Founders Journal


1Isaac Backus, A History of New England, second edition with notes, 2 vols. in one. Newton, Mass.: Backus Historical Society, 1871; reprint edition 1969 by Arno Press, Inc,. New York, 1:205.

2Ibid., p. 206

3Ibid., p. 207

4Richard Furman, Rewards of Grace conferred on Christ's faithful People (Charleston: Printed at J. M'Iver, 1796), p. 24.


6The details of this sermon are reported in Robert A. Baker, Adventure in Faith: The First Three Hundred Years of First Baptist Church, Charleston, South Carolina (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1982), pp. 139-142.

7For the full text of the sermon see Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, from A. D. 1707 to A. D. 1807, ed., A. D. Gillette (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1851) pp. 181-191.

8One of the remarkable features of this sermon is the number of times Hart quotes verbatim from the Baptist Catechism as a foundation for his theological exposition. He does this at least on seven occasions. This phrase is an answer to the question, "How does Christ execute the office of a Priest?"

9Richard Furman on "John Gano in William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1865), 6:66. Gano preached for Hart in Charleston in 1754 and found, much to his fear that among the twelve clergymen in the congregation was George Whitefield. Gano says that he was soon relieved of this embarassment when he came to realize that he had none to fear and obey but the Lord.

10Richard Furman, Conversion Essential to Salvation (Charleston: Printed by J. Hoff, 1816). This sermon was preached before the Religious Tract Society of Charleston in the First Presbyterian Church at its first anniversary meeting on June 10, 1816.

11This priority of regeneration is affirmed in Article IV of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. This document describes regeneration as "a change of heart wrought by the Holy Sprit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" [emphasis added].

12The Sermon may be found in Southern Baptist Sermons on Sovereignty and Responsibility, ed., Thomas J. Nettles (Harrisonburg, Va.: Sprinkle Publications, 1984), pp. 9-32.

13The Christian Index, Friday, January 20, 1843, p. 42. The article continued each week through February 3. Mallary had delivered the address at a ministers' meeting sometime previous to this publication but submitted it to the Index as a result of requests to "submit something to the pages of the Index." Mallary argues for election from the doctrine of depravity, the covenant of redemption, the peculiar characteristics of salvation by grace, and the specific teaching of a number of passages of Scripture. Objections he answers are, "Election destroys free agency," "Election makes God partial and unjust," and "Election encourages one to neglect his spiritual interests." In issuing a warning against "antinomianism" which had been a "spiritual malady" of the Baptists, he also urged that Baptists not "hurry on to its opposite, fritter down the doctrines of grace, and give countenance, by our faith and teaching, to self-righteous presumption."

14John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (The Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1857; reprint ed., Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1982), p. 316. Dagg employs all of his mental, spiritual, and theological powers in an impassioned defense of every aspect of the doctrines of grace. Not only election, but total depravity, effectual calling, particular atonement, and perseverance are all represented as essentially connected with the New Testament teaching of salvation by grace through faith.

15P. H. Mell, "The Fathers of the Association," reprinted in The Baptist Window, Jan-May 1983 (vol. 15, nos. 1-5) 3:3, 4:2. Mell published several volumes specifically defending the doctrines of grace. e.g. Predestination and the Saints' Perseverance Stated and Defended from the Objections of Arminians.

16J. P. Boyce, "Defense of the Abstract of Principles," in A Baptist Sourcebook, ed., Robert A. Baker (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1966), p. 140. When the Abstract was constructed, the committee responsible took "all the Baptist confessions which could be obtained" and epitomized article by article the confession. Boyce clearly would have proceeded on no other basis than that of such a confession. He declared in all sincerity that he would have "abandoned" the project if the confessional foundation had not been adopted. Of particular satisfaction to him was the fact that "the doctrines of grace are distinctly brought out in the abstract of principles."

17J. P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1887), pp. 347, 353.

