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B.H. Carroll and Robust Confessionalism

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Tom Ascol

Should a church use a confession of faith? If so, how robust should that confession be? While few modern Baptists may be willing to identify with the Campbellite “no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible” approach to church life, considerably more seem to be skeptical of or even decidedly against the use of a robust confession of faith by local churches. Yet an extensive confession can serve a church well especially in seasons of doctrinal minimalism and confusion such as our own.

B.H. Carroll, the founder and first President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, understood this well and minced no words in his insistence on robust confessionalism. He rightly noted the inextricable connection between doctrine and devotion, faith and life. He writes,

All the modern hue and cry against dogma is really against morals. The more we reduce the number of the creed articles, the more we undermine practical religion.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Benajah Harvey Carroll

Benajah Harvey Carroll, (1843-1914)

Pastor, teacher, denominational leader, author. He led in the founding of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and served as president of the seminary until his death. He was one of 12 children born to Benajah and Mary Eliza (Mallard) Carroll. His father was a Baptist minister who supported his family by farming. He moved with his parents to Arkansas in 1848 and to Burleson County, Tex., in 1858.

At 16 he entered Baylor University, then located at Independence, Tex. When the Civil War began, he enlisted in the Texas Ranger service to guard the Texas frontier. In 1862 he enlisted in the regular army. First assigned to the Seventeenth Regiment of Texas infantry, he served to the end of the war.

Although his college career was interrupted by the war, Baylor University granted him the B.A. degree. In later years he received honorary M.A. and D.D. degrees from the University of Tennessee and the LL.D. degree from Keatchie College, La.

He was converted in 1865, following a period of bitter struggle with skepticism, as he later recorded in his famous sermon, “My Infidelity and What Became of It.” The same year he united with the Baptist church of Caldwell, Tex. He was ordained to the gospel ministry the following year.

In 1866 he was married to Ellen Virginia Bell. To them were born nine children: Hassie, Ellen, Hallie, Jimmy, Guy Sears, B. H., Jr., Charles, Katherine, and Annie Louise. After the death of his first wife, he married Hallie Harrison in 1899. To them was born one son, Francis Harrison.

Following the war years, he preached to small churches in Burleson County and found it necessary to teach school for three years in order to pay debts incurred during the war. He served as pastor of Providence Church, Burleson County, and New Hope Church, McLennan County. In 1870 he was called to the pastorate of First Baptist Church, Waco, where he served until 1899 when he was elected corresponding secretary for the Texas Baptist Education Commission.

Always intensely interested in higher education, he taught theology and Bible in Baylor University from 1872 to 1905. He organized the Baylor Theological Seminary in 1905, and led in the founding of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, whose charter was granted

Mar. 14, 1908. At this time he became president of the seminary where he served until his death. The seminary was moved to Fort Worth in 1910.

He was known as an influential denominational leader. He served on several state and Southern Baptist Convention committees, making notable addresses in the interest of various areas of denominational work. He gave particular emphasis to evangelism, prohibition, Christian education, and the work of home missions.

The published works of Carroll total 33 volumes, comprising special addresses, doctrinal discussions, sermons, and expositions. His best known work is An Interpretation of the English Bible, a commentary of 13 volumes. Outstanding books of sermons are Jesus the Christ, Baptists and Their Doctrines, and Christ and His Church. There are yet 15 volumes of unpublished materials.

He possessed an outstanding personality. Towering several inches over six feet, he made a commanding appearance. In later years he wore a flowing white beard. Endowed with a powerful and pleasing voice, he was widely known for his oratorical ability. Many stories are told concerning his unusual intellectual ability and especially with regard to his gift of memory. Certain spiritual experiences which he related indicate the depth and fervor of his piety and devotion to Jesus Christ. Shortly before his death he summoned Lee R. Scarborough, whom he had suggested to become his successor as president of Southwestern Seminary, and said to him, “Lee, lash the Seminary to the heart of the Saviour.” He died Nov. 11, 1914, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Waco, Tex.

