Judy, in June of 1957), a decision she said that she later regretted. She immensely enjoyed the fellowship there.

Near the end of Dad's 2nd year at the college, he came to be a believer in the "doctrines of grace." The college was basically "Arminian," however. But through his own studies of the scriptures and sovereign grace literature, Dad came to be an adamant "Calvinist."

His outspokenness on these things in class soon caused problems. He felt that he could no longer stay in fellowship with them and so, he and Mom and the four kids all returned to Hamilton, Ohio.

Dad, as brother Bob Ross knows firsthand, came to Ashland, Kentucky around 1958 to search-out a fellowship of "Sovereign Grace" or "Calvinistic" Baptists. After visiting with the brethren of Calvary Baptist Church of Ashland, Dad and Mom were both "re-baptized" (they had been baptized previously into the Lindenwald church).

The Ashland church were "Landmarkers" and I assume that they had a strong influence on his embracing basic "Landmarkism."

I know that in these days, and for a few years following, Dad was an ardent believer in the leading tenets of Calvary Church's fellowship, namely, "Landmarkism," "Calvinist doctrine," "Premillennialism," "Absolute Predestination," "Means" and "Missions," etc.

From what I've read and seen of his writings and debates of that period, he was a very sound teacher (except for his Landmarkism). I remember, even at a tender age of 5 or 6, meeting brother Ross while Dad and the family were visiting him, brother John Gilpin and the Calvary Church.

During those early days of fellowship with Calvary Baptist and her circle of churches of like fellowship, Dad labored (under "authority" from the Calvary Church) in the Hamilton area to begin a domestic mission with the intention of forming a church. I remember those days.

We met first in our house and later in a small building on Walnut Street. The church was called "The New Testament Baptist Church." We had Sunday School at first, until Dad "came to see their evil" (his words). The church had a piano and even at that young age I can remember my Mom teaching in the Sunday School and the church, singing "At the cross, At the cross, where I first saw the light . . . It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the way." Vividly, I can also hear the church singing, "Leaning on the everlasting arms," and "Alas, and did my Saviour bleed," etc.

Dad Joins the Hardshells

Actually, it was when Dad began to preach against Sunday Schools that he began to have trouble with Calvary Baptist's fellowship and lost a few members of his church. I personally think that Dad felt alone and isolated at this time. He began to look around and, as he says, to "study the scriptures more closely."

He told me that he first attended a Hardshell church in Carlisle, Ohio on a Sunday afternoon at a church called "Tapscott." They only met once a month, and in the afternoon. Dad said that there were only about 6-8 people there and that they were all old. Dad said he was somewhat scared to go because he had heard so many "bad things about them" by his former fellowship. But he was "impressed" with their "simplicity" of "worship" and of the "humility" and "mannerisms" of the preacher and people.

The preacher had no written "notes," was rather old, and not well-educated. But, as Dad would say, he "spoke from his heart" and "with tears."

He said he was also "impressed" with how they "ended their services"; the preacher gave no long, drawn-out "invitations," but simply stopped preaching and started singing. At this point, the congregation also started singing as they all left their seats to go in a line to "shake hands with," "kiss" and/or "embrace" the preacher. This is a common and much promoted "tradition" in the Hardshell churches.

Dad had become "attracted," but it was, in my opinion, a "fatal attraction" in many ways. Dad has said he felt, while at that service, that he had "gone back in time" and was "sitting in one of the original apostolic churches." He began to think that he had "found the Church" at last. This church became, in his view, "Canaan's land." The Hardshell church was the "True Church" and "Kingdom of God."

After experiencing this great attraction for the Hardshells, but still having some "serious doctrinal issues" separating him from them, he began to visit other Hardshell churches and preachers to discuss those "issues," chiefly with Elders Bradley and Tolley. He was already an "Anti-Sunday Schooler," and it seems to me that the Hardshells were able to use this as an advantage in getting him to "oppose" other such "inventions" for the same reasons that he opposed Sunday Schools, things such as "musical instruments," "choirs," "salaried ministry," "women teachers," "revival meetings," "seminaries," "missions," etc.

