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WHAT PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS BELIEVE?

We have received several articles recently stating what, according to the writers of the articles, Primitive Baptists believe. Most of what has been received has also been discarded as worse than useless. We consider it presumption at best, and lying at worst, to propose to the world what Primitive Baptists believe without addressing the fact that there are many varieties of Primitive Baptists around. We have met very few people that appreciate others supposedly speaking for them in matters on which they disagree.

If a Progressive Primitive Baptist sends out for all to read what Primitives believe, there would certainly be a howl from the so-called Old Line that the Progressives do not speak for them. And, we doubt not, some among us called Absoluters would also enter their denial. Simply put, it is wrong for one group to speak or write in such a way as to convey the impression that all are agreed. The practice of giving out views as if all Primitive Baptists are one stems from the assumption that "We are the true church; all others just as well not exist." We personally know of one editor among the Old Line that would not even respond to our correspondence because he contended we were not affiliated with any recognized group. We are made to wonder, "recognized by whom?"

What we are trying to say is, there are some few sensible ground rules for promoting your beliefs in public. The first is, be honest. The second is, know what the facts are. The third is, be prepared to defend them in public or retreat from the contest.

Before us is a pamphlet called, What Do Primitive Baptists Believe, by Elder Lasserre Bradley, Jr. But for one paragraph, the whole of the pamphlet could generally be supported by the vast majority of those called Primitive Baptists. However, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. On page 6 and 7 is the following question and Elder Bradley's answer:

4. What is their position on predestination? Answer: They believe that God has predestinated a great number to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8.28-30). While some object to this doctrine because they say it is unfair, Primitive Baptists rejoice in it, for they see that had it not been for predestination, the whole human family would have been lost forever. Predestination is not the thing that condemns a man, or puts him in a ruined condition, but the very thing that gets him out of such a state. Predestination concerns not "what" but "whom." It is the great purpose of God to lift a people up from sin and corruption and make them like Jesus Christ. That's glorious!

There are two major errors in this answer to what Primitive Baptists believe about predestination. The first is, predestination is just as much involved in the condemnation of sinners as it is in their deliverance, but we shall pass that by, suggesting the reader look at Jude 4, I Peter 2.8, II Peter 2.12, and kindred texts. That which commands our present attention is Bradley's "'what' but 'whom'" novelty.

"Not 'what' but 'whom'" cannot stand the test. It is not honest to attempt to pass this off as Primitive Baptist's belief when one knows it is not so among a sizable portion of those spoken for. Bradley has harangued the "Absoluters" enough on his radio broadcast to know they do not believe his assertions. His statement does not harmonize with the Scriptures. Romans 8.29, the text used to contrive this view, is so constructed to assign the "whom" to those God did foreknow, and then, he also did predestinate, followed as the method of God to conform the foreknown. Bradley, nor any other expositor, can successfully deny that predestination regards the "what" of the text and foreknow regards the "whom."

We readily concede Bradley has the right to hold his peculiar view and promote it far and wide if he so pleases. But he does not have the right to promote it as the belief of Primitive Baptists exclusively, or at large either, unless he so states he is not trying to speak for all. There are many Primitive Baptist churches that have always emphatically denied what Bradley promotes as predestination, and the vast majority of these churches existed many, many years before his assembly was ever formed.

J.F. Poole
The Remnant
Volume 9, No. 3 - May-June, 1995