18W. Wiley Richards, Winds of Doctrine (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991), pp. 45-59.

19E. V. Mullins, The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1974), pp. 10, 11. Mullins struggles long and honestly with the relation between subjectivity and objectivity in developing a concept of biblical authority. In the end, however, subjectivity and intuition win and an inerrant Bible as a foundation for doctrine becomes unhandy baggage in Mullin's view of true religious experience. He believed that the whole of Christian apologetics resided in the "practical" life. When the "whole" is transferred to the practical life, human consciousness becomes the final criterion of truth and pragmatic existentialism practically governs the life of the individual and the church. Both the meaning and the truthfulness of the Bible recede in importance and give way to the authority of the visceral sensation.

20E. Y. Mullins, Baptist Beliefs, (Valley Forge: Judson Press 1925 [ninth printing 1962] first copyright 1912 by Baptist World Publishing Company), p. 8. Also see Freedom and Authority in Religion (Philadelphia: The Griffith & Rowland Press, 1913), 301, 302.

21E. Y. Mullins, The Axioms of Religion (Philadelphia: The Griffith & Rowland Press, 1908), p. 143.

22Baptist Beliefs, pp. 9, 10.

23Axioms, p. 146.

24Freedom and Authority, p. 302.

25Mullins, Christian Religion, p. vii.

26Axioms, p. 88.

27Christian Religion, 336, 340.

28E. Y. Mullins, Axioms, p. 84.

29Mullins, Christian Religion, p. 349.

30Dale Moody, The Word of Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), pp. 337-65. Moody's hostility toward historic Southern Baptist Calvinism was strong and his caricatures of the system were grotesque. "Many... see a picture of an arbitrary tyrant on his hellish-heavenly throne watching mankind march by. Number six--you are in a fix! Number seven--you go to heaven! Why? God just decreed that all number sixes go to hell and all number sevens go to heaven." [p. 337]. The confessional past of the chair in which he taught he felt was an obstacle necessarily to be overcome. "In brief the system of Calvinism cannot be patched with new cloth. The new wine cannot be put in old wineskins. That is what too many do when they try to torture the texts of the Bible to agree with some creed or confession of the past. I cannot say this too strongly" [p. 347].

31Herschel Hobbs and E. Y. Mullins, The Axioms of Religion (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1978), p. 72. Hobbs purports to be doing an exegesis of Eph. 1:3-13 showing how there is no conflict between sovereignty and free will. In this section he has quoted Mullins's Christian Religion at the point where Mullins says, "Election is not to be thought of as a bare choice of so many human units by God's action independently of man's free choice and the human means employed. God elects men to respond freely" [p. 347]. It is clear from his discussion that Hobbs completely misses the thrust of Mullin's argument.

32Axioms, p. 90.

33Wayne Dehoney, Preaching to Change Lives (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1974), p. 120.

34Ibid, p. 124.

35A recent publication by Broadman has given substantial space to describing some aspects of the change described in this article. The basic pattern of early uniformity in doctrine to a progressive diversification is documented in Has Our Theology Changed? Southern Baptist Thought Since 1845, ed., Paul Basden. Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994. It specifically highlights "Predestination," "Atonement," and "Perseverance." The statement made about predestination is typical of the chronicle of doctrinal shift: "Although Southern Baptists consciously adhered to Calvinism for their first sixty or seventy years, their most recent theologians have rejected it in favor of an Arminian approach to predestination" (71). The editor, Paul Basden, indicates that the approach of the book was "to trace the development of those doctrines which Southern Baptists have seen change in the last century and a half" (2) and concludes that "Southern Baptists have significantly changed their beliefs on many of the doctrines related to the Calvinist-Arminian debate" (3). Sadly, Basden believes that Southern Baptist pragmatism (as misguided and destructive as it may be) will preclude any serious consideration of a return to historic Southern Baptist theology in an extensive way. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, however, and is not concerned with our assumptions of value built on pragmatic utility.