Biographical Sources:

Lefevor, Alan Jeffery. Fighting the good fight: the life and work of Benajah Harvey Carroll, 1994.

Cranfill, J. B. Sermons and life sketch of B. H. Carroll, 1893.

Ray, Jefferson Davis. B. H. Carroll, 1927.

 

Archival sources in Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives:

Carroll, Benajah Harvey. Collection, 3 items. AR. 89.

Carroll, Benajah Harvey. Collection, MF 5332, 14 Reels.

Mullins, Edgar Young. Papers, 1860-1928. Microfiche 122.

? 1998, Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives

 

 

Source (Reformed Reader)

Part7-Objections Considered and Answered

October 3, 2014 1 comment

Many are the objections brought against this doctrine. Sometimes the objectors are loud and furious. Alas! that so many of these objectors are in Baptist ranks. To preach this old-fashioned doctrine of our faith as did Bunyan, Fuller, Gill, Spurgeon, Boyce, Broadus, Pendleton, Graves, Jarrell, Carroll, Jeter, Boyce Taylor and a host of other representative men of our denomination is to court the bitterest kind of opposition. John Wesley himself never said harsher words against this blessed tenet of our faith than do some so-called Baptists of today. Arminianism that offspring of popery, has had an abnormal growth in the last decade or two as the adopted child of a large group of Baptists.

1. IT IS OBJECTED THAT OUR VIEW OF ELECTION LIMITS GOD’S MERCY. Right here we criticize the critic, for he who makes this objection limits both God’s mercy and power. He admits that God’s mercy is limited to the believer, and to this we agree; but he denies that God can cause a man to believe without doing violence to the man’s will, and thus he limits God’s power. We believe that God is able to give a man a sound mind (#2Ti 1:7) and make him willing in the day of His power. (#Ps 110:2) At this point we must face two self-evident propositions. First, if God is trying to save every member of Adam’s fallen race, and does not succeed, then His power is limited and He is not the Lord God Almighty. Second, if He is not trying to save every member of the fallen race, then His mercy is limited. We must of necessity limit His mercy or His power, or go over boots and baggage to the Universalist’s position. But before we do that, let us go “to the law and to the testimony,” which says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion…Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy and whom He will He hardeneth” (#Ro 9:15-18). It needs to be said for the comfort and hope of great sinners, that God’s mercy is not limited by the natural condition of the sinner. All sinners are dead until God makes them alive. He is able to take away the heart of stone. No man is too great a sinner to be saved. We can pray for the salvation of the chief of sinners with the assurance that God can save them if He will. “The King’s heart is in the hands of the Lord as the river of water; He turneth it whithersoever He will” (#Pr 21:1). We rejoice to say with Jeremiah that there is nothing too hard for God. We can pray for the salvation of our loved ones with the feeling of the leper, when he said, “Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean” (#Mt 8:2). When Robert Morrison was about to go to China, he was asked by an incredulous American if he thought he could make any impression on those Chinese. His curt reply was, “No, but I think God can.” This should ever be our confidence and hope when we stand before sinners and preach to them “CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED”.

2. ANOTHER OBJECTION TO ELECTION IS THAT IT MAKES GOD UNJUST. This objection betrays a bad heart. It would obligate the CREATOR to the CREATURE. It makes salvation a divine obligation. It denies the right of the potter over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel to honour and another to dishonour. By the same parity of reasoning it makes the governor of a sovereign state unjust when he pardons one or more men, unless he empties the prison and turns all the prisoners loose. Our view of election is in harmony with what even the Arminians allow to be proper and just for a human governor. All can see that a governor, by pardoning some men, does not harm others, who are not pardoned. Those who are not pardoned are not in prison because the governor refused them a pardon but because they were guilty of a crime against the state. Isn’t God to be allowed as much sovereignty as the governor of a state? Salvation, like a pardon, is something that is not deserved. If it were deserved, then God would be unjust if He did not bestow it upon all men.

