To all who love the
cause and kingdom of Christ here in the earth:
Many of us have been
concerned for several years now about the unscriptural practices and
doctrines which are being introduced among the Primitive Baptist
churches in many places in Georgia and in other states. It is our
hope and prayer that God may use this general letter to all of our
churches as a means of awakening some to the seriousness of the
situation that now exists among us. If we disregard the teachings of
God's word and place the hope and future of the church in the
inventions of men, we will soon lose our identity as the church of
the Lord Jesus Christ.
following false practices and doctrines (among others) have appeared
among us in recent years:
Sunday Schools or
Organized Bible Study Classes
Teaching that the Great
Commission was given to the church, rather than to the Apostles
Accepting and Retaining
Dedication of Infants
Failure to Recognize
these doctrines and practices to be without warrant in the word of
God, and to be in opposition to the clear teachings of Christ and the
Apostles We would make the following recommendations to our churches,
and to the members thereof, that we take the following action:
to be aware and to make others aware of the onslaught of unscriptural
practices and doctrines that are now appearing among us in many
that every effort be put forth to save to the cause the preachers and
churches who may unknowingly have embraced any of these doctrines and
practices. There are good God-called ministers who have been led to
follow these teachings, and good churches that have blindly followed
a loved pastor without realizing that they have dishonored their
heritage and embraced heresy by doing so. Let every effort be made to
save them to the cause (James 5:20).
we would encourage all of our churches everywhere to put forth every
effort to keep these false doctrines and practices from being
promoted among us (1 Tim. 4:14-16). Will we invite a preacher to the
church of our membership (or one we pastor) when we know that he
advocates and participates in practices that are contrary to the
scriptures? God help us to stand and to close our pulpits to heresy
and error, as did our brethren in the faith before us (II John 10,
will we stand where our forefathers in the faith stood, or will we
continue to drift with the tide until God manifests his displeasure
and sends us into the captivity of Babylon? Then how will we sing the
Lord's song in a strange land?
neither the power, nor scriptural authority, to decide matters for
any church or group of churches. It is up to each local church to
decide whether or not she will take a public stand for the basic
principles of truth contained in this resolution.
In love for Zion and
for the cause of the truth, we, the undersigned respectfully submit
this resolution. We attach to this resolution an addendum giving
scriptural and historical references concerning this matter.
ADDENDUM TO THE PITTS RESOLUTION
OF THE OLD LINE PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS
SUNDAY SCHOOLS OR ORGANIZED BIBLE STUDY CLASSES
invention of man, 1781 years too late to have a scriptural basis,
usually begins with the name of "Bible Study." From the
origin and promise that it is simply the study of the scriptures
under the teaching of the pastor, it soon grows to a study of
literature prepared by man and the division of the church body into
classes according to age and/or sex, with women teachers. (But we do
encourage individual study of the Bible, Acts 17:10_11). What saith
the scriptures? Eph. 6:4, 1 Cor. 12:25, Rev. 22:18_19, Deut. 4:2,
Prov. 30:5_6, Eccl. 3:14, Jer. 26:2, John 8:31_32.
an intrinsic part of the scriptures that they not be added to or
diminished therefrom (Deut. 4:2, Rev. 22:18_19). Therefore, our
forefathers, subsequent to the writings of the New Testament, have
stood firmly on the principles taught therein. Their stance against
Bible Study sessions, as an adjunct to the gospel church, is embedded
study classes are a close ally to Sunday Schools, as stated above,
which the Old School (Primitive) Baptists declared against in the
Black Rock Address in 1832. Here is a quote from that declaration: ".
Such schools were never established by the apostles, nor commanded by
Christ. There were children in the days of the apostles. The apostles
possessed as great a desire for the salvation of souls, as much love
to the cause of Christ, and knew as well what God would own for
bringing persons to the knowledge of salvation, as any do this day.
We, therefore must believe that if these schools were of God, we
should find some account of them in the New Testament."
stated position was also promulgated, with amplification, by
forty-two Primitive Baptist elders in attendance at the Nashville
Peace Meeting in 1937. The following is a quote from item 18, under
the heading of discipline, which resulted from the referenced
meeting: "As to Sunday Schools, Bible Classes, aid societies, or
any other such societies as have been invented by the world and
engaged in by them, we consider all such as a departure from the
original ground and principles which the Primitive Baptists have held
to all along the line. The way such things usually get into the
church is by the assuming of some name that may lead our people to
think there is no harm in it; but such innovations and departures
always grow, and result in trouble and distress among the people.