Dad had embraced the idea, like the Hardshells, that anything pertaining to the church's doctrine, work or practice must have been originated by the apostolic churches and that any "new" work, doctrine or practice of later origin was "evil," "man-made" and "modern."

With the Hardshells, anything in those areas which is post-apostolic is to be anathematized. Patternism, a deadly cancer, has been a major error in both the Hardshells and the Campbellites. Brother Ross has written against the dangers of Patternism and more will be said on that later in this book.

Dad later took the unusual view, even for the Hardshells, that the Apostle John's "sin unto death" was "marital adultery." The "death" was not physical death, but permanent loss of membership in the Hardshell Church and, of course, its "blessings and privileges," i.e. baptism, the Lord's Supper and feet-washing.

Not all Hardshells share this view, but it is the "mainstream" position and is, with most, a "test of fellowship." Many "splits" and "divisions" have occurred over this issue, particularly when one "sister church" takes in another church's "excluded" adulterers or retains one in their fellowship.

One of their leading preachers in Alabama, former Governor Guy Hunt, and one who has been in my home, reportedly believes that if you ever had "premarital sex," then you also could never become a member of the church or be baptized.

The issue of "perseverance" also became an issue for Dad to re-address and he also did some "reforming" on this issue. He continued to believe in "preservation" and "eternal security," but not "perseverance," at least not as held by the brethren of the Old Baptist Confessions. But more on that later.

After all this "changing," or as Dad would say, "coming to more light," he decided to "join the Primitive Baptists." He had already been teaching these "new things" to his small church. The church got smaller still. Finally, those few who were left, all voted to "join" the Hardshells. Being Landmarkers, the Hardshells "re-baptized" the whole church (Dad's third time).

(Mom did not join because she and Dad had divorced prior to his uniting with the Hardshells. I and the other kids lived with Mom and my step-father, with Dad visiting us regularly)

Really, Dad was not only isolated and alone religiously just prior to joining the Hardshells, but also socially and domestically. Mom continued, till she died, to be an "Absoluter" and a "Calvinistic Missionary Baptist," and was definitely not a "Landmarker."

I was not at that time under Dad's Hardshell influence; that was around 1963 and 1964. Dad became a Hardshell around 1966.

Let me now tell some of my experiences relative to my Bible and Hardshell history studies. I began to collect the current Hardshell literature, subscribing to most of their periodicals, and reading the "debates" of the Hardshell fathers, i.e., Cayce, Daily, Thompson, Dalton, Paine, Holder, etc.

I also received my copy of the famed “HASSELL'S HISTORY,” and I also read numerous other writings of men such as Newman, Redford, Hanks, Potter, Craig, Oliphant, etc. Particularly did I study the things that these Hardshells had to say about the "Great Division" between the so-called Old School (Hardshell) and the New School (Missionary, or as Hardshells would say, the "Softshells").

The question naturally arises as to how I could accept the view that the Hardshells were the "true," "Old," “Original,” or "Primitive" Baptists. Briefly stated, I was in error in accepting the statements of Hardshell "Historians" without diligently checking out their claims.

Today I realize that those Hardshell “histories” are fraught with serious "deceptions." Actually, these so-called histories are a very good example of what is called “revisionist histories.” Those Hardshell “revisions” are serious errors in "interpretation" of those events and times by Hardshells with "faulty vision" and an evil agenda. Much of what they write in regard to their history is bunk, perhaps wishful thinking. Very few of them have been honest historians. The few honest ones have sometimes left the Hardshells to associate with those truly Old Baptists who accept the Old Confessions (like the Kirklands, but more on that later).

I remember discussing with Dad, during those early years in the Hardshells, about the so-called "split" between the "Old" and "New Schoolers." I remember asking Dad about the so-called "Sovereign Grace Baptists." I affirmed that they were not "Arminian" or "Fullerite," but "Gillite" and believers in grace just as the Hardshells. In the "split," where did these folks go? Was there a "third party" to the famed old "split?"

Dad responded by saying that there was indeed some groups who were aligned with neither (such Baptists as J.R. Graves would later be identified with) the Hardshells nor the "modern mission movement" and that these were the grand-parents of the modern Sovereign Grace Baptists (or Independent Baptists).

