A Historical Survey Of Sovereign Grace

By Tom Ross, Pastor

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Chesapeake, Ohio

Copyright 1991, by Tom Ross.


        Introduction

        What Jesus And The Apostles Taught Concerning Grace.

        Sovereign Grace Through The Reformers.

        Baptists and the Doctrines of Grace.

        TABLE OF CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

       No study of the doctrines of grace would be complete without briefly considering their history since the times of Christ and the Apostles. Generally speaking, most Baptists historically believed and preached the doctrines of grace. In the Twentieth Century we have witnessed a major departure from the "faith once delivered" with reference to the doctrines of grace, which has subsequently led to doctrinal departures in other vital areas as well. Arminianism is the common bond which holds the Ecumenical and Charismatic Movements together, and which eventually will lead its adherents back to the "Mother of Harlots", the Roman Catholic Church.


WHAT JESUS AND THE APOSTLES TAUGHT CONCERNING GRACE

       Any person who reads the New Testament apart from a preconceived prejudice will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that Jesus and the Apostles believed, preached, and wrote about the doctrines of grace. These precious truths are exalted throughout the entire New Testament. In fact, the theme of the New Testament is grace. The very essence of the Gospel itself, is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, laid down His life, and shed his precious blood for helpless and unworthy sinners. Sinners, who in time are brought to spiritual life by the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word of God and drawn to saving faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and who are kept by the power of God. The very first reference to the saving work of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew comes by way of announcement when the angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream; "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). The New Testament opens with a declaration that Jesus would actually secure salvation for His people, the elect whom the Father gave Him before the world began. The doctrine that Arminians hate the most, Particular Redemption, is set forth in the very first chapter of the New Testament!

       Jesus believed that distinguishing grace was a sovereign act of God. In Matthew 11:25-27 we find him praising the Father for sovereign grace; "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."

       Perhaps the strongest testimony to the fact that Jesus believed the doctrines of grace is found in John chapter six after Jesus had just fed the 5000. The multitudes were following him because he had fed them, not because they had been spiritually attracted to Him. In response, Jesus tells them that He is the true bread from heaven, sent by the Father to give life to those who believe. He then explains exactly why He came in verses 37-40; "All that the Father giveth me (election) shall come to me (effectual calling); and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me (cf. Job 23:13,14 and Dan. 4:35). And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing (preservation of the saints), but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day". Jesus then explains that the natural man is incapable of coming to Him apart from the distinguishing, drawing power of God; "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44).

       A brief sampling of excerpts from the Book of Acts and the Epistles will suffice to prove that the followers of Christ believed in the Sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace. The salvation account of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus furnishes us with a striking illustration of God's grace in the effectual call. Saul hated the followers of the Lamb, and was on his way to persecute them. He was not seeking the Lord, he was seeking the destruction of the Lord's people when Jesus apprehended him, humbled him, and called him to salvation. It was not Saul who sought God and laid hold on Christ, it was God who sought Saul and Christ who laid hold on him, making him "willing in the day of his power" (Psalms 110:3).

       In Acts 13, Paul preached Christ to the Jews and Gentiles at Antioch. When the Jews rejected the message Paul turned to Gentiles and Luke records their reaction in verse 48; "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed". In no uncertain terms, saving faith is expressed as the result of God's election or ordination to eternal life.

       Paul the Apostle, who wrote 14 books of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is often found expounding the doctrines of grace. Who can deny that Paul believed in the five points of sovereign grace in light of Romans chapter nine or Ephesians chapter one? Even a casual reading of these two chapters reveal that Paul did not attribute salvation to the free will or cooperation of the natural man, but to the immutable will of God and His eternal purpose of grace.

       James refers to election in his epistle; "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him" (James 2:5).

       Peter opens his first epistle by addressing the; "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father...", and later refers to believers in the following way; "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (2:9).

       John's first epistle is very practical in nature as he writes about the characteristics that should be evident in life of one who has been born of God. Yet, in the midst of the most practical epistle of the New Testament, John declares; "We love him, because he first loved us" (4:19). John believed that the New Birth was a work of God alone, and that God was the first cause in our salvation.

       From a brief sampling of the New Testament it is quite evident that Jesus Christ and the Apostles believed in what we refer to today as the doctrines of grace.