Salvation is not a matter of justice but of mercy. It wasn’t the attribute of justice that led God to provide salvation but the attribute of mercy. Justice is simply each man getting what he deserves. Those who go to hell will have nobody to blame but themselves, while those who go to heaven will have nobody to praise but God. #Ro 9:22,23

3. IT IS AGAIN OBJECTED THAT OUR VIEW OF ELECTION IS AGAINST THE DOCTRINE OF WHOSOEVER WILL. But the objector is wrong again. Our view explains and supports the doctrine of “WHOSOEVER WILL”. Without election the invitation to “WHOSOEVER WILL” would go unheeded. The Bible doctrine of “WHOSOEVER WILL” does not imply the freedom or ability of the human will to do good. The human will is free, but its freedom is within the limits of fallen human nature. It is free like water; water is free to run down hill. It is free like the vulture; the vulture is free to eat carrion, for that is its nature, but it would starve to death in a wheat field. It is not the buzzard’s nature to eat clean food; it feeds upon the carcasses of the dead. So sinners starve to death in the presence of the bread of life. Our Lord said to some sinners, who were in His very presence “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life” (#Joh 5:40). It is not natural for a sinner to trust in Christ. Salvation through trust in a crucified Christ is a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Greek; it is only the called, both Jews and Greeks, who trust it as the wisdom and power of God. #1Co 1:23,24

Here is a physical corpse. Is it free to get up and walk around? In one sense, yes. It is not bound by fetters. There is no external restraint. But, in another sense, that corpse is not free. It is hindered by its natural condition. It is its nature to decompose and go back to dust. It is not the nature of death to stir about. Here is a spiritual corpse—a man dead in trespasses and sins. Is the man free to repent and believe and do good works? Yes, in one sense. There are no external restraints. God does not prevent but offers inducements through His Holy Word. But the corpse is hindered by its own nature. There must be the miracle of the new birth, for except a man be born from above he cannot see or enter into the Kingdom of God. #Joh 3:3-3:5

It is painful to some of us to see our brethren forsake the faith of our Baptist forbears at this point and join the ranks of the Roman Catholics and other Arminians. If anyone doubts this charge let him read the article of faith adopted by the Catholics at the council of Trent (1563). I quote their statement on the freedom of the human will—”If anyone shall affirm that since the fall of Adam man’s free-will is lost, let him be accursed.” But alas, in this day, such a spirit is not confined to the Roman Catholics. Horatius Bonar makes the following quotation from John Calvin: “The Papist theologians have a distinction current among themselves that God does not elect men according to their works which are in them but that He chooses them that He foresees will be believers.”

Ah, the real trouble with the objector is not election; it is something else. His real objection is to total depravity or human inability to do good. I can do no better here than to quote from Percy W. Heward of London, England. He says, “It seems to me that the majority of objections to God’s sovereign grace, to God’s electing love, are actually objections to something else, namely objections to the fact that man is ruined. If you probe beneath the surface you will find that very few object to election. Why should they? Election harms no one. How can the picking of a man out of doom harm anyone else? The real objection at the present day is not to election, though that word is made the catchword of sad controversy—the real objection is to that fact which is revealed in Psalm 51, that we are shapen in iniquity, that we are born sinners by nature, dead in sins, until, as we read concerning Paul in Galatians 1, “It pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace to reveal His Son in me…” Ah, beloved friends, we deserve nothing but doom. Acknowledge this and election is the only hope. Acknowledge that we are poor lost sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, only evil continually; acknowledge that there is in man no natural spark to be fanned into a flame but that believers are born again of incorruptible seed which the Lord places; acknowledge that if anyone is in Christ that there is a new creation, for we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus; -and election must be at once recognized.”

