Elder Daniel Parker was born 1781, in Culpepper, Virginia, and while still a youth his family removed to the wilderness of Georgia, where he was baptized January 3rd, 1802, and he then relocated to Tennessee in 1803. After some years preaching in Tennessee, Parker moved to what he called the "Wabash Country." He is, of course, well known for having led the Pilgrim Church, constituted in Illinois, to Texas where the now famous Fort Parker massacre took place. The bloody massacre occurred in May, 1836, less than a month after Houston defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto. Parker died there in Texas in 1844.
This brief sketch is not intended to be complete; it is only for the purpose of introducing the man recognized as the father of two-seedism, soul sleeping, the "hollow log-whole man" controversy, and a whole host of other views that may or may not have vexed the church the last century and a half We submit then, to that end, the following for a better look at the man and his doctrine.
"Notwithstanding it was my lot to be raised as an Indian hunter, in the backwoods of the state of Georgia and never have had an education so as to enable me to understand even the smallest rule in arithmetic, nor the perusal of what is called the English Grammar five minutes in my life; while my engagements in the ministry, my limited situation, with the calls on me by the wants of a large helpless family, has prevented me from acquiring from the aid of man, the necessary qualifications to meet the wisdom of the world in a religious combat Yet it has been the will of God, for some purpose of his own, to cause my lot to be such for a number of years, that I have been compelled to defend the cause of truth, relying on him for divine aid; or let error prevail to the dishonor of God, and the distress of his Church." Page 3, paragraph 1, THE SECOND DOSE OF DOCTRINE ON THE TWO SEEDS. Elder Daniel Parker, 1826
Thus we have a glimpse of the man so bitterly assailed as a heretic and troubler in Israel. Parkerism, or two-seedism, is rarely exceeded in contempt by his antagonists; especially among Primitive Baptists. But, was this man, and his doctrine, really as contemptible as some believe? Probably he was not, but some of the views he promulgated are fearful at best. We believe it a fact that most who condemn Parker have never read his writings. We know we did not until the last few years, as we had never seen them until a brother put them in our hands. Having now read them, with much difficulty we might say, it appears Parker was more guilty of not being able to express himself well than he was of deliberately promoting error. This does not mean, however, that we approve of those points that appear to be grave errors in his views.
Did Parker believe in two seeds; the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent? Certainly he did, as do all Bible students. That there are two distinct seeds is clear from Genesis 3.15. The real point of dispute is not if there are two seeds, but how they originated. It is on this point that we of the Old School Baptists part company with Parker. We hope, the Lord willing, to examine both the existence of the two seeds and their origin later, and to show as well the erroneous conclusions (Two-Seedism) Parker arrived at in his handling of the same.
Did Parker contend that Satan sired his seed by cohabiting with Eve? We confess we cannot be sure, as his statements in this regard are very ambiguous. The following are the plainest declarations by him we could find.
"Some may think I believe the Serpent cohabited with the woman. Certainly he did, so far as to beget the wicked, sinful principle and nature in her, which was the cause of the sentence being passed against her by her maker. --but not to beget children by her, in no other but through or by the man, which as her husband had received the forbidden fruit, and partook of the same principle and nature of Satan." Page 26, Paragraph 2; VIEWS ON THE TWO SEEDS: TAKEN FROM GENESIS 3.15. by ElderDaniel Parker, 1826. "Second. How was the serpent's seed conveyed to the woman? By way of her husband, who had partaken of the forbidden fruit at her hands, and went with her in the transgression. Here we might reflect on the extent, and effects of unlawful lust, and the begetting quality that belongs to man." Page 28, Paragraph 2; THE DOCTRINE OF THE TWO SEEDS. Taken from Number 9, Volume 2, of the "Church Advocate" June, 1831, Elder Daniel Parker, Editor.
We think we know what Parker meant in the two excerpts above, but propose to let the readers decide for themselves. If indeed we conclude he meant that Satan actually, and physically cohabited with Eve to produce fleshly seed then his view deserves the strongest censure.