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SOVEREIGN GRACE THROUGH THE REFORMERS

       Proving that the New Testament writers believed in the doctrines of grace was relatively simple because the proof came from an infallible, authoritative source. Whenever we begin to read history that has been written by uninspired men our task becomes more difficult because we must rely on men who were tainted with certain prejudices. Yet, history as a secondary source can be used to show that the doctrines which we now preach and defend are not new-fangled inventions. Most of what we today refer to as Systematic Theology has been formulated in response to error that was prevalent in any given period of time. The formulation of the system we today call the doctrines of grace is no exception.

       In the fifth century a man named Pelagius vehemently opposed the doctrines of God's sovereign grace. David Steele wrote:

"Pelagius denied that human nature had been corrupted by sin. He maintained that the only ill effects which the race had suffered as the result of Adams's transgression was the bad example which he had set for mankind. According to Pelagius, every infant comes into the world in the same condition as Adam was before the fall. His leading principle was that Man's will is absolutely free. Hence every one has the power, within himself, to believe the gospel as well as to perfectly keep the law of God." 1

       Augustine, the Catholic theologian of the fifth century, responded to the heresy of Pelagius and declared that man was totally depraved, and that the act of faith resulted, not from the sinner's free will, but from God's free grace which is given to the elect only. Augustine, who would today be scorned by Catholics, and who was no friend to Baptists obviously believed some truth concerning the doctrines of grace.

       After Augustine soundly refuted the errors of Pelagius, a new form of heresy arose within the Catholic Church, promoted by a man named Cassian. His system of theology is today referred to as Semi-Pelagianism because he mixed what Augustine taught with what Pelagius taught. He acknowledged that Adam's sin extended to all mankind, and that his nature was corrupted by sin. But he also taught a system of universal grace for all men by teaching that the Holy Spirit worked on all men alike and that salvation was dependent upon the decision and response of man's free will. In reality, most of the people whom we would today label as Arminians are in actuality Semi-Pelagians.

       The Protestant Reformers rejected the theories of Pelagius and Cassian, attributing salvation to the sovereign grace of God alone. J.I. Packer wrote:

"All the leading Protestant theologians of the first epoch of the Reformation, stood on precisely the same ground here. On other points, they had their differences; but in asserting the helplessness of man in sin, and the sovereignty of God in grace, they were entirely at one...Here was the crucial issue: whether God is the author, not merely of justification, but also of faith; whether, in the last analysis, Christianity is a religion of utter reliance on God for salvation and all things necessary to it, or of self-reliance and self-effort." 2

       Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Farel, and Wycliff all believed what we would today identify as the doctrines of grace. I believe that there were Baptist groups who believed the doctrines of grace before any of the Reformers as I shall later prove. The thing that has often puzzled me about the Protestant Reformers is their insistence on defending what John Gill referred to as the "pillar of Popery", infant baptism. All the Protestant reformers viewed baptism as a sacrament or a means of grace, which logically denies real sovereign grace by making it depend in some way upon an individual's baptism.

       The systematic forms of the five points of Arminianism and Calvinism did not come into being until the early 1600"s. James Arminius was a Dutch seminary professor. In 1610, one year after his death his followers issued five articles of faith based upon Arminius' teachings, which are today referred to as Arminianism. They presented the teachings as a formal protest to the State of Holland, insisting that the Belgic Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism both needed to be changed. In 1618 the Synod of Dort assembled to examine the protests of the Arminians in the light of the Scriptures. In May of 1619 they came to the conclusion that the five points of Arminianism did not reconcile with the Holy Scriptures. They also issued a five point response refuting each of the five errors of Arminius. These five points are commonly referred to today as the Five Points of Calvinism or the Doctrines of Grace.

       From the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century until the latter part of the nineteenth century the doctrines of grace were commonly held by all Protestants except for the Methodists. All the noted Protestant preachers were thorough Calvinists. In the Puritan era, John Owen, Steven Charnock, John Flavel, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Manton, and Thomas Boston, to name only a few, proclaimed these precious truths upon the housetops. In America, Cotton and Increase Mather, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, B.B. Warfield, and John Murray were all Protestants who loved and cherished the precious truths of the doctrines of grace. Bancroft, the American historian pronounced the Pilgrim Fathers as; "Calvinists in their faith according to the straightest system."  3

       It is sad, but true, that most Protestant denominations in our day have a Calvinistic creed and an Arminian clergy. To most the doctrines of grace are unimportant and Arminianism is not even questioned. The mainline denominations have sold the truth for a mess of Ecumenical pottage. Protestants have always had the birthmarks of Rome, because they were conceived and have their origin by way of the Mother of Harlots. In our day we see the daughters resembling more and more their Mother, the Roman Catholic Church.