I also asked him about the London and Philadelphia Confessions. I asked whether these "Sovereign Gracers" weren't more like the "Old Baptists" of the Confessions, rather than the Hardshells, especially since they believed in "gospel means" as did the signers of the old Confessions. His response was that “the Confessions were not totally sound” and did not express the position of all the Baptists of the time.

This, however, I have found to be false, for no "Old Baptist" prior to 1800 and the days of Gilbert Beebe held to Hardshell belief on the new birth. So, basically, I left this issue somewhat unsettled in my mind until I could research it more at a later time.

Hardshellism and the Bible

Now let me relate some of my other early experiences in reconciling Hardshell views with the Bible itself. I did not find it difficult to find what is called "Calvinism" in the scriptures. So, with this much, I was content with what the Hardshells preached.

The problems that arose in my mind, however, during those early stages of Bible study, concerned their views on "Spirit Alone" regeneration, without "gospel means.”

I also, as a young pastor and teacher in the church, and constant reader of God’s word, often felt guilty about not being able to call upon those who heard me to “repent” or to “believe,” to “receive” or “trust Christ,” to “be saved” or “born again.” In fact, fear kept me from doing what I felt burdened to do. I would be branded an “Arminian” and would be shunned and spoken against, have doors shut, etc.

Other issues also aroused suspicion in my mind at that time, such as "marriage and divorce," "Church Government," "Landmarkism," "Eschatology," "Sunday Schools," "Musical Instruments," etc.

I remember calling Dad on the telephone regularly with "questions about a certain verse" which, it seemed to me, taught contrary to Hardshellism's "anti-means" doctrine. For instance, I remember asking Dad about II Thess. 1:7-9 and the fact that Paul said that "those who do not know God and obey the gospel would be lost eternally." Dad's "explanation" and attempt to "harmonize" the verse with Hardshellism did not satisfy me. His idea was that the text did not affirm that all who disobeyed the gospel would be eternally lost (which in my mind it obviously did). His idea was that there were basically four groups in the scriptures relative to this verse. They are:

(1) Those who know not God and obey not.
(2) Those who know not God and obey.
(3) Those who know God and obey not.
(4) Those who know God and obey.

To Dad, Paul was affirming the eternal damnation of group #1 and not of group #3, as the Missionaries taught. But the question in my mind was, is there a group representing #3?

To Hardshells, there are folks who truly know God BUT do not know Christ or the gospel and do not obey the gospel. This, however, I later came to see was a great falsehood.

All the "sheep" (elect) "follow" Christ (obey him). Those who do not "obey" are ignorant of God and eternally lost.

Needless to say, there were many other phone calls to Dad in order to get the Hardshell "explanation" of those scripture passages that seemed to contradict Hardshellism. I will have more to say on these when I examine more closely Hardshell positions on regeneration and other pertinent doctrines.


In those early years in the Hardshell church, I soon had my first confrontation with Hardshell "popery," especially in their beloved "Associations."

In 1973 Dad, while a contributing editor of THE CHRISTIAN BAPTIST periodical, wrote an article on "Satan" and it was published on the front page of the paper. In this article Dad took the Baptist and historic Christian position that Satan was once in heaven as an angel of God until he "sinned and was cast out." That position was rejected by most of the Hardshells and became a "test of fellowship" with many.

After the article was published, the "peace and fellowship" of the churches in the Powell's Valley Association were greatly "disturbed". Soon, one church after another in that Association took up measures to "withdraw fellowship" and "declare against" Dad and our church in Middletown.

Finally, amidst the turmoil, one of the churches, under the influence of "pope" John Robbins, "called for a council of sister churches" to settle the matter. A council was held with the Oak Ridge, Tennessee church. In this council I saw first-hand the ignorance, tradition and "kangaroo court" tactics of these Hardshells. It was typical of the "power struggles" that occur in cults and heretical sects.

The "resolution" that was drawn-up and agreed upon demanded that Dad and the Middletown Church vow to "never preach in any way, publicly or privately, the view that Satan was once in heaven and fell from it." If he and the church did not agree to this, then they would be "dis-fellowshipped" by the other churches in the Association.