Did Parker believe in the eternal existence of Satan, or dualism, as that notion is also called? Very possibly he did, as the following suggests:
"The doctrine of the self-existence of the power of darkness, or mystery of iniquity, presents these facts. That there is an existing opposite to Jehovah, which never did receive its origin from God, the fountain of perfection. That this opposite to God, is, in its nature, a fountain of corruption sin & iniquity, from whence has flowed everything which is contrary to the nature of God. That this iniquity is in its nature, at enmity and war with God, and everything that proceeds from him; and therefore the iniquity of every human heart, with all the persecutions against the children of God, are natural consequences flowing from that source of corruption, and that the saints of God will never rest in peace, until that power of corruption is destroyed, by being close chained in hell." Page 62, paragraph 1, THE SECOND DOSE OF DOCTRINE ON THE TWO SEEDS. Elder Daniel Parker, 1826.
This is by far the most distressing view Parker promoted, if in fact he meant that Satan was an eternal being. We are forced to question if he did mean he was eternal, in the same sense God is eternal, based on his belief that "that power of corruption is destroyed, by being close chained in hell." Could an eternal being be destroyed? If so, it would be a contradiction of terms.
We shall digress briefly in dealing directly with Parkerism to touch on an ancillary problem. A problem just as pressing as the ambiguity of Parker is that there are more than a few today that show no hesitation in positioning themselves doctrinally by assailing certain truths as "Parkerism," "two-seedism" and "dualism." We will repeat that there is serious doubt that those assailants have really read much, if anything, on the subject. An example is as follows:
"Let me caution you that you must beware of a dangerous doctrine that has infiltrated some sovereign grace and Primitive Baptist camps--that is, the doctrine of 'eternal children' or 'two-seedism' and 'dualism.' HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED SUCH? Are YOU advocating that? It is a horrible travesty on the truth, for it says, 'If you are one of the elect, then you have always been a child of God, but if you are not one of the elect, then you are the seed of the serpent and always will be!' I have heard this preached; and it is a deadly thing, for it gives no place to PERSONAL REGENERATION, PERSONAL INDIVIDUAL CONVERSION. It kills the necessity of seeking a personal interest in Christ." (We do not give the source of this quote, for we have no desire to reproach the author, even though we strongly disagree with the statement.)
You will notice in the extract a lumping together of "eternal children", "two-seedism", and "dualism." They are all equally denounced as "deadly" and as a "travesty on the truth." Thus, it is clear there are those who will castigate a wholesome doctrine by associating it with what most perceive to be error. We refer specifically to the doctrine of "eternal children." This is the same attack that was launched on the "Beebe" Baptists in 1853-1855 by Elder John Clark and his camp, which resulted in the first major division among the Old School after the Black Rock meeting in 1832.
We desire to make it clear we have no fraternity with "dualism", and consider it totally outside the pale of truth. But to deny dualism does not mean we also deny any truths that regrettably have been thrown together with it by careless theologians. As for "eternal children", though, we are as comfortable with it as we are the doctrine of election, for they appear to us to be much the same. If the children of God are not eternal, then they must, by the process of elimination, be temporal, or timely. What other position could there be? That the children of God receive their natural life in Adam is not, as far as we know, in question. All the family of man can trace their life back to Adam, but no farther, and this includes the elect as well as the reprobate. Even so, the children of God can trace their existence back, far beyond Adam, into eternity, where all existence is eternal. "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Eph. 1.4)" Assuming Paul wrote under inspiration, and further assuming the KJ.V. translators were accurate in their rendering, this verse reveals that we were chosen in Him; not to get in Him, but in Him in eternity. That being the case, and clearly stated too, we may add, would not the elect then have had to exist in Christ in eternity to be chosen in Him when God the Father made choice of the Son? We are persuaded that is the doctrine of the Bible.
"And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me (Heb. 2.13)." The Lord here speaks of His children. Where did they come from? The Lord pronounces them a gift from the Father. They were children at the time God made a gift of them; they always were children, and they always will be children.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; (Heb. 2.14)." This verse really needs no explanation, but we will again point out the obvious. Paul did not say the elect became children, nor did he say they became flesh and blood. He states that they, the children, are partakers. Thus, they have an existence before they partake of flesh and blood in time. An existence not in time must be an eternal existence.
Looking back then at the subject of the two seeds, we ask, is there such a subject in the Bible as "seed", or "seeds?" "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Gen. 3.15)." The two seeds are as clearly stated and distinguished here as language will allow, thus we cannot understand how Parker, or anyone else for that matter, could defend what is now known as "two-seedism" with this text. The first seed is that of the serpent, and the second is that of the woman. Beth seeds are traceable at least to the garden. Although Cain was born first, Abel was the first seed of the woman, and Seth later took his position. "...For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew (Gen. 4.25)."
