January 29, 2000
To all who love the cause and kingdom of Christ here in the earth:
Many of us have been concerned for several years now about the unscriptural practices and doctrines which are being introduced among the Primitive Baptist churches in many places in Georgia and in other states. It is our hope and prayer that God may use this general letter to all of our churches as a means of awakening some to the seriousness of the situation that now exists among us. If we disregard the teachings of God's word and place the hope and future of the church in the inventions of men, we will soon lose our identity as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Specifically, the following false practices and doctrines (among others) have appeared among us in recent years:
|Sunday Schools or Organized Bible Study Classes||Tithing|
|Youth Camps||Teaching that the Great Commission was given to the church, rather than to the Apostles|
|Mission Programs||Accepting and Retaining Unqualified Members|
|Theological Seminaries (Preacher's Schools)||Misdirected Ministerial Authority|
|Dedication of Infants||Ordaining Novices|
|Salaried Ministry||Failure to Recognize Church Authority|
We find these doctrines and practices to be without warrant in the word of God, and to be in opposition to the clear teachings of Christ and the Apostles.
We would make the following recommendations to our churches, and to the members thereof, that we take the following action:
First, to be aware and to make others aware of the onslaught of unscriptural practices and doctrines that are now appearing among us in many places.
Second, that every effort be put forth to save to the cause the preachers and churches who may unknowingly have embraced any of these doctrines and practices. There are good God_called ministers who have been led to follow these teachings, and good churches that have blindly followed a loved pastor without realizing that they have dishonored their heritage and embraced heresy by doing so. Let every effort be made to save them to the cause (James 5:20).
Third, we would encourage all of our churches everywhere to put forth every effort to keep these false doctrines and practices from being promoted among us (1 Tim. 4:14_16). Will we invite a preacher to the church of our membership (or one we pastor) when we know that he advocates and participates in practices that are contrary to the scriptures? God help us to stand and to close our pulpits to heresy and error, as did our brethren in the faith before us (II John 10, 11).
Brethren, will we stand where our forefathers in the faith stood, or will we continue to drift with the tide until God manifests his displeasure and sends us into the captivity of Babylon? Then how will we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
We have neither the power, nor scriptural authority, to decide matters for any church or group of churches. It is up to each local church to decide whether or not she will take a public stand for the basic principles of truth contained in this resolution.
In love for Zion and for the cause of the truth, we, the undersigned respectfully submit this resolution. We attach to this resolution an addendum giving scriptural and historical references concerning this matter.
|Elder Bob Dickerson||Elder James R. Smith, Jr.||Elder Dennis Jones|
|Brother Hubert Medders||Lic. Jabin James||Brother Charles Harper|
|Elder Eugene Smith||Brother Charles Cofield||Elder Willie Hatfield|
|Brother John Hancock||Elder Charles Westbrook||Elder Denver Hollingsworth|
|Elder Lawson Bryant||Brother Miller Tucker||Elder Michael Meek|
|Brother M. Banks Brazell||Elder Odell Deese||Brother Jerry Hancock|
|Elder Tim Long||Brother Eugene Conner||Elder Calvin Watkins|
|Brother Deron James||Elder J. D. Morris, Jr.||Brother Edmon Johnson|
|Elder Douglas W. Hyatt, Jr.||Elder Julian Asbell||Elder John Thompson|
|Brother R. H. Williams||Elder R. W. Watkins||Brother Earl James|
|Brother Samuel Hilton|
Note: Please see additional supporters at bottom of page.
ADDENDUM TO THE PITTS RESOLUTION OF THE OLD LINE PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS
Item I, SUNDAY SCHOOLS OR ORGANIZED BIBLE STUDY CLASSES
This invention of man, 1781 years too late to have a scriptural basis, usually begins with the name of "Bible Study." From the origin and promise that it is simply the study of the scriptures under the teaching of the pastor, it soon grows to a study of literature prepared by man and the division of the church body into classes according to age and/or sex, with women teachers. (But we do encourage individual study of the Bible, Acts 17:10_11). What saith the scriptures? Eph. 6:4, 1 Cor. 12:25, Rev. 22:18_19, Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:5_6, Eccl. 3:14, Jer. 26:2, John 8:31_32.