       I would like to quote from the learned John Gill, a Baptist theologian of the 1700's who linked Arminianism and Popery together, in his book Cause of God and Truth:

"This work was published at a time when the nation was greatly alarmed with the growth of Popery, and several learned gentlemen were employed in preaching against some particular points of it; but the author of this work was of opinion, that the increase of Popery was greatly owing to the Pelagianism, Arminianism, and other supposed rational schemes men run into, contrary to divine revelation. This was the sense of our fathers in the last century, and therefore joined these and Popery together in their religious grievances they were desirous of having redressed; and indeed, instead of lopping of the branches of Popery, the ax should be laid to the root of the tree, ARMINIANISM AND PELAGIANISM, THE VERY LIFE AND SOUL OF POPERY." 4

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BAPTISTS AND THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE

       It is my firm conviction that the scriptures teach that Jesus Christ established a New Testament Church during His earthly ministry consisting of saved people who were scripturally baptized. He promised that His kind of church would be perpetuated until the end of the age. I believe the scriptures teach that the kind of church Jesus organized and authorized to carry out the Great Commission was in doctrine and practice what we would today identify as a Sovereign Grace Baptist Church. Until the latter part of the eighteenth century Baptist history was written mainly by our enemies. Up until the nineteenth century it was rare to see Baptist works published because, as a general rule, they were poor and persecuted by Catholics and Protestants alike. Yet believing that Jesus meant what he said; "... I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"; "...and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world", it is the firm conviction of the writer that the Lord's churches have never identified with Rome, and have upheld and supported the doctrines of grace, as the "pillar and ground of the truth" through the centuries.

       Much of the history of the ancient Baptists revolved around their opposition to the traditions and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, long before the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. The Novations of Italy, the Donatists of North Africa, the Bogomils and Paterines of Europe, the Albigenses and Waldenses of France, and the Anabaptists of Germany historically rejected infant baptism, sprinkling as a mode of baptism, the validity of Romish ordinances, baptismal regeneration, the priestcraft, purgatory, worship of saints and idols, Mariolatry, and salvation by human merits. Consequently, historical accounts of their beliefs and practices have been recorded by their Romish persecutors. It is generally accepted by historians that these ancient Baptists accepted the scriptures as their final authority for all faith and practice, and that salvation was the free gift of God. Because the five points of the doctrines of grace were not put into a concrete, systematic form until the sixteenth century, little is written prior to that time concerning those who believed the doctrines.

       The renowned Catholic theologian, Augustine of Hippo, believed the doctrines of grace and fought fiercely against the errors of Pelagius in the fifth century. However, this same Augustine opposed the Donatists of North Africa because of their rejection of infant baptism and the idea of a pure local church being made up only of true believers. We read nowhere in the annals of history that Augustine opposed them concerning their views on depravity and election which implies that they were orthodox concerning their views on sovereign grace.

       The ancient Albigenses of Southern France are recorded as believing in sovereign grace as far back as the tenth century. Peter Allix, in his book entitled; Remarks Upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, quotes a Friar Inquisitor who wrote concerning the heresies of the Albigenses in 1461:

"First, They say it is clear, that when God pardons sin, he doth it not with any respect to the merit of any man, but of mere grace; whence it follows evidently, that the remission of sins cannot be attributed to a man's confession of them; for if it were so, we must own that the remission is no longer of free gift, but that it is a recompense given by God to the merit of him that confesseth. Secondly, they say, if it be confession that procures a man the pardon of his sins, what will become of that passage in the third chapter of the Epistle to Titus, where it is expressly declared, that God hath saved us of his mercy, and not according to the works of righteousness that we have done? Or how shall we explain that in the ninth of the Romans, that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy: We know, that the first grace that God works in us is the remission of sins: now if this grace be absolutely the effect of the mercy of God, it cannot be the effect of confession, which by consequence is not necessary to salvation." 5 (The confession he refers to is the Romish practice of auricular confession.)