Every real believer on his knees subscribes to our view of election. You cannot pray ascribing some credit to self. Sovereign grace will come out in prayer though it may be left off the platform. No saved man will get down on his knees before God and claim that he made himself to differ from others who are not saved, but with Paul he says, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” And in praying for the lost we supplicate God to convict and convert them. We do not depend upon the freedom of their wills but beg God to make them willing to come to Christ, knowing that when they come to Christ He will not cast them out. #Joh 6:37

A Methodist minister once went to hear a Presbyterian minister preach. After the sermon, the Methodist said to the Presbyterian, “That was a pretty good Arminian sermon you preached today.” “Yes,” replied the Presbyterian, “We Presbyterians are pretty good Arminians when we preach and you Methodists are pretty good Calvinists when you pray.” MORE TRUTH THAN POETRY HERE

4. IT IS ALSO OBJECTED THAT OUR VIEW OF ELECTION IS A NEW DOCTRINE AMONG MISSIONARY BAPTISTS. The fact is that it is so old-fashioned that it has about gone out of fashion . The ignorance betrayed in such a claim is indeed pitiable. In refutation we resort to two sources of information (a) Confessions of faith; (b) Statements of representative preachers and writers.

4a) CONFESSIONS OF FAITH

The Waldenses declare themselves as follows: “God saves from corruption and damnation those whom He has chosen from the foundation of the world, not from any disposition, faith or holiness that He foresaw in them, but His mere mercy in Christ Jesus His Son, passing by all the rest according to the irreprehensible reason of His own free-will and justice.” THE DATE OF THIS CONFESSION WAS 1120 !

The London Confession (1689) and the Philadelphia Confession (1742) read as follows: “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined or foreordained to ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sins to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.”

The New Hampshire Confession (Article 9): “We believe that election is the eternal purpose of God according to which He graciously regenerates, sanctifies and saves sinners; that being perfectly consistent with the free-agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end; that it is a most glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise holy and unchangeable; that it utterly excludes boasting and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of His free mercy; that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree; that it may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the Gospel; that it is the foundation of Christian assurance; and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence.”

4b) REPRESENTATIVE PREACHERS AND WRITERS!

John A. Broadus, former president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “From the divine side, we see that the Scriptures teach an eternal election of men to eternal life simply out of God’s good pleasure.”

A.H. Strong, former president of Rochester Theological Seminary: “Election is the eternal act of God, by which in His sovereign pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, He chooses certain of the number of sinful men to be recipients of the special grace of His Spirit and so to be made voluntary partakers of Christ’s salvation.”

B.H. Carroll, founder and first president of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary: “Every one that God chose in Christ is drawn by the Spirit to Christ. Every one predestined is called by the Spirit in time and justified in time, and will be glorified when the Lord comes.” Commentary on Romans, page 192.

J.P. Boyce, founder and first president of Southern Baptist Seminary: “God, of His own purpose, has from eternity determined to save a definite number of mankind as individuals, not for or because of any merit or works of theirs, nor of any value of them to Him; but of His own good pleasure.”

W.T. Conner, professor of theology, Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas: “The doctrine of election means that God saves in pursuance of an eternal purpose. This includes all the gospel influences, work of the Spirit and so on, that leads a man to repent of his sins and accept Christ. So far as man’s freedom is concerned, the doctrine of election does not mean that God decrees to save a man irrespective of his will. It rather means that God purposes to lead a man in such a way that he will freely accept the gospel and be saved.”

Pastor J.W. Lee, of Batesville, Miss.: “I believe that God has foreordained before the foundation of the world that He would save certain individuals and that He ordained all the means to bring about their salvation on His terms. Men and women are not elected because they repent and believe, but they repent and believe because they are elected.”

To the above list of well known and honoured Baptists we could add quotations from Gill, Fuller, Spurgeon, Bunyan, Pendleton, Mullins, Dargan, Jeter, Eaton, Graves, and others too numerous to mention. It is sadly true that many of our pastors hold election as a private opinion and never preach it. We personally know a number of brethren who say that election is clearly taught in the Bible, but that we cannot afford to preach it, because it will cause trouble in churches. This is worse than compromise: it is surrender of the truth. It is a spirit that leads preachers to displease God in order to please men. The writer believes that silence upon this subject has wrought more harm than open opposition to it. Those who openly oppose election will, sooner or later, make themselves ridiculous in the eyes of all Bible loving Baptists.