It is an intrinsic part of the scriptures that they not be added to or diminished therefrom (Deut. 4:2, Rev. 22:18_19). Therefore, our forefathers, subsequent to the writings of the New Testament, have stood firmly on the principles taught therein. Their stance against Bible Study sessions, as an adjunct to the gospel church, is embedded in history.
Bible study classes are a close ally to Sunday Schools, as stated above, which the Old School (Primitive) Baptists declared against in the Black Rock Address in 1832. Here is a quote from that declaration: "..such schools were never established by the apostles, nor commanded by Christ. There were children in the days of the apostles. The apostles possessed as great a desire for the salvation of souls, as much love to the cause of Christ, and knew as well what God would own for bringing persons to the knowledge of salvation, as any do this day. We, therefore must believe that if these schools were of God, we should find some account of them in the New Testament."
This stated position was also promulgated, with amplification, by forty_two Primitive Baptist elders in attendance at the Nashville Peace Meeting in 1937. The following is a quote from item 18, under the heading of discipline, which resulted from the referenced meeting: "As to Sunday Schools, Bible Classes, aid societies, or any other such societies as have been invented by the world and engaged in by them, we consider all such as a departure from the original ground and principles which the Primitive Baptists have held to all along the line. The way such things usually get into the church is by the assuming of some name that may lead our people to think there is no harm in it; but such innovations and departures always grow, and result in trouble and distress among the people. They should be left severely alone. If we want peace, the way to have it is to let all things alone that bring trouble.... The preacher cannot perform the public service of God for the entire membership. We cannot serve God by proxy. It is, too, a lamentable fact that our brethren do not read the scriptures in their homes as they should. Hence, they depend too much on the preacher to know "if these things be true." But this in no sense justifies our people in conducting a so_called Bible class or Bible study in our churches. Such things, when the seed is sown, always grow and develop into greater and distressing things. We can only say, "Diligently do what we recommend, and let the other things alone."
These references and quotes are more than adequate in stipulating the reason why old_line Primitive Baptists object to organized Bible study classes, in their (our) churches, apart from the regular public worship services.
Item II, YOUTH CAMPS
Like Sunday Schools, this is an invention of man seeking to indoctrinate and persuade the young and gain more members for the church. Please see scriptures listed under Item I.
Primitive Baptists, in the main, do not object to their children participating in good wholesome sports programs, including youth camps, where religious dogmas are not a part of the program. Children of Primitive Baptists do participate in school sponsored sports programs and in other recreational functions, including sports activities, of their communities. However, the preponderance of our people do object to such activities being placed under the auspices of an Old Line Primitive Baptist Church. Neither scripture nor Primitive Baptist tradition support the establishment of church connected youth camps. Therefore, we deem it an unscriptural practice because its existence is not substantiated in the book of inspired writ.
New innovations, in the church, cannot improve on the scriptural pattern for teaching our children; i.e., "And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).
Item III, MISSION PROGRAMS
Mission programs organized by man and funded by appeals to various congregations for their support are unscriptural. We find an organized program to promote "mission work" without warrant in the scriptures, especially a program in which no preacher goes to labor other than infrequent visits of a few days. What saith the scriptures? Matt.10:5_10, Acts 18:11; 20:31; 28:30, Gal. 1:15_17, II Tim. 4:5.
Primitive Baptists have no objections to their ministers doing evangelistic work, among those who have not been privileged to have the gospel preached to them, for Paul charged Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist." Consequently, if a minister feels led of the Spirit to go, as an evangelist, to a specific location, whether it be domestic or foreign, we believe he should go. However, he should follow the New Testament pattern of evangelism, that is, he should go to the area where he feels the Spirit has directed him and remain there until converted brethren and sisters are established in doctrine, practice and discipline (this may take a few years). A failure to labor to this end, with those newly converted to the gospel church, results in a great injustice to them and is an embarrassment to established churches.