Of course, Dad and the church could not in good conscience do this and subsequently were "excluded" by other churches. This caused confusion and division in other areas as well as in the Powell's Valley Association.

Most of the churches among the Hardshells, for one reason or another, refused to side with Dad on the issue. Most agreed that his views were "heretical." Others did not side with Dad, such as Elder Tolley, not so much because of his views, for he shared them, as did some other Hardshells, but because the Middletown Church had "taken in excluded members" of the other churches of the Powell's Valley Association who sided with him.

In any case, Dad and the Middletown Church found themselves somewhat isolated from the Hardshells at large. If Dad preached at a certain church after that, the Powell's Valley Association would threaten that church, "call them on the carpet," etc.

In most Hardshell associations, there is either a direct or indirect correspondence with other associations in America, so the "controversy", proverbially speaking, "spread like wild fire."

My "Ordination"

During those days of endless controversy, I also experienced many "closed doors" to go and preach. It was during this time of a "break in fellowship" that I was first called to be "ordained" to the "full work of the gospel ministry" by the Middletown Church. Letters were sent out to the sister churches in the area to come to the Middletown church and assist in forming a "presbytery" to "ordain" me. Several local "Elders" attended in spite of the "threat of retaliation" by the Powell's Valley Association and her "correspondents".

The Elders at this my first ordination were Dad, Boggs, Trautner, Bolender, Jones, together with various deacons from the churches in the area. Later the Minutes of this "ordination service" were published in “THE CHRISTIAN BAPTIST.” All these Elders were recognized as leaders in the Hardshell denomination.

This ordination took place in August of 1974. Over the next eighteen months or so I continued to travel and preach where I could. Many churches and preacher brethren did not agree with the act of the Powell's Valley Association in making this issue a "test of fellowship" and so tried to "side-step" the issue. But the Powell's Valley brethren, under the leadership of "pope" Robbins, continued to put the "pressure" on those who were using and "recognizing" Dad, the Middletown Church, and me.

Dad continued to affirm that the "real issue" was not the "origin of Satan," but rather the "ignorance" of the Hardshells in general and the "ambitions" of "pope" Robbins in particular, who, Dad thought (and I agree), felt "threatened" by Dad's position in the Association.

From my study of Hardshell history within the associational framework, and from personal experience, this "butting of heads" among preachers, seeking the "moderatorship" of the association, is a common occurrence. It is a fact that most associations have one great leader who "rules the roost." There are "pecking orders" in nearly all groups, and the Hardshells are no different. In the larger and leading associations, this one "great leader" controls several associations far and near, due to the "direct correspondence" with other associations. It is my honest observation that there is much "jockeying for position" in most Hardshell associations. While these associations often give lip-service to the idea that associations have “no authority over the churches," they nevertheless exercise practical authority and sway over them.

No wonder that Hardshell and "Absoluter", Elder W. J. Berry, could write (in 1958) and say that "there are now not more than nine men whose dictates control all the principle groups of Primitive Baptists throughout the United States." (From the "Old Faith Contender")

When I moved to North Carolina in 1976 (to be married to a girl who was the daughter of Elder Newell Helms, who then and now, in 2008, continues to be a leader among the Hardshells in this area of North Carolina, namely, in the "Bear Creek Association") I found that Elder C. M. Mills (referred to earlier) was probably one of those "nine men" that brother Berry spoke about. The Bear Creek Association was in "direct correspondence" with Powell's Valley and so my move to North Carolina "ran me smack into" the controversy over the "devil doctrine" and the "orderly standing" of the Middletown Church.

My Second "Ordination"

Shortly after my move to North Carolian, in the spring of 1976, I met with Elder C. M. Mills at his home in Charlotte. Elder Newell Helms was also there, as was "pope" John Robbins and his cohort, Ray Wells, the "official" Powell's Valley Association "clerk;" the latter two had driven 300 miles from Tennessee to "help out" with "my situation."

Elders Mills and Robbins believed that my "ordination" was "invalid," and "illegal" and not "recognizable" because it was done by the Middletown Church while in "disorder," having been officially "declared against" by the Powell's Valley Association.