5. IT IS FURTHER OBJECTED THAT OUR VIEW OF ELECTION MAKES MEN CARELESS IN THEIR LIVING. It is said that belief in the doctrine leads men to say, “If I am elect, I will be saved; if I am a non-elect I will be lost, therefore, it matters not what I believe or do.” The same objection has been persistently made against the doctrine of the preservation of the saints. This is bald rationalism. It is the setting of human reason against divine revelation. It takes no account of the operation of the grace of God in the human heart. If Baptists surrender election on such a ground, to be consistent, they will have to surrender the doctrine of preservation on the same ground. Election does not mean that the elect will be saved whether they believe on not, nor does it mean that the non-elect will be damned regardless of how much they may repent and believe. The elect will be saved through repentance and faith, and both are gifts from God as already shown; the non-elect do not repent and believe.

The objection we are now considering is simply not true to fact. Believers in election have been and still are among the most godly. Augustus Toplady challenged the world to produce a martyr from among the deniers of election. The Puritans, who were so named because of the great purity of their lives, with few exception (if any), were believers in personal, eternal, unconditional election, and of course, in the security of the believer. Modernism, that spawn of the pit, is rapidly adding to the number of its adherents, but they are coming from the ranks of Arminianism. Others have challenged the world to find a single Higher Critic, or a single Spiritualist, or a single Russellite, or a single Christian Scientist, who believes in the absolute sovereignty of God and the doctrine of election. Without an exception these awful heretics are Arminians to a man. This is a significant fact that is not to be winked at.

6. OBJECTORS CLAIM THAT OUR VIEW OF ELECTION DESTROYS THE SPIRIT OF MISSIONS. They boldly assert that if unconditional election should find universal acceptance among us that we would cease to be a missionary people. There is an abundance of historical evidence with which to refute this claim. Under God, the father of modern missions was William Carey, a staunch Calvinist. Andrew Fuller, first secretary of the society that sent Carey to India, held tenaciously to our view of election. It did not destroy the missionary spirit of these men. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Belief in election did not destroy the missionary spirit in Judson, Spurgeon, Boyce, Eaton, Graves, Carroll and a host of other Baptist leaders. The Murray church, which Dr. J.F. Love called the greatest missionary church on earth, heard election preached by Boyce Taylor for nearly forty years. The greatest missionary churches among us today are those that have been purged from the heresies of James Arminius.

Election is the very foundation of hope in missionary endeavour. If we had to depend upon the natural disposition or will of a dead sinner, who hates God, to respond to our gospel, we might well despair. But when we realize that it is the Spirit that quickeneth, we can go forth with the gospel of the grace of God in the hope that God will cause some, by nature turned away, to be turned unto Him and to believe to the saving of the soul. Election does not determine the extent of missions but the results of it. We are to preach to every creature because God has commanded, and because it pleases Him to save sinners by the foolishness of preaching. We believe more in election than the Anti-mission Baptists. We believe that God elected means of salvation as well as persons to salvation. He did not choose to save sinners apart from the gospel ministry. #Ro 1:16

Election gives a saneness to evangelism that is greatly needed today. It recognizes that sinners “believe through grace” (#Ac 18:27) and that while Paul may plant and Apollos may water, God gives the increase. Arminianism has had its day among Baptists and what has it done? It has given us man-power, but robbed us of God’s power. It has increased machinery but has decreased spirituality. It has filled our churches with Ishmaels instead of Isaacs by its ministry of “sob stuff” and with the methods of the “counting house”.

If this little tract need further Scriptural support, the following Scriptures will give it: #Ps 65:4 Ac 13:48 Joh 6:37,44,45 17:1,2 Mt 11:25,26 1Co 12:3 2Co 10:4

 

Dr. C. D. Cole-The Bible Doctrine of Election-Part I-Bible Doctrine of Election

We should walk by faith believing in God’s providential rule

That is why I have said that the Texas Baptist Convention once foolishly got scared over a little financial flurry, forgot that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. They ought to have gone on serenely laying out their work, having faith in God, who is able to raise the dead.