Item IV, THEOLOGICAL SEMINARIES (PREACHER'S SCHOOLS)
Seminaries train and educate preachers in the teachings of men, and so direct their ministry according to man's standards. Brethren, make no mistake, a five day seminar or preachers' meeting (school) is nothing but a mini_seminary and will soon grow into a full_blown seminary. What saith the scriptures? Heb. 5:4, Gal. 1:15_17, John 14:26; 16:13_14, I John 2:27.
A national preachers' meeting, which is a new thing among Primitive Baptists, was introduced to our ministry in 1992. It continued, perpetually, each year through the remainder of the decade of the 90s; if its participants do not repent it will continue into the current millennium. This event has been the source of more unrest among the Primitive Baptist family than any other known activity or practice. It has caused, and continues to cause, much disturbance throughout our country. The disturbance and unrest is justified, abundantly, because such a meeting does not have a scriptural foundation or precedent; it is a new and superfluous thing among us. Furthermore, it is the bed where many of the seeds of heresy are sown.
The activities engaged in by the attendees makes the referenced meeting equivalent to a preachers' school (school of theology). We know that true Old School Primitive Baptists declared against Theological Schools over a hundred and sixty years ago. Our brethren from that era (1832) said it better than we can. Therefore, we quote from the Black Rock Address: "As to theological schools, we shall at present content ourselves with saying that they are a reflection upon the faithfulness of the Holy Ghost, who is engaged according to the promise of the great Head of the church to lead the disciples into all truth. See John 16:13. Also, that in every age, from the school of Alexandria down to this day, they have been a real pest to the church of Christ. Of this we could produce abundant proof, did the limits of our address admit their insertion." The firm convictions of those who framed the Black Rock Address, is further echoed and amplified by able ministers of the late 1800s and early 1900s. A quote from one, Elder J. H. Oliphant, in the early 1900s, is as follows: "Here is a secret to pastoring a Church. Teach [them] that everything new in religion is false, and when elders get to be progressive and want to modernize our people, avoid them, and encourage the members to be content with things taught in the Word."
To those brethren who frequent and support this new function, we humbly beseech you to repent and abandon your support thereof. Please help us to circumvent further strife, within the family of God, about this auxiliary.
All of the above practices are without commandment or precedent in the scriptures, and thus have no place in the Kingdom of God. "For whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Rom. 14:23. [Have you read in God's word where the Apostles ever held Bible study classes, Sunday Schools, youth camps, or founded ministerial schools or mission programs?]
Item V, DEDICATION OF INFANTS
The dedication of infants in the church service is another practice for which there is no New Testament basis, in either precept or example. In this practice, the minister prays over the infant for the purpose of "dedicating" him or her to the Lord, even when no evidence has been shown that the infant has been regenerated or is even a member of God's elect family. What saith the scriptures? John 3:3,5; I John 5:1
Item VI, SALARIED MINISTRY
By "salaried ministry," we are referring to a system of business agreements in which a preacher agrees to serve a church with the promise of receiving a stipulated payment of a set amount of money for each given period. What saith the scriptures? Matt. 10:8; John 10:12_13; Acts 20:33_34, 28:30; I Cor. 4:11_12, 9:16_18; I Peter 5:1_2.
The practice of churches (or preachers) establishing a fixed salary for gospel ministers is in direct conflict with the teachings of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren: "What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I make the gospel of God without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel" (I Cor. 9:18). We can judge from this statement that the apostle Paul would not have even considered asking for a certain salary in return for his services at a particular church. In the same chapter, Paul stated concerning gospel ministers; "...he that ploweth should plow in hope..." (I Cor. 9:10). In a system where there is an established salary, the minister is not "plowing in hope."
Moreover, the salaried system is in conflict with the spiritual nature of God's kingdom, which kingdom (Christ said) "is not of this world" (John 18:36). This system brings the following elements of the world into the church; "hired" services, negotiated salaries, business propositions, pay raises, the pursuit of large churches based upon higher salaries, and moving from a small church to a larger church being considered as a "promotion" (even if the small church is more spiritual).