Lest anyone assume that Cain, the first seed of the serpent, was begotten by Satan, we quote the following: "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord (Gen. 4.1)."
Little is directly revealed in the Old Testament regarding the two distinct seeds, but there is sufficient to keep us from error in reviewing the matter. "A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation (Psa. 22.30)." Observe the interesting similarity between the appointed seed of Eve, (Gen. 4.25) and the accounted seed of Christ in this Psalm. This verse in Psalm 22 leads us straight into the wondrous message describing the Messiah, as found in the book of Isaiah. "He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken (Isa. 53.8)." The generation that was accounted in Psalm 22.30 is the same one here to be declared. Since then the accounted generation in Psa. 22 was called a seed, it must here be that the declared generation is that same seed. We believe there is a theorem in math that goes something like this: "Things equal to the same things are equal to each other."
"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53.10)." Although Christ was cut off, and seemingly left no generation, or seed, yet in gaining victory over death, hell and the grave, He shall see His seed. They have not been obscured; Satan has not triumphed! They (the seed, or generation) were one with Him in eternity, one with Him in life; one with Him in death, and one with Him in the resurrection and ascension.
What then of the seed of the serpent in the Old Testament? "For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off (Psa. 37.28)." There are two classes of persons identified in this text. The first are called His saints, and of them it is said they are preserved. The other class is distinguished as seed having a wicked father. Need we labor long over who this wicked sire of seed might be? "I write unto you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father (I John 2.13)." (See also I John 2.14,3.12, 5.18, and II Thes. 2.8) It is important to see in this text that but one is described as "from the beginning," and that is God. The wicked one can really be none other than the serpent, or the Devil, called the father of those that believe not in John 8.38-47. None of these texts, however, lend the least support to the notion that the Devil, or Satan, sired the seed attributed to him, either in the flesh, or spiritually. We had rather say they were accounted to him as a seed.
How the non-elect become children of the Devil is a question arising in this examination, and we believe the answer is not at all difficult. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever a Pet. 1.23)." Much more is contained here than often meets the eye of the casual reader. Peter explains the birth all the elect experience as emanating from an incorruptible seed. He also negates any idea of this birth springing from any other source; specifically from a corruptible seed. As that which is born of the Spirit, (the incorruptible seed) is spirit, even so that which is born of the flesh, (the corruptible seed) is flesh (John 3.6). Thus, since all the family of Adam are born of corruptible seed in nature, all in nature are designated as corruptible. It must be kept in mind, however, that the spiritual birth does not change that nature. Only the resurrection to life will do that, as is recorded by Paul: "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: a Cor. 15.42)." The reader would do well to examine the whole of I Cor. 15, for therein is the clearest testimony to the change from corruption to incorruption that can be found. The elect then, are children by spiritual birth, and the whole creation, body and spirit, will be spiritual when the body is adopted.
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed (Rom. 9.7,8)." In this connection Gal. 3.16-29 should be read. Notice well the elect here are called children of promise. And they are counted for the seed. But the children of the flesh, (Adam's seed not elected) are left right where they were before. They are vessels of wrath (Rom. 9.22), children of the devil (I John 3.10), and cursed children (II Pet. 2.14).
To sum up an honest conclusion regarding "two-seedism" seems to require a concise definition of what is meant by the term. Most of us that express an opinion on the subject conclude that "Parkerism" implies the existence of two eternal beings; God and Satan. It also implies cohabiting by Satan with Eve, and a very confused view of the origin of the elect and the non-elect. On that basis we fully reject "two-seedism" as grave error.
The brief comments in this article do not do justice to the subject, as we are well aware. No matter too, the opinion one has of Parker; he is a prominent figure in the history of the Old School, or Regular, Primitive Baptists, and deserves to be treated as such.
We would not dare propose that we have a perfect understanding of all this matter either. Far from it. We do feel though, that after some consideration, it is best to receive Parker, or any other writer, only to the extent the Bible allows. It is our conclusion that if nothing else comes from it, a study of the writings of Parker will cast some light on several vital doctrines, including the rich subject of the eternal union of the saints of God with Christ. And, as pure Baptist history, there is a rich mine of information in the writings of Parker, and other pioneer Baptists of his period.
As for those that wish to vilify Parker without a hearing, Beware of them! They may turn on us next.
J. F. Poole
May - June 1992