They should be left severely alone. If we want peace, the way to have
it is to let all things alone that bring trouble.... The preacher
cannot perform the public service of God for the entire membership.
We cannot serve God by proxy. It is, too, a lamentable fact that our
brethren do not read the scriptures in their homes, as they should.
Hence, they depend too much on the preacher to know "if these
things be true." But this in no sense justifies our people in
conducting a so-called Bible class or Bible study in our churches.
Such things, when the seed is sown, always grow and develop into
greater and distressing things. We can only say, "Diligently do
what we recommend, and let the other things alone."
references and quotes are more than adequate in stipulating the
reason why old-line Primitive Baptists object to organized Bible
study classes, in their (our) churches, apart from the regular public
Item II. YOUTH
Like Sunday Schools,
this is an invention of man seeking to indoctrinate and persuade the
young and gain more members for the church. Please see scriptures
listed under Item I.
Baptists, in the main, do not object to their children participating
in good wholesome sports programs, including youth camps, where
religious dogmas are not a part of the program. Children of Primitive
Baptists do participate in school sponsored sports programs and in
other recreational functions, including sports activities, of their
communities. However, the preponderance of our people do object to
such activities being placed under the auspices of an Old Line
Primitive Baptist Church. Neither scripture nor Primitive Baptist
tradition support the establishment of church connected youth camps.
Therefore, we deem it an unscriptural practice because its existence
is not substantiated in the book of inspired writ.
innovations, in the church, cannot improve on the scriptural pattern
for teaching our children; i.e., "And ye fathers, provoke not
your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).
programs organized by man and funded by appeals to various
congregations for their support are unscriptural. We find an
organized program to promote "mission work" without warrant
in the scriptures, especially a program in which no preacher goes to
labor other than infrequent visits of a few days. What saith the
scriptures? Matt.10:5_10, Acts 18:11; 20:31; 28:30, Gal. 1:15_17, II
Baptists have no objections to their ministers doing evangelistic
work, among those who have not been privileged to have the gospel
preached to them, for Paul charged Timothy to "do the work of an
evangelist." Consequently, if a minister feels led of the Spirit
to go, as an evangelist, to a specific location, whether it be
domestic or foreign, we believe he should go. However, he should
follow the New Testament pattern of evangelism, that is, he should go
to the area where he feels the Spirit has directed him and remain
there until converted brethren and sisters are established in
doctrine, practice and discipline (this may take a few years). A
failure to labor to this end, with those newly converted to the
gospel church, results in a great injustice to them and is an
embarrassment to established churches.
THEOLOGICAL SEMINARIES (PREACHER'S SCHOOLS)
train and educate preachers in the teachings of men, and so direct
their ministry according to man's standards. Brethren, make no
mistake, a five day seminar or preachers' meeting (school) is nothing
but a mini_seminary and will soon grow into a full-blown seminary.
What saith the scriptures? Heb. 5:4, Gal. 1:15_17, John 14:26;
16:13_14, I John 2:27.
national preachers' meeting, which is a new thing among Primitive
Baptists, was introduced to our ministry in 1992. It continued,
perpetually, each year through the remainder of the decade of the
90s; if its participants do not repent it will continue into the
current millennium. This event has been the source of more unrest
among the Primitive Baptist family than any other known activity or
practice. It has caused, and continues to cause, much disturbance
throughout our country. The disturbance and unrest is justified,
abundantly, because such a meeting does not have a scriptural
foundation or precedent; it is a new and superfluous thing among us.