Item VII, TITHING
Tithing as a commandment or example for the New Testament Church is refuted by Rom. 6:14, I Cor. 16:1_2 and II Cor. 9:7.
Our brethren in the Armenian community recognize that "It (tithing _ D. Jones) cannot be affirmed that the Old Testament law of tithes is binding on the Christian Church" (Today's Dictionary of the Bible, page 624). In chapter IX, under the caption "Characteristics of the Apostolic Church" of Elder Hassell's History, he made a quote and statement as follows: Quote, "The voluntary system" says Mr. Schaff, "best corresponds with the spirit of the gospel, was practiced by the church for the first three centuries, and is the most advantageous to the kingdom of God. Legal enactments for the payment of tithes to the ministry, as to the priests among the Jews, are not met with in Christendom before the sixth century." Hassell's statement: "regular stipulated ministerial salaries, though unknown in the apostolic church and in the first three centuries, are given in nearly all the religious denominations of the United States, but not among Old School, Primitive or Bible Baptists."
The tithes system was applicable to the Jewish economy, under the law, in Old Testament times. It is not to be practiced in the New Testament Gospel Church. Paul informed the Galatians that "the law is not of faith" (Gal. 3:12). He also said, "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (Rom. 7:6).
Item VIII, THAT THE "GREAT COMMISSION" WAS GIVEN TO THE CHURCH
We find no scriptural basis for the belief that the "great commission" was given to the church and that the church is responsible for the spread of the gospel in the world today and therefore is justified in organizing programs and raising funds for this purpose. What saith the scriptures? Mark 16:14_15; Acts 1:2, 8; Col. 1:6, 23.
Shortly before His ascension, Christ commanded His apostles to "go...into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature" (Mark 16:15). (This command is commonly referred to as the "great commission," although this term is not found in the Scriptures). The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the apostles did indeed fulfill this command. Several years after the command was given, the apostle Paul reported that the gospel had come into "all the world" (Col. 1:6) and had been "preached to every creature which is under heaven" (Col. 1:23).
Moreover, when Christ placed this "great commission" upon His apostles, He promised them that great signs and wonders would accompany the fulfilling of this commission. These signs would be in the form of special apostolic powers, such as the ability to cast out demons and the ability to drink any sort of deadly poison and remain unharmed (Mark 16:17_18). We take the fact that these special powers are no longer with us as further proof that the "great commission" has been fulfilled.
We stand with our Baptist forefathers in rejecting the heresy that the "great commission" was given to the church body. Elder John R. Daily (one of our Baptist forefathers) explained: "None of us believe that the commission given by Christ to His apostles was intended to be laid upon the church as a body, which false idea has been the parent of all Missionary machinery that has ever been invented" (Advocate and Messenger, "More Specificity Requested," July 1996, pg. 149).
Item IX, ACCEPTING UNQUALIFIED PERSONS AS CHURCH MEMBERS
Encouraging children to join the church before there is evidence of the new birth. Accepting baptism of questionable background or authority. Not qualifying those who apply for membership as to secret orders, living in adultery or evidence of the new birth. All of this speaks of a belief that anything goes and any way is all right if it gets us more members. What saith the scriptures? Acts 2:47; John 3:3,5; Neh. 2:20; Matt. 3:7.
Item X, MISDIRECTED MINISTERIAL AUTHORITY
For forty years or more, we have sat complacent, and passively listened to our ministry criticize and chip away at some of our long_standing church practices. While they criticized the existing church practices, they were maneuvering themselves into a position of lordship rather than servants; thus, usurping authority over the church. Both the church and ministry are responsible for the development of this situation; i.e., the lackadaisical attitude of the majority of the church membership coupled with a misdirected zeal of some of our ministry.
Paul identified the ministry of his day as servants (II Cor. 4:5). Peter said they were to "feed the flock of God...taking the oversight" (I Peter 5:2_3). This did not mean to rule over or lord over God's heritage. We, as gospel ministers, would do well to build on these scriptural foundations. Historically, and in the main, the church has been cognizant of these fundamental principles. An examination of a middle Georgia church's decorum, which was constituted in mid_nineteenth century, reveals that they delineated specifically the duties of a moderator, or pastor, which is "It shall be the duty of the moderator to preserve order and explain and put questions, and render assistance if needed." From this statement it is evidenced that our forefathers recognized and respected their pastor as a servant.
