Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Philadelphia Association accepted Freewill Baptist Baptism

The claim that the new IMB guidelines on baptism are nothing more than "what Baptists have always believed" is simply not true. There is ample evidence to the contrary. The historical record indicates that the influential Philadelphia Baptist Association did not require "rebaptism" of those who had been baptized in Arminian churches.

Tom Nettles documents this in the newly released volume 2 of his 3 volume work entitled, The Baptists. He describes a missionary trip taken by John Gano of the Philadelphia Association to General Baptists of "free-will principles" in North Carolina in 1754. After winning their confidence through his candor and goodwill, Gano gained the privilege examining many of the ministers on their views of salvation. Nettles writes, "Due to Gano's instruction, examination, and further preaching from ministers of the Association, the churches became Particular Baptist and eventually joined the Philadelphia Association" (111).

Their previous baptism in churches of "free-will principles" was not ruled invalid. It was acceptable to the Philadelphia Association missionaries and churches.


GeneMBridges said...

I would add that in VA, a certain Shubal Stearns was instrumental in the change of one association from a general Baptist association to a particular Baptist association. I believe it was Kiohee, which later became a key Primitive Baptist stronghold.

In NC, General Baptists were known as Free Will Baptists and at the time cited they did believe true believers could apostatize, so this is not a case of believers who were "general" with respect to their view of the atonement. "Free Will" in NC
Baptistry has historically denoted the full range of Arminianism. In fact, they generally (no pun intended) would begin their confessions with an affirmation of the freedom of the will, ergo the moniker.

Travis Hilton said...

I just happened to be reading a similar account yesterday of Gano's visit in Semple's History of the Rise and Progress of Baptists in Virginia. I am considering giving a talk about his visit and the Sandy Creek Church at a meeting in Burlington, North Carolinia in March. The history is definitely clearer when you read primary documents rather than someone else's interpretation, which is what we have been getting in many of our seminaries the past 50 years.

Philip Bryan said...

Accepting Free Will baptism is not that only thing that the brethren in the Philadelphia Baptist Association did. Check the index of the minutes of the first hundred years of that association. Regardless of what some of our forefathers did, WE need to do things "decently and in order."

Philip Bryan

Perry McCall said...

Dr. McBeth on pg 245 in The Baptist Heritage has this paragraph discussing the role of associations in answering “queries”.

“In 1765 the Smith’s Creek church asked “whether it be proper to receive a person into communion who had been baptized by immersion by a minister of the Church of England, if no other objection be made?” The Philadelphia Association replied, “Yea, if he had been baptized on a profession of faith and repentance.”

I don’t know which is more interesting, the fact that they said yes or the assumption that an objection could be made to a person being baptized? Times have changed. The next paragraph on the same page is an example where the Assoc. gave the opinion that women should be allowed a vote in the Church. OK, so it wasn’t a voice! But it was a vote!!

R. L. Vaughn said...

Perry, interesting that you should mention the Smith's Creek 1765 query. I have just about 5 minutes ago read about that in the "History of Alien Immersion and Valid Baptism" by J. H. Grime (published by Grime, Ridgely, TN, 1909). Grime points out a number of decisions by the Philadelphia Assn against "alien immersion" -- 1729, 1732, 1744, 1749, 1768 & 1787. I don't have a copy of the Gillette's Philadelphia minutes here at home (got outbid on ebay!), but Grime says that "church" in church of England is not capitalized and may not be referring to the Episcopal church but he thinks possibly the General Baptist church of England. It is only speculative and partly based on some events taking place around the same time, plus the emphasis on "profession of faith and repentance". If Grime is correct, it would be another case of FWB/General Baptist baptism, but I think this is not proveable. I notice that McBeth does capitalize "Church" in Church of England.

Also, the Philadelphia Assn queries seem to consistently hold the valid administrator is a properly ordained minister.

In Grime's book on pages 43-44, he quotes Furman's history of the Charleston Association about a query in 1758 concerning baptisms performed by Paul Palmer. They answered that though "Palmer was a disorderly person, yet as he was baptized according to the word of God, persons baptized by him may be received into our churches, upon satisfactory examination as to principles of grace." Palmer was a General Baptist to whom many historians trace the southern branch of the Free Will Baptists.

OTOH, Grime also mentions an incident where he "baptized a church" (circa 1888, pp. 62-63). These folks were in the Boiling Springs Church of Christian Baptists in Putnam Co., TN. Christian Baptists are an independent division of Free Will Baptists that still exist in at least three associations -- Eastern Division of the Stone Association Free Will Baptist Church (TN), Original (Western) Stone Association of Free Will Christian Baptist Church of Christ (TN), and Stone Association of Free Will Baptist of Central Indiana.

Not pointed out in the blog, but IIRC, Gano did "rebaptize" quite a few, but that was because they did not accept their profession of faith as solid.

Perry McCall said...

r.l. Vaughn,
Thanks for the added info. and resource. I am still looking to snag a deal on the Philadelphia minutes also. That is an interesting note about the capitalization of Church. I enjoyed your post on "Landmarkism."

J. Dale Weaver, M.Div. said...

I've known Johnny Hunt for over 20 years. I've visited his Church, been to several of his conferences, and spoken to and written him on a number of ocassions.

In my entire experience,I have found precious few men who cared for people -- for souls -- like Johnny Hunt. That is why I find the negative comments here about he, his church and his ministry rather disgusting.

I am thankful Johnny has the guts to stand against the arrogance often clearly demonstrated among "calvinistic baptists." As an ordained minister for nearly 20 years, and a member of a Southern Baptist Church, I had paid relatively little attention to the resurgence of reformed thinking within the SBC. Not anymore.

Should the SBC return to calvinist theology as a whole, I'll remain true to Scripture -- and preach the Gospel IN GENERAL to "every creature."

A word of caution to calvinist baptists: You'll find few men as charitable and kind as Johnny Hunt within the SBC. Pray for him, and stop backbiting.