Furthermore, it is the bed where many of the seeds of heresy are
activities engaged in by the attendees makes the referenced meeting
equivalent to a preachers' school (school of theology). We know that
true Old School Primitive Baptists declared against Theological
Schools over a hundred and sixty years ago. Our brethren from that
era (1832) said it better than we can. Therefore, we quote from the
Black Rock Address: "As to theological schools, we shall at
present content ourselves with saying that they are a reflection upon
the faithfulness of the Holy Ghost, who is engaged according to the
promise of the great Head of the church to lead the disciples into
all truth. See John 16:13. Also, that in every age, from the school
of Alexandria down to this day, they have been a real pest to the
church of Christ. Of this we could produce abundant proof, did the
limits of our address admit their insertion." The firm
convictions of those who framed the Black Rock Address, is further
echoed and amplified by able ministers of the late 1800s and early
1900s. A quote from one, Elder J. H. Oliphant, in the early 1900s, is
as follows: "Here is a secret to pastoring a Church. Teach
[them] that everything new in religion is false, and when elders get
to be progressive and want to modernize our people, avoid them, and
encourage the members to be content with things taught in the Word."
those brethren who frequent and support this new function, we humbly
beseech you to repent and abandon your support thereof. Please help
us to circumvent further strife, within the family of God, about this
of the above practices are without commandment or precedent in the
scriptures, and thus have no place in the Kingdom of God. "For
whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Rom. 14:23. [Have you read
in God's word where the Apostles ever held Bible study classes,
Sunday Schools, youth camps, or founded ministerial schools or
DEDICATION OF INFANTS
dedication of infants in the church service is another practice for
which there is no New Testament basis, in either precept or example.
In this practice, the minister prays over the infant for the purpose
of "dedicating" him or her to the Lord, even when no
evidence has been shown that the infant has been regenerated or is
even a member of God's elect family. What saith the scriptures? John
3:3,5; I John 5:1
"salaried ministry," we are referring to a system of
business agreements in which a preacher agrees to serve a church with
the promise of receiving a stipulated payment of a set amount of
money for each given period. What saith the scriptures? Matt. 10:8;
John 10:12_13; Acts 20:33_34, 28:30; I Cor. 4:11_12, 9:16_18; I Peter
practice of churches (or preachers) establishing a fixed salary for
gospel ministers is in direct conflict with the teachings of the New
Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren: "What
is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I make the
gospel of God without charge, that I abuse not my power in the
gospel" (I Cor. 9:18). We can judge from this statement that the
apostle Paul would not have even considered asking for a certain
salary in return for his services at a particular church. In the same
chapter, Paul stated concerning gospel ministers; "...he that
ploweth should plow in hope..." (I Cor. 9:10). In a system where
there is an established salary, the minister is not "plowing in
the salaried system is in conflict with the spiritual nature of God's
kingdom, which kingdom (Christ said) "is not of this world"
(John 18:36). This system brings the following elements of the world
into the church; "hired" services, negotiated salaries,
business propositions, pay raises, the pursuit of large churches
based upon higher salaries, and moving from a small church to a
larger church being considered as a "promotion" (even if
the small church is more spiritual).
as a commandment or example for the New Testament Church is refuted
by Rom. 6:14, I Cor. 16:1_2 and II Cor. 9:7.
brethren in the Armenian community recognize that "It (tithing _
D. Jones) cannot be affirmed that the Old Testament law of tithes is
binding on the Christian Church" (Today's Dictionary of the
Bible, page 624). In chapter IX, under the caption "Characteristics
of the Apostolic Church" of Elder Hassell's History, he made a
quote and statement as follows: Quote, "The voluntary system"
says Mr. Schaff, "best corresponds with the spirit of the
gospel, was practiced by the church for the first three centuries,
and is the most advantageous to the kingdom of God. Legal enactments
for the payment of tithes to the ministry, as to the priests among
the Jews, are not met with in Christendom before the sixth century."
Hassell's statement: "regular stipulated ministerial salaries,
though unknown in the apostolic church and in the first three
centuries, are given in nearly all the religious denominations of the
United States, but not among Old School, Primitive or Bible
tithes system was applicable to the Jewish economy, under the law, in
Old Testament times. It is not to be practiced in the New Testament
Gospel Church. Paul informed the Galatians that "the law is not
of faith" (Gal. 3:12). He also said, "But now we are
delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we
should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the
letter" (Rom. 7:6).
THAT THE "GREAT COMMISSION" WAS GIVEN TO THE CHURCH
find no scriptural basis for the belief that the "great
commission" was given to the church and that the church is
responsible for the spread of the gospel in the world today and
therefore is justified in organizing programs and raising funds for
this purpose. What saith the scriptures? Mark 16:14_15; Acts 1:2, 8;
Col. 1:6, 23.
before His ascension, Christ commanded His apostles to "go...into
all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature" (Mark
16:15). (This command is commonly referred to as the "great
commission," although this term is not found in the Scriptures).