The idea that a pastor is supposed to rule the church and that his charge, to the church, is to be followed implicitly and without any question is a new thing in the Primitive Baptist Church. This doctrine leads to doing away with annual pastor calls and conference meetings. The deacons and members are taught that they are not to question this supposed pastoral authority. This is often accompanied by instructions not to visit other churches, associations or fellowship meetings (Prov. 19:10; Jer. 12:10; Eph. 1:22_23; Isa. 32:1; Heb. 13:7, 17). Please note that the latter two scriptural references do not speak of those who are rulers, but those who have the rule (Christ and His princes, writers of N.T.).
Our prayer is that church members will recognize the fallacy of allowing servants to rule. Also, that they will reclaim their authority and return to church government as it was in earlier times. Furthermore, ministers may need to be reminded, from time to time, that they are servants and not lords. No matter how big a preacher may feel to be, he is still under the jurisdiction of the church.
Item XI, ORDAINING NOVICES
Hastily ordaining unknown, untried and/or self_willed men to the gospel ministry and to the office of deacon is a blatant violation of the scriptural guidelines. What saith the scriptures? Neh. 7:64_65; 1 Tim. 3:6, 5:22; Heb. 5:4.
Item XII, FAILURE TO RECOGNIZE CHURCH AUTHORITY
There are situations where brethren (especially preachers) and churches fail to recognize the discipline of sister churches. When this occurs, it generates strife among those involved and ripples of discontentment are felt, where knowledge of it exists, throughout the Primitive Baptist family. This problem has been addressed many times in the past and we reiterate the advice given by brethren, in their respective eras, for the resolution thereof: "When a person is excluded by an orderly Old Baptist Church, he is thereby excluded from every orderly Old Baptist Church on earth. If a person is excluded by one church in our body, and another receives him into their body without satisfaction first being made at the church where he was excluded, it is denied that a sister church has the right to discipline her own members. It is too often the case that when a little friction comes up, brethren may be quick to receive members this way. When something is charged against a person, that is the only place on earth to get the charge canceled" (Nashville Peace Meeting).
"Each and every local church has the right to dispose of her local affairs as she deems proper; that is, she has a right to discipline her members, but no church has the right to harbor and protect heretics, liars, fornicators, and such like (excluded members from a sister church_W. Hatfield), to the hurt and annoyance of sister churches. Neither does a church have a right to harbor or engage in things that are contrary to Baptist usage, or contrary to the scriptures" (Waco and Nashville Peace Meetings).
"Should a church as such depart from the Bible faith and practice and so persist in it as to cause offence, then what? The first church offended, as represented by two or three of her most spiritual members (Gal. 6:1) should go quietly and labor in love and all long_suffering to reclaim her, failing, she should return and take one or two other churches to labor in love; and these failing, and agreeing and advising, should proceed to "bind her on earth" as in the name of Jesus Christ, declaring her disposed of Gospel Order" (Dallas Peace Meeting).
To censure a church, or condemn a church, or non_fellowship a church or churches in doctrine or practice, without labor, or trial or investigation is disorder of the discipline, doctrine and practice of the church" (Dallas Peace Meeting)
We have identified, in this addendum, some of the problematic issues (little foxes) which are causing widespread unrest among Primitive Baptists in this era. Applicable issues are itemized with scriptural references which justify our opposition to their addition, as an adjunct and/or practice, to the Old Line Primitive Baptist Church. We have also included quotes of highly esteemed brethren, from the past, which depict their stand against some of the unscriptural practices we are currently facing.
As to our recommendation: We recommend that those who preach these false doctrines, and/or otherwise advocate referenced practices, not to be utilized (used) in our services. We are plainly instructed to "receive him (them) not into your (our) house, neither bid him (them) God speed" (II John 10). And those who follow after them are called "silly women (churches)" (II Tim. 3:6).