Surely if God could in the wilderness for forty years feed so many families, and see to it that their clothes did not wear out, that there was a shade over them every day so that the sun did not smite them, and that their camp was illumined by night – a light brighter than the most luminous display of electric lights in the cities of our time – if he could call rocks to open and send forth waters, and the quail to come at his bidding, and angel’s food to fall at his will, what are we, Christ’s people in New Testament days, that we should hesitate on account of difficulties in the way of discharging duties incumbent upon us?

B. H. Carroll Commenting on Ephesians 1:22-2:10 (Christ the head over all things to the church)

Christ the head over all things to the church

We will now take up the second thought: Christ the head over all things to the church. Not the head of the church; we have just discussed that, but the head over all things to the church, which is a very different thought. It means that by virtue of his sacrificial expiation here upon the earth, and the atonement made in heaven based upon that expiation on the cross, he received the name which is above every name, was made King of kings and Lord of lords, that he now holds in his hand the scepter of universal dominion, and that he is over all things to, or in behalf, of, the church. We see him express this thought when by anticipation he commands his church, assembled upon a mountain in Galilee, about 500 being present, to go out and preach the gospel to every creature. The statement, “And all authority in heaven and upon earth is given unto me,” means that he is the head of all things to the church; that he exercises the entire sovereignty of the universe in behalf of the church.

B. H. Carroll Commenting on Ephesians 1:22-2:10

Christ is the head of the Church—there is no other

October 26, 2012 2 comments

If Christ is the head of the church in the sense of sovereign or ruler, then it is impious to call anybody else the head of the church. Some claim to be the head of the church in the sense of vicegerent, or vicar. For example, the Pope claims to be the head of the church in that he is Christ’s vicar. The only vicar that Christ has is the Holy Spirit. When Jesus went up to heaven he did send a vicegerent to take his place; another Paraclete to abide with and to guide the church. It is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit for a mere man to claim to be the head of the church.

Spurgeon in his many volumes of sermons has one polemical volume. One of the sermons in that polemical volume is the most excoriating denunciation of the claim that the sovereign of England is head of the church that I have ever seen. He read a proclamation: “I, Victoria Regina, by the grace of God head of the church.” Then immediately following that he quoted Paul’s words: “I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority.” Everybody should read, particularly, that eighth volume of Spurgeon’s sermons. The greater part of Christendom today is under bondage to the thought that the Pope of Rome is the head of the church. They mean by that that he stands in the place of God, and that whatever he speaks, ex cathedra, is infallibly true, and that his authority is ultimate.

In 1870 the capstone was put on the papacy by the Vatican Council, in servile obedience to the Pope, proclaiming his infallibility as head of the church. The head of the church also carries with it the idea of authority, which is called the key of power. Christ is the head of the church. There is no other. We see on earth a body, but the head is above the clouds; we cannot see it. The head of the church is in heaven, the body here on the earth. It is a vital and fundamental article of the Christian faith that we should accept no head of the church of Jesus Christ except the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

B. H. Carroll Commenting on Ephesians 1:22-2:10

The Holy Spirit reveals Christ to a sinner

Sometimes in the meeting I stop, and while there is dead silence, I ask you if you hear a voice. I do not mean when I ask it, do you hear it with your natural ear. I mean is there some voice speaking to your soul, some power touching you inside? Is some one making you feel as you never felt before. and you see your sins as you never saw them before? Is there One holding up before you the Lord Jesus Christ in a way that you never saw Him before, so that now He is not without form and comeliness, and so that now when you see Him you do desire Him? That is the Holy Spirit. He is showing you the things of Christ. He is showing them to the eye of the mind. He is placing them within the range of your spiritual vision so that you feel them, and are conscious that some power is inexplicably touching your soul. That is the work of the Holy Ghost.

B. H. Carroll—The Faith that Saves—Triumphant Faith