The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the apostles did indeed
fulfill this command. Several years after the command was given, the
apostle Paul reported that the gospel had come into "all the
world" (Col. 1:6) and had been "preached to every creature
which is under heaven" (Col. 1:23).
when Christ placed this "great commission" upon His
apostles, He promised them that great signs and wonders would
accompany the fulfilling of this commission. These signs would be in
the form of special apostolic powers, such as the ability to cast out
demons and the ability to drink any sort of deadly poison and remain
unharmed (Mark 16:17_18). We take the fact that these special powers
are no longer with us as further proof that the "great
commission" has been fulfilled.
stand with our Baptist forefathers in rejecting the heresy that the
"great commission" was given to the church body. Elder John
R. Daily (one of our Baptist forefathers) explained: "None of us
believe that the commission given by Christ to His apostles was
intended to be laid upon the church as a body, which false idea has
been the parent of all Missionary machinery that has ever been
invented" (Advocate and Messenger, "More Specificity
Requested," July 1996, pg. 149).
ACCEPTING UNQUALIFIED PERSONS AS CHURCH MEMBERS
children to join the church before there is evidence of the new
birth. Accepting baptism of questionable background or authority. Not
qualifying those who apply for membership as to secret orders, living
in adultery or evidence of the new birth. All of this speaks of a
belief that anything goes and any way is all right if it gets us more
members. What saith the scriptures? Acts 2:47; John 3:3,5; Neh. 2:20;
MISDIRECTED MINISTERIAL AUTHORITY
forty years or more, we have sat complacent, and passively listened
to our ministry criticize and chip away at some of our long-standing
church practices. While they criticized the existing church
practices, they were maneuvering themselves into a position of
lordship rather than servants; thus, usurping authority over the
church. Both the church and ministry are responsible for the
development of this situation; i.e., the lackadaisical attitude of
the majority of the church membership coupled with a misdirected zeal
of some of our ministry.
identified the ministry of his day as servants (II Cor. 4:5). Peter
said they were to "feed the flock of God...taking the oversight"
(I Peter 5:2_3). This did not mean to rule over or lord over God's
heritage. We, as gospel ministers, would do well to build on these
scriptural foundations. Historically, and in the main, the church has
been cognizant of these fundamental principles. An examination of a
middle Georgia church's decorum, which was constituted in
mid_nineteenth century, reveals that they delineated specifically the
duties of a moderator, or pastor, which is "It shall be the duty
of the moderator to preserve order and explain and put questions, and
render assistance if needed." From this statement it is
evidenced that our forefathers recognized and respected their pastor
as a servant.
idea that a pastor is supposed to rule the church and that his
charge, to the church, is to be followed implicitly and without any
question is a new thing in the Primitive Baptist Church. This
doctrine leads to doing away with annual pastor calls and conference
meetings. The deacons and members are taught that they are not to
question this supposed pastoral authority. This is often accompanied
by instructions not to visit other churches, associations or
fellowship meetings (Prov. 19:10; Jer. 12:10; Eph. 1:22_23; Isa.
32:1; Heb. 13:7, 17). Please note that the latter two scriptural
references do not speak of those who are rulers, but those who have
the rule (Christ and His princes, writers of N.T.).
prayer is that church members will recognize the fallacy of allowing
servants to rule. Also, that they will reclaim their authority and
return to church government as it was in earlier times. Furthermore,
ministers may need to be reminded, from time to time, that they are
servants and not lords. No matter how big a preacher may feel to be,
he is still under the jurisdiction of the church.
ordaining unknown, untried and/or self-willed men to the gospel
ministry and to the office of deacon is a blatant violation of the
scriptural guidelines. What saith the scriptures? Neh. 7:64_65; 1
Tim. 3:6, 5:22; Heb. 5:4.