My argument, with some assistance from Mill's protege and my father-in-law, Newell Helms, was that it was conducted by sound brethren, i.e. Trautner, Jones, Bolender, etc.

I also argued that the reason for non-fellowship was invalid. Never had a Baptist church made the "origin of Satan" an issue effecting fellowship, excepting that our forefathers rejected Daniel Parker's "Two-Seedism" with its "eternal and uncreated Devil" belief. However, seeing that Robbins was himself a smaller "pope" under the greater "pope" Mills, and yet "close friends," Mills was insistent on seeing me "re-ordained" so that, as he said, this "cloud" would not "hang over me" and my ministry for the rest of my life.

Needless to say, I was in a "tight spot". I agreed with the Middletown Church on this issue. But I had recently married and "settled down" in North Carolina and had to find a way to "get along" with the brethren among whom I hoped to labor. I began to pray over the matter and to ask "counsel and advice" from many "elders" far and near.

The "elders" I spoke with were primarily the following: Trautner, Bolender, Jones, Bradley, Tolley, Watts, and some few others. All of the "elders" in my former "presbytery" were all sympathetic and gave consent for "re-ordination" if it would help me and "keep the peace," except for Dad and Boggs, who were both of the Middletown Church.

I remember talking in particular with Elder Bradley. Why, I don't know, for he was one of the "cowardly" preachers who, when invited to be in the first ordination, failed to come. I suppose that it was because he was a recognized "leader" among the Hardshells and did not want to risk his "standing." In any case, he advised a "re-ordination."

Brother Bradley had himself been conversant with "pope" Mills when he first came to "spy-out" the "Old Church." Bradley certainly didn't want to "butt heads" with Mills. The Cincinnati Church was an "independent" church, i.e. not in an association. Though not in an association, they were still somewhat amenable to associational "politics."

So I agreed to be "re-ordained." This meant my "exclusion" from the Middletown Church and caused "hurt feelings" with Dad. I united with Bethel Primitive Baptist Church in the Bear Creek Association of North Carolina and later was "re-ordained" by them. The "cloud" did somewhat disappear, but only to be followed by other ones. I filled regular "appointments" at this church for some time and also preached regularly by invitation in several of the churches of that Association.

Over the next few years (1976-1982), the churches in the Bear Creek, Powell's Valley, and a few others, began to magnify the issue of the "origin of Satan." In nearly every "ordination service," whether of preachers or deacons, "presbyters" would ask the candidate his views on the subject. Several "elders," like Tolley, took issue with this practice. They were opposed to making this issue a "test of fellowship." I stood up in one "ordination service" and objected to this type of query. But I was ignored and viewed as a "trouble-maker."

In fact, I myself had been asked at Bethel Church, during my ordination service, whether Satan "fell from Heaven." My answer was Luke 10:18 - "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."

I was ordained with this answer, to my surprise. I was also asked whether the "story of the rich man and Lazarus" taught that the rich man went to a "literal hell." I said that he went to "Hades." Again, this satisfied the brethren.

One visiting "elder" from West Virginia, Norvel Mann, later confessed to me his shock and disgust at the line of questioning. It was obvious to him that the so-called presbytery was doing everything they could to find a reason not to ordain me. Due to the influence of Cayce and Mills, the belief that Luke 16 taught what happens at death to the saved and lost was regarded as "heresy."

Looking back on these times makes me thankful to be out of such a tyrannical cult. It wasn't until I began to pastor two non-associational churches in eastern North Carolina in the early 80's that I received some relief from this "tyranny." I pastored there until leaving with a letter of dismissal in good standing around 1983.

In the few years following this, I came to see the errors of the Hardshells as to their "Articles of Faith." When I saw the truth of "means," I immediately contacted the Sovereign Grace Baptists here and there, including brother Ross, and thus began a new search for fellowship.

Today, I feel liberated from the "shackles" of Hardshell heresy and popery. My experiences among them and my acquaintance with their teachings make me desirous of "exposing" their unscriptural ways and beliefs for the benefit of others whom they might lead astray.
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