Elder Sylvester Hassell writing on the early 1800"s mentions "the incredible changes among Baptists" of that day "springing up of Mission Societies, Sunday Schools, Theological colleges, written sermons...salaried ministers...efforts for large gain in membership." He summarized this in these words, which seem to us to appropriately describe the condition existing among our people today: "False doctrines led to false practices; confidence lost in God and placed in man" (Hassell's History, page xxii).
Our brethren back then stood firmly against all of these institutions of man. The Kehukee Association of North Carolina in 1827 agreed "that we discard all Missionary Societies, Bible Societies and Theological Seminaries, and if any persons should be among us as agents of any of said societies, we hereafter discountenance them in those practices; and if under a character of a minister of the gospel, WE WILL NOT INVITE THEM INTO OUR PULPITS; believing these societies and institutions to be the inventions of men, and not warranted from the word of God" (Hassell's History, pages 736, 737). The Baltimore Association in 1832 meeting at Black Rock Church in the state of Maryland, also specifically enumerated Sunday schools, mission programs and theological schools as some of the practices which brought forth the division among Baptists of that day ("Feast on Fat Things", pages 5_33).
Here in Georgia, the original articles of the constitution of the Original Upper Canoochee Primitive Baptist Association of Georgia, and still carried in their minutes today, state: "We decline to recognize anything not specifically authorized in the New Testament and practiced by the Apostles. We hold that modern Sunday Schools, religious societies and organizations separate from the church, known as auxiliaries to the church, a salaried ministry, assessing or taxing the membership, instrument music in church worship are unscriptural, and together with oath bound secret societies, will not be held in fellowship by this association."
Where do we stand? Will we go along with the notions of the day until the identity of the church is lost and we are just one of the hundreds of religious organizations in America, the same in a lack of doctrine and discipline and with a house full of worldly practices?
We pray that God will grant us the grace to walk in the old paths and to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints!
Post Resolution Supporters
Across the country, many were either not aware of the meeting at Pitts, Georgia, or simply were unable to attend. Recognizing that there are some calling themselves Primitive Baptist , yet supporting a mission movement, salaried and/or trained pastors, and a host of unscriptural practices, many have expressed a desire to make it known that they wish to be identified with the true old line Baptists. Therefore, we have added this addendum to the Pitts Resolution. If you would like to show your support of the old paths by adding your name to this document, please use our Feedback Form to send your name, the name of your home church, city & state and any comment you'd like to make. Please refer to the resolution.
|Ron Colson||Indian Creek PBC||Moultrie, GA||Let's hold to what the Lord established!|
|Elder Albert Wilson||Darian Church||Valley, AL|
|Ron Colson, II||Zion's Rest PBC||McAlester, OK|
|Elder Allen Broughton||Pastor - Cool Spring & Turnbull PB Churches||Brentwood, TN|
|Elder Ralph Harris||Chipley Chapel PBC||Chipley, FL|
|Elder W. C. Mintz||Pastor - Providence PBC||Little River, SC|
|Elder Robert Webb||Pastor - Carthage PBC||Carthage, IL|
|Elder Davie Jones||Pastor - Zion's Rest PBC||McAlester, Okla||Pure Primitive Baptist Beliefs|
|Elder Carl Arnold||Pastor - Gore PBC||Gore, Okla|
|William D. Harrison||Deacon - Mt. Hebron PBC||Purvis, MS||2 Thessalonians 2:15 & 3:6|
|J. T. Taylor||Philadelphia PBC, Lenoir, NC||Orlando, FL||I agree and stand with you-all|
|Elder Lyman Little||Amarillo PBC||Clarendon, TX|
|Elder Marty Hoogasian||Little Zion Primitive Baptist Church||Dearborn, MI||I endorse the Pitts Resolution without reservation and hope all others who are earnestly contending for the faith that was once delivered to the saints would endorse this sound document|
|Elder Brian Moore||Sulfur Springs PBC||Kelsa, VA||Fully Support!|
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