       The Paterines, who flourished in Italy and France from the eleventh to the thirteenth century believed the doctrines of grace. W.A. Jarrell wrote concerning the Paterines;

"They were Baptists on the doctrine of election and appealed to the texts in the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, employed by others also in proof of the doctrine of unconditional predestination." 6

       The Waldenses of France wrote the "Noble Lesson" in 1100 AD Two portions of the document are of great interest to Baptists. The following quotes are in S. Moreland's book, The Churches of the Valley of Piedmont:

"Now after the Apostles, were certain Teachers, who taught the way of Jesus Christ our Savior. And these are found even at this present day (referring to church perpetuity), But they are known to very few, who have a great desire to teach the way of Jesus Christ, But they are so persecuted, that they are able to do but little, so much are the false Christians blinded with error, and more than the rest they that are Pastors, for they persecute and hate those who are better than themselves, and let those live quietly who are false deceivers... 'And give us to hear that which he shall say to his Elect without delay; Come hither ye blessed of my Father, Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the World, Where you shall have Pleasure, Riches, and Honor. May it please the Lord which formed the World, that we may be of the number of his Elect to dwell in his Court for ever. Praised be God. Amen." 7

       From these two quotes it appears that the ancient Waldenses believed in church perpetuity as well as the doctrine of election.

       A Waldensian Confession dated 1120 AD states:

"God saves from corruption and damnation those whom he has chosen from the foundations of the world, not for any disposition, faith or holiness he foresaw in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ Jesus, his Son, passing by all the rest according to the irreprehensible reason of his own will and justice." 8

       A Waldensian confession dated 1655 AD states:

"God saved from corruption and damnation those whom he has chosen from the foundations of the world, not for any disposition, faith or holiness he foresaw in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ Jesus, his Son, passing by all the rest according to the irreprehensible reason of his own will and justice." 9

       The German and Dutch Anabaptists believed in the doctrine of election as I shall prove from three quotes from their most influential leaders. Denck wrote;

"Christ, the Lamb of God, has been from the beginning of the world a mediator between God and men, and will remain a mediator to the end. Of what men? Of you and me alone? Not so, but of all men who God has given to him for a possession." 10

       John Muller in 1525 wrote;

"Since faith in the free gift of God and not in every man's possession, as the Scriptures show, do not burden my conscience. It is born not of the will of the flesh, but of the will of God...No man cometh unto me except the Father draw him. The secret of God is like a treasure concealed in a field which no man can find unless the Spirit of the Lord reveal it to him." 11

       Menno Simons the Dutch Anabaptist wrote;

"O Lord God, thou hast loved us with an eternal love. Thou hast chosen us before the foundation of the world, that we should be unblamable and holy before thee in love, not regarding what we find written by the faithful Paul concerning Esau, Pharaoh, and Israel. He has done all this on our behalf in order that we should give the honor to thy name, and not to ourselves. What do we miserable sinners have of which we may boast? What do we have that we have not received of thee?" 12

       After the invention of the printing press, the Protestant Reformation, and the translation of the Scriptures into English, the Baptists are shown historically to be staunch defenders of the doctrines of grace. The Particular Baptists in England were strong in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They derived the name Particular from their strong stand on the doctrine of particular redemption, to distinguish them from those who believed in a general atonement. The London Confession of 1644 which was signed by William Kiffin and John Spilsbery was decidedly Calvinistic. The third article reads;

"That God hath decreed in himself touching all things, effectually to work and dispose them according to the counsel of his own will, to the glory of his Name...And touching his creature man, God had in Christ before the foundation of the world, according to the good pleasure of his will, foreordained some men to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of his grace, leaving the rest in their sin to their just condemnation to the praise of his Justice." 13

       The Second London Confession printed in 1677 is even more Calvinistic. The ninth article on Free Will reads;

"Man by his fall into a state of sin hath wholly lost all ability of Will, to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in Sin is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself; or to prepare himself thereunto." 14

       The majority of Baptist writers and theologians in England were staunch proponents of sovereign grace. Benjamin Keach, Hanserd Knollys, John Bunyan, John Gill, John Brine, Abraham Booth, John Rippon, J.C. Philpot, and C.H. Spurgeon all held unashamedly to the five points of the doctrines of grace.