FAILURE TO RECOGNIZE CHURCH AUTHORITY
are situations where brethren (especially preachers) and churches
fail to recognize the discipline of sister churches. When this
occurs, it generates strife among those involved and ripples of
discontentment are felt, where knowledge of it exists, throughout the
Primitive Baptist family. This problem has been addressed many times
in the past and we reiterate the advice given by brethren, in their
respective eras, for the resolution thereof: "When a person is
excluded by an orderly Old Baptist Church, he is thereby excluded
from every orderly Old Baptist Church on earth. If a person is
excluded by one church in our body, and another receives him into
their body without satisfaction first being made at the church where
he was excluded, it is denied that a sister church has the right to
discipline her own members. It is too often the case that when a
little friction comes up, brethren may be quick to receive members
this way. When something is charged against a person, that is the
only place on earth to get the charge canceled" (Nashville Peace
and every local church has the right to dispose of her local affairs
as she deems proper; that is, she has a right to discipline her
members, but no church has the right to harbor and protect heretics,
liars, fornicators, and such like (excluded members from a sister
church_W. Hatfield), to the hurt and annoyance of sister churches.
Neither does a church have a right to harbor or engage in things that
are contrary to Baptist usage, or contrary to the scriptures"
(Waco and Nashville Peace Meetings).
a church as such depart from the Bible faith and practice and so
persist in it as to cause offence, then what? The first church
offended, as represented by two or three of her most spiritual
members (Gal. 6:1) should go quietly and labor in love and all
long-suffering to reclaim her, failing, she should return and take
one or two other churches to labor in love; and these failing, and
agreeing and advising, should proceed to "bind her on earth"
as in the name of Jesus Christ, declaring her disposed of Gospel
Order" (Dallas Peace Meeting).
censure a church, or condemn a church, or non_fellowship a church or
churches in doctrine or practice, without labor, or trial or
investigation is disorder of the discipline, doctrine and practice of
the church" (Dallas Peace Meeting)
have identified, in this addendum, some of the problematic issues
(little foxes) which are causing widespread unrest among Primitive
Baptists in this era. Applicable issues are itemized with scriptural
references which justify our opposition to their addition, as an
adjunct and/or practice, to the Old Line Primitive Baptist Church. We
have also included quotes of highly esteemed brethren, from the past,
which depict their stand against some of the unscriptural practices
we are currently facing.
our recommendation: We recommend that those who preach these false
doctrines, and/or otherwise advocate referenced practices, not to be
utilized (used) in our services. We are plainly instructed to
"receive him (them) not into your (our) house, neither bid him
(them) God speed" (II John 10). And those who follow after them
are called "silly women (churches)" (II Tim. 3:6).
Sylvester Hassell writing on the early 1800"s mentions "the
incredible changes among Baptists" of that day "springing
up of Mission Societies, Sunday Schools, Theological colleges,
written sermons...salaried ministers...efforts for large gain in
membership." He summarized this in these words, which seem to us
to appropriately describe the condition existing among our people
today: "False doctrines led to false practices; confidence lost
in God and placed in man" (Hassell's History, page xxii).
brethren back then stood firmly against all of these institutions of
man. The Kehukee Association of North Carolina in 1827 agreed "that
we discard all Missionary Societies, Bible Societies and Theological
Seminaries, and if any persons should be among us as agents of any of
said societies, we hereafter discountenance them in those practices;
and if under a character of a minister of the gospel, WE WILL NOT
INVITE THEM INTO OUR PULPITS; believing these societies and
institutions to be the inventions of men, and not warranted from the
word of God" (Hassell's History, pages 736, 737). The Baltimore
Association in 1832 meeting at Black Rock Church in the state of
Maryland, also specifically enumerated Sunday schools, mission
programs and theological schools as some of the practices which
brought forth the division among Baptists of that day ("Feast on
Fat Things", pages 5_33).
in Georgia, the original articles of the constitution of the Original
Upper Canoochee Primitive Baptist Association of Georgia, and still
carried in their minutes today, state: "We decline to recognize
anything not specifically authorized in the New Testament and
practiced by the Apostles. We hold that modern Sunday Schools,
religious societies and organizations separate from the church, known
as auxiliaries to the church, a salaried ministry, assessing or
taxing the membership, instrument music in church worship are
unscriptural, and together with oath bound secret societies, will not
be held in fellowship by this association."
do we stand? Will we go along with the notions of the day until the
identity of the church is lost and we are just one of the hundreds of
religious organizations in America, the same in a lack of doctrine
and discipline and with a house full of worldly practices?
pray that God will grant us the grace to walk in the old paths and to
contend for the faith once delivered to the saints!