       Because most Baptists in our day freely quote the writings of C.H. Spurgeon, I have taken the liberty to insert two quotes which are taken from his autobiography under the chapter heading A Defense of Calvinism:

"What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ--the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor." 15

       Spurgeon concludes his chapter on A Defense of Calvinism, by saying;

"I ask the man who dares to say that Calvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitefield, who in successive ages were the great exponents of the system of grace; or what will he say of the Puritans, whose works are full of them? Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing, but now we are looked upon as the heretics, and they as the orthodox. We have gone back to the old school; we can trace our descent from the apostles. It is that vein of free-grace, running through the sermonizing of Baptists, which has saved us as a denomination. Were it not for that, we should not stand where we are to-day. We can run a golden line up to Jesus Christ Himself, through a holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can ask concerning them, 'Where will you find holier and better men in the world? 16

       It amazes me that gentlemen like the late John R. Rice who was editor of The Sword of the Lord print edited sermons by Spurgeon in his Arminian periodical! It would do Baptist preachers in our day well to read some of the Baptist writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who were strong sovereign grace men.

       In America the doctrines of grace had almost universal acceptance among Baptists until the latter part of the 1800's. In Asplund's Register of Baptist Churches1792, he records that 92% of all American Baptists believed in the doctrines of Grace. I believe the reason for the dismal descent into the pit of Arminianism came gradually as a result of the influences of John Wesley, Charles G. Finney, and Dwight L. Moody. These three men, who were not even Baptists, conducted several evangelistic campaigns in America which produced massive outward results. Their success, however, was tainted with unorthodox theology which continues to be a detriment to Baptists to this day. Because results were produced, the idea that the end justifying the means began to be more important to Baptists than right doctrine.

       The doctrinal stance of Baptists has shifted so dramatically in the 1900's, to the extent that if you believe and preach the doctrines of grace, you are considered a heretic rather than an earnest contender for the faith once delivered. In our day the Arminian influence of men like John R. Rice, Jack Hyles and Curtis Hudson is rampant. As a result Baptist churches have become doctrinally weak which always leads to the easy reception of error.

       To illustrate what I am saying in many Bible colleges and institutes, the writings and methods of Charles G. Finney are promoted as being sound and scriptural. Noel Smith, an influential preacher in the Bible Baptist Fellowship, and teacher at the Bible Baptist College in Springfield, Missouri once made the following statement:

"Knowing God as I do through the revelation He has given me of Himself in His Word, when I am told that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, I know it means that the Triune God has done, is doing, always will do, all that the Triune God can do to save every man, woman, and child on this earth. if it doesn't mean that, then tell me I pray you, what does it mean? What is hell? It is an infinite negation. It is infinite chaos. And it is more than that. I tell you, and I say it with profound reverence, hell is a ghastly monument to the failure of the Triune God to save the multitudes who are there. I say it reverently, I say it with every nerve in my body tense; sinners go to hell because God Almighty Himself cannot save them! He did all He could. He failed." 17

       When you consider that young preachers are being influenced by this type of teaching, it is little wonder why the Baptists are no longer distinguished for having a strong doctrinal foundation.

       American Baptist history is filled with testimonies proving that the doctrines of grace were considered scriptural and orthodox. The first Baptist church in America was started in 1638 in Newport, R.I. by John Clark who stated:

"Election is the decree of God, of His free love, grace, and mercy, choosing some men to faith, holiness and eternal life, for the praise of His glorious mercy." 18

       Obadiah Holmes, a contemporary of John Clark, who lived from 1607 to 1682, said:

"Those destined to be saved are, to be sure, those whom God chooses to save, His elect, for He knows who are His..., and because man does not save himself, he cannot cause himself to be lost. All that are in the covenant of grace shall never fall away or perish." 19

       The Philadelphia Confession of Faith (1742) states;

"Although God knoweth whatsoever may, or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass on certain conditions. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to Eternal Life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice." 20

       Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary to Burma wrote the following in his Burman creed:

"God, who pitied the sinful race of man, sent His only beloved Son into the world to save from sin and hell, who also sends the Holy Spirit to enable those to become disciples who were chosen before the world was and given to the Son, we worship." 21

       Francis Wayland (1796-1865) was a distinguished Baptist pastor, writer, and educator wrote the following:

"My mind at one time rebelled against the doctrine of election. It seemed to me like partiality. I now perceived that I had no claim whatever on God, but that if I were lost it was altogether my own fault, and that if I was saved, it must be purely a deed of unmerited grace. I saw that this very doctrine was my only hope of salvation, for if God had not sought me, I should never have sought him." 22

       W.B. Johnson, the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1845-1850 said:

"The denomination to which I have the honor to belong holds...the sovereignty of God in the provision and application of the plan of salvation." 23

       J.R. Graves, the staunch Landmark Baptist of the last century made the following remarks in the Great Carrollton Debate:

"He (Christ) did not contract for the lost angels, nor for all men. He only took hold of the seed of Abraham, not of Adam...If He had taken hold of the nature of the lost angels, they would all have been saved. If of the seed of Adam, all men would have been saved, and Universalism would have been the true doctrine. But he contracted as surety, Mediator, only for the seed of Abraham--the elect of mankind...I know this is death to Arminianism, the natural religion of all natural men. They want to believe that they elect themselves, and then Christ takes them into his Covenant...Infidels may wrest this hard doctrine, more fully developed by Paul than any other Apostle, to their own destruction, but a host of the best and clearest minds that have ever lived on earth have advocated it--as Augustine, Calvin, etc., and Knox, Henry--and it is crystallized in the creeds of Presbyterians, Episcopalians, as well as Baptists. We see here no universal Atonement or Redemption." 24

       I have just given a sampling of the voices in American Baptist history who proclaimed the doctrines of grace. Time does not permit me to quote Issac Backus, Basil Manly, J.P. Boyce, R.B.C. Howell, Richard Fuller, J.L. Dagg, J.M. Pendleton, A.H. Strong, B.H. Carroll, J.B. Moody, and J.B. Gambrell, men who were firm defenders of the doctrines of grace. I have proven that opposition to the doctrines of grace is in reality an opposition to scripture, reason, and historical orthodoxy.

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END NOTES

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  1. Steele, David N. & Thomas, Curtis C., The Five Points of Calvinism (Philadelphia, PA: the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1979) p. 20.
  2. Ibid, p. 21.
  3. Boettner, Lorrain, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Phillipsburg, Nj: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1932) p. 382.
  4. Gill, John, Cause of God and Truth (Streamwood, Ill: Primitive Baptist Library, 1978) Preface, p. iv
  5. Allix, Peter, Remarks Upon the Ecclesiastical History of Ancient Churches of the Albigenses (Gallatin, TN: Church History Research and Archives, 1989) pp. 265-266.
  6. Jarrell, W.A., Baptist Church Perpetuity (Dallas TX: 1894) p. 139.
  7. Moreland, Samuel, The Churches of the Valley of Piemont (Fort Smith, AR: Franklin Printing Co., 1955) pp. 113-114; 120.
  8. Ibid., p. 40.
  9. Ibid., p. 64.
  10. Jarrell, W.A., Baptist Church Perpetuity (Dallas TX: 1894) p. 188.
  11. Ibid., p. 188.
  12. Simons, Menno, The Complete Writings of Menno Simons (Scottsdale, AZ: Herald Press, 1956), p. 76
  13. Lumpkin, W.L., Baptist Confessions of Faith, (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1974) p. 157.
  14. Ibid., p. 264.
  15. Spurgeon, C.H., The Early Years, (London: The Banner of Truth and Trust, 1962) p. 168
  16. Ibid., p. 174.
  17. Reisinger, John, The Sound of Grace, February, 1990 p. 9
  18. Simmons, T.P., A Systematic Study of Bible Doctrine, (Clarksville, TN: Bible Baptist Publications, 1979) p. 229
  19. Selph, Robert B., Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election, (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988) p. 21
  20. Philadelphia Confession of Faith, (Sterling, VA: Abounding Ministries, 1981) p. 13
  21. Selph, Robert B., Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election, (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988) p. 31
  22. Ibid., p. 32.
  23. Ibid., p. 36.
  24. Baptist Examiner, The, The Biblical and Historical Faith of Baptists on God's Sovereignty, (Ashland, KY), p